New approaches provide lifetime support for individuals with ASD

More than 300 parents, healthcare providers and educators from across the U.S. and around the world, will come together July 26 through July 27, 2013 at the second annual national conference for families and professionals, "Treating the Whole Person with Autism: Care Across the Lifespan." The conference — sponsored by Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism and advocacy organization, with our educational partners at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics — will be held at The Hilton Columbus at Easton in Columbus, Ohio.

The program includes scientific sessions and hands-on workshops featuring new approaches to providing a lifetime of supports and services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), whether self-directed by individuals with ASD or provided by their families to help children, adolescents and adults with autism lead healthy and successful lives.

"This conference is a hallmark of the Autism Speaks' Autism Treatment Network (AS-ATN), an initiative aimed at improving the health and well-being of individuals with ASD," remarked Daniel Coury, M.D., ATN medical director and chief of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Utilizing a 'whole person' and family-centered approach, this conference and the Autism Speaks ATN addresses the unique set of needs and challenges of individuals and families. We look forward in this effort to both increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families, as their needs change and strengths evolve."

The conference provides a unique forum for families and professionals to jointly and collaboratively learn about current guidance and best practices to address medical, developmental and support issues associated with ASD throughout the lifespan from first diagnosis and early intervention through adulthood.

"The theme of this conference, treating the whole person, reflects our goal of helping individuals with ASD to have healthy and successful lives regardless of their needs at any stage of their lives" stated Peter Bell, executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks.

These themes will be highlighted by the two conference keynote speakers. This year's keynote speakers include pediatrician Paul Carbone, M.D. on "Planning for Adult Medical Issues in Childhood and Adolescence," and special education expert Stephen Shore, Ed.D. on "Creating a Fulfilling Life." Dr. Carbone, author of Autism Spectrum Disorders: What Every Parent Needs to Know, practices at the University of Utah's Neurobehavior H.O.M.E. Program where he provides comprehensive services across the lifespan for people with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Dr. Shore, an assistant professor of education at Adelphi University, conducts research on matching evidence-based "best practices" to the needs of those with autism, focusing on the strengths of individuals on the spectrum. Dr. Shore is recognized for his discussion of the challenges of education, relationships, employment and advocacy for individuals on the autism spectrum. Dr. Shore, the author of the best-selling Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, was diagnosed with autism as a child and nonverbal until age 4, with doctors recommending him for institutionalization.

The conference will include general science sessions providing insights into recent medical developments and preparing individuals with ASD for a successful transition into adulthood, and concurrent sessions tailored to families and professionals, respectively, that provide practical examples and discussion on the identification, management and treatment of medical conditions often associated with ASD. Sessions will address genetics in the real world, an update on the new DSM V, GI issues, providing comprehensive evaluations, integration of complementary and alternative medicine into primary care, treatment and management of psychiatric issues including identification of conditions, and management of cognitive behavioral and pharmaceutical treatments. Managing healthcare across the lifespan will be discussed in the context of managing medically complex individuals, providing care for adolescents and planning for adult medical issues. Pragmatic workshops will be provided on managing behaviors, creating feeding plans for proper nutrition and working with your child's care team.

The annual "Whole Person Conference" is a unique opportunity designed to collaboratively inform individuals, families and practitioners to ensure that the community at large benefits from what is being learned through research and optimizing clinical practice in the community. "Our hope is that individuals, families and healthcare providers who attend this conference gain a greater understanding of how to best integrate comprehensive care and services for individuals with autism that they can use in their everyday lives at home or in their clinical practice," added Clara Lajonchere, Ph.D., vice president of clinical programs at Autism Speaks, and chair of the conference planning committee.

This conference is supported by Autism Speaks and partial support for dissemination of program findings is provided through cooperative agreement UA3 MC 11054, Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P Network) from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Source: University Wexner Medical Center

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