Rockland County Legislator John Murphy (R-Pearl River) remembers a time when he and others he worked with realized just how many people were being diagnosed with autism.
"All of a sudden, we became aware of the Center for Disease Control's stats," said Murphy, who is also the president of Camp Venture. "They at that time said that autism was appearing in one of every 110 births. We asked around and found out that the early-intervention and Pre-K programs were swelling up and the special ed programs were filling up. It dawned on us that we had a tsunami on our hands."
Inna and Josh Needleman suggested more formal efforts and offered to sponsor a symposium. That led to the creation of the Rockland County Autism Symposium. The sixth annual event will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Pearl River Hilton.
"They are philanthropists, parents of an autistic son, and they have a foundation called MindWorks," Murphy said. "(The symposium) is a collaborative effort by the county government, Camp Venture, MindWorks and the Autistic Science Foundation."
Registration for the event opened and closed within a day, though some spots were still available through a waiting list.
The speakers include Dr. Temple Grandin, a doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University who has high-functioning autism. Grandin is best known as an autism advocate. An HBO film Temple Grandin was made of her life and aired in 2010.
The program for the symposium is as follows.
- 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. - Registration and breakfast
- 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. -- Opening remarks by Murphy and NYS Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Pearl River)
- 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. -- Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, M.D. speaks on "The Next Autism Therapies: The Roles of Mouse Models"
- 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. -- Gina Zecchin-Tirri, Board Certified Behavior Analyst speaks on "Using Applied Behavior Analysis to Teach Life and Community Skills"
- 10:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. -- Coffee break
- 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. -- Dr. Catherine Lord, Director of the Institute of Brain Development, NY-Presbyterian Hosptial, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University Medical Center speaks on "Research and Hopes for the New Autism Center at White Plains."
- 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. -- Lunch
- 12:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. -- Dr. Peter Gerhardt, Ph.D. and Director of McCarton Upper School speaks on "Sexuality Instruction and Learners with ASD"
- 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. - Dr. Temple Grandin, Ph.D. and Professor at Colorado State University speaks on "Experience with Early Education Intervention, Sensory Over-Sensitivity and Experiences with Starting a Fulfilling Career"