Autism Summit explores diagnosis and assessment

BOWLING GREEN, O.— Professionals and parents will explore aspects of diagnosing, assessing and treating autism at the sixth annual Autism Summit of Northwest Ohio, to be presented June 9 by the Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development, BGSU Continuing & Extended Education, and the Wood County Educational Service Center.

According to U.S. health officials, about one in 150 American children has autism—a rate of diagnosis that has increased tenfold in the last decade. Whether the drastic rise is due to increased prevalence or greater awareness, early diagnosis and high-quality treatment are critical for affected children and their families.

Two experts to speak

This year's conference will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. June 9 in BGSU's Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Two experts will speak on different facets of diagnosing and assessing autism, and each will lead a breakout session that explains how this information is used to treat the disorder.

Dr. Scott Bellini, assistant director of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism at Indiana University, will present "Clinical Diagnosis of Autism: Assessing Social Skills." Dr. Gretchen Dahl Reeves, an associate professor of occupational therapy in the School of Health Sciences at Eastern Michigan University, will discuss "Diagnosis of Autism: Assessing Sensory Integration."

In addition to his work at Indiana University, Bellini is a licensed psychologist in private practice and works with children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. He serves on the editorial board for the journal Focus on Autism, and is a member of the Autism Services Work Group, a committee commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bellini has published manuscripts and spoken nationally on the topic of social-emotional functioning of children with ASD.

Reeves' extensive clinical experience has included work with infants and young children with a variety of special needs. She has conducted research with children with ASD and is currently investigating the correlation between physiological responsiveness and sensory processing and behavior. Reeves has lectured on brain function, sensory and motor integration, and program development for persons with special needs throughout the United States and abroad.

Breakout sessions

Separate breakout sessions for teachers and parents are a new feature of the conference, and representatives from state and local autism groups will deliver an update on "What's Happening with Autism?"

"The conference is a wonderful opportunity to see a high-quality, nationally known speaker," says Linell Weinberg, executive director of the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio. "I always get at least one or two new ideas for strategies I can take from this conference and use."

Approval is pending for social worker, counselor, psychologist, occupational therapist and MRDD CEUs. Teachers who need education CEUs may submit the certificates to their Regional Professional Development Center.

The conference fee is $69 with CEUs, or $49 without CEUs. For more information or to register for the Autism Summit, visit http://pace.bgsu.edu or call Continuing & Extended Education at 1-877-650-8165 or 419-372-8181.

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(Posted May 24, 2007 )