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Conference to Focus on Instruction Methods for Children with Autism

by on July 26, 2016 12:40 PM

Instruction methods to help students with autism become more independent and developing skills to transition to postsecondary education and the workplace will be the focus at the 20th Annual National Autism Conference, Aug. 1-4 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

The conference will include nearly 90 sessions and is expected to host about 1,300 parents, educators and service providers who will come to learn more about autism research and interventions for school services. 

Among the activities for children with autism at the conference will be a new, two-day science camp featuring hands-on experiments, the conference's annual Children's Institute and an Art of Expression exhibit.

“We want to capitalize on the children’s strengths and focus on them being effective communicators without compromising their individuality,” said Mike Miklos, a behavior analyst and certified school psychologist who works as an educational consultant for the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN).  

PaTTAN will present an update on recent findings and National Institute of Health activities in autism research on the opening morning

Malcolm Corley, a 17-year-old with autism, will share his musical and artistic talents at the conference. He will sing two songs during the opening session.

"Singing shows people there are things about him that people don’t know," said his mother, Maria Corley, in a news release. "He doesn’t speak much but can sing in six different languages. You do whatever you can that you think will help, and you realize he’s a wonderful, loving and amazing kid whether he talks more or not.”

Corley, who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at age 3, also will share his artwork in a booth at the conference. He paints decorative tiles that he sells on his website with the hopes of saving money to travel to the Netherlands.

“People often don’t realize there’s such a wide variety of abilities for individuals with autism and being able to tap into those abilities is starting to happen,” Maria Corley said. “Once more people learn about the strengths of each individual then more opportunities will open for them.”

Among the speakers at the conference, Mark Sundberg, an internationally recognized expert whose work guides language programs for people with autism, will deliver the keynote address, focusing on the future of language interventions for students with autism. Sundberg also will be part of a 20th anniversary panel on Tuesday afternoon exploring the growth of applied behavior analysis over the past two decades, as well as a session on "Teaching Intraverbal Behavior to Children with Autism."

The closing keynote will be the "Value of Evidence-Based Practices: Snapshots by PA School Administration and Staff."

The conference is a collaborative effort of Penn State, the Pennsylvania Department of Educations's Bureau of Special Education and PaTTAN.

For information on sessions that will be webcast, walk-in registration options and more, visit

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