TrendsInAutism_v2 A conference on autism at Western University of Health Sciences will provide vital educational and networking opportunities for parents, educators and those involved in autism treatment.

The 11th annual Trends in Autism Conference will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, 2013 in WesternU’s Health Education Center, 701 E. Second Street, 2nd floor, Room 2005, Pomona, Calif. 91766.

The conference is organized by Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, with WesternU serving as a Community Partner. Click here for more information and to register:

“Casa Colina began as a rehabilitation service for children, and although we have grown and diversified over the past 75 years, service to children is still a prime concern for us,” said Felice L. Loverso, PhD, President & CEO of Casa Colina, Inc. “We know how important education is for all those involved in the development of every child with special needs – parents, teachers, health professionals and caregivers. Our support of this conference is therefore a natural extension of our clinical programs and our research activities. We are grateful to Western University of Health Sciences and its Harris Family Center for Disability and Health Policy for sponsoring our Eleventh Annual Trends in Autism Conference and providing the forum for us to continue that valuable education.”

The one-day conference is an excellent introduction for parents, educators and those involved in autism treatment. Participants will learn about the latest research, most effective treatment approaches, how to access services, and what the opportunities are for those on the autism spectrum.

WesternU faculty members Dee Schilling, PT, PhD, Kristy Remick-Waltman, OD, FCOVD, and Gail Singer-Chang, PsyD, MA, MS, will present “An Interprofessional Approach to Autism: Oh, the Possibilities” at this conference. Their presentation will include excerpts from the show “Autism Intersection,” which depicts WesternU faculty members interacting with children with autism and problem-solving in a multidisciplinary way.

“Hopefully some things will have resonated, but also what we’re hopeful of is they leave with more questions, they start to seek other avenues, and they challenge the system as it stands to look for more and look for better,” Schilling said. “We want them to become partners in what we’re doing, because the more partners we get, the better we are.”

The three faculty members are part of WesternU’s Faculty for Autism Collaboration and Education (FACE), The goal of this interprofessional team of educators, clinicians and researchers is to promote integrated perspectives, activities, and resources that serve to enhance the lives of individuals with ASD and their significant others, to help optimize function and promote the highest possible quality of life.

The Trends in Autism Conference mirrors FACE’s emphasis on collaboration and an open exchange of ideas.

“I think a lot about the families and about the parents. What a resource this is for them,” said Elizabeth Hoppe, OD, MPH, DrPH, Dean of the College of Optometry and FACE senior advisor. “How reassuring it is when you feel like you’re alone and isolated, how it can separate people, and to be able to come to a community and have the conversation where people immediately understand. They get it. It’s such a huge support.”

“One of the beauties of coming to a conference like this is the networking,” Remick-Waltman said. “You’ll get to hear different professionals speak, but you’ll also get to meet other people. Maybe it will be someone who can really help you find the answer.”

Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys, with boys five times more likely to be affected, according to Autism Speaks. Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average, and one in 23 families is affected by autism. In 10 years the annual cost will be $200 billion to $400 billion nationally, according to the Autism Society.

Conferences such as this are important because they bring together professionals to talk about information on autism that is constantly evolving, Singer-Chang said.

“It’s important to get into the discussion in real time as that discussion is happening,” she said. “You have to do the reverse of how autism has been classically characterized – you have to engage, you have to relate. It has to be an engaged, flexible way of interacting with one another.”