Parents of Children with Autism Invited to Major International Conference at NUI Galway

Dr Geraldine Leader
May 22 2013 Posted: 10:32 IST

Parents of children with autism are invited to a conference at NUI Galway on 11-12 June to share their experiences and hear the latest research and practical advice.

With estimates that one in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder, the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) at NUI Galway, in collaboration with the US science and advocacy group Autism Speaks, is making parents a particular focus of this the 2nd International Autism Conference.

The event ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders: From Research to Practice’ will feature keynote talks, as well as workshops aimed at providing parents, practitioners, teachers and researchers, with the latest evidence-based approaches to diagnosis, clinical management and adult service provision.

The conference will place a special emphasis on providing practical solutions for parents struggling with autism on a daily basis. Workshops will be delivered on managing behaviour in the home, sleep, toileting, interventions for non verbal, minimally verbal and verbal children and how to manage transitions effectively.

There will be an emphasis on the needs of adolescents and adults with autism, as Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of ICAN, explains: “Much of the research literature to date focuses on the needs of young children with little, if any, discussion paid to the needs of adolescents. For many parents, they are either currently dealing with teenagers challenged with autism, or are anticipating this new phase in a few short years. We are hosting a practical workshop as part of the conference on ‘Adolescence, growing up and sexuality.”

Professor Peter Gerhardt from the McCarton School, New York, will also deliver an address focusing on issues relating to employment, quality of life and inclusion for adults on the autism spectrum. 

The conference will also be highly relevant to the needs of practitioners and teachers. Professor Susan Swedo, of the National Institute of Mental Health in the US, will update delegates on the latest changes to the diagnostic categorisations of autism.

Professor Deborah Fein from the University of Connecticut will discuss what determines best outcomes for children on the autism spectrum, while Professor Richard Hastings from Bangor University will discuss what the research is telling us in relation to effective autism interventions.

Practical workshops addressing mood, anxiety, ADHD and the role of medication and from early signs through to diagnosis will also be provided.

“Autism has become a national epidemic. This conference will bring the worlds leading experts in diagnosis, clinical management and education to NUI Galway as well as catering for the needs of parents,” said Dr Leader. “International evidence indicates an alarming rise in the prevalence of autism, as reflected in the recent data from the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which estimates that one in 88 children, including one in 54 boys, has an autism spectrum disorder.”

“By way of comparison, these estimates represent more children currently diagnosed with autism than diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Down syndrome combined.”

To register for the conference visit A special early booking fee is available until 4 June.


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