BioMona M. Delahooke, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in the development of infants, children, and their families. She has received specialized training as an infant mental health specialist, and works widely with multi- disciplinary teams supporting children with developmental or emotional delays. She is a faculty member of the Early Intervention Training Institute (EITI) of the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic. She is a senior faculty member and Mental Health Working Group Co-Chair of the Profectum Foundation. Dr. Delahooke also provides training to personnel in the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and the Westside Infant Family Network. Currently in private practice in Arcadia, California, she consults with parents, preschools, regional centers and school districts in the areas of developmental screening, assessment and intervention for children and their families.
BioCynthia Harrison is the President of CommuniCare Therapy, a rehabilitation company that provides speech language pathology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, registered dietetics, and social work. She is a speech language pathologist and her area of clinical focus is the provision of assessment and treatment of children, adolescents and adults with autism, disorders of relating and communicating, global developmental delays and their families and is a well known public speaker who trains and educates clinicians and parents in North America and abroad. She holds a Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Vermont and a post graduate certificate in the DIR model. She is very active in her community and serves on a number of Boards and community associations.
BioDirector of the Interdisciplinary Training Institute, Los Angeles /Connie Lillas, PhD, MFT, RN is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Training Institute with a background in high-risk maternal-child nursing, family systems, and developmental psychoanalysis. She is a National Graduate Zero to Three Leadership Fellow and a Court Team Liaison for a birth to three-year-old Fostering Family Partnerships pilot promoting child welfare reform in Los Angeles. Connie has a full-time private practice, specializing in dual diagnosis across both developmental delays and mental health concerns. In addition, she trains locally, nationally, and internationally on the Neurorelational Framework (NRF, 2009) based upon her co-authored book—Infant/Child Mental Health, Early Intervention, and Relationship-Based Therapies: A Neurorelational Framework for Interdisciplinary Practice, which is a part of the W. W. Norton Interpersonal Neurobiology Series.
BioCelebrate the Children’s founder, Monica G. Osgood, is an experienced behavioral consultant and therapist who specializes in using developmental approaches to support children with autism and other differences in relating and communicating. She is also the Founder and Director of the Developmental Center for Children and Families and Executive Director and a founding member of the Profectum Foundation. Monica has worked in homes, therapy centers, and private and public school settings for over 20 years. Some of her experience has included assessment and the development of intervention programs, curriculum and IEP development, and parent and professional training.
In 1998 Monica created the first public school program with the Developmental Individual Relationship-based (DIR model) approach as the core philosophy. In 2000 she was the first educator to join the Senior Faculty of the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning(ICDL) to provide interdisciplinary training in the DIR Model. During her time with ICDL Monica served as Faculty for all of their yearly training institutes, spoke at many of their conferences and had the opportunity to work closely and collaborate with Drs. Greenspan and Wieder to further develop the DIR Model in school settings. In 2004, she collaborated with Lauren Blaszak to open a state-approved, DIR Model school for children ages 3-21 in Denville New Jersey now serving over 70 school districts and 130 families.
Additional accomplishments include many speaking engagements at conferences and participation in television, radio and newspaper interviews across the USA, Wales, Ireland and Amsterdam. Monica has appeared on Welsh Channel 4 and BBC1 documentaries, sharing the DIR model approach with British parents and professionals. Monica and the Celebrate the Children school were featured in a TIME Magazine cover story in May of 2006. She serves on the Advisory Board for 3LPlace and the National Advisory Council for The Centers for Exceptional Children. Monica also serves on the Economic Development Advisory Council and the Sustainable Economic Development Plan Steering Committee for her local Town Council. Finally, she collaborated with twice Grammy nominated children’s artists Dan Myers and Brady Rymer on an album and music video celebrating diversity in children with all abilities released April 2011.
BioMichele Parkins is an occupational therapist, specializing in working with children with sensory processing disorder and autism. She currently works with children and families at her private practice – Great Kids Place - in Rockaway, New Jersey using the STAR and DIR model. Prior to this she worked in schools for ten years infusing sensory integration, visual spatial, and DIR goals throughout daily activities and curriculum. Michele has been using, learning, and teaching the DIR model for over ten years. She is faculty of the STAR Institute and Adjunct Professor of Temple University where she educates therapists on SPD assessment and treatment. Michele is DIR and SIPT certified with advanced training in visual spatial capacities. She co-developed a unique handwriting program – Connect Experience Write® – that highlights the importance of affective engagement in learning as well as sensory integration using music and movement to teach letter formation and pre-writing skills. Michele is passionate about working with families and other therapists and she continues to do so as a clinician and educator.
BioRicki Robinson, M.D., M.P.H. is co-director of Descanso Medical Center for Development and Learning in La Canada, California and a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School Medicine of USC. She has been in private pediatric practice for nearly forty years, specializing in children with autism and developmental delays for over twenty-five years.
Dr. Robinson received her M.D. degree in 1973 from the University of Southern California. She trained in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, having served as Chief Pediatric Resident for CHLA in 1976. She is Board Certified in Pediatrics. In 1988 she received her MPH from the University at Berkeley School of Public Health.
She has been actively involved in the field of autism since 1990, developing multidisciplinary educational and medical programs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and devoting endless hours in education, legislation and research efforts on a national level. Dr. Robinson has been at the forefront of leading grassroots Autism organizations. She was a founding board member of Cure Autism Now (now Autism Speaks) and the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders (ICDL), and most recently Profectum Foundation. She was a member of the Autism Speaks Scientific Review Panel for over eight years. Dr. Robinson organized and chaired the first nationally recognized task force to define the standard of care for clinical trials in autism. The results of this outstanding effort were published in CNS Spectrums (January 2004, Vol. 9, #1). Most recently she was appointed as Medical Director of Profectum Foundation, an organization devoted to providing multi-disciplinary education and training for parents, families and professionals working with individuals with ASD across the lifespan.
A nationally sought-after expert, she has appeared on the Today Show, The Talk, Larry King Live and Good Morning America Health in support of the needs of children and families with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is an internationally recognized speaker addressing the needs of children with autism and other developmental delays to parent, professional and lay audiences worldwide for the past two decades. She is also the author of the acclaimed book Autism Solutions – How to Create a Healthy and Meaningful Life for Your Child (see www.DrRickiRobinson.com).
BioDr. Wieder is the Clinical Director and a founding member of the Profectum Foundation, dedicated to advancing the development and infant mental health of all children, including children, adolescents and adults with autism and special needs through training and educational programs. She also co-founded the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders with the late Stanley Greenspan. Dr. Wieder is a Board Member of Zero to Three and also serves on Advisory Boards to various programs serving infant mental health and other special needs. She established DIR-Israel and provides consultation and training to international and national programs.
As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Wieder has pioneered important approaches to diagnosing and treating infants and toddlers with infant mental health and developmental disorders. She co-developed the DIR Model with Stanley Greenspan, edited two diagnostic manuals for infants and young children, and created models for interdisciplinary post-graduate case based training and work with parents. She has co-chaired and organized national and international conferences integrating development, neuroscience and intervention approaches for nearly 20 years. Dr. Wieder also developed approaches to integrate visual-spatial knowledge to advance emotional and cognitive development. Her research interests concern follow up studies of children on the Autism Spectrum who have received DIR comprehensive interventions and the evaluation of training and educational programs.
Dr. Wieder co-authored Engaging Autism, The Child With Special Needs and Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health with Stanley Greenspan, M.D. They also co-edited Infants in Multi-Risk Families as well as the ICDL Diagnostic Manual for Infants and Young Children (DMIC) and the original Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (DC 03). Most recently, Dr. Wieder co-authored Visual Spatial Portals to Thinking, Feeling, and Movement with Harry Wachs, O.D. She has published numerous journal and book chapters and presents at multiple conferences nationally and internationally.
At this time Dr. Wieder also has a private practice in NYC for diagnosis, treatment and consultation regarding complex developmental and mental health challenges.
BioA long time researcher, advocate and teacher, she founded one of the first programs in the English-speaking world for autistic children here in San Diego in 1970. For over 20 years, Dr. Donnellan and her students and colleagues have been writing books and articles emphasizing the importance of studying movement differences in order to understand and support autistic people. Today the Special Research Topic in Frontiers on “Autism: The Movement Perspective” strongly supports this view with over 30 scientific research articles from top research institutions world-wide. Dr. Donnellan co-edited the Frontier's issue and edited the three papers of Dr. Torres and colleagues from Rutgers and Indiana that document and measure those movement differences. She and her colleagues and students have two research papers in the issue as well (Donnellan, Hill & Leary; Robledo, Donnellan & Strandt-Conroy). The collective works of all these researchers are expected to transform autism by shifting the focus of research and treatments to the individual on the spectrum in ways that are more objective as well as more personalized.
BioAmy is a licensed speech-language pathologist and owner of Cornerstone Speech and Language in South Pasadena, California. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Northwestern University with a specialty certificate in early intervention. For the past 20 years, Amy has provided play-based, family focused, developmental treatment to infants, toddlers and young children and with speech-language, social-communication, and feeding needs. She has an extensive DIR background and is currently participating in Profectum’s Level 2 Fellows course. In addition, she has additional certifications or training in Neurodevelopmental Treatment, Oral Placement Treatment, PROMPT, SCERTS and Hanen’s “It Takes Two To Talk.”
BioNatalie Kitts holds a Masters of Science from Kean University, and is a licensed occupational therapist. She has extensive continuing education including advanced training in Sensory Integration Theory and Intervention, and a Professionals Certificate in the DIR Model and Foundational Capacities for Development (FCD). Natalie is passionate about helping children with developmental differences thrive and reach their potential, including supporting her own son overcome many of the challenges of Asperger’s Syndrome. She is strongly committed to supporting and helping families survive the struggles of raising a child who is “differently abled”. Natalie has worked as a pediatric occupational therapist in public school, private practice and early intervention since 2012. Her passion to help children drives her to share her experiences and educate others through workshops and professional presentations. She has previously presented on Dyslexia and Executive Function, Self-Regulation and Executive Function, and The Occupational Therapist’s Role in College Transition Services for Students with ASD. Natalie is the co-owner of Foundations of Executive Functions, which uses a unique program designed for occupational therapists to identify and provide intervention for children and young adults with executive dysfunction. She is hoping to have the curriculum, Foundations4Function, available for publication by the end of 2017. Natalie lives in New Jersey with her husband of 26 years and their 3 children. Her favorite leisure occupations include hiking, biking, kayaking, traveling and sharing life adventures with her family.
BioJoshua Miles Kitts is a young man who loves to help others. He has insight and compassion for others who struggle as he had growing up. When he was 7 years old he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. He was always overly sensitive to sensations and was challenged by typical social situations. In middle school he went to a school for kids with alternative learning styles where they focused on helping him understand himself. He graduated from a small private high school and was accepted to college in 2011. Although he had many obstacles along the way, is on track to graduate from Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in Creative Writing with a concentration in American Sign Language. While he is unsure what he will do next, he knows he wants to help people who struggle as he has. In Joshua’s his spare time he enjoys playing video games, reading, writing, sculpting and exercising.
BioMy name is Anie Knipping, and I'm a social autistic, a layabout with Panic/Anxiety Disorder, and a terminal optimist with clinical depression. My sensory stuff is all over the place, and I've got synesthesia, which lets me see sound and taste colour. I love to educate people on all of it, but it's not always easy to explain without pictures, so I published an illustrated book, 'Eccentricity', to do just that.
BioStephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He is the former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences. He is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He has published more than 250 peer‐reviewed scientific papers across several disciplines. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the consequence of feeling safe in maintaining and optimizing mental and physical health.
BioJoyce Show Tran is a physician-mom of seven children, the sixth of whom is Peter. Her book, published by Jessica Kingsley in 2012, "Teaching Your Child with Love and Skill: A Guide for Parents and Other Educators of Children with Autism, including Moderate to Severe Autism," shares how she, along with a team of loving educators, helped her son diagnosed with nonverbal, severe autism move up the developmental ladder using an eclectic, DIR approach.
BioChantal’s passion for empowering others and her personal interest in autism has led her to become an autism consultant, an award-winning author, speaker, and leader in the field of autism, adolescence and transition to adulthood. She has been involved with autism spectrum disorders for over 25 years as both a parent and a professional on both sides of the Atlantic. A tireless advocate for those on the autism spectrum, Chantal founded Autism College in order to provide consultation services, practical information and training online about autism. In 2009, Chantal was appointed by the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders to lead the South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce as Co-Chair; and in the past served on the Taskforce on Transitional Services & Supports reporting to the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.
Chantal received her BA in Social Ecology from the University of California at Irvine (UCI). Her first practical experience with autism was at Fairview State Hospital, teaching self-help and community living skills to severely developmentally disabled and autistic adolescents in preparation for their de-institutionalization. Then, as a case manager for Orange County Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled, Chantal provided information and resources to families. Little did Chantal know that years later, these work experiences would prove invaluable when her son (now a young adult) was born and eventually diagnosed with autism in Paris, France, where the only treatment on offer was psychoanalysis. Chantal’s struggle to find appropriate treatment for her son led them to move to England, where they became one of the first families in the UK to run a Lovaas-type (based on applied behavior analysis) home program. Having been a service provider in California, and then a parent raising her child and dealing with the ’systems’ in France, United Kingdom and the United States, gives Chantal a unique and well-rounded perspective few people in this field have. A former researcher on BBC documentaries and a line producer on a TV Series in Paris, Chantal blogs on Huffingtonpost.com, and PsychologyToday.com. Chantal has been interviewed on a wide variety of media, including NPR, PBS, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek and Fox News. Jeremy, Chantal’s son, was highlighted in the Newsweek cover story “Growing up with Autism” and featured in the MTV documentary True Life series, in “I Have Autism” which was the recipient of a 2008 Voice Award. His commencement speech from Torrey Pines High School was covered by the media. Jeremy is a painter, writer, advocate and autism consultant.
BioJeremy was born in Paris, France in 1989 and diagnosed with autism at an early age. He did not discover his gift for painting until he was 24, when he began to communicate to his parents about the colorful abstract portraits he was painting in his dreams. As a young child, Jeremy’s interest in bright colors was obvious: he spent hours looking at brightly colored fabrics, images in picture books, and the patterns in rugs. He loved visiting museums to look at the paintings, and cathedrals to follow the patterns on the floor tiles. Jeremy had many sensory-motor and vision challenges including peripheral vision (side vision). He did not enjoy participating in art activities when younger. He did not like the feeling the texture of finger paint, did not have the motor coordination to move a paintbrush, or squeeze a tube of paint. However, he loved watching the colorful paints in the Art Spinner go round and round and develop into colorful paintings.
Jeremy’s parents were told to find an institution for him. Instead they moved to Berkshire, England and subsequently to San Diego, California in order to provide him with an education. Jeremy was placed in moderate/severe special education classrooms. By age 17, Jeremy had little speech but learned to type and point to letters at home with his mother. Subsequently his local high school (Torrey Pines) placed him in general education classes. Jeremy graduated at age 21 with a full academic diploma, and gave a commencement speech using voice output technology. Jeremy’s story was highlighted on MTV’s documentary series True Life, in the episode, “I Have Autism” (recipient of a 2007 Voice Award), NPR, PBS, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek (cover article), and Fox News.
Advocacy for others like him who have no voice is an important part of Jeremy’s life. After high school, Jeremy co-authored a book A Full Life with Autism (Macmillan 2012) and served as a Youth Representative to the United Nations for the Autism Research Institute, an NGO; and as a youth leader for the Autistic Global Initiative.
Jeremy discovered he had synesthesia in 2011, when he explained to his mother for the first time that he saw letters, numbers, words and emotions in color. In August 2012, Jeremy began to communicate about the dreams he was having: dreams that he was painting the emotions of people he had met into colorful portraits. One night he had a dream that he painted ten of his paintings and had an art show. He asked his mom if this could come true, and she encouraged him to paint in real life. In April 2016 his first curated solo art show was held at Space4Art in San Diego and was covered by national media including People.com, NBC, ABC, Good Morning America and thecreatorsproject.vice.com, as well as local media.
Currently Jeremy meets people in person at his art studio at Space4Art or online, and then paints to recreate the portrait envisioned while dreaming. Jeremy uses acrylic paint on wood panels and large canvases.
BioSteve Silberman is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, the New Yorker, the MIT Technology Review, Nature, Salon, Shambhala Sun, and many other publications. He is also the author of the New York Times best-selling NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, which unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who first became famous for discovering it, while also discovering surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years. The book received a California Book Award as well as the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction — the first popular science book to win the prize in its 17-year history. Silberman speaks regularly at schools and universities, advocacy groups and organizations, and corporations including Microsoft, Google, and Apple.
In his book and his keynote presentations, Silberman shares little-known stories of the researchers and psychiatrists who pioneered the first autism diagnoses while also providing long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle. In an effort to shed light on the growing movement of “neurodiversity,” Silberman discusses the evolution of autism and explores the need for a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.
Silberman’s writing has earned him numerous accolades and awards, including a 2010 Science Journalism Award for Magazine Writing from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Kavli Foundation for his article titled “The Placebo Problem,” His writing on science, culture, and literature has been featured in a number of anthologies, including The Best American Science Writing of the Year and The Best Business Stories of the Year. His TED talk, “The Forgotten History of Autism” has been viewed more than 800,000 times and translated into 29 languages while his Twitter account, @stevesilberman, made Time magazine’s list of the best Twitter feeds for the year 2011. Silberman lives with his husband, Keith, in San Francisco.
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