When Penn State held its first autism conference in 1998, about 100 people were expected to attend. To the great surprise of the event's planners, 300 showed up, forcing staff to scramble and find housing for the overflow in the University's empty dorm rooms. Today, the conference is one of the largest meetings of its kind-not just in the nation, but globally, attracting a diverse audience, including medical professionals as well as those suffering from autism and their family members. This summer, from July 31 through August 4, the 2006 National Autism Conference is expected to draw more than 2,400 people to Penn State's University Park campus.
Public awareness of autism has grown dramatically in recent years, as diagnoses have increased at what some medical professionals call epidemic levels. In addition, a recent flurry of stories in the media has helped make autism a focus of national consciousness. As a result, more professionals than ever before are seeking the latest information about the condition. Titled "Progress Through Partnership," this year's conference will focus on current topics in the field, including cross-agency support and the needs of adolescents and adults living with autism.
According to Cathy Scutta, an educational consultant with the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), and lead sponsor of the event, the conference showcases comprehensive, evidence-based information, providing a venue for educators and families to develop effective educational programming for those with autism spectrum disorders. Close to
Contact: Amy Neil