A one-day in person conference for parents, educators and care providers of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Our annual update focuses on new research and services for individuals with autism to optimize their long term functioning.

Please note: This conference focuses on individuals who need a significant level of support. The goal of this conference is to learn about the science and focus on individuals with significant needs. 

Keynote Speakers

Karen Pierce, PhD

Professor, Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego. Co-Director, UCSD Autism Center of Excellence.

Lecture: “New directions in autism early detection, biomarker discovery and understanding heterogeneity using eye tracking and brain imaging"

Breakout Session: "Understanding eye tracking and current applications in Autism Spectrum Disorder"

Bio

Karen Pierce, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego and has been studying autism for the past 25 years. Her research spans a range of topics from early screening and detection to eye tracking and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Her early detection approach that focuses on mobilizing pediatricians, called the Get SET Early model, has identified thousands of ASD toddlers around the 1st birthday and has resulted in rapid treatment access. Using eye tracking and brain imaging technology within this early-detected population, Dr. Pierce’s work has revealed unusual patterns of eye gaze and brain activity that helps elucidate the behavioral and biological heterogeneity of ASD.    

Dr. Pierce has been invited as a keynote speaker on the topic of autism at national and international conferences. Her work is published in high-impact journals such as JAMA Pediatrics, and has been highlighted in the public media including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and Time Magazine.  Her research is funded by the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as private organizations such as the SImons Foundation. She has been honored by several awards and recognitions including a NIMH Merit Award, US Department of Health and Human Services IACC Top 20 Research Paper, Autism Speaks Top 10 Research Paper, and the San Diego Health Hero Award.

Micah Mazurek, PhD

Professor, University of Virginia

Lecture:  “Mental health in children and youth with autism: A contextual approach"

Breakout Session: "Cognitive and Behavioral Strategies for Improving Sleep in Children with Autism"

Bio

Micah Mazurek, PhD, is the Novartis U.S. Foundation Professor of Education at the University of Virginia, Director of UVA’s Supporting Transformative Autism Research (STAR) initiative, and Director of the Blue Ridge Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (Blue Ridge LEND) program.  She is currently the President-Elect of Division 33 (IDD/ASD) of the American Psychological Association (APA).  Dr. Mazurek received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Yale University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years of clinical experience and specific expertise in autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.  She is also active in efforts to enhance quality of care through training, capacity-building, and development and dissemination of best-practice autism guidelines and toolkits.  

Dr. Mazurek has an active program of research funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), the US Department of Defense, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Autism Speaks, the Simons Foundation, and other agencies. Her research focuses on promoting positive and meaningful outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, with over 100 peer-reviewed publications to date.  Her current projects focus on new tools for diagnosis and outcome assessment, new models for intervention, and new methods for enhancing access to care for underserved populations. Her work also focuses on examining positive and negative aspects of screen-based technology use, and on improving mental health outcomes across the lifespan.

Janet Lainhart, MD

Professor, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine

Lecture :“Toward healthy aging in autism:  What we know and don't know, and what autistic children, adolescents and adults can do now"

Breakout Session: “Aging across the lifespan in autistic individuals: let your life stories, concerns, and ideas be heard.” 

Bio

Janet Lainhart, MD, completed training in Pediatrics, Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatry, and autism research at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. She has had the honor of providing outpatient care for autistic children, adolescents, and adults, across the lifespan, for many years. She is currently Lead Principal Investigator of a NIH Autism Center of Excellence, “Toward Healthy Aging in Autism: A Longitudinal Clinical and Multimodal Brain Imaging Study”, which is investigating physical, mental, and brain health and aging along with well-being and resilience across adulthood.

Stanford Speakers

Bio

Dr. Abrams is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University where he conducts research investigating the brain bases of social communication impairments in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Dr. Abrams research focuses on understanding why children with ASD often "tune out" from the social world around them and how this impacts social and brain development. His research employs a combination of psychophysical, cognitive, and brain imaging techniques, with the goal of identifying key neural features underlying social deficits in children with ASD. Dr. Abrams received his undergraduate degree from University of Arizona followed by a period in industry as an acoustical engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area. He subsequently completed his graduate degree from Northwestern University and joined the Stanford University community as a postdoctoral researcher in 2008. Dr. Abrams joined the Stanford faculty in 2014 and was promoted to Clinical Assistant Professor in 2018 and Clinical Associate Professor in 2021. Dr. Abrams’s research program has been supported by multiple funding agencies including the NIH, NARSAD, and the National Organization for Hearing Research Foundation. Dr. Abrams lives in the Bay Area with his wife, children, and gifted Labrador retriever, Meatball.

Bio

Dr. Chetcuti, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral academic researcher within Stanford University’s Autism and Developmental Disorders Research Program (https://med.stanford.edu/autism.html) within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She earned her doctoral degree from La Trobe University in Australia, specializing in developmental psychopathology and psychometrics. Dr. Chetcuti's research primarily focuses on advancing the measurement and characterization of individual differences in social-affective functioning in individuals with autism and other psychiatric conditions. Her work takes a lifespan perspective, acknowledging the dynamic nature of behavior across different life stages and its interaction with the environment. Dr. Chetcuti has actively collaborated with leading researchers in the United States, Europe, and Australia, contributing to the development of early developmental interventions to enhance functional social-affective outcomes while also analyzing individual difference factors that predict variable response to such approaches. Dr. Chetcuti possesses expertise in advanced statistical modeling techniques and is a core member of the newly-established Program for Psychometrics and Measurement-Based Care (https://med.stanford.edu/sppmc.html), dedicated to bridging the gap between the science of measurement development and clinical practice.

Bio

Emily Ferguson, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral academic researcher and clinician within Stanford University’s Autism and Developmental Disorders Research Program (https://med.stanford.edu/autism.html) within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She earned her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and completed her clinical internship at the University of California Los Angeles. Dr. Ferguson's research focuses on advancing understanding of mechanisms of challenging behaviors in autistic youth and adults to inform treatment development. Her work takes a comprehensive perspective, integrating methods from implementation science to improve the accessibility and quality of clinical care for underserved autistic populations, especially those with higher support needs (or "profound autism"). She is also interested in developing methods to improve self-regulation in individuals with profound autism to effectively manage self-injurious behaviors and aggression. Dr. Ferguson is currently supporting research in the Preschool Autism Lab (https://med.stanford.edu/autismcenter/pre-school-autism-lab-program.html), and exploring profiles of challenging behaviors with the Program for Psychometrics and Measurement-Based Care (https://med.stanford.edu/sppmc.html) in a diverse range of autistic and non-autistic youth to inform treatment approaches.
Associate Chair, Faculty Engagement and Well-being, Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (2021 - Present) Autism Intervention Clinic Director, Stanford Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2019 - Present) Psychiatry Department Well-being Director, Stanford University School of Medicine (2019 - Present)

Bio

Grace Gengoux, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is a Clinical Professor, Director of the Autism Intervention Clinic, and the Well-being Director within Stanford University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Along with colleagues at Stanford, Dr. Gengoux has written a new book focused on professional well-being and practical strategies to promote resilience for providers of mental health care. Dr. Gengoux is also a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in training parents to promote the healthy development of social skills in their children and manage challenging behavior using positive behavioral approaches. Dr. Gengoux has published peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on treatments for autism. She has specialized training in Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), having completed her doctoral studies under the mentorship of Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel. Dr. Gengoux oversees the PRT group parent training program at Stanford, supervises postdoctoral fellows providing PRT clinical treatment, and has completed multiple clinical trials evaluating the effects of PRT on the social-communication competence of young children with autism. Dr. Gengoux serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. Dr. Gengoux received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and completed her clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center, before joining the Stanford University School of Medicine clinical faculty in 2010.

Bio

I am a physician scientist in the field of sleep medicine in aging and brain function. Using combined polysomnogram and novel neuroimaging technology, I aim to identify potential sleep biomarkers to investigate the mechanism of progression from normal aging to Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or dementia. I also investigate the impact of sleep on cognitive/affective function or behavior abnormality in various neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.