UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The abundance of information online is both a virtue and a vice when it comes to understanding autism and how the public perceives the disorder. Mike Miklos, an educational consultant at the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), believes that there are fewer misconceptions about autism but says many still remain among the general public.
“The problem is that there are many sources of information that do not have a basis in factual and scientific information,” said Miklos. “Many postings on the Internet are unedited and unsubstantiated. Many people often believe that all individuals with autism are very much alike. What we know is that people who present as being on the Autism Spectrum vary across their interests, skills and temperaments as much as people who are not considered on the spectrum. As with all people, to know a person with autism one must meet the person and interact with them.”
How to combat public misconceptions about Autism Spectrum Disorders is just one topic at this year’s National Autism Conference being held July 29 to Aug. 1 at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel on the University Park campus.
Penn State and PaTTAN have collaborated in putting together the autism conference for the past 17 years on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education. Conference attendees range from family members, physicians, education faculty and anyone interested in autism spectrum disorders.
“Penn State has provided caring staff, as well as a conference center and overall environment that is conducive to learning and provides state-of-the-art facilities for participants, including families,” said Miklos.
Parents seeking support at the conference will be able to utilize the Children’s Institute, an on-site, structured and fun environment for children and youth with autism, and their siblings.
“The Penn State community is always warm and accepting,” said Miklos. “The location in central Pennsylvania is not only beautiful but also convenient for attendees from all corners of the commonwealth.”
More than 90 speakers are currently scheduled over the four-day conference, including a keynote from former Penn State running back Curt Warner. Warner and his wife, Ana, founded the Curt Warner Autism Non-Profit Foundation in honor of their twin teenage sons who have autism.
Penn State Conferences plans and manages hundreds of programs each year which represent the diversity and strength of Penn State’s academic colleges and provide opportunities for individuals to learn about the latest scholarship, research and developments in their fields or participate in enriching learning experiences. Penn State Conferences is part of Penn State Outreach, which serves more than 5 million people each year, in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.