Autism Pathways: A Symposium on Autism Research and Initiatives at UVA

Watch the archived live stream of the Symposium

Join the UVA Curry School of Education and UVA Brain Institute as we  bring together a diverse group of colleagues, partners and collaborators to envision a path forward for expanding UVA’s work in autism research, training and service. Our panelists will highlight existing cross-Grounds collaborations and emerging local- and state-wide partnerships. Symposium partners: Virginia Institute of Autism and Faison Center

We are excited to have Ron Suskind (Col ’81) as our Keynote Speaker. Ron Suskind is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Way of the World, The One Percent Doctrine, The Price of Loyalty, and A Hope in the Unseen. From 1993 to 2000 he was the senior national affairs writer for the Wall Street Journal, where he won a Pulitzer Prize. His newest book, Life, Animated, chronicles his family’s twenty-year journey raising and connecting to their autistic son.

The Suskinds are also the subject of an award-winning documentary feature of the same name. Their story has driven activism and research about the compensatory strengths of those with autism and others who are “differently-abled” due to distinctive neurology or sociocultural backgrounds. In 2015, Ron founded Sidekicks, a tech startup leading efforts to build a next generation of augmentative technologies to lift and support these communities. Ron lives in Cambridge, MA, and lectures about narrative and justice at Harvard Law School.

Program Schedule

10:00 a.m.     Opening Remarks by Bob Pianta, Dean of the Curry School

                        Keynote Address by Ron Suskind, Journalist & Author

11:00 a.m.     Panel: Current Research

12:00 p.m.    Lunch & Networking

1:00 p.m.      Panel: UVA Partnerships

2:00 p.m.      Panel: Community Partnerships

*schedule subject to change

RSVP

Note: This event is invitation only. Please RSVP by April 19, 2017.

Parking 

Parking available in the Central Grounds Garage across from Bavaro Hall. Click here to access the University parking map.

Questions

For more information, contact Kelly Reinhardt at ksr2h@virginia.edu or (434) 243-1962.

Speaker Information

Keynote

Ron Suskind (Col ’81) is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Way of the World, The One Percent Doctrine, The Price of Loyalty, and A Hope in the Unseen. From 1993 to 2000 he was the senior national affairs writer for the Wall Street Journal, where he won a Pulitzer Prize. His newest book, Life, Animated, chronicles his family’s twenty-year journey raising and connecting to their autistic son. The Suskinds are also the subject of an award-winning documentary feature of the same name. Their story has driven activism and research about the compensatory strengths of those with autism and others who are “differently-abled” due to distinctive neurology or sociocultural backgrounds. In 2015, Ron founded Sidekicks, a tech startup leading efforts to build a next generation of augmentative technologies to lift and support these communities. Ron lives in Cambridge, MA, and lectures about narrative and justice at Harvard Law School.

Robert Pianta, PhD is Dean of the Curry School of Education, Novartis US Foundation Professor of Education, Professor of Psychology, and founding director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia. Dr. Pianta‘s research and policy interests focus on the intersection of education and human development. In particular, his work has been influential in advancing the conceptualization of teacher-student interactions and relationships and documenting their contributions to students’ learning and development. He has authored or co-authored more than 300 articles, 50 chapters, and 10 books and led research and training grants totaling over $60 million. He began his career as a special education teacher and joined the University of Virginia faculty in 1986. An internationally recognized expert in both early childhood education and K-12 teaching and learning, Dr. Pianta regularly consults with federal agencies, foundations, universities, and governments. He was named a Fellow of the American Education Research Association and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota in 2016.

Jaideep Kapur M.B.B.S., PhD, is the Eugene Meyer III Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Neurology at the University of Virginia. He is the Director of the Neurosciences Center at University of Virginia Health Sciences Center. Dr. Kapur has a long-standing interest in understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying prolonged self –sustaining seizures, called status epilepticus. His laboratory studies mechanisms of rapid plasticity of synapses and neuronal circuits during status epilepticus. He is a co-leader of the Established Status Epilepticus Treatment Trial (ESETT), a NIH funded multicenter clinical trial to determine the best second line treatment of benzodiazepine refractory status epilepticus. Another area of research is regulation of seizures by hormonal fluctuations. Grants from National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Epilepsy Foundation, CURE epilepsy foundation support his research. He served as the President of the American Epilepsy Society in 2010. He received the 2013 Epilepsy Research Recognition Award for Basic Science conferred by the American Epilepsy Society.

Panel: Autism Research at UVA

Catherine Bradshawis a Professor and the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. She holds a doctorate in developmental psychology from Cornell University and a master’s of education in counseling and guidance from the University of Georgia. Her primary research interests focus on the development of aggressive behavior and school-based prevention. She collaborates on research projects examining bullying and school climate; the development of aggressive and problem behaviors; effects of exposure to violence, peer victimization, and environmental stress on children; and the design, evaluation, and implementation of evidence-based prevention programs in schools. She presently collaborates on federally supported randomized trials of school-based prevention programs, including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and social-emotional learning curricula. She also has expertise in implementation science and coaching models. Dr. Bradshaw works with the Maryland State Department of Education and several school districts to support the development and implementation of programs and policies to prevent bullying and school violence, and to foster safe and supportive learning environments. She collaborates on federally-funded research grants supported by the NIMH, NIDA, CDC, and the Institute of Education Sciences. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Research on Adolescence and the editor of Prevention Science. She is a coeditor of the Handbook of School Mental Health (Springer, 2014).

Daniel Cox, PhD, ABPP is a Professor in UVA’s departments of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, Internal Medicine, and Ophthalmology. He serves as the Director of the Center for Behavioral Medicine Research and the Virginia Driving Safety Laboratory. He earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Louisville, and completed his residency at the University of Virginia. Dr. Cox has published over 240 scientific articles and has been the Principle Investigator on over 50 grants from government and industry. His research interests include lifestyle management of Type 2 diabetes, and driving safety. His current research activities involve, (1) investigating a paradigm shift in the behavioral management of Type 2 diabetes from a weight reduction focus to a focus on reducing postprandial blood glucose, and (2) evaluating and improving driving safety of newly licensed ASD drivers using both virtual reality and on-road instrumented vehicles. Dr. Cox is currently collaborating with researchers at UVA and Virginia Tech to investigate differences in driving behavior between experienced drivers and new drivers with and without ASD. The team is measuring driving performance in a simulator and in a research vehicle.

Jamie Morris is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia where he directs the UVA Social Neuroscience Laboratory. Jamie’s research program seeks to characterize neural systems underlying both normal and abnormal forms of social cognition and interpersonal functioning. His lab takes a multimodal approach including the use of functional MRI, electroencephalography, eye-gaze monitoring, genetics and epigenetics, and hormonal measures. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and Cure Autism Now.

John Lukens is Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG) at the University of Virginia. John attended the University of Richmond for his undergraduate studies. John then performed his thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Young Hahn at the University of Virginia. For his postdoctoral training, John worked in the laboratory of Dr. Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. In 2014, John returned to Charlottesville to start his lab in the Department of Neuroscience and the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG). His laboratory is currently investigating how dysregulated immune responses during pregnancy contribute to aberrant brain maturation and the development of autism. Emerging experimental and epidemiological data has recently linked dysregulated immune responses with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of the Lukens lab is to unravel the specific inflammatory pathways underlying MIA-induced autism and to interrogate the efficacy of targeting the immune response to prevent and treat autism.

Youjia Hua, PhD is Associate Professor of Special Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Iowa. He is the Director of the Center for Disability Research and Education and currently PI on a personnel preparation grant sponsored by U.S. Department of Education. He has extensive experience designing and evaluating academic and behavioral interventions using single-case research designs. He developed the first university training program in China that prepares parents and teachers to work with children with autism using applied behavior analysis.

Panel: UVA Partnerships

Jason Downer is Associate Professor of Education in Clinical and School Psychology at the University of Virginia, Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), and Program Area Director for Clinical and School Psychology. As the Director of CASTL, Downer has expertise in building relationships and connections across disciplines to achieve common goals. Along with Dr. Rich Stevenson, Downer worked to establish the UVA Joint Autism Clinic, securing initial seed funding from the Curry School of Education. Downer’s primary research interests lie in identification and understanding of contextual and relational contributors to children’s early achievement and social-emotional learning from preschool to elementary. He has a keen interest in translating research-to-practice through development and evaluation of classroom-focused interventions with a particular eye toward understanding implementation issues. Specifically, Downer is involved in several research efforts to examine a video-based consultation approach to in-service professional development for teachers. In addition, his work focuses on the development of observational and survey measures to understand children’s early experiences in school. He received his PhD and MA from the University of South Carolina-Columbia and his BA from the University of Michigan.

Jane Hilton is an Associate Professor in Speech Communication Disorders in the Curry School of Education and Director of the Sheila Johnson Center: Speech-Language-Hearing Center at the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. from James Madison University. Her interests include examining the treatment efficacy and effectiveness of early intervention programs with young children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. She has worked with this unique population for over 25 years. The SPLISH program (SPeech-Language Intensive Summer Help) is a unique program offered each summer at UVA. The program, founded by Jane, provides intensive speech-language treatment to children between the ages of 2 and 7, addressing receptive, expressive and pragmatic language skills. Jane also has a special interest in clinical supervision of graduate students earning their master’s degree in Communication Disorders. Jane has served as the President of the Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV). She is the faculty advisor for Autism Speaks U and the Autism Theater Project.

Vikram Jaswal is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. Much of his research has addressed questions at the intersection of early cognitive and social development–questions like “How does learning language change how children see the world?” and “What are the building blocks of critical thinking?” A new line of work focuses on understanding the lived experiences of autistic children and adults and their families, which he believes will lead to a more interesting, useful, and humane science of autism. At UVA, he designed a year-long seminar called “The Science & Lived Experience of Autism,” in which the undergraduate students interact and collaborate with a group of autistic adults. In 2016, he received an All-University Teaching Award. Vikram received his BA in Psychology from Columbia, an MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD in Psychology from Stanford.

Dr. Laura Shaffer is the Section Chief of Pediatric Psychology in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the UVA Children’s Hospital. She received her doctorate in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Denver, completed an internship in Child Clinical and Pediatric Psychology at Children’s National Medical Center, and then conducted a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Her Autism related work here at UVA involves both clinical service and program development. Dr. Shaffer provides assessment and treatment for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the UVA Child Development and Rehabilitation Center. She is also involved in collaborative efforts between the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine and the Curry School of Education to develop an interprofessional autism evaluation clinic.

Dr. Richard Stevenson is a Developmental Pediatrician from Charlottesville, Virginia. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed his general pediatrics training at the University of Virginia and then moved to the University of Iowa (Iowa City) where he completed a fellowship in Developmental Disabilities under the tutelage of Al Healy (Chief), Mark Wolraich (Fellowship Director) and James Blackman (mentor). He is board certified in pediatrics and neurodevelopmental disabilities. Dr. Stevenson is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in the Division of Developmental Pediatrics, where he has been on the faculty since 1989. He is active in clinical care, education, research and administration. He is an attending pediatrician at the Child Development and Rehabilitation Center (CDRC) of the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, caring for children across the range of acquired and congenital disabilities: brain and spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, autism, spina bifida, developmental delay, feeding disorders, ADHD, and other developmental and behavioral disorders.

Panel: Community Partnerships

Bill Therrien is Professor of Special Education at the University of Virginia and serves as coordinator of the Special Education program for the Curry School. Since receiving his doctorate in Special Education from the Pennsylvania State University in 2004, he has published more than 60 articles and book chapters, presented at multiple professional conferences and workshops. He is currently serving as the Editor of Exceptional Children, the publication and communications chair for CEC’s Division for Learning Disabilities and on the editorial boards of The Elementary School Journal, Learning Disabilities Research and Practice and Reading Psychology.

Dr. Byron Wine is the Vice President of Operations at the Faison Center in Richmond, Virginia. Byron also maintains an academic appointment in the School of Behavior Analysis at the Florida Institute of Technology. Byron holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from Temple University, is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D), and is a licensed behavior analyst in Virginia. Byron has over 20 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters related to behavior analysis, autism, and organizational behavior management. Byron has worked in a variety of clinical and administrative roles, but the majority of his experience has involved working with adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Ethan Long joined the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in 2010 as its Executive Director. Under his leadership and strategic vision, VIA has grown to reach five times as many families and provide services to a dozen more school districts and localities across central Virginia. He holds a Ph.D. in child clinical psychology from West Virginia University and is a Licensed Behavior Analyst. He completed a pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Long has authored over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters related to autism, applied behavior analysis, and a variety of developmental and behavioral disorders. He has delivered more than 100 presentations and workshops, nationally and internationally, related to autism and developmental disorders.

Fay Painter is the Executive Director of Autism Speaks, National Capital Chapter; the chapter serves Virginia, Maryland and DC. Autisms Speaks is the leading autism organization in the world that is working to enhance life today and create a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow. Previously, Fay served as the Chapter President of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Blue Ridge Chapter. She graduated with honors from Bucknell University and lives in Charlottesville with her husband, Tom Blalock, and son, Adam.

Kevin Kirst is the Director of Special Education in Albemarle County Public Schools. He received Masters of Social Work degree in 1994 from The State University of New York in Buffalo and his Education Specialist degree from The George Washington University in 2006. He began his professional career in Northern New York working in the public schools as a School Social Worker. He relocated to Charlottesville and worked in Albemarle County Schools as a Special Education Coordinator in 1998 and then assumed the role of Director of Special Education in 2005. In 2013, he began what is known as A-BASE Services (Building Appropriate Services with Evidence) for student with autism in the regular education curriculum and environment. This service delivery model has expanded since its inception to serve students with Autism in grades K-12 across the Albemarle County School Division. This service delivery model currently serves over 100 students with autism.