UVA’s Curry School to Host ‘Virginia Autism Hope Summit’ November 16

Audrey Breen

The day-long conference will offer informational sessions, networking, and discussion for self-advocates, families and community members, and professionals with an interest in autism.


The University of Virginia’s Supporting Transformative Autism Research (STAR) initiative led by the Curry School of Education & Human Development will host the “Virginia Autism Hope Summit: Getting What You Need Today to Create a Better Tomorrow” on Saturday, November 16.

“This forum will provide an opportunity for learning, networking, and discussion on a range of topics related to autism across the lifespan,” said Fay Painter, STAR family navigation manager. “Families, self-advocates, friends, and service providers are welcome.”

The event is free and open to the public and will feature a number of keynote addresses and break-out sessions. Among the events is a keynote address by Kevin Pelphrey, the Harrison-Wood Jefferson Scholars Foundation Professor at the UVA School of Medicine, called “Hope through research: A parent’s perspective.” Pelphrey is an autism researcher and a parent to a son and a daughter who are both on the autism spectrum.

Attendees will also hear from Amy Gravino, a Certified Autism Specialist and international speaker. Gravino, a self-advocate who is on the autism spectrum, is the founder of A.S.C.O.T Consulting.

Three concurrent sessions of workshops will run between these two keynote addresses, as will lunch and a resource fair. Among others, some topics of the breakouts include the following:

  • Autism 101: What Everybody Should Know
  • Parent Advocacy in the Educational Process
  • In the Lion's Den: Parent Wellness Amidst On-going Stress
  • Gender Differences and Real-life Implications
  • Evidence-based Interventions for Young Children with Autism
  • Sexuality and the Spectrum: Lessons of Sex, Dating, and Love, Autism Style
  • Transition Services and Employment
  • Accessing Resources Roadmap for the Newly Diagnosed
  • Housing and Service Solutions Panel

“Our hope is to provide an outstanding educational and networking experience for self-advocates and families throughout the Commonwealth,” Painter said. “Through knowledge and developing personal relationships, this Summit will help enrich lives today and help guide the future towards the best life possible for people on the autism spectrum.”

The event will be held at UVA Inn at Darden Conference and Event Center, and is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Details about the event and registration can be found on the event website http://tinyurl.com/virginiaautismsummit.  For more information, contact Fay Painter at frp4qc@virginia.edu or Laura Hoxworth in the Curry School’s office of communications and marketing at lhoxworth@virginia.edu.

The STAR initiative, led by the Curry School of Education and Human Development in partnership with colleagues from across the University of Virginia, aims to improve the lives of individuals with autism through groundbreaking research and innovative models for care, support, and education.

“The goal of our work is to empower individuals with autism, their families, and their communities to achieve positive and meaningful outcomes,” said Micah Mazurek, PhD, associate professor at the Curry School and director of the STAR Program. “We hope that this summit will offer new knowledge, connections, and resources for all attendees.”