Autism in Early Childhood is Focus of Conference

Montclair State’s Early Childhood Autism Institute hosts conference to discuss autism and inclusive early childhood education

Photo: Mike Peters

Gerard Costa, director of the YCS Institute for Infant and Preschool Mental Health delivers the keynote address at the Early Childhood Autism Conference.

With the theme, “Dig Deeper Together: Discovering Each Child’s Individual Profile to Support Inclusive Early Childhood Education,” a conference was hosted by the Montclair State University College of Education and Human Services’ Early Childhood Autism Institute on October 22 at the University’s Student Center.

The conference featured a keynote address by Gerard Costa, PhD, director of the YCS Institute for Infant and Preschool Mental Health, entitled “What Science Is Telling Us about the Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders,” and also a variety of workshops and a panel presentation. Workshops included those on the topics, “Reviewing Current Best Practice in Inclusive Early Childhood Education and How It Guides Each Member of an Interdisciplinary Team,” and “Using Transdisciplinary Team Practice to Uncover the Individual Strengths and Challenges of Each Child.”

The focus of the conference, fostering professional partnerships that support young children with autism spectrum disorders in inclusive settings, was clearly a topic of interest as the conference quickly filled up and registration had to be closed nearly a week before the event. It drew 200 participants from around the state and included educators, speech language pathologists, school administrators, and therapists of differing specialties.

Hosted by the Early Childhood Autism Institute, the conference was co-sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social SciencesDepartment of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

About the Early Childhood Autism Institute

The College of Education and Human Services’ Early Childhood Autism Institute aims to enhance the capacity of parents, care givers, educators, and school districts to increase their knowledge about the complex functional communication, cognitive and emotional developmental profiles of children with autism.

The framework that guides the Early Childhood Autism Institute is responsive to individual differences, stresses affective development, and is consistent with quality early childhood educational practice. It is transdisciplinary and inclusive, and draws upon the DIR®/Floortime™ approach. The Ben Samuels Children's Center at Montclair State University is a model program for this framework and serves as a lab school for University faculty and students.

For more information about the Early Childhood Autism Institute, please contact the director, Corinne G. Catalano at catalanoc@mail.montclair.edu.

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