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  • The Help Group Summit 2013 Convened Leading Experts In Autism, Learning Disabilities and ADHD


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The Help Group Summit 2013 – Advances and Best Practices in Autism, Learning Disabilities and ADHD took place on October 25th and 26th at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. With First 5 California as the Major Sponsor and ABC 7 as Media Sponsor, this year’s event featured an outstanding  group of leading experts in basic and applied research and evidence-based best practices in assessment, intervention and treatment.  The program provided a rich, informative experience for all in attendance.

The conference was chaired by The Help Group President & CEO Dr. Barbara Firestone; UCLA Semel Institute Director Peter C. Whybrow, MD, and Robert M. Bilder, PhD, ABPP, UCLA-Semel Institute Tenenbaum Family Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences & Psychology. This year’s featured speakers were Thomas E. Brown, PhD; Connie Kasari, PhD and Maureen Lovett, PhD, C.Pysch.

Presenters included Jane Tavyev Asher, MD; Bruce Baker, PhD; Robert M. Bilder, PhD, ABPP; Jan Blacher, PhD; Erna Imperatore Blanche, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA; Susan Bookheimer, PhD; Xavier E. Cagigas, PhD; Dan Campbell, PhD; Pamela Clark, MA; Michael Enenbach, MD; Jeff Gilger, PhD; Irva Hertz-Picciotto, PhD, MPH; Shafali Spurling Jeste, MD; Elizabeth Laugeson, PsyD; Michael Leon, PhD; Philip Levin, PhD; Sandra Loo, PhD; Maja Mataric, PhD; Daniel Openden, PhD, BCBA-D; Albert “Skip” Rizzo, PhD; Eric Sailers, MA, CCC-SLP; Cynthia Schumann, PhD; William Sharp, PhD; Bina Varughese, MS; Louis A. Vismara, MD; and Jeffrey Wood, PhD.

Phillip Palmer, anchor of ABC 7 Eyewitness Morning News, emceed the Summit luncheon. In welcoming the guests, Mr. Palmer said, “ABC 7 is proud once again to be the media sponsor for the Summit. We always try to be here because The Help Group is a remarkable organization.”

Dr. Firestone presented The Help Group’s 2013 Champion for Children Award to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for his vision, leadership and commitment to countless children with special needs and their families. In her remarks, she shared, “How lucky we are to have such extraordinary individuals like Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who believes so deeply and passionately in the beauty and potential that each of our children possesses and is willing to do all that he can to advance the agenda of hope and opportunity for these children.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas thanked The Help Group for honoring him at the Summit, “It’s all about the children. We are here because we all know that to be truly effective, the work of supporting children with special needs requires strong community-based partners like The Help Group.  I honor all of you who are here today as partners on behalf of the families.”

To cap off the luncheon proceedings, The Help Group’s Children’s Choir performed a wonderful musical tribute to the audience.

Below are some photos from Summit 2013. More to come soon.

1. Dr. Barbara Firestone, President & CEO of The Help Group, with Summit featured speaker Dr. Connie Kasari 2. Summit featured speaker Dr. Maureen Lovett 3. Summit featured speaker Dr. Thomas E. Brown 4. Summit co-chair Dr. Robert M. Bilder 5. ABC 7 Eyewitness Morning News Anchor Phillip Palmer 6. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Help Group students Preston and Keena, and Dr. Barbara Firestone 7. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas addresses attendees. 8. Summit presenters Dr. Daniel Openden and Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson