24th Annual Summit Goes Virtual: Bringing Together Distinguished Experts from Across the U.S.


24th Annual Summit Goes Virtual: Bringing Together Distinguished Experts from Across the U.S.


On Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th, The Help Group virtually convened more than 30 leading experts in the areas of autism, learning disabilities, and ADHD for its 24th annual Summit. In this first-ever online event platform, the Summit continued its tradition of disseminating valuable insights into cutting-edge research and evidence-based best practices for more than 400 professionals and parents.

The Summit was chaired by Dr. Barbara Firestone, Help Group President & CEO and Founder; Dr. Peter C. Whybrow, Director Emeritus, UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior; and Dr. Robert Bilder, UCLA Semel Institute Chief of Medical Psychology-Neuropsychology and Tennenbaum Center Director.

Dr. Firestone led the morning convocation by expressing the importance of this year’s virtual event. “The Help Group decided to continue its tradition of the Summit that offers important information to educators, therapists, parents and students. We decided to produce a virtual conference that was greeted by a spirited response from our distinguished, invited presenters and our many attendees.” Addressing the cataclysmic changes due to COVID-19, she thanked first-responders, including those in attendance who have been tirelessly committed to improving the quality of life for young people with special needs during the pandemic. As always, she dedicated the proceedings to the children.

Dr. Firestone welcomed conference co-chair, Dr. Bilder from his office at UCLA. Dr. Bilder greeted attendees by sharing some of the history of The Summit; highlighted the innovative partnership between UCLA and The Help Group, and commended The Help Group’s commitment to excellence, especially during these unprecedented times. “The Help Group has a longstanding history of commitment to serving young people with a wide range of special needs. I commend The Help Group and Dr. Susan Berman for the quick response to the Covid 19 health crisis, having put in place virtual platforms for its specialized day schools and its full spectrum of mental health and therapeutic programs.”

Dr. Bilder then introduced Dr. Susan Berman, Help Group Executive Director and Co-Founder, who gave a brief overview of The Help Group’s ongoing efforts in response to Covid-19. “During these challenging times, The Help Group is steadfast in its commitment to provide the complete range of remote day school and therapeutic programs to all children and families served by the agency.”

The two-day conference was packed with 26 sessions, including four keynote presentations by Thomas E. Brown, PhD, Daniel Geschwind, MD, PhD, Sharon Vaughn, PhD and Maryanne Wolf, PhD. As always, our full line-up of presenters provided attendees with important insights into basic and applied research, and evidence-based best practices in assessment, intervention and treatment. Additionally, they also offered practical strategies for coping, and for adapting our approaches to care during the pandemic.

Our thanks to each of the presenters for providing their expertise, and the perspectives shared with us from their significant work.