On Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, The Help Group’s Summit 2017 convened nearly 500 guests and 25 leading experts at the forefront of their fields in autism, learning disabilities, and ADHD on Friday. The Summit’s goal is to disseminate valuable insights and present cutting edge research and evidence-based best practices – providing a rich, informative experience for all attendees.

To kick off the Summit, Dr. Barbara Firestone welcomed guests, acknowledged distinguished presenters, and recognized the conference sponsors: NBC4, LA Parent, First 5 California, and First 5 LA.

Dr. Firestone served as Summit chair with co-chairs Dr. Peter Whybrow, Director of UCLA’s Semel Institute, and Dr. Robert M. Bilder, Chief of Medical Psychology and Neuropsychology and Director of  the Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity at UCLA’s Semel Intitute.

Dr. Barbara Firestone, Dr. Robert Bilder

At the luncheon proceedings Dr. Firestone, joined by co-chair Dr. Bilder, reflected on the history of Summit. The conference is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Paul Satz, who established it 21 years ago with Dr. Firestone. Dr. Bilder remarked, “At the UCLA Semel Institute, Dr. Whybrow and myself take great pride in this conference and in our innovative partnerships with The Help Group, and look forward to many more productive years.”

Dr. Bilder also took an opportunity to announce the recent publication of Faces of Promise: Looking Beyond Autism, and said, “It is a remarkable collaboration between fine art photographer Richard Ehrlich, who has a gift for capturing profound emotion in visual images, and Dr. Firestone, who has been a true champion of children with autism and their families.”

Dr. Susan Berman, Help Group COO, introduced the The Help Group’s Champion For Children Award, and presented it to this year’s honoree, Raytheon Company, in appreciation of its ongoing commitment to STEM education and diversity.

“Raytheon Company has provided enriching opportunities, mentorships, and advanced technology for The Help Group’s Stem3 Academy – the first of its kind in the United States,” Dr. Berman shared, “We are most grateful to Raytheon for providing young people with the opportunity to excel in STEM related pursuits.”

John H. McAlpine Jr., CCP, Senior Manager, Physical Security, HR & Security, SAS ES Security Management – Space and Airborne Systems, and Allison Chouinard, HR Generalist- Contracts and Finance Space and Airborne Systems, accepted the award on behalf of Raytheon.

The Summit featured 21 sessions, including keynote presentations from Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum on “Pushing the Boundaries of Early Diagnosis of Autism”; from Dr. Stephen Hinshaw on “The Latest ADHD Findings – Especially in Girls and Women,” and insights from his latest book Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness; and from Dr. Jack Fletcher on “Understanding Dyslexia and Its Implications for Identification and Treatment.” John Elder Robison gave a thought-provoking special presentation entitled “Life with Autism: A Different Perspective,” and followed his talk with a workshop focused on the “Challenge and Opportunity of Neurodiversity.”

 Many thanks to our outstanding group of Summit presenters for sharing their important work and invaluable knowledge with us.

 To view Summit 2017 presenter handouts from the conference click here.

  1. Dr. Barbara Firestone, Dr. Peter Whybrow
  2. Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley; Vice Chair for Psychology, Department of Psychiatry UC San Francisco
  3. Dr. Jack Fletcher, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor University of Houston
  4. John Elder Robison, New York Times Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Educator and Advocate

Second row:

  1. Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, Adjunct Associate Professor AHFMR Health Scholar, Co-director – Autism Research Centre, Associate Professor – Department of Pediatrics University of Alberta