The Help Group’s 22nd annual Summit convened leading experts at the forefront of their fields in autism, ADHD and learning disabilities. Offering thought-provoking presentations and new insights and trends in basic and applied research and evidence-based practices, the Summit brought together more than 500 professionals and parents on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Dr. Barbara Firestone, Help Group President & CEO, kicked off the Summit by welcoming guests, acknowledging this year’s distinguished group of presenters, and highlighting The Help Group’s innovative university partnerships. Dr. Firestone served as chair of this year’s conference along with co-chairs Dr. Peter C. Whybrow, UCLA Semel Institute Director, and Dr. Robert M. Bilder, UCLA Semel Institute Chief of Medical Psychology-Neuropsychology & Tennenbaum Center Director.

NBC4 news anchor and Emmy award-winning journalist, Daniella Guzman, served as luncheon host this year. With warmth and spirit, Daniella spoke of the importance of The Help Group’s Summit and its extraordinary program.

Dr. Firestone acknowledged Major Sponsor First 5 California for their generous support over the years, and expressed The Help Group’s gratitude to NBC4, LA Parent and The Mighty for their media sponsorships.

Daniella Guzman and Dr. Firestone presented The Help Group’s Champion For Children Award to celebrated actress and television personality Sherri Shepherd in appreciation of her commitment to young people with disabilities, and her generous support of The Help Group’s Summit View School.

“Knowing the heartache and joy of raising a child with special needs, Sherri has been dedicated to spreading awareness in support of young people with disabilities and differences and their families,” said Dr. Firestone. “Sherri is a woman of strength and conviction with a heart that knows no bounds when it comes to kids.”

In her acceptance remarks, Sherri said, “As a parent, we want our children to be equipped to go forward in life, to be a productive member of society, and to always be compassionate. I know that at Summit View School, the teachers instill those qualities and more.  I am so grateful for The Help Group and for Summit View.”

The Summit featured 26 sessions, including keynote presentations from Dr. Pat Levitt on “Addressing Gastrointestinal Disturbances and Other Co-occurring Medical Conditions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”; from Dr. Peter C. Mundy on “The Continuum of Learning Difficulties for Young People On The Spectrum”; from Dr. Jeffrey W. Gilger on “Four-Thought Provoking Questions About Dyslexia”; from Dr. Susan Y. Bookheimer on ‘Sensory Over-Responsivity and the Brain in Autism,” and from Dr. Thomas E. Brown on “Understanding and Supporting Children and Teens with ADHD and Asperger Syndrome” on Friday and “How ADHD Impairs Motivation in Some Situations, But Not Others” on Saturday.

Our thanks to the incredible group of Summit presenters for providing such a rich, informative experience for everyone who attended.

#1 (L-R) Dr. Barbara Firestone, President & CEO, The Help Group, Sherri Shepherd, Champion For Children Award Recipient, Daniella Guzman, Summit Luncheon Host

#2 (L-R): Jamiann Collins-Lopez, Public Information Officer, First 5 California, Ron Epstein, Publisher, LA Parent Magazine, Elena Epstein, Director of Content and Strategic Partnerships, LA Parent Magazine, Sarah Porath, Co-Founder, The Mighty, Dr. Barbara Firestone, President & CEO, The Help Group

#3 Susan Y. Bookheimer, Summit Keynote Speaker, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Joaquin M. Fuster Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCLA, Co-Director, UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment

#4 Dr. Thomas E. Brown, Summit Keynote Speaker, Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine, USC

#5 Dr. Jeffrey Gilger, Summit Keynote Speaker, Dean (interim) School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, Professor of Psychology, Carlston Cunningham Chair in Cognitive Development, Director, UC Merced Alliance for Child and Family Health and Development

#6  (L-R) Dr. Pat R. Levitt, Summit Keynote Speaker, W.M. Keck Provost Professor of Neurogenetics at the Keck School of Medicine, USC
Simms/Mann Chair, Developmental Neurogenetics, Institute for the Developing Mind, Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer and Director of The Saban Research Institute, CHLA, Dr. Barbara Firestone, President & CEO, The Help Group, Dr. Louis A. Vismara, Consultant, AKT Investments Inc., Co-Founder, UC David MIND Institute

#7 Dr. Peter Mundy, Summit Keynote Speaker, Distinguished Professor and Lisa Capps Endowed Chair of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Education, School of Education and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UC Davis, Director of Educational Research, UC Davis MIND Institute