Dr. Ellis Crasnow kicks off the evening

On Wednesday, July 17, The Help Group and STEM³ Academy hosted a panel discussion at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. The evening’s topic was: STEM in the 21st Century: Promoting Success for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum and Adapting to Technological Change.

An expert panel offered insights for parents, practitioners, educators, and students to think more deeply about utilizing technological advancements for greater success in the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Dr. Ellis Crasnow, Director of STEM³ Academy and STEM education at The Help Group, started the evening with a presentation about the number of disruptive changes in the world, due to ever-evolving technology, and how that affects the way we work, how we learn, and how we live our lives. Dr. Crasnow underscored that rapid technological change can pose a considerable challenge for some individuals on the autism spectrum, and why STEM³ Academy sowing the seeds for early STEM learning is so critical.

Dr. Peter Chung, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at CHOC, presented a few case studies, mostly on technology addiction. He also discussed the unique benefits of technology for people with ASD, and posed the question, “How do we support individuals who have an infinity towards STEM, but limit technology addiction behavior or placing restrictions on our children?”

Dr. Amy-Jane Griffiths, Assistant Professor at Attallah College of Educational Studies at Chapman University, took the stage last and made the argument that people with ASD are a particularly good fit for STEM careers. The key, according to Dr. Griffiths, is to focus on 21st century skills to nurture people who might be inclined toward STEM related careers. She gave examples of potential strengths of those with ASD that would make them good candidates for STEM fields – such as the ability to find patterns and problem solve, learn topics exhaustively, employ algorithmic thinking, and utilize their natural affinity towards technology.

A lively and thought-provoking question-and-answer session followed directly after each presentation.

To learn more about STEM3 Academy’s new campus in Orange County, click here

#2: Dr. Amy Jane Griffiths gives presentation

#3: Dr. Peter Chung gives presentation

#4: Dr. Ellis Crasnow gives presentation

#5: Dr. Peter Chung and Dr. Amy Jane Griffiths at Panel Discussion