Please Join us Online Saturday, February 20 from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (PST)


Program Agenda


Introductory Remarks

Barbara Firestone, PhD
President & CEO




The Pattern Seekers: How Autism Drives Human Invention

Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, PhD
Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University



Building on the Strengths of Young People with Autism Through STEM Education

Ellis Crasnow, PhD
Director of Online and STEM Education, The Help Group




Both Presentations will be followed by a Q & A


All registered attendees will be mailed a complimentary copy of Dr. Baron-Cohen’s,
The Pattern Seekers to the shipping address provided.
Books will be shipped after February 20.







About these Presentations


In The Pattern Seekers, Dr. Baron-Cohen posits that understanding autistic people — specifically their unstoppable drive to seek patterns, a characteristic of the condition — is the key to understanding both the ancient origins and the modern flowering of human creativity. He states, if “the hyper-systemizing qualities of autism are supported and nurtured, the unique skills and talents of autistic individuals can shine—to their benefit, and to the benefit of society.” He advocates for the celebration of neurodiversity and the minds of hyper-systemizers. He entreats employers and educators to offer more opportunities for neurodiverse people to express their pattern-seeking strengths in ways that are personally helpful and helpful to society.

As Director of Online and STEM Education at The Help Group, Dr. Ellis Crasnow is fostering the abilities of young people with autism and other social and learning differences who have a passion for STEM disciplines. “Individuals on the autism spectrum often accomplish less because we undervalue their strengths and overemphasize their weaknesses. When you provide a rich academic environment and add opportunities for real-world exploration of ideas in mathematics, robotics, architecture or computer programming, eyes light up, interest blossoms and they soar.” At STEM³ Academy, the first school of its kind in the country, students have the opportunity to hone their strengths so they are poised and ready for the 21st Century workforce.

More About STEM³ Academy

STEM³ Academy was launched in 2015 and is the first school of its kind to provide a robust Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics based curriculum to students with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and other social and learning differences. A WASC accredited school, STEM³ Academy serves K-12 students who are bright, have a passion for STEM-related fields, and benefit from non-traditional learning methods. To learn more visit stem3academy.org.


Course Description

Coming Soon!

Speaker Bios

About Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, PhD

Dr. Baron-Cohen is professor of psychology and psychiatry and director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University. He is author of Mindblindness, The Essential Difference, Prenatal Testosterone in Mind, and Zero Degrees of Empathy. He has edited scholarly anthologies including Understanding Other Minds. He has written books for parents and teachers including Autism and Asperger Syndrome: The Facts. He is author of Mind Reading and The Transporters, digital educational resources to help children with autism learn emotion recognition, and both nominated for BAFTA awards.

He has published over 600 peer reviewed scientific articles, which have made contributions to many aspects of autism research, to typical cognitive sex differences, and synaesthesia research. Three influential theories he formulated were the ‘mindblindness’ theory of autism (1985), the ‘prenatal sex steroid’ theory of autism (1997), and the ‘empathizing-systemizing’ theory of typical sex differences (2002).

He created the first UK clinic for adults with suspected Asperger Syndrome (1999) that has helped over 1,000 patients to have their disability recognized. He gave a keynote address to the United Nations in New York on Autism Awareness Day 2017 on the topic of Autism and Human Rights.

He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, the British Academy, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the American Psychological Association. He is Vice-President of the National Autistic Society, and was President of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR, 2017-19). He was Chair of the NICE Guideline Development Group for Autism (Adults) and was Chair of the Psychology Section of the British Academy. He is co-editor in chief of the journal Molecular Autism and is a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator. He is the Principal Investigator of the Wellcome Trust funded award investigating the genetics of autism, in collaboration with the Sanger Centre.

He serves as Scientific Advisor, Trustee or Patron to several autism charities including the Autism Research Trust, the Cambridge Autism Centre of Excellence, and to the company Auticon, which only employs autistic people. He has taken part in many television documentaries, including the BBC’s Horizon, and Employable Me. He received a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List 2021.


About Ellis Crasnow, PhD

After earning his PhD in philosophy from USC, Dr. Crasnow taught widely at the college level, both in the U.S. and South Africa. He joined The Help Group in 2008, teaching high school math, science and English before becoming Principal of Village Glen High School. In 2012, The Help Group began a STEM program that Dr. Crasnow led. The success of that program and its expansion to include STEM infusion into the middle and elementary schools curriculum provided the impetus to start STEM³ Academy – the only school in the country to provide STEM-based learning to children with disabilities from kindergarten through high school. He currently serves as The Help Group’s Director of Online and STEM Education.

Dr. Crasnow is a frequent international speaker at conferences on the importance of STEM education and its benefit to those with social and learning differences. Dr. Crasnow speaks on the integration of STEM content and social emotional learning, and his current interests include student motivation and engagement and how they might be improved using the principles and protocols underlying games.


Continuing Education

Continuing Education

For Professionals Seeking Continuing Education Credit


According to the guidelines set forth by accrediting organizations, attendance for professionals seeking credit at this Distinguished Lecturer Series will be tracked at the start and conclusion of the program, in addition, pop-up windows will appear to ensure attendance throughout the program. A link to attend will be provided via e-mail prior to the program.

At the end of the program, all participants will be asked to provide feedback through an online evaluation.

No partial credits will be given.

Continuing Education Certificates will be e-mailed to the registrant following the program.

The Help Group is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Help Group maintains responsibility for the program and its content. The course offered is eligible for 2 hours and 2 continuing education credits.

The Help Group is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs. The Help Group maintains responsibility for this program/course and its content. The course offered meets the qualifications for 2 hours and 2 continuing education credits for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. (Provider #64310)

NOTE: If you are attending this virtual conference from any other state, outside of California, please check with your state board to see if you can receive continuing education for this program.

This program meets the qualifications for 2 hours and 2 continuing professional development credits for Speech-Language Pathologists as required by the California Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology Board. (Provider #PDP86)

NOTE: If you are attending this virtual conference from any other state, outside of California, please check with your state board to see if you can receive continuing education for this conference.

The Help Group provides Certificates of Attendance at the conclusion of the program for attendees.

If you have questions about continuing education, please contact:

events@thehelpgroup.org or call (818) 947-5542.



Accessibility: The Help Group is committed to making 2021 Virtual Distinguished Lecturer Series accessible to all individuals. If you anticipate needing assistance while viewing the conference, please contact events@thehelpgroup.org, no later than Wednesday, February 10.

Grievances: The Help Group complies with all legal and ethical responsibilities to be non-discriminatory in promotional activities, program content and in the treatment of program participants. To address a grievance for this program, or to view The Help Group’s grievance policy in its entirety.  Please email: events@thehelpgroup.org

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be received in writing by Wednesday, February 17.  Cancellations will be refunded the amount of registration less a $25 processing fee.