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College of Communication & Education

Second Annual Autism Symposium Draws Hundreds

Parents, caretakers, and educators filled classrooms and the Bell Memorial Union to learn the latest research and best practices to support individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families at the Second Annual Northern California Autism Symposium.

For our North State communities, access to cutting-edge research and leaders in the field for families living with autism can be as far away as Sacramento and San Francisco. Professor Josie Blagrave, from the Department of Kinesiology, has been the major driver behind this important event.

“The conference was created to help bring resources to individuals with autism and their families to the North State,” said Blagrave.“ The aim was to bring people to campus to speak so families could have access and not have to travel as far.”

This year, the Symposium featured several experts from the University of California, Davis Mind Institute—the premier research center committed to the awareness, understanding, prevention, care, and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as practitioners from our region and throughout the state. Dena Gassner was the keynote speaker. Gassner is an emerging scholar in the field of ASD, and she recently spoke to the United Nations in New York for World Autism Awareness Day. She has contributed chapters to books on autism, and she is on the board of directors for The ARC of the United States, a national organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She shared her powerful message of inclusive practices for students with autism. 

In addition, attendees were able to learn from nearly 25 different presentations across the two-day event. California State University, Chico’s biomechanics professor Melissa Mache and colleagues presented their work on “Balance and Motor Skills Among College-Age Individuals.” Professor Meghan Miller from the UC Davis Mind Institute presented “Early Detection of Autism and ADHD,” which speaks to the idea of applying early detection strategies of ASD  to new populations like individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

Faculty from the College of Communication and Education, in partnership with the Department of Kinesiology and staff from Regional & Continuing Education, organized the event. In addition, students from across the kinesiology major helped register and direct attendees. This powerful event is emblematic of our college’s commitment to building and serving the community through collaboration.

The Third Annual Northern California Autism Symposium is scheduled to be held on campus September 20–21, 2019. Check the Regional & Continuing Education website in late spring for the 2019 event registration.

faculty waiting for attendees
Professor Josie Blagrave and staff member Heather Quilici await symposium attendees.


symposium itinerary
Symposium itinerary for the Bell Memorial Union events.