UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — All sessions from the National Autism Conference, normally held on the Penn State University Park campus but moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be available online beginning Monday, Aug. 3, free of charge.
The 60 virtual sessions will be available until Sept. 4 on the National Autism Conference website. Any individual can watch sessions at no cost, but educators seeking continuing education units and/or professional hours must register for remote attendance on the website.
Mike Miklos, educational consultant for the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), which runs the conference, said more than 3,000 people representing at least 28 states and seven countries have registered.
“The virtual conference lets people participate easily from home, and it’s a boon for educators concerned for professional development,” he said. “There’s this wealth of resources and access to information that I don’t know is available anywhere else.”
The autism conference provides comprehensive, evidence-based information to assist educators, other professionals, and families in developing effective educational programming for all students living with autism spectrum disorders. Presenters have pre-recorded all of their sessions for the new delivery method.
This year, there are several sessions that address the pandemic’s impact on services and individuals, including how caregivers can adjust to being at home with children all day, ways in which they can work collaboratively with schools and managing new challenges in the COVID-19 environment.
In addition to caregivers and family members, sessions are geared toward physicians, speech-language pathologists, administrators, higher-education faculty, general and special education professionals, early-intervention staff, related service personnel and behavioral health analysts/professionals.
Miklos said the decision to move the conference online was made in mid-April, and he credited the presenters for their eagerness and willingness to deliver their sessions without real-time interactions.
“It moved pretty quickly, and the amount of communication with speakers to make sure all of the sessions were recorded and preserved required a lot of back and forth,” he said. “It was a significant challenge for us because it was new. I’m really grateful and impressed by our speakers, all of whom agreed to a do a virtual presentation.”
PaTTAN, the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, and Pennsylvania Department of Education, in partnership with Penn State Outreach and the Penn State College of Education, are hosting the conference.
Visit the National Autism Conference website for more information.