The fifth annual Early Childhood Conference at Fordham University will bring together experts from throughout the country to discuss the latest research on autism and developmental disabilities on Friday, April 27.

The conference, organized by Fordham’s Graduate School of Education and Los Niños Services, will include a dozen sessions by 17 scholars and healthcare professionals who will examine issues ranging from the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder in early childhood to the latest therapeutic interventions. It will be held in the Law School, Lowenstein Building and McMahon Hall on the Lincoln Center campus

Vincent Alfonso, Ph.D. Photo by Chris Taggart

“The conference is designed in such a way that people who attend will gain insight into the latest research, but also practical information about helping young people with autism,” said Vincent Alfonso, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs at the Graduate School of Education. “We expect nearly 500 people at the conference and that’s because autism is such an important issue in early childhood.”

Autism is a developmental disability that strikes in childhood, interfering with a person’s ability to communicate, learn and form relationships. Estimates place the number of Americans under 21 with autism at 500,000. In December, President Bush signed the Combating Autism Act, which authorizes nearly $1 billion in federal funding for autism-related research, early detection and intervention.

In addition to the presentations, the conference will also feature two daylong workshops that will focus on the Developmental, Individualized, Relationship-oriented (DIR) model that has been effective for young people with autism, and the Son-Rise Program, a therapy for children with autism and other related conditions.

The seminars and workshops are for both parents of autistic children and professionals who are working in early-intervention programs, preschool special education or in a homecare setting. The conference is presented by Fordham’s Graduate School of Education and Los Niños Services, and sponsored by Autism Speaks and Riverside Publishing. The event is co-sponsored by the Bank Street College of Education Family Center, the New York Association of School Psychologists, the Association of Early Childhood and Infant Psychologists and