Autism Symposium June 1 at Stanford University

Sponsored by Packard Children's Hospital

Palo Alto, CA
-- Raising a child with autism can leave parents with big questions, both at the time of diagnosis and in the years that follow. Prominent among them: What do I need to do when my child is first diagnosed? How can I help my son or daughter make friends? What should I know to help my teen with autism make the leap to adult life?

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford is here to help parents find answers. On June 1, the hospital presents its Sixth Annual Autism Spectrum Disorders Update, an event that gives members of the community a chance to learn about new autism research and therapies. This year's theme, “Growing up with Autism: Genes, Families, Friends and Schools,” encompasses every stage of a child’s development, including the root causes of autism, diagnosis and the transition to adulthood.

Autism experts from Packard Children's, the Stanford University School of Medicine and the local autism community will give presentations on a wide cross-section of topics. The day includes keynote sessions on stem cell research and the brain in autism, and on improving peer friendships in children with autism. Additional breakout sessions will be offered on genes and environmental factors; helping families post-diagnosis; early interventions; the impact on autism of upcoming revisions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5); making friends; attention, language and math abilities in autism; the transition to adulthood; and parenting tools. The complete program is online at here.

Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, Stanford University, 326 Galvez St., Stanford, Calif. Register online at

Saturday, June 1, 2013, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Registration and continental breakfast begin at 7:45 a.m.)

“We have a lot of ways to help parents and educators,” said Carl Feinstein, MD, director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Packard Children’s and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “The majority of our topics at this year’s symposium have to do with real-world issues faced by children and families with autism.”

Among other highlights, the symposium will help to launch a new Packard Children’s program to provide parents of newly diagnosed children with several sessions of direct, one-on-one guidance for how to relate best to their child. “It’s a tremendous shock to find out that your child has an autism spectrum diagnosis,” Feinstein said. “But there’s a lot that can be done to help decipher your child’s behavior, and we want to help parents get started.” The program is a partnership with the Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

By popular request, the symposium also includes a strong emphasis on how to help children with autism navigate friendships with peers. In the past, children with autism have often attended social skills groups to learn about social interaction, but a more hands-on approach is gaining popularity, Feinstein said. “We’re moving much more to the real-time environments of the child, such as classrooms and playgrounds, and we’re also helping other kids receive non-invasive coaching about how to relate better to children with autism.”

"We really want to reach out to parents," Feinstein concluded. "At the Center for Autism, we believe that two-way communication between parents and experts is an essential part of providing the best care for children, teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorders."

Parents, teachers, pediatricians, psychologists, caregivers and anyone with an interest in autism are invited to attend. Register online at The $100 registration fee includes a continental breakfast and a buffet lunch. Media may attend free of charge through the contact below.


About Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

Stanford Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its core, is the largest Bay Area health care enterprise exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Long recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s best, we are a leader in world-class, nurturing care and extraordinary outcomes in every pediatric and obstetric specialty, with care ranging from the routine to rare, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Together with our Stanford Medicine physicians, nurses, and staff, we can be accessed through partnerships, collaborations, outreach, specialty clinics and primary care practices at more than 60 locations in Northern California and 100 locations in the U.S. western region. As a non-profit, we are committed to supporting our community – from caring for uninsured or underinsured kids, homeless teens and pregnant moms, to helping re-establish school nurse positions in local schools. Learn more at and on our Healthier, Happy Lives blog. You can also discover how we are Building the Hospital of the Future. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


The Stanford University School of Medicine consistently ranks among the nation’s top medical schools, integrating research, medical education, patient care and community service. For more news about the school, please visit The medical school is part of Stanford Medicine, which includes Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. For information about all three, please visit