Corley will sing two songs during the opening session of the 20th annual National Autism Conference from Aug. 1-4 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. The conference’s nearly 90 sessions will welcome approximately 1,300 parents, educators and service providers to learn about autism research updates and to promote evidence-based interventions for school-based services.
“Singing shows people there are things about him that people don’t know. He doesn’t speak much but can sing in six different languages,” said Maria Corley, whose son was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at age 3. “You do whatever you can that you think will help, and you realize he’s a wonderful, loving and amazing kid whether he talks more or not.”
Conference sessions will focus on establishing instruction methods that will help students become more independent and providing attendees with skills to aid students’ transitions to postsecondary education and employment. Dr. Mark Sundberg, an internationally recognized expert in developing assessments and programs that guide language programs for individuals with autism, will discuss the history and future of language interventions for students with autism during the opening keynote address.
The conference also features activities for children with autism, including a new, two-day science camp that consists of hands-on experiments, the Children’s Institute and Art of Expression exhibit.
“We want to capitalize on the children’s strengths and focus on them being effective communicators without compromising their individuality,” said Mike Miklos, a behavior analyst and Pennsylvania certified school psychologist who works as an educational consultant for the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN).
Corley will also have a booth at the conference, where he will share his own artwork. The young entrepreneur hand paints decorative tiles and sells it on his website, with the hope of one day saving enough money for a trip to an amusement part in the Netherlands. His mother believes the more awareness for autism will only broaden future opportunities for her son and others with autism.
“People often don’t realize there’s such a wide variety of abilities for individuals with autism and being able to tap into those abilities is starting to happen,” she said. “Once more people learn about the strengths of each individual then more opportunities will open for them.”
In conjunction with Penn State Conferences and Institutes, the National Autism Conference is hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education, PaTTAN and Penn State’s College of Education. For more information, including webcasting and the full schedule, visit autism.outreach.psu.edu.