Upstate News

March 13, 2006
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Conference to explore social interaction of children with autism

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Pamela Wolfberg, Ph.D., a leading expert on autism and cofounder of the Autism Institute on Peer Relations and Play, will explore ways to help children with autism spectrum disorders engage more fully in social interactions with parents and other children during a conference March 23 and 24 at the Oncenter, 800 South State Street, Syracuse.

Wolfberg, an assistant professor at San Francisco State University, is the creator of the Integrated Play Group (IPG) model. Integrated Play Groups consist of small groups of children on the autism spectrum and typical peers and siblings who regularly play together under the guidance of a qualified adult facilitator. The groups have shown to benefit children with autism in the areas of social interaction, communication, language, representational play and related symbolic activity. Typical peers have benefited by showing greater self-esteem, awareness, empathy and acceptance of individual differences.

Wolfberg’s research on inclusive peer play programs has been published in Autism: The international Journal of Research and Practice.

“This is a conference that will benefit both parents and professionals working with young children,” said conference chair Carroll Grant, Ph.D., director of the Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center, who is a member of the faculty in the Department of Pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University. “Social interaction is a key component of autism and this conference will help us understand how to make improvements in this area for our children.”

The two-day conference will provide parents with methods they can use to guide their child’s peer socialization, communication, play and imagination. In addition the conference will discuss the IPG model and suggest ways to create these inclusive peer play programs.

On March 23 the conference runs from 3:30 to 6 p.m. On March 24 the conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Conference fee to attend March 23 only is $35. Conference fee to attend March 23 and 24 is $150, which includes refreshments both days and lunch March 24.

The conference is sponsored by the Central New York Coalition for Young Children with Special Needs.

For more information on the conference, call Carroll Grant at 472-4404. To register, call Kathy Duxbury at 315-214-4643. Registration deadline is March 22.

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