NAC 2022 Conference Recordings
Recorded presentations, abstracts with speaker bios and PowerPoint slides are linked below the presentation titles.
2022 NAC Schedules
May 6th & 7th
Empowered 2 Communicate: Teaching communication through spelling by Dr. Dana Johnson & Dawnmarie Gaivin
(Dawnmarie will be presenting the whole session due to an emergency)
Open Presentation | View Abstract | Download Presenter’s Slides
Healing the Gut to Support the Brain
We are learning more daily about the role the gut has in brain health. The importance of absorption, digestion, the gut microbiome, vagus nerve function, SIBO/SIFO and motility seem to play a huge role in neurological health. In my experience, supporting the gut health through diet, exercise, nutrients and clean up protocols, such as biofilm protocols, motility enhancing agents, and binders can help support improved immune health and brain health.
Mold: Mycotoxins, Colonization, and Sensitivity: How to recognize and recover
Mold exposure is more common than previously thought, and in susceptible individuals, mold can lead to chronic symptoms and chronic inflammation. Mold can cause disease by producing toxins called mycotoxins. Mold spores can also colonize in our bodies especially the lungs, sinus, and GI tract. Some individuals are sensitive or even allergic to mold.
Eliminating exposure is the most important intervention. After remediation, addressing toxicity, supporting the liver, cleaning up the sinus and begin the healing process. Various binders and anti-inflammatory agents can be used to bring back balance to the body. Some individuals are extremely sensitive and may not tolerate detox. These individuals may need additional immune modulation such as LDA or LDI.
Anju Usman Singh, MD, FAAFP, ABIHM, FMAPs, Hom-C
Dr. Anju Usman Singh is director and owner of True Health Medical Center and Pure Compounding Pharmacy in Naperville, Illinois. She also is the Chief Science Officer for True Healing Naturals. She specializes in biomedical interventions for children with ADD, Autism, PANDAS/PANS, Down Syndrome and related disorders. She has been involved in research regarding copper/zinc imbalances metallothionein dysfunction, biofilm related infections and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. She serves on the board for The Neuroimmune Foundation, and the medical advisory boards for TACA (The Autism Community in Action) and Autism Hope Alliance, as well as faculty for MAPs (Medical Academy for Pediatric Special Needs). Dr. Usman Singh received her medical degree from Indiana University and completed a residency in Family Practice at Cook County Hospital, in Chicago, Illinois. She is board certified in Family Practice and Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABIHM), and holds a certification in Homeopathy.
Resilience: Preventing COVID and managing post-COVID syndromes
We have spent over two years dealing with SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19. There has been a relentless barrage of medical information offering nothing but bad news and anxiety. Those of us in the field have known, almost from the beginning, that the public narrative did not match the outcomes we see in our practices. In this presentation, I will discuss COVID in children and some of the potentially negative outcomes that can occur. I will also review the reasons why these negative outcomes occur and identify areas for potential treatment and (most importantly) opportunities to create resilience and significantly reduce the risk of those negative outcomes. By the end of this presentation, participants should have a discrete set of things they can do for themselves and their children to prevent COVID complications and address a COVID infection if this occurs.
James Neuenschwander, M.D. (a.k.a. Dr. Neu) has been practicing integrative medicine since 1988. He is the owner of Bio Energy Medical Center, a multidisciplinary, integrative medical practice with the philosophy of treating illness at its source using whatever tools are available.
Dr. Neu is a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School and is board certified in Emergency Medicine, Integrative and Holistic Medicine, as well as Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) as well as holds a certification in chelation therapy. He is a member of A4M, ACAM, and ILADS. He has been a DAN! Practitioner since 2007, a member of MAPS since its founding, and a MAPS fellow since 2014.
Optimizing Your Family’s Health
By Vicki Warren
Are you optimizing your family’s health? We live in a world where toxins and environmental issues are overloading our bodies and our minds. We cannot change the world, but we can certainly change our own living environment! Learn the critical tips and tricks to minimize toxic indoor air, tap-water pollutants, and hazards posed by electromagnetic radiation. This talk will leave you informed, and empowered!!
Ms. Vicki Warren is an electrical engineer who has spent 30+ years investigating the impact of high frequency electromagnetic signals on the organic materials of high voltage insulation. In 2005, she was introduced to the fact that electromagnetic pulses can also have negative effects on organic human bodies. After intensive study and research, Ms. Warren and others started a non profit to educate and assist families to mitigate the effects of these signals. Several of the clients were families with a member diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The primary goal was to assist in the creation of “sleeping sanctuaries”. During sleep, it is important for the cell membranes to properly transfer nutrients and toxins, and in the presence of electromagnetic signals, hypersensitive individuals are often negatively affected. Vicki offers practical and afforable steps to improve your enviroment for the entire family.
The Latest Findings on Mitochondrial Issues in autism spectrum disorder
The mitochondria is important in neurodevelopment and dysfunction of the mitochondria is associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). About 5% of children with ASD can be diagnosed with classic mitochondrial disease and these children may have certain characteristics such as fatigability, gastrointestinal disorders, unusual types of neurodevelopmental regression, seizures/epilepsy and motor delay. However, further research suggested that abnormalities of mitochondrial function could affect a much higher number of children with ASD, perhaps up to 80%. Recent research has identified unique types of mitochondrial dysfunction that might be associated with environmental exposures and neurodevelopmental regression. Several treatments that target mitochondria appear to have evidence for use in children with ASD, including cofactors such as L-Carnitine, and the ketogenic diet. Although the understanding of the involvement of mitochondria in ASD is evolving, the mitochondrion is clearly a novel molecular target that can help understand the etiology of ASD and treatments that may improve function in children with ASD.
Seizure in ASD
A growing literature has demonstrated that seizures and epilepsy are prevalent in children with autism spectrum disorder. In addition, many children have epileptic activity in their brain despite not having any obvious seizures. Epilepsy and seizure-like activity in the brain appears to be associated with more severe autism and are associated with other medical abnormalities. Research studies suggest that specific treatments may be effective for the treatment of seizures and seizure-like activity in children with autism and some studies suggest that such treatments may improve autism symptoms. This talk will discuss these points with an emphasis on treatment.
Dr. Richard Frye, MD, PhD. is a Child Neurologist with expertise in neurodevelopmental and neurometabolic disorders. He received an MD and PhD in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University and completed his Child Neurology Residency and Fellowship in Behavioral Neurology and Learning Disabilities at Harvard University/Children’s Hospital Boston. He has authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, and serves on several editorial boards. He has conducted several clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of safe and novel treatments that target underlying physiological abnormalities in children with ASD. He is the Chief of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
HBOT & Healing for Multiple Ailments in ASD
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used for treating chronic illness in children for years. This lecture will cover one girl's journey using Hbot while also discussing how Hbot can help with chronic illness in children and young adults with Autism , CP, Mitochondrial disorders, GI disorders and more. He will cover how decreasing inflammation through the use of Hbot can change the body's way of healing these conditions.
Dr. Jason Sonners has always been fascinated by the machinery of the human frame and strives to learn everything and anything he can that might help even one of his patients. Always working to integrate new knowledge and practical experience, in addition to his Doctor of Chiropractic, Jason earned his Diplomate of the Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition (DCBCN) and his Diplomate of the International Board of Applied Kinesiology (DIBAK). He is one of only 250 professionals in the world with this distinction.
Dr. Sonners utilizes his combined training in various modalities to create comprehensive programs and help patients achieve their health goals. His patients are dealing with, among other conditions, a variety of autoimmune and neurological conditions, allergies, autism and cancer. He combines Chiropractic, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Nutrition, Exercise, Detoxification programs and more to naturally support patients and guide them through their health challenges.
Mast Cell Activation
Dr. Elice will explain the role of mast cells and how they contribute to what we call 'allergy'. The effect of mast cell activation and dysfunction on the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders will be discussed.
Michael W. Elice, MD is a board certified pediatrician who has treated patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders, mitochondrial disorders, PANDAS, immune and metabolic disorders for almost 20 years. As a practicing pediatrician for over 40 years he recognized the significant changes in the way children have been developing and how chronic illness has become the new 'norm' in pediatric medicine. Investigation and treatment are based on the theory that autism and related disorders are actually complex neurodevelopmental disorders with genetic and epigenetic origins.
Dr Elice is an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the Northwell Health Cohen Children's Hospital in New York. He a board certified pediatrician and MAPS physician. Dr Elice has lectured at Defeat Autism Now!, MAPS Autism One and National Autism Association conferences. He has treated patients in over 20 countries around the world and is convinced that autism is a disease of epidemic proportions needing up to date medical attention.
Demystifying PANS/PANDAS: A functional medicine guide on basal ganglia encephalitis: Healing through case studies
PANS & PANDAS are complex autoimmune diseases that require a multi-system approach. PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep) involves antibodies from a strep infection reacting with brain tissue (specifically the basal ganglia in the brain) and triggering an abrupt onset of immune dysregulation and movement, learning and behavioral problems including OCD, anxiety and tics. With PANS (Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome), other infectious etiologies besides strep (yeast, viruses, other bacteria, parasites), toxic exposures, and metabolic abnormalities are among other potential triggers for the immune dysregulation resulting in an abnormal autoimmune reaction and negative behavior, physical, and cognitive changes. POTS or Dysautonomia can often be associated with these autoimmune disorders and also needs to be assessed and treated appropriately. Through case studies, Dr. O’Hara will discuss the latest research in the assessment and treatment of these devastating but recoverable illnesses.
The Persistent Cell Danger Response (CDR): Clinical strategies to optimize mitochondrial health & metabolism
Dr. O’Hara will examine the assessment and treatment of children and adults with chronic illness and how mitochondrial and metabolic issues can influence chronic illness. She will look at the latest research on the Cell Danger Response and its effect on mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and other theories and treatments of mitochondrial disease and its impact on optimal resiliency and biotransformation.
Nancy H. O’Hara, MD, MPH, FAAP
Dr. Nancy O’Hara is a board certified Pediatrician. Prior to her medical career, Dr. O’Hara taught children with autism. She graduated with highest honors from Bryn Mawr College and as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She earned a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh. After residency, chief residency and general pediatric fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. O’ Hara entered general private practice in 1993, and in 1998 began her consultative, integrative practice solely for children with special needs. Since 1999 she has dedicated her functional medicine practice to the integrative and holistic care of children with chronic illness and neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD, PANDAS/PANS, OCD, Lyme and ASD.
She is also a leader in the training of clinicians, both in the United States and abroad. Dr. O’Hara has written a comprehensive guidebook, “Demystifying PANS / PANDAS: A Functional Medicine Desktop Reference on Basal Ganglia Encephalitis”, which will be available in Summer 2022 with pre-orders available in May 2022.
The Full DNA Sequence of Temple Grandin and Many Others: How They Tell a Complex Tale of Multiple Pathways
Mitochondria, methylation, inflammation, microbiome, nutrition, and toxins, oh my! There are so many talks on the causes and treatment options for autism, but which ones are right? Learn what the full DNA (genome) sequence in thousands of people with autism tells us about the real causes of the disease. Dr. Boles will walk you through this complex subject using individual cases to show how modern genetic testing revealed the causes of disease, and in many cases identified a treatment that worked. In particular, the full DNA sequence (genome) of Dr. Temple Grandin will be used to illustrate the powers and limitations of genetic testing in autism in 2022. Additionally, information learned about the causes of autism are being applied to treatment regiments that can benefit many people for which genetic testing remains impractical. So, who was right and who was wrong? Come and listen. Hint, autism is complex, and most everyone has a valid point.
Dr. Boles is a Medical Geneticist with expertise in mitochondrial and other metabolic disorders. He completed medical school at UCLA, a pediatric residency at Harbor-UCLA, and a genetics fellowship at Yale. He received board certifications in Pediatrics, Clinical Genetics and Clinical Biochemical Genetics. For over two decades, Dr. Boles’ clinical and research focus has been on sequence changes in genes involved in energy metabolism, and more recently ion channels, and their effects on the development of common functional disorders. Examples include autism, pain syndromes, cyclic vomiting, bowel dysmotility, dysautonomia, depression, and SIDS. Dr. Boles practices the “bedside to bench to bedside” model of a physician-scientist, combining an active clinical practice with basic research into the underlying genetic predispositions leading to the same conditions. He has over 70 published papers, mostly in mitochondrial medicine.
Environmental Issues within ASD including Lyme: Practical Detox Strategies
The environment around us is constantly changing and usually not for the better. We MUST be able to recognize, try to avoid, and then remove these toxins safely so they do not negatively affect our health and metabolism. Many children and adults with ASD have alterations in their biochemistry and genetic polymorphisms, whereby they are disadvantaged in the ability to cleanse and nourish their cells ideally. We need to first identify the harmful ingredients to avoid (i.e., heavy metals, chemicals, GMOs, plastics, hormone disrupters, pesticide exposures) and then identify and treat effectively many of the complicated tick-borne diseases as well as Mold exposures.
It is no longer “You are what you eat,” but should be “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT-EATS, WHICH YOU CANNOT EXCRETE.” Once we can identify these harmful agents, we need to determine how to safely rid these toxins, recognize and properly treat for Tick borne diseases, reduce the inflammatory processes they create, and oxygenate the tissues in order for tissue repair to be optimized. Safe Hyperbaric therapies Lyme concerns and chelation therapies will be overviewed.
I hope to be able to share a great deal of information on how to safely repair ourselves, especially since many environmental insults are growing around us exponentially as WE NEED TO RESTORE OURSELVES TO A MORE HEALTHFUL STATE!
Dr. David Dornfeld has been preventing and reversing illness at Family Wellness Center in Middletown, NJ, for 36 +years, while focusing towards "environmental medicine concerns" and how to repair those exposure related insults.
Throughout this time, he has developed a special interest in working with children with autism spectrum disorders since 2005, and encompasses many aspects of family medicine, osteopathic spinal manipulation, chelation therapy, IV infusions therapy, and hyperbaric therapies to help many improve.
He received his medical degree from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Maine and completed his residencies in Ohio and Colorado in 1986. He is board certified in family medicine (ACOFP) and board certified in anti-aging medicine by the International Society of Anti-Aging medicine in 2000. Dr. Dornfeld has been a member of ACAM, the American College for the Advancement in Medicine since 1994 and became double certified in chelation therapy through his training. He completed his Fellowship from MAPS (Medical Academy of Pediatric Special needs) in 2013, and helps train many professionals and parents in safe hyperbaric therapies, chelation therapies, Lyme related disorders (ILADS trained) and preventive medicine, both nationally and internationally.
Recently, Dr. Dornfeld was the only US physician asked to participate in an autism summit in Cairo, Egypt, expanding his guidance to help physicians in the Middle East combat the issues associated with recovering children and adults with autism.
Overview of the Biomedical Approach to Autism Spectrum Disorder
This presentation will provide participants with a detailed overview of the biomedical approach to ASD
Biomedicine focuses the underlying impaired physiology and root causes of ASD, instead of simply managing your child’s symptoms. Biomedicine represents a paradigm shift in your child’s care, in attempt to provide our children with the necessary and appropriate treatment for their individual conditions. The biomedical approach is the foundation for helping your child.
In ASD, multiple biomedical processes can be impaired, including, but not limited to: methylation, detoxification, gastrointestinal processes, and immune dysregulation. The dysfunction of these systems leads to viscous cycles in our children. The biomedical approach concentrates on redirecting these vicious cycles through a comprehensive investigation into the sources of the problem, followed by treatment of the causes of the dysfunction.
Dr. Kracht will overview the vicious cycles in ASD, including what parents should expect from a biomedical evaluation including: initial evaluation, laboratory workup, and treatment. The audience will gain a broader understanding of what is broken and what approaches can improve it. In this regard, a number of interventions and treatments will be reviewed. A diagnosis of ASD can be overwhelming to parents, this presentation aims to give parents a comprehensive review of the biomedical approach… from start to finish.
William G. Kracht, D.O., F.A.A.F.P. is board-certified in Family Medicine (American Board of Family Medicine) and Integrative Medicine (American Board of Integrative Medicine). He has extensive post graduate training in integrative medicine disciplines. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, the American Academy for the Advancement in Medicine and the American Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Dr. Kracht was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America at age 15 and currently serves as Assistant Scout Master of Troop 215 in Dublin, PA. He received his B.S. in Pre-Medicine with High Distinction and Honors in Religious Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. He received his Doctor of Osteopathy at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. While attending Penn State, he was the recipient of the Paul/David Wentroble Award for the Outstanding Premedical Student. He completed his family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base and was named chief resident his third year. He subsequently served four years as an active duty family physician in the United States Air Force.
While serving in the Air Force, he held numerous positions to include Medical Director of Emergency Services, Medical Director of the Allergy Clinic, and co-founder and co-manager of the Women Survivors of Sexual Abuse Group. He was cited in the 11th edition of Who's Who in the World. While at Tyndall Air Force Base, he was deployed to Cuba to provide medical aid to the Cuban refugees at Guantanamo Bay. Dr. Kracht was Tyndall's nominee for the Air Force Physician of the Year, 1994. He separated from the Air Force with three Commendation Medals, an Achievement Medal, a Humanitarian Medal and Honorable Discharge with the rank of Major.
Dr. Kracht is affiliated with the following hospitals: Grandview Hospital in Sellersville, Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, and Quakertown St. Luke's Hospital in Quakertown. He serves as a community preceptor for the family medicine residents at Lehigh Valley Hospital. He was the past chairperson of the Family Medicine Department at Grandview Hospital.
In addition to his conventional family medical training, Dr. Kracht has received additional advanced post doctorate training in Environmental Medicine and Allergy, Osteopathic Cranial Sacral Therapy, Homeopathic Medicine, Functional and Nutritional Medicine. Using the best of many medical modalities, he is able to provide an integrative, patient centered medical care that specializes in the individual patient; whether it be a common or complex problem. His comprehensive family medical care includes preconception care, newborn and child care, adolescent, adult and geriatric care all with the warmth and sensitivity of a family physician.
Dr. Kracht resides in East Rockhill Township with his wife, Terri and their children Taylor Marie, Zachariah William and Laurel Nicole.
Adult Services for Autism
The world of services for adults with disabilities is vastly different than it is for children. Since our “kids” are adults much longer than they are children, it’s imperative to understand the services and get it right from the start. This presentation will discuss timelines, service models, waivers, guardianship, employment, housing and much more.
Pandemic Lockdown & Disabilities: Lessons learned when the world shut down
In March 2020, the whole world changed drastically. What was introduced as a short-term shutdown, has languished into years. However, no other community felt the lockdown quite like the disability community. All the years spent fighting for funding, services, IEPs, ISPs, etc. all came to a screeching halt, overnight. While lockdown was absolutely an inconvenience for everyone, explaining – and enforcing - lockdown to our kids, who thrive on rigidity of schedule, was almost impossible. This presentation is a discussion about what happened, and what to do, when schools, programs and service providers close.
Holly Bortfeld is a single mother of 2 adults with ASD. A long-time homeschooler living in PA, Holly has been doing biomedical treatments since 1998 and now owns a homestead farm for men with autism.
Located in York County, PA, Felton Homestead is a private biomed-friendly intentional residence where the residents require a strict dietary program and have similar medical and safety needs. The resident farmers grow as much of their own food as possible, learn skills to care for animals, garden, preserve, cook and much more.
Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/FeltonHomestead/
More Than You May Believe: How well do we really know our children?
By Judy Chinitz
Every parent of a child with ASD has experienced the moment when their entire world view shifted, as some medical or educational professional told them that their child has a life-long, severe, developmental disability. For me, it was March 22, 1996, at 11:00 in the morning, with a developmental pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital, in New York City. If you think back to that life-altering day, it was also the moment in which you were told of all the many limitations such a disability would place on your child: he may not talk, so won’t be able to go to a normal school. She’ll never understand normal human interactions or she likely won’t be able to do this or that. Then the testing began, and you are given stacks of papers that emphasize in black-and-white just how “disabled” your child really is - just how “limited.” And that’s when the labels begin to be bandied about by all those professionals: autism, PDD, developmentally disabled, cognitively disabled, nonverbal…and my personal favorite: low-functioning.
I am a professional: I am a licensed New York State special education teacher, and yet at that moment - the most vulnerable of my life - I too turned to other professionals as a life-line. In the early 1990s, I had specialized in teaching the blind and visually impaired. I had no knowledge of autism beyond the basics that I was taught in a cursory moment in graduate school: it is the most severe developmental disability. These children hate to be touched, live in a world of their own, have no interest in other people, do not have normal language, and are typically cognitively affected. Exactly what I had been taught in my graduate program is what I was told by those professionals. And then, as you all know only too well, year after year after year, you are told the same things over and over and over again: your child is this or that. Your child cannot do this or that. These are the limitations because your child has this or that label. There is no blame ascribed here: just like me, this is what those professionals have been taught and they would be remiss in not passing on that information.
My son is named Alex. His story is not different from so many of yours. He was tested by innumerable professionals. I KNEW his limitations. But when he was 25 years old - well past the time when most people have learned to accept “reality” - I learned that reality may not always be what we perceive on the surface. It is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that you KNOW something: that there is a hard truth that is absolute, definitive fact, and that absolutely no one on this planet could possibly argue with what you KNOW. I thought I knew my son. And I could not have been more wrong.
The worst mistake any of us can make, either as professionals or as parents, is to set limits on our children. And if you believe in pre-set limits, you not only may never discover just how wrong you are but, you may destroy any chance your child has of surpassing those limits. And what is more tragic than that?
Judy Chinitz, MS, MS is the Director of Hand to Mouth Therapy. She is a New York State Licensed, Special Educator and Certified S2C Practitioner.
Judy has been actively involved in the world of autism, both biomedicially and educationally, since her son, Alex, was diagnosed 26 years ago. With a Master's degree in nutrition, she has worked with many of the top physicians in the field, authoring numerous book chapters, articles and her own book on diet (We Band of Mothers: Autism, My Son and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and other biomedical treatments. She also has a blog, The Biome Buzz, on which she follows research on the human biome and health.
On the educational front, she spent 26 years trying to find ways to teach her own son, as well as other students with nonspeaking autism, but until almost 3 years ago, believed herself unsuccessful. In July of 2019, when she was introduced to Spelling to Communicate (S2C), everything changed for both Judy and Alex. He went on to pass the GED exam with distinction, and was recently accepted early decision to the Script and Playwriting Program and the State University of New York, Purchase, which he hopes to start attending in September.
Judy changed her entire career path, and in May of 2020, opened up the Mouth to Hand Learning Center, and is now giving the gift of talking to 35+ students.
CBD Use In Autism Spectrum Disorders
Cannabis medicine has advanced rapidly over the past decade and is being used to treat everything from chronic pain to inflammation. There is now even an FDA approved cannabis-based product for the treatment of epilepsy. Given the breadth of conditions for which cannabis holds promise as a medical treatment, it is logical to explore its role in autism spectrum disorders. Many of the associated medical concerns in children with autism, such as gastrointestinal distress, pain, inflammation, and epilepsy, point towards cannabis as a potentially efficacious treatment. This talk will review the current evidence for cannabis-based treatments in autism spectrum disorders and will provide guidance towards future applications.
Novel approaches to managing aggression and self injury
Self-injury and aggression are significant challenges for many children with autism. These behaviors can result in injury in the child or caregiver and have major implications for the child at home and school. Families can experience social isolation and unbearable levels of exhaustion. The limited choices for professional supports and respite care are matched by the paucity of available medical options. Standard medical approaches do not address the underlying causes for these behaviors, such as pain or inflammation. Likewise, behavioral approaches are often ineffective and ignore medical etiologies. This talk will focus on treatment approaches that are overlooked by standard medical care and will provide the available evidence supporting alternative treatment options.
Dr. John Gaitanis, a graduate of Brown Medical School, completed his neurology training at Children’s Hospital Boston. He went on to finish an epilepsy fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center before returning to Children’s Hospital Boston to join their epilepsy staff. While there, he co-founded the Comprehensive Brain Malformation Program, helping bridge clinical and basic science knowledge of these conditions. In 2004, Dr. Gaitanis returned to Brown Medical School and Hasbro Children’s Hospital where he served as the director of pediatric epilepsy. He aided in the development of ketogenic diet and epilepsy surgery programs at Brown, providing comprehensive epilepsy care for children in Rhode Island. He now serves as the Director of Child Neurology at Tufts Medical Center/Floating Hospital for Children. Apart from his clinical duties, Dr. Gaitanis serves as the Chairperson of the Matthew Siravo Memorial Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving epilepsy advocacy and education. Dr. Gaitanis’ research is aimed at improving the sensitivity of EEG through digital signal processing. He has also published original articles and book chapters on status epilepticus, cortical malformations, and epilepsy in infancy and childhood.
Addressing Genomic Variants for ASD Through Diet, Lifestyle and Supplements
In this talk Dr. Sharon Hausman-Cohen will share case studies from her practice and the recently published proof of concept paper "Genomics as a Clinical Decision Support Tool" shows that outcomes in children with ASD can be improved by addressing common genetic variants.
Dr. Sharon Hausman-Cohen, Co-Founder, Chief Science Officer, and Medical Director of IntellxxDNA, has been using genomics for over a decade to deliver personalized medicine and help her patients achieve optimal health and wellness. As a researcher and clinician advocate, she recognized that information inaccuracies and complexity were barriers to entry for many. She saw the need for an easy-to-use, accurate, science-based genomics interpretation tool for clinicians, and began to develop what is now IntellxxDNA™. In addition to being a well-regarded doctor and researcher, Dr. Hausman-Cohen is a sought after speaker and educator on genomics, personalized medicine and integrative medicine. Dr. Hausman-Cohen received both her master’s and medical degrees from Harvard Medical School. Board-certified in Family Medicine, she is a Fellow of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, possessing additional board certification in Integrative Medicine through the American Board of Physician Specialties. She has been practicing Full Spectrum Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine for more than 20 years.
PANS and Lyme Disease
Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and Lyme Disease are common autoimmune disorders that present with physiological, behavioral, and cognitive challenges. Acute onset of OCD, tics, anxiety, urinary frequency aggression, food restriction, and behavioral regression are among the many symptoms indicative of PANS. These symptoms manifest from strep, viruses, mycoplasma and other germs, which can lead to Autoimmune Encephalitis. Although no longer included the diagnostic criteria for PANS, Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses can complicate PANS symptoms and should be explored. This lecture will review clinical evaluation, and comprehensive treatment approach of PANS and tick-borne illnesses that focuses on antimicrobial and immune-modulating therapy.
Dr. Lindsey Wells is a naturopathic physician. She focuses her practice on pediatric integrative care for PANS/PANDAS, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Tick-borne Illnesses, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Also, she cares for the parents of her pediatric patients which allows for a comprehensive model of care for the whole family. She currently serves as the President of the Connecticut Naturopathic Physicians Association (CNPA) and is a Fellow of the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs. She frequently lectures on PANS/PANDAS and ASD to both professional and parent organizations, and is the author of the children’s book, Super Sam and the Battle Against PANS/PANDAS. In 2016, Dr. Wells was recognized as “Young Influencer in Naturopathic Medicine” by the AANMC.
Living a Full Life: An overview & tips on increasing social opportunities
By Shannon Zish
We will explore RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) as a teaching method from getting started with the basics through application to advocacy and development of functional skills.
Shannon Zish is the Founder and Director of Unspoken Thoughts. Shannon earned her M.A. in Applied Developmental Psychology from George Mason University and gained experience at a variety of non-profits and therapy centers in addition to working privately with individuals and families. She brings her experience with RDI, TEACCH, and DIR/Floor time, ABA, and RPM (Level III Provider) to her students and instructors through Unspoken Thoughts.
What We Need You To Know: A panel discussion with Nonspeakers
As many as 40 percent of children with ASD are nonverbal. But that doesn’t mean they have nothing to say. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! NAC is proud to host nonspeaking young adults with autism, from the local PA Advocacy group: SEEN (Spellers Empowering Education for Nonspeakers).
• Raise expectations of nonspeakers’ abilities
• Inspire nonspeakers of all ages to communicate in all aspects of their lives by using letterboards, keyboards, and computer-based devices of their choice
• Advocate for the inclusion of nonspeakers in academic instruction with same age peers so that they can participate fully in society
These young adults wish to share their thoughts, answer any and all of your questions, and encourage others to see that everyone deserves to be heard. Their ultimate goal is to help every nonspeaking individual find their voice.
Achieving Successful Communication in Students with Complex Motor Issues
The term “complex motor” can mean several different things, from having multiple diagnoses to uniquely challenging sensory or motor systems. The bottom line is, when parents of these children first hear about communication through spelling they often think, “My child could never do that” and not because they don’t presume competence about his/her intelligence! But rather, because they can’t even imagine their child pointing, or sitting, let alone staying regulated for an entire lesson. If that sounds like your child or you’re interested in observing some case studies of complex profiled students who are now all spelling openly on a 26 letterboard, then this presentation is for you.
Empowered 2 Communicate: Teaching communication through spelling
Communication through spelling is a form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) that teaches the speller the motor skills to point to letters to spell as a form of reliable communication. It is exciting to know that one day your child will have the ability to communicate beyond their wants and needs! Fluent or open communication using a letter board or keyboard is the goal, however as with any new motor skill, it takes time and practice to build the skills necessary for fluency. This presentation will provide an overview of communication through spelling, define fluency and the do's and don'ts of practice to ensure that you and your speller are successfully navigating your pathway to fluency.
Dawnmarie Gaivin, RN, BSN, AT-ACP is the co-founder of Empowered2 as well as the founder of Transcending Apraxia, an S2C and purposeful motor skill clinic based in San Diego, CA. With a strong foundation in co-regulation and sensory processing as both a DIR/Floortime® provider and a registered S2C Practitioner, she has combined that with her credential as an Assistive Technology Specialist (AT-ACP) to support individuals’ access to reliable communication. She is also the proud mother of two autistic teenagers, Evan and Trey, who utilize AAC. Her children have inspired her specific passion to support non- and minimal speakers in finding their voice and developing the skills to live as authentically and autonomously as possible. Dawnmarie is as passionate about advocating for the right to communication choice as she is about breaking down barriers to access to quality education for nonspeakers.
Einstein once said “You can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it” and Dawnmarie couldn’t agree more: “Our nonspeaking citizens, if left without an effective means of communication and education, are a vital untapped resource that can surely help make our world a better, more connected place. It’s our duty to help every student share their gifts with the planet.”
Movement differences in autism: Why behavior is not always communication
Parents and caregivers are familiar with the terms "severe autism", "behavior", or "cognitive delay". However, terms such as "purposeful motor", "coaching the motor", or "brain/body connection" may not be as familiar. This presentation will bring a new perspective to "behavior is communication" as we redefine these terms according to more current research and up to date information in the field of autism and movement related differences. If you want to understand your child's sensory motor profile so that you have the tools to support them in their daily life, please join us!
Note: This Session will be presented as a prerecording, due to a last minute emergency. Dr. Johnson is hoping to join us live via Zoom during "Spelling Q&A with the Experts"
Dr. Dana Johnson, PhD, MS, OTR/L is a cofounder of Empowered2, owner of Interplay Therapy Center, and Founder of Invictus Academy Tampa Bay, a non-profit private school for students with sensory motor differences. Dr. Johnson has a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy and a PhD in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Development and has worked with individuals with motor and sensory differences for over 15 years. Her private practice opened in 2010 and has grown to serve children, adolescents and adults with motor and sensory differences, including autism, apraxia, sensory integration disorders, and other developmental disabilities.
In Underestimated: An Autism Miracle, Generation Rescue’s cofounder J.B. Handley and his teenage son Jamison tell the remarkable story of Jamison’s journey to find a method of communication that allowed him to show the world that he was a brilliant, wise, generous, and complex individual who had been misunderstood and underestimated by everyone in his life.
Jamison’s emergence at the age of seventeen from his self-described “prison of silence” took place over a profoundly emotional and dramatic twelve-month period that is retold from his father’s perspective. The book reads like a spy thriller while allowing the reader to share in the complex emotions of both exhilaration and anguish that accompany Jamison’s journey for him and his family. Once Jamison’s extraordinary story has been told, Jamison takes over the narrative to share the story from his perspective, allowing the world to hear from someone who many had dismissed and cast aside as incapable.
Jamison’s remarkable transformation challenges the conventional wisdom surrounding autism, a disability impacting 1 in 36 Americans. Many scientists still consider nonspeakers with autism—a full 40 percent of those on the autism spectrum—to be “mentally retarded.” Is it possible that the experts are wrong about several million people? Are all the nonspeakers like Jamison?
Underestimated: An Autism Miracle will touch your heart, inspire you, remind you of the power of love, and ultimately leave you asking tough questions about how many more Jamisons might be waiting for their chance to be freed from their prison of silence, too. And, for the millions of parents of children with autism, the book offers a detailed description of a communication method that may give millions of people with autism back their voice.