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Biennial Spring Autism Conference

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Pottery coffee mug on left of desk.  Laptop screen with vitural conference attendees blurred out on right of desk.

Our next conference is planned for Spring of 2025!  Updates will be made on this page.

Thank you to the speakers, exhibitors, researchers, self-advocates, parents/caregivers, providers, students, volunteers and everyone who attended and/or supported our VTCAR Biennial Spring Conference on April 21, 2023. 
Special thank you to our parent panelists for sharing their experiences.


April 2023 Conference Information

SPEAKER INFORMATION (follow links in red to view either a slide presentation or video)
Opening Keynote: Transitions to adulthood for autistic youth: Improving outcomes by supporting families by Dr. Julie Lounds Taylor, (Video: Part 1 and Part 2) Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Biomedical core: A Decade of Uncovering Physiological Responses in ASD - what it tells us and where to go from here by Dr. Michelle Patriquin, Director of Research, Senior Psychologist, The Menninger Clinic and Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, VT Alumna
Biomedical core: Dr. Marika Coffman, Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The Child & Family Mental Health & Community Psychiatry Division, Duke University, VT Alumna
Technology core: Shiva Ghasemi, PhD Candidate, Human Centered Design, VT Computer Science Program
Technology core: Machine Learning in Autism - State of the Art Approaches by Dr. Luke Achenie, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Health Sciences, VT Department of Chemical Engineering
Education Core: Dr. Amy Azano, Associate Professor of Adolescent Literacy and Rural Education, VT School of Education, founding director of the Center for Rural Education
Education Core: Megan Fok, PhD Candidate, Graduate Student Clinician for VTCAR and the Child Study Center, member of the Psychosocial Adjustment, NeuroDevelopment, and Autism (PANDA) Lab
Special Robot Demo: Jia Dong, PhD Candidate in the VT Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, member of the Mind Music Machine (tri-M) Lab
Clinical Core: On the Road or On the Web: Novel Methods of Autism Assessment in Rural Appalachia by Jennifer Bertollo, PhD Candidate, Graduate Student Clinician for VTCAR and the Psychological Services Center, member of the Psychosocial Adjustment, NeuroDevelopment, and Autism (PANDA) Lab
Special Needs Financial Planning Workshop: Jerry Hulick, (Video: Part 1 and Part 2) CLU, ChFC, ChSNC, CLTC, Washington Group Special Care Planning Team, Virginia Tech Alumnus
Self-Advocate Keynote Daniel Durany, (Video: Part 1 and Part 2) MSA., Public Speaker, volunteer for Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT), Sports Official
Emcee: VTCAR Welcome and Conclusion by Dr. Angela Scarpa, LCP, Professor, VT Department of Psychology, Founder and Director of the Virginia Tech Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research, Director of Clinical Science


Thank you to the Washington Group Special Care Planning Team, Virginia Tech, the College of Science and the Virginia Cooperative Extension for supporting this event!

In 2023, VTCAR was in its tenth year as a Center and we were excited to host our spring biennial conference entitled Celebrating 10 Years of VTCAR: Access and Neurodiversity. This day-long event on Friday, April 21, 2023 at the Inn at Virginia Tech was an opportunity to share in research and advocacy, and reconnect since our last in-person conference in 2019. We appreciated having several VT colleagues and graduate student alumni speak about their autism related research and they highlighted the legacy of VTCAR and its founding members.  


Thank you to the Exhibitors: