Autism Symposium


Virtual Zoom Event

About the Autism Symposium


The Rockland Autism Symposium is administered by the Venture Foundation, LTD, with many thanks to our founder John A. Murphy, our premier sponsor, Inna and Josh Needelman of Mindworks Charitable Trust, and Alison Singer of the Autism Science Foundation, whose generous effort and support, helps keep the Symposium running.

Any net proceeds are used to enhance programs or services provided to individuals with developmental disabilities, including Creative Arts, and Recreational Sports such as adaptive basketball,  swimming, and field sports.


Our format this year will be ≈40-minute presentations (≈30 minutes on the topic + ≈10 minutes on Q&A) on four distinct topics by our guest speakers, each renowned in their field. The four topics intend to provide viewers with knowledge, insights, and useful tools to help cope with the current-normal caused by the pandemic.

The following professionals will be presenting at the Symposium:

Info & Registration

  • There is no fee for the 2021 Symposium, due to the “virtual venue” and as always, the generosity of our Premier sponsors – MindWorks.
  • The registration will remain open through the day of the event.
  • This event will be recorded and available for viewing on this website by November 4th.
  • The presenter’s contact information will be provided on this site, post-event, for additional questions that may arise.

Speaker Presentations for the 2020 RAS Webinar and the 2019 Slide Shows are available, please click below. Check back in November for access to the 2021 presentations.

Symposium Schedule

9:00 - 9:10 AM

Welcome & Opening Remarks

Bill Schule
Executive Director, Venture Foundation

9:00 - 9:10 AM

9:10 - 9:50 AM

“Stopping the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Paul A. Offit, MD
Director, Vaccine Education Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

9:10 - 9:50 AM

9:50 - 10:30 AM

“Using Mobile Technology to Help Families Detect Autism Earlier and Improve Their Child’s Outcomes”

Amy Wetherby
PhD, CCC-SLP – Distinguished Research Professor of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, Florida State University
Director, Autism Institute, Florida State University College of Medicine

9:50 - 10:30 AM

10:30 - 11:20 AM

“Making SENSE of Issie Senses – Beit Issie Shapiro’s Multi-Sensory Environments (Snoezelen) Methodology”

Ongi Kaplan-Gal
OT, MA Child Development, Beit Issie Shapiro

10:30 - 11:20 AM

11:20 - 11:45 PM

“How New York State Government is Helping the I/DD Community: A Bipartisan Legislative Update”

Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick and Assemblyman Mike Lawler
NY State Legislators

11:20 - 11:45 PM


Paul A. Offit, MD

Paul is the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Offit has published more than 160 papers in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety. He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC in 2006 and by the WHO in 2013. In 2009, Dr. Offit received the President’s Certificate for Outstanding Service from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Offit was a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is currently a member of the FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, and is a founding advisory board member of the Autism Science Foundation and the Foundation for Vaccine Research.

Amy M. Wetherby, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Amy is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Director of the Autism Institute in the Florida State University College of Medicine and the Laurel Schendel Professor of Communication Disorders. She has over 40 years of clinical experience with Honors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Her research has focused on improving the early detection of autism and communication disorders and providing community-viable evidence-based early intervention for toddlers with autism and their families. She is the Executive Director of the Florida State University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. As Director of the FIRST WORDS Project, she has extensive experience developing and implementing screening tools for ASD and communication delays in large population-based samples of children 9-24 months of age.

Ongi Kaplan-Gal

Overview: Ongi is an Occupational Therapist with over 18 years of experience working with children with complex developmental disabilities and their families. She is the lead OT at BIS’s Early Intervention Center.

Ongi has a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Tel Aviv University and a Master’s Degree in Child Development from the University of Haifa. 

Mike Lawler and Elijah Reichlin-Melnick

~New York State Assemblyman Mike Lawler was elected to the on November 3, 2020. His district is comprised of the southern portion of Rockland County. As an Assemblyman, Mike is working hard to reduce the state’s onerous tax burden, bring fiscal discipline to its budget, provide law enforcement with the resources needed to do its work, and craft legislation to improve public safety.

~State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick represents the 38th State Senate district, which includes the towns of Clarkstown, Orangetown, and Ramapo in Rockland County and the town of Ossining in Westchester County. He was elected in November 2020 and is currently serving his first term. He chairs the Senate Committee on Contracts & Procurement. 


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