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 provide knowledge, insight, and valuable tools for life’s challenging landscape. 

The following professionals will be presenting at the Symposium:

Info & Registration

  • There is no fee for the 2022 Symposium due to the “virtual venue” and, as always, the generosity of our Premier sponsors – MindWorks.
  • Registration will remain open through the day of the event.
  • This event will be recorded and available on this website by November 14th.
  • The presenter’s contact information will be provided on this site post-event for post-event questions.

Speaker Presentations for the 2021 & 2020 RAS Webinars and the 2019 Slide Shows are available, please click below.

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

“Autism Biomarkers”

James C McPartland, PhD
Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center

There is a critical need for biological measures to inform autism clinical research and practice. Dr. McPartland will review the state of biomarker science and present novel strategies to apply them in individuals with profound autism and to translate them into treatments.

9:10 - 9:50 AM

9:50 - 10:45 AM

“ABA Through the Years. How ABA Changes as Children Get Older”

Gina Zecchin-Tirri, BCBA
Owner/CEO at All Points Licensed Behavior Analysts

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been proven to be an effective way to improve performance in many areas of people’s lives. Additionally, ABA is well known to be a very effective treatment methodology to improve skills for many people with a variety of developmental disabilities. What is not so well known is that ABA is effective for all ages. Typically, ABA is associated with young children and as children begin to age, ABA is often not considered as an option. With this talk, I will hopefully shed light on the science of ABA and demonstrate how it can be effective to improve performance with any age learner.

9:50 - 10:45 AM

10:45 - 11:25 AM

“Understanding the Goals of Self Direction”

Judith Ursitti
Council of Autism Service Providers

Over the past few years, federal and state officials have stepped up enforcement of the Mental Health Parity Addiction and Equity Act (MHPAEA). What does this mean for people with autism across their lifespan? Can behavioral supports like applied behavior analysis actually be funded in self-directed plans for adults? What are the tools available for consumers and providers to help ensure meaningful access to care?

10:45 - 11:25 AM

11:25 - 11:55 PM

“The Impact of Participation in Recreational Activities on the Quality of Life in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder”

Bill Schule
Executive Director
at Venture Foundation

Krista Bilodeau
Day Habilitation Programming Director.
at Venture Together

We will discuss the benefits of Physical Activity Programs (PAP) that can produce large benefits on social functioning and transfer to other parts of an individual’s daily life to create a better quality of life. Participation in Physical activities can also help build a foundation of the soft skills needed to maintain relationships and succeed in the workplace.  Specific skills that are not easily addressed in a typical daily setting can be enhanced with PAP and include Teamwork, Problem Solving, Tolerance, Listening, and general Communication.

11:25 - 11:55 PM


James C. McPartland, Ph.D.

Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology

Yale Child Study Center

James C. McPartland, Ph.D., is the Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center. He is a practicing licensed child psychologist and Director of the Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic. Dr. McPartland is Director of the Yale Center for Brain and Mind Health, Co-Director of Team Science at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Child Study Center, and the Principal Investigator of the Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials, a US-based effort to identify biomarkers to support intervention research in autism.

Dr. McPartland’s program of research investigates the brain bases of neurodevelopmental conditions to develop biologically-based tools to improve detection, treatment, and, ultimately, the quality of life for autistic people and their families. His research has been continuously supported since 2007 by both federal and private research grants and was named the top-funded international autism researcher over the past decade. His contributions to the field have been recognized by numerous awards, including the NARSAD Atherton Young Investigator Award, the International Society for Autism Research Young Investigator Award, the Patterson Trust Clinical Research Award, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Klerman Prize, and the APA Sara S. Sparrow Early Career Research Award.

He has been named a Fellow by two divisions of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. Dr. McPartland has published six books and over 180 scholarly works on autism and related topics. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, the Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, and the Encyclopedia of Autism and Related Disorders. Dr. McPartland is active in public scientific communication, with his clinical and research activities featured in media, such as the A&E series, The Employables, and news outlets, such as the New York Times.

He has served on the executive boards of the International Society for Autism Research and the APA Division of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities/Autism Spectrum Disorder and currently chairs the Scientific Advisory Board of the Autism Science Foundation.

Judith Ursitti

Vice President of Government Affairs

The Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP)

Judith Ursitti is Vice President of Government Affairs for CASP. A CPA by training, she spent a decade working in tax accounting. She became immersed in the world of autism advocacy when her son, Jack, was diagnosed at age 2. Since his diagnosis, she has worked on the passage, implementation, and enforcement of autism-related legislation in more than a dozen states. She worked for Autism Speaks as their director of state government affairs for over a decade. She has served on the Massachusetts Autism Commission, where she co-chaired the Commission’s 14-22/Employment Subcommittee.

She is the recipient of the Margaret Bauman MD Award for Excellence within the Autism Community, the Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts Commitment to Advocacy Award, the Autism Advocacy in Action Award from the Long Island Behavior Analysis Conference, and the Oklahoma Autism Network’s Excellence in Autism Award. She has also run ten marathons, including seven Boston’s, frequently fundraising for various autism-related charities.

Judith lives in Dover, MA, with her husband, Andy, and two children.

Gina Zecchin-Tirri, BCBA

Chief Executive Officer

All Points Licensed Behavior Analysts

Gina Zecchin-Tirri began her career as a special education teacher in NYC in 1993, working with children and adults with autism and severe learning and behavioral challenges. While teaching, Gina began her career in behavior analysis in 1998 under the direction and supervision of Dr. Vincent Carbone. In 2003, Gina Tirri started working alongside Dr. Carbone and served as Assistant Director from the start of the Carbone Clinic. During her years at the Carbone Clinic, Gina worked to establish clinic-based services, OutReach, and clinic-based consultations.

In 2019, after working with Dr. Carbone for over 21 years, Gina, in partnership with Dr. Emily Sweeney-Kerwin, assumed ownership of the Carbone Clinic, renamed, All Points Licensed Behavior Analysts providing high-quality behavior analytic service to people with Autism and other developmental disabilities.

In 1993, Ms. Tirri received a B.S. in Special Education and an M.S. in Behavioral Disorders from Fordham University in New York later in 1995. She received board certification in 2000 and full board certification in 2008. Ms. Tirri is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and is licensed to practice behavior analysis in the State of New York and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Throughout her career, Ms. Tirri has focused her work on assessing and providing behavior analytic treatment to individuals with autism and other related disorders, supervising teachers, BCBAs, and consulting with school districts. In addition, Ms. Tirri has helped co-author research articles published in peer-reviewed journals. She is an active presenter at regional and national conferences all around the United States on various topics in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Krista Bilodeau

Day Habilitation Programming Director

Venture Together

Krista Bilodeau has over 20 years of experience at Venture Together, providing/overseeing service provision ranging from Music/Art/Theater programs to Technology/Sensory/Sports programs for individuals in the I/DD community who attend Venture Together Day Programs and related services.

In the face of the global pandemic, her department adapted to the ever-changing world by starting a semi-virtual program, Venture CARE (Creative Arts/Recreation Enrichment) At-Home. As the Day Habilitation Programming Director, Krista spreads her knowledge and passion for recreation and activity-based curriculum across the Venture Together Day programs.

A steadfast advocate of the importance and benefit of recreational opportunities for the people she serves, Krista strives to bring quality-of-life programming to the Venture Together family.