SAT 9/28 at USC: Which autism treatment is right for my child?

September 27, 2013

Free daytime public event at USC to launch “Interacting With Autism,” interactive video resource featuring latest research, issues and personal narratives for people on the autism spectrum and their families

Contact: USC News at or (213) 740-2215

WHY: Treatment for autism isn’t one-size-fits-all, and families and healthcare providers deciding which therapies, if any, are most appropriate for people on the spectrum now have a reliable independent resource for research and personal testimonies, with which to make informed and difficult decisions.

“Interacting With Autism” [] is led by film scholar and multimedia producer Marsha Kinder and Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Mark Jonathan Harris of the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

This video-intensive online resource is emotive, accessible and interactive, to help users better understand the latest research and therapeutic developments, as well as the diverse range of experience of people on the autism spectrum from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.

WHAT: Free, public daytime event at USC launching “Interacting With Autism,” a website funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to help individuals make more effective and informed decisions about healthcare.

“Interacting With Autism” event will include panels with experts on a range of topics from genetics to child development, presentations of the latest research from USC on autism, full screen interactive projections of videos and the website, art activities for children on the spectrum and the opportunity to meet leading authors on autism.

Picnic lunch and refreshments will be served.

WHERE: USC School of Cinematic Arts, Interactive Media Building, Room 106

WHEN: Saturday Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Panels at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m.


  • Mark Jonathan Harris, distinguished professor and head of advanced documentary filmmaking at the USC School of Cinematic Arts
  • Marsha Kinder, director of the Labyrinth research initiative on interactive narrative and critical studies professor emerita at the USC School of Cinematic Arts

Causes of autism panel: 11 a.m.

One out of 88 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Is this dramatic increase a matter of more attention, or other factors at the interplay between genetics and environment? Research scientists will discuss and then open to Q&A:

  • Caleb Finch, University Professor and ARCO/ Kieschnick Professor of Gerontology and Biological Science, USC Davis School of Gerontology
  • Daniel Campbell, assistant professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences, Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC
  • Heather Volk, assistant professor of preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC; principal investigator, The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
  • Clara Lajonchere, vice president of clinical programs, Autism Speaks; director of Autism Genetic Resource Exchange
  • Peter Mundy, director of educational research, UC-Davis M.I.N.D. Institute

Choosing treatment panel: 1 p.m.

  • Ricki Robinson, clinical professor of pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine at USC; author of Autism Solutions: How to Create a Healthy and Meaningful Life For Your Child
  • Florence Clark, associate dean and professor of occupational science and occupational therapy at USC; past president of the American Occupational Therapy Association
  • Ronald Leaf, clinical psychologist, director of Autism Partnership in Seal Beach
  • Connie Kasari, professor of human development and psychology, UCLA; founding member of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment
  • Valerie Vanaman, attorney and nationally recognized leader in providing representation for individuals challenged with disabilities and for their families

Representing autism panel: 2 p.m.

  • Tim Page, professor, USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, USC Thornton School of Music; Pulitzer-Prize winning music critic; author of Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger’s
  • Gisele Ragusa, director of Teacher, K-12 and Community Education, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
  • Laura Cechanowicz, project manager, Interacting With Autism
  • Daniel Gross, editor, Interacting With Autism
  • Shelbi Jay, production supervisor, Interacting With Autism
  • Scott Mahoy, creative director of design, Interacting With Autism

HOW: Free and open to the public. For more information about the panels and parking, click here.

MORE: The “Interacting With Autism” launch event is co-sponsored by USC-affiliated Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the USC School of Cinematic Arts, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Division of Occupational Science and Therapy at USC and the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study.