Conference on autistic spectrum slated

NASHUA – A conference next week will focus on childhood autism in the classroom and at home.

Not Just One Autism, a collaborative effort between the Nashua School District and PASE (Parents Assisting Special Educators), will be a chance for teachers, administrators, parents and others who are interested to hear from experts in the field and other parents of autistic children.

Neil Rogers, president of PASE and a Nashua parent, said planning for the conference started in June. “We needed a conference that gave some of the different perspectives of autism,” he said. “That was really our goal.”

PASE is a parent organization dedicated to enhancing the education of students with special needs. The organization has helped to provide supplies to special education teachers in the area, among other services.

The conference will be held at Nashua High School North on Tuesday and will run from 7:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. There is no school Tuesday due to the state primary.

The name for the conference comes from the understanding that autism covers a spectrum of disorders, not just one, Rogers said. Autism is one of several classifications covered in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Also included are Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, or PDD-NOS.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there has been a 10 percent to 17 percent annual increase in the number of autistic children over the past decade. The CDC currently estimates that 1 in 150 children will be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Among the speakers at the conference will be Robert Greenleaf of Greenleaf Learning, which specializes in educational strategies, building esteem and achievement.

Teresa Bolick, a licensed psychologist with a focus on neuron-developmental disorders, will also be a speaker at the conference. Bolick works as a consultant for the Nashua School District.

Jeff Bostic, a board certified child psychiatrist, will also speak.

Stacy Hynes, director of grants and community development, said the day would conclude with a panel discussion about Autism Spectrum Disorder in everyday life.

Parents of autistic children will be part of the discussion, she said.

There will also be discussion on new techniques in engaging autistic students.

Eric Schroeder, director of special education in Nashua, said the district has been trying to accommodate an increase in autistic students by providing additional programs and services.

“We continue to make requests for additional support as needed to the board of education,” he said. “We have had some monies that we have been able to allocate to the programs.”

There are approximately 2,000 students in the school district who receive special education services. Schroeder said he did not have a breakdown of how many of those students are diagnosed as autistic.

“There are more and more students who have autistic tendencies,” he said.

Rogers said the conference would benefit special education teachers, regular education teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and parents. As of Friday, 200 people had registered. There is room for about 400 people.

The conference is free of charge and refreshments and lunch are complimentary. Students in the culinary and tourism departments will help run the conference.

The Nashua School District will award professional development credits to staff that attend.

To register, visit their Web site at