October 23 & 24, 2014
Atlantic City


Dr. Buchanan with Keynote Speaker Dr. Durand
Dr. Buchanan with Keynote Speaker Dr. Durand


This year's annual conference, once again, delivered top-notch autism information to parents and professionals. 

With more than 1,000 people in attendance, the 32nd Annual Conference was undoubtedly a success.

This year's conference offered:

  • 65 workshops presented by experts in the field
  • 8 lunch and learn sessions
  • 2 practical keynotes
  • nearly 80 exhibitors focused on the full age range of need
  • 17 posters presenting research findings
  •  and so much more!

Conference Highlights

Congressman Chris Smith Opening Remarks

Autism NJ Board of Trustees President, Gino Valiant; Executive Director, Dr. Suzanne Buchanan and Congressman Chris SmithCongressman Chris Smith, a long-time advocate for autism-related issues in Congress and co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Coalition on Autism Research and Education (C.A.R.E.), gave the opening remarks.  

Smith focused on a bill he wrote that was signed into law in August 2014, the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (CARES) Act, which will provide $1.3 billion for autism research over the next five years. Learn more>> 

Gold Member & Friends Lunch

This year’s Gold Member and Friends Lunch featured remarks by Ellen Schisler, Autism New Jersey’s Director of Development and Marketing, who shared information about Autism New Jersey’s upcoming 50th Anniversary celebration, slated for 2015, and offered a personal family historical perspective.

“My family history and the struggle for information and services that my parents faced upon my brother’s diagnosis decades ago runs parallel to Autism New Jersey’s evolution. While families today face similar struggles, the future is much brighter for those diagnosed today in the state, in large part because of the work Autism New Jersey/COSAC has done since 1965 and events like our Conference. We think that’s something worth celebrating.”

Keynote Speakers

Thursday’s keynote on elopement got the conference off to a great start by focusing on a critical priority: keeping individuals with autism safe. Special guest Wayne Fisher, Ph.D., BCBA-D from the University of Nebraska Medical Center offered details on the difference between wandering and bolting as well as research-based strategies for addressing each.

Participants shared comments such as “Enthusiastic presentation, extremely helpful!” and “Great topic—SO important! Loved the very useful information and practical strategies!”


The positive energy continued Friday with a keynote on the importance of optimism when addressing challenging behavior that was heralded as one of our best keynotes ever! Special guest V. Mark Durand from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg explained how research has shown that “optimism training” can help both parents and professionals to be more effective and less stressed.

Loved the content and presenter! Can’t wait to implement the practical strategies with my son!” shared one participant, as another declared, “Unique but very relevant and extremely important topic! I will definitely pass this on to my staff and students’ families.”

(Dr. Durand's book, Optimistic Parenting, is  available for purchase at Amazon.com)

Mom 2 Mom Glass Book Project

Mom 2 Mom Mosaic of Resilience

The Mom 2 Mom program is designed to provide a compassionate and encouraging environment for mothers of children with special needs to come together and share support. At this year's annual conference, attendees had the opportunity to visit the Mom 2 Mom exhibit and create something that showed what helps make them more resilient. Each tile created at the conference will be added to the Mom 2 Mom Mosaic of Resilience.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Lanyard Sponsor


ASHA Credits Sponsor

Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc.

Notepad Sponsor


The Anthony E. Meyer Scholarship Fund

34 family members who would have otherwise not been able to register, were given the opportunity to attend the 32nd Annual Conference.

"This conference came at such a wonderful time for me as a parent. I am passed the shock of diagnosis, but not at a point where I am satisfied with his progress or with my knowledge of what to do or where to go next. The workshops that I attended were fantastic and networking with other parents and professionals is invaluable." ~Donna

"This was a great opportunity for me to talk to others who understand. I got tons of information from all of the vendors and the workshops I was able to attend were really helpful. Again, thank you for the opportunity that I would not have had if it weren't for the scholarship. Words cannot express my gratitude." ~Jacqueline

Thank you to our Scholarship Sponsors:

Richard Meyer
Kathleen Moore
Bob and Mary Perron - In loving memory of Bobby and Tony
Joseph Simontacchi
Wakefern Corporation

Click here to learn more or to donate>>