Empowering Connections: Reflecting on the 41st Annual Conference

October 30, 2023

The Autism New Jersey 41st Annual Conference was an outstanding event, bringing together professionals, caregivers, advocates, and individuals on the autism spectrum. As we wrap up this inspiring event, it’s time to reflect on the invaluable insights and experiences shared throughout the conference.

Autism New Jersey welcomed more than 1,400 attendees to Atlantic City on October 19 & 20, 2023. Executive Director, Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, greeted attendees with a welcome message that highlighted the importance of every member of our community and how our collective compassion and actions improve the lives of individuals with autism. She then described the agency’s priorities over the last year including expanding its clinical and public policy expertise and establishing innovative projects like the Law Enforcement Initiative (launching this month).

“At Autism New Jersey, we take pride in our Power of Connection,” said Dr. Buchanan. “This annual event creates a supportive and inclusive atmosphere in which we learn from one another. We all have the same goal of sharing best practices to get individuals with autism the services they need and deserve.”

Our team was so excited to attend and can’t stop talking about all the activity, the great information, and the sense of community they felt at this event.

I was able to connect with resources for my son as well as my entire family. I’m feeling more hopeful now than I have in a long time!

The conference helped generate ideas on how to best support my students and gave me ideas on how to better collaborate with parents.

I always enjoy the opportunity to connect with colleagues in the field and connect with old friends.  The conference provides a platform for learning, networking, and the feeling of connection.

Conference Highlights

Pictured from left to right:<br /> Lindsay Shea, DrPH; Jennifer LeComte, D.O. ; Lauren Frederick, M.A., BCBA; Suzanne Buchanan, Psy.D., BCBA-Dr; Alec Bernstein, Ph.D., BCBA-D; and Alex Friedman, MPH.

Thursday’s program began with an expert keynote panel addressing the healthcare disparities experienced by autistic individuals. A packed room listened intently as the panel discussed promoting medical-behavioral collaboration, implementing autism-friendly practices in hospital settings, and integrating behavioral expertise into medical teams to promote safe medical procedures and hospital stays.

Friday’s keynote shifted to the business of autism, addressing how the funding for autism service delivery has changed dramatically over the past three decades and will continue to be affected. While typically a highly emotional and opinion-filled topic, the keynote panelists expertly wove their unique perspectives on private equity in health care and the need for outcome standards to ensure quality service delivery into an objective and nuanced discussion.

All told the event featured 65 high-quality presentations on various topics ranging from early intervention to transition planning, safety, healthcare, ethics, collaboration, adult services, and more. Over two days, professionals, caregivers, and autistic individuals were provided with valuable information and had continuing education opportunities for the BACB, NASW, APA, and ASHA.

The conference was also pleased to host 107 exhibitors showcasing the latest in autism research, treatment, and service navigation. Attendees connected with exhibitors who showcased effective clinical services, state agencies, higher education programs, electronic data collection systems, and legal and financial resources to enhance the quality of life for individuals with autism.

Continued Access

Registered attendees can access workshop handouts, remain engaged on the community boards, and visit our exhibit booths on the Whova conference platform through December 1, 2023. Whova includes community boards linking attendees, presenters, sponsors, self-advocates, and families to specific discussion topics ranging from job openings for professionals to support groups for families.

Save the Date

October 24 & 25, 2024 at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center, Atlantic City.

Thank You

We thank our presenters, exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees for their support and engagement at our 41st annual conference. Together, we are creating a stronger community of those who can provide services with skill and compassion to help individuals with autism reach their fullest potential.