April: Autism Awareness Month




All Lecture Series presentations are being held from 7-9 p.m. in the Lecture Hall at DDI’s Hollywood Drive Campus, 99 Hollywood Drive, Smithtown, NY.  Space is limited for free lectures; anyone interested should call 631-366-5875 to register.


April 9th       

New Directions in Understanding and Supporting Social Competence on the Autism Spectrum


Matthew D. Lerner, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, & Pediatrics
Director, Social Competence & Treatment Lab
Stony Brook University



Dr. Lerner will provide a brief history and overview of interventions designed to address social challenges among school-age and teenage youth with ASD. He will introduce the concept of “therapeutic mechanisms” and describe what types of treatments may work best and for which individuals. Finally, he will knit these insights together by presenting research emerging from Stony Brook University’s Social Competence and Treatment Lab.

Dr. Lerner’s research focuses on “real world” implications of social problems in children and adolescents (especially those with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders [ASD]). He has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and Behavior Therapy, and as Co-Chair of the Autism Spectrum & Developmental Disabilities Special Interest Group at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.


April 23rd

 Beyond Vaccines: How New Approaches in Genetics and Neuroscience are Transforming Our Understanding of Autism


Alan Packer, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI


A number of large studies have failed to turn up any evidence in support of a connection between vaccinations and autism. Unfortunately, the attention paid to this issue, has detracted from the substantial progress that has been made of late.  Most importantly, we have learned that susceptibility to autism has a significant genetic component.


Dr.  Packer’s presentation will discuss how new findings related to the genetic causes of autism are informing and driving the research agenda. It will look at how the fetal brain might be affected both by genetic and environmental risk factors. Changes in brain development are beginning to be modeled successfully in experimental animals, providing opportunities for a deeper understanding of how autism develops.


This presentation will also include a discussion of exciting new research on the development of very young children known to be at higher risk of autism. It is hoped that these findings will lead to much earlier diagnosis and more successful interventions. Finally, Dr. Packer will outline a new initiative by the Simons Foundation to recruit up to 50,000 individuals on the autism spectrum to participate in this research.



Alan Packer, Ph.D. is Senior Scientist at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), the largest private funder of research on autism spectrum disorders in the United States. Since joining SFARI in 2009 he has been part of a team working to oversee a portfolio of grants to scientists working on all aspects of autism research, with an emphasis on the genetic basis of the disorder. Prior to joining SFARI he spent eight years as an editor at the journal Nature Genetics, and is currently on the advisory board of the journal Science Translational Medicine. He writes about the latest findings in autism research for SFARI.org.





Developmental Disabilities Institute

99 Hollywood Drive

Smithtown, NY  11787




From Eastern Long Island:  LIE to Exit 55, make right on Motor Parkway. Continue about 200 ft. and bare right onto Old Willets Path.  Continue on Old Willets Path for approximately 2 miles, and then cross over Jericho Turnpike.  Old Willets Path now changes to Plymouth Blvd.  Go to the first stop sign and make a left onto Parnell Drive.  Make the next left onto Hollywood Drive.  The campus is at the end of the block. 


From Western Long Island:  LIE to Exit 55, make left onto Motor Parkway. Go over LIE bridge and proceed about 200 ft. and bare right onto Old Willets Path.  Follow directions above.


*Presentation in DDI’s Public Education (Lecture) Series does not in and of itself constitute or imply DDI’s recommendation or endorsement. DDI’s Public Education Series is intended only to provide the public with presentations related to the larger issue of Developmental Disability that are thought provoking, interesting and timely