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The Help Group Summit on Autism, Learning Disabilities, and ADHD Features State-of-the-Art Research and Best Practices in Education and Treatment

California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg receives The Help Group Champion for Children Award

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Help Group Summit 2009 - Advances and Best Practices in Autism, Learning Disabilities and ADHD took place on Friday, October 2nd and Saturday, October 3rd at The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. This cutting edge conference featured more than 20 leading experts from across the country. Generously sponsored by First 5 California and First 5 LA, this year's Summit was a record breaking success, with more than 600 professionals and parents in attendance.


The two-day conference was co-chaired by Dr. Barbara Firestone, President and CEO of The Help Group, Dr. Paul Satz, Professor Emeritus, Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior and Dr. Peter Whybrow, Director, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at The Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Congressman Brad Sherman (D - 27th) joined Dr. Firestone to convene the Summit. In his comments, he noted that, "The Help Group not only serves 1300 students on a daily basis, but they are a model for this country on how to provide treatment and education for an array of disabilities, especially autism spectrum disorders." To mark this special occasion, Sherman presented The Help Group with an American flag flown over the Capitol building on Independence Day.

The Help Group presented its Champion for Children Award to California Senate President pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg (D - 6th), in appreciation of his outstanding efforts to address the health and well being of children with autism and other special needs in California. Senator Steinberg recently announced the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders (ASD), which he will chair. The Committee will build on the trailblazing work and important contributions of the three-year California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism, which was Chaired by Senator Steinberg and Vice Chaired by Dr. Barbara Firestone. The Committee's work will focus on four specific issues - health insurance coverage; early identification and intervention; training & employment and housing for individuals with ASD. Dr. Firestone serves as Chair, Statewide Coordinating Council of Autism Task Forces as well as Chair, North Los Angeles County Task Force.

Dr. Firestone spoke of Senator Steinberg's commitment. "He is the embodiment of what it means to be a true public servant. At the core of his being is the commitment to becoming the voice for children and families, the underserved, the mentally ill, and children confronting special challenges in their lives."

Joining Dr. Firestone in saluting Senator Steinberg, Senator John Burton (ret.), former Senate President pro Tem said, "Darrell Steinberg has a legacy in this State. What he created through Prop 63, which became the Mental Health Parity Act, and his current efforts are what heroes are made of. I'm proud to call him my friend."

Senator Steinberg graciously accepted the award and said, "I've long held an interest and a belief that disability is much less about the 'dis' and much more about the 'ability.' I join you proudly in your work and in your efforts to help change lives and to make sure that everybody, regardless of what they may not be able to do, is able to have a great life."

At a reception immediately following the Champion for Children award ceremony, Committee member Senator Carol Liu (D - 21st) spoke of the group's forthcoming efforts. "This new Senate Select Committee will meld together science and good public policy to make a positive difference in the lives of children. We have a big agenda for California ,and we're going to get this done."

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (D - 2nd) praised Senator Steinberg. "I am proud to be a colleague and friend to Darrell Steinberg. What distinguishes him is his compassion and passion that were broadly defined in the area of mental health. Darrell is a star."

The luncheon program of the Summit was highlighted by the presentation of The Help Group's 2009 Distinguished Professional Award to Dr. David Amaral, professor - Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Neuroscience at UC, Davis and Research Director of the M.I.N.D. Institute. Accepting the award, Dr. Amaral commented, "Ten years ago, I participated in a dream, which was the founding of the M.I.N.D. institute. At that time I thought 'what a daunting task to try to understand autism.' Now, I'm much more optimistic. It's amazing what has happened in ten years."

At the conclusion of the luncheon program, Dr. Firestone saluted Summit Co-Chair Dr. Paul Satz for his outstanding achievements and for his leadership in establishing The Help Group/UCLA neuropsychology program. She announced the naming of the Paul Satz Fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology in his honor.

For Summit presenter information, synopses of their presentations and photographs of the event, please visit

ABOUT THE HELP GROUP - The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprehensive nonprofit of its kind serving children with special needs related to autism, learning disabilities, abuse and emotional challenges. The Help Group's specialized education and therapy programs serve more than 5,000 children and families each year. Through outreach, parent and professional education efforts, The Help Group extends its reach to countless others nationally and internationally.

SOURCE The Help Group

SOURCE The Help Group
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