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Science Alliance V2

1st Annual Autism Symposium

Science Alliance


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Join us on April 1st and April 2nd, 2024, at the Illinois Institute of Technology for the Science Alliance Autism Symposium. Sponsored by the International Society for Autism (ISA), this event is a pivotal gathering for those seeking to deepen their understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).


The Science Alliance, in collaboration with ISA, is to help disseminate information to individuals, families, and clinicians regarding the latest information on the research and treatment of ASD.

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This symposium is designed for a wide range of participants, including researchershealthcare professionalseducatorsfamilies, and individuals with ASD.

Those interested in research and development in treating Autism Spectrum Disorders, showcasing multidisciplinary approaches such as pharmacologyTMSbiofeedback, and neurofeedback. This symposium aims to provide up-to-date information for caregiversparents, and individuals serving the autism population.

Day 1 - April 1st 2024

McCormick Tribune Campus Center
MTCC (Illinois Institute of Technology, “IIT”)
3201 South State Street, Chicago, IL 60616

Day 2 - April 2nd 2024

Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile
10 E. Grand Avenue Chicago, Illinois, 60611, USA
Garden Room


9 AM


We recommend staying at The Hilton Garden Inn, where room accommodations for the event have been arranged, and where Day 2’s discussions and presentations will also take place.

Day 1 is at the Illinois Institute of Technology

MTCC (Illinois Institute of Technology, “IIT”)
3201 South State Street, Chicago, IL 60616

Day 2 is at the Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown / Magnificent Mile

10 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60611
Garden Room

Book Your Room Now!

What To Expect

We will take you on a journey from early infant mental health to adulthood as we examine new innovative modalities of research and treatment to help address a myriad of comorbidities that affect those with autism.

Day One

Presenters will be providing approximately one-hour sessions. Sessions and Information will be in a general conference style format.

Day Two

We will have a panel discussion designed to help provide an opportunity for questions and answers, and also facilitate general discussion.

Optional Wendella Architectural Boat Tour of Downtown Chicago will be on this day after panel discussion.

Click Here To Register

Researchers and Academics

Healthcare Professionals

Educators and Therapists

Families and Caregivers

Individuals with ASD

2 Day Conference $149 per person
  • Includes Breakfast
  • All symposium sessions and activities
  • Panel Discussion
  • Optional Wendella Chicago River Architecture Tour ($48)

Event Schedule

Day One: Speaker Sessions

8:00 Arrive at IIT with Breakfast

9:00 Opening Remarks

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Lorenzo Azzi, Ph.D.

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Dr. Azzi received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2001 from Illinois Institute of Technology. Throughout his 23-year career, the vast majority of Dr. Azzi’s work has been in the field of Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health, particularly with children/families involved in the child welfare system. Dr. Azzi received his training in IMH and Child Welfare work at the Tulane/Jefferson Parish Infant Team, a multidisciplinary team of professionals responsible for providing thorough, comprehensive evaluations and recommendations to the Juvenile Court, as well as therapeutic services for young children and families, under the leadership of international experts Dr. Charles Zeanah and Dr. Julie Larrieu.When Dr. Azzi relocated to Arizona in 2006, he accepted a position at Southwest Human Development where he served in a variety of roles, including working as a therapist and clinical supervisor at the Good Fit Counseling Center (Arizona’s only public mental health clinic serving children ages 0-5, over 90% of which are in DCS care), core faculty for the Harris Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute, consultant to a variety of programs including Early Head Start, Nurse Family Partnership and the AZ Department of Child Safety as a Unit Consultant.In 2019 Dr. Azzi began providing consultation to the AZ Department of Child Safety on a full time basis where he has been assisting Child Safety Specialists in a wide variety of decision making including (but not limited to) evaluation and/or therapy referrals, recommendations regarding visitation, transitioning children between homes/placements, family reunification/severance as well as helping Child Safety Specialists gain greater awareness as to their important role in the lives of families.

“Setting the Stage” – Infancy is a unique period in the developmental lifespan that is full of wonder, joy, challenge, amazement, trial and error. Babies experience an unparalleled and incredibly rapid rate of development that sets the stage for so much of the human experience, including (but not limited to) personality, sense of self and relationships. It is also the case that many of our personal struggles as well as areas of resilience have their origin in infancy as either contributing factors and/or early indicators. This presentation will aim to set the stage for upcoming discussions on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS) by examining several key areas of “normative” early childhood development, including the development of communication and attachment relationships.

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Lisa Settles, PsyD

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Dr. Lisa Settles is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine. With a background in clinical psychology, she has focused her career on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Dr. Settles serves as the Clinical Director of the Tulane Center for Autism and Related Disorders (TCARD), where she is dedicated to providing evaluations and treatment to individuals with ASD and training the next generation of providers in this field. Her research has been published in notable journals, and she actively collaborates with schools and organizations to conduct community training programs on ASD-related topics. Dr. Settles also plays a key role in supervising the Pediatric Psychology Interns at Tulane-Lakeside Hospital, where she contributes to the training and education of future healthcare professionals in the field of psychology and psychiatry.

“Autism is Autism…or is it?” – The phrase “if you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism” is quite accurate. According to the DSM-5-TR, the diagnosis of Autism is to be made when a particular cluster of symptoms are present and impede functioning in social, educational, occupational, and other areas of functioning. The critical behaviors are the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately, interact with others socially, and the presence of restrictive/repetitive behaviors related to sensory processing, sameness/routines, repetitive actions, and fixated interests. In addition to diagnostic criteria, there are specifiers, associated features, and comorbid conditions that can impact the functioning of the individual. This would also be the reason why everyone given a diagnosis of ASD should receive a comprehensive evaluation to identify their unique strengths and weaknesses. Our current diagnosis-driven healthcare system threatens the individual’s ability to understand their diagnosis, associated features, and comorbid conditions to better benefit on understanding their strengths while minimizing/accommodating the areas that pose the most challenge.
In the current talk, I will explain the importance of a comprehensive evaluation for allowing the person with Autism to achieve their highest level of functioning. I will also discuss how the comprehensive evaluation results can help us understand more about the diagnosis, make better predictions about the individual’s future functioning, and create tailored interventions for all ages.

Brian Leahy, Ph.D, ABPP


Brian Leahy, Ph.D.

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Dr. Leahy is a licensed psychologist and a fellowship-trained and board certified clinical neuropsychologist. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical and Rehabilitation Psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology and completed his residency training in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. At present, he is the Director of Neuropsychology Services at the Ascension Illinois Brain and Spine.

Dr. Leahy will discuss the criteria used to diagnose individuals with autism spectrum disorder and how these symptoms can manifest in differently in adults and children. He will also review the typical methods used to formally assess symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Finally, he will review cognitive issues often associated with autism spectrum disorders, how they are evaluated, and how this evaluation can inform treatment.

12:00 Lunch in the Conference Room



Michael Kellen, Ph.D.

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Dr. Michael Kellen received his clinical and neuropsychological training at The University of Nebraska Medical Center, Nebraska Medical Center, and at the Children’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. He has extensive training and clinical experience working in multidisciplinary settings. Dr. Kellen’s areas of expertise include:

  • Anxiety/Depressive disorders
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Executive functioning deficits
  • Behavioral clinical interventions
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Neuropsychological Assessment

Dr. Kellen has numerous publications in professional and academic journals in the field, and he has co-authored several book chapters. He has presented his research findings throughout the United States and internationally, with invitations to present coming from the American Psychological Association and the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Dr. Kellen is originally from South Africa and received a portion of his doctoral training under the supervision of the renowned psychologist Nathan Azrin, Ph.D.

“Developing Highly Effective Behavior Plans for Young Adults with Autism” – A Behavior Plan is a personalized plan designed to help, support, and promote healthy and positive responses in those struggling with behavioral challenges. Behavior Plans includes interventions selected based on the hypothesized or demonstrated function of the behavior with the intention of reducing challenging behaviors while increasing prosocial behaviors (what the learner “gets” by engaging in the behavior). Young adults may be given a Behavior Plan when their behaviors appear to be interfering with their ability to learn, communicate, or participate in daily activities; these may include social isolation, tantrums, noncompliance, and other disruptive behaviors. This training focuses on how to set up highly effective Behavior Plans, outlining specific strategies and interventions that can be used to improve the behavioral successes of young adults.LEARNER OUTCOMES
At the conclusion of this training, you will be able to:
1. Identify key components of a Behavior Intervention Plan
2. Develop a competing pathway based on the results of a Functional Behavior Assessment to…
• Prevent problem behavior
• Teach appropriate behaviors
• Recognize appropriate behavior
• Prevent reinforcement of problem behavior
3. Develop appropriate observable and measurable behavioral goals.
4. Determine method for efficient data collection to guide decision making throughout the process

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Andrew S. Rubin, Ph.D.

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Andrew Rubin, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, founder of the International Society for Autism (, and the founder and CEO of New Directions for Young Adults. Dr. Rubin was appointed by Governor Rick Scott in August 2013 to the Florida Department of Health/Board of Psychology where he served until August 2020, retiring as Chairman of the Florida Board of Psychology. Dr. Rubin’s background integrates expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy, developmental theory, and neuropsychology into an evidenced-based treatment approach called Direction Therapy. Both empathic and based on scientific literature, Direction Therapy is a flexible model/clinical approach specific to certain diagnoses. Dr. Rubin has expertise working in multi-disciplinary treatment settings and was formerly the lead psychologist at the Unicorn Child Development Clinic (Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Mailman Segal Institute for Early Childhood Studies. In this position, he supervised, post-doctoral fellows, doctoral-level practicum students, and student interns in the diagnosis and treatment of developmental disorders. He was a leader of many of NSU’s parenting programs, teaching a variety of parenting classes and behavior management strategies. Clinical Expertise in child development, infant mental health, child and adult psychopathology, assessment, and therapeutic interventions. He proudly volunteers and has lectured professionally on both university and community levels. Prior to working at NSU, Dr. Rubin was on staff at Tulane University’s Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, and Louisiana State University’s Health Science Center. In those roles, he provided treatment and performed educational and neuropsychological evaluations. Licensed clinical psychologist State of Florida (Lic. #PY 7082), California (Lic. #PSY29086, & New York (Lic. #018730-1).

By analyzing the Piagetian early childhood stages of development and the common symptoms associated with ASD, I hope to provide some discussion and implications for treatment that will be helpful for families, individuals, and clinicians alike. I will also discuss a case study to help exemplify and obtain an understanding of some of the similarities and differences in the typical development of some of those with, and without, an ASD diagnosis. Further, I will discuss “hard stops” which can negatively affect the more traditional therapeutic interactions when used with individuals who have an ASD diagnosis. Finally, I will also speak on the use of behavioral strategies and how they can be designed and be useful in reinforcing prosocial behavior, life management skill abilities, financial skill abilities, and social engagement. Included will also be a discussion of the Coordinated Multi-disciplinary (CMT) approach to treatment.

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Erica Rubin, B.A.

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Erica French is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she obtained a degree in education. After a year of teaching, she decided to join the United States Peace Corps. It was a fellow Peace Corps volunteer who inspired Erica to move to Miami after her service in Niger. Together they expanded and invigorated Educate Tomorrow, a non-profit that provides support and mentoring for youth aging out of the foster care system. She developed Educate Tomorrow’s holistic approach to mentoring foster youth over the six years in which she worked for the organization. Also, through a partnership with Entertainment Benefits Group, Erica helped develop a mentoring program for their employees to give back to the community. Now, as Director of The International Society for Autism, a not-for-profit scholarship, research, and development program, she works with clients to obtain volunteer and employment opportunities. She is currently working on a master’s degree in community psychology at the University of Miami. In her free time, she enjoys making and performing music.

Helping young adults find their passion has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.  Learn how to leverage your community, government and other resources  to gain vocational or volunteering independence.

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Aron Tendler, M.D.

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Dr. Tendler joined GrayMatters Health in August of 2023 as chief medical officer to help bring their FDA cleared technology to the market. In 2010 he began conducting clinical trials from BrainsWay (TASE, NASDAQ), becoming their medical director in 2015 obtaining four FDA indications, eight CE indications and growing their commercial footprint. Dr. Tendler also conducts VNS trials for LivaNova(NASQAQ) and OCD trials for Biohaven(NYSE). Dr. Tendler has numerous frequently cited publications, which have significantly altered the daily practice of psychiatry. Dr. Tendler received his MD from SUNY Downstate with a distinction in research, and subsequently completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Chicago in 2006. He is Board Certified in General Psychiatry, Sleep Medicine, and Obesity Medicine and he has a small private practice and research center in West Palm Beach, FL where he sees patients twice a week.

“EEG-FMRI-Pattern (EFP) neurofeedback for PTSD” – EEG-FMRI-Pattern (EFP) neurofeedback allows humans to self-modulate neural patterns in specific brain areas. This promising tool allows clinicians to translate neuroscientific knowledge into brain-guided psychiatric interventions. In March of 2023, the FDA cleared Prism for PTSD which is an EFP neurofeedback device that uses an amygdala EFP. The lecture will discuss the technology and evidence behind EFP neurofeedback and how to implement it holistically into the care of patients with comorbid conditions.

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Gregory Chasson, Ph.D.

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Gregory S. Chasson, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, Associate Professor, and Director of Behavioral Interventions of the Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. Please see Dr. Chasson’s website for more details.

  • Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital
    Boston, MA
  • Postdoctoral Clinical and Research Fellow – OCD and Related Conditions 2010
  • University of Houston  Houston, TX
  • PhD – Clinical Psychology 2008
  • Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital Belmont, MA
  • Predoctoral Internship – Clinical Psychology 2008
  • University of Houston Houston, TX
  • MA (non-terminal) – Clinical Psychology 2005
  • University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA
  • BA – Psychology 2003

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized, among other things, by restrictive and repetitive behavior (RRB). RRB is a heterogeneous class  some of which is characterized by disabling or distressing obsessive-compulsive symptoms and behavior (OCS). The current presentation outlines ways of differentiating OCS from other ASD-related RRB, such as stereotypy and tics. The presentation then discusses strategies for treating OCS in an ASD (Level 1) population.  This includes exposure and response prevention, meta-cognitive strategies, emotion regulation skill development, family accommodation prevention, and stimulus control and situation selection.

Day Two: Panels

8:00 Continental breakfast at the “Garden Room”

9:00 Panel Discussion

11:00 Complete discussion. Lunch time

2:00 Wendella tour. 90 Minutes. $48


Click Here To Register