USD Autism Institute: Learning to Listen

Autism, a neurological disorder that affects normal brain functioning, is the fastest-growing developmental disability.  Years ago, as few as one in 500 children were affected by the disease.  Today, that number is estimated to be one in 166 children.  In California alone, 13 children per day are diagnosed with autism.  

To improve the understanding and support educators, students, family members, self-advocates and professionals provide children and adults with autism, the University of San Diego Autism Institute will host a break through educational conference, “Learning to Listen:  Personalizing Supports Across the Life-Span,” Thursday thru Saturday, January 25 – 27, 2007 at USD. 

Leading the conference is USD Autism Institute founder and professor, Anne Donnellan, a pioneer in the study and treatment of autism.  Donnellan believes the availability of new information about the importance of understanding the life experiences of individuals with autism provides an extraordinary opportunity to customize support programs for autism patients.  “Through the study of movement difference, disturbances in communication, and behavior challenges, we can now understand so much more about children and adults living with autism,” says Donnellan.  New insights provide practitioners, educators and families with the information needed to personalize accommodations and life options for those living with autism.” 

Other expert conference presenters include Martha R. Leary, and Jeffrey Strully.  An international expert on communication and autism, Leary’s research encourages experts to give more attention to the neurological, rather than sociological symptoms of autism. Executive director of Los Angeles based Jay Nolan Community Services, Inc. (JNCS), Strully advocates that “children diagnosed with a development disability fare much better with early intervention services and with in-home support so they can remain with their families instead of being placed in institutional settings,” adding that “adults with developmental disabilities live happier, healthier, more productive lives when they have options, are treated with dignity, and have control of their own destiny.”  To that end, JNCS strives to align individuals with services to meet their specific needs. 

Time Magazine recently called autism a major public health issue.  As the number of students with autism receiving special education services has increased 1,354%, through this and upcoming conferences, the USD Autism Institute will present new insights and practices to help those receiving or providing care for those with autism.   

For more information or to register for the conference, contact the USD Autism Institute:, or call (619) 260-7705. 

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls some 7,500 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The establishment of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies will bring the University’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Leadership and Education Sciences, Law and Nursing and Health Sciences.  


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.