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Below are descriptions of the Sponsored Symposia grants that are currently active. To view a list of past grants in this area, please click on the link below.

Sponsored Symposia - Past Grants

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA

Consortium on Autism and Sign Language (CASL): Developing Tools for an Emerging Discipline

Academy Sponsors/Organizers: Mark Aronoff, Ph.D., Susan Goldin-Meadow, Ph.D., Matthew Lerner, Ph.D., & Charles Nelson, Ph.D.

In collaboration with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the NLM Family Foundation provided support for the second annual Consortium on Autism and Sign Language (CASL), held on December 12 and 13, 2015 in Cambridge, MA. This two-day symposium brought together nationally known researchers in two areas: sign language linguistics and the study of social communication among individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

In bringing together scholars from diverse fields and individuals from stakeholder communities, CASL gained an understanding of the nature of communication in populations for whom it may otherwise be difficult. The CASL meeting allowed academic diversity to advance novel hypotheses about the emergence of communication in autism by leveraging methods and insights from sign language research.
CASL focused on further developing hypotheses from the inaugural 2014 conference, including the precision hypothesis and the structure and content of social-developmental trajectories. Some participants questioned whether the precision hypothesis, the preference for precision over efficacy of communication in autism, is valid across developmental levels of autism. Precision is also contextually dependent, which raises the question whether precision in autistic communication may be as much culturally as developmentally conditioned. Divergent goals in communication may explain precision differences; an individual with autism may aim to be precise, while typically-developing individuals might value using other aspects of perspective to achieve simpler communication. Discussions of social-developmental trajectories in autism were framed by cultural differences. Stereotypical characteristics of autism, such as avoidance of eye contact and differences in joint attention, which are seen as abnormal in westernized cultures, are common in other cultures. This provides a new framework for considering the potential uniqueness of social-developmental trajectories in autism on a global scale.

The conference achieved its goals by allowing dialogue among multiple disciplines to better inform each field’s research: individuals from the fields of autism and deaf communication learned from each other with the hopes of better understanding their own field as well as integrating fields. The conference also provided a venue for members of autistic and deaf communities to be active contributors in this interdisciplinary dialogue. It was made clear by both scholars and individuals with autism that voices of the communities being studied need to be heard in research. Finally, breakout groups developed research questions that, before the next conference, may be empirically explored via active collaboration among participants.

Please click on the link below to view a more detailed summary of the discussions which took place at the conference.

Consortium on Autism and Sign Language (CASL): Developing Tools for an Emerging Discipline

Stony Brook Social Competence & Treatment Lab

Autism Research Institute
October 27-30, 2017

Think Tank on Autism and Aging

Organized by Autism Canada and the Autism Research Institute (ARI)
Hosted by the Pacific Autism Family Network
Organizers:  Steve Edelson, Margaret Bauman, and Laurie Mawlam

An international delegation of about 25 autistic seniors, clinicians, researchers, and policy makers convened for two days in Vancouver, British Columbia for a multi-disciplinary roundtable think tank to review the most current work on aging with autism, and to identify future directions in research and practice. The meeting, co-hosted by Autism Canada, included presentations from five countries across three continents.Goals included promoting a “multi-disciplinary and inter-professional approach,” and facilitating “national and international networking and collaboration around common priorities to advance research, knowledge, and solutions.”

The event resulted in a Summary Report on Aging and Autism which addresses strategies and solutions and begins building a framework for best practices for aging adults on the autism spectrum. The report focuses on three themes: 1) Understanding aging on the autism spectrum; 2) Supporting autistic adults; 3) Developing appropriate research methodologies and outcome measures for future work on autism and aging.


Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

Conversations on Autism & Sign Language (CASL): Unlocking the Emergence of Social Communication

The inaugural C.A.S.L. is a unique event designed to encourage bold new ways of thinking about how the drive and capacity for communication emerges. By considering the nature of communication in communities of individuals with Autism and those who use Sign Language, C.A.S.L. aims to improve the quality of life and humanistic appreciation of individuals for whom social communication can sometimes be difficult. The insights that will emerge from this workshop are meant to aid in decreasing social challenges for these groups. C.A.S.L. will feature three groups of world-renowned researchers from around the country: a group of linguists who devote their careers to the study of sign languages; a group of researchers who study communicative abilities in autism; and a group of scholars who have begun to explore the connection between the two areas of research. In addition, the workshop will engage and include members of the community (from New York and beyond) who themselves identify as having autism. Students will also attend this conference, which will excite their interest in service-centered applied research and learning.

Please click on the link below to view a more detailed summary of the discussions which took place at the conference.

Conversations on Autism and Sign Language (CASL): Unlocking the Emergence of Social Communication

Stony Brook Social Competence & Treatment Lab

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