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ICare4Autism 2021 International Conference “ASD and Anxiety in Extraordinary Times” a Success

ICare4Autism National Online Conference 2021 speakers joined in from around the world to present their latest research

ICare4Autism National Online Conference 2021

Having a conversation like this and bringing it into the mainstream is great in terms of decreasing stigma, increasing awareness, and helping people understand more about accessing different services”
— Dr. Eric Hollander, Chairman of ICare4Autism
NEW YORK, NY, USA, March 15, 2021 / -- The International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICare4Autism) held its 2021 International Conference Online on Wednesday, March 10th. Hundreds of people logged in virtually to a distinguished line of speakers focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the autism community worldwide.

ICare4Autism president and founder, Dr. Joshua Weinstein, opened the event along with Dr. Eric Hollander, the organization’s chairman and a renowned autism researcher. Dr. Weinstein emphasized the widespread reach of anxiety on the general population, and the autism community in particular, noting that about 20% of people with ASD also suffer from anxiety.

“I would like to thank you all for your continued support of ICare4Autism, and our ongoing research in improving the lives of people with autism and their families, making it much easier and transitional towards a peaceful life and a happy life,” Dr. Weinstein said before handing over the floor to Dr. Hollander. “This topic is very timely,” Dr. Hollander added and explained that people on the spectrum react differently in times of crisis, some suffering from depression and stress, while others find remote interaction and staying at home to be better for their mental health.

Dr. Mariam Aljunied of Singapore’s Ministry of Education opened the day’s presentations with an overview of a school-based intervention for adolescents with ASD, focusing on breaking the cycle of fear using Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) to overcome anxiety, called “Facing Your Fears”. She was followed by Merry Barua of India, founder of Action for Autism, a pioneer organization in autism. She spoke of the impact on the individuals and families that they serve - covering both the challenges and the learnings.

Dr. Hakon Hakonarson, ICare4Autism advisory member, discussed new genetic research concerning anxiety and gene mutations that may be addressed to improve it. Dr. Gal Meiri of Israel shared preliminary findings of a study conducted at the National Autism Research Center of Israel, that explores coping methods of families with children with ASD during Israel’s first lockdown. Dr. Hollander discussed several of his studies regarding the effects of CBDV safety and effectiveness on children and adults with ASD. It also included other novel therapeutics and their efficacy in alleviating various ASD symptoms.

The day’s highlight was marked by a joint lecture given by Dr. Temple Grandin, the conference’s keynote speaker, and Dr. Stephen Shore. It commenced with Discussing the Autism Movement, different kinds of minds, and how to support autistic people during times of uncertainty. They both shared their individual experiences of growing up on the spectrum and traversing professional and interpersonal obstacles caused by their neurodiversity. They emphasized the need for a set routine as a means of combating the onset of anxiety and uncertainties due to COVID-19. Dr. Grandin also highlighted the importance of recognizing the interests of children on the spectrum and developing them into eventual employment choices. Those same interests can also be the basis of friendships, explained Dr. Shore, as they touched on the social-challenges autistic people face, and how they can affect emotional wellbeing.

Dr. Hollander then closed the day’s events thanking everyone for joining this outstanding diverse program. He said, “having a conversation like this and bringing it into the mainstream is great in terms of decreasing issues like stigma, increasing awareness, and helping people to understand more about accessing different kinds of services.” Imparting a final message of hope he said, “with a little bit of flexibility, and a little bit of enthusiasm and motivation, we can work to overcome these obstacles and bring people together.”


ICare4Autism serves as the lead global non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults who live with autism. Founded in 2004 by Dr. Joshua Weinstein, ICare4Autism has established itself as the catalyst that drives collaborations among similar international institutions to discover the etiology of autism, search for biologic and environmental causes, and ultimately work toward better methods of detection and treatment.

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