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Summer Institute focused on life after high school for kids with autism, ADHD, more


Preparing for life after high school presents unique challenges for some people with neurodevelopmental disabilities like autism, ADHD, fragile X syndrome and Down syndrome. Understanding how to support young people during this transition is the focus of the UC Davis MIND Institute’s Summer Institute on Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Aug. 3.

The 17th annual event is titled “We Belong: Preparing for Community Life and Fulfillment After High School.” The virtual presentation will take place from 9:00 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. and will feature:

  • A keynote address by Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick of Drexel University on research related to the journey to adulthood for people with disabilities.
  • Panel discussions featuring self-advocates, individuals with disabilities, family members and providers, focused on planning, resources and strategies for living your best life.

The Summer Institute is free, but registration is required. Register here.

“The Summer Institute is an opportunity for the community to learn about emerging research, policy and practice, and for providers and researchers to hear from people with lived experiences about what is important to them,” said Aubyn Stahmer, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and director of the MIND Institute’s Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. “This bi-directional communication is key to making sure the work we do at the MIND Institute has a strong impact in the community.”

Stahmer, who is the chair of the Summer Institute event, encourages health care professionals, educators, therapists, self-advocates, families and caregivers and anyone with an interest in neurodevelopmental disabilities to attend.

Aubyn Stahmer
The Summer Institute is an opportunity for the community to learn about emerging research, policy and practice, and for providers and researchers to hear from people with lived experiences about what is important to them.” Aubyn Stahmer, professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

A focus on self-advocacy and transition strategies

Preparation for life after high school is a critical, multi-faceted process, especially for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

“Transitioning and preparing for adulthood requires intentional planning, support and meaningful discussions long before the last year of high school,” said Amber Fitzgerald, program manager at the MIND Institute and co-coordinator of the Summer Institute. “It’s important to ensure that individuals are at the center of their own transition planning; all too often their voices, interests and dreams may be overshadowed. This event is an opportunity for individuals to share barriers, successes and strategies related to the transition journey and self-advocacy.”

The goal of the event is to help individuals and families identify personal, organizational and societal barriers to navigating the transition to adulthood, as well as strategies to overcome them.

“Self-advocacy has historically been an incredibly important part of civil rights for people with disabilities. It’s also often required to access appropriate services,” Stahmer explained.

The organizers hope participants will come away with resources and ideas to help them advocate for themselves.

Continuing Education Units are offered for health care professionals. Please click here to register and pay for them.  Attendance for the entire event is required to receive credit.

Register for the Summer Institute on Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif. was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and potential prevention of challenges associated with neurodevelopmental disabilities. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at

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