Transformative Efforts in Autism Research

Fact Conference

Rutherford, NJ – March 8, 2019 – Life for people with autism is challenging enough. Even for neurotypicals, trying to navigate today’s world of social nuances, political correctness, and cultural awareness can be extremely challenging. Since autism spectrum disorder includes a range of conditions, making some autistic people extremely skilled and others severely disabled, supporting them and helping them learn can be incredibly challenging.

To help ease that challenge, Felician University, along with the International Center for Autism and Disabilities Research in Education (I-CAdRE) held its first Felician Autism Collaboration and Technology (FACT) Conference. Held at Felician University’s Rutherford campus on March 8, 2019, the conference was one of many ways in which I-CAdRE is actively engaging with the community.

Dr. John C. Burke, the Executive Director of I-CAdRE, is spearheading four primary areas of work at the center: professional development for both undergraduate and graduate students; research; community partnerships on local, regional, national, and international levels; and providing direct, research-based services to support families and others who are dealing with autism.

Current research that Felician is initiating with the help of Dr. Burke addresses the early detection of autism in infants by way of tracking eye movement. For those children who display signs of autism, I-CAdRE also has an infant intervention program. These research efforts align with the overall goals of I-CAdRE and Felician University: to meet the needs of those with autism in and beyond the state of New Jersey.

“Our efforts are closely intertwined with Felician’s core values, and the work we do is to help educators, professionals, and parents and supporters who are connected to and working with uniquely-abled individuals. Our goal is to help every individual live the fullest life possible,” said Dr. Burke.

Felician University’s Associate Dean of the School of Education, Charity Dacey, also recognized how Felician values influence the work of the entire School of Education: “The Felician University School of Education models the power of servant leadership in all we do. Preparing a workforce with knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions through our Franciscan Core Values makes our program completers highly desirable with our school partners and related agencies.” She also explained how “every day is a learning experience,” highlighting how the FACT conference was a time for everyone to share and learn from one another–professionals and families alike.

Dr. Joan Bruno, the conference’s keynote speaker, discussed the need for an open dialogue among both educators and families, because people on the spectrum have such a vast array of needs. This conference served as a resource for that purpose, giving educators, professionals, families, and supporters of people with autism the chance to communicate.

About Felician University

Felician University engages over 2,300 undergraduate, graduate, and adult students through programs in arts & sciences, business, nursing, and education. Universal Franciscan values of social justice, compassion, and respect for human dignity serve as an inclusive foundation for transforming the lives of tomorrow’s leaders. Felician University’s education is ranked 3rd best return on investment for private colleges in New Jersey 2018 by the PayScale.com College ROI Report and is ranked #1 safest college campus in the state by niche.com.