NEW YORK – With the motto “A person with autism is no different than any other person; He is just a person with special abilities,” began the first International Symposium for Children entitled “Autism: Actions, Not Words.”
The Symposium took place on the beautiful fall evening of October 19th at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in Manhattan, opening with the Kyrenia Opera Chorus, directed by Dr. Constantinos Yiannoudes, and followed by several speeches by several distinguished professors and researchers.
The speakers included Harvard Medical School Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics (in absentia) Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, Project Manager and Design Associate at MF Architecture Ian Ellis, CUNY Professor and children’ book author – including Magic Always Happens (also Founder and President of the eponymous organization) – Dr. Neophytos Papaneophytou, Rebecca School Clinical Director Dr. Gil Tippy, University of Massachusetts Distinguished Professor of Psychology Dr. Ed Tronick, and ICDL (Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders) Founder and Associate Chair and DIR Institute Director Dr. Serena Wider.
Dr. Papaneophytou explained that the Magic Always Happens organization’s main goals are to create added international awareness regarding autism, increase research in the field, offer knowledge regarding specialized and effective treatment, and enhance the quality of life, relationships, and personal development of both children and their families. “We at Magic Always Happens aim at organizing local, national, and international events, colloquia, and conferences that will lead to increased education on the nature of these diagnoses (autism spectrum disorders). We wish to enhance understanding of the particular needs and abilities and establish formal networks that will collaborate with other entities to assist people of all ages who may be able to lead an independent life, and either remain or become productive members of the society they live in.
“Ultimately, we wish to engage the Greek Diaspora, and other (non-Greek) institutions around the world, in a productive dialogue pertinent to effecting positive, sustainable, and permanent change in the lives of children, and adults with autism,” he added.
Papaneophytou also emphasized the need for international support regarding the first annual Cyprus International Conference on Autism Treatment and Research which is to take place in Paphos next November and will be attended by some of the biggest luminary scientists and groundbreaking research pioneers, who will share their findings via best practices.
“I am very much inspired to create the conditions by which we can establish a groundbreaking institution in Cyprus, able to serve the local, national, and international clientele”, he said.
Symposium Keynote Speaker Dr. Ed Tronick congratulated Papaneophytou and Magic Always Happens for their dedication, actions, and efforts to “make the impossible happen. When I first met Neo,” Dr. Tronick explained, “he told me of his dream to create an international center for autism in Cyprus. At that time, I was not very sure it could be done. Now, I see this goal is well on its way. The 2016 conference in Cyprus is solid proof we are heading full speed ahead and I am glad to be chairing the conference’s Scientific Committee.
Via asynchronous mode, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton said he looks forward to participating in the 2016 Cyprus conference and the work toward understanding autism, the reasons as to the increased incidents, and studies of its causes that will lead to improved ways of treatment.
Dr. Brazelton also stated that he has ideas about how to identify DNA at birth as a factor, and what can be done in order to give people the best chance in life.
Ian Ellis spoke of the capability to design products, buildings, and affect other environmental conditions so as to improve the sensory experiences of all people, and those with autism in particular. “We have the tools, we simply aren’t using them in a different way with a focus on autism,” he said.
Ellis also announced the first International Online Photography Competition, with the theme “Passions,” to be initiated by Magic Always Happens coming in the next few weeks. The competition winners will be invited to New York City to receive their awards.
The top 100 photographs will be showcased in an almanac to commemorate the “passions” and to enhance autism awareness globally.
The Symposium concluded with the Kyrenia Opera’s rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone/Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and the message “Love the child in front of you, encourage him daily, and celebrate his achievements.”