LaGrange College hosts Autism Speaks conference

Published 6:46 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2017

On Monday, parents, educators, counselors and other community members gathered at New Community Church to learn about autism and how to teach students with the learning disability.

Coordinators estimated that more than 75 people had attended the free conference by the time the afternoon session began. Many of those attendees were LaGrange College students from the education, nursing and even psychology departments. Autism specialist for DeKalb County Schools Karen Hamilton Barineau, who has 27 years working with students with disabilities, spoke at the conference.

“It is to bring awareness to the autism spectrum, and it is in collaboration with the school system and the college,” said Ethel Ault, an education instructor with LaGrange College who coordinated the conference. “It is of course funded by the Callaway Foundation, which we really appreciate.”

Organizers hope that the conference provided information that attendees will be able to use for years to come.

“Students with autism will be in our schools, and it is important that our teachers understand how to address the needs of every individual, specific child,” said Dr. Gretta Wright, assistant professor of education at LaGrange College.

Some of the major reasons why the conference was organized were to recognize what students with autism are capable of doing under the right conditions and explain how to create those conditions.

“Knowing that these children can do, that is why we named it ‘Beyond the Label’ because sometimes labels can scare people,” Ault said. “These children are at all levels, and these children can do. You don’t want to give up on a child, and that is the main thing, is there are methods that can help you.”

The conference included discussions on how to recognize autism in babies, toddlers and children as well as how to overcome different challenges that parents and teachers regularly encounter with autistic children. However, the conference also highlighted the opportunities available to those children.

“I think our students are going to walk away with a very good understanding of what autism is, and how it impacts students and at least be aware of some opportunities that are out there for them as well,” Wright said.

To learn about autism, visit