Autism Summit Set for UCI in Sept.

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The Third Annual Summit on Autism has been set for Sept. 17 at UCI’s Bren Events Center, and will feature keynote speaker former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

The summit, organized by Kids Institute for Development and Advancement, will also feature panels on the effect of autism on the family and on technological advancements and autism. The panels will feature experts including researchers from Harvard Medical School, MIT, UCLA and UCI.

Fariborz Maseeh

Fariborz Maseeh, a tech entrepreneur and the founder of KiDA, said this year’s summit is “an expansion over anything we’ve done in the past two years.”

“It has become a very popular event for the autism community in Orange County,” he said, “and so it is held to a high standard. … It took a lot of work to put together, with all the people involved.”

The summit is co-sponsored this year by UCI, CHOC Children’s, For OC Kids and the Autism Science Foundation.

“We hope that we can have a positive impact on both awareness of autism and potential solutions to help families impacted by autism in California and nationwide,” Maseeh said.

This is shaping up as a big year for KiDA, which Maseeh started three years ago to give support and therapy to his own autistic son, now 8. The institute has quickly grown to serve about 75 families and includes a school program.

KiDA is now getting ready to move from its current 14,000-square-foot space into a 50,000-square-foot building on 5 acres in Irvine. The move is also slated for September, Maseeh said.

KiDA’s growth is a perhaps a reflection both of Maseeh’s personal involvement and the growth of the wider autism community in the county and nationally.

“Awareness defnintely has grown,” Maseeh said. “Five years ago, when I began getting involved, they were saying 1 out of 150 (for the rate of autism among children). We’re now talking 1 in 90. That almost a doubling. … More people are affected.”

For more information or to reserve tickets for the Autism Summit, visit kida.com.

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