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February 16, 2017

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Owen Suskind was 3 years old when his parents noticed a change. Their son was withdrawing and talking less and less, baffling everyone around him.

Their quest for answers propelled Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia, on a journey to understand how to relate to a child on the autism spectrum.

On Friday, March 3, Suskind will speak at Johnson County Community College during a one-day conference called Beyond the Diagnosis: Autism Across the Life Span. The conference in the Regnier Center is co-sponsored by JCCC and the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training at the University of Kansas.

Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author. His latest book, “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism,” examines his family’s 20-year struggle and explains how animated Disney movies helped Owen uncover his hidden potential.

Owen’s story also is chronicled in “Life, Animated,” a documentary movie that has just been nominated this year for an Oscar. The movie, free and open to the public, will be shown from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, in the Carlsen Center’s Polsky Theatre. Your RSVP would be appreciated.

The conference is open to everyone, but registration and payment are required. Visit

A second keynote presentation will feature Antonio Hardan, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist who also is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University and director of the Autism and Developmental Disorders Clinic at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

Hardan’s research expertise is in the neurobiology of autism and the development of innovative treatments for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Harden’s will speak on Translation Research in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Workshops and sessions will address topics on a variety of issues, including early intervention strategies, functional behavior assessment and positive behavioral supports.