October 3, 2022

Francis Marion to host Autism speaker series

Francis Marion to host Autism speaker series

Francis Marion University will kick off the first of two special speaker events this week focusing on autism education. 


The first event will take place Oct. 5 at 5:00 p.m. in Lowrimore Auditorium on FMU’s main campus. The featured speaker is Dr. Jamie Pearson, an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences at North Carolina State University. Pearson’s work includes developing the parent advocacy program known as FACES (Fostering Advocacy, Communication, Empowerment, and Support), designed to support African American families raising autistic children. 


“We are very excited to present this series, which is free and open to the public as well as members of the Francis Marion community,” said Dr. Courtney Clayton, dean of FMU’s School of Education. “These events will also help usher in a new collateral program offered by the School of Education, which will be available in the fall of 2023, focusing on autism teaching techniques.”


The speaker series will feature special education experts, who will define the characteristics and parameters of autism. Speakers will outline how teachers, faculty members, students and community members can support autistic individuals and their families in the classroom and beyond.


Pearson earned her Ph.D in Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she developed FACES. Her research has included investigating disparities in the diagnosis of autism and access to services for members of the African American community, assessing the impact of parent-advocacy and empowerment training on family dynamics and child outcomes, as well as implementing classroom-based interventions that promote effective learning and engagement for underrepresented children with autism. 


The second speaker in the speaker series will occur Nov. 14 with special guest Dr. Corinne Catalano, Assistant Director for Consultation Services at the Center for Autism, and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University. A licensed school psychologist, Catalano earned her Ph.D in Teacher Education and Teacher Development at Montclair State. There, she developed the Teacher Self-Efficacy for Teaching Students with ASD in Inclusive Classrooms Scale (TSE-ASDI). Catalano teaches at MSU and Fielding Graduate University. She is certified in The Shanker Method-Self-Reg®, is a process for enhancing self-regulation by understanding and dealing with stress. Catalano also served on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education as well as Beyond My Battle, a non-profit organization dedicated to working with patients and caregivers to cultivate resilience and reduce the stress of illness and disability.