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Expert panelists to make presentations at third annual Autism Speaker Series in April
Posted 02/20/2018 12:30PM

The Autism Center at Misericordia University is presenting its third annual Autism Speaker Series, a free symposium featuring four expert panelists and a question-and-answer session, on Wednesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall.

Brenda Finucane, M.S., L.G.C.

The symposium is free, but due to limited seating registration is required. Please register online at For more information, please call Rebecca Farris, administrative assistant, College of Health Sciences and Education, at (570) 674-6441.

The Autism Center's program focuses on multi-discipline approaches that use different modalities to care for people on the autism spectrum. The speaker series should be of interest to caregivers, health care professionals, health and medical sciences students, and the public.

"Misericordia University established the Autism Center and the synergies in our college in order to better utilize our collaborative relationships in the community for the autism community,'' said Leamor Kahanov, Ed.D., A.T.C., L.A.T., dean of the College of Health Sciences and Education at Misericordia University. "This important speaker series is one of the many services we provide to the greater community.''

Moderated by Jennifer Dessoye, O.T.D., O.T.R./L., C.L.A., assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University, panelists will each make 10-minute presentations in their areas of expertise, and participate in the question-and-answer session at the conclusion of the program.

Presenters include Thomas D. Challman, M.D., F.A.A.P., Geisinger Medical Center; Brenda Finucane, M.S., L.G.C., Geisinger Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute; Frank Mariano, M.Ed., Autism Lifelong Learning Program, Misericordia University, and Gregory S. Michael, PsyD., Children's Service Center.

Thomas D. Challman, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Dr. Challman is a neurodevelopmental pediatrician and medical director of Geisinger's Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute. He also serves as director of pediatric subspecialties at Geisinger Health System. He joined Geisinger after completing his residency training in pediatrics at the Mayo Clinic, and a fellowship in neurodevelopmental disabilities at the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Ms. Finucane is a licensed genetic counselor, professor and the associate director of Geisinger's Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute in Lewisburg. Her clinical and research activities have focused on genetic causes of developmental brain disorders, including autism and intellectual disability.

Mr. Mariano has more than 35 years of experience as a special education director, program administrator and adjunct professor in school districts and higher education. He currently serves as a programming specialist for autism and disability education, and develops and implements the Autism Lifelong Learning Program at Misericordia University's Autism Center.

Dr. Michael has been at the Children's Service Center for more than six years, working with a diverse population of children with mental health needs, including those on the autism spectrum. Certified in the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second edition (ADOS-2), he has used the highly regarded psychological test more than 200 times to evaluate children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Michael also has used ADOS-2 to evaluate numerous children participating in the Children's Service Center Autism Treatment Program.

Gregory S. Michael, PsyD.

The College of Health Sciences and Education at Misericordia University established the Autism Center in 2015 as a community resource for clinicians, practitioners, caregivers and students majoring in the health and medical sciences fields. The interprofessional collaboration enables the college to pool talent and faculty expertise in the fields of medical imaging, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, sonography, speech-language pathology and pre-professional programs.

Located in John J. Passan Hall and an adjacent building at 50 Lake St., the Autism Center is home to the Summer Sensory Social Camp, Autism Speaks U, Autism Lifelong Learning Program and Distinguished Speaker Series. Additionally, the Autism Center features a website at and several faculty members who have expertise caring for people on the autism spectrum.

For more information about the Autism Center at Misericordia University and the services it provides, please email the center at

Misericordia University Students Walking

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