The 17th Annual Goldstick Family Lecture in the Study of Communication Disorders took place on September 30, 2021. The lecture was hosted by the College of Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and always draws upon leading scholars in the field of special education.
This year’s lecture was held virtually, with more than 400 individuals from across the United States tuning in to hear from Dr. Connie Kasari, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The focus of Dr. Kasari’s lecture was “Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities at School: Inclusion, Integration, and Improvement.”
More than 17 years ago, Phil and Beverly Goldstick, grandparents of Stride’s Founder and CEO Brad Zelinger, created a fund for the Department of Special Education within the College of Education in honor of their granddaughter who lives with Rett Syndrome, a severe autism-related disorder.
Prior to Dr. Kasari’s introduction, Mr. Zelinger offered some remarks concerning Stride’s mission and background. Mr. Zelinger revealed that growing up with his sister inspired him to form Stride, and that she, along with his grandparents provide him with energy and motivation as he seeks to give back to surrounding communities.
He also spoke about how Stride is a provider of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for preschool children with autism in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. With a focus on underserved communities, Stride seeks to assist those with autism and their families at the earliest possible moment to help the children lead more independent and joyous lives. Stride’s full-day program places great emphasis on producing a rapid increase in vital skills so that these children ages 2 to 6 can graduate into kindergarten and first grade programs with a greater chance of success.
Toward the end of his remarks, Mr. Zelinger said that he appreciated being able to speak prior to this incredibly important topic. He went on to say that while a lot of attention goes to the transition from preschool to kindergarten or first grade, more needs to be done in these new school environments that aren’t as tailored to meet the needs of children with autism.