Science Pub RVA: Unlocking Autism | Community Idea Stations


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Science Pub RVA: Unlocking Autism

More and more we’re hearing about Autism. Why is that? What is it? And what can the non-autistic learn from it? Join Adam Dreyfus, Director of the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism at St. Joseph's Villa, for this month's Science Pub RVA on Tuesday, September 17th at The Camel. Dreyfus will lead our discussion on the mystery of autism and explore behavior modification, language acquisition and our experience of self. 

Perhaps you personally know someone who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). That wouldn’t be surprising, since its diagnosis has increased from 1 in 30,000 children fifty years ago to 1 in 100 children today

So, how is ASD different than other developmental disorders? While scientists aren’t certain about a cause, it is likely that both genetics and the environment play a role. ASD is a behavioral diagnosis. There are no known biomarkers and no ‘autism’ medications.

Most people categorized as having ASD have mild to profound deficits in social interactions and language development. They have difficulty discerning social cues that we rely on to learn and relate to each other and they tend to start speaking later in life. 

Getting kids to start talking - that’s Adam Dreyfus’ specialty and he’ll be walking into an RVA bar to offer some insights to the adult public gathering for the next Science Pub RVA event on Tuesday, September 17th.

Adam will share a bit of the known science about the neurology of autism, and then delve into autism’s impact on individuals and as members of the larger social community. He plans to talk about how studies of autism spectrum disorder offer clues into the development of human consciousness. Adam explains that “today’s cutting-edge interventions have led to uncomfortable questions about the nature of self and consciousness.” So, after his twenty minute talk, participants will have time to ponder questions with him such as:

  • What does it mean to ‘not have language’? 
  • Do people really ‘think in pictures’?
  • Who are you if you cannot ask yourself that question?
  • Is it possible to ‘turn on/induce’ that inner voice?
  • What would a ‘cure’ for autism look like?

If these questions pique your curiosity, get registered at Eventbrite to join the conversation over a sip of some sort on Tuesday, September 17th at The Camel. Then go as early as 5:30 to socialize, have a meal, grab a drink and such. Mr. Dreyfus will take the floor at 6:30 p.m.

More on our guest scientist: 
Adam Dreyfus, MA, BCBA, LBA is the Director of the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism at St. Joseph’s Villa. He has spent the last five years designing and implementing behavior analytic classrooms in public schools including as a Technical Assistance Associate for  VCU’s Autism Center for Excellence. He received his behavior analytic training at Columbia University’s Teacher College under the supervision of Dr. Douglas Greer.

What is Science Pub RVA?
Science Pub RVA is an independent endeavor coordinated by Cynthia Gibbs and part of NOVA Science Café’s network promoted by the long-running PBS program NOVA. To learn more about Science Pub RVA, visit their website or email

Please note that registration is required at Eventbrite, as they often fill the space.   

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