The arrival of spring provides us a renewed opportunity to give back to our community. It gives us a chance to turn our attention to those who have more challenging lives than our own. This spring, Senses Cultural is celebrating the work we’ve done to expand autism awareness among parents living in the U.S. and throughout the Middle East.
Your continued support helps make it happen. It helps us maintain our Scholarship Fund, which gives Middle Eastern students the opportunity to study autism at the UC Davis MIND Institute, with the goal of returning to their own communities to give back.
It also helps us host multi-national conferences in Tehran and the U.S. Like this past December 2017, when Senses Cultural made history by bringing together a team of neurodevelopmental experts to Iran for a series of autism events in Tehran and Isfahan including conferences, a teacher training workshop and informal consultations with parents. The UC Davis team included Randi and Paul Hagerman, Marsha Chinichian, Melissa Mello and Robert Miller. The team also included Monila Rahimi, Laura Greiss Hess, Kerrie Lemons Chitwood and Stephanie Sherman, who trained at the MIND, among other experts.
We at Senses Cultural care about mothers, our sisters and our grandmothers. Particularly those women navigating a life with children who have neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism.
On this International Women’s Day, we want to shine a spotlight on one woman who is helping these families by working with Senses Cultural to create a cultural and scientific bridge between the U.S. and Iran in the field of autism research and education.
Doctor Randi J. Hagerman is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician and the Medical Director of the MIND Institute at UC Davis. She’s also on the Board of Directors of Senses Cultural.
Through the help and initiatives of NGO organizations, Senses Cultural brought universities in the U.S. and Iran together for the 2nd International Autism Conference in Tehran in December 2017. We invited a team of scientists and medical experts, with the direction of Dr. Hagerman, to increase autism awareness in Iran and worldwide.
Dr. Hagerman is internationally recognized as both a clinician and researcher in the Fragile X syndrome field. She took almost 40 years of experience in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders to the autism conference in Tehran. She led a transfer of evidence-based models of autism treatment to improve outcomes for young children with autism and neurodevelopmental disorders in the U.S. and Iran. Collaborative genetic research programs were created. Online relationships between academics in both countries were established.
For the first time in the recent history of Iranian-American academic relationships, universities in the US and Iran are now working together to find genetic and medical treatments and education for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
One of our missions at Senses Cultural is creating a more peaceful and healthy environment by fostering understanding through sharing ideas across the globe. Today we honor Dr. Randi J. Hagerman for helping us achieve this goal, and we celebrate her contributions in the field of Fragile X syndrome internationally.
Senses Cultural’s Academy of Health has helped organize an Autism Symposium in Tehran, Iran for November 1 & 2. This event is the result of more than one year’s planning by Tata Monfared, President and Founder of Senses Cultural, who was quoted as saying that “We see this as an important step in improving the lives of those with autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. We are especially pleased that Iranian and American professionals will be sharing the latest knowledge and research with each other.
The latest knowledge about treatment and the genetics of autism will be a primary focus of the event, along with how to organize effective patient advocacy organizations and foster collaboration between families and professionals. A molecular geneticist, Dr. Flora Tassone from the UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, California and Robert Miller, Director of the Academy of Health and a patient advocacy organizational consultant, will be representing the American perspective at the symposium.
The Senses Academy of Health was founded in early 2015 to improve the lives of Middle Eastern families impacted by having a child with autism, fragile X syndrome, 22q syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders. The Autism Symposium in Tehran is one its first areas of focus, along with its Academy of Health website in Farsi and English, scheduled to launch later in November.