Senses Cultural Hosts Successful Autism Awareness Event at UC Davis MIND Institute

Senses Cultural: August 1st saw approximately 50 members of the Middle Eastern community from the Sacramento area attend a very special autism awareness event at the UC Davis Mind Institute. In addition to parents, there were many young professionals in the audience who, at the end of the evening, expressed their desire to become involved in serving the special needs of the Middle Eastern community, both in the U.S. and overseas.

Senses Cultural founder and CEO, Tata Monfared, began the evening by describing the efforts of her organization to improve the lives of those impacted by disability and/or the trauma associated with being a refugee.

Ms. Monfared thanked the MIND Institute’s executive director, Dr. Leonard Abbeduto, for making the MIND’s auditorium available for the event and, very importantly, for his signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the MIND Institute and Senses Cultural.

The agreement describes plans to cooperate in the promotion of academic collaboration with institutions in Iran, and elsewhere, in the areas of education, treatment, and research related to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and fragile X syndrome.


The agreement focuses on:

  • Exchange of academic faculty;
  • Exchange of students;
  • Exchange of information and knowledge including articles within academic publications;
  • Joint or cooperative organization educational, scientific and cultural events.

Dr. Randi Hagerman, the MIND Institute’s Medical Director and a member of the Senses Cultural Board of Directors, will help guide the process of bringing evidence-based knowledge to the Middle Eastern community of the greater Sacramento area and to the Middle East.

The evening speakers and topics were:

  • Randi Hagerman, MD: Medical Workup and Targeted Treatments in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fragile X Syndrome
  • Marzieh Forghani, PSYD: Autism Stigma and the Role of Ethnicity and Culture: Providing Feedback to Families
  • Marsha Chinichian, PhD: Parenting Skills Within the Middle Eastern Culture
  • Sarah Dufek, PhD: Autism Spectrum Disorders – Behavioral Treatments and Parent Coaching

All of the speakers emphasized the importance of understanding and respecting the uniqueness of a family’s culture when implementing an autism treatment plan and all also noted that it is essential to see a child’s parents as “partners” in the child’s education and therapy to ensure the understanding and respect take place.

Senses Cultural plans to organize more workshops and conferences for families from a Middle Eastern background who have a child with autism, and for the professionals who work with those families.  

Special guests at the event included Delaine Eastin, previously candidate for Governor of California, and former California Supper School Intendant, and Dr. Daniel Rockers, President-Elect of the California Psychological Association and Past President, Sacramento Valley Psychological Association.

Senses Cultural intends to continue its efforts to make the world a better place for families, especially those who struggle with the effects of neurodevelopmental disorders and trauma, and the event at the MIND Institute was an important step in that Direction.

Second Art for Autism exhibition

 Senses Cultural: Senses Cultural and it’s Iranian sister organization Shokraneh Mavaddateh Jahani presented their second exhibition “Art & Autism” at Niavaran Institution of Art & Cultural Foundation in Tehran in December 2017.


Senses Cultural founder and CEO Tata Monfared talks at the Living with Autism event in Tehran, Iran. She discusses the importance of arts and culture in the quest to help families living with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.


Senses Cultural will be hosting another special event, this time in Sacramento, California, to help Middle Eastern communities and refugee families dealing with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. The event will take place at the UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento from 5:30pm-7: 30 pm on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018.

Living with autism: a focus on families with Middle Eastern backgrounds


We are pleased to announce an upcoming Senses Cultural special event bringing help to Middle Eastern communities and refugee families dealing with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

The event will take place at the UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento from 5:30pm-7:30pm on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018.

The evening will begin with welcoming remarks by Dr. Len Abbeduto, Director of UC Davis MIND Institute.

Panels include:

  • Medical Workup and Targeted Treatments in Autism Spectrum Disorder including Fragile X syndrome: Dr. Randi Hagerman
  • Autism Stigma and the Role of Ethnicity and Culture: Providing Feedback to Families: Dr. Marzieh Forghani
  • Parenting Skills within  Middle Eastern Cultures: Dr. Marsha Chinichian
  • Applying for Molecular and Cellular Medicine in Autism: Dr. Karim Nayernia
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders – Behavioral Treatments and Parent Coaching: Dr. Sarah Dufek

Please RSVP at

When: 5:30 – 7:30pm, August 1, 2018.
Where: UC Davis MIND Institute on the Medical Center Campus, Auditorium
Light refreshments will be provided. Free parking. This event is open to the public.

Your support and recognition would allow us to take this type of event to additional sites and communities. We would appreciate any donation you are able to provide to help Senses Cultural continue hosting autism awareness events in the United States, Iran and internationally.

Please make checks payable to Senses Cultural or make a donation through our website or Facebook page.

Senses Cultural is a nonprofit organization and has received IRS 501(c)(3) approval, which allows us to receive tax-deductible donations. Senses Cultural is an authorized organization by US Treasury Department to participate in health-related activities with Iran under OFAC License No. 1A-2016-334150-1.

Senses Cultural to cohost autism workshops at Tehran autism school

Senses Cultural will be co-hosting two Living with Autism workshop at an autism school in Tehran with the support of the Tehran Ministry of Education for Children with Special Needs on May 27, 2018. The workshops are in collaboration with our sister company Shokraneh Mavaddat Jahani, a group in Iran promoting the well-being of mothers, families, and children with special need.

The first Living with Autism workshop, hosted during the day, will be for families with children living with autism. The conference will deal with the nuances of living with autism, with workshops specifically designed to help parents gain more knowledge about the disorder. Families will hear from Dr. Ismaili about massage therapy and sensory stimulation as autism treatment. We’ll also hear from Ms. Sharifi about behavioral reform and from Mr. Mesbah Ansari about the role of excitement and motivation in clinical behavior of people with autism.

The second Living with Autism workshop at the autism school in Tehran will also be on May 27th later that evening. These workshops will be focused on students and coaches workings with children with autism. Dr. Mohammad Nami of Shiraz University will discuss the effects of sleep problems in patients with autism spectrum, and Ms. Azadeh Zakaria will discuss using art as therapy for people living with autism.

Earlier this month Senses Cultural also co-hosted an autism workshop at Shiraz University, the first since we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Shiraz University. The workshops aimed to help families who have children with autism, as well as providing a space for experts to convene and collaborate.