Autism Institute

austim2.jpgSave the Date: April 6, 2024 Autism Conference 
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It is the mission of the Autism Institute of Gwynedd Mercy University to support scientifically research-based best practices for individuals with autism. The Institute strives to identify needs, seek appropriate funding and structure, and provide services that utilize the University's resources to contribute to the development and educational progress of persons on the autism spectrum.

Establishing the Autism Institute

Gwynedd Mercy University's Autism Institute was founded by Deborah Schadler, PhD, Assistant Dean of GMercyU’s School of Education. She uses her more than 35 years of experience working with special needs children to develop the most scientifically-researched experiences available in the area.

There are more than one million children on the autism spectrum in America, an epidemic that brings countless concerns and issues for the parents and educators who care for the fastest-growing population of special needs children. Gwynedd Mercy University saw a need to address this issue by educating our aspiring teachers and community members, thus becoming the driving force behind the creation of the Autism Institute.

The Institute’s hands-on workshops, professional development activities, on-site service programs and educational presentations at conferences provide research-based best practices for students majoring in special education, as well as teachers and administrators, parents of children on the autism spectrum and any interested community members.

Hundreds of certified teachers in Pennsylvania have received Act 48 or PQAS credit hours through our programs. All programs emphasize the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of children showing symptoms of ASD, as well as the presentation of evidence-based best practices for use across the lifespan of a person on the spectrum.

About the Autism Institute Conference

The signature offering of the Institute is the annual Autism Conference held each April. The conference is free and provides approximately 15 workshops each of 1 ½ hours in length. These workshops cover a wide variety of professional topics by leading professionals in the area. The Autism Institute is dedicated to assisting in identifying and providing for the needs of the local community. 

The 17th Annual Autism Institute Conference

April 6, 2024
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
See map and directions to Gwynedd Mercy University

Register here

The conference is open to professionals, preparing professionals, and family members. It is free and offers ACT 48 credits. Breakfast and lunch is included. 

  • Autism Conference Sessions Agenda (PDF)
    Featuring 25 sessions on topics from navigating the special education system to holistic behavioral modifications. Conference sessions are subject to change. 

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid Training (PDF)
    Limited to the first 30 registrants. This training requires completion of a two-hour, self-paced online course prior to the participation in the 4.5-hour instructor-led training being held at the Autism Conference. You will be enrolled in the class through the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and you will receive an email with information about completing the online portion.

  • Autism Conference Kids' Club Form (PDF)
    Form must be returned by March 21 for your child to be included in the Club.


If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the Autism Conference, please contact

To collaborate with the Institute or learn more about it, please contact:
Dr. Deborah Schadler
215-646-7300 ext. 21160

Explore GMercyU's Special Education programs on our School of Education page.

Explore GMercyU's Integrated Studies program and our Integrated Studies Pre-College Summer Institute.