Day One of the AADMD Conference, Special Hope Foundation Style

Laura Shumaker,  Communications Director Special Hope Foundation

I am reporting to you LIVE from Princeton New Jersey after the first Day of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) Conference. As many of you know, this is a conference that The Special Hope Foundation provided funding for, as the organization lives and breathes our Vision and Mission.

I am here with Executive Director Lynne O’ Hara, but before I deconstruct Day One, here is some background information that you need to know:

The Basics

The American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) was organized in 2002 to provide a forum for healthcare professionals who provide clinical care to people with neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities (ND/ID). Their mission is to improve the quality of healthcare for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities.


“In communities and states across the country, Americans with ND/ID are experiencing significant difficulty in gaining access to quality healthcare. As an organization whose purpose is to improve quality of care for all Americans with ND/ID, the most valuable contribution we can make is to contribute our expertise where it will have the most significant impact – the universities and healthcare centers where healthcare professionals are trained. Furthermore, we can enhance our contribution by working collaboratively with advocacy organizations and associations that serve our patients.”

More about AADMD later…

This years conference is in conjunction with The Special Olympics 2014 USA Games, the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program, and The National Task Group(NTG) on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices.

Lynne and I had the honor and pleasure of attending the spectacular Opening Ceremonies Sunday night and watched as 3,500 athletes from throughout the United States took the stage, state by state. The ceremony truly set the tone for the week, and we met and/ or reconnected with other folks who share Special Hope’s passion for making quality healthcare accessible to people with I/DD– Ann Costello of the Golisano Foundation, Jo Ann Simons,of Cardinal Cushing Centers and of the Ruderman Family Foundation, Gerry Morrissey of the Mentor Network just to name a few.

The beauty of this conference is the quality of the networking. It’s not just “I do this, here is my card.” Instead, folks are greeting each other enthusiastically, sharing stories of the what they do, asking questions that are often answered by “I know just the person who can answer that question, let me introduce you to him.”

Speaker rundown and takeaways:

–The warm and wonderful Dr. Perlman, CoFounder of AADMD gave a historical perspective of AADMD and the Special Olympics. Dr. Perlman started Special Smiles, a dental screening for athletes the Special Olympics.

A fun fact about Dr. Perlman:

Eunice Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics, learned that doctors wanted to remove the teeth of her developmentally disabled sister, Rosemary. She asked Dr. Perlman to treat Rosemary, and he was able to restore them.

An autism update, moderated by Anthony Slonim, MD, DrPH, with panelists Susan Hepburn, PhD, Derrick MacFabe, MD, Ph.D., Stephen Sulkes, MD, Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, MD, outlined the basics of autism and was devoured by the many young medical and dental students in the room. Lynne and I were impressed by the panel, especially by Susan Hepburn, PhD, who talked about tele-health as  an intervention to reduce anxiety in youth with autism.

Dan Barry, New York Times reporter and author, gave a riveting key-note about the Bunkhouse Boys, the subject of an article he wrote about thirty-two intellectually disabled men who lived and worked in deplorable conditions for 30 years. You can read the article here. Their case yielded the largest jury verdict in the history of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: $240 million in damages—an award later drastically reduced, yet still regarded as a watershed moment for disability rights in the workplace.

–Rick Rader MD led a discussion about “A Day in the Life of a Special Olympics Athlete” with panelists Coleen A. Boyle, PhD, MSHyg, Alice Lenihan, MPH, RD, LDN, Tim Martin, CEO/President at Special Olympics Arizona. This was a terrific talk, where we learned in-depth information about the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program.

–Another great Keynote by Actor and Disability Activist John. C. McGinley ( I remember him from Scrubs) but his biggest and most rewarding role is that of being the father of a son with Down Syndrome.

–Rick Rader, paid tribute to Robert E. Cooke M.D.,one of the pillars of developmental pediatrics.

More about Dr. Cooke in a future blog post.


The afternoon was jam packed with inspiring talks as well, but one that we  felt truly captured the spirit of the AADMD Conference was a panel on enhancing Family Medicine Training. The discussion, that featured David O’Hara, PhD, William Sullivan, MD, Thomas Cheetham M.D. and AnneBeth Litt, M.D. morphed into a full audience strategy/brain storming and networking session that spilled out into the lobby at the end of the day.

More highlights tomorrow!

Stay tuned…

2017-06-20T17:17:19+00:00 June 17th, 2014|Blog|

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