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Autism Conference Coming to Mississippi College

Dr. Chad Stokes of Madison, MC School of Education Dean Cindy Melton, and MC graduate George Dale of Clinton are supporting an autism conference on the Clinton campus.

Autism is a developmental disability posing major social, communicative and behavioral challenges. More than two million people in the USA suffer from the disorder.

Experts as well as parents are coming to Mississippi College to share the latest autism research, data, and ways to serve children coping with it. The October 10, 2018 conference is open to teachers, parents, families, support organizations and students.

Generous donations from MC graduate George Dale of Clinton, the former Mississippi commissioner of insurance, and his son-in-law, Dr. Chad Stokes, a Madison dentist, made the conference possible. MC officials recently announced the statewide program.

MC teacher education students are signing up, and continuing education credits are available for teachers.

“Navigating Autistic Life: Our Journey Together” is the title of the conference on the Clinton campus.

Reports show the USA’s autism rate among children appears to be stabilizing in recent years. An estimated 2.41 percent of children in America suffer with autism. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 1 out of every 36 children is diagnosed with it. It impacts one of every 42 boys and one of every 189 girls.

“Our idea is to truly journey together, and learn from one another,” said MC School of Education Dean Melton said. The conference also seeks to provide the best services and care for children with autism.

“We are very excited to also partner with support organizations and provide resources for children, families and school districts through the conference,” Melton added.

The conference will open when a parent Donna Gale Gunter of Madison discusses the journey with her daughter, Haley Rose, who has autism. Donna is George Dale’s daughter. Dr. Mark Yeager will deliver the keynote address followed by three breakout sessions.

MC’s School of Education offers programs that assist teachers, including a master’s degree in special education.

The first Haley Rose Gunter Autism Conference will be held at Anderson Hall.

“We are thrilled that George Dale and his son-in-law, Dr. Chad Stokes, are sponsoring this event,” Melton said.

Dr. Melton can be reached at or 601-925-3402 for more details.