ABC Conferences

 Past ABC Conferences | Exhibit Opportunity | Current Exhibitors


The first ABC Conference in 2010 was organized by The University of Chicago, Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP), Almost Home Kids and the Illinois LEND (Leadership, Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The earliest conferences focused on evidence-based and concrete strategies to address the struggles primary care and other health care providers encounter related to Autism, Behavioral Challenges, and Complex Medical Needs (ABC). Since 2013, the ABC Conferences have offered ample exhibit opportunity for non-profit and for-profit organizations to share resources and information about their services.

For the first time in 2014, the conference focus was expanded to bring together additional providers from allied health, home visiting, child care and early education, Early Intervention, special education, and other fields.

The original “ABC” (Autism, Behavior, and Complex Medical Needs) conference has expanded to address Advocating for children’s health, Behavioral/developmental health, and Complex health needs. This advancement is consistent with the evolution of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policies and priorities as well as the broader understanding of “special needs” children to include children who have experienced trauma, adversity, and negative social determinants of health. This evolution of understanding also enables ICAAP to provide tools and resources for leveraging the individual and collective power of pediatrician and other child-health experts’ ability to competently address concerns and intensify our voices in public arenas.

ABC Conference participants can expect to learn about the broad landscape of services and programs that are available to support children with special needs from birth through childhood, and develop skills to make effective referrals and partner with other agencies and systems. Each track (A, B, and C) features sessions that converge with different systems, developmental services, medical interventions, and innovative partnerships that benefit children served across interprofessional groups. The keynote sessions address the overall theme of the conference.

For slides, handouts, and more information about past ABC Conferences, please visit the Past ABC Conferences page.



9th Annual ABC Conference
“You Don’t Have to be a Therapist to be Therapeutic: Building Resilience in Children, Families, Communities, and Ourselves”

Date: Friday, November 16. 2018
Location: Moraine Business and Conference Center, Palos Hills, IL


Children and families from all demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds in Illinois experience trauma, adversity, and chronic stress. Social determinants such as where we live, work, and play, can further exacerbate positive or negative physical, emotional, and behavioral health issues. The  critical factor that determines if a child, family, and/or community can manage trauma, adversity, and chronic stress successfully is resilience: the process by which the child, family, and/or community moves through a traumatic/stressful event, utilizing various protective factors for support, and returning to “baseline” in terms of an emotional and physiologic response to the stressor. Caregivers and those in other support systems – including pediatricians and other child-serving professionals – have the unique opportunity to bolster key protective factors for children and families to prevent long-term negative outcomes. Protective factors are only one tool used to build resilience. Those critical protective factors include:

1. Caregiver Resilience
2. Social Connections
3. Concrete Support in Times of Need
4. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
5. Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Protective factors are only one tool used to build resilience. The 9th Annual ABC Conference, “You Don’t Have to be a Therapist to be Therapeutic: Building Resilience in Children, Families, Communities, and Ourselves“, will deliver additional valuable information about how to build resilience in children, families, communities, and ourselves, and advocate for those we serve.


At the conclusion of the conference, participants, in the context of their work, will be better able to:

1. Recognize opportunities for building resilience in children, families, communities, and ourselves
2. Identify techniques for building resilience that can enhance the lives of children, families, communities, and ourselves
3. Incorporate resilience-building techniques using an interprofessional approach when serving children, families, and communities


The target audience for the ABC conference includes primary care providers and their teams, including pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and allied health care professionals including nurses, therapists, and social workers. In addition, providers from other settings including early care and education, special education, home visiting, community service providers, legal aid, and more are encouraged to attend. The conference will offer ample opportunity for attendees to network with like-hearted and like-minded professionals from multiple child-serving systems that have a stake in the lives of children, families, and communities.







For more information about the ABC Conferences, please contact:

Elise Vouyoukas, Consultant
Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
1400 W Hubbard, Suite 100
Chicago, IL 60642
Phone: 312/733-1026 ext. 212 (please make all phone inquiries with Paula Zajac)
Fax: 312/733-1791