Resources for Caregivers of Children on the Autism Spectrum
Recorded On: 10/27/2021
Nearly half of all children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder wander or bolt from their environment. This 75-minute training module will cover safety measures and support for children on the autism spectrum. Presenters will provide tools and resources for a proactive approach to helping ensure the safety, security, and well-being of these children.
Founder & CEO
Growth Through Opportunity
Travis Akins is the Founder & CEO of the nationally recognized, award winning Growth Through Opportunity (GTO) Cadets program. Travis is a retired law enforcement officer who created the uniquely empowering GTO Cadets program in 2014. GTO is a mutually beneficial 16-week training program pairing individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities with first responders. GTO Cadets with I/DD learn job and life skills from local heroes while simultaneously first responders gain valuable first hand exposure on how to enhance positive encounters thus decreasing negative interactions. A true win win!
GTO is officially endorsed by The National Sheriffs’ Association, proudly awarded the Organization of the Year by the National Down Syndrome Society on Capitol Hill, a Harvard Kennedy School Innovations in American Government-Bright Ideas recipient, and an American Red Cross Local Hero award.
San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department
Deputy Greg Jones graduated from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Academy in 2002, after serving ten years in the United States Navy. Greg has worked the several jail facilities within the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. He has been assigned to Victor Valley and Hesperia Stations. Greg has worked on investigations involving crimes against persons, crimes against property, and sex crimes.
He was assigned as a lead Field Training Officer (FTO), Explorer Advisor and is currently assigned to the Sheriff’s Public Affairs Division. Greg’s current responsibility as the High Desert Community liaison is responsible for creating and maintaining relationships with the community members & stakeholders throughout the County. In addition, he is the Department Coordinator of the Sheriff’s Department Crime Free program and the Safe Return Program and lead facilitator for the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department of Human Trafficking Task Force.
Vice President, Missing Children Division
Dr. John E. Bischoff III is the vice president of the Missing Children Division at NCMEC. Within this role, he is responsible for the oversight of all missing children’s cases, both in the U.S. and those children taken abroad. He is responsible for all case management and hotline operations (1-800-THE-LOST®), with locations across five regionally based offices.
Prior to NCMEC, Dr. Bischoff was a Mass Care (ESF#6) program specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, D.C. In this capacity, he was responsible for coordinating with federal, state and local governments and private sector partners to develop effective family evacuation and reentry plans, strategies and policies. He also coordinated post-disaster child reunification plans, as well as oversaw the development of the National Emergency Mass Evacuation Tracking System.
Prior to FEMA, Dr. Bischoff was the technical director of Public Safety and Criminal Investigations for AOL located in Dulles, Virginia. During his 13 years at AOL, Dr. Bischoff was directly involved with hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement investigations involving child sexual exploitation and financial fraud. He was considered an expert by federal, state and local courts regarding AOL networks, email platforms and data transfer technologies.
Dr. Bischoff holds a Doctorate in Engineering, with a focus on Engineering Management, from the George Washington University. He has received a Master of Business Administration, a Graduate Certificate in Management of Information Systems and a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia.
Director of Survivor Services
Lauren Coffren is the Director of Survivor Services with NCMEC's Exploited Children Division. Since 2006, she has worked on cases and programs fighting against the sexual exploitation of children. She now oversees the new Survivor Services Initiative which collaborates with survivors, public, tech industry, law enforcement, NGOs and other stakeholders to develop and improve resources for survivors and families affected by the production and distribution of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
Joy Paluska (Moderator)
Program Manager, Missing Children Division
Joy Paluska joined the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2019 as a Program Manager in the Missing Children Division. In this role, she supports NCMEC’s programming related to disaster preparedness & response, children on the autism spectrum, and outreach to Native American, Indigenous & tribal communities. Between 2010-2018, Joy served in operational roles within the Office of Administration of the Executive Office of the President. Prior to that she worked in disaster recovery with FEMA and the American Red Cross. Joy began her career in 1997 at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and following that worked as an attorney for Legal Aid in her home state of Illinois. Joy is a graduate of the University of Iowa and the City University of New York School of Law at Queens College.