Dr. Paul Abend
Founder and Medical Director
The father of a 14 year old boy with Autism, Dr. Paul Abend recognized early on the lack of advanced medical care available for children with autism. To address the lack of advanced medical care for medically complex patients with autism, Dr. Abend launched The Autism Think Tank, NJ, a unique medical center that brings together “world renowned” medical experts via tele-medicine.
Dr. Abend maintains a medical practice in musculoskeletal and pain medicine with his associate and teaching fellows from Kessler Institute. Dr. Abend is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Kessler Institute, Dept. of Medicine and Family Medicine at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He is the Medical Director of Inpatient and Outpatient Services at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. Dr. Abend is the past President of the New Jersey Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as the New Jersey Society of Medical Specialties. He has received some of the highest honors including the 2011 Jefferson Award for NJ and the Region. Dr. Abend and his daughter were awarded the Governors highest award in 2008 at the NJ Disability Association Meeting for his work with sports clinics for children with special needs. In 2008 he was named Citizen of the Year in Warren Township, NJ.
Dr. Abend developed a preceptorship program at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, New Brunswick, NJ, for second year family medicine residents to help sensitize them to the needs of children and adults with autism.
Dr. Abend co-founded Autism Escapes, a non-profit network of private jet owners who fly patients with autism to specialized clinics around the country at no cost to the patient’s family. He also co-founded Mt. Bethel Village, the first supportive living, apartment residence for adults with autism and developmental disabilities, located in Warren, NJ.
Sheri Marino, MA, CCC-SLP
Sheri is a New Jersey licensed pediatric speech-language pathologist. Sheri received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Rutgers University and attained her Master of Arts degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Montclair University. She was trained in Applied Behavior Analysis at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, New Brunswick, NJ, where she treated children on the autism spectrum and later coordinated home programs in New York, New Jersey, and London, England, in private practice. As a member of a trans-disciplinary team at the Milestones Child Development Center, Sheri conducted evaluation and treatment services for the birth-three-year old population, providing home based services to medically fragile infants and infants affected by prenatal drug exposure. Sheri is the founder of Rocking Horse Rehab, a pediatric rehabilitation and family wellness center specializing in equine assisted therapies for children with various disabilities including, cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, brain tumors, autism, rare syndromes, neuromuscular and psychiatric disorders. Sheri serves as a pediatric health advisor for the Focus for Health Foundation (FFH) where she contributes her clinical expertise to help guide the Foundation’s mission addressing chronic health issues related to environmental causes.
Sheri serves on the advisory board for Autism Family Services, NJ with other leaders in the field of autism. She is an international speaker on autism and has presented for Haven International in Ghana, Africa, Autism One in Chicago, Princeton University, Touro College/NYC, Seton Hall University, NJ Speech and Hearing Association, and PATH International. Sheri is a published author in Autism Parenting Magazine and ZLiving.com. She has been a guest on the “Autism with Dr. Andy” radio show out of Manhattan Beach, CA and has been interviewed and filmed by CBS News, NBC News, NJN, and multiple Cable networks.
Kathy Lutz, LCSW
Kathy received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from St. Francis College in Pennsylvania and her Master of Social Work from the Catholic University of America. Kathy is a licensed clinical social worker, a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor and a certified psychodramatist with more than 30 years of clinical experience in a variety of treatment settings. In her clinical practice at Rocking Horse Rehab, Kathy has specialized in social skills training for high functioning children with Aspergers and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Kathy is the author of the internationally known book Horsemanship-Humanship Skills: How Horses Make Us Better People. At The Autism Think Tank, Kathy assists families in following through with the Think Tank Doctors medical and therapeutic recommendations and provides support and advocacy as needed.