Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Converge Autism Conference 2017 Day 1

Last week I attended a two day conference on autism hosted by Springbrook Behavioral Health. This was their first annual conference and it was a big hit! There was quality sessions by qualified speakers and the conference was well attended! I was so glad I went and I look forward to attending this next year. I hope after you read about the sessions that I attended and things that I learned, you will think about attending this conference next year if you live in the area. The facility where it took place was very comfortable easily accessible.

The first keynote was by Dr. Killion on Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis. Dr. Killion is the author of The Functional Independence Skills Handbook (or FISH) Developmental Program.
1.     Autism was not clearly identified as a developmental disability until 1943.
2.     A person with autism demonstrates the ABCs:
·      Asocial behavior -  may not want cuddling, difficulty interacting with others, may prefer to be alone, may avoid eye contact. Asocial is not antisocial.
·      Behavior – burst of aggression, noncompliance, stereotypic behavior (don’t try to stop it because they need it to feel normal)
·      Communication  impairments
3.     Autism doesn’t occur randomly.
4.     Transition – give cues at least 5 min. before and then 1 min. before.
5.     Literal – be careful about using idioms (shrimp on the Barbie, cat out of the bag).
6.     Keep it visual.
7.     Keep a consistent schedule.
8.     Use Task analysis.
9.     When speaking:Keep sentences short.
10.  Don’t repeat until after 30 seconds.
11.  Use concrete words.
12.  Use gestures with your speech.
13.  Communicate – point to a picture if necessary or use sign language.
14.  Antecedent Control – changing things that may lead to problems.
15.  Affect – your impact on the environment and the environments impact on you.
16.  Learn a lot from giving a touch on the shoulder. Some with autism may find it offensive.
17.  All behavior has function!
18.  3 reasons for behavior: get something, avoid something, or sensory stability.
19.  Postive reinforcers – things the person likes
20.  Negative reinforcers – take away things the person likes; doesn’t last, temporary change
21.  Punishment – doesn’t work
22.  Schedules of reinforcement –
·      ratio (given per number of correct responses)
·      interval (given for periods of time where something does or does not happen)
·      fixed (given for an identified number of suceses)
·      variable (given in a random way for an average number of times) – most powerful
23.  Sometimes the moment has to pass before we can address it.
24.  Bribes vs. operant conditioning – insuring the act and not the reward is the motivator (reward after the appropriate behavior and not before)
25.  Threats – say what you mean and mean what you say.
26.  Choice vs. orders – most directives can have a negotiable part along with the non-negotiable.
27.  LEAF – listen, empathize, act, follow up

The second Keynote was by Jeffery Cohn on Finding Exceptional Abilities Not Disabilities.
1.     Many people on the Autism Spectrum have difficulty managing sensory input.    
2.     Auditory problems – may be due to improperly functioning stapedius , which is the middle ear muscle that contracts in response to loud noise. When it isn’t working, sounds may seem louder.
3.     How to help a child prior to being overloaded to avoid shutdown
·      Modulate room sounds and voice tones.
·      Create sensory space for calming and organizing thought.
·      Give time for response when asking questions.
·      Reduce white noise in room.
·      Use more visual prompts over verbal.
4.     Lights (blue and green on the walls to calm people.
5.     Squeeze ball under chin to help stress

During lunch (which was provided), there was a panel discussion and the audience was able to ask questions. I found this was very informative and educational.

After lunch, there were 2 breakout sessions and I chose Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP): Both Behavioral and Mental Health Models by Melanie Watt.
1.     Hope Remains Ranch
2.     Horses can sense a person’s heartbeat.
3.     Horses have fight or flight so if someone is acting up, the horse will move away.
4.     They will be having an open house where you can demos and take a tour.

The last session of the day was by Dr. Janice Young on “Do You Know What I Know? An Insider’s Guide to Meeting the Needs of Students with Special Needs.”
1.     13 disability categories under IDEA
2.     Progress monitoring – MAPS, Woodcock Johnson, DIBELS, Easy CBM (
3.     RTI
4.     IEPs
5.     Differentiated Instruction
6.     Instruction: Presentation (how is it being taught), Process (how students will learn), Product (how students will demonstrate what they learned).

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