Autism Conference Presenters

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Ron Suskind

As a reporter and senior national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal, Ron Suskind has covered our nation's capital in addition to penning front-page investigative features on poverty, race and class in America, which won him a Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of six best-selling books, the most recent of which — Life, Animated, A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism — documents his family's two-decade struggle with regressive autism. Using a technique called Affinity Therapy, the book recounts how the Suskinds broke through to their autistic son Owen by exposing him to Disney movies, which Owen memorized and used as a pathway to communication. This presentation will offer hope, insight and heart to anyone whose life is touched by autism. 

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Dr. Anna Vagin

For many reasons, students with social learning challenges and learning differences often don’t like taking risks. This workshop will explore those reasons and present numerous activities, games, and media, easily incorporated into therapy, to help students feel more competent and capable. Learn how to approach students who so often feel defeated and incapable by “front-loading” before and “guided review” after experimenting with taking risks. Get ready to take some risks during small group activities! 

Presenter Material

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Lita Giddins

Backstory is defined as "the important part of the story that is not told, but affects decisions, behaviors and progression." We all have our own backstories. But this particular "backstory" is a 30-minute original mini musical and reader's theater that shares vignettes of the past and present lives and future hopes of three brave women on the autism spectrum-- Allie Bailiff, Caitlin Stenzel, and Liz Ault. Backstory was created in a therapeutic, expressive arts setting and relates life experiences of the women in their own words. Come experience this powerful artistic vehicle that was designed to help three females stand in their personal truth with confidence and "light," but which can also help to empower and enlighten others to do the same. These young women are awakening to the realization that when they share their stories, their truth, they, in turn, add "light" to the world, and hope to all those struggling along their own personal journey through autism and life in general! A Q & A session with the performers will conclude the presentation  

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Leslie Lilino

One of the greatest challenges for individuals with autism is the ability to “Make and Keep Friends.” UCLA developed a Social Skills curriculum called Peers. The curriculum focuses solely on teaching teens and young adults how to build the necessary skills for maintaining friendships. PEERS is effective in teaching social skills in both clinic and school based settings. Parents, clinicians, and educators will briefly review the 15 skills that have proven to build and maintain friendship skills several years after the intervention. Hot topics include: Two way conversations, electronic communication, choosing appropriate friends, starting and joining conversations, good sportsmanship, humor, get togethers, handling arguments, cyber bullying, and handling teasing and embarrassing feedback. These skills focus on the important rule that friendship is a choice. “Do we get to be friends with everyone? Does everyone get to be friends with us?”

UVU-peers

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Karen Fairchild, MSW, LCSW

Karen S. Fairchild, MSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) at Family Support & Treatment Center in Orem, Utah where she provides mental health counseling, offers Autism diagnostic assessments, and leads a support group for women married to men on the Autism spectrum. She is also a mental health consultant for the Kids Who Count early intervention program. After spending 20 years at home with 5 children, three with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Karen returned to school so that she could better serve families dealing with the challenges of Autism. She worked for Wasatch Mental Health’s GIANT Steps Autism preschool program for almost 10 years and for the Kids on the Move early intervention program for almost 5 years. She has been married to Don Fairchild for 35 years and is the proud grandma of three amazing grandsons.  

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Audrey Hoffman

Many individuals with ASD use iPads and other high-tech items as leisure devices, reinforcers, and for other purposes. Recent advances in research are helping us better understand how to best use high-tech items such as iPads when working with individuals with ASD. This presentation will provide review of recent studies and practical ideas and suggestions to better prepare caregivers, teachers, and professionals to better use high-tech items as reinforcers for individuals with ASD. Audrey will provide recommendations for considering parameters of reinforcement including assessing preferred durations for using high-tech items; appropriately assessing preference for high-tech items as well as content on the device; teaching appropriate use of devices for multiple purposes; considering the ways high-tech items are delivered (e.g., varied or constant, or in accumulated or distributed arrangements); and assessing preference for high-tech and low-tech items.  

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Jared Stewart, M.Ed

Autism is a life-long condition; not something that is “outgrown”. But what is it like to go through life with an Autism Spectrum Disorder? Although there are undeniable hardships for everyone involved— there are also immeasurable joys and tremendous potential for successes. Come spend an hour with Jared Stewart as he combines his personal and professional experiences with current research findings to provide an entertaining and educational window on the development, characteristics, challenges, and strengths of ASD throughout the lifespan. What is it like to be a child on the spectrum? A teen? An adult? What can be expected in old age? What is known about the common experiences of family members, siblings, and spouses? And how can we all best work together to maximize the possibilities for growth in every “season” of development?  

Presenter Material

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Dr. Cathy Pratt

Dr. Cathy Pratt, BCBA-D is the Director of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism. IRCA is a statewide program that works to build local capacity for families and professionals to address the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum across the lifespan. This is done through training, consultations, coaching, research, and information development and dissemination. Dr. Pratt coordinates the Autism Special Interest Group (SIG) through the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD). Dr. Pratt serves on numerous Advisory Boards. In the past, she served on the Board of the national Autism Society and is the Immediate Past Chair. In 2008, Dr. Pratt was awarded with the Distinguished Service Award by the Indiana Council of Administrators of Special Education. She writes and presents internationally on the following topics: autism spectrum disorders, functional behavior assessment/positive behavior supports, applied behavior analysis, instructional approaches, evidence-based practices, systems change, and policy. Prior to pursuing her doctorate at Indiana University, Dr. Pratt worked as a classroom teacher for students across the autism spectrum and with other disabilities.  

Presenter Material

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Crystal Emery

This session will discuss the Discovery model of assessing employability in teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorders. Using the Discovery model to uncover vocational themes that match the student’s interests and skills has shown to be an effective tool in helping students find gainful rewarding employment and starting them on the path to a career. Paired with a coaching model for the student and families natural supports and environment play a critical role in employability for students seeking to join the workforce. 

Presenter Material

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Dr. Rodger Broome

In today’s world, more than ever before, there is a need to develop more understanding between the police force and citizens in general. This is even more important when related to those living on the autism spectrum. Dr. Broome will help participant gain understanding into the decision making process Police go through when dealing with a crisis situation, ways to interact with police officers, and how those living with autism can quickly and best communicate their unique needs to the officers in a way that decreases threat and increases understanding.  

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Laurie Bowen

Autism is a family diagnosis. While each person in a family, will manifest different needs and requirements throughout their lifetime, there is evidence that certain factors can substantially and positively impact families and protect against child abuse, neglect and other difficulties associated with caretaker burn out. This class is designed to introduce participants to the 5 factors which include parental resilience, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, social and emotional competence of children and social connections. Participants will walk away from class with hands on tools and techniques they can immediately incorporate into strengthening their own families as well as those they may assist professionally. The concepts are fundamental and great reminders of simple ways to build ourselves and each other up.  


Flyer for Utah County training may 2017

Perspective Activity by Quakers

Protective Factors for Families with Autism

SFF National alliance course descriptions

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Brian Birch

Religion or spirituality is a part of life for a large majority of Americans. Participating in worship services, and being part of a religious community is often an integral part of daily living. Autism adds unique elements that can require some additional consideration when developing and creating inclusive worship environments. Join us for an interfaith panel discussion facilitated by Dr. Brian Birch on ways the religious community can work together to establish more inclusion in congregations and church groups for families and individuals living with ASD. The interfaith panel will include religious leaders from various faiths in our community, who will discuss various issues related to the topic such as accessing support from the faith community, ways congregations can demonstrate more inclusion and advocacy, how to help ecclesiastical leaders gain access to resources that increase understanding of differences and congregant members with special needs, and advocacy in a worship setting.  

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Tricia Nelson

As we know, all human beings have varied strengths and weakness’. That is what makes the world so dynamic. With individuals with ASD, finding the strengths amidst the struggles is imperative when planning for the future. Developing HOPE in situations where the future seems overwhelming and uncertain, is essential while navigating the day to day struggles. None of us know what each day will bring for those we love with ASD. But, we can prepare them for success NOW… regardless of age! Tricia will discuss practical ways to discover motivation, strengths, hobbies and opportunities to promote varied levels of independent success and accomplishment. Attendees will walk away with increased desire to pursue opportunities for themselves or those in their lives affected by ASD.  

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Dr. Rob Dindinger

Join Dr. Dindinger as he discusses various forms of addiction and obsessions as they impact individuals on the autism spectrum. Gaming addiction, pornography, eating disorders and repetitive behaviors all will be reviewed as well as various methods of treating these behaviors successfully.  

Slides

Worksheets from presentation