2017 UVU Conference on Autism

Friday, April 14, 2017 – Sorensen Student Center, Utah Valley University

Opening Keynote – Ron Suskind - (Grande Ballroom – 9am – 10:00am)

Life, Animated: A Tale of Autism & Hidden Potential

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.

Morning Concurrent Sessions

10:15am-11:15am

How Do We Determine A “Successful Life”? with Tricia Nelson (Centre Stage)

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. NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

Panel Discussion: Autism and the Religious life: Developing an Inclusive Religious Worship Environment for Those Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders with Brian Birch, Moderator (Ragan Theatre)

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. NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

Considerations for Using High-Tech Reinforcers When Working with Individuals with ASD with Audrey Hoffman, MS, BCBA, LBA (SC 206 ABC)

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. NOTE: This session will be of most interest to audience members with Intermediate to Advanced levels of expertise/experience.

BCBA Workshop: Understanding and Managing Challenging Behaviors with Dr. Cathy Pratt, BCBA-D (SC 213AB)

This session is an extended workshop with BCBA CEUs available. The workshop will end at 3:45pm. The goal of this full-day workshop is to provide affordable and localized training for those working with students who engage in challenging behaviors. It is relevant for certified and non-certified staff, including general and special educators, paraprofessionals, school psychologists, behavior consultants and interested others. Content is practical, based on ongoing experience in the field, and addresses students with various disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders and across grade levels. The hope is that those attending can walk away with ideas that can be implemented immediately and that are evidence-based. Many of these strategies work with students without disabilities as well. Dr. Pratt will address topics such as: handling and de-escalating crisis situations as they occur; gaining a better understanding of factors (e.g. setting events, antecedents, consequences) which enhance/create behavioral issues; developing behavior intervention plans; utilizing strategies for reducing problematic behaviors and working in collaboration with families. This session will be of most interest to those with extensive expertise/experience - particularly BCABA, BCBA or BCBA-D certifications.

11:30am-12:30pm

Backstory: A Personal Journey In Word and Music with Lita Little Giddins and students from ScenicView Academy (Centre Stage)

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 NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

ASD and Addiction Behavior with Rob Dindinger, PhD (Ragan Theatre)

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. NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

Developing Understanding: Police and Crisis Decision Making with Roger Broome, PhD (SC 206ABC)

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. NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

BCBA Workshop: Understanding and Managing Challenging Behaviors with Dr. Cathy Pratt, BCBA-D (SC 213AB) This workshop continues and will end at 3:45pm.

LUNCHEON and Exhibit Fair (Grande Ballroom 12:30p – 1:15 pm)

Please join us for lunch and the presentation of the annual ARUCC (Autism Resources of Utah County Council) Heroes of Autism award. Then, before the Afternoon Sessions, take time to visit the Exhibit Fair in the Ballroom Commons area. Area service providers and conference sponsors will provide information on resources available to those on the spectrum.

Afternoon Concurrent Sessions

1:30pm – 2:30pm

Parent Panel: Living Day to Day with Autism with Karen Fairchild (Centre Stage)

Raising a child on the autism spectrum can be exhausting and overwhelming but can also be joyful and completely awesome. Join Wendy Hair and other parents of children on the autism spectrum as they discuss their strategies and perspectives on facing each day with a child with autism. NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

Living with Autism: Seasons of Struggle, Seasons of Growth with Jared Stewart, MEd (Ragan Theatre)

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? NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

Step by Step: Building Resilience in Anxious & Risk Averse Students with Anna Vagin, PhD (SC 206ABC)

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! NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

BCBA Workshop: Understanding and Managing Challenging Behaviors with Dr. Cathy Pratt, BCBA-D (SC 213AB)

This workshop continues and will end at 3:45pm.

2:45ppm – 3:45pm

Strengthening Families with Autism – Here are Five Protective Factors that Can Help with Laurie Bowen, BCBA (Centre Stage)

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. NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

The Power of Discovery with Crystal Emery (Ragan Theatre)

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. NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members, at any level of expertise.

UCLA Peers Program with Leslie Lilino (SC 206ABC)

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?” NOTE: This session is appropriate for all audience members with a basic or intermediate level of expertise or experience.

BCBA Workshop: Understanding and Managing Challenging Behaviors with Dr. Cathy Pratt, BCBA-D (SC 213AB)

This workshop continues and will end at 3:45pm.