Northern California Autism Symposium 2017

Northern California Autism Symposium Session Descriptions

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Day 1 Sessions

Overview of Eating Behavior and Nutrition Concerns

Friday, Session 1 • 9:30–10:30AM
Veronica VanCleave-Hunt | Nutrition and Food Science Graduate, Student Coordinator of the Autism Clinic Teen Group Food Lab

What and how we eat directly relates to physical and mental wellbeing. Parents of individuals on the Autism Spectrum often report concerns about their child’s perception and behavior regarding food. This presentation will overview common eating behaviors among individuals on the Autism Spectrum, how they relate to nutrition, and the recommendations of current research on the topic.

Relationship Building that Encourages Family Participation and Empowerment

Friday, Session 1 • 9:30–10:30AM
Johanne Carreau | Training Director, Parent Infant Programs

Much has changed in early intervention for children with Autism during the past 20 years. The former model was direct skill building with the child. The focus was to connect neurons through repetition and make changes in the brain. This is still the proven science we base our interventions on.  The last decade has focused on empowering the caregivers (predominantly the parents) in using techniques proven in behavioral programs. This can, and must, be done in a natural way and during the family’s everyday experiences. The amount of time a young child spends with therapeutic services or interventions is minuscule compared to everyday experiences within their family and community. Early interventionists have the responsibility to support and empower families in maximizing their child’s development. Relationship building with families is fundamental for this process.

Teaching a Multi-step or Complex Skill Through Task Analysis and Chaining

Friday, Session 1 • 9:30–10:30AM
Dr. Maggie Daugherty | Program Specialist, Butte County SELPA

Task Analysis is an evidence-based practice for children with autism aged 6-14 that addresses social, communication, joint attention, academic, motor, and adaptive/self-help skills. Task Analysis paired with backward or forward chaining is an ideal way to teach a multi-step or complex skill. Add in reinforcement, an essential part of chaining, and you have a strong strategy for student growth.

Autism and the Future of Employment

Friday, Session 2 • 10:45–11:45AM
Teresa Wolk Hayes | Executive Director, Little Red Hen

Little Red Hen employs over 135 adults with developmental disabilities. We experience alongside them the challenges and successes that our adult employees with autism face, and that focusing on abilities makes everyone a winner. This session will address expectations of autism and employment; trouble shooting as a key to employment for adults with autism; early intervention with teens to prepare for employment; and the future of autism and employment.

The Nurtured Heart Approach

Friday, Session 2 • 10:45–11:45AM
Ms. Meagan Dixon | Advanced Nurtured Heart Trainer, Children’s Success Foundation

The Nurtured Heart Approach is a technique that develops tools for positive social and emotional interaction with children.  This new style of communication brings light to a child’s greatness while transforming negative behaviors into positive behaviors, increasing interrelatedness and connectivity among family members, couples, teachers and students, and building self-esteem, character strengths and virtues.

What is Sensory Processing?

Friday, Session 2 • 10:45–11:45AM
Sara Vickery | OT/L

This session will answer the common question asked to many of OTs: What is Sensory Processing? You will learn many of the components of how poor sensory processing can affect your child or student. This course will provide you with some answers on how to help your sensory child at home and in the community.

Development of Balance and Fundamental Motor Skills in Children and Young Adults

Friday, Session 3 • 1–2PM
Dr. Teri Todd | Associate Professor, CSU, Northridge
Dr. Melissa Mache | Associate Professor, CSU, Chico
Kyle Geary | Graduate Student, CSU, Northridge
Dalal Almutib | Graduate Student, CSU, Northridge
Jae Lim | Graduate Student, CSU, Northridge

The majority of individuals with ASD experience difficulties in the motor domain, including poor balance. Additionally, it is not understood how balance and motor skills change throughout childhood. To better understand the development of balance, we employed a cross-sectional design and evaluated postural sway and fundamental motor skills such as running and throwing in children and young adults with and without ASD. Individuals with ASD were behind their peers without ASD in motor skill performance and had significantly more postural sway. The relationship between postural sway and motor skill performance was found to be significant. The change in the amount of postural sway between children and young adults was also explored. This research may help guide motor interventions.

Grounding, Settling & Calming Through the Use of Weighted Products

Friday, Session 3 • 1–2PM
Michael Nichols | Owner, Sootheze Therapy Products

This session is intended to offer professionals and parents an overview of how weighted products can help in the treatment and management of patients and loved ones dealing with Autism. I will be using weighted plush animals, lap pads, weighted blankets and more to demonstrate how they can be used effectively. These are a fun and unobtrusive way to achieve grounding, settling, and calming.

Evidence of Similar Symptoms in ABA Recipients and PTSD Patients

Friday, Session 4 • 2:15–3:15PM
Ms. Henny Kupferstein | PhD Student, Saybrook University

Is there long-term harm of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) autism childhood intervention? Two groups of respondents, caregivers of autistic children and autistic adults, were separately surveyed about their experiences as a consumer of widely-used interventions. This data was intended for future interventions to consider the input of autistic individuals who experienced the intervention firsthand and their caregivers’ perceptions. Further investigating the association between sociodemographic factors of developmental disabilities interventions is a public health concern of autistic adults in the United States.

Long Term Whole Health: Fostering Self-acceptance and Optimal Self-care

Friday, Session 4 • 2:15–3:15PM
Dr. Amy Alward

Autism is hard-wired into the anatomy of those on the spectrum, and stress levels can increase symptoms or challenges.  One of the greatest gifts parents and professionals can give to those on the spectrum is how to embrace self-acceptance and self-care, so that challenges can be met with strength over the course of their lives.  This session will provide a way of looking at whole self health (body, mind, emotion, and spirit) for those on the spectrum, with a focus on how parents and professionals can help foster self-awareness for those in their care.

Day 2 Sessions

Incorporating Social Skills in Movement Activities

Saturday, Session 1 • 9:30–10:30AM
Amelia Simpson | Graduate Student, Oregon State University

Autism Spectrum Disorder is known for deficits in communication, socialization, and often neglected deficits in motor skills. Socialization plays a significant role in a student’s ability to successfully engage and interact with their environment. Physical education and activity programs provide opportunities for peer-to-peer engagement through skill development and physical activity. In this seminar, participants will take part in six stations focused on integrating social skills within recreational activities.  The purpose of this session is to provide activity ideas and techniques to integrate social opportunities in an inclusive physical education and activity program setting. Each activity incorporates motor skill development, while also providing strategies and techniques for social skill development. Modification guidelines will be provided for each activity.


Saturday, Session 1 • 9:30–10:30AM
John Elder Robison 

This session will cover the concept of neurodiversity and how it is influencing future directions for autism research, interventions, and community. Robison will talk about neurodiversity and autism in schools and colleges from his perspective as Neurodiversity Scholar at William & Mary, the first major American university to teach neurodiversity as a subject. He will also discuss neurodiversity in the workplace and how it differs from previous views of disability accommodation, even as autism remains for many a serious disability.

A Grassroots Approach to Parent Support

Saturday, Session 2 • 10:45–11:45AM
April Qian | Chinese Support Group
Chioko Juliette Grevious | African American Support Group
Maribel Hernandez | Latino/Hispanic Support Group
EunMi Cho | Korean Support Group
UC Davis MIND Institute, Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Parent group facilitators will share how we support the needs of the families by providing advocacy and resources to increase awareness of developmental disabilities, navigate treatment and education options for our children, and support one another in the community.

Experience of College Students with ASD in a Peer-Mentor Physical Activity Program

Saturday, Session 2 • 10:45–11:45AM
Dr. Nancy Miodrag | Associate Professor, CSU, Northridge
Dr. Teri Todd | Associate Professor, CSU, Northridge
Kyle Geary | Graduate Student, CSU, Northridge

IFiT—Into Fitness Together—is a peker-mentor physical activity program for college students with ASD. Young adults with ASD tend to lead sedentary lifestyles and may lack motivation to engage in regular physical activity. IFiT encourages students with ASD to become more active by pairing them with a kinesiology major and together they participate in 120 minutes of physical activity each week for 10 weeks. 17 college students with ASD and 15 kinesiology majors participated in the program. Interviews were conducted with each participant and peer-mentor to better understand their experience. Interviews were analyzed and a common theme among all students was the importance of relationships with others in IFiT. Students on the spectrum described the program “as my respite,” and “a way to manage my stress,” and many recognized the physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise. Peer-mentors experienced challenges and learned techniques to motivate participants. All students benefitted from IFiT.

Unraveling Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Disorders

Saturday, Session 2 • 10:45–11:45AM
Dr. Drew Vercellino, DC

Various lines of evidence indicate that the cerebellum has considerable influence on perceptual processes in addition to motor control. Abnormal input into the cerebellum and other parts of the central nervous system lead to perceptual processing dysfunction. Learn the impact of abnormal biomechanics of the cervical spine and how they influence the integration and processing of all forms of information.

Building Bridges: Establishing Effective Partnerships with Parents of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Saturday, Session 3 • 1–2PM
Joan Goodreau | Parent/Program Specialist
Dr. Teri Todd | Assistant Professor, CSU, Northridge

Effective teacher-parent relationships are beneficial to student success.  However, teachers often feel unprepared and lack strategies and skills to engage with parents of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  The presenters have experienced ASD both as parents and professionals. They will explore the parent-teacher relationship, recognize the benefits to the student with autism spectrum disorder, identify barriers to collaboration, and explore strategies to establish and maintain effective partnerships.  This session is for both parents and professionals.

The Perfect Perch: A Novel Hand Support Device for Piano Students with Dyspraxia

Saturday, Session 3 • 1–2PM
Ms. Henny Kupferstein | PhD Student, Saybrook University

At least half of autistic people have dyspraxia and are unable to isolate fingers for purposeful movement. The Perfect Perch™ hand support device provides stimulation which is necessary for nerve receptors in the palm to become proprioceptively aware.  The device is not designed for standalone use and must incorporate the strict protocol of the piano lesson per the Rancer Method (Kupferstein & Rancer, 2016). The stimulating task of the lesson activates the cognitive regions of the student’s brain, integrating left and right hemispheric functions while the fingers are in motion. The device promotes independent and purposeful movement of all ten fingers in 6-12 weeks by relying on theories of neuroplasticity.

Visual Strategies

Saturday, Session 3 • 1–2PM
Jeana Peyton | Inclusion Specialist, Chico Unified School District

One of my favorite evidence-based teaching practices is Visual Supports.  Visuals can enhance and support teaching, learning, and independence across all grade levels, all abilities, and all school environments!  In this presentation you will learn the value and importance of using visuals, see examples, and gain tools to make your own visuals to meet your students needs.

CAPTAIN Evidence Based Practices: Tools & Resources Overview

Saturday, Session 4 • 2:15–3:15PM
Cathy Wyman | Inclusion Support Specialist, Chico Unified School District

The California Autism Professional Training and Information Network (CAPTAIN) is a statewide, multi-agency effort to disseminate Evidence Based Practices for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  This presentation will provide an overview of CAPTAIN and the tools and resources available to support individuals with autism.

Long Term Whole Health: Fostering Self-acceptance and Optimal Self-care

Saturday, Session 4 • 2:15–3:15PM
Dr. Amy Alward

Autism is hard-wired into the anatomy of those on the spectrum, and stress levels can increase symptoms or challenges.  One of the greatest gifts parents and professionals can give to those on the spectrum is how to embrace self-acceptance and self-care, so that challenges can be met with strength over the course of their lives.  This session will provide a way of looking at whole self health (body, mind, emotion, and spirit) for those on the spectrum, with a focus on how parents and professionals can help foster self-awareness for those in their care.

Teaching Motor Skills at Home: Easy Activities for Parents & Professionals

Saturday, Session 4 • 2:15–3:15PM

Carli Ross | Coordinator, CSU, Chico Autism Clinic
Layne Case | Graduate Student, Orgeon State University

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are known to have deficits and delays in gross motor skills and performance. However, improvements in these areas can lead to a variety of benefits such as increases in physical activity time, opportunity for social interactions, and confidence in playground and physical education settings. It is therefore important for children with ASD to have ample opportunities to learn, engage in and practice these skills. Gross motor skills can be done with minimal equipment and in a variety of environments outside of the school or clinical setting, including at home with parents and family members. Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to provide creative and simple strategies for engaging in motor skills and physical activities at home. The importance of gross motor development will be explained, and various ways to incorporate motor skills into the home and everyday life will be provided.