Northern California Autism Symposium
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2018 Autism Symposium Session Descriptions

Autism, Bourbon, Perspective, and Resilience ~ Keynote by Dena Gassner

Balance and Motor Skills Among College-Age Individuals

Dr. Melissa Mache | Associate Professor, California State University, Chico
Teri Todd | Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge
Danielle Jarvis | Assistant Professor, California State University, Northridge

Deficits in balance and motor skills among children with ASD have been repeatedly described by researchers. However, very little is known about how these deficits persist or change as these children age into adulthood. In our presentation we will describe some of the commonly-observed deficits in balance and motor skills among children with ASD and provide evidence from our own research that will help to illustrate how balance and motor skills develop across the lifespan of an individual with ASD. Specifically, we will share information describing the performance of balance tasks, walking, and throwing among college-age individuals with ASD.

Bridging the Research-to-Practice Gap: How Community-Partnered Research Can Get Us There Faster

Dr. Aubyn Stahmer | Director, Community Based Treatment Research, UC Davis MIND Institute
Patricia Schetter BCBA | Coordinator of ASD Education Initiatives, UCEDD, UC Davis MIND Institute

While there has been extensive research conducted on treatments for autism spectrum disorders, and there have been many “Evidence-Based Practices” identified, the average amount of time that it takes for research to be integrated into practice is around 17 years. Community-partnered participatory research is one method that can shorten that gap and ensure that the practices that are used in community settings are a best fit and authentic to that setting. In this presentation, Dr. Aubyn Stahmer and Patricia Schetter will provide information about this method and share several examples of how community-partnered research studies are being implemented in California to bridge the gap between research and practice.

Building Friendships in Individuals with ASD

Dr. Maggie Daugherty | Program Specialist, Butte County SELPA

Overview of the challenges associated with managing friendships in people with ASD, and strategies to improve friendship skills.

Early Detection of Autism and ADHD

Dr. Meghan Miller, PhD | Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, UC Davis MIND Institute

Much progress has been made in the last decade with regard to identifying early markers of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in infancy, but much less research has focused on early signs of ADHD. In this presentation, I will describe the work done to-date focused on the earliest signs of ASD, provide a rationale for applying these same research methods to new populations like ADHD, and conclude with early findings from an ongoing project focused on identifying early markers of both ASD and ADHD among infants at risk.

Essential Communication Skills for Student Success

Jennifer Garcia | Coordinator, Multi-tiered System of Support and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, Butte County Office of Education

Learn how to incorporate lessons for essential communication skills into every day teaching. The skills addressed will help students develop more independence in all settings. Walk away with practical strategies for classroom lessons and simple data collection tools. The information shared in this workshop can be used to support all learners regardless of their method of communication.

Evidence-Based Practices for Academics and Behavior Management in the General Education Environment for Students with Autism

Cathy Wyman | Inclusion Support Specialist, Chico Unified School District
Gina Vernau | 4th Grade Teacher, Chico Unified School District

Participants will learn many effective and easy-to-implement tools that can be used with students with ASD in your classroom to support learning and appropriate behavior.

Fragile X at the Forefront of Targeted Treatments for Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Dr. David Hessl, PhD | Director, Translational Psychophysiology and Assessment Laboratory, UC Davis MIND Institute

Fragile X syndrome is the leading inherited cause of intellectual disabilities and the most common known single gene cause of autism. Because the genetic mutation and its downstream effects are well-defined, animal models of the condition have brought it to the forefront of targeted treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders. However, several high-profile clinical trials in people with fragile X have not been successful, forcing us to re-consider this translational research model and develop better designed studies, including those that combine targeted medicines with behavioral or cognitive interventions. This presentation will provide an overview of the "lessons learned" from this research, which may have implications for treatment of "idiopathic" autism.

IEP Meetings: Terms, Tips, and Talk

Caroline Roady | Special Education Teacher, Chico Unified School District

Parents, come prepared to learn the IEP jargon, the pieces and pages of an IEP, and how to be an active and productive part of your IEP Team. Plan to ask questions and leave with a better understanding of the working IEP document and with an acronym sheet for reference and future IEP success.

Improve Self-Regulation Using Evidenced-Based Practices

Kandis Lighthall | Autism Specialist, Autism & Behavior Training Associates Publications

Session attendees will participate in activities built on Evidenced-Based Practices to improve self-regulation skills in students with ASD and other disabilities. Participants will be able to implement these strategies immediately using the plan they will develop at the end of the training.

Learn the Signs, Act Early: Developmental Milestones and Red Flags

Mr. Mark Pfaff, Jr. | Administrator/Program Specialist, Tehama County Department of Education Special Schools and Services

From birth to 5 years, your child should reach milestones in how he plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves. Track your child’s development and act early if you have a concern. Introduction to the CDC Learn the Signs Act Early Initiative. Many free resources and innovative tools.

Learning Opportunities in Everyday Experiences

Johanne Carreau, MA | Training Director, Parent Infant Programs

This workshop provides parents and caregivers natural and uncomplicated techniques that can be used during everyday experiences also known as “In Real Time.” The use of increased learning opportunities during natural experiences encourages home and community engagement and participation. These techniques are adapted from proven behavioral programs and can easily be embedded in ordinary day-to-day routines. Johanne has over 25 years of working in homes with families and presenting in the North State.

Neurodiversity: Where We Are and Where We Can Go

Dr. Josephine Blagrave | Assistant Faculty, California State University, Chico

Neurodiversity is the concept that there are individual brain differences and ways of thinking in society. It is also the practice of using that diversity in a strengths-based approach that helps all individuals to be successful. Currently, universities across the country are working to make their campuses neurodiverse. Come to this session to help brainstorm and dream of what Chico State could look like as a neurodiverse campus. Find out what currently exists, what is needed, and how we can get there.

PEERS, Social Skill Training

Dr. Josephine Blagrave | Assistant Faculty, California State University, Chico
Jacqueline Johnson | Case Management Supervisor, Far Northern Regional Center

The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) was originally developed in 2005 at UCLA by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, and Dr. Fred Frankel. It has since expanded to locations across the United States and the world. This is an evidence-based, social skills program for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum. In this session, you will receive an overview of the curriculum, the history behind its development, and an understanding of the importance of social skills coaching and support for teens and young adults with ASD.

School Advocacy for Parents and Other Advocates

Kimberlee Candela | Attorney/Clients' Rights Advocate, Office of Clients' Rights Advocacy/Disability Rights California

IEP team meetings can be intimidating. Come learn your legal rights and tools to effectively advocate for your child so that they receive appropriate services and supports at school to access FAPE: Free and Appropriate Public Education. Topics include: • How to prepare for an IEP team meeting • Who must and who may attend the meeting (your rights to invite) • Assessments: when is your child entitled to one and what is the process? • Behaviors related to ASD: ways the school can support your child • Rights to least restrictive educational environment • Parental rights and options when the team does not agree • After the IEP meeting: following up and rights of response • Effective advocacy and negotiation techniques • How to locate free legal and advocacy resources. 

Social Security Disability: Info for First Timers and Professionals

Dena Gassner | MSW, PhD Candidate

Considering providing first time applications to Social Security for transitioning teens is a process that weighs heavily for many families. Parents and providers often struggle to report, navigate and understand the standards that Social Security uses to come to a “yes.” The process is laden with considerable hidden curriculum that only someone who’s navigated the system could know. In this presentation, families will consider the reasons why Social Security application may be appropriate. They will learn what Social Security is looking for in a meaningful, accessible, easy-to-approve application. They will learn what to expect. Lastly, professionals will learn why narrative reporting sabotages applications and how a simple reorganization in reporting can change the outcome.

Task Modifications to Effectively Build Gross Motor Skills in Autistic Youth

Dr. Andrew Colombo-Dougovito | Assistant Professor, University of North Texas

Autistic youth may face unique challenges building gross motor skills and are often delayed in their development when compared to same-age peers not on the autism spectrum. This delay can have an impact on the level of engagement in physical activity throughout the lifespan and impact opportunities for social activity. This presentation will detail the current state of gross motor intervention for autistic individuals, the importance of motor planning, as well as potential benefits from engaging in physical activity. One specific strategy that will be discussed is task modifications based on dynamic systems theory (DST). This theory provides a foundation to build impactful instruction for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. DST posits that disability is not a barrier to overcome, but a “constraint” that can influence or dissuade certain movements. Through task modifications, motor performance can be positively influenced into a more mature, efficient motor pattern.

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

Dr. Maggie Daugherty | Program Specialist, Butte County Office of Education

Participants will be taught the process of breaking a skill into small steps that are systematically chained together. Appropriate for many different skills and for a variety of ages and abilities of learners.

Teaching Replacement Skills Using Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behaviors to Children and Teens with Autism: Thinning Reinforcement to Impart Patience

Jonathan McCabe | Board Certified Behavior Analysis - MA, Family First

In this presentation, the audience is provided a short overview of the foundations of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and its success at teaching communication to remove the need for challenging behaviors. Through the use of function-based analysis of these behaviors, communication of the person’s desires can be identified, practiced, and reinforced. Some challenges are how to reduce the rate of these new requests to match natural environments and how to teach patience and disappointment. This presentation will present ways of thinning how often replacement communication is reinforced and discuss ways of teaching waiting and coping associated with denial or loss.

Technology as a Tool for Bringing Services and Research to Individuals with Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Families, and Communities

Dr Leonard Abbeduto, PhD | Director, UC Davis MIND Institute

This talk will focus on the need to bring evidence-based therapeutic practices to scale in a way that ensures equitable access to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, language spoken, or geography. Examples of the use of technology to meet this need will be shared. Details will be provided from the presenter’s research on the use of video teleconferencing technology to deliver parent-implemented language interventions into the homes of children and adolescents with developmental disabilities.

Use of Evidence-Based Practices in an Adult Day Program Setting

Mary Rettinhouse | Autism Program Coordinator, Alta California Regional Center
Jessica Knuth | Vice President of Operations, REACH Adult Services, Inc.

In this presentation, we will provide information on how to replicate the NPDC model of evidence-based practice implementation in the educational setting in an adult day program setting. Both short- and long- term outcome data will be presented related to client progress, as well as program enhancements and fiscal impact.

Video Modeling: An Evidence-Based Practice for Skills and Behavior

Patricia Schetter | Coordinator of ASD Education Initiatives, UCEDD, UC Davis MIND Institute

This session will teach participants about the evidence-based practice of video modeling. Participants will learn about the different types of video modeling as well as how to set up for the use of this highly-effective strategy.

Visual Supports

Jacki Campos | SELPA Director, Glenn County Office of Education

Visual supports can be used in a variety of settings at school, in the home, and in the community. Visual supports are concrete cues used to provide the learner with information about routines, activities, or behavioral expectations. Visual supports can be used effectively to address social, communication, behavior, play, cognitive, school readiness, academic, motor, and adaptive outcomes. Come and learn about this easy to implement evidenced based practice.