American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Autism: Supporting Social Cognition in Schools

Conference Faculty

Peggy C. Agee, SLPD, CCC-SLP, has a total of 35 years of professional experience in both the public schools and in a university setting. Currently, Agee is an assistant professor at Longwood University, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in the area of communication sciences and disorders. She serves as a clinical educator, regularly mentoring students who work with students with autism. Agee has presented at the local, state, and national levels on the topics of autism, emergent literacy, morphology and syntax, and linguistic complexity of state K–12 assessments. Agee received her master's degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Virginia and her doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Agee is the 2010 recipient of The Louis M. DiCarlo Award for Outstanding Recent Clinical Achievement, presented by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. This award highlights her work in creating and marketing clinical initiatives to serve children in rural Southern Virginia.

Financial Disclosures:

Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

None

Jed Baker, PhD, is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, an organization serving individuals with autism and social communication problems. He is on the professional advisory board of Autism Today, ASPEN, ANSWER, YAI, the Kelberman Center, and several other autism organizations. In addition, he writes, lectures, and provides training on the topic of social skills training and managing challenging behaviors. He is an award-winning author of five books, including Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Aspergers Syndrome and Social Communication Problems; Preparing for Life: The Complete Handbook for the Transition to Adulthood for Those with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome; The Social Skills Picture Book; The Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond; and No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior. His work has been featured on ABC World News, Nightline, Fox News, the CBS Early Show, and the Discovery Health Channel.

Financial Disclosures:

Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

None

Sylvia Diehl, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a faculty member in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders of the University of South Florida. She teaches courses concerning pediatric language disorders, autism spectrum disorder, and developmental disabilities, along with clinical methods. She has supported children with autism spectrum disorder and their families for 30 years. She has created Web courses, a master clinician course, and a virtual course on autism spectrum disorder for ASHA. In addition to her frequent local and national speaking engagements, she serves as a consultant to many school districts and the Florida Inclusion Network. Her research, publication, and presentation interests focus on consistent frameworks to support children with ASD using evidence-based practice in classroom settings.

Financial Disclosures:

Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

None

Amy L. Donaldson, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor in the Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences at Portland State University (PSU). Her research focuses on the assessment and intervention of social communication skills in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) within the natural environment, as well as intervention efficacy. Donaldson is currently part of an Institute of Education Sciences (IES)-funded, multi-university team that is investigating the effects of a preschool-based joint attention and symbolic play intervention for children with ASD. She is also examining the efficacy of sibling-mediated intervention for young children with ASD in a project funded by Autism Speaks. Prior to joining PSU, Donaldson was a research assistant professor at the University of Washington (UW), where she also completed her doctorate. At UW, she was part of an interdisciplinary team investigating the effects of the Early Start Denver Model, an intensive developmental behavioral intervention for toddlers with ASD. Donaldson received her master's in speech-language pathology from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She has been working clinically with children demonstrating communication challenges, and their families, for over 18 years.

Financial Disclosures:

  • Grant, Autism Speaks
  • Board member, Oregon State Behavior Analyst Regulatory Board
  • Member, Oregon Commission for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Health Care Subcommittee
  • Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Spectrums Magazine
  • Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

None

Jessica Dykstra, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a certified speech-language pathologist who recently finished her doctoral degree at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Prior to returning to school, she worked as an SLP at Kennedy Krieger School with elementary and middle school students with autism. During her doctoral work, she worked on a research project that developed and tested a school-based intervention program targeting social communication and play in preschool students with autism. Her dissertation study focused on examining student engagement in elementary and middle school students with autism in relation to classroom, teacher, and student characteristics. She is currently working as an investigator at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC–Chapel Hill. She serves as the project coordinator at the Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (CSESA), a multisite program to develop and test a comprehensive intervention program for high school students with autism. Her primary interests are social communication and engagement in children with autism and school-based interventions for children with autism, especially individuals with the most significant learning needs.

Financial Disclosures:

  • Researcher, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
  • Grant, Center on Secondary Education for Students with ASD (CSESA)
  • Grant, Organization for Autism Research (OAR)
  • Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

Member, ASHA

Tiffany Hutchins, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of Vermont. Hutchins has researched the relationships from mother-child interaction strategies to social cognition and child cognitive and language development. She has developed and validated new measures of theory of mind that can be used in research and practice with typically developing children and individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She is currently investigating the efficacy of story-based interventions (i.e., Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations) to remediate the core deficits of ASD. She recently established a new program of research that uses eye tracking technology to examine how individuals with ASD allocate visual attention when viewing face stimuli. Hutchins teaches courses in the development of spoken language, cognition and language, measurement of communication processes, and language disorders.

Financial Disclosures:

  • Salary, University of Vermont
  • Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

None

Connie Kasari, PhD, is professor of human development and psychology in the Graduate School of Education at UCLA. She has a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and the Center for Autism Research and Treatment. She is the principal investigator for several multisite research programs, including the Autism Intervention Research Network for Behavioral Health funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Characterizing Cognition in Nonverbal Individuals with Autism Intervention network by Autism Speaks, Interventions for Communication in Autism Network, and an Autism Center of Excellence Network grant on minimally verbal school-age children with autism, both funded by the National Institutes of Health. Her current research also focuses on developing targeted interventions for early social communication development in at risk infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with autism and peer relationships for school-age children with autism. She teaches courses in human development and advises graduate students at UCLA. She is on the treatment advisory board of the Autism Speaks Foundation, secretary of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR), on the Executive Board of the annual Gatlinburg Conference on Research and Theory in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and regularly presents to both academic and practitioner audiences locally, nationally, and internationally.

Financial Disclosures:

Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

None

Lissa Power-deFur, PhD, CCC-SLP, serves as the communication sciences and disorders graduate program director at Longwood University, where she was instrumental in creating an accredited graduate program. She teaches courses in speech sound disorders, aural rehabilitation, public school services in a multicultural society, and ethics. Longwood collaborates with many local school districts where Power-deFur has provided and supervised speech-language screenings, evaluations and interventions, and Response to Intervention programs and activities. Prior to joining Longwood, Power-deFur worked at the Virginia Department of Education in special education, student services, and policy. She regularly presents at state and national levels on the integration of education standards into intervention for students with speech-language impairment. Power-deFur received her bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in speech-language pathology at the University of Virginia. She is an ASHA and Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV) Fellow and regularly volunteers for the profession. She has served as a state education advocacy leader, legislative councilor, speech-language pathology assembly member, member of the ASHA Board of Ethics, and participant on numerous education-related committees. She is the 2014–2016 ASHA Vice President for Standards and Ethics in Speech-Language Pathology. She received the ASHA Leader Outstanding Contribution Award for her article in 2011 on special education eligibility.

Financial Disclosures:

Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

Board of Directors, ASHA

Patricia Prelock, PhD, CCC-SLP, is dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, professor of communication sciences and disorders, and professor of pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. Her current research investigates the nature and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), emphasizing the role of emotion regulation, social communication, and perspective taking as important components of social cognition. She has secured more than $12,000,000 as a principal investigator (PI) or co-PI in training and research grants to support the interdisciplinary education, leadership, and research skills of students. She has authored 139 publications and delivered 427 peer-reviewed and invited presentations in the areas of autism, collaboration, and language learning disabilities. In 2000, Prelock received the University of Vermont's Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award and was named an ASHA Fellow. In 2003, she was named a University of Vermont Scholar. Prelock earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Kent State University and her doctoral degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is an ASHA-certified SLP, a board recognized specialist in child language, and a Hanen-certified SLP for It takes Two to Talk, More Than Words and Talkability. Prelock was the 2013 ASHA President.

Financial Disclosures:

  • Honoraria, various speeches on autism
  • Royalties, Brookes Publishing and Pro-Ed
  • Private donor funding, parent training program on autism spectrum disorders
  • Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

Immediate past president; Board of Directors, ASHA

Gail Richard, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a professor and chair of the Department of Communication Disorders & Sciences at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL, where she has been teaching undergraduate and graduate classes and supervising assessment and treatment in the clinic for 32 years. She consults regularly with school personnel and families regarding appropriate services for children with communication disorders. She particularly enjoys the challenge of playing detective in diagnostic evaluations to discern a child's strengths and weaknesses so intervention can be relevant and specific to the deficit areas. Richard has numerous publications and presentations in the areas of developmental language disorders. She is an ASHA Fellow and currently serves on the ASHA Board of Directors as Vice President for Speech-Language Pathology Practice.

Financial Disclosures:

  • Royalty, LinguiSystems, Inc.
  • Author, Plural Publishing
  • Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

Board of Directors, ASHA

Sherry Sancibrian, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, is a professor and program director of the Speech-Language Pathology Program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She has been employed as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of settings, including public school, early childhood intervention, hospital, and university. Sancribrian has served as presiding officer of the State Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, president of the Texas Speech-Language Hearing Association, and president of the Texas Speech-Language Hearing Foundation. She is the founder and director of South Plains Autism Network, which provides monthly meetings, family activities, and other supports for children with autism and their families.

Financial Disclosures:

  • Salary, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
  • Grant, James A. "Buddy" Davidson endowment
  • Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

  • Member, ASHA
  • Chair, American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders
  • Founder and director, South Plains Autism Network (SPAN)

Jason C. Travers, PhD, BCBA-D, is a fourth-year assistant professor of special education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He earned his PhD at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas while working as a special educator of students with autism in the nation's fifth largest school district. He currently investigates the racial disparity in the administrative prevalence of autism as well as the efficacy of technology for preventing inappropriate behavior while supporting academic, social, and communication skills of students with autism. He teaches graduate courses in applied behavior analysis, evidence-based instructional strategies for learners with autism, and issues in special education.

Financial Disclosures:

Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

None

Jane Wegner, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a clinical professor and director of the Schiefelbusch Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic at the University of Kansas. She directs the Pardee Augmentative and Alternative Communication Resource and Research Laboratory on the Lawrence campus of KU. Wegner's area of research and clinical interest is improved quality of life through better communication for individuals with complex communication needs. She has directed numerous personnel preparation projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs, including the Communication and Autism Project; the Communication, Autism, and Technology Project; and the Augmentative Communication in the Schools Projects. She has authored articles and book chapters on augmentative and alternative communication and autism spectrum disorders. Wegner is an ASHA Fellow and served on the ASHA Ad Hoc Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders that developed ASHA policy documents for practice with people with autism spectrum disorder. Wegner currently serves on ASHA's Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council.

Financial Disclosures:

  • Salary, University of Kansas
  • Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

Member, ASHA

Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP, is the founder of Social Thinking®, which specializes in developing treatment models and specific strategies for helping persons with social cognitive learning challenges. She runs and works in her small clinic and has authored numerous books and given many international talks. Her goal is to help educators, SLPs, mental health providers, and parents appreciate how social thinking and social skills are an integral part of students' academic, vocational, and community success. She was honored with a Congressional Special Recognition Award in 2008.

Financial Disclosures:

  • Owner/CEO/President, Think Social Publishing
  • Royalties, products
  • Honoraria, speaking presentations
  • Self-publications, various
  • Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

Volunteer, ASHA and other groups

Juliann J. Woods, PhD, CCC-SLP, is the director of the Communication and Early Childhood Research and Practice Center (CEC-RAP), a professor in the School of Communication Science and Disorders, and associate dean of research in the College of Communication and Information at Florida State University. She has 35 years of clinical experience, research, and teaching in communication, language, and early intervention for children and families. Throughout her career, she has emphasized the translation of research to practice and has more than 50 externally funded training and demonstration grants and contracts providing professional development nationwide and internationally with many including the use of technology to support the integration of content into work settings. Her current research examines observational measurement of coaching and the application of technology use to coaching within the home and classroom environments to support the implementation of recommended practices for early intervention of social communication for young children with autism spectrum disorder. She is also the director of a research and demonstration project on parent-implemented language intervention, a co-investigator of a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) randomized control trial (RCT) on parent-implemented early intervention for toddlers with autism spectrum disorder, and a principal investigator on a collaborative Institute of Education Sciences (IES) research project examining coaching supports for embedded intervention in everyday routines.

Financial Disclosures:

  • Salary, Florida State University
  • Funding, NIMH-ROI Effects of Parent-Implemented Intervention for Toddlers with ASD
  • Speaker received financial compensation from ASHA for the contents of this presentation.

Non-Financial Disclosures:

None

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