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Session Descriptions

2022 Events - Color Bar

Communication Strategies for Autism: Supporting Engagement, Self-Advocacy, and Transitions

November 30–December 12, 2022 | Online Conference

These pre-recorded sessions are on-demand and last about an hour, so you can watch them whenever time permits!  

Early Childhood Transitions: Helping Families of Children With Autism Navigate the Merge Lane
Belinda Daughrity, PhD, CCC-SLP

This session explores the major transitions and services provided to families of young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The speaker addresses considerations for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families, who may experience additional barriers to early diagnosis and treatment, and shares resources and strategies to support families transitioning between services during early childhood.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • create a checklist of clinical approaches to employ with CLD families of children with ASD during transitions in early childhood
  • describe three tips, resources, and/or strategies for families of children with ASD to share during transition meetings
  • identify clinical practices to support families of young children with ASD who are transitioning services

Strategies to Engage and Empower Parents in Intervention for Their Children With ASD
Anna Dvortcsak, MS, CCC-SLP

A growing body of evidence supports direct parent involvement in the education of their children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to improve outcomes for children and families. However, parent-mediated interventions are highly underutilized in community settings. This session presents characteristics of effective parent-mediated interventions, strategies to engage and empower parents, and key factors for selecting a parent-mediated intervention for children on your caseload. The presenter discusses involving parents in treatment by addressing barriers to participation prior to treatment, including parents in the goal-setting process, and providing systematic teaching during intervention sessions.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • list key elements of effective parent-mediated interventions (PMIs)
  • identify barriers to parent engagement and strategies to use to address these challenges
  • list strategies to use to engage and empower parents in intervention to improve outcomes for the child
  • list four questions to ask to help select a PMI for the child and family

The Power of No: Teaching Young Children with ASD to Self-Advocate
Lisa Wallace, MS, CCC-SLP

Young children with autism may not have an appropriate way to communicate “no” and may rely instead on physical or challenging behaviors. This session explores the power of the word “no” to communicate needs and preferences and addresses ways to support children in communicating this essential message appropriately and effectively. The presenter shares: strategies for identifying and setting an appropriate goal related to communicating “no,” effective teaching strategies to help the child meet the goal, supports for situations in which communicating “no” might not be an option, and suggestions for coaching caregivers.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • describe how a child is currently expressing “no”
  • determine a goal for the child to communicate “no” more effectively and appropriately
  • discuss teaching strategies to help the child meet the goal

Promoting Peer Engagement, Interactions, and Relationships for Students Learning to Use AAC
Elizabeth E. Biggs, PhD

This session addresses peer engagement for students with autism who have complex communication needs. The presenter shares practical and evidence-based approaches to promote engagement, communicative interaction, and relationships and addresses questions like: What role does the SLP play in promoting peer interaction? Is it reasonable to hope for mutual friendships or just “helping” relationships? Are there ways to better integrate augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in peer interactions?

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • determine factors that act as barriers or facilitators for students learning to use AAC to engage, interact, and build relationships with their peers without disabilities
  • collaborate with other educational team members to develop and implement intervention programs to promote peer engagement for students learning to use AAC
  • measure and evaluate the impact of intervention programs designed to promote interaction, engagement, and relationships with peers without disabilities

What Comes Next? Helping Young Adults with Autism Transition Into an Inclusive Community Life
Carly Gilson, PhD

Adolescents have a variety of aspirations for adulthood: They may want to go to college, attain a career they are passionate about, and live an inclusive life with friends and family. However, these opportunities may be elusive for adolescents with autism. This session explores tips and strategies for working with students, educators, families, and other stakeholders to prepare young adults with autism for an inclusive community life after high school.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • identify free resources to prepare students with autism and their families for a successful transition after high school
  • discuss with students and their families their goals for employment, postsecondary education, and independent living
  • implement strategies to teach students with autism how to be independent in academic and social contexts

Promoting Growth in Social & Communication Domains for Neurodiverse Adults
Mary Ann McIntyre, BCBA

Many neurodiverse adults may need explicit hands-on instruction to improve social engagement and self-advocacy skills, as well as skills needed for handling life transitions. This session shares intervention models based on perspectives of neurodiverse adults as well as research in the language and cognitive domains and evidence-based practices used for younger populations.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • list five possible questions to include in a structured interview with a neurodiverse adult that would provide measurable information about their views on current levels of social engagement and advocacy
  • write a persuasive email to a potential employer of a neurodiverse adult providing at least three ways that this individual might advocate for themselves in the workplace
  • outline one or two different types of instructional strategies to support an upcoming life change (e.g., moving from family home to another type of residence) for (1) a neurodiverse adult with limited language use and (2) a neurodiverse adult with anxiety and more typical language use

Building Accessible and Inclusive Communities That Value Neurodiversity
Lauren Weaver, MS, BCBA

Ensuring opportunities for autistic individuals, and those with other disabilities, to engage and fully participate in all facets of life, including employment, community events, and social affairs, helps improve individual and societal outcomes. This session explores strategies that increase accessibility and promote inclusion and that truly support neurodiversity and allow all individuals to participate and contribute.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • explain the difference between accessibility and inclusion
  • identify ways to increase accessibility using evidence-based tools
  • list goals to help your community strive for true inclusion and support for neurodiversity

Using Neuroscience and Neurodiversity to Inform Communication Intervention for Individuals with ASD
Eric Shyman, EdD

This session discusses neurodiversity from a historical and practical perspective, and guides SLPs applying these concepts to their practice. Using images of the brains of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the presenter explores ways in which the concept of neurodiversity can be used to differentiate actual treatment methodologies.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • define neurodiversity
  • select appropriate interventions for various individuals based on their neurodiversity
  • assess whether your practices are aligned with the principle of neurodiversity

Autistic Perspectives on Self-Advocacy, Engagement, and Transitions
Leisa Hammett, Chloe Rothschild, and Dena Gassner, MSW, PhD(C); moderated by Lisa Wallace, MS, CCC-SLP

Two autistic adults (one of whom is also a parent of an autistic adult) and a parent of an autistic adult discuss their experiences with speech-language services as they relate to supporting engagement, self-advocacy, and successful transitions for autistic individuals. 

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • explain the reasoning behind the goals you develop for clients
  • incorporate client preference and feedback into goal-setting and intervention

Demystifying Behavioral Masking by Autistic Individuals: Shifting to Acceptance
Dena Gassner, MSW, PhD(C)

This session examines behavioral masking, a compensatory strategy that autistic individuals often use—or are taught to use—in service of conforming to normative standards. The speaker explores the cognitive processes that underly masking and identifies the risks of defining success as being perceived as neurotypical. The speaker discusses why and how SLPs can shift their focus from goals and definitions of success that help autistic individuals “pretend to be normal” to those that allow and empower autistic individuals to be their authentic selves.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • summarize why normative outcomes are not successful
  • explain the underlying cognitive processes that are involved with the act of behavioral masking
  • apply new ideas for empowering autistic individuals to use disclosure and concepts of inclusion to reduce the perceived need for masking

Adolescence and Autism: Developing a Pathway to Independence, College, and Career Readiness
Ashley Wiley Johnson, PhD, CCC-SLP

This session bridges the gap between theory and practice so that SLPs can treat teens with autism through the lens of preparing for independence. The speaker shares strategies for addressing common challenges individuals with autism experience in middle to high school as well as ideas for collaborating with parents and caregivers.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate therapeutic settings and tasks when working with adolescents with autism
  • develop appropriate objectives and plan intervention activities that target pragmatic language differences
  • assess the role maturation, sex, dating, and gender play for teens with autism as they prepare for independence

Preparing Preschool Children With ASD for Peer Interaction
Abigail Leofsky, MS, CCC-SLP, and Kenton Odaniel Shaw (Daniel), MS, CCC-SLP

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often struggle with engaging and interacting with their peers. As SLPs, how do we know when to start targeting peer interaction, and how do we help children get ready? This presentation focuses on increasing the value of the social world to children with autism through a variety of strategies and approaches in naturalistic settings.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • list four competency areas to target in interventions that support social interactions
  • list three strategies to support interest in peers
  • discuss intervention for social interactions from a neurodiversity paradigm

Neurodiversity and Self-Determination in Early Childhood
Madeline Auge, PhD, and Alexa Dixon, PhD

One way to promote neurodiversity—recognizing and embracing individual variations in human brains and behavior—in practice is by considering self-determination skills in early childhood. This session provides an overview of neurodiversity and self-determination, discusses these topics as they relate to early childhood, and describes strategies for fostering neurodiverse perspectives and the development of foundational self-determination skills during service provision for young children.

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • define neurodiversity and self-determination to families and other providers
  • describe the importance of promoting neurodiversity and self-determination in early childhood
  • identify ways to incorporate neurodiversity and support the development of self-determination skills in early childhood intervention
"I really enjoyed the various perspectives and areas of expertise that were presented. It provided a clear, full picture for me to use as I reflect on my own clinical practice and how I interact with autistic students."
Candice Paulsen, MS, CCC-SLP, Past Participant
"This conference was empowering and illuminating and flipped my entire perspective on how I view autism in the context of larger society."
D. Lee, MS, CCC-SLP, Past Participant

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