​Autism Conference Breakout Sessions
​2018

​Here's a breakdown of what to expect at the 2018 Living With Autism Workshop at the ​Detroit Marriott Troy on Friday, May 4, 2018.

Breakout Session 1: 9:05-10:05 a.m. 
(Pick one of ​four options)

​Expectations for Language Development in Young Children with ASD

Christy Schweitzer, M.A., CCC-SLP and Mariana Fraga, M.Ed., BCBA

Henry Ford Health System

Parents often leave the autism diagnostic appointment feeling overwhelmed with so much new information. This presentation will provide guidance for parents of children recently diagnosed with ASD in regard to their child's speech development. Christy Schweitzer, coordinator of Henry Ford's Pediatric Speech & Language Pathology (SLP), will review speech disorders frequently found with autism. Mariana Fraga, lead BCBA of Henry Ford's Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, will explain how families can benefit from a strong SLP-BCBA collaboration and how behavior management plays a vital role in the development of early communication skills.

Improving Self-Sufficiency: Attention and Executive Function Strategies for Children with ASD

Jennifer N. Longoria, Ph.D. and Maggie F. Gindlesperger, Psy.D.

Henry Ford Health System

Attention and executive functioning skills, including planning, mental flexibility, organization, and self-control, are key to academic and social success. Difficulties in these areas often result in challenges with information processing, accuracy, behavioral regulation and problem-solving. This presentation will review how attention and executive functions contribute to thinking skills, as well as practical strategies that can support the development of these skills in children with ASD.

Preventing Sexual/Physical Abuse in Children with Autism

Colleen Allen, Ph.D. and Tammy Morris, M.A., CCC-SLP

Autism Alliance of Michigan

Children with autism are at higher risk for sexual abuse and harassment, given the social-communication challenges often presented by this population. This session will provide caregivers with critical information about red flag behaviors that may signal concerns or special vulnerabilities which require attention/intervention by parents, teachers, neighbors, and other community workers who intersect with our children every day. Autism Alliance of Michigan will share stories and data collected through our statewide MiNavigator program to highlight the significant need for training and education on this topic in our communities.

The Connection Between ASD and Mental Health Conditions

Melissa Hendriks, M.D. and Carl Fraser, LMSW

Henry Ford Health System

Many individuals with ASD are also diagnosed with a mental health condition. Why? How can parents separate one condition from the others? This presentation will examine the prevalence of common comorbid coexisting psychiatric diagnoses and explore treatment strategies and outcomes.

Breakout Session 2: 12:20-1:20 p.m. 
(Pick one of f​ive options)

Screen Time Solutions: Medical Concerns and Behavioral Tips on How to Control It

Tisa Johnson, M.D. and Mariana Fraga, M.Ed., BCBA

Henry Ford Health System

Our children are growing up in a world full of screens: iPads, smartphones, TVs, computers. As parents, we often struggle to find the right balance on how much screen time our children should have. Tisa Johnson, M.D., a developmental pediatrician and the medical director at the Henry Ford Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD), will discuss the medical concerns that pediatricians and other medical providers have about the effects that excessive screen time is having on our children. Mariana Fraga, lead BCBA with Henry Ford CADD, will go over some simple behavioral tips and interventions to teach screen time management skills to families.

Overcoming Social Skills Deficits: Strategies for Children with ASD

Marissa Perrone, M.A. and Maggie F. Gindlesperger, Psy.D.

Henry Ford Health System

Deficits in social functioning are a primary feature of ASD that can have a deep impact on a child's self-esteem, relationships and overall happiness. Can anything be done? This session offers advice on how to identify and characterize social skills difficulties in children with ASD and will provide evidence-based intervention strategies to improve social interaction skills.

Integrating Education Strategies for Students with ASD, Part I

Maureen Ziegler

Autism Intervention and Education Specialist

START – Grand Valley State University

The first of this 2-part session will address the complex needs of students with ASD and the interconnected strategies needed to meet the individual educational needs of the student. Many students with ASD now require multiple strategies to assist in their navigation of the expectations in the school environment. Preferred Activities, Contracts, Peer to Peer Support, T-Charts, Self-Management Systems, 5 Point Scale and the Grading Matrix will be discussed. The integration of the strategies creates the success in the student's plan. 

Establishing Speech Motor Skills for Those with ASD and Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Nancy Kaufman, M.A., CCC-SLP and Kerry Peterson, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCBA

Kaufman Children's Center

Although children with autism spectrum disorders may vocalize, many struggle to produce and combine consonants and vowels to create words. Implementing best practices for childhood apraxia of speech is effective in helping this unique population become successful vocal communicators. This presentation will focus on three specific techniques: sign language as a bridge to vocal communication (Sign to Talk), Rapid Motor Imitation Antecedent Training (RMIA), and elements of the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol (K-SLP). Many video examples of these techniques will be presented.

Living With Autism: Perspectives from Those on the Spectrum

Nick Gammicchia and Chloe Rothschild

This panel of young adults on the spectrum will guide a discussion on their unique experience, hopes, dreams and advice for those who care for those with autism – educators, friends and family. Come with questions to get a deeper understanding from those who know what it's like to navigate autism while trying to live their best lives.

Breakout Session 3: 1:35-2:35 p.m. 
(Pick one of four options)

Growing Up With a Brother With ASD: A Sibling's Perspective

Sarah Porter, M.A.

Henry Ford Health System

As a parent, it can be overwhelming to attend to the needs of all children in the family, with or without autism. During this presentation, Sarah Porter, M.A., therapist at Henry Ford and a sibling to someone with autism, will go over her experience growing up with her brother. Throughout the presentation, parents will be provided tips and recommendations on how to attend to the needs of all children in the family when raising a child with autism.

ASD and Puberty: Help for Transitioning into Adulthood

Leslie Scobie, LLMSW, BCBA

Henry Ford Health System

This presentation offers information and resources to support a comprehensive approach to puberty and sexual development. Get ideas and tips on how to support the developing preteen or teen at home, at school and in the community. Learn how to prepare before puberty begins. Plus, discover helpful ways to ease into this life transition.

Integrating Education Strategies for Students with ASD, Part II

Maureen Ziegler, Ed.S.

Autism Intervention and Education Specialist

START – Grand Valley State University

The second of this 2-part session will address the complex needs of students with ASD and the interconnected strategies needed to meet the individual educational needs of the student. Many students with ASD now require multiple strategies to assist in their navigation of the expectations in the school environment. Preferred Activities, Contracts, Peer-to-Peer Support, T-Charts, Self-Management Systems, 5-Point Scale and the Grading Matrix will be discussed. The integration of the strategies creates the success in the student's plan. 

'What Are You Looking At?' – Coping With Stares and Criticism in Public

Jennifer Lovy

Parent

We’ve all been there. Your child is engaging in what others consider atypical behavior, dealing with sensory overload or, even worse, having an all-out meltdown when the stares start, and then the whispers. Sometimes someone says something more directly, blaming you for shoddy parenting and not understanding or caring that your child has autism. What do you do? Stop taking your child out and about? Not go on vacation for fear of judgment? For too many parents, that’s the case. No more! This session will lead a discussion on why people stare or snipe, how to lessen public outbursts, cope with them when they happen (because perfect isn’t possible) and what to say (or not say).

Keynote Speakers

Ron Suskind, Pulitzer-winning journalist

Ron Suskind’s work demonstrates his strong passion for giving a voice to the voiceless. Owen Suskind, Ron’s youngest son, is one of those voices – and the protagonist of Ron’s book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism.

Also adapted into the Academy Award-nominated documentary Life, Animated, this book tells Owen’s story of being diagnosed with autism and finding a way to re-engage with the world around him. Ron and his family pioneered a now widely acknowledged method of emulative communication known as Affinity Therapy.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Ron Fournier: Author of Love That Boy

Ron Fournier’s son, Tyler, has Asperger’s syndrome. Ron, a Detroit-native editor and publisher, will speak about what he’s learned from his son while writing his book, Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations.

Sponsored by:


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