ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Friday, July 14, 2006: 10:45 AM-12:00 PM
554 A-B
#2063- Ten Essential Skills to Learn Now for a Safe, Independent Life
Participants will learn about ten essential skills to increase safety, success, and independence for people with ASD of all ages. Parents and staff will identify key skills and behaviors to teach. Real-life examples and strategies will help teams prioritize and plan how to help an individual to master the skills. Individuals with disabilities who attend can become aware of behaviors that can put them at risk and behaviors that can help them be safer and more successful in the community.

Presenter:Emily D. Iland, B.A., Univeristy of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration, State Representative, Yes I Can Program for Social Inclusion, author, advocate - Emily co-authored Autism Spectrum Disorders from A to Z and is the translator, and publisher of the Spanish version, Los Trastornos del Espectro de Autismo de la A a la Z. She is the California Representative of the Yes I Can Program for Social Inclusion, a friendship program for teens with disabilities and peers. Emily founded C.L.E.A.R, Community and Law Enforcement Aware Response, a collaborative to reduce criminal involvement and help law enforcement officials be informed in their response to people with disabilities. Formal education: B.A. degree, summa cum laude, from Marquette University, majors in Political Science and Spanish.
Many people with disabilities are at risk in the community, and are over-represented in the criminal justice system due to underdevelopment of particular skills and behaviors. People with ASD also run a higher risk of being victimized. This workshop provides a pro-active approach to this problem by identifying ten essential skills that people with disabilities should have to the maximum extent possible to help enhance community participation, reduce risk and be safe.

This workshop is suitable for parents, family members and caregivers of children with disabilities from toddler age to adult. The workshop is helpful to teachers and staff, and specialists such as speech and language pathologists and behaviorists. Individuals with disabilities may also increase self-awareness and find guidance for personal goals from the presentation.

The workshop contributes to best practice and advances the field of autism spectrum disorders by promoting awareness of potential problems, helping parents, staff and individuals prioritize key skills for safety and inclusion, and by providing strategies for teaching. The workshop enables all segments of the population (team members) to collaborate proactively. Adults with disabilities who attend have the opportunity to raise awareness of the behaviors that reduce risk and increase safety in the community.

The content of the material includes a description of each of the ten skills, and real-life examples and teaching strategies for each. Here are details of the main ideas and supporting points.

1. Eliminate behaviors that are dangerous or potentially dangerous to self or others. • Identify dangerous situations and teach replacement behaviors. • Identify potentially dangerous behaviors that are not harmful now but may be is the person is older, larger, or unattended.

2. Help the person to learn complete care of his or her own body to the maximum extent possible. • A question of social acceptance. • A personal safety issue.

3. Know who s/he can access, hug, touch, continue to talk to or follow • Use the “circle of friends” to teach about relationships and affections. • Teach what to do when unsure about who should touch and who to touch.

4. Know the limits of touching or using the property of others and how to ask first • Teach the difference between mine and not mine, OK to touch and not OK to touch. • Teach who to ask, and how to ask to access the property of others.

5. Know two different responses for Yes and No • Take NO for an answer. • Handle it when the answer is not what he or she wants.

6. Knowing to ask for help: who, when and how to ask • How to realize when help is needed. • Have a way to ask. • Identify “helpers” in many environments. • Make rules to follow in asking for help.

7. Learn to identify internal states (feelings and sensations) and express them. • Understand own level of arousal. • Know bothersome stimuli. • Make avoidance plans. • Use coping strategies. • Be able to tell others. • Use emotion words to name feelings as they occur

8. Learning Empathy • Understanding the feelings of others to react and respond appropriately. • Helps us to be socially competent, a good co-worker, friend and family member. • Empathy is an endearing quality.

9. Giving Negative Feedback • How to handle things s/he doesn't like or want (and avoid meltdowns). • Teach how to recognize aversion. • Name the feelings. • Plan and practice options. • Use language that does not offend.

10. Making PLAN B: Repair strategies • Help the person anticipate and plan for “the unexpected.” • Learn to recognize when “the unexpected” is happening. • Plan options for solving the problem. • Stop, think and choose!

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