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

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Saturday, July 15, 2006: 10:00 AM-11:15 AM
551 A-B
#2064- We Are Family! Parents and Professionals Educating Each Other
Learn about a unique approach to helping individuals with ASD succeed educationally and interpersonally—it’s called working together. In all aspects of learning, beginning with a functional assessment, parent trainings, community consultations, professional trainings, social groups and a summer camp, the parents and professionals gain knowledge and strategies from each other. This model helps individuals with ASD become independent, parents understand how to parent a child with autism and educators get to the job of teaching children with ASD with confidence.

Presenters:Joanne G. Quinn, Autism Project of RI, Executive Director - Joanne Quinn is the executive director of the Autism Project of RI and parent of a young boy with autism. Through her leadership, the organization grew to provide a full slate of programs and services for children with ASD, their parents and the many professionals who support them. Joanne has presented at the 2001 TEACCH International In-Service and the 2004 National Paraprofessional Association's National Conference. Prior to leading the Project, Joanne ran her own small business, Quinn and Associates, writing, designing, and publishing business newsletters. Joanne holds a B.A. in History from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.

Connie R. Rinehart, M.S., CCC-SLP, Autism Project of RI, Director of Program Administration - Connie Rinehart is a Communication Specialist with more than 10 years working with children with autism spectrum disorders across settings. Prior to this she worked with children with disabilities in pediatric psychiatric facilities as a recreation therapist. Most recently, Ms. Rinehart created and oversees a two-week camp for children with ASD, consults to school districts, presents and trains, and designed a full range of social skills groups. A published author, Songs to Communicate Ms. Rinehart continues to develop tools to enable individuals with autism reach their potential.

Cheryl Cotter, M, Ed, Autism Project of RI, Training Coordinator - Cheryl Cotter, M Ed., is the Training Coordinator for APRI. She brings extensive knowledge of Asperger Syndrome to the team from personal experiences with her son and her professional work. A certified educator with advanced TEACCH training, she consults to school districts, presents and trains for both families and professionals. Most recently Ms. Cotter created a five week training series in Asperger Syndrome and authored a new training for parents of newly diagnosed children both in English and Spanish.

The presentation will review the Autism Project of RI's model of support and education for an individual with autism. Our model is a wrap-around approach that not only offers direct service to a child, but also works at the same time to educate his/her family, community and school program on the current best-practices for raising a child with autism. Ideally, the programming and trainings/consultations run simultaneously to maximize the benefit to the child, family and the many professionals working with him/her.

The core of the presentation will be a discussion of our approach, how it came to be and continues to evolve, an overview of the many programs we developed and their role, and what tools we developed and use to accomplish our goals.

Participants will be introduced to our model through discussion of the different tools, trainings and programs we developed. We will present the purpose of each program individually and its place in the overall plan of support for families and professionals. The slate of trainings and programs evolved to answer needs in the community and home.

Participants will also learn how to incorporate both parents and professionals into the presenting team. It is our opinion that the parents' perspective offers important insight to the professionals working with their child and vice versa.

The focus of the presentation will illustrate how the following programs, trainings and tools are incorporated into a team approach to support a child with autism following diagnosis and as he/she grows.

Functional Assessment The APRI Criterion Checklists are used to assess current abilities and functioning levels in a variety of settings. A multi-disciplinary evaluation determines a child's level of function across settings. Finally, an interpretation of information is completed to show professionals how to incorporate the standardized test results into the child's daily work/play routines in the classroom, playground and home.

Parent Resource Center/Parent Support Liaison/Discussion Group Our Parent Support Liaison helps parents answer the questions: I have a diagnosis, now what do I do? Where do I get help? What are an IEP and Medicaid? The Liaison is available 30 hours per week and parents are encouraged to keep in touch with the Project as new issues arise. In addition, the Parent Resource Center gives parents, teachers and home-based workers access to templates, autism-specific softwares, references, and interpretation of state agency forms and procedures All graduates of our training series and community members are invited once a month to a Discussion Group. This is another opportunity for parents and professionals to access a problem-solving group facilitated by APRI trained professionals.

Parent to Parent Training Series (Parents Only) Parent coaches teach parents initial steps for parenting a child with ASD, positive advocacy, and a collaborative approach to working with their child's school. Parent coaches also teach parents strategies for activities of daily living (ADLs), play and family interactions and community outings in a small, safe setting. Finally, parent coaches show parents strategies for supporting homework and other activities at or for school (eg. After-school activities, band, etc.).

A Starting Point (Nine week series on Autism Spectrum Disorders)/ASpire (Five week series on Asperger Syndrome) Parents and professionals participate in the same training and learn the same material simultaneously. Parents and professionals teach and learn together in this dynamic series through topic discussions, brainstorming and question and answer periods. Parents and professionals gain an understanding of the learning style of children with ASD and how it impacts a child across all settings. Parents and professionals gain an understanding of the challenges each side faces in supporting a child with autism. Parents and professionals problem solve difficult moments together and create strategies as a team.

Community Consultations Our consultants assist schools to develop quality programming and the implementation of best practices. They also attend IEPs and facilitate cooperation from home and school.

Social Skills Groups/Camp This is our first direct services for children and teens with ASD. Licensed professionals and educators work to teach youth to develop trust and some key tools for establishing and maintaining friendships on varying levels (peer to acquaintance or adults). We help to improve the quality of a family's outing by teaching social skills in natural settings. Our favorite program is Camp where we provide a fun, healthy week of camp for children with ASD!

Learning Objectives Participants will identify the components of a support system that successfully educates a child with autism, his/her family and the many professionals who support him/her.

Participants will learn strategies to improve collaboration between families and professionals.

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