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

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Friday, July 14, 2006: 3:30 PM-4:45 PM
551 A-B
#2078- Learning from the Inside Out
The presenters will describe an innovative wraparound program for children on the autism spectrum. Originally developed in Pennsylvania, it now serves approximately 400 children and families. This totally positive program is being replicated in other states and in Ireland by Youth Advocate Programs Inc. The workshop will feature a curriculum recently revised by Youth Advocate staff, consultants from Temple Universityís Department of Occupational Therapy, and a leading self advocate. Video segments will be shown and sample materials will be distributed.

Presenters:Martha H. Ziegler, MA, Parent, Youth Advocate Programs Inc., National Autism Coordinator - Martha was founder of the Federation for Children with Special Needs, Boston, MA, and she led the development of a nationwide network of Parent Training and Information Centers, succeeding in enactment of the PTI program into federal law in 1983. Her interest in disability has been stimulated and informed by her daughter with autism, Mary Ann, now 42 and living semi-independently, singing in a local church choir, and taking voice lessons.

Robert Millburne, Ph., D, D.M., Youth Advocate Programs Inc., Director of Autism Services - Bob is the architect of the Youth Advocate Autism Program, in operation since 1996. Before that he worked for three years as an advocate and behavior specialist with another agency in Pennsylvania. Earlier he had worked as a counselor/consultant with military families while serving in the US Navy and then with several nonprofit agencies in Pennsylvania while completing his graduate work.

Ann Lyon, MSW, Youth Advocate Programs Inc., Autism Regional Director, Central Pennsylvania - Before becoming Regional Autism Director, Ann worked as a Behavioral Specialist Consultant. In that role she worked directly with families and children dealing with ASD. Her region includes 8 counties and 250 children in central Pennsylvania. She provides clinical supervision to master's level clinicians and she conducts a 3-day intensive training program every month for new staff. She travels to local offices to provide additional training on various interventions and methods for working with children on the autism spectrum.

): The speakers will describe an innovative wraparound program designed for children on the autism spectrum and their families. This program relies on the experts: the children themselves and their parents. The program helps the children build positive relationships with their family members and friends. A description of the three-day intensive training curriculum for autism advocates will be presented and segments of videos with the advocates and children at work will be shown. Brochures describing the program will be distributed and visitors to the workshop will be informed about ways they can incorporate this program into their work. The program currently serves 400 children and families throughout Pennsylvania and it is being replicated in several other states and in Ireland.

The workshop will detail the following best practices and summary of service delivery:

Youth Advocate's "Best Practices" In Autism Support

Families receiving YAP support find that the agency's foremost value, respect for the individual, both anticipates and responds to the latest breakthroughs in scientific thinking about Autism Spectrum Disorders. Youth Advocate's ASD program has articulated and adopted the following six research-based best practices, which it strives to reflect in all training and activities:

1, Focus on the individual, not the label. Children who traditionally have been grouped in the same categories of developmental disability are actually very different from each other. The autism label covers a very wide spectrum of learning styles and capacities. Since each child's developmental profile is unique, intervention strategies should be tailored to the child rather than matched to the label. These strategies should take into account developmental level, motor, sensory, emotional, cognitive and language functioning, as well as family and cultural patterns.

2. Learn from the experts: people with autism. People with ASD have much to teach when those who support them set out to observe and listen rather than "fix." Respecting the individual's personal space, likes and dislikes, and unique interests establishes a shared ground from which the child's world can be expanded safely, securely, and by mutual consent.

3. Learn from the experts: families of people with autism. Family life is central to each person's development. The self-confidence, capability, and unique knowledge base of family members must be supported and utilized in a collaborative effort to achieve mutually agreed-upon goals. Assistance must be provided in ways that respect family integrity and valued daily routines.

4. Support development through relationships. Before traditional cognitive tasks and social skills can be learned, children must be supported to engage in pleasurable relationships with others. Relationship triggers and sustains development by drawing the person into the larger world while helping him or her to organize and make sense of experiences. Without a firm grounding in human relationship, children with autism spectrum disorders may find everyday experiences to be unintelligible or may withdraw in distress and fear.

5. Recognize and work with the person's emotional needs. Cognitive potential cannot be explored accurately until the groundwork is laid for sustained, emotionally satisfying interactive experiences. Emotionally meaningful interactions are the necessary foundation for a lifetime of flexible, self-motivated development.

6. Be open to lifetime opportunities for growth and development. The "window of opportunity" for learning never closes. People with autism spectrum disorders, regardless of their age, history, or formalized test scores, deserve the opportunity and support to try new things and grow in new directions.

Summary Sequence of Service delivery

Respond to referrals within a specified number of business days ĄG Provide an initial needs-based, strength-based assessment ĄG Match child/family with an autism advocate ĄG Organize child/family team ĄG Develop written Individualized Support Plan (ISP) within specified number of days ĄG Implement ISP through the provision of in-home and community-based support and advocacy services included but not limited to the following:

Skill Development for Child Identify and develop means to nurture strengths and interests Create community and home experiences where child can succeed Develop opportunities for friendship, mentoring, role modeling Enhance socialization and communication skills Provide educational support Assist in life skills development

Family Supports Support child-centered activities that are meaningful to family Model and coach interactive, relationship-building methods Develop supports and accommodations that fit family lifestyle Link with community resources and opportunities Advocate for family access to needed services

Community Capacity-Building Recruit volunteer members of community to support child and family Strategize ways for child to be included in community activities Provide positive information and guidance on ASD to community members

Outcomes Evaluation Evaluate Outcomes on the basis of specific goals/objectives Develop discharge plan for the youth/family Conduct follow-up assessment

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