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

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Saturday, July 15, 2006: 12:15 PM-1:30 PM
#2133- Social Skills as Essential Components of Positive Behavior Plans
The severe behavior problems exhibited by children on the autism spectrum can be attributed to difficulty with social skills. This includes poor awareness of social expectations; lack of specific skills; and difficulty in applying learned skills. We will discuss how an understanding of the social needs of children on the autism spectrum can significantly increase a student’s success and reduce challenging behaviors. This presentation will be full of practical ideas and strategies you will be able to use immediately.

Presenters:Todd Kellogg, M.Psy., MA, MFT, Greenwich Autism Program, Assistant Director - Todd Kellogg has been working with children and adults with disabilities, and their families, for more than 10 years. Over the past 2 years, Todd has developed GAP’s Social Skills programs to include individual instruction, small group instruction, and a Social Group for young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. Todd has developed Positive Behavior Plans for children on the Autism Spectrum who range in age from preschool through high school. Mr. Kellogg and Ms. Guiffra presented a workshop on “Teaching Social Skills” for parents and staff of the Stamford (CT) Public Schools. Several follow up workshops are already scheduled.

Kristin Guiffra, BA, Greenwich Autism Program, Coordinator of Direct Instruction - Kristin Guiffra has worked for GAP for more than four years. As Coordinator of Direct Instruction, Kris provides behaviorally based direct instruction for children on the Autism Spectrum, and provides consultation and supervision to other GAP staff working with families. In addition, Kris co-coordinates GAP’s Social Skills groups, running two groups a week, developing materials, training staff, and conducting assessments. Kris recently co-presented a workshop on “Teaching Social Skills” for parents and staff of the Stamford (CT) Public Schools. Kris co-presented (with Dr. Izeman)a workshop about "Family-friendly Intensive Early Intervention for Childrne with Autism" at the 2003 TASH Conference.

Susan G. Izeman, PhD, BCBA, Greenwich Autism Program, Director - Susan Izeman, PhD., BCBA, is GAP’s Director. Sue has worked with children with autism and their families for over 25 years, and has been GAP’s director since April 2001. Sue is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and is knowledgeable in educational, social, and behavioral issues related to Children on the Autism Spectrum. Dr. Izeman has presented several times for CT SERC (Special Education Resource Center) related to promoting social fluency in young children with autism. Training has included large conference, small group workshops, and individualized consultation, and additional workshops have been scheduled for the current school year.

Social Skills and Positive Behavior Support are both areas of great interest for those working with children on the Autism Spectrum. This presentation will focus on how teaching new social skills can prevent the need for a challenging behavior, or can serve a similar function and replace the behavior. Although PBS has gained in popularity, the connection to positive behavior plans is still new, and one that we will explore in this presentation. Learning Objectives: In this presentation, participants will 1) Learn about the importance of social fluency in all aspects of life; 2) Learn how specific social skills deficits impact the home, school, and community life of children on the Autism Spectrum; 3) Gain an understanding of the broad impact of Positive Behavior Supports; 4) Gain skills in identifying when an identified behavior problem is related to social skills deficits; 5) Learn how to teach social skills to prevent behavior problems and as replacement behaviors, and reduce challenging or inappropriate behaviors. Content Outline: 1) Social Characteristics of Children with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome; 2) Impact of social difficulties on everyday life – home, school, community; 3) Why schools and families should explicitly address social skills; 4) Essential Components of a Social Skills Curriculum; 5) Essential Components of a Positive Behavior Plan; 6) Identifying when a challenging behavior is the result of a Social Skills problem; 7) Developing instructional strategies to address Social Skills as a component of a PBS plan. Contribution to the field: Although we know that social awareness and social fluency are key difficulties for children diagnosed with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome, it is rare to see the instruction of social skills occurring routinely in school settings. Even more rare is the behavior plan that makes the connection between a challenging behavior (he pushed a peer) and the social deficit underlying it (he didn't know how to ask someone to move). In this presentation we will make this connection and share specific case examples of our success in blending these two intervention approaches.

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