2017 Autism Institute Conference - General Workshops

University Hall
8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Gwynedd Mercy University's Autism Institute is hosting its annual Autism Conference on Saturday, April 1. This year, in addition to the general workshops, the conference features three additional tracks geared towards different audiences. 

Higher Education Professional Development Workshops
Healthcare Professionals Workshops
Appreciating Autism: A Training Cource for Law Enforcement Officers

Register for GMercyU's 2017 Autism Conference - General Workshops

Continental breakfast and lunch available beginning at 8 a.m. Lunch also included. 
Program starts at 9 a.m.

Conference Sessions

Session I
9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Creating and Implementing an Effective and Meaningful School Program for Students with Moderate/Severe Autism in grades K-12
Presenters: Jill Schweizer, M.Ed.; Special Education Supervisor; Central Bucks School District
Jenn Summers ,M.Ed. – Autistic Support Teacher; Central Bucks School District

What are the key elements for creating and implementing a meaningful school program for students with moderate/severe Autism? This presentation will highlight assessments, elementary classroom programming, job skill training, work based learning, and Post 21 transition. Focus will be on best practices within each setting and how to best support students in their journey to be independent young adults. Technology, communication, prompt fading, and IEP development will also be discussed.

Integrated Social Learning: A School-Wide Model for Social Success 
Presenter: Alex Brosowsky, The Quaker School at Horsham

When applied consistently and across domains, social skills can be a powerful tool for empowering children. When taught in isolation, these skills are rarely generalized. Using The Quaker School at Horsham (TQS) as a case study, attendees will learn how to implement their own social learning program and why students with ASD need this help now. Participants will learn how The Quaker School faculty then began researching elements from Michelle Garcia Winner's Social Thinking and Leah M. Kuper's The Zones of Regulation to eventually create and adopt a school-wide social learning experience. 

Caring For Your Loved One with Special Needs: What Every Caregiver Needs to Know
Presenters: Patrick Bergmaier, CFP®, ChSNC™
Lori Leathers, Financial Administrator

This workshop provides an overview of financial & estate planning for families that have dependents with special needs. Critical areas of concern, such as navigating and maximizing government benefits through an overview of programs such as SSI/SSDI, Waivers & Social Security will be addressed. It will make attendees aware of how special needs financial planning is different than traditional financial planning. Strategies will be presented to address funding of special needs trusts, tax planning considerations, and ensuring quality of life and lifetime care are maintained for loved ones. 

The ABCs of ABA: An Introduction for Parents and Professionals
Presenter: Megan Riley, M.Ed, BCBA; Assistant Director of Autism Services SPIN Inc., Philadelphia Autism of Excellence

An overview of Applied Behavior Analysis and a breakdown of the most commonly used acronyms in the service. Instructional models and interventions, assessments and data collection methods will be discussed in layman’s terms so the audience can walk away understanding what to expect from an ABA program. 

Chrome Extensions to Support Your Students 
Presenter: Tammy Bertel, MS; Montgomery County Intermediate Unit

The Chrome Browser has become resourceful and beneficial for students. In this session, we will explore apps and extensions available in the Chrome Web Store to assist students to become successful learners in their reading, writing, and mathematics curriculum by using text-to-speech, speech-to-text, word prediction, study tools and much more. Have a Google account set up and ready prior to this session to explore the extensions. Bring Your Own Device to make this hands-on or share a device with someone.

Social Skills/Life Skills Parents Can Teach
Presenter: Maleita Olson,LCSW, CAS

Parents remain a child’s first and most important teacher. In this session, participants  will be given some concrete “lesson plans” for incorporating in-the-moment coaching with their child/teen in the domains of emotional regulation, social skills, life skills and decision making. Practical strategies for professionals to give parents to continue their interventions will also be discussed. Participants are grounded in how to set reasonable expectations and find the energy and support to hold their child/teen accountable to them.

Success in College Starts in High School: Strategies for Developing College Readiness Skills for Students on the Autism Spectrum
Presenters: Natalie Sokol, Educational Consultant, PaTTAN East
Kristin Starosta, Educational Consultant, PaTTAN East

College is a time of change for all students, but especially students on the autism spectrum. Struggles with juggling new-found responsibilities, connecting with peers, and learning in a different environment at a different pace are common challenges that can become barriers to learning and may lead to students with autism dropping out of college. What can schools and families do to help these students make a successful and lasting transition to college? This session will provide families and educators with ideas and strategies focused on specially designed instruction, fading supports, and self-advocacy with the goal of students with autism not just being accepted into college but thriving and graduating from college!

Anxiety in Students with ASD: How we can identify it, and what we can do about it
Presenter: John Herrington, PhD; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

More than 40 percent of persons with ASD also have a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Anxiety in the context of ASD is nevertheless difficult to identify, and even more difficult to effectively treat. This presentation reviews the current thinking on the reliable identification of anxiety in ASD, including the potential of new technologies to identify the emergence of stress. This presentation also briefly reviews behavioral treatments for anxiety in ASD.

Session II
10:45 a.m. - 12:15 a.m.

Guy Stuff: Teaching boys with higher-verbal ASD about puberty, sexuality and relationships.
Presenter: Ryan Wexelblatt, LSW, CAS

The ASD population requires comprehensive information taught from a social learning perspective about topics such as hygiene, puberty, sexuality and relationships. This session will help participants understand what information boys need to learn and how to teach this information from a social learning perspective. 

Using Peer Mentors in Social Skills and Beyond; the Whys, Hows, and Benefits.
Presenters: Jill Schweizer, M.Ed.; Special Education Supervisor, Central Bucks School District
Jenn Summers, M.Ed.; Autistic Support Teacher, Central Bucks School District

Research shows that social skills progress does not occur without the generalization support in the authentic environment. The use of Peer Mentors for instruction, coaching, prompting and modeling has proven to be extremely effective in social skills generalization. This workshop will give a guide to how to set up Peer Mentoring programs, how to train the mentors and the multiple ways mentors can be used in the school and community.

The Transition Trajectory
Presenter: Maleita Olson, LCSW, CAS

This presentation discusses the process for moving from a school and “wrap-around” based support system to the adult support system. The basics of waivers, as well as how to apply are discussed, as are how to meet needs in different systems. Parents and educators are offered opportunities to discuss various concerns regarding what the “post-21” support system could look like. A brief overview of the Office of Developmental Program’s recently published Life Course materials will be provided as well as contacts for further free support in vision planning for their child/family with the recently formed PA Family Network funded by ODP.

Exploring Social Skills in Autism 
Prestener: Sean Romano, MS, BCBA; Montgomery County Intermediate Unit

Many children with Autism lack appropriate social skills from an early age and have to be explicitly taught through various methods and techniques. This lesson will provide an in-depth review of the common social skill deficits found in Autism and explore engaging materials instructors can use to enhance social skills lessons.

What Does It Really Mean to Have Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in a Classroom?
Presenter: Kari Kessler; Training and Consulting Specialist, Montgomery County Intermediate Unit

Research supports the use of ABA in classrooms for students with autism. However, what does it mean when you say, “this is an ABA class or we use ABA?" This session will discuss ABA and how it is being implemented across Pennsylvania. Highlights will include the state Autism Initiative’s use of “ABA Supports” as well as the Competent Learner Model (CLM).  Attendees to this session will come away with an understanding of what we really mean when we say, “we use ABA to teach students with Autism."

Positive Benefits of Working with Children Diagnosed with Autism in Early Intervention
Presenters: Branden Sacks, CFP®, ChSNC™ CRPC®, Wealth Management Advisor, Brittney Yanchek, CRPC®, Financial Advisor 

Lunch 12:15 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. in University Hall

Session III
1:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

Moving Beyond Social Skills Groups: Teaching Boys with Higher-verbal ASD to Form Friendships and Communicate Naturally with Other Boys.
Presenter: Ryan Wexelblatt, LSW, CAS

Many boys who have spent significant amounts of time in social skills groups often learn social communication skills that are not natural ways boys communicate with each other. Additionally, few learn the fine nuances of cultivating friendships with similar-age boys. This session will provide participants with a context for understanding how to facilitate male-male friendships and organic social communication skills instead of teaching scripted, socially appropriate behaviors. 

CFA Autism Treatment Model: Better Outcomes for Life
Presenter: Coleen Vanderbeek,  Psy. D.

The Center for Autism is the oldest autism treatment center in the country. The Center utilizes a unique, evidence based approach that looks at the “whole” child versus aspects of the child related to the specific diagnostic symptoms of ASD. Autism is a complex disorder with many co-occurring biological, emotional, and social variables that make each child’s presentation uniquely different. In order to personalize treatment to meet each individual’s needs, the Center’s treatment approach has evolved from various empirically supported clinical theories.

Exploring Apps For  Your Classroom 
Presenter: Tammy Bertel,MS; Montgomery County Intermediate Unit

Apps are constantly changing! We all want to learn about the best apps out there for the classroom. Come and learn about what apps you want to take some time to explore and see how they can benefit your students. Bring Your Own Device to make this hands-on or share a device with someone.

Understanding Sensory Processing in Children
Presenter: Sandy Wilde-Sutton, OTR/L

This presentation will provide an overview of the sensory systems in children and how these systems work together. This will include Sensory Integration of the following senses - proprioception, vestibular, tactile, vision, auditory, taste and smell and motor planning. We will also review the challenges that occur when problems arise with any or all of these systems.  We will cover strategies to be used so the child can compensate for their sensory challenges to help the child realize success at home, play and in school. The sensory integrative approach will be reviewed as well to discuss how the child can make efficient adaptations based on their environment and the expectations of that particular environment.

Riding Septa is Easy if You Remember to…
Presenter: Anthony Johnson, The Partnership TMA

Using public transportation is a low-cost and highly effective means of maintaining your independence. However, there are tips and tricks a person with autism can use to make a trip safer and less stressful. Anthony Johnson is a certified traveler trainer through Easter Seals Projects Action.

Autism and Driving: Preparing for Independence
Presenter Michael Mercadante, MS; Modern Driver Institute 

Coping with the Stress and Finding Support as a Parent of a Child on the Spectrum 
Presenters: Ericka Potts, MA, Parent, Kathy Mimm, RN, Parent, Susan Madhaven, Parent, Adi Bender, Parent

Adaptive Skill Training for Adolescents and Young Adults with ASD: A Review of an Outpatient Program Treatment Model
Presenters: Reggie Candio, NCSP

For questions, contact Deborah E. Schadler at 215-646-7300, ext. 21160 or schadler.d@gmercyu.edu. 

You are welcome download and print out a flyer to pass along to friends, family, and co-workers!