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Breakout Sessions

May 24, 2020

Building Successful College Support Programs for Students with ASD

This presentation will provide participants with information on an innovative and fully inclusive support program for college students with autism and other developmental disabilities at Texas Tech University, the CASE Program. Students are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate academic degree or certification programs at Texas Tech University or a local community college, South Plains College. This presentation will describe the CASE Program and its outcomes at the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research.

What College Students with ASD Tell Us About Their Needs in Post-Secondary Educational Settings

Most current research literature reports what parents and experts think students with ASD need to be successful in post-secondary educational settings. The CASE (Connections for Academic Success & Employment) Program has developed a successful college support program where students have monthly Wraparound Team meetings where they report what services and supports they feel are helpful for them to navigate the complexities of college. Five years of outcome data reported by students who attend Texas Tech University or a local community college, South Plains College, and are enrolled in CASE will be shared with participants.

Classroom Organization and Visual Supports for Students with Autism

The Power of Structure for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders is truly amazing and critical for success. Participants will be able to return to their classrooms with knowledge and skills to build environments that clarify expectations, reduce anxiety, and positively impact student success.

A Blueprint for LID Classrooms: Success for Students with Autism

This session will provide teachers, administrators, and parents with 10 key components that must be included and maintained in all LID classrooms to ensure student success. Educational best practices are highlighted so that students on the autism spectrum will receive instructional strategies known to best support their learning in all areas. Among the EBP built-into this blueprint are schedules, the use of antecedent interventions, and visual supports.

Concrete Learners, Abstract World: Listening and Speaking

This session is designed to provide educators and parents with effective evidence-based strategies to assist students with autism and other neurodiversities with listening and speaking skills. Participants will learn to identify the cognitive processing differences of students with ASD and how they affect listening and speaking. Instructional strategies to support and strengthen these areas will be explored interactively.

Why Does He Do That? Understanding the Functions of Behavior

Understanding why our students engage in certain behaviors is often the most challenging part of being in the classroom. Once you establish the reasons behind the behaviors, you then have to know and understand how to implement strategies to plan effective interventions to support students. This practical session will provide an understanding of the functions of behaviors and provide practical examples of behavior supports to address each function.

Transitioning After High School

Geared toward parents and teachers of high school students with high functioning autism, this presentation discusses post high school supports and options including entering the workforce, community college, and attending a four-year university. The presentation includes guidance on determining the best option for an individual student and what you can/need to do now to prepare for success and maximum independence following high school.

The Legal Framework: Fast Lane to Special Education Law

The complexities of special education can often be overwhelming! Let the Legal Framework help you navigate this process in the fast lane. Join us as we take a closer look at the state and federal requirements for least restrictive environment, the eligibility criteria for autism, the 11 strategies that must be addressed in the ARD of a student with autism, and the rules and regulations for time-out and restraint. Special education terms, publications, and resources will also be explored.

The Brain and Autism: Neurological Factors that Affect Instruction and Intervention

All too often, education over-relies on programs to tell us what to do “to” our children. We must be better at learning how to understand our children’s brains so we can discover what to do “for” them. This session is designed to help people think and problem solve differently to promote deeper understanding for individual children. There will be discussions and activities to broaden knowledge on the neurological factors that can affect learning and behavior (such as stress, attention, and emotional regulation) throughout all areas of life.

Social and Emotional Learning Connections for ASD

Teachers, do you believe that social and emotional learning connections are for all students no matter what their abilities are? If you believe that, then let’s build relationships! Who’s involved socially and emotionally? Have you invested in the students? Do you take the time to build relationships with the students in the class? Learn social-emotional strategies, visual supports, peer and teacher modeling, and social supports to help build relationships and maintain predictability and stability for your students. Communication and consistency are keys to building their trust, and it lets Teachers and students know socially and emotionally, “Who’s in!”

Literacy and the Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-Language Pathologists play a crucial role in identifying language-based learning disabilities. This session will focus on the SLP's role in literacy. We will discuss how language and literacy are interwoven and how to target this in speech therapy. Participants will leave with activities to incorporate into their therapy sessions that will increase listening skills, written language skills, and communication.

Turning a quirky behavior into something MORE!

As a little boy, Grant Maniér was different. Because of his autism Grant had many quirky behaviors, one most noticeable was tearing paper for hours and days. Although, his mother was asked to make him stop, she chose to redirect his behavior into something positive. Today the little boy who others thought was "annoying" is now an award-winning paper artist, illustrator and public speaker. His mother listened to his heart and guided Grant on a journey that has become his mission; It's not what I can't do that makes me different. It's what I can do that makes me MORE!

Brain Refresh: Autism Supplement Revisited

The Autism Supplement is one of the most valuable tools used within the IEP process. These additional IEP recommendations, specific to students with Autism, strengthen the IEP and provide additional safe guards. This session will review the 11 key strategies, help you identify if the strategy is needed, and guide you toward a greater understanding of in-home/community training and parent/family training.

Using a Functional Analysis Approach to Target Reading Deficits in Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Reading instruction has been described as a complex process. Our best teachers develop a great knowledge base and draw on a repertoire of strategies in order to work with struggling learners. Many learners, often students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, are identified as having reading challenges. This workshop will consider using the principles of a functional analysis to improve reading instruction for learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Researchers Daly, Witt, Martens, and Dool (1997) designate a model in which five possible hypotheses for academic deficits can be tested as functional causes why some of our learners perform poorly. We will examine each hypothesis and discuss possible intervention avenues for each.

Using Restorative Circles in Social Skill Groups

Restorative practices have grown in popularity over the past few years. Much of this research is focused on relationship building techniques. This presentation will review the use of restorative circles as a means to conduct social skill groups. It will provide strategies and ideas on how restorative circles can enhance conversational and perspective taking skills with students with Autism.

Utilizing Visuals to Support Students with Communication, Task Completion, and Behavior

This session will focus on Visuals, which are essential to supporting students in the academic environment. The presentation will explain and outline strategies that will guide you in implementing visual supports in the classroom so that students with ASD can be successful and avoid frustration. Attendees will also have the opportunity to make and take visual supports that illustrate important information, facilitate transitions & communication, convey expectations, and provide understanding and predictability.

Autism: A Personal Perspective

Ryan shares with his audience some of the core challenges of having autism and strategies he has used to overcome those challenges. He begins his story with memories of early childhood and a comparison between his experiences in a self-contained classroom and his experiences in an inclusive school setting. Also discussed are the many benefits he received from the interventions and supports provided by his teachers, therapists, and classmates along with the enduring relationships that developed. Later on, Ryan discusses his experiences during his college years.

When You Don't Know What to Do, What Do You Do? Practical Strategies to Support Students across the Autism Spectrum

Have you ever heard someone say, “He can do it but he chooses not to”? Often, the behaviors of students with autism are misunderstood and considered to be willful non-compliance. In this session, we will review the main characteristics of autism as defined in the DSM-5, discuss what these characteristics “look like” as they are manifested behaviorally, and provide strategies to address these characteristics. Additionally, participants will be shown examples of strategies, provided with a quick reference strategy guide, and be given a link to resources that can be used in various settings (e.g., general education, electives, special education) to support students with autism.

Ten Common Mistakes Parents Make During IEP Meetings

For many students with autism their parents are their most important educational advocates. Parent involvement in the Individual Education Program (IEP) process is a corner stone of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Through IDEA, parents have the opportunity for shared decision making with educators. It is important that parents become informed and involved decision makers in their child’s education. The more skills parents have and the more information they learn, the better they can advocate for their child.

Predictable Chart Writing: A Strategy for ALL Emergent Readers and Writers

This session will explore Predictable Chart Writing. Predictable Chart Writing is a fun and easy, multi-step shared group writing experience where teachers write with students over the course of one week. It is a way of providing some structure, while allowing students to generate their own ideas.

Idea^2 + mathematics + Children with Autism = Mathematics Communication

For many years, it has been proven over and over again how teamwork can lead to a successful partnership with PK – 12 institutions and Universities through collaborative research efforts. Our recent research experience (Comparing two math programs with children with autism) led us to conclude that teamwork fosters creativity and learning, as creativity thrives when we work together to problem solve or brainstorm. The members of our team, three co-principal investigators, two teachers who currently teach children with autism, a supportive administrative team with various backgrounds, come to the table with incredible complementary strengths. When there is a disagreement, we learn to resolve it by embracing each other’s ideas. As each team member takes on ownership of the project, we feel that we perform over and beyond expectations and work effectively as a team. We think that the good teamwork creates synergy, confirming the good old saying that, “the combined effect of the team is great than the sum of individual efforts (T>Sum of I).”

Social Skills Training 24/7

Social Skills Training (SST) is an evidence-based intervention for individuals on the autism spectrum, yet unlike other interventions, is often not sought until children are older - missing the early intervention window. And, unfortunately, too many programs are “once and done” one hour per week programs with no generalization and no family participation component. While current research is showing early SST as a preventative for later bullying, anxiety and depression, we need to rethink how we go about providing such a crucial intervention.

Addressing Executive Function Skills in Individuals with Autism

Individuals with autism have deficits in executive function skills. These include paying attention, organizing, planning and prioritizing, starting tasks and staying focused on them to completion, cognitive flexibility (the ability to handle changes), regulating emotions and self-monitoring (keeping track of what you're doing). These skills are necessary for individuals to be successful in educational settings, seeking and keeping employment and initiating and maintaining relationships. This session will explore strategies and tools that can be used to address executive functioning skills in the classroom, at home or on the job.

Literacy goes with Social Skills like Romeo goes with Juliet!

Have you ever stopped to think of the hidden curriculum within our curriculum? Take Romeo and Juliet for example, sure it’s a tragic love story that we’ve all read, but what else can we teach with it? Join me as we discuss how to embed your Social Skills lessons into your Literacy Curriculum, without the tragic ending!

Teaching Inference to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

It is frequently observed that children on the autism spectrum and those who struggle with reading tend to be concrete, literal thinkers. These students have difficulty with abstract concepts such as inferring a character's unstated motive. When reading, the concrete thinkers often focus on minute physical details and miss the big picture. Participants will explore research-based strategies for teaching inference and moving the students from concrete to abstract thinking.

Visual Supports for Students with Autism

Research has shown that concrete visual teaching methods are recommended for students with Autism in order for them to be successful in the educational setting. Visual supports are tools that are used to increase the understanding of language, environmental expectations, and to provide structure and support for individuals with ASD. Visual supports can be provided in a variety of ways across multiple settings. Participants will demonstrate knowledge of visual support and why these visual supports are useful to support learning and success within the inclusive classroom.

Increasing the Verbal Behavior of Preschool Students With Autism in Texas

For the 2018-2019 academic year, nine San Antonio area school districts were funded by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to provide early intensive verbal behavior intervention for 116 preschool students with autism. At the start of the project participants were evaluated using the Stimulus Control Ratio Equation (SCoRE; Mason & Andrews, 2018) to assess mands, echoics, tacts, and sequelics. Disproportionate verbal operant strength is indicative of autistic speech patterns. The results of the SCoRE were then used to develop individualized verbal behavior intervention plans for each student. At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) discuss a new model of language-based intervention; (2) discuss a verbal operant analysis; (3) be familiar with errorless teaching; (4) review prescriptive verbal behavior plans.

Ten Empowering Reminders for Parents

Parents are important team members of the ARD committee and do not always feel empowered to fully participate in team decisions. In this training, Bianca Salinas will talk about the importance of collaboration and building networks of support in the school and community.

Road map to Success: Navigating the Construction Zones of Behavior

Everything a child does is behavior. Some of it meets his needs and helps him participate in his environment. Some of it is disruptive. Is it he can’t do, or is it he won’t do? So how do we figure it out? We play detective and find out the purpose of the behavior. Children have feelings, they just need appropriate ways to share those feelings. An investigation called a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) to help us discover the function of the behavior and replace it. It’s not magic or pixie dust……let me help you map a way to better behavior!

Making Data Collection Easy: Paperless, Portable and Free!

To make the best decisions for our children, we must have good data. However, data collection can be a cumbersome task. Analyzing the data afterward is often tedious. It takes time to compile everything into one comprehensive, meaningful picture. Fortunately, using Google Forms and QR codes, you can collect data easily, even on the go. Google Forms compiles the information for you, creating charts and graphs for easy analysis, and it is completely FREE. We will demonstrate the various ways we use these tools with students, share templates, and discuss using the information to identify patterns and choose interventions.

ABC Elemno P - Behavior to Learning and Everything in Between

Session attendees will leave with a toolbox full of practical EBPs that will help them in planning and setting up their classroom environments to promote academic growth in children with autism spectrum disorder. Presenters will discuss practical classroom strategies for stepping outside of your comfort zone to address student’s academic and behavior needs based upon their individual learning styles and reinforcement preferences based on data.

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching Special Populations Digital Citizenship

“Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.” Digital Citizenship is extremely important for all students, however it is essential for our special populations. Digital Citizenship is the Hidden Curriculum of the digital world, something that isn’t directly taught, but has a huge impact on an individuals success in navigating the digital world that we all inhabit. This session will address ways to introduce these teaching concepts into your curriculum using resources, websites, apps, and projects.

READ Across America: YES!! Across the Spectrum too!

When we call for EVERY child in EVERY community to celebrate reading that means our kids on the Autism Spectrum too! Come learn some structured and visual strategies for the five reading areas that can be added to support the activities celebrating the beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. Motivating children with Autism to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. This session will be FUN, have lots of visuals, handouts and giveaways. Celebrate reading (the structured way) with us!

Through the Eyes of Autism

Do you ever wonder what is going on in the mind of your child and/or your student with Autism? Do you ever wonder what they think about the strategies and accommodations we put in place for them? In this session, the audience will watch video clips of students on the spectrum. The students interviewed will discuss accommodations and/or strategies that have helped them succeed and what we can do differently as adults to help support our students/children. The audience will be provided with examples of how to support the students' needs in the classroom and/or at home.

Creating Interventions That Work: 6 Steps to Effective Behavior Intervention

Behavior interventions are often created, attempted, and then abandoned in the school and home setting. This presentation will provide six steps for creating interventions that can be implemented with consistency and that will produce results. These six steps include: identifying lagging skills, prioritizing target behaviors, building rapport, making data based decisions, and identifying actions steps that need to be taken to ensure consistency and address regression. Educator friendly behavior plan templates, data collection tools, and a scoring rubric for the prioritization of targets will be provided.

More than a visual strategy- Developing language through AAC

Language is essential to overall development- understanding, problem-solving, communicating, and relating to others. Language is central to social, emotional, educational, and even physical well being. Language is expressed through verbalizing, typing/texting messages, sending emojis, signing (sign language), and symbol speaking with picture symbols. How do we focus on developing language, when that language may not currently be verbal language, or when the current verbal language does not appear to relate to the understanding? Understanding and focusing on language development is essential to improving language outcomes. Visual language systems provide visual supports, and they also need to develop language.

Building Positive and Collaborative Relationships between Educators and Parents/Caregivers

Building a positive and collaborative relationship between educational professionals and parent/caregivers is one of the most productive steps that we can take towards the life-long success of our students on the Autism Spectrum. This team approach to a student’s programming and service provision is vital and yet sometimes difficult to achieve. This session will offer simple steps to fostering a constructive and effective connection between educator and parent. Hear from a veteran educator and a parent of an individual on the Autism Spectrum that have walked this journey together.

The Texas Autism Supplement: What You Need to Know

Participants will investigate 11 strategies that ARD committee members MUST consider for students with autism.

Take a Bow! Using a Theater Group to Teach Social Skills

This session will provide information on how a theater group is used to provide social skills training to individuals with Autism. Using a cooperative partnership of parent organizers, theater professionals, and a speech pathologist, individuals with autism are jointly taught how to act in a play and how to use social skills. Practical advice on how to set up the theater group, conduct rehearsals and present the play will be discussed. A list of social skills and how they are taught during rehearsals will be shared. Videos and live performance by members of Center Stage PossABILITIES will be provided.

Stay off the Couch! Creating a Program for a Successful Transition to Adulthood

In an effort to keep our students off the couch after high school graduation, Gateway Academy has created a program as part of the graduation requirements from our high school. Each step provides the student and family a framework of support and guidance through the challenges of establishing independence in young adulthood. Attention to training for skill acquisition, expectations for frequent social course corrections and close connection to a supportive adult are common accountability components along with vocational coaches. Learning to “recover well” from challenges, increasing vocational opportunities prior to graduation, and expanding social programming significantly foster early adult productivity and reduce opportunities for isolation.

Comprehensive Model for Transitioning students into Young Adulthood

For individuals on the Autism Spectrum, transitioning into young adulthood can be very exciting but also very challenging. Using a comprehensive model can help assist adolescents and young adults with the transition process by addressing needs in the following four areas: self-awareness/self-regulation, relationship development, executive functioning and academic/professional competence. There are many factors to consider when planning for an individual’s future and this presentation will help provide an overview of what services and supports are available for individuals to successfully transition into adulthood.

Sex Education: An Essential Need

Gateway Academy aims to provide accurate and factual sex education to our students, based on their academic stage of development.  The need for early and ongoing sex education for individuals with social or learning differences is paramount to their healthy development. Gateway Academy’s Sex Education Program emphasize the importance of increasing one's awareness about sex and sexual behaviors, particularly in regards to appropriate behaviors in public and private settings. It is our goal to equip our students with the information and skills they will need to improve their awareness and cultivate healthier relationships, while encouraging ongoing discussion with their parents.

I Don't Understand, Why Do They Do That? Understanding Functions of Behavior

Students with autism engage in challenging behaviors because that has been what works for them in the past. Understanding why an individual engages in the behavior can help educators and parents identify strategies to support and teach more acceptable behaviors. The purpose of this presentation is to teach strategies to identify the function of the behavior as well as what to do when the function is identified. Attendees will learn how to extinguish challenging behaviors while reinforcing appropriate behaviors that serve the same function.

Purposeful Learning Stations 4 All

Learning Stations 4 All provides grade level and special education teachers with the tools to differentiate learning stations into meaningful experiences to meet the varied needs of all students. An emphasis will be on the visual supports, structures, and strategies that are crucial for students who are on the Autism Spectrum. Teachers learn to adapt critical math concepts into purposeful activities to build independence. The strategies will include general needs of students on the spectrum as well as specific ideas to use with elementary, middle, and secondary settings.

Improving language and early reading skills through shared story reading

Shared story reading is an effective way to increase opportunities to practice language, build vocabulary, and improve comprehension. Through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Parent-Directed Grant program, we have been training families in strategies to improve their home literacy environment. In this presentation we will use videos, live demonstrations, and materials teaching how to apply the evidence-based practices: antecedent-based interventions, prompting, task-analysis, reinforcement, and modeling to the research-based practice of shared story reading in order to improve communication and early reading skills of children with autism spectrum disorder, including those with complex communication needs.

Reading Development in Students with Autism

This presentation will review recent research regarding reading development specific to students with autism spectrum disorders. We will discuss how reading skills develop in the general population and how reading skill development may or may not be different for students with autism. Implications for instructional practices will be discussed.

Technology with Meaning: High and Low Tech Tips for Children with Autism

Do you want to grab a few new tech tools you can start using in your classroom or home, ASAP? Join PPCD teachers, LeeAnn Flores and Kristin Nguyen for an hour of fresh ideas for your students and yourself! We're talking apps, data collection tools, classroom management tools and more!

Texas ABLE Program: A Savings Program for Texans with Disabilities

Eligible Texans with disabilities and their families can now save for disability- related expenses in a tax-advantaged Texas Achieving a Better Life Experience (Texas ABLE®) account without losing eligibility for certain public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Texas ABLE is based on federal and state legislation and is maintained by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Funds in an ABLE account can be used to pay for qualified disability expenses that relate to the beneficiary’s blindness or disability and are used to maintain or improve his or her health, independence or quality of life. Texas residents who experience the onset of a disability before the age of 26 and meet program eligibility requirements may open an account. Learn more and enroll online at Other

The Most Common Social Story Mistakes and Solutions

In 1991, the year that Social Stories were introduced, the internet was in its infancy. They worked fast, and well, and word of their informal success at Jenison Public Schools spread fast, jumping state lines and international boundaries. That was the beginning of what continues to be a significant issue for Social Stories - many people believe they know what they are, few people really do. This presentation sheds light on some of the most common and enduring Social Story misconceptions and errors. Participants are likely to be surprised, but, no worries - solutions will also be presented via lecture, discussion, and short one-minute activities. No previous experience with Social Stories is needed to attend.

Comic Strip Conversations and Coloring Stories

Comic Strip Conversations are a popular strategy used with children, adolescents, and adults with autism, but it’s rare for them to be the focus of an entire presentation. A Comic Strip Conversation (CSC) is an illustrated interaction that supports communication with assumption-free questions and simple stick-figure drawings. Color plays a structured role, with every Comic Strip Conversation identifying the setting and what people say, do, and think. Materials are simple; all that is needed is a set of fine line markers or colored pencils and a drawing surface. Applicable for any parent or professional new to the approach or proficient, this presentation will cover the rationale and “mechanics” of how to conduct a Comic Strip Conversation with unprecedented detail. In addition, Coloring Stories will be introduced, including their exciting research-based rationale and an opportunity to give it a try! Participants will leave with an understanding of these flexible and colorful strategies, and the skills to use them at home, school, clinic, or in the community.

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