About The Help Group

Founded in 1975, The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprehensive nonprofit of its kind in the United States serving children, adolescents and young adults with special needs related to autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional challenges.

The Help Group’s nine specialized day schools offer pre-K through high school programs for more than 1,100 students. Its broad range of mental health and therapy services and residential programs extends its reach to more than 6,000 children and their families each year. Recently, The Help Group has launched programs to serve LGBTQ+ youth. With more than 750 staff members, The Help Group’s state-of-the-art schools and programs are located on six campuses in the Los Angeles area and Irvine.

The Help Group is widely regarded for its high standards of excellence and unique scope and breadth of services. Through its public awareness and outreach programs, university partnerships, applied research, graduate and postgraduate professional training, conferences and seminars, parent education programs, publications, and public policy efforts, The Help Group touches the lives of children with special needs and their families throughout the United States and in other parts of the world.

At the heart of its efforts is the commitment to helping young people fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives.

60 Speakers
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About Summit 2021

The Help Group’s Virtual Summit 2021 Advances and Best Practices in Autism, Learning Disabilities, and ADHD is a cutting edge conference that features leading experts in basic and applied research, and evidence-based best practices in assessment, intervention and treatment. Widely recognized for the scope, depth and caliber of its offerings, the Summit is designed for professionals and parents. Each year, the program provides a rich and informative experience to its attendees. We look forward to your joining us.

60 Speakers
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Summit Chairs

Barbara Firestone, PhD

Robert M. Bilder, PhD ABPP-CN

Summit 25th Anniversary

Keynote Speakers

David G. Amaral, PhD

Jack M. Fletcher, PhD, ABPP (ABCN)

Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini, MD, PhD

Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD

Connie Kasari, PhD

Matthew W. State, MD, PhD

Schedule

  • -

    Morning Convocation - Barbara Firestone, PhD & Robert M. Bilder, PhD
    8:30 AM to 9:00 AM

  • 9:00am - 10:00am

    1A - Keynote: ADHD: Developmental Paths, Underlying Mechanisms, Sex Differences, and Rising Prevalence
    Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD
    Fri. 9:00am - 10:00am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    Dr. Hinshaw will provide an engaging tour of what ADHD is (and is not), with focus on symptoms and impairments over the lifespan, causal factors and underlying mechanisms, peer and family interactions, girls (and women) with ADHD, and reasons for the fast-rising rates of prevalence in the US. Included will be aspects of culture, pandemic-related challenges, and core treatments. The main goals are to keep the attendees current and knowledgeable with respect to the latest science on ADHD.

    Learning Objectives:
    Synthesize information on how ADHD presents in children, adolescents, and adults.

    Analyze the various biological causes and psychosocial influences on the developmental course of ADHD.

    Compare and contrast similarities and differences in the presentation and outcomes of ADHD in females vs. males.

    Speakers:

    Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD

  • 9:00am - 10:00am

    1B - Building Precision Care for Autism(s)
    Kevin Pelphrey, PhD
    Fri. 9:00am - 10:00am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    Dr. Pelphrey will discuss his recent work from the Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) Network focused on understanding gender differences in the causes, characteristics and experiences of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He will present findings concerning gender differences in ASD brain development and describe efforts to bridge DNA sequence and brain development to identify neurogenetic profiles that predict treatment response as well as functioning and quality of life in adolescence and young adulthood. Dr. Pelphrey will highlight a very novel feature of the ACE Network's work to characterize gender-based experiences and phenotypes in ASD. Binary measures of sex do not appropriately characterize a significant group of individuals with ASD. His colleague, Dr. John Strang has developed and piloted in both ASD and typically developing youth a measure of gender variance/dysphoria, which they are using in their network study to assess gender congruence/incongruence (formerly known as gender identity) as a continuous measure of gender. As such, Dr. Pelphrey will depart from the usual binary characterization of gender, augmenting this approach with a continuous gender congruence score (GCS). This will allow us to validate a gender-sensitive behavioral assay, capturing the experience of gender identity from the perspective of people with ASD. He will argue that elucidating gender-related neurocognitive phenotypes in ASD will allow for more individualized medicine approaches to interventions, including targeting the needs of females with ASD.

    Learning Objectives:
    Discuss gender differences in the causes, characteristics and experiences of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

    Describe current efforts to bridge DNA sequence and brain development to identify neurogenetic profiles that predict treatment response as well as functioning and quality of life in adolescence and young adulthood.

    Recognize how elucidating gender-related neurocognitive phenotypes in ASD will allow for more individualized medicine approaches to interventions, including targeting the needs of females with ASD.

    Speakers:

    Kevin Pelphrey, PhD

  • -

    1C - 4 A’s of Autism: Awareness to Acceptance to Appreciation to Action as a Pathway to Fulfilling and Productive Lives
    Stephen M. Shore, EdD
    Fri. 9:00am - 10:00am

    Level of Instruction: Introductory

    Presentation Description:
    Dr. Shore will discuss how we are transitioning from “awareness” to “acceptance” and headed towards “appreciation” as society takes “action” in valuing individuals on the autism spectrum for whom they are. Examples of people, organizations, and entire countries at each stage of development will be presented.

    By examining how deficits and challenges so pervasively attributed to autism and other disabilities can be reframed as strengths, this presentation offers practical solutions for considering these characteristics as potential springboards to success in education, employment, self-advocacy, and meaningful engagement in the community for leading fulfilling and productive lives.

    Learning Objectives:
    Describe the pathway from awareness and acceptance towards appreciation of individuals on the autism spectrum and how they can be valued for whom they are.

    List two examples of how perceived weakness can be considered as a strength for leading a fulfilling and productive life.

    Describe an 'abilities' based model of autism.

    Speakers:

    Stephen M. Shore, EdD

  • -

    Break - 10:00 AM - 10:10 AM

  • 10:10am - 11:10am

    2A - Keynote: Understanding Dyslexia: A Scientific Approach
    Jack M. Fletcher, PhD, ABPP (ABCN)
    Fri. 10:10am - 11:10am

    Level of Instruction: Introductory

    Presentation Description:
    The goal of this presentation is to present a scientific view of dyslexia as a well-understood form of learning disability with specific reading, cognitive, neural, and genetic characteristics. Attendees will learn about best practices in definition and assessment, along with the characteristics of effective intervention with dyslexia. Dyslexia is best treated in the context of MTSS frameworks that prevent reading problems through early identification and prevention with explicit, comprehensive and differentiated core general education and tiered interventions. Remediation is possible, but must be highly explicit and intensive, still in the context of general education instruction. For those who do not respond to core instruction, and supplemental instruction and intensive remedial intervention are needed. Like other learning disabilities, dyslexia is real, interferes with adaptation, and has definable neurobiological correlates. But the neural systems are malleable and many students can overcome dyslexia with early intervention. Intractability to instruction makes dyslexia unexpected, not a cognitive discrepancy.

    Learning Objectives:
    Describe the primary defining attributes of dyslexia.

    Prescribe the characteristics of effective early intervention and remedial programs.

    Identify the neural network associated with dyslexia and proficient reading.

    Speakers:

    Jack M. Fletcher, PhD, ABPP (ABCN)

  • 10:10am - 11:10am

    2B - Surprising New Insights on the Early Origins of Autism: Implications for Support from Birth through Adulthood
    John N. Constantino, MD
    Fri. 10:10am - 11:10am

    Level of Instruction: TBD

    Presentation Description:
    TBD

    Learning Objectives:
    TBD

    TBD

    TBD

    Speakers:

    John N. Constantino, MD

  • 10:10am - 11:10am

    2C - Beyond Inclusion: Creating Communities of Belonging for Individuals with Disabilities
    Erik Carter, PhD
    Fri. 10:10am - 11:10am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    We flourish most in the midst of community. Yet too many schools, workplaces, congregations, and neighborhoods still struggle to become places of belonging for people with autism and other disabilities. In this presentation, Dr. Carter will share a powerful framework for reflecting upon and fostering belonging within the different communities that matter most to the individuals whom we serve, support, and love. Together, we will explore the implications of these “ten dimensions of belonging” for the ways we support children and adults, for the ways we engage communities, and in the midst of this pandemic.

    Learning Objectives:
    Describe our field’s evolution from exclusion to segregation to integration to inclusion.

    Identify various dimensions of belonging and their importance.

    Articulate practical ways in which they can promote belonging among the individuals and communities they serve.

    Speakers:

    Erik Carter, PhD

  • -

    Break - 11:10 AM - 11:20 AM

  • 11:20am - 12:20pm

    3A - Keynote: Improving Social Communication Outcomes for Young Children with Autism
    Connie Kasari, PhD
    Fri. 11:20am - 12:20pm

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    The ability to engage with others and communicate is a primary target of early interventions for children with autism. This talk will discuss what we have learned from over twenty years of research on interventions for social communication outcomes for young children. In particular, a focus will be on children who are often not included in research studies, including those who are low income, from minority backgrounds, and have limited language or are intellectually disabled. New approaches to personalizing interventions for all children will be emphasized.

    Learning Objectives:
    Identify two developmental targets that are responsive to intervention.

    Describe at least one method for personalizing interventions for children with autism.

    Specify at least one evidence based strategy for improving social communication outcomes.

    Speakers:

    Connie Kasari, PhD

  • 11:20am - 12:20pm

    3B - Engineering Technologies and Transforming the Workplace - Inspired by Neurodiversity
    Keivan Stassun, PhD
    Fri. 11:20am - 12:20pm

    Level of Instruction: Introductory

    Presentation Description:
    Participants will learn about cutting-edge work in engineering aimed at advancing employment outcomes for autistic adults.

    Learning Objectives:
    Identify current research and development efforts, including assistive technologies, to advance the meaningful employment of autistic adults.

    Identify new programs -- including internships, training grants, and employment referrals -- for autistic adults.

    Identify available resources, including consultations and curricula, for employers and business leaders seeking to learn about neurodiversity and employment best-practices.

    Speakers:

    Keivan Stassun, PhD

  • 11:20am - 12:20pm

    3C - Math and Math Disabilities: Knowns and Unknowns
    Paul T. Cirino, PhD
    Fri. 11:20am - 12:20pm

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    The talk will review the state of the science regarding our understanding of how math develops, its neurocognitive and neurobiological correlates, and approaches to intervention.

    Learning Objectives:
    Explain how math skills develop, and what this means for identifying difficulties in math.

    Identify the key neurocognitive and neurobiological correlates of math and math difficulty.

    Describe principles and considerations important for instruction and intervention for math and math difficulty.

    Speakers:

    Paul T. Cirino, PhD

  • -

    Lunch - 12:20 PM - 12:50 PM

  • 12:50pm - 1:50pm

    4A - Keynote:Introduction to Autism Genetics: What Do We Know and Why Does It Matter
    Matthew W. State, MD, PhD
    Fri. 12:50pm - 1:50pm

    Level of Instruction: Introductory

    Presentation Description:
    In this presentation, Dr. State will provide the audience with an introduction to autism genetics. The audience will understand that specific genes have been identified as contributing to autism risk and how this was accomplished. The audience will understand the difference between common changes in the genetic code with small impact on the individual versus rare changes in the genetic code that carry large individual effects and why this is important with regard to autism spectrum disorders. Lastly, the audience will appreciate that the progress in genetics, over the past decade, has transformed the understanding of ASD at the molecular and cellular level, but has not had significant impact yet on diagnosis or treatment in the clinic.

    Learning Objectives:
    Identify how genes are contributing to autism risk.

    Describe why rare changes in the genetic code that carry large individual effects are important in the case of autism.

    Discuss how progress in genetics has transformed our understanding of ASD.

    Speakers:

    Matthew W. State, MD, PhD

  • 12:50pm - 1:50pm

    4B - Youth Anxiety, COVID and Return to School
    John C. Piacentini PhD, ABPP
    Fri. 12:50pm - 1:50pm

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    This presentation will provide an overview of anxiety in youth and how COVID is impacting anxious youth and their families, especially with regard to school. Strategies for helping youth and parents manage COVID and school-related stress and support a return to school will be presented.

    Learning Objectives:
    Differentiate increased child stress/anxiety in response to a normative trigger from that associated with an anxiety disorder.

    Describe at least two anxiety reduction strategies that children can use in the classroom.

    Assess parenting practices associated with their child's successful return to school.

    Speakers:

    John C. Piacentini PhD, ABPP

  • 12:50pm - 1:50pm

    4C - The Potential and The Limitations of Using Digital Therapeutics to Address ADHD Symptoms
    Julie Schweitzer, PhD
    Fri. 12:50pm - 1:50pm

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    This presentation will review the evidence for using tech-based interventions for improving attention and self-control in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and ADHD symptoms in children with other neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., autism, FXS). It will review a variety of findings from Dr. Schweitzer’s laboratory in testing and developing computer and app-based approaches. This will include video-conferencing to teach parent training skills, computerized training of attention and working memory for youth with ADHD and children with autism and fragile X syndrome, virtual reality technology to assess and enhance attention, and pilot testing of an app-based approach to improve self-control in young children with ADHD. Participants will learn about the evidence to support computerized and app based approaches and where further development and testing is needed.

    Learning Objectives:
    Articulate two or more potential advantages of using digital health approaches for ADHD and ADHD symptoms.

    Explain current limitations of digital therapeutics for ADHD.

    Speakers:

    Julie Schweitzer, PhD

  • -

    Break - 1:50 PM - 2:00 PM

  • 2:00pm - 3:00pm

    5A - Keynote: Dyslexia: A Whole Brain Approach
    Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini, MD, PhD
    Fri. 2:00pm - 3:00pm

    Level of Instruction: Introductory

    Presentation Description:
    This presentation will cover new concepts in Dyslexia research and practice. We will emphasize cognitive, emotional and neuroimaging findings that highlight strengths and weakness in dyslexia and inform interventions and advocacy practices.

    Learning Objectives:
    Describe what dyslexia is and what the associated findings are in the brain.

    Identify intervention approaches for dyslexia.

    Recognize the societal and social justice impact of dyslexia.

    Speakers:

    Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini, MD, PhD

  • 2:00pm - 3:00pm

    5B - Update of the Psychopharmacological Treatment of Autism
    Antonio Hardan, MD
    Fri. 2:00pm - 3:00pm

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    There has been an explosion of research in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and our understanding of the underlying neurobiology and genetic mechanisms have considerably improved. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of clinical trials evaluating a wide range of interventions for core ASD features and associated behaviors. However there has been limited progress in the identification of effective pharmacological interventions targeting social communication deficits and restricted/repetitive behaviors. In the proposed lectures, the different pharmacological agents used in the treatment of ASD will be reviewed and recent findings from scientific studies will be discussed. Additionally, promising experimental compounds, such as oxytocin and arginine vasopressin, will be examined and available evidence will be analyzed.

    Learning Objectives:
    Review the effective interventions in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

    Examine the recent research about promising novel treatment.

    Speakers:

    Antonio Hardan, MD

  • 2:00pm - 3:00pm

    5C - Socially Assistive Robotics for Supporting Child Assessment and Development
    Maja Matarić, PhD
    Fri. 2:00pm - 3:00pm

    Level of Instruction: Introductory

    Presentation Description:
    This presentation will discuss the state-of-the-art and applications of Socially Assistive Robotics (SAR) for supporting child assessment and development. The presentation will briefly overview the field, and then outline the challenges and benefits of using automated analysis of child behavior to provide clinicians and caregivers additional insight into the state of the child’s development. Attendees will learn how SAR and automated analyses are being applied to support researchers, therapists and caregivers in understanding child development and providing effective interventions and therapies.

    Learning Objectives:
    Identify the key challenges, benefits and future potentials of using automated behavioral analysis and SAR to facilitate more cost-effective interventions in the everyday environments including homes and classrooms.

    Describe the value of multiple modalities, or types, of child behavioral data, such as video, audio, or interaction data such as button clicks, when collecting data automatically in order to analyze child behavior and child-caregiver interactions.

    Speakers:

    Maja Matarić, PhD

  • -

    Break - 3:00 PM - 3:10 PM

  • 3:10pm - 4:10pm

    6A - Keynote: Stigma, Mental and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and Famlies: A Core Frontier for Human Rights
    Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD
    Fri. 3:10pm - 4:10pm

    Level of Instruction:Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    Dr. Hinshaw begins with defining the pernicious concept of stigma and applying it to individuals and families experiencing mental and neurodevelopmental conditions. After reviewing historical issues, current evidence, and the concepts of internalized stigma and courtesy stigma, he will switch a narrative accounting of his family's (and his own) struggles with serious mental disorder, compounded by doctor-ordered silence and shame around the entire topic. The talk concludes with strategies for reducing stigma, with the hope that the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic can be a spur for stigma reduction society-wide. Core goals are increased understanding of the core topic, realization of the linkages between stigma and low treatment utilization, and elaboration of several stigma-reduction strategies.

    Learning Objectives:
    Analyze the role of stigma in relation to disfavored "outgroups" across history.

    Contextualize how mental illness stigma is related to worse prognosis and even hopelessness for individuals and families experiencing mental and neurodevelopmental conditions.

    Synthesize personal and family narratives with empirical evidence regarding stigma.

    Speakers:

    Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD

  • 3:10pm - 4:10pm

    6B - Demystifying Sensory Approaches to Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
    Grace T. Baranek, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
    with Emily Campi, MA, OTR/L Allison Q. Phillips, OTD, OTR/L Emily Sopkin, OTD, OTR/L and Brittany Koenke, MA, OTR/L, SWC

    Fri. 3:10pm - 4:10pm

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    This presentation is intended for therapists, teachers or parents who wish to increase their understanding of common sensory features in children with ASD and sensory interventions often used to address these issues. The presenters will demystify the differences across various sensory intervention approaches including Ayres Sensory Integration®, sensory-based treatments, and sensory environmental modifications, and will also discuss their application. The presenters will conclude with strategies for optimizing communications across team members regarding sensory features and interventions.

    Learning Objectives:
    Assess common sensory features in children with ASD and potential impact on daily activities and routines.

    Articulate differences across various sensory approaches to intervention, including Ayres Sensory Integration®, sensory-based treatments, and sensory environmental modifications.

    Evaluate optimal ways to communicate with team members about sensory features and interventions.

    Speakers:

    Grace T. Baranek, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

  • 8:00am - 9:00am

    1A - Keynote: The Ups and Downs of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Tracking the Trajectories of Autism in the Autism Phenome Project
    David G. Amaral, PhD
    Sat. 8:00am - 9:00am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    The Autism Phenome Project is attempting to subdivide autism spectrum disorder into more homogeneous subtypes by recruiting a very large cohort of young children (2 - 3 1/2 years of age) into a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and longitudinal analysis of the features of autism. The Project has also enrolled age-matched typically developing children for comparison. To date, the Autism Phenome Project has enrolled nearly 500 families. In this talk, Dr. Amaral will highlight some of the differences in brain development that the Autism Phenome Project has discovered and the behavioral consequences of the different developmental trajectories. Dr. Amaral will also provide an overview of data that demonstrates difference in cognitive development in subsets of children with autism. He will also summarize findings on the trajectories of autism severity from early to middle childhood. The goal of all of the Autism Phenome Project's studies is to understand the biological etiologies of different forms of autism which will hopefully lead to more targeted and effective treatments of their debilitating features.

    Learning Objectives:
    Discuss how different subsets of children with autism are characterized by different trajectories of brain development.

    Evaluate the significance in changes in autism severity over early to middle childhood.

    Assess sex differences in the behavioral profiles of autism severity in boys and girls.

    Speakers:

    David G. Amaral, PhD

  • 8:00am - 9:00am

    1B - ADHD and Risk Taking: Origins and Outcomes
    Steve S. Lee, PhD
    Sat. 8:00am - 9:00am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    This presentation will review evidence on the association of childhood and adolescent ADHD with risk taking behaviors. It will consider their shared origins, unique facets, and their contributions to development. The educational goals are for participants to gain improved understanding of the clinical presentation of ADHD and risk taking behavior across development.

    Learning Objectives:
    Articulate the phenomenology and evidence-based assessment of ADHD.

    Identify the presentation of risk taking behavior across development as well as its underlying factors.

    Explain the implications for intervention and prevention.

    Speakers:

    Steve S. Lee, PhD

  • 8:00am - 9:00am

    1C - The Interface of Play, Language and Social Cognition when thinking about Raising Resilient Children
    Nancy Tarshis, MA, MS, CCC/SLP
    Sat. 8:00am - 9:00am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    Stress in life is a given for all of us. Children with social learning challenges, learning disabilities and/or complex speech and language disorders often experience more than the every day sorts of stress we all experience due to their sensory, social, communicative and processing differences. Through play we can teach them the underlying knowledge and skills to be better perspective takers and better problem solvers which invariably will help them to be more resilient. What Is Resilience? It is the ability to bounce back after adversity, push through difficult moments or do things that are important but do make us uncomfortable or unhappy. For young children this can be as simple as being hungry, wet or tired. As a toddler its wetting your bed, waiting for a drink while your mom is on the phone, dealing with a zipper that won't go up or getting one cookie when you wanted two. It is coping when things do not go your way; the ability to self-regulate when you are unhappy or uncomfortable and knowing that when problems arise you are able to solve them or know how to get the help you need to do so. One of the reasons why our kids with social learning and communication challenges become so upset when difficulties arise is that they do not believe they can solve their problems, in fact, sometimes they are not even aware there is a problem. When they do recognize the problem, either they don't have strategies for problem solving; they don’t know they have strategies for creating solutions or they have tried one solution and they cannot see the possibility of anything other than the here and now or they are not flexible enough to try another. Whatever the reason, it impacts their ability to be resilient; and impacts their ability to access the grit and determination to persevere (Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (2001). We will look at resilience through this lens but also through the lens of the ongoing pandemic and ways we can support children and families to access their reserves.

    Finally, resilience is also the ability to let it go. Knowing when the solutions available are not optimal and you just have to go through whatever it is and move on. It is also knowing not to dwell on the negative, not to continually focus on the difficult and move on to happier activities; think about happier times and in general have a more optimistic outlook. Contrary to what one may think, optimism can be a learned trait. Although some of us are born this way, it is also teachable. It is something a person can learn, because it is a thought process and as we know, a lot of what we do in Social Thinking is shifting the way we think about things. We use the language and vocabulary (and the associated concepts) to trigger the thoughts that change behavior. One can learn to view life as more positive, problems as solvable and mistakes as an opportunity meant to teach us something. Play is the perfect platform for ALL of this!

    Learning Objectives:
    Articulate the developmental aspects of resilience.

    Identify the key vocabulary and concepts of social thinking that will help children develop a stronger sense of self and a more resilient view of themselves as a learner and as a person.

    Apply new knowledge of play development to design play experiences that foster problem-solving and resilience.

    Speakers:

    Nancy Tarshis, MA, MS, CCC/SLP

  • -

    Break - 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM

  • 8:00am - 9:00am

    2A - Behavioral Treatments for Challenging Behavior in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
    Nathan Call, PhD, BCBA-D

    Sat. 9:10am - 10:10am

    Level of Instruction:Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    Individuals with autism spectrum disorder are more likely to engage in challenging behavior like aggression, self-injury, tantrums, or running away from supervision than typically developing individuals or those with other developmental disorders. Behavioral interventions have been shown to be effective, but their effectiveness depends on correctly identifying the reason the individual is engaging in a particular behavior, or its "function". This presentation will discuss the literature on identifying function and how to use the results of functional assessments to develop and implement effective behavioral interventions.

    Learning Objectives:
    Articulate the core components of all treatments for challenging behavior exhibited by individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

    Explain how each of the core treatment components must be adapted for challenging behavior that serve different functions.

    Describe the constructs of social/ecological validity and give examples of methods that can be undertaken to maximize these aspects of behavioral treatments for challenging behavior.

    Speakers:

    Nathan Call, PhD, BCBA-D

  • 9:10am - 10:10am

    2B - Early Identification of ASD: What Have We Learned From Baby Siblings?
    Nicole McDonald, PhD
    Sat. 9:10am - 10:10am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    Dr. McDonald will review the current state of the research on early development in the context of elevated risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with a focus on infant siblings of children with ASD. Clinical translational elements of this research base that are relevant for families and providers will be discussed.

    Learning Objectives:
    Articulate the literature on infants with elevated risk for autism.

    Assess the early emergence of autism in relation to typical developmental expectations.

    Explain the ASD evaluation process for very young children.

    Speakers:

    Nicole McDonald, PhD

  • 9:10am - 10:10am

    2C - WRITE IT UP: Using Technology to Support Adolescents' Writing Development
    Penelope Collins, PhD
    Sat. 9:10am - 10:10am

    Level of Instruction: Introductory

    Presentation Description:
    Writing is a skill critical for academic and professional success. While some adolescents enjoy writing, many find it stressful and doubt their abilities. We will explore what it means to be a writer within a community, and how individual factors, the social context, and tools available influence writing development. Participants will learn how to support diverse learners' writing development through instruction, using technology, and relationship-building.

    Learning Objectives:
    Describe Graham's Writers-Within-Community model of community, and how it applies to literacy instruction for struggling writers and students with disabilities.

    Identify digital tools and resources to support writing skills and engagement for adolescents with disabilities.

    Discuss the importance of relationship- and community-building for students with disabilities, and how it can be incorporated into literacy practices.

    Speakers:

    Penelope Collins, PhD

  • -

    Break - 10:10 AM - 10:20 AM

  • 10:20am - 11:20am

    3A - Supporting the Needs of Historically Marginalized Autistic Youth and Their Families
    Jamie Pearson, PhD
    Sat. 10:20am - 11:20am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    Historically marginalized families face many barriers related to disability resources and education.These disparities have significant implications on autistic individuals across the lifespan, and their families. In this presentation, attendees will learn about the barriers that Latino and Black families face, the historical and systemic factors that contribute to them, and the long-term implications of these disparities. Attendees will also engage in an exercise to develop advocacy plans in their communities to address these issues and create meaningful change.

    Learning Objectives:
    Identify disparities in early autism identification in communities of color.

    Assess and outline next steps in their own communities and organizations to address disparate access of resources for marginalized autistic youth and their families.

    Speakers:

    Jamie N. Pearson, PhD

  • 10:20am - 11:20am

    3B - Moving Toward Understanding Motor Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    Rujuta B. Wilson, MD
    Sat. 10:20am - 11:20am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is based on clinical signs and symptoms. Motor dysfunction is an associated deficit and is prevalent and pervasive in ASD. However, motor dysfunction is often under recognized and under screened. Identification of motor dysfunction can serve as an important biomarker of ASD and as a target for intervention to improve overall development. Attendees will learn about common motor differences in ASD and how these differences can impact other areas of development. Attendees will also learn about cutting-edge research being conducted to better understand motor differences in ASD. Lastly, attendees will learn about the importance of physical activity for individuals with ASD and recommendations for physical activity programs and interventions.

    Learning Objectives:
    Explain how motor dysfunction is a prevalent and pervasive co-occurring condition in ASD.

    Identify screening techniques for motor dysfunction and referrals to physical activity for individuals with ASD.

    Explain how motor differences can impact other developmental outcomes such as language, cognition, and behavior.

    Speakers:

    Rujuta Bhatt Wilson, MD

  • 10:20am - 11:20am

    3C - Let's Talk About Sex... (Education)
    Laurie Stephens, PhD
    Jamie Barstein, PhD
    Sat. 10:20am - 11:20am

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    Neurodivergent individuals often desire romantic relationships, however they are less likely than their neurotypical peers to be involved in such relationships. While many school curriculums include sex education, these programs are designed for individuals without social-emotional challenges, and are often ineffective for neurodiverse populations. Further, curriculums often do not include exploration of sexual orientation or gender identity, an area of utmost importance in ASD given the higher prevalence of individuals who identify as a gender or sexual minority. In this talk, Dr. Jamie Barstein and Dr. Laurie Stephens will review what we know about sex, sexuality, and dating in the neurodivergent world, and present the early findings from a novel young adult group program at The Help Group aimed at providing sex education for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

    Learning Objectives:
    Describe the importance of sex education for the autistic population.

    Identify 3 critical components to include in a sex education program for young adults on the autism spectrum.

    Speakers:

    Jamie Barstein, PhD

    Laurie Stephens, PhD

  • -

    Break - 11:20 AM - 11:30 AM

  • 11:30am - 12:30pm

    4A - Input to Implementation: Leveraging Parent Perspectives to Make Meaningful Clinical Change
    Belinda Daughrity, PhD, CCC-SLP
    Sat. 11:30am - 12:30pm

    Level of Instruction: Introductory

    Presentation Description:
    This presentation will describe research centered on parents of children with ASD and discuss how to translate study findings into meaningful clinical change to support families of students with ASD. Interventionists who work directly with families will learn how to place caregivers at the center of care. Attendees will gain direct clinical skills to implement into their clinical practices to better serve families of children with autism.

    Learning Objectives:
    List common challenges facing parents of children with ASD across the lifespan.

    Describe at least three different clinical approaches to support parents of students with autism.

    Speakers:

    Belinda Daughrity, PhD, CCC-SLP

  • 11:30am - 12:30pm

    4B - Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Latinx Children: Family Inclusive Treatment Practices.
    Kristina Lopez, PhD, MSW
    Sat. 11:30am - 12:30pm

    Level of Instruction: Intermediate

    Presentation Description:
    When considering race and ethnicity, White or black non-Latinx children are more likely to be identified with ASD than Latinx children in Arizona. For those Latinx children who are diagnosed, they are more likely to receive a later diagnosis and receive fewer services compared to non-Latinx white children. A plethora of socio-cultural individual, family, healthcare systems, educational systems, community systems factors impact access to diagnosis and services for Latinx children. To reduce ASD disparities among Latinx children it is critical to approach Latinx families in culturally informed ways to increase their understanding of ASD and collaborate with them on their children’s treatment. Thus, this presentation will address a methods and programs to conduct interventions with Latinx families in order to mitigate disparities in ASD diagnosis and treatment.

    Learning Objectives:
    Describe increased awareness of disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among Latinx children.

    Identify factors at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels that impact disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of ASD among Latinx children.

    Explain the child and parent impact of a culturally informed intervention for Latinx families raising children with ASD.

    Speakers:

    Kristina Lopez, PhD, MSW

  • 11:30am - 12:30pm

    4C - When the Apple Does, and Does Not, Fall Far from the Tree: Strategies for Parents Raising an LGBTQIA+ Child
    Jeri Rochman, JD, MS
    Jennifer Gruskoff
    Sat. 11:30am - 12:30pm

    Level of Instruction: Introductory

    Presentation Description:
    Ten years ago, The Help Group's Kaleidoscope Program Director Jeri Rochman and Kaleidoscope Advisory Board Member Jen Gruskoff's children met in 6th grade and quickly became best friends. Jeri and Jen will provide their navigational expertise as a straight mother and a lesbian mother in helping their children become their authentic LGBTQIA+ selves.

    Learn strategies for supporting your child’s coming out process in middle or high school, tips for partnering with your child's school to create and maintain a safe environment for LGBTQIA+ students, and the intrigue of exploring your family's LQBTQIA+ history. Whether your own "apple" falls far away or plonks right down in front of your own "tree," please join Jeri and Jen to share the joy and wonder of observing your child embrace their unique identity.

    Learning Objectives:
    Describe three approaches for how to best support a child who is facing the challenges of coming out as a LGBTQIA+ identifying individual in middle school or high school.

    List 3 strategies to help parents create a successful partnership with their child’s school in terms of creating a safe environment for LGBTQIA+ identifying young people.

    Delineate the perspective of both straight and LGBTQIA+ parents when their child comes out as a LGBTQIA+ identifying individual.

    Speakers:

    Jen Gruskoff

    Jeri Rochman, JD, MS