2017 Sessions

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Life, Animated: A Tale of Autism & Hidden Potential

Keynote Speaker: Author Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

8:30 a.m.
RC 101

Ron Suskind’s sixth book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism, examines his family’s 20-year struggle with youngest son Owen’s autism. Having lost his speech at age 3, Owen seized upon a particular interest in the form of animated Disney movies, which helped him make sense of himself and the world. By memorizing these iconic movies and parroting their dialogue, he learned how to communicate and express himself, prompting his family members to create elaborate stage sets in the home to re-enact these films and “speak Disney” along with him. Owen emerged as a teenager with a unique skill set; along the way, he may have created a method for other parents and medical experts to reach autistic kids by following a similar model of emulative expression.

This deeply personal but universally resonant presentation is an adventure story of the human heart, in which Ron shares stories of Owen’s unique transformation from quiet solitude to animated communication. The tale culminates in a memorable father/son appearance with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s annual autism fundraiser, Night of Too Many Stars, where Owen, so long a silent child, joyfully outshines America’s biggest stars. The Suskind motto – “your passion is your pathway” – now guides educators, therapists and parents in tapping the deep potential in us all.

Addressing Noncompliance in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Food Selectivity and Intolerance of Healthcare Routines

Speakers: Jessica Juanico and Kelley Harrison, MA, BCBA, University of Kansas
Co-Presenters: Pamela Neidert, associate professor, University of Kansas; and Claudia Dozier, associate professor, University of Kansas

9:40 a.m.
RC 145

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and related disabilities often display noncompliance with important demands related to health and well-being. For example, individuals with ASD may display food refusal or food selectivity, which may influence their overall health and interfere with their daily living. In addition, these individuals may display noncompliance with demands associated with medical procedures (e.g., dental exams) and essential routines (e.g., haircuts). The purpose of this symposium is to review the literature with respect to assessment and treatment of noncompliance with these important health-related behaviors and discuss current data and future directions in this area of research.

Decreasing Challenging Behavior: Function-Based Behavior Intervention Plans

Speaker: Jill M. Koertner, MA, BCBA, Shawnee Mission School District

9:40 a.m. (Continues at 10:40 a.m.)
RC 183

In this presentation, you will have the opportunity to learn about the functions of behavior and how those functions should affect the way that we intervene upon challenging behavior. Also discussed will be a methodology for writing function-based behavior intervention plans in a team setting.

Behavioral and Medical Treatments for Comorbidities in Autism

Speaker: Christina Low Kapalu, PhD, Children’s Mercy Kansas City
Co-Presenter: July Jean Cuevas, MD

9:40 a.m.
RC 175

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by core deficits in social communication and behavior, but children with ASD often present with additional psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, mood disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Additionally, they can present with behavioral difficulties such as irritability, noncompliance and sleep difficulties that are not associated with any specific mental health concern. This session will help providers, parents and caregivers to better understand common behavioral problems as well as behavioral strategies and medications that can be used to treat them.

Dealing with Rigid and Repetitive Behaviors

Speaker: Natalie Haultain

9:40 a.m.
RC 181

Ron Suskind Q&A

9:40 a.m.
RC 270

“Life, Animated” author Ron Suskind will lead this Q&A session to answer questions and have a discussion.

Building the Dream: Transition Services and the IEP

Speaker: Leia Holley, Trainer for Parent Training and Information Center, Families Together Inc.

9:40 a.m.
RC 155

Transition encompasses all areas of adult life, including education, employment, independence, post-secondary education, healthcare and recreation. The goal of transition is for adolescents to move toward independence. Throughout this workshop, emphasis will be placed on the essential roles of youths, parents and professionals in developing a transition plan that reflects the student’s dreams for his/her future. Participants will walk away with strategies, resources and tools to effectively use transition services in the IEP to prepare a student for the life after high school.

OASIS-D, Dissemination of a Tele-health Based Parent Training Model

Speaker: Linda Heitzman-Powell, PhD
Co-Presenters: Jau Buzhardt, PhD; Ashley McGrath and Vannessa Balingcongan

10:40 a.m.
RC 145

The Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training in partnership with the Center for Child Health and Development and key stakeholders in the community will be disseminating the Online and Applied System for Intervention Skills (OASIS) to the broader community of service providers,  working with families impacted by autism through the development of the necessary infrastructure and training requirements. The goal of this project is to improve the delivery and quality of training services available to families, specifically those families that otherwise would not have access to services. The objectives of this project are to 1) collaborate with key health-care partners to create the infrastructure needed to enable service providers to receive compensation for implementation of OASIS, 2) to develop the processes necessary to disseminate OASIS to the behavioral health care community to include appropriate, timely, and cost effective training on the use of OASIS, and 3) train service providers from key agencies to implement OASIS.  We anticipate the outcomes of this project to be 1) usable billing codes for professionals to use for OASIS implementation, 2) OASIS Coaches at key agencies serving children with autism, 3) successful reimbursement for OASIS, 4) increases in parenting behaviors that have a beneficial impact on 5) child outcomes. The expected products are marketing and outreach materials, caregiver training, OASIS Coach Training, and a partnership with key insurers as a referral services for families impacted by autism.

Continuation of Decreasing Challenging Behavior: Function-Based Behavior Intervention Plans

Speaker: Jill M. Koertner, MA, BCBA, Shawnee Mission School District

10:40 a.m.
RC 183

Behavioral and Medical Treatments for Comorbidities in Autism (Repeat of 9:40 a.m. session)

Speaker: Christina Low Kapalu, PhD, Children’s Mercy Kansas City
Co-Presenter: July Jean Cuevas, MD

10:40 a.m.
RC 175

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by core deficits in social communication and behavior, but children with ASD often present with additional psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, mood disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Additionally, they can present with behavioral difficulties such as irritability, noncompliance and sleep difficulties that are not associated with any specific mental health concern. This session will help providers, parents and caregivers to better understand common behavioral problems as well as behavioral strategies and medications that can be used to treat them.

An Inside-Out Approach to Social Groups: Rethinking Our Focus

Speaker: Matt Braun, PhD, L/CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Solutions LLC
Co-Presenter: Joshua Reynolds, MA, CCC-SLP, Blue Tree LLC Owner/Speech Language Pathologist

10:40 a.m.
RC 270

This session will discuss various models for social skill training groups including structure and evidence. Presenters will also describe how they have implemented one innovative approach that is more child- and family-centered than other traditional approaches. Presenters will also share their experiences about how they have implemented this approach within several different environments. At the conclusion of this session, attendees will leave with several strategies to take back to their teams.

Financial and Estate Planning for Families with Special Needs

Speaker: Scott Adams, CFP®, ChSNC™, ChFC , Vice President of Special Needs Planning Center

10:40 a.m.
RC 155

This workshop brings together several key issues that families with a child with special needs face regarding their financial goals as well as the legal planning needed to make the transition from one generation to the next. In this comprehensive workshop, we’ll dive into these three topics:

  • Financial Planning: Adjusting the traditional financial planning and investment process to focus on the long-term care needs for your loved one with special needs.
  • Legal Planning: A discussion on special needs trusts and other legal documents necessary for the transition of your estate to beneficiaries and heirs.
  • Transition Tools: An overview of software used to help organize and transition your plan to the next generation of care.

This new workshop will be facilitated by Scott Adams, vice president of the Special Needs Planning Center, CFP®, ChSNC™, ChFC. Scott will share both his personal and professional experiences of planning for his own children with special needs.

Communication Challenges Faced by Adolescents with ASD

Speaker: Nancy Brady, PhD, University of Kansas
Co-Presenters: Julie Evnen, MSW and Kris Matthews, MSW

10:40 a.m.
RC 181

Families and clinicians face unique challenges when serving adolescents and adults with ASD. In this session we will discuss courses of development through adolescence, communication problems that persist into adolescence, and new concerns that emerge due to changing social, educational and work demands. Social clubs and video modeling will be presented as two examples of evidence-based intervention strategies.

Lunch

11:30
RC 101

Translational Research in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Keynote Speaker: Antonio Hardan, MD, Stanford University

Lunchtime
RC 101

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is very heterogeneous. Developing effective interventions will depend on increasing our understanding of the pathophysiology of ASD, but more importantly, on identifying clinically and biologically meaningful subgroups. In this presentation, recent treatment research will be reviewed and approaches on how to deal with the heterogeneity of ASD will be discussed. Pivotal response training, a naturalistic behavioral intervention, will be examined and data from ongoing randomized controlled trials will be presented. Finally, novel pharmacological interventions, such as N-Acetylcysteine and arginine vasopressin, will be reviewed and updated information on recent trials involving these compounds will be discussed.

Increasing Access to Services: Utilizing Practice-based Coaching to Improve Skills of Service Providers, Educators and Parents

Speaker: Rose A. Mason, PhD, BCBA-D, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas
Co-Presenter: Alana Schnitz, PhD, BCBA, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas

1 p.m.
RC 183

The benefit of evidence-based practices for individuals with autism is maximized when exposure to the treatments is delivered frequently and across settings. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of service providers trained to deliver these interventions as they were designed. Increasing access to interventions, and thus improving skills, will only occur when exposure is maximized. One mechanism for accomplishing this is training typical agents (e.g., parents, teachers, SLPs, etc.). Practice-based coaching (PBC) is a method, based on both theories of adult learning and behavior principles, that has evidence for successfully training parents, paraprofessionals and early childcare providers. Evidence of the impact of PBC as well as procedures for implementing will be discussed.

Problem Solvers – The Mission Project Model for Teaching Socials Skills to Adults with Autism

Speaker: Sarah Mai, OTR/L
Co-Presenters: Amelia Zang-Carta and Kenny Flanagan, participants of The Mission Project

1 p.m.
RC 270

Problem Solvers, a weekly social skills program, is often referred to as the “glue” of The Mission Project community. In this weekly group, participants build friendships, learn and practice conversational skills, engage in conflict resolution and practice self-advocacy. The leader, the “social coach,” individualizes social instruction, continually reinforces positive and appropriate social behaviors, and maximizes on teaching moments that occur naturally. Come learn about this group approach and customize it to your community’s needs. Adults with autism will share their success stories as a result of participating in Problem Solvers.

Transitions and the Importance of Building a Life

Speaker: Cy Nadler, PhD, Children’s Mercy Kansas City
Co-Presenter: Mary Anne Hammond, BS, Children’s Mercy Kansas City

1 p.m.
RC 181

This training will help families as well as professionals dealing with children with ASD to think beyond IEP goals and therapy goals to goals that will help the individual build a life. We will also discuss the importance of planning for transition, including guardianship (or not), special needs trusts and educational needs after high school.

Supporting Children with Developmental Disabilities in an Early Learning Setting Using Positive Behavior Supports

Speaker: Katrina Ostmeyer, PhD, Integrated Behavioral Technologies Inc.
Co-Presenter: Mikayla McHenry-Powell, BA, Integrated Behavioral Technologies Inc.

1 p.m.
RC 145

This presentation will explore a positive behavior support model for children with autism and other developmental disabilities within an early childcare and learning center. The presentation will describe how to support children with varied levels of functioning and different behavioral and educational needs, and access to external funding sources within a positive behavior support framework. A focus will be placed on utilization of resources, environmental support and staff training.

Dealing with Rigid and Repetitive Behaviors

Speaker: Natalie Haultain, PsyD, Children’s Mercy Kansas City Division of Developmental & Behavioral Sciences, Section of Psychology

1 p.m.
RC 155

Session participants will review the range of rigid or repetitive behaviors that are seen among individuals with ASD. They will consider a few key factors influencing whether or not to target a particular rigid or repetitive behavior for therapeutic intervention. They will explore evidence-based strategies for reducing a child’s rigid and repetitive responses, and for replacing these with more flexible and adaptive behaviors. The presentation will afford opportunities for session participants to brainstorm the rigid and repetitive behaviors they would prioritize for intervention in their own child, patient or client, to consider how they might apply evidence-based strategies to help the individual become less reliant on these behaviors, and to identify the more flexible or adaptive behaviors they might teach their child to use in place of their more problematic behaviors.

Self-Determination and Supported Decision-Making

Speaker: Evan Dean, PhD, Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy
Co-Presenter: Kathryn Burke, Doctoral Student, Beach Center on Disability, University of Kansas

1 p.m.
RC 175

This session will introduce self-determination and supported decision-making, describing assessment and support strategies that can be used to enhance the involvement of young people with autism in decisions about their lives.

I-CONNECT Plus: The Use of Online Modules, Coaching and Self-Monitoring to Increase Independence and Community Participation for Individuals with ASD

Speaker: Rose Mason, PhD, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas
Co-Presenters: Debra Kamps, Senior Scientist, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas; Raia Rosenblum, Graduate Research Assistant, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas; Sean Swindler, Director of Community Program Development, Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training

2 p.m.
RC 183

I-CONNECT Plus is a comprehensive instructional program for adolescents and adults with ASD aimed at increasing engagement and independence in school, work and community environments. The project combines online instructional modules with coaching and/or self-monitoring activities to support social and communication skills, organization and problem-solving skills. The session will highlight examples of I-CONNECT Plus to improve engagement and appropriate behaviors in high schools and work settings. Participants will have the opportunity to preview components of the online modules and use of technology to support self-monitoring. Implications for practice and future directions will be discussed.

Functional Assessment and Treatment of Challenging Behavior

Speakers: Pamela L. Neidert, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA-KS, Associate Professor, University of Kansas
Claudia Dozier, Associate Professor, University of Kansas

2 p.m.
RC 145

Functional analysis methodology is a well-established standard for assessment in applied behavior analysis research. This session will focus on ways to utilize functional analysis easily in many situations to facilitate the treatment of severe problem behavior. Practical aspects of FA methodology will be described, and ways that it can be incorporated into routine work will be described.

Antonio Hardan Session

2 p.m.
RC 175

Lunchtime keynote speaker Antonio Hardan, MD, Stanford University, will lead this session.

Focusing on Girls with Autism and Interventions Designed to Promote Positive Social-Emotional Health and Self-Care Skills

Speaker: Rene Jamison, PhD, Clinical Associate Professor, Center for Child Health and Development, University of Kansas Medical Center
Co-Presenter: Mallorey Marek, MSW Student, University of Kansas

2 p.m.
RC 270

Girls Night Out (GNO) reaches beyond this initial scope, impacting girls and women across the community. GNO’s recent efforts include services for an expanded age range, community events, parent networks and supporting girls in developing sustainable relationships. This session will highlight relevant research on girls with ASD and areas of focus and strategies designed specifically for this population.

How To Be An Ally: Supporting Autistic Advocacy

Autistic Self-Advocacy Network of Kansas City
Speakers: Spencer Hunley, Chapter Leader, ASAN-KC; Skyler Whittaker, Elizabeth Boresow and Marshall Edwards
Co-Presenter: Jessica Schuttler, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor

2 p.m.
RC 155

Updated for 2017, this session explains neurodiversity, autistic advocacy, and how neurotypicals can be considerate, effective and respectful allies. Led by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network chapter of Kansas City – a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization run by and for individuals on the autism spectrum – members will also discuss issues important to the autistic community. This session is open to all participants.

A Movement in the Right Direction: How Studying the Motor System in Autism Spectrum Disorder May Provide Missing Pieces to the Puzzle

Speaker: Lauren M. Schmitt, PhD, University of Kansas/Center for Child Health and Development at KUMC

2 p.m.
RC 181

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate a variety of motor differences that often emerge during infancy, prior to social-communication deficits. Yet, there are relatively few studies examining these motor differences in ASD compared to those examining core diagnostic features. Motor differences are particularly advantageous to study because they are highly heritable, precisely quantifiable and supported by brain networks known to be affected in ASD. Family studies are one approach to better understanding these motor differences and their underlying brain mechanisms in ASD. In fact, family studies may be particularly useful in identifying biological markers of risk that are present in both individuals with ASD and their family members, which in turn may allow for earlier identification and intervention. Here, I will provide an overview of motor differences in ASD, with a focus on more recent evidence from our family study showing a similar pattern of motor differences in individuals with ASD is also observed in family members who do not have ASD. Lastly, I will discuss existing theories that connect these motor differences to core symptoms in ASD.

Autism Peer Networks for Elementary School Children

Speaker: Debra Kamps, PhD, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas
Co-Presenter: Linda Heitzman-Powell, PhD, Director of Community Research, Center for Child Health and Development, Department of Pediatrics, KUMC

3 p.m.
RC 145

This session will define and describe procedures using peer mediation and training to implement “peer networks” for elementary school children with ASD and their classmates. Procedures include the use of social skills groups, lunch bunch and recess buddies within school schedules and routines. During sessions, peers are trained to prompt social-communicative behaviors and social interaction for their classmates with ASD, and reinforce the skills. Sample strategies include the use of picture and text cues, topic cards, modeling and arranging the environment to promote multiple opportunities for interactions. Children with autism increase their frequency of communications during peer networks, and teachers rate their behaviors as improving with the intervention.

Preventive Effects of Established Treatments for Problem Behavior

Speaker: Sarah C. Mead, EdM, BCBA, LBA, University of Florida; Community Living Opportunities’ North Star Academy

3 p.m.
RC 183

Over the past half-century or so, the assessment and treatment of problem behavior has evolved into a well-established, two-phase strategy. During the assessment phase, a functional analysis, the hallmark of behavioral assessment (Hanley, Iwata, & McCord, 2003), is used to identify the current determinants of problem behavior. Subsequently, derived from the consequences maintaining problem behavior, a function-based treatment, such as differential reinforcement, is implemented. Given the success of this highly effective approach to intervention with current problem behavior, the possibility arises of applying it to prevent the initial development of problem behavior. During this session, the speaker will propose a function-based approach that could be used to prevent the onset of problem behavior and will present empirical data from two pilot studies in this line of research. Implications for practice will be discussed.

An Evening With the ’Rents – Panel Discussion

Speaker: Keenan Stump, PhD / L-SLP, New Balloon Therapy Services
Co-Presenter: Matt Braun, PhD / L-SLP, Speech/Language Pathologist, New Balloon Therapy Services

3 p.m.
RC 270

In February of 2014, an innovative (occasionally controversial) fundraiser entitled “An Evening With the ‘Rents” emerged in Kansas City. The event featured parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appearing on stage to perform stand-up comedy about their everyday experiences. Entering its fourth year of production, “An Evening With the ‘Rents” continues to gain attention from the media, philanthropic organizations and the greater community of those involved in the lives of individuals with ASD. This presentation will discuss the fundraiser from its shaky origin to present-day status as an award-winning fundraiser. A small panel of previous and current performers will also be present to discuss their roles in the process and the value that they believe the event provides to the ASD community.

Drama-Free Doctor Visits: Behavioral Strategies for Medical Appointments

Speaker: Leni Swails, PhD, University of Kansas Medical Center, Center for Child Health and Development
Co-Presenter: Moira Leahy, EdS, University of Kansas

3 p.m.
RC 181

Visiting the doctor or dentist is a challenge for many children with autism and other developmental disabilities. This session will present behavioral strategies to reduce meltdowns and increase compliance with medical appointments and procedures. Parent and provider Autism Treatment Network toolkits related to dental appointments and blood draws will also be reviewed.

Transition Across the Lifespan: Kansas Community of Practice

Speaker: Craig Knutson, Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities

3 p.m.
RC 155

Come learn about the Kansas involvement with the national Community of Practice for the Supporting Families Project. The Supporting Families Project works with states to develop systems of support for families throughout the lifespan of their family member with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Supporting Families Project is operated under a five-year grant awarded to NASDDDS by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) beginning in October 2012. Grant partners include the University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute on Human Development, the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), and the National Association of Councils of Developmental Disabilities (NACDD). “The overall goal of supporting families – with all of their complexity, strengths and unique abilities – is so they can best support, nurture, love and facilitate opportunities for the achievement of self-determination, interdependence, productivity, integration and inclusion in all facets of community life for their family members.”

Community-Wide Positive Behavior Support Applications for Youths with Autism

Speakers: Sara Quick, MEd, and Grace Lamberton, Kansas Institute of Positive Behavior Support

3 p.m.
RC 175

This session will include an Introduction to the Kansas Institute of Positive Behavior Support and an evolution of PBS research to date, including a timeline. Countywide PBS features being implemented in Johnson County include discussing the system of care, wrap around/person-centered planning, multi-tiered systems, positive behavior supports and quality of life. The specific focus on autism includes challenges that youths with autism face in general; children with autism involved across multiple systems; and the risks for kids with autism. Case studies will be highlighted where positive behavioral supports have improved outcomes.