Love, Sex, God, & Autism

LSGA1 Love Sex logo April Mitchell final web

For years, people have asked me, “How did Jeremy Sicile-Kira  become the person and painter he is today? What is your  your story? How did Jeremy’s Vision  come about?”  Well, here it is! I’ve created –  a 70-minute multimedia storytelling event appropriate for Keynotes, Fundraisers and Special Events.  This keynote can be adapted to your events needs: it can be accompanied by workshops with learning objectives, or  shortened for end-of-year-dinners and fundraisers. “Incredible … powerful… inspirational…” are comments offered by those who saw the premiere in San Diego this past July.

Love, Sex, God & Autism, is  a universal and inspirational story about resiliency and adapting to change. In my 70-minute storytelling event, I humorously and lovingly wrestle with the trials and tribulations of my family’s successful attempt to change the prognosis given to my child – life in an institution.  It’s the hysterical and heartbreaking personal account of a young man’s quest for love, and a family’s search for normalcy – or at least inclusion!  Along the way,  I explore how my upbringing  provided me with the grit and  resiliency  I would need as Jeremy’s mother. Life-changing gifts are discovered, affirming our family’s belief that being “not like the others” means being different, but not less.

For more information, or to book this presentation, please contact us at Autism College.

Free Webinar with Dr. Suzanne Goh: Getting the most out of brain-based treatments for autism

On Monday August 25th, at 6:00 pm PST  (9:00 pm EST) Dr. Suzanne Goh will be participating in a two hour webinar moderated by Chantal Sicile-Kira, hosted by MomsFightingAutism.  To participate in this free interactive webinar, please sign up here:  MomsFightingAutism.com.

Topic:  Getting the most out of brain-based treatments for autism

A wealth of therapies are now available for children with autism. Choosing among them, knowing which to prioritize, and understanding how they may interact can be a challenge for parents. This seminar will present some of the latest neurological research to help guide parents in these important decisions.

Topics that will be covered include:

–       Diagnosis and managment of mitochondrial dysfunction inautism

–       Neurologically-based approaches to behavior and language intervention

Guest Speaker:  Dr. Suzanne Goh

Headshot SuzanneDr. Suzanne Goh is a board-certified pediatric neurologist with expertise in the evaluation and treatment of children with neurological conditions that impact brain development, cognition, and behavior.

Dr. Goh received her Bachelors of Arts degree, summa cum laude, in History and Science from Harvard University (1993-1997). She went on to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar (1997-1999). In 2004, she graduated from Harvard Medical School, cum laude. Dr. Goh completed her Pediatrics internship at Massachusetts General Hospital and her Pediatric Neurology residency at University of California San Francisco.

Following a postdoctoral fellowship in the Pediatric Brain Imaging Laboratory at Columbia University, she joined Columbia’s faculty as Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, with joint appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology. At Columbia she also served as Co-Director of the Developmental Neuropsychiatry Clinic for Autism and Related Disorders where she oversaw a multi-disciplinary team of physicians and psychologists specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of children with autism.

Dr. Goh’s research has focused on mitochondrial and other metabolic disturbances in autism. She has also conducted brain imaging research to identify differences in brain circuits in children with autism. She has been affiliated as an author or reviewer with several leading neuroscience journals, including Neurology, Annals of Neurology, Pediatric Neurology, & Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. She has taught at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of California San Francisco.

Dr. Goh is co-author of the book Spectacular Bond: Reaching the Child with Autism and ASD Unlocking Language: A Program to Teach Language and Communication

For more information go to  Dr. Suzanne Goh’s website.

Moderator: Chantal Sicile-Kira

Chantal-Sicile-Kira-homeChantal Sicile-Kira’s passion for empowering others, her love of writing and her personal interest in autism has led her to become an award-winning author of five books, speaker, and leader in the field of autism.  Her first award-winning book, Autism Spectrum Disorder, was updated and  published in January 2014. She has been involved with autism spectrum disorders for over 25 years as both a parent and a professional on both sides of the Atlantic. A tireless advocate for those on the autism spectrum, Chantal founded Autism College in order to provide practical information and training  online about autism.

Life with Autism: Mighty is the Fear

Two caregivers were arrested this past week in Valley Center (near San Diego, CA) for allegedly abusing a severely autistic non-verbal young man in his home. They had been in the family’s employ for over two years and were caught on videotape over a three week period.

This is a parent’s worst nightmare come true; and if it’s a nightmare for the parent imagine what it is like for the victim.

According to reports in the media, the mother, Kim Oakley,  saw changes in her son, Jamey, indicating he appeared to be unhappy on the days following the men’s shifts. Kim also realized Jamey was trying to communicate something to her. When she questioned the caregivers, “They blamed everything on his severe autism,” according to newspaper reports. Kim set up a surveillance camera after noticing that the wires to a baby monitor had been cut. Videos shot over a three week period led to the arrests.

My heart goes out to Kim and Jamey and the rest of the family. Unfortunately their story is not unique and it highlights the difficulties of all families requiring caregivers and support staff for their severely autistic loved one.

How often do we hear about a non-verbal person that “his behavior is due to his autism”? Bull! All behavior is communication and Kim, like most moms and dads, know this. Watch “Autistic Cases ‘Autism Experts’ Run From”    that Kim Oakley posted on YouTube. Jamey’s behaviors  in this video were particularly bad because he had a Urinary Tract infection and once it was diagnosed and treated, he was better. But is took five days to get it taken care of.

Recently my autistic son Jeremy was in so much pain that he became hyper and aggressive and kept trying to take showers as if that would help. Nothing could calm him down. We had never seen anything like it before. He was uncontrollable. We were lucky he could type and tell us he was in pain. But it also took five days to figure out why he was in pain, and a week to be able to do anything about it. Turns out is was due to a change in the generic brand of his medication for epilepsy – we were not warned that any changes in the brand could cause such reactions. You can read Jeremy’s comments about his experience here.

To top it off, the lack of understanding and caring from some of the people at the pharmacies we had to deal with was appalling. Seeing your child suffer and not being able to do anything about it is excruciating, and when those supposedly there to help are not treating the situation with the urgency it warrants is unbelievable. As parents, we try to remain calm and act ‘normal’ and polite so we won’t be taken for one of those ‘crazy  parents’.  We are not crazy.  But we have no patience for not being taken seriously and being dependent on people who just don’t get it. Believe us when we tell you our child is in pain and we need help NOW.

When you have a non-verbal child or a child dependent on caretakers, there is always the risk of abuse, and not just at home. The same risk exists in residential facilities, community living options and even in day programs, camps and community activities. To this day, my son Jeremy suffers PTSD due an abuse that occurred outside the home years ago. He still refuses  to participate in any activities that are not inclusive, that are intended for developmentally disabled participants. As he puts it, “They are grouping the victims.”

Although Jeremy received therapy with some help from the California Victim Compensation Program, he continues to have panic attacks which impact his ability to participate in all that he would like to do outside the home. Recently he had flashbacks and he would flail out and hit whomever was standing close, ‘seeing’ his aggressor. This adds another dimension to hiring and training staff.  As well, it leaves  Jeremy feeling terrible about his outbursts. Dealing with PTSD has become  important to him and recently he completed a painting about his PTSD entitled “Mighty is the Fear.”

Even without thinking about abuse, finding people who understand the importance they have to a person’s quality of life  and the willingness to make the commitment is not always easy when someone requires 24 hour supports. Recently, one person who was hired and trained as a support person and communication partner for Jeremy decided to extend their vacation from two weeks to four weeks, meaning the person would not be around to support Jeremy at either his college class or after school doing his homework at the beginning of the school year as  expected.  This was a big blow to Jeremy and to his ability to attend college successfully.

Most of our experiences with support staff, service providers, medical professionals and others have been extremely positive. Usually I focus on writing about  positive  experiences and strategies, but hearing  about Kim, Jamie and their family’s experience with the two caregivers hit a nerve and I couldn’t stay quiet.  I feel terrible for the family.  Stay strong, Kim!

Trying to learn from all our experiences and focusing on the positive relationships we have forged over the years due to Jeremy’s need for supports is how we continue to survive and thrive.  As Jeremy put it in A Full Life with Autism (Macmillan 2012), “I learned there were really bad people who could do things to your body, but I learned that you don’t have to let them in your soul.

Ain’t that the truth!

 

Back to School Tips for Educators and Parents: Free Autism College Q&A with Chantal Sicile-Kira and Dana Pulde

It’s almost the end of  summer and  most parents  are  looking forward to the routine the new school year will provide, and teachers are busy getting classrooms and lessons ready for the new school year.  The start of a new school year can also mean more stress  for all involved – the student, the educator and the parent.  But there are ways to keep stress to a minimum  for a new and hopefully successful new school year.

Autism College hopes to help this year by offering you a one hour free Q & A with Visiting Professor, Dana Pulde, a Special Education Teacher,  moderated by Chantal Sicile-Kira. Both Dana and Chantal are looking forward to answering your questions and giving  tips to educators on how  to prepare the classroom, and to parents on how to prepare yourself and your child for the start of a successful new school year! Whether your child is fully included or in a special day class there are ways to prepare and alleviate some of the stress of the transition from summer to school, especially when there are teachers new to your child or teenager.

Join  Chantal and Dana  for the free interactive Q & A on Thursday, August 16 from 6:00pm to 7:00pm PST (9:00pm to 10:00 EST).

To submit  your questions, go here.

Here is the information for the day of the event:
To attend online, go to:
http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=32195109
To call in:
Primary dial in number: (206) 402-0100
Secondary dial in number: (208) 272-9671
Guest pin code: 026332#

Dana Pulde Dana Pulde has been working in the field of special education for a little over a decade.  She began as a paraprofessional working in homes with families using Applied Behavior Analysis to help students with autism.  She resumed her studies to continue her professional growth receiving a moderate/severe teaching credential and masters in autism and she has completed her supervision hours to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  She began her teaching career working at a non-public school serving students with IEPs where she was responsible for developing student programs, creating and implementing Behavior Intervention Plans, Collecting and analyzing data, and creating/modifying materials to meet student needs and support academic growth.  She has continued her career as a supervisor for families of children with special needs by developing home programs and providing ongoing staff and parent training; as a teacher in a public school; and is currently working with an advocate making sure students receive a quality life and education through optimum support and offers of FAPE.

Chantal Sicile-Kira is the founder of AutismCollege.com and the author  of five books on autism, the latest being A Full Life with Autism: From Learning to Forming Relationships to Achieving Independence (co-authored with her son, Jeremy). Chantal’s first practical experience with autism was at Fairview State Hospital, teaching self-help and community living skills to severely developmentally disabled and autistic adolescents in preparation for their de-institutionalization.  Chantal has served on  the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders, and was appointed to serve as  Co-Chair, South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce.  Her son, Jeremy,  graduated from high school at age 22 with a 3.78 GPA despite being severely impacted by autism.

Review of A Full Life with Autism by Dr. Joshua Feder

This marvelous book lays out in plain and readable language the challenges of transition to adulthood for persons with autism and offers practical advice from the inside perspective of a mom and her adult son teamed as partners in the enterprise of helping him achieve a meaningful life.

It is inspirational, almost a parable, in its effect of drawing you into their story and teaching important principles, and yet it is also comprehensive in the executive task of helping us think about our values, goals and objectives in our mission to give a real life to our adults with autism and related challenges.

Perhaps one of the most important messages: behavior is a form of communication, and it is incumbent on the people around the person with autism to work to understand what that behavior is communicating without merely consigning it to a category of something to be gotten rid of.  Jeremy states: “I have oftentimes been the victim of ignorance.”  We must not be party to what Jeremy has suffered.  We need to be humble and helpful, persistently curious and ever respectful.  We cannot presume to know what we do not.  We must take the time to get to know the hopes and dreams of people whom we do not yet understand.

I was also intrigued by the undercurrent discussion of relationships that runs through the book in sections on friendship, sex, love, and support staff, as they all revolve around the quality and character of relationships.  How can we support, for the person and people around him, the development of more meaningful communication, relating, and problem-solving.  To the many thoughts already included I would add that it is often very helpful to support the person and caregivers by carving out regular reflective time to think through how things are going  – what is working, what isn’t, and what to do to try next to understand the situation better and try something different.

In all, this is a compelling, thoughtful, comprehensive and inspiring bible that belongs on the shelf of everyone who strives to help people with autism build a life in a complex world.

Joshua Feder MD, Director of Research of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders

The Golden Hat : Q & A with Margret D. Ericsdottir moderated by Chantal Sicile-Kira

The Golden Hat

Why did  Kate Winslet ask  over 100 celebrity friends including  Oprah, George Clooney, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Hanks, Kobe Bryant and Leonardo DiCaprio,  be photographed wearing a Golden Hat for a book that includes photos of eleven non-verbal youngsters with autism wearing the same hat?

What are the long term goals of the Golden Hat Foundation?  What goals do you have for your youth’s future? What are your child’s long term goals?

Join the conversation on May 14 about creating  A Full Life with Autism when  Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir, President & CEO of the Golden Hat Foundation joins Moderator Chantal Sicile-Kira  to discuss  these topics.  The  one hour Q & A  on Monday May  14, 2012 will take place from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm PST  (9:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST). Sign up for the Autism College newsletter to receive instructions on how to participate and send in your questions. Instructions will be sent via newsletter before the Q & A  takes place. (Already registered? Hold tight, the participation link will arrive soon).

The Golden Hat Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers for people with autism around the world, and creating an environment that holds these individuals as intellectually capable.

Kate Winslet and Margret D. Ericsdottir

Guest: Margret D. Ericsdottir is the President & CEO of the  The Golden Hat Foundation; Founder Frontier Filmworks; Co-Author, The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism; Advocate for Individuals with Autism; Mother of Keli, 14-year-old with nonverbal autism.  Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir, MBA, had a successful career in business and held various executive positions in Icelandic companies. Then, in 1997 Margret’s youngest son Keli was born and diagnosed as having severe autism at the age of four. The sudden and profound changes in her family prompted Margret to shift her focus from career-related pursuits to caring for Keli. In 2006 Margret founded Frontier Filmworks, and made the documentary, A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism, which describes her family’s journey.

The  award-winning actress, Kate Winslet, narrated the documentary, and subsequently co-authored The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism, in which celebrities and some non-verbal individuals with autism are photographed wearing a “golden” hat.

Moderator:  Chantal Sicile-Kira is the founder of Autism College, author of five books on autism. Her latest book A Full Life with Autism, was co-authored with her son, Jeremy Sicile-Kira whose photograph appears in The Golden Hat.

Kirkus Book Review: A Full Life with Autism

A Full Life with Autism: From Learning to Forming Relationships to Achieving Independence is my latest book co-authored with my son Jeremy (foreword by Temple Grandin) that was published on March 27 by Macmillan. The book has received many excellent reviews. Here is one by Kirkus Book Reviews, whose reviewers  are known as the world’s toughest book critics:

For readers already knowledgeable about autism and Asperger’s syndrome, a hands-on approach to transitioning into adulthood.

Sicile-Kira (41 Things to Know about Autism, 2010, etc.) and her autistic son, Jeremy, join forces in this guidebook to help parents and their autistic offspring move beyond childhood and evolve into an adult life. Although special-education services exist for children with autism spectrum disorder, once a child reaches adulthood the lack of adult services becomes apparent. As the mother of a severely autistic child, the author understands the needs of caregivers and children on the spectrum alike to shift to a quality of life that provides independence for all parties. “To create the future that you and your adult child envision will take perseverance and work,” she writes. “But good quality of life and peace of mind is worth it.” Based on her research, Sicile-Kira has compiled the majority of available resources into an accessible handbook that provides information on topics such as romantic and sexual relationships, finding appropriate living arrangements for true self-sufficiency and acquiring and keeping a job. The author breaks each large, seemingly overwhelming undertaking into small, doable tasks. Bulleted lists sum up each chapter and help readers remain focused and on-track. Equally as effective are the short essays and “top ten tips for parents,” written by Jeremy. His voice gives a personal, honest perspective on the daily life, expectations and hopes of someone with special needs who wants to become as integrated into adult society as possible. Additional resources include reading material and websites for care providers and people on the spectrum.

A proactive method for raising an adult child with special needs.

 -Kirkus  Book Review

Q & A Webinar: Temple Grandin, Chantal & Jeremy Sicile-Kira : A Full Life with Autism

Temple Grandin and Claire Danes

On Saturday, April 7 th from 8:00am PST to 9:30am PST (11:00am EST to 2:00am EST), Visiting Professor Temple Grandin will answer questions with Chantal Sicile-Kira  moderating. Then, for those who want to stick around,  from 9:45am PST to 11:15am PST (12:45pm EST to 2:15pm EST) Chantal and Jeremy Sicile-Kira will be answering questions in regards to their new book, A Full Life With Autism for which Temple wrote the foreword.

This is an opportunity to ask Temple Grandin questions, and get insight as to what is important for preparing our children for life as successful adults. Chantal and Jeremy will answer any questions you may have about raising a child with autism, and the transition to adulthood.  Register for our newsletter to sign up. (If you are already signed up, you will be receiving instructions shortly).

What questions do you have? Let us know, we’ll answer them!

Temple Grandin, PhD, is a doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. As a person with high-functioning autism, Grandin is also noted for her work in autism advocacy and is the inventor of the squeeze machine designed to calm hypersensitive people.  Grandin is listed in the 2010 Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and the subject of the Emmy award winning  HBO documentary, “Temple Grandin.” Temple is the author of many books including, The Way I See It, Developing Talents, and Animals in Translation.

Chantal and Jeremy Sicile-Kira

Jeremy Sicile-Kira was diagnosed severely autistic as well as mentally retarded when he was born in 1989. In 2010, he gave a commencement speech at his high school graduation.   Jeremy  co-authored a book A Full Life with Autism ( Macmillan, March 2012) as a  guide for parents and educators helping those on the autism spectrum transition  into meaningful and independent lives.  Jeremy writes for  autism magazines, and his new website, www.JeremySicileKira.com.  He is one of three national Youth Advocates of the Autistic Global Initiative, a project of the Autism Research Institute. In 2007, Jeremy was highlighted on MTV’s documentary series True Life in the episode, “I Have Autism,” which won a 2007 Voice Award. Follow him on Twitter.

Chantal Sicile-Kira is an award-winning author, columnist, and autism advocate, as well as the founder of of AutismCollege.com which provides practical training  to parents and educators. Her latest book, is  A Full Life With Autism, co-authored with her son, Jeremy.  Their  story has been covered by a wide variety of media, including NPR, PBS, MTV, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Fox News.

 

Replay: Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention Conference (free and online)

For those that missed the Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention interactive conference on AutismCollege.com, it is being replayed for free on Saturday, March 10th, from 8:00am to 5:00pm PST (11:00am to 8:00pm EST).

AutismCollege.com in partnership with the National Autism Association (NAA)  presented a series of free webinars on Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention. This online conference was sponsored in part by The Social Express. Due to requests from people who could not attend, it is being replayed. (Note that listeners will not be able to send in questions to be replied as for the live event).

Topics and presenters on Saturday March 10th, are as follows:

  •  8:00am – 9:30am PST, Dr. Nora Baladerian, Ph.D. – “How Can Parents Reduce the Risk of Sexual Abuse of Their Child or Young Adult?”
  • 9:45am – 11:15am PST, Dr. Lori Ernsperger – “The 3 R’s to Bullying Prevention for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Recognize, Respond, and Report”
  • 11:45am – 1:15pm PST, Dr. Joshua Feder – “The Problem of Depression and Suicidal Ideation in Autism and Related Disorders”
  • 1:30pm -3:00pm PST,  Wendy Fournier, NAA – “The Scope of Wandering, Prevention Strategies, and Resources”
  • 3:15pm to 5:00pm PST, Pat Amos, M.A. – “Preventing and Eliminating the Use of Restraints and Seclusion”
To register for free, go here. For a complete  description of the presentations, and bios of the presenters, go here.
Transcripts of the conference may be pre-ordered here.  A portion of the profits will be donated to the National Autism Association for their Safety Programs. Delivery may take up to three weeks. Thanks for your patience.

What can you do about your ASD child and Bullying? Sexual Abuse? Suicide Ideation? Wandering? Restraints & Seclusion?

As parents and educators of children and teens on the spectrum we have real worries in regards to the safety of our loved ones and students. Here is your opportunity to get some facts and strategies to decrease your worries.

Autism College in partnership with the National Autism Association (NAA) is presenting a series of free on-line conference webinars on Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention.  Topics to be addressed are sexual abuse risk reduction, bullying prevention, suicide risk, wandering, and preventing the use of restraints and seclusion. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn how to help support  the emotional and physical health and safety of your loved one affected by autism.

This series of interactive webinars  to be held in February will include presentations by  experts in the field of autism.  For those unable to attend all the webinars, there will be audio files and transcripts available for purchase after the conference. Register here for the conference.

Topics, presenters and schedule  as follows:

 Moderator: Chantal Sicile-Kira, author and founder of AutismCollege.com. The webinars will be interactive.  Attendees will have the opportunity to type in questions pertaining to the topic before and during each webinar. Chantal will introduce each presenter and moderate the Q&A opportunity at the end of each presentation.

 

Presentation Topic: How can parents reduce the risk of sexual abuse of their children (as adults or children)?

Saturday, February 11, 8:15 PST – 9:45 am PST

This presentation will focus on the basics all parents should know about sexual abuse among individuals on the Autism Spectrum. You know your child. How can you prepare your child for this particular danger? How can you prepare yourself to be not only their educator, but to be a part of an overall strategy to reduce the risk of becoming a victim? This presentation will discuss the basics of being a knowledgeable parent in the area of sexual abuse, including knowing the signs of possible abuse, designing a plan, and developing a protocol to use for all new persons who you will approve or hire to work with your family.

Presenter: Nora Baladerian, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in Los Angeles, California, practicing both clinical and forensic psychology . Since 1971, long before the crime victimization field as a whole focused attention on the needs of persons with disabilities, she has specialized in working with individuals with developmental disabilities. With an expertise in serving crime victims with disabilities and people charged with victimless sex crimes, she has successfully rallied victim/witness organization leaders, crime victims rights advocates, social service professionals, forensic psychologists, law enforcement, attorneys, members of the judiciary, and others to take up the cause of ensuring that the needs of society’s most vulnerable are not overlooked or otherwise forgotten. In 1986, as a proactive way both to bring together the growing number of those dedicated to this work and promoting greater cross-disciplinary dialog, she began convening national conferences on abuse of individuals with disabilities, hosting the 19th in 2005 with The Arc of Riverside County, and the First Online Professional Conference of its kind that same year. In 2008, the Attorney General of the United States presented her with the National Crime Victims Service Award in recognition of her pioneering efforts on behalf of persons with disabilities and in advancement of the mission of the Office for Victims of Crime of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Presentation Topic: The 3 R’s To Bullying Prevention for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Recognize, Respond, and Report

Saturday, February 11, 10:00 – 11:30am PST

Bullying in the United States was once a silent epidemic which was endured by millions of children on a daily basis. The attitude “kids will be kids” was just part of normal childhood development. Today, bullying in schools is being recognized as a national problem for all students including children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A report from the Massachusetts Advocates for Children (Ability Path, 2011) found that nearly 88% of individuals with ASD are bullied in school. Dr. Ernsperger will provide research and specific strategies in order for parents and professionals to create a safe educational environment and follow the legal requirements set out by the federal government on bullying prevention for students with disabilities.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the statistics of bullying
  • Recognize the warning signs of victims and stereotypes of bullies
  • Respond to the victims of bullies
  • Respond to bullies effectively
  • Teach anti-bullying social skills
  • Report bullying incidence in school settings

Presenter: Dr. Lori Ernsperger is from Henderson, NV where she is the owner of Autism and Behavioral Consulting. Dr. Lori received her doctorate in Special Education from Indiana University. She has over 25 years of experience working in the public schools as a classroom teacher, administrator, and behavioral consultant. She is also an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College in Florida. Dr. Ernsperger currently provides staff development and conference workshops to school district personnel and parents.

Her workshops cover the following topics: Managing Problem Behaviors, Implementing Effective Instructional Methods, Designing Appropriate and Functional Data Collection Methods for the Classroom, Practical Strategies for Working with Individuals with Asperger Syndrome, and How to Get Your Kids to Eat. Dr. Ernsperger is the author of: Keys to Success for Teaching Students with Autism and Just Take a Bite: Easy Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges and Girls Under the Umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

 Presentation Topic: The Problem of Depression and Suicidal Ideation in Autism and Related Disorders

Wednesday, February 15,  6:00-7:30  pm PST

  • How often do we think it occurs?
  • How serious is it?
  • How do we distinguish serious symptoms from everyday frustration?
  • What are the risk factors? Are they similar to the general population, e.g. depression, loss, and substance use?
  • What should we look for?  Learning to read the cues.
  • When should we be very worried? Does the driven quality of those with ASDs make people more at-risk?
  • What can we do: in everyday life to help prevent depression; when people are sad;
  • How can we use the mental health system?  Are therapies or medications effective? Are there other ways to address depression in ASD?

Presenter: Dr. Joshua Feder is the Director of the Department of Research in the Graduate School of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders, and a voluntary assistant professor at UCSD School of Medicine.  Dr. Feder specializes in neurobehavioral medicine and application of DIR/Floortime with families and in schools.  He co-chairs the DIR/Floortime Coalition of California, and co-chairs the South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce (SCART) of the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders. Dr. Feder helped write the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Practice Parameter for Assessment and Treatment of Autism and Related Disorders. He reviews grants for the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) and the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR), is a primary clinical investigator for National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and privately funded research in pharmacogenetics with the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Trials Network (CAPTN).  Dr. Feder serves as medical director for SymPlay developing interactive technology and distance learning systems to support relationship based interventions.  He is involved in advocacy for family choice in evidence-based practice, and he is a frequent commentator and speaker for ValeriesList and for Autism College. Dr. Feder has a full time child and family psychiatric practice in Solana Beach, California.

Presentation Topic:  The Scope of Wandering, Prevention Strategies, and Resources

Saturday, February 18, 8:15 – 9:45 am PST

Incidents of missing children and wandering-related deaths are being reported in the news with frightening frequency. In the last three years, more than 20 individuals with autism have lost their lives due to wandering.  Preliminary data in the first IRB-approved study on autism-related wandering shows that half of children with autism have successfully wandered from adult supervision.  Families cite wandering as the most stressful behavior they face.  Drowning associated with autism elopement is a leading cause of death among children and adults on the autism spectrum. This presentation will discuss the scope of this issue, prevention strategies and provide resources for caregivers to keep their loved ones safe.

Presenter: Wendy Fournier is a founding board member and President of the National Autism Association.  The organization has been instrumental in bringing federal attention to the issue of autism-related wandering.  In 2010, Wendy and NAA Executive Director Lori McIlwain were invited to present on the wandering/elopement issue before the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee at NIH, where they outlined the need for data collection, medical diagnostic coding, and federal health agency involvement. As a result, the committee has since implemented several of NAA’s recommendations. In addition to bringing awareness to the issue, NAA has developed extensive resources for the community including the AWAARE collaboration website and the Big Red Safety Box program.

Presentation Topic:  Preventing and Eliminating the Use of Restraint and Seclusion

Saturday, February 18, 10:00 – 11:30 am PST

The rising tide of Positive Behavior Supports has not lifted all boats, and many students with autism and related disabilities continue to be subjected to the use of restraint, seclusion, and other aversives as part of their education and behavior intervention plans. Successful reforms have taken place in health care settings, in nursing homes, and in programs treating mental illness, but many of our schools have not yet “gotten the word” that these techniques are inherently unsafe and can result in serious injury, psychological trauma, and even death. Evidence clearly shows that restraint and seclusion are not education; they are the failure of education. This webinar will help parents, advocates, and teachers understand how to work together to eliminate these highly dangerous and counterproductive techniques.

Presenter: Pat Amos, M.A., has been an advocate for people with disabilities and their families for over 25 years. She is a founder of Autism Support and Advocacy in Pennsylvania and the Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect, past president of the Greater Philadelphia Autism Society, a founder and past president of the Autism National Committee, has served as a member of Pennsylvania’s Developmental Disabilities Council, and is a Board member of international TASH.  She currently works as an Inclusion Specialist with the Youth Advocate Program’s Autism Institute.   Her involvement in the movement to prevent restraint and seclusion is longstanding, and she has worked with the national Alliance for the Prevention of Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion (APRAIS) since participating in its founding in 2004.

Register here for the conference.