PATC 2018: 11th Annual Pennsylvania Autism Training Conference

Presented by Robert Schultz, Ph.D.

This presentation reviews the national research agenda for autism and recent key study findings, in an attempt to make our approach and our findings more accessible to families and those working with individuals with autism in schools and behavioral intervention settings. Topics include basic casual mechanism (e.g., genetics, brain imaging), early detection and novel treatments. Variability in outward manifestations of autism (i.e., autism heterogeneity) is a serious obstacle to research progress. Current studies using modern technology aimed at overcoming this obstacle are described, including an insider’s perspective on how studies are conceived, funded and executed.

Presented by Shaun M. Eack, Ph.D.

This breakout session introduces a new psycho-social treatment approach for adults with autism spectrum disorder, Cognitive Enhancement Therapy. Information on the rationale and development of this treatment approach is presented, along with emerging data from ongoing feasibility and clinical trial studies in adults with autism. Attendees will learn about the practice of cognitive remediation and its general principles and applications, as well as its use in adult autism with Cognitive Enhancement Therapy. Emerging efficacy data is presented on the impact of this treatment approach on cognition, the brain, and adaptive function. Finally, future directions for developing and implementing treatments to help individuals with autism succeed in adulthood are discussed.

Presented by Kathy Hooven

From 2009 to 2014, the Pennsylvania Autism Census found that the number of Pennsylvanians with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) receiving services increased from nearly 20,000 individuals to over 55,000 individuals. The number of individuals with autism who had contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems also increased. The location, the circumstances, and the outcomes are different in each case, but the overarching theme across incidents is the need to train law enforcement and justice system professionals in how to identify and interact with individuals with autism, in order to improve the outcomes of those interactions.

This session provides professionals supporting individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families with justice-related resources and strategies in key areas: the do’s and don’ts for a police interaction; how to create a PLAN (Prepare, Learn, Advise, Notify) for individuals with autism; tips on sharing an ASD diagnosis with law enforcement; resources available for both individuals with autism as well as the law enforcement community; and a comparison of data on the nature and severity of charges for individuals with autism in PA.

Presented by Kerry Magro

In this presentation for professionals who support individuals with autism, you will hear from someone who was nonverbal until age 2.5, and today as an adult won a scholarship from the National Speakers Association to become a professional speaker. He discusses the transition to adulthood for those with autism including schooling, self-advocacy, adult services, employment, defining strengths, and much more!

Presented by V. Mark Durand, Ph.D.

Challenging behaviors top the list of concerns for families and professionals working with individuals with ASD across settings. This talk describes behavioral interventions for challenging behaviors. Although we have made impressive gains in helping reduce these problem behaviors, obstacles remain. This talk also covers how professionals can help families and others to overcome the obstacles and effectively help individuals with ASD. Replacing behavior problems is discussed along with strategies to help families and professionals be more effective in their efforts to support individuals with challenging behaviors, and how to also help themselves lead happier and less stressful lives.

Presented by Michael Murray, M.D. and Sierra Brown, Ph.D., Central ASERT

This interactive workshop will focus on “real world” applicability of components of the Multimedia Social Skills Project for Adults. Through the use of video modeling, session attendees will gain an understanding of basic social skills adults on the spectrum need to function successfully across a variety of settings. Attendees will then be guided to practice using various forms of media (e.g., TV, movies, YouTube) as a reference for teaching appropriate social skills to adults with autism. The workshop will also include video clips from past participants in the Multimedia Social Skills Project for Adults to guide discussion on how to provide feedback to individuals when they struggle in social situations.