BYU & David O. McKay School to Host First-Ever Autism Best Practices Workshop

The one-day interdisciplinary event will feature experts on autism care, treatment, and education.

Becoming a step parent

Utah has a high rate of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), with 1 in 54 children displaying autism symptoms. In response to the need for accessible information on ASD, a new interdisciplinary workshop titled “Best Practices in Autism: An Interdisciplinary Approach” will take place May 30 at the BYU Conference Center.

Before coming to BYU, Terisa Gabrielsen, now an assistant professor of school psychology in the Department of Counseling, Psychology and Special Education, worked at the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. During her time there, Gabrielsen was a presenter at a series of autism workshops for professionals and families.

“The feedback from the workshops in Philadelphia was always very positive,” Gabrielsen said. “It emphasized the value of learning more about autism from the viewpoint of the multiple disciplines that serve individuals on the autism spectrum.”

Encouraged by the positive feedback from the Philadelphia workshops, Gabrielsen wanted to do a similar workshop in Utah. “With the high rate of autism spectrum diagnoses in Utah, services and continuing education facilities are struggling to meet the increasing needs of families,” Gabrielsen said. “We follow research that is continually coming out on effective treatments and possible causes and we can help professionals come up to speed with the latest information on how to care for their patients and students with autism spectrum disorders.”

With the help of the Utah State Office of Education and several university faculty members from universities and professionals from around the valley, Gabrielsen organized the “Best Practices in Autism” workshop. Participants will listen to a variety of experts in different fields that contribute to understanding and treating autism, from pediatricians to psychiatrists, concerning the latest research and practices in autism care, treatment, and education. After the workshop, attendees will be able to meet with experts in a question and answer session.

"Our goal is to improve the lives of families living with autism spectrum disorders,” Gabrielsen expressed. “We hope the information gained at this workshop will help professionals and participants integrate best practices into their own care and teaching.”

Additional goals of the workshop include opportunities for attendees to network and to learn about resources available online. One of these resources is the BYU Autism website which will be presented at the workshop and continue to be updated as new research and information become available.

Along with the increasing prevalence of autism in Utah, interest in autism research and services is increasing. Among additional conferences, Salt Lake City will be hosting the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) international conference in May 2015.

Contact: Cindy Glad (801) 422-1922

Writer: Stephanie Jackson