BYU Autism Workshop to Focus on Intervention

January 29 sessions will center on research on best practices in autism interventions.

Behavioral issues can make caring for those with autism spectrum disorder very challenging. Interventions can result in improved skills and greater independence, making life easier for all involved.

In partnership with Brigham Young University’s David O. McKay School of Education, BYU Continuing Education will host the third annual Autism Translational Research Workshop on January 29, 2016.

Best Practices in Autism: What's New in Autism Intervention Research? is a one-day workshop to be held at the BYU Conference Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., emphasizing everyday ways to help patients, students, and children be more successful, as shown through evidence-based interventions. The workshop will teach attendees how to incorporate research findings into practice.

Presenters are from BYU, Utah State University, University of Utah, and Utah Valley University. Sponsors include BYU, David O. McKay School of Education, Timpanogos Regional Hospital, and BYU Continuing Education.

“Interventions are ways to either teach a new skill or help a person become more independent,” said BYU Professor Terisa Gabrielsen, the workshop organizer. Gabrielsen will also present on the Early Start Denver Model of intervention for little children.

“There will be a wide variety of interventions for children, adolescents, and adults,” Gabrielsen said. One of the speakers, BYU Professor Blake Hansen, will discuss applied behavior analysis interventions that can be implemented in the classroom for children and teens. BYU Professor Mikle South will present on the therapy technique of mindfulness and emotional training for anxiety.

Interventions for autism in the early years focus on readiness for learning new skills such as sitting in a chair, paying attention to other people, and responding in social interactions. As the individuals get older, they’re taught how to become independent learners and contributors to society.

Heidi Woolley, a professor of clinical occupational therapy at the University of Utah, will discuss interventions that regulate sensory systems and prevent sensory overreaction and the seeking of a certain sensation. “Occupational therapists can help individuals tolerate their sensory sensitivities better,” Gabrielsen said.

Teresa Cardon, interim director of the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism at Utah Valley University, and Stacy Shumway Manwaring, professor of communications disorders at the University of Utah, will present the latest research on best practices for language interventions in children with very low language levels. Aaron Fischer, a professor from the University of Utah, will address feeding disorders such as food selectivity in his sessions.

The schedule this year will utilize a break-out format. After 25-minute overviews in the morning, there will be three concurrent, in-depth sessions to choose from. The featured lunch speaker will be Thomas Higbee, program director of Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training (ASSERT) in Utah State University’s Department of Special Education, speaking on social play interventions.

Registration for the conference is available online (http://autism.ce.byu.edu/registration), by phone (877-221-6716), or in person at BYU’s Harman (Continuing Education) Building. For more information, visit http://autism.ce.byu.edu.