2023 Autism Symposium
APRIL 5, 2023 | VIRTUAL
Join us for The Autism Program of Illinois’ 2023 Autism Symposium featuring both national and state-level autism experts. Our keynote speaker, Connie Kasari, Ph.D, will present An Early Intervention Model for Children with Autism: JASPER core domains, evidence, and implementation.
Our lineup of statewide experts, associated with TAP, will present their research findings about current evidence-based therapeutic trends.
The Symposium is free to attend for those not wishing to claim continuing education credit. If you would like to claim the provided CEU’s, there is a $40 fee payable upon registration. If you have any questions regarding CEU’s, please contact Mary Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BCBA CEU’s will be provided by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Additional CEU’s will be provided by the Institute on Disability and Human Development at University of Illinois Chicago.
9:00 AM – 10:15 AM | Introduction and Presentation 1 – A Collaborative Approach to Assessing Augmentative and Alternative Communication Modalities for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Valerie Boyer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
- Grace Lafo, B.S., B.A., Southern Illinois University Carbondale
- Denise Croft, M.S., CCC-SLP, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
- Lesley Shawler, Ph.D., BCBA, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
10:30AM – 11:30 AM | Enhancing ABA Assessment and Treatment Using Basic and Advanced Computer-Assisted Technology
- Dr. Mark R Dixon, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Illinois at Chicago
- Zhihui Yi, BCBA, University of Illinois at Chicago
- Meredith Matthews, M.S., University of Illinois Chicago
- Amanda Chastain, BCBA, University of Illinois at Chicago
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM | Keynote Presentation – An Early Intervention Model for Children with Autism: JASPER core domains, evidence, and implementation
- Connie Kasari, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
1:45 PM – 3:00 PM |Presentation 4 and Closing – Testing the Effectiveness of an Advocacy Program among Parents of Transition-aged Youth with Autism
- Meghan Burke, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Connie Kasari, Ph.D.
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9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
Introduction and Presentation 1
A Collaborative Approach to Assessing Augmentative and Alternative Communication Modalities for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Speech-language pathologists and board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) are frequently part of augmentative and alternative communication teams in settings such as public schools or clinics to develop knowledge and skills of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) to ensure optimal outcomes for their clients. AAC can support communication through functional communication development, replacement for challenging behaviors, and to augment natural speech acquisition. There is no one-size fits all approach to AAC (Light & McNaughton, 2012). AAC is designed to be individualized to the needs of the user and the family. There appear to be individual variables that may contribute to a better fit with different types of AAC (Nunes, 2015). For example, children who do not sustain joint attention may be better suited to an AAC system built around a picture exchange, as the act of exchanging the picture requires shared attention (Flippin et al., 2010). However, research is minimal that compares outcomes between use of a speech generating device program and a low-tech pictures exchange for students with limited joint attention to determine if the SGD has comparative benefit for children with limited joint attention. The purpose of our research attempts to answer questions about what individual variables lead to better fit with specific AAC systems. Results for at least three participants will be presented with specific implications related to collateral behaviors such as challenging behavior, preference, social validity, and possible prerequisites. integrity.
Participants will be able to:
- Describe multimodal systems for augmentative and alternative communication.
- Discuss aspects of initial data collection in augmentative and alternative communication assessment.
- Utilize cases to reflect aspects of early augmentative and alternative communication intervention
Authorship: Valerie Boyer, Grace Lafo, Denise Croft, Lesley Shawler, Yeni Ramos, and Karli Wright
Valerie Boyer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Dr. Valerie Boyer is an associate professor and program director in communication disorders and sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Dr. Boyer is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist. Dr. Boyer is recognized as a Mark and Susan Ashley Endowed Professor. She supervises graduate students at the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. She also conducts research on AAC with young children with ASD.
Grace Lafo, B.S., B.A., Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Grace Lafo is a first-year master’s student in the Communication Disorders and Sciences program who is also completing a verified course sequence to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. Grace is the current Research Coordinator for CASD, studying augmentative and alternative communication, instructive feedback, and parents’ experiences with the autism spectrum disorder diagnostic process in southern Illinois. A majority of her client experience involves teaching functional communication to children with challenging behaviors.
Denise Croft, M.S., CCC-SLP, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Denise Croft is currently serving as interim director at the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is an assistant lecturer, clinical supervisor, and externship coordinator for the Communication Disorders and Sciences Program at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale (SIUC). Denise is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist. She holds the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence. She supervises graduate students in the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Lesley Shawler, Ph.D., BCBA, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Dr. Lesley Shawler is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and earned her Ph.D. from the Institute of Applied Behavior Studies – Endicott College in 2019 under the advisement of Dr. Caio Miguel. She completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Neurobehavioral Unit and Clinical Outcomes department. Dr. Shawler has experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health diagnoses across the lifespan and in a myriad of settings. Her main expertise includes the assessment and treatment of challenging behavior and teaching verbal behavior to individuals with Autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.
10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Enhancing ABA Assessment and Treatment Using Basic and Advanced Computer-Assisted Technology
This symposium will span multiple innovative areas in the delivery of behavior-analytic intervention and research for autism using computer-assisted technologies. The presentation will include 1) an applied study comparing traditional table-top relational training (RT) and computer-assisted RT in learner engagement and robustness in derived relational responding; 2) a system-level exploratory randomized trial evaluating the effect of a custom-built system on learner and staff outcomes among eight students receiving RT as part of their Individualized Education Programs (IEP) in a public school setting; and 3) a technical report on several common platforms that software practitioners and researchers can use to enhance ABA assessment and treatment processes. Implications for improving and optimizing the delivery of RT procedures and related research using computer-assisted technology will be discussed.
- Attendees will be able to define and describe applications of computer-assisted technology in behavior-analytic settings.
- Attendees will be able to provide examples on potential benefits of computer-assisted technologies in relational training.
- Attendees will be able to provide examples on common platforms and software they can use to enhance ABA assessment and treatment processes.
Authorship: Mark R. Dixon, Zhihui Yi, Meredith Matthews, Amanda Chastain
Dr. Mark R. Dixon, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Illinois at Chicago
Dr. Dixon is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst – Doctorate and a clinical professor at the Department of Disability and Human Development. Dr. Dixon has published 12 books, over 230 peer reviewed journal articles, and delivered 1000s of presentations around the globe. His research and/or expert opinions have been featured in Time Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, National Public Radio, This American Life, and Netflix’s series Bill Nye Saves the World. Dr. Dixon cares for individuals and their families impacted by autism and other developmental disabilities through his innovative research that guides practice. He has generated millions of dollars of funding to infuse behavior analysis within local schools and treatment facilities and created multiple clinics for persons diagnosed with autism and related conditions.
Zhihui Yi, BCBA, University of Illinois at Chicago
Zhihui is a bilingual Board-Certified Behavior Analyst who works with children, teenagers, and their families that are impacted by autism and other developmental disabilities. Mr. Yi is the Clinical Coordinator at CBM and currently oversees the Language and Cognition Program, and the Caregiver Training and Consultation Program. Mr. Yi is dedicated to improving equal access to evidence-based treatment among minority groups and is interested in improving language, adaptive skills, and overall independence among those he works with. His research interests include relational frame theory, language-based interventions, and early intervention for children with autism.
Meredith Matthews, M.S., University of Illinois Chicago
Meredith recently completed a Master of Science degree in applied behavior analysis and has worked with children, adolescents, and young adults with disabilities for the past four years. Meredith is a clinical supervisor and the Research Coordinator at the Cognition Behavior and Mindfulness (CBM) clinic. Her research interests include mindfulness-based therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, evidence-based practices for individuals with autism, as well as broader social issues such as climate change.
Amanda Chastain, BCBA, University of Illinois at Chicago
Amanda completed her master’s degree in Psychology (Applied Behavior Analysis) at California State University, Sacramento. After graduation, she received training and supervision in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy while working as a Senior Research Associate in an Applied Behavior Analysis lab at the University of Southern California. Ms. Chastain has delivered several conference presentations and workshops and has published her work in various locations. Ms. Chastain is currently working towards obtaining her Doctorate in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her current research focuses on complex verbal behavior, Relational Frame Theory, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
An Early Intervention Model for Children with Autism: JASPER core domains, evidence, and implementation
The ability to engage with others and to communicate are primary targets of early interventions for children with autism. This talk will focus on an early intervention model, JASPER, that has been tested using randomized controlled trials across multiple implementers (therapists, teachers, parents) with children at different ages and developmental levels. New research approaches to personalizing interventions will be addressed, emphasizing what research can contribute to clinical practice.
- Participants will be able to identify two specific targets of early intervention that are important to the development of autistic children.
- Participants will identify an effective approach for learning spoken language in children who are minimally verbal.
- Participants will identify a research method that aims to individualize interventions and better meet children’s unique needs.
Connie Kasari, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Connie Kasari is the Distinguished Professor of Human Development & Psychology in the School of Education with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry. She received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been on the faculty at UCLA where she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses and has been the primary advisor to more than 70 PhD students. She is a founding member of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment at UCLA. Her research aims to development novel, evidence-tested interventions implemented in community settings. Recent projects include targeted treatments for early social communication development in at-risk infants, toddlers and preschoolers with autism, and peer relationships for school aged children with autism. She leads several large multi-site studies including a network on interventions for minimally verbal school aged children with ASD, and a network that aims to increase equity in access to interventions for children with ASD who are under-represented in research trials. She is the current president of the International Society of Autism Research.
1:45 PM – 3:00 PM
Presentation 4 and Closing
Using Telepractice to Build Capacity Within Families and Communities
After exiting high school, many parents of transition-aged youth with autism report a “services cliff” wherein it is difficult to navigate, identify, and access adult services for their offspring with autism. Adult service delivery systems are often in silos, fragmented and under-funded making it hard for families to receive needed services. To address the challenges in accessing adult services, we developed and tested a 24-hour advocacy program for parents of transition-aged autistic youth. Our research questions were: Is the advocacy program feasible? And, Is the advocacy program effective in improving knowledge about adult services, advocacy skills, and empowerment? Our research design was a multi-site randomized controlled trial study across three states. We had 186 parents of transition-aged youth with autism participate in the project. Our results show that the program was feasible as demonstrated by high attendance and low attrition as well as high participant satisfaction. Preliminary results suggest the program increases knowledge, advocacy and empowerment. We are now working on an adapted version of the program for Latinx, Spanish-speaking families of youth with autism. Implications suggest that advocacy programs may be effective in improving youth outcomes.
Participants will be able to:
- Understand the challenges in navigating adult service delivery systems.
- Learn the rigorous research design and measures needed to evaluate whether an advocacy program is effective and feasible.
- Identify implications to improve equity in access for services.
Meghan Burke, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Meghan Burke is a professor of Special Education and Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also the co-associate director for the LEND program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her PhD and master’s degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt University. She completed her post-doctoral training in the Disability and Human Development Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on improving access to services among family members of individuals with disabilities, primarily autism. Dr. Burke has funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, Spencer Foundation, and the Office of Special Education Programs to help fund her research. Dr. Burke has a child with autism herself; thus, she is personally and professionally invested in improving access to services among families of individuals with autism.
The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP) Service Network is a collaboration of 5 universities and 10 organizations that together operate 20 centers across the state. As a network, TAP is able to offer services that respond to the unique needs of different communities across Illinois.
The Autism Program of Illinois
5220 S. 6th Street,
Springfield IL 62703