Saturday, April 18, 2009

Henry Ford Health System Autism Conference

Henry Ford Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD) held the Living With Autism Workshop on Thursday, April 16th in Troy, Michigan. The workshop was tweeted in real time on twitter. Some of the information was retweeted later by Henry Ford News.

Due to the time difference as I am in California I was not able to follow along. I was given permission to post the tweets from the workshop, so these are the ones I collected. This lists the breakout sessions.

Check out live updates of our autism workshop Thursday, 8:30 a.m. here on Twitter. More info about the workshop:

Tweeted by @metroparent and @henryfordnews

Hi Everyone. The Living with Autism Workshop in Troy will start in a half-hour or so. I'll be tweeting live here today, so stay tuned

Just talked to Amy Sanderson of EMU's autism center. Her 6-year-old son Owen has autism. Nice lady

We're putting together an advisory board for Special Edition, our special needs publication. Amy may be a great candidate

Our keynote speaker today is Eustacia Cutler, her daughter is Temple Grandin, the renowned animal behavior expert and best-selling author

Ruth Robbins, Metro Parent's associate publisher, is giving opening remarks.

Full crowd. Jill Robinson of Madonna University is talking now. Small university with a big heart, she says.

Their graduate program in autism is a great program for educators.

Madonna University faculty is teaching some of the breakout sessions today. "We're here to share our knowledge," she said.

Dr. Charles Barone of Henry Ford Health System is making remarks now. They're real pioneers on autism care and have a new center.

At Henry Ford, we're committed to helping children with autism and their families," he says. Talks about the autism clinic.

Offers comprehensive plan for patients with autism. Something that's music to the ears of parents with kids with autism.

Pediatricians feel frustrated at times. We don't have a silver bullet to treat autism," Barone said.

That's why the professionals at Henry Ford offer comprehensive treatment. It's not one treatment fits all kids, he said.

I'm at the Establishing Verbal Skills for Children with Autism, presented by Kaufman Children's Center's Nancy Kaufman

Deals with childhood apraxia of speech (problems with talking), which affects around 40 percent of kids with autism

Some kids can produce oral movements, but may not be able to produce oral motor movements

There are "pop-out" words sometimes, though. The child says cookie all of a sudden when he sees one, but may not be able to talk on request

Some kids have "marble mouth" communication, where words are garbled.

Kids who can't understand spoken language will memorize key words to get by, kind of like a person trying to speak a foreign language

Two-tong approach to help: teach how to talk physically and teach them how to understand language.

Methods to help kids get ready for vocal imitation...

Use sign language as a bridge. Have a child make a sign for general words like more, done, want. Leaves too much guess work of child's wants

Kaufman's teaches more specific signs for each child. Avenue to communication. Pair with vocals later.

Kaufman protocol is a behavioral shaping approach

kids can struggle pronouncing consonants. They help kids get close to that consonant as a bridge to the real sound.

test kids to figure out what vowels, consonants and combinations a child can produce

Work with kids on the syllable combinations that are hard for them

All the while working with child to improve vocalization

Kids still sign words too. They don't let go of sign until they have mastered pronunciation of that word.

Don't deal with strings of words until kids have mastered words that they use most

Some words are easier to say, kids should practice those for oral motor skills strengthening
Kids with autism tend to cut off last part of word, which can be really important to be understood

After a while, introduce pivot words that are used in combination with a couple other words. "Move the door." "On the desk."

If kids thumps on door to communicate he wants to go out

...don't just open the door, ask "Do you want to go out? Tell me you want to go out

Many children learn from memorization, so it's important to say things in a way that they would sound natural repeating it....

Say "I want a cookie." instead of "Do you want a cookie?" for instance

Parent asks: "Can all children learn how to speak?" Good question

Answer: At least all children should be able to achieve "functional communication."

Important to create a "willing and cooperative learner" for success

Pairing is critical, creating a connection with educator

For good communication, a child must learn to make requests, which are called mands. Very difficult.

Tact is a label for something. Cookie. Door. Chair. Spoon

echoic is vocal imitation

These and more are some of the classifications of language

Signs are important, but always should be paired with vocal approximations

If child requests something (huge in communication), it's important that you give them what they want. Reinforcement!

Now in ABA and TEACCH: Merging Methods in the Classroom, presented by Hilary Hitchcock of Madonna University.

TEACCH stands for Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communications-Handicapped Children

First of importance is having a physical space for learning

Next is creating a daily schedule (pictures or words) to help understand sequence of events in day.

Then Work system. What work needs to be done? How do we know when it's done. What happens then?

Having visuals for students clarify the communication process

Pictures of choices for free time paired with words helps kids absorb information.

visually structured tasks is another key to teaching autistic children. Gives kids help in taking next steps

Written instructions important, too, even for those who can't read. Helps them get familiar with words

Visual organization of items needed for a task in one container helps limit child's focus and keep his attention.

Limit the materials, too, so not to overwhelm

ABA, or Applied Behavior Approach, is often used. Includes individualized programming for each individual student.

Prompts are an important part of ABA. Pointing to a stop sign. Picking child up when you want him to stand up.

You can prompt verbally, with gestures, physically or environmentally (placing a cup in front of child to prompt milk request.

Schedules are important to kids with autism. Helps them expect and reach appropriately to what comes next in day.

Remember: visual cues are important. Show a bus and write the word for getting off the bus to school

visual schedule for going to the bathroom is a great example. Pull pants down. bathroom duty (wait one minute), etc. wash hands

visual schedule for washing hands, too. wet hands, get soap, rinse, dry

Great for helping kids with independent work, too. Put items in order of need for the task you want child to complete

Put items in top to bottom, left to right order to prepare or cement reading pattern. (cool tip)

Timers can give kids cue that certain part of schedule is over and time to move on to new task on schedule

Rewards, of course, helps kids keep motivated to stay on task

For older kids, give them coins they can use to trade for a cookie or treat over time. Helps them learn lesson in money, too.

Colors really help kids key into important concepts and cues

Label different classrooms with numbers and colors, so they can navigate better. "I have second session in the pink room," he can think.

Simple changes and deviations can help create a system unique to each child

Some kids respond to colors, others pictures, others numbers. Still, always include words

create work stations by using colored duct tape to differentiate each area

Have portable cards with pictorial instructions to take when kid is out and about, at gym or somewhere else.

The primary lessons: organization is key. Variety in prompts (color, words, pictures) are too.

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