Autism training sessions can be customized to the district’s or group’s needs or new topics can be developed as needed. I have used a variety of formats over the years for different purposes. Standard workshops typically include lecture and discussion-based presentations with a make-and-take or practice opportunities as appropriate for the topic. Hands-on training and support have also been provided through creating and running model classrooms in the demonstration classroom or ABA training.
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Sample of Popular Workshops
Organizing Classroom Environments
Based on my book Setting Up Classroom Spaces for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, this presentation can be provided for 1/2 day or full day sessions and includes:
- Using CAPS and/or teaching plans to outline the needs of the students,
- Creating the classroom schedule,
- Setting up the physical environment,
- Organizing materials and visual supports, and
- Zoning or scheduling the staff.
Depending on the time allotted, participants often can work as teams to design an outline of their classroom schedule and environment during the training.
Taming the Data Monster
Based on the upcoming book Taming the Data Monster, this workshop is typically a 1/2 day or full day session and focuses on:
- Critical elements of collecting data
- Different types of data collection strategies
- Ways to integrate data collection into the classroom
- Methods for analyzing and evaluating data
- Interpreting data to make needed changes in programming
Seeing is Believing: Using Visuals to Support Learners Across the School
Based in part on my book Building Independence: How to Create and Use Independent Structured Work Systems, this workshop focuses on using visual supports across a variety of settings to support independence of students and prevent or reduce challenging behaviors. This is a full or half-day workshop that includes a variety of functions of visuals including how to develop and use work systems. This presentation includes:
- Discussion of a variety of functions that visual supports can serve for students with autism and special needs
- Ideas for how to choose and create visual supports to address common issues
- Guidelines for when and how to fade visual supports
- Video and pictures of a variety of visual supports in use in different environments
Building Independence Through Structured Work Systems
This is typically a 1/2 day presentation. It could be a day-long presentation with a make-and-take or more information on building independence through effective uses of prompting and reinforcement.
Structured Work Systems are amazing tools to build independence, which is so important for our students in special education. They seem easy to understand. But knowing how to set them up to be successful in your classroom isn’t always so easy. In addition, there are a tons of “versions” of work systems out there, but not all of them are effective in moving students to independence.
Beginning with how independent work systems benefit the student, the family, and the classroom, this presentation will outline the elements of independent work systems. It will walk participants through making decisions for how to set them up for their individual students. Then it will focus on how to teach students to use work systems effectively, types and examples of tasks for different ages and functioning that work well with work systems, and how to take data and increase difficulty of the system as the student progresses.
Evidence-Based Practices in Autism Spectrum Disorders
This presentation is an overview of the evidence-based practices based on the research literature and the reports of the National Professional Development Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and the National Autism Center. The presentation includes a summary of the research, an overview of each strategy and examples of implementation of the strategy. Strategies for evaluating claims of effectiveness of interventions are also discussed as well as ways that the strategies can be implemented in a school environment.
Behavioral Problem Solving
This day-long or multi-day presentation focuses on the process of understanding the underlying functions of challenging behavior, completing functional behavior assessments and developing behavior support plans. Particular focus is paid to helping participants match hypothesis statements to data collected, and developing strategies for the behavior support program that are based on the results of the FBA. Further emphasis is placed on problem solving the match between function-based interventions and the implementation in the natural environment. Examples and videos are used to encourage audience participation regarding determining functions of behavior and data collection as well as creating behavioral support plans. Teams can bring assessment information and work together to develop a behavioral support plan with coaching as part of this training as well.
Social Skills & Autism: Redefining Success in Schools
Focused on understanding the social skills differences of individuals on the autism spectrum, this presentation discusses what success looks like for all students and the impact that soft skills such as social skills can have on that success. This is particularly relevant for staff supporting those students in the general education curriculum who will need additional assistance and support to use their education to lead productive lives after school, but it is appropriate for all ages across the spectrum. An overview of the social differences and difficulty with the hidden curriculum, as well as their connection with challenging behaviors, will lead to a discussion of evidence-based strategies to address these issues and teach new skills. In addition to a discussion of strategies this presentation also addresses ways to make school models work for students with significant social difficulties and how current research in the area informs practice.
Making the IEP Process Functional From Both Sides of the Table
This presentation can be developed into a half or full-day workshop for families, school staff or a combination of participants with tips for families and for school staff surrounding each point. The focus is on the IEP process (rather than goals and objectives) and how to avoid dangerous assumptions about the other parties, how to effectively advocate for students (for staff and families), and how to communicate effectively across environments.
Hands-On Demonstration Classroom
In this training model, multiple consultants spend the week in a classroom designing the instructional schedule, establishing the staff zoning or schedule, developing individual teaching plans for each student, designing data collection systems, and developing visual supports and materials to support teaching. The demonstration classroom includes the initial visuals needed to start up a classroom including schedules, picture communication materials, token systems, communicative visual supports, and some teaching materials (e.g., educational file folders). The consultants will observe the students and set up the classroom during the first 3 days and then will adopt the staff’s role and run the classroom on the fourth day. On the fifth day, consultants will coach the staff through the new classroom setup. Key to this effort is the problem solving sessions before and after the day when the consultants run the classroom. This model is cost and time-intensive, but has worked well for getting a program set up and started as well as demonstrating for existing staff how to organize the classroom environment.
1-Week Intensive ABA Training
In this model, multiple consultants set up a mock classroom with students volunteers from the district and provide a combination of lecture and hands-on training focused on implementing applied behavior analysis strategies across the school day. In general, participants attend short lectures on specific topics (e.g., discrete trial training, effective reinforcement, data collection, etc.) and then immediately observe in the classroom to see the strategies demonstrated by the consultants. Participants then have the opportunity to work directly with the students to practice the skills they are learning with feedback from the consultants. Generally the classroom follows a typical classroom day so that strategies are used in discrete trials as well as in group activities. This model is also cost and time-intensive but can serve to train a set of staff to be comfortable implementing ABA strategies in their classrooms.
Fees for consultation are established prior to the visit and are billed at a flat rate that includes travel so costs can be predicted by the district.
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