Southern Utah Autism Conference  2016

 Link to Presentations for all Speakers

Keynote Speaker-Jared Stewart

Autism — It Takes a Village!

Autism is a family affair.  The symptoms, challenges, and successes do not happen in a vacuum, but the focus has understandably been on the individual with the autism-spectrum disorder.  This presentation will briefly review some of the major issues faced by families with a loved one on the spectrum, (including siblings, sleep, long-term care, diet, and even the possibility of marriage and families of their own), and discuss tips for minimizing negative impacts while facilitating optimal outcomes.



Sessions Descriptions

Jared Stewart

Autism and Sexuality– what we don’t know CAN hurt us!

Among all the research and discussion of issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorders, one subject is consistently overlooked: sexuality.  And yet, despite the developmental delays associated with ASD, people with autism are still people—with the same hormones, same urges, and same physical development; and who face the same decisions that neurotypicals do.  Parents, professionals, and caregivers may find it awkward or unpleasant to address sexual issues, but ignoring the subject is neither helpful nor possible.  In this interactive presentation, participants will learn both the critical importance of sexual education and a host of tips for effective teaching and intervention across the lifespan.


Autism and Executive Function– as easy as PIE (Planning, Initiation, Execution)

Individuals with autism often struggle with what are known as Executive Functions–all of the cognitive processes required for producing and sustaining consciously controlled, intentionally goal-directed behaviors.  They have a hard time making decisions, taking action, following through, and exhibiting necessary self-awareness along the way.  This presentation will cover the basics of assessing and addressing EF deficits, including some tips on dealing with the anxiety that often complicates the process even further.


Autism and Transition–preparing for the cliffs

In the midst of all the constant interventions and advocacy which characterize autism-spectrum disorders in childhood, it is easy to forget that children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, and that transition must be prepared for.  This presentation will cover the TWO autism service “cliffs” and tips to prepare successfully for them.  



TJ Glahn

ACT & Autism:  Being Present as a workable way of of achieving psychological flexibility, the most current ABA approach
ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) is an evidence-based form of Behavior Therapy that was developed in the 1980’s (Hayes, S.C, Strosahl, K.D., & Wilson, K.G., 2002), thoroughly defined in the 1990’s and has impacted the way in which Behavior Therapy is conducted.  One of the central premises associated with ACT rests with the need for parent, caregiver, teacher, and interventionist’s need to BE PRESENT when working with the person diagnosed with Autism. Enhancing one’s level of awareness to the nuances of the interaction can and will improve the therapeutic relationship and treatment outcome.  ACT & Autism will be explored and current work being done in this area will be presented.  Attendees will walk away with easy to implement techniques for ensuring Being Present during engagement and learning activities.  Additionally, Being Present can facilitate social awareness and reduce social awkwardness.  Social exchange exercises will be defined and modeled for immediate application by attendees.

Nature Deficit Disorder & Its Remediation

Teaching outside with ease can be both simple and necessary to combat technologies’ downside.  Our children with autism are learning to learn from screens better than from other experiences.  Teaching the BIG PICTURE and learning TO LOOK UP will teach viable ways to reduce the individual’s  isolation and facilitate inclusion; inclusion in our natural world.  As Temple Grandin said last year at an Arizona conference, “It is time to get out of the basement”…and might I add, into the outdoors.


Nature-Based Play Area & Landscapes

Spaces for fostering exploration, calming, reviving and creativity are needed. We will discuss needs, options and then create a PLACE OF NATURAL VALUE for all to share together.  This need not be costly, but it does take thought to clarify the mission and collaboration for its creation and sustainability……….a nature space will become possible for all to create. Its value can be overwhelming for the joy it brings and the receptiveness to learn through self-directed exploration.

Audience-Concerned Citizens for all levels

“FUN & FUNCTIONAL Learning” In The Classroom

Incorporating naturalistic teaching as an ABA driven approach.  Naturalistic Teaching has been listed in connection with incidental teaching and PRT.  Let’s learn how to successfully balance all ABA procedures to create a more contextual classroom including the designing of curriculum. The result can be enhanced learning for the student with autism and related disorders as well as a more fluid instructional setting that flows evenly between Discrete Trial (DTT) and Naturalistic Teaching (NT).    

Audience-Teachers, Parents, intermediate to advanced level

Krisanne Lewis

Sensory vs. Behavior

Sensory Integration and Behavior management strategies will be compared and contrasted.  Participants will learn how to combine the approaches, and also when they should use a sensory-based approach vs. a behavior remediation approach.  Information will be presented about how to identify the purpose of a “behavior”.

Audience-pre-K to adolescents

Sensory Integration Strategies in the Classroom

Participants will learn practical, hands-on strategies for addressing sensory-based behaviors in the classroom.  Strategies will include environmental modifications, individual treatment strategies, and group (classroom management) techniques.


Sensory Integration Theory

Participants will learn about the background and research base supporting Sensory Integration treatment.  Treatment strategies will not be discussed in this session. Participants will learn to identify common signs of sensory processing differences, and will evaluate the research behind commonly used sensory strategies.


Handwriting: Best Practice

Participants will evaluate the research base regarding handwriting instruction in order to determine evidence-based teaching methods/strategies.  Participants will learn how a child’s handwriting skills affect reading, math, and composition abilities.  Specific programs will be discussed, including Handwriting Without Tears, Zaner-Bloser, and others.  In addition, common methods for handwriting instruction will be discussed, in order to allow professionals to determine the most effective instructional methods for their classrooms.  
Audience-pre-K to 6th grade

Suzanne Grimshaw

Seen and Unseen

One of the most challenging aspects about relationships is learning how to appropriately respond to what we cannot see in ourselves—our thoughts and feelings; and what we cannot see in others—their thoughts and feelings. In addition to these components, we are all part of a continuous chain of events that are all connected. This means an experience I have may influence the next experience I have even though the two may be completely disconnected and unrelated. In other words, my interactions with others will be influenced by unseen thoughts, emotions, and previous experiences of myself and those I am interacting with. Pretty complicated stuff!
The intent of this presentation is to help make sense of some of the unseen aspects that influence our interactions in preparation for focusing on the ‘seen’ parts of interactions—what we say and do.
Audience-Parents and Educators

Our interactions with others are like a major highway system

Human interaction is very complex. Our day-to-day interactions with others are made up of thoughts, feelings, experiences, body-language, and of course, words. There are unspoken social norms and rules we expect each other to abide by, and not following such rules can lead to awkwardness, embarrassment, even pain. But as we learn how to navigate interactions with others, it can become a meaningful way to get our needs met.
Our interactions with others are like a major highway system. There are rules to follow, signs to guide us, and if done right, we not only get where we need to go, we may enjoy our time driving. Just like in social interactions, there will be bumps in the road, maybe even major car crashes when we misread a sign or a cue, or don’t follow the rules of the road.
A person who is first learning to drive is going to feel extremely intimidated by the fast hustle and bustle of a freeway covered with various lines, signs, and speeding drivers. That is why a beginning driver starts on safe, simple roads until they become comfortable. Then they can venture into faster, more complicated territory. This lesson is set up the same way. Here, participants will begin to learn about the basics of how to connect with others through conversations. As the presentation progresses, it is much like gradually going from a single lane road to a major highway wherein we will teach students different rules and signs to help them have social success.

Jessica Bowman

Utah Autism Data

This session will look at SAGE/DLM and early literacy assessment scores for students with autism statewide. We will also look at least restrictive environment data, and discuss possible implications and next steps according to the data.

Audience-Education Professionals


Kristen Wilson

ABA for the SLP

How speech language pathologists can apply the principles of ABA to their sessions and supervision.


Making Life Easier

Using the principles of ABA at home. Teaching parents to use scientifically based principles easily in the home (routines, schedules, etc.) to make each day easier.

Audience-Parents and Educators

Building Up instead of Melting Down

How to use ABA and communication strategies to enhance student/child learning, reduce frustration, increase communication and keep from having meltdowns.


Christina Guevara

Supporting Students in the Classroom

Many general education teachers have had limited training on how to support students with autism in the classroom. Despite working with a special education teacher, resources and support may be inconsistent. This presentation will offer several quick, low-cost, and easy-to-implement strategies for supporting a student with and without autism in the inclusive classroom. Strategies include areas such as instruction, measuring mastery, sensory integration, social skills instruction, and more.


Social Skills Programs

Social skills instruction has proven to be a critical component when programming for a student with autism. This presentation will review the most recent research regarding autism, social skills, and the long-term effects for individuals as they transition into adulthood. Strategies for how to develop a solid program with emphasis on social skills instruction through adulthood will be presented.


Kyle Bringhurst

Treating and Identifying Mental Health Conditions

Co-occurring mental health conditions associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder, how to identify them and treat them.

Audience-All ages

Elizabeth Banner

Strengthening and Developing Relationships

“A child whose behavior pushes you away is a child who needs connection before anything else”,
-Kelly Bartlett

Children with autism typically experience a range of behaviors and emotions that can push others away at home and school, and their relationships with parents, teachers, and peers can often be strained.  Children with autism can sometime have stressful interactions with their parents or teachers that make it difficult for them to establish and maintain strong relationships.  This lack of a strong relationship in their lives can lead to difficulties at school and at home and can display lower levels of academic achievement and motivation.

Having my own son with autism, and working with countless children who have autism and other disabilities over the past eight years, has helped me to realize that the foundation for working with difficult behaviors needs to be founded on a good relationship.

Building a relationship with someone who is trying to push you away however is not easy.  Knowing when and how to approach a child (or teenager) who is exhibiting a difficult behavior is not magic, it is a skill like anything else.  Understanding and developing these skills can help build relationships with not only children with autism but can be used with anyone that you interact with.

Putting the students’ emotional needs first is critical.  Without feeling safe and listened to, no instructional strategies will be effective.  If we build strong relationships in the classroom and at home, children will feel valued, safe, and real learning can occur.  

There are certain skills that can help those working with children (and teenagers) with autism understand what to do and not do, how to approach the child, and how to stay calm in stressful situations.  I would love to have the opportunity to share the skills that I have learned over the years to help others learn to strengthen and develop relationships with our wonderful children who have autism.  

Your Son has Autism

I remember the day. Sitting in a doctor’s office with my husband hearing the results. “Your son has Autism Spectrum Disorder.” I remember the feelings of relief, yes relief. Something was obviously different about our fourth child, but until that day, all we had was fear. Now we had a name, and a starting point. We chose to accept this news as an opportunity and that has made all of the difference.”

If you have recently learned that your child has or might have a developmental disorder, or even if you have been living with this special situation for some time. You worry about what comes next. You may be unsure about how to best help your child, how to keep your family together.

A diagnosis of developmental disorder affects every member of the family in different ways. There are times when the demands of living with a special needs child can be great, and families frequently experience high levels of stress. Developing coping skills can make a monumental difference to all involved, including parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family, and friends. The proverbial “silver lining” is real; the quicker that you find it the quicker the opportunities present themselves.

Each child with autism is unique which makes the experience of living with autism different for each family. But there are some consistent themes or issues that most families, and those that work with those with autism, will want to be aware of to be able to provide the best support to the individual and to their family members. While it is true that autism is not something a person simply “grows out of,” there are many skills that can help families learn to cope with a wide variety of challenges. With the right skills in place, and a lot of love and support, your child and family can learn, grow, and thrive.

These coping skills will help to equip families with some of the basic tools they may need to provide the best outcomes for their loved ones on the autism spectrum. Application of these coping skills moves a family and a classroom out of “surviving” and into enjoying the rewarding challenges that lie ahead.
Audience-Teachers, Parents, administrators, all grade levels

Classroom Environments

Go back to when you were a student for a minute and imagine that learning in that school setting is not happening easily.  Maybe there is a lot going on in that classroom, maybe there are noises or lights that are making it difficult for you to concentrate, or maybe the teachers lesson pace is so fast that you can’t process all of the information.  The school environment can be difficult for any student but for students with autism who are struggling to make meaning of their educational experience it can be detrimental.
There are certain tips that can help teachers, paraprofessionals, related service providers and Special Education administrators that work with students in an autism classroom or self-contained special education classroom.  Tips such as how to implement schedules and reward systems and how to differentiate.  How to set up the classroom for sensory and processing needs and many more.
Schools need to provide a welcoming environment for students with autism and other special education students. Setting up the classroom environment helps so that effective classroom strategies can then be successfully implemented.  There are tactics to consider when building a learning environment.    
Audience-Teachers, parents, administrators, all grade levels

Ryan Hawks and  Scott Wood, LCSW.

The Bridges We Call Relationships: 10 Activities to Improve Family Bonds and Social Interactions
Why is it that as parents we sometimes feel as if we are standing on one side of a canyon and our child is standing on the other? We can see and feel the need to build some sort of bridge, but are not sure how to or what the bridge should look like. This session will help identify tools you already possess, as well as additional skills necessary to build those bridges – and strengthen those already established. Presenters will focus on 10 hands-on activities you can use with your family to help strengthen family bonds, enhance your child’s ability to make friends and generally improve interpersonal relationships.

Audience-Parents and Educators

Tom Evans

Token Boards and Reinforcement Systems That Work!
This presentation will include ABA skills that work and can be generalized in most settings. The participants will learn how to establish a strong reinforcement system in the classroom/home. They will learn how to identify which reinforcers will be most motivating to their student. Learn how to effectively reward children based upon the type of response (verbal/nonverbal) the child gives.

Learn how data collection is used to identify trends in behavior. By analyzing accurate behavioral data, progress or regression patterns can be identified and reinforcements can be adjusted according to need. New behavioral patterns can also be targeted through behavioral data collection.  Learn how to confidentially account for target behaviors, on your white board and individual rewards systems.
Audience-K-5 Severe/Mild Moderate Teachers, Pathologists, Behavioral Therapists, Autism Teachers, Special Education Directors, principals and parents

Uh-Oh! Transition Times and Meltdowns.  
This presentation includes personal experiences in applying behavioral analysis to trigger behaviors and meltdowns. Ways to identify and modify these behaviors before they escalate will be discussed. Explanation of the function and support of the behaviors will also be reviewed. Discuss ways to use ABA skills to devise a plan to manage meltdowns throughout the day with behavioral analysis techniques and the application of positive reinforcement systems.
Audience-K-5 Severe/Mild Moderate Teachers, Pathologists, Behavioral Therapists, Autism Teachers, Special Education Directors, principals and parent


Nicole Stevens, LMFT, BCBA

Partnering with teens for success!

Strategies and techniques for involving teens in successful interventions and developing prosocial behaviors. Bring your real-life examples – time will be spent applying principles to your specific scenarios.

Audience-Teachers and Parents

Sarah Sanders, M.Ed., BCBA & Michelle Nadalsky, M.A., BCBA

How the Autism Mandate Law impacts your students and classrooms

Teachers and parents will be provided with an overview of EIBI (Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention) and the specific early learner skills that are targeted, as well as a discussion of why and how this should have an impact on the students and classrooms they attend, and what that impact might look like.

Audience-Teachers and Parents

Dr. Aaron Fischer

Problem-Solving Behavior Needs Using Telepresence Robots

Typically, school and parent consultation (e.g., conjoint behavioral consultation) is conducted face-to-face; however, the application of videoconferencing, through mobile telepresence robots, offers a potentially viable alternative to conduct the consultative process, especially for teachers and parents in rural areas. Furthermore, the use of mobile robotic telepresence within the consultative framework may further the utility of videoconferencing by increasing efficiency and utility, and facilitate mobility of the remotely located consultant.

Audience-Elem and Secondary

Increase Student Compliance Using Telepresense Robots
Compliance to teacher requests/demands are an integral aspect of classroom management (Bertsch et al., 2009). Student compliance facilitates appropriate classroom behavior (Thompson & Webber, 2010) and reduces the occurrence of disruptive behavior (Killu et al., 1998). Interventions with components targeting specific behavior functions are effective at reducing problem behaviors that would continue to worsen without treatment (Wacker et al., 2013). The current study evaluated the use of telepresence robotics to consult with and coach teachers and paraprofessionals to implement behavior intervention plans (BIP) developed to increase student compliance. A concurrent multiple baseline design across students and classrooms was conducted using a three-step prompting procedure to increase student compliance. Through teleconsultation, consultants were able to develop BIPs and coach teachers and paraprofessionals to implement a three-step prompting and provide performance feedback to ensure treatment integrity.  The results of this study indicate that teleconsultation through telepresence robotics is an effective modality to consult with and coach teachers and paraprofessionals to implement three-step prompting with high levels of treatment integrity, and improve student compliance.