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In Spectrum Services sibling groups, the siblings of the special needs children get to talk about how their lives have been affected by the autism disorder. They can express their frustrations and concerns with other children that are going through it at the same time… The children in these groups also get to know what it is like to have autism.Ellen
Mother of Andrew and Ethan
Workshops and Trainings


"I loved Sandy Brownsey’s workshop: her first hand examples, interactive style, and modeling of techniques. She provided a great explanation of antecedents and the importance of intervening at that level.  I will be sharing information with colleagues and encouraging them to attend future trainings Spectrum Services offers." Jenny Riehl, MSEd-CCC/SLP, Speech-language pathologist at Red Hook Central School District

The Center for Spectrum Services offers workshops and trainings on numerous topics relevant to professionals, paraprofessionals, and parents. Workshops are conducted by seasoned professionals in the autism field, including psychologists, clinical social workers, speech and language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, and behavioral specialists.  Trainings are typically three hours in length but can be modified if needed. Presentations can take place at the Center for Spectrum Services or at a location of your choosing. Workshops are designed to actively engage participants as much as possible. They may include hands-on learning activities, examples of educational or therapeutic materials or illustrative video clips.


NYS Autism Certification Course

• This course is approved by the NYS Department of Education designed to provide an introductory overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders and effective treatment practices
• A review of diagnostic categories, etiology, and current research will establish the foundation for this course
• Key factors that impact individuals within an educational setting will be discussed (e.g. communication, social skills, executive functioning, sensory, and behavioral characteristics)
• Support strategies and evidence based teaching methodologies will be presented.

This training is appropriate for: Certified administrators newly assigned to special education positions, those applying for special education certification through the individual transcript evaluation process; those applying for a special education certificate through the SED TEACH system; Parents, professionals, paraprofessionals or anyone else who is interested in gaining a foundational knowledge base about Autism

Understanding Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

• A comprehensive overview of Autism designed to provide a foundational knowledge base for teachers, clinicians, support staff and parents
• Overview of diagnostic categories of autism, etiology and current research will set the stage
• Topics will include a description and discussion of core characteristics (i.e., social, communication, sensory, behavioral) and how they impact learning and functioning in the classroom academic environment
• Best practices in providing educational and emotional/behavioral supports to help students succeed within a school environment

The Asperger’s Difference – Supporting Teens and Young Adults with their Diagnosis

• A viewing of the critically acclaimed documentary film, The Asperger’s Difference will provide a perspective of Asperger’s as seen through the eyes of young people with the diagnosis
• Discussion on how to support middle school, high school and college age students
• How and when to convey information about their diagnosis and help ensure an accurate understanding of their unique strengths, talents and perspectives 
• Specific issues tied to self-esteem, self-disclosure and self-advocacy skills will be explored

Understanding and Supporting Classmates with Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism

• Viewing of and discussion about The Asperger’s Difference film
• Activities to increase understanding about Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism
• Sensitivity exercises and identification of ways to help classmates with AS/HFA feel accepted


Enhancing Social Skills and Play Development

• Review of social characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders
• Identification and description of the unique emotional and social challenges to persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders
• Review of basic strategies and curriculum materials that address social and emotional deficits
• Review of case examples for opportunities to enhance social and emotional skills
• Brainstorming ideas and questions.

Strategies to Promote Socialization in Children with ASD

• Examination of the social characteristics of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
• Discussion of strategies to promote socialization and engagement
• Review of specific techniques such as social stories, scripting, and relaxation strategies
• Sharing of sample materials designed to enhance functioning
• Opportunity for participants to write social story collaboratively.


Introduction to the Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) Program

• Why the RDI® Program was developed
• Childhood Development – the theory behind the RDI program
• The core deficits of autism – social communication and dynamic intelligence
• How deficits in social-communication and dynamic intelligence affect child development
• How RDI® facilitates remediation of the core deficits of autism
• How parents can function as the primary facilitators of remediation within the RDI® Program
o The guided participation relationship – how parents “guide” their children within social activities
o The importance of co-regulation
o The use of computer technology, videos and video analysis to facilitate achievement of objectives.
o Overview of developmental objectives and how they are achieved
• Examples of strategies that parents and professionals can use to promote interactive relationships with their child/student within their everyday schedules.

Dynamic Intelligence - PART I:

Development of Dynamic Intelligence
• The components of dynamic intelligence
• How dynamic intelligence develops in typical children
• Why children with ASD exhibit severe deficits in dynamic intelligence
• The importance of addressing weaknesses, as well as a child’s strengths
• Why addressing deficits in dynamic intelligence can really make a difference
o Improvements in relationships and social communication skills
o Increased self regulation, body awareness and sensory functioning
o Better social and environmental awareness
o Increased intrinsic motivation to learn
o Improved flexibility and creative thinking skills
o Fewer challenging behaviors
• Simple strategies that can promote development of dynamic intelligence

Dynamic Intelligence -PART 2:

Strategies for Promoting Development of Dynamic Intelligence
(This workshop is only available as a sequel to “Dynamic Intelligence - Part 1” or the “Introduction to the RDI® Program” Workshop)

• This workshop makes use of videos, demonstrations and hands-on activities to help participants understand the techniques presented.
• Strategies will include:
- Using more experience sharing language, and less instrumental language
- Slowing down the pace – allowing space to think
- Using less language/using more language – striking a balance
- Creating opportunities for co-regulation
o Repetitive patterns
o Role assignments
o Framing
- Creating opportunities for problem solving and flexible thinking
- Creating opportunities for development of episodic memory

Developmental Methods for Treating Autism

• Definition of a “developmental” method
• How developmental methods differ from other methods of treating ASD
• An overview of the most commonly used developmental approaches
• Practical developmental strategies for use in home and in school – to foster social communication and dynamic thinking skills.


Strategies to Enhance Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Skills

• Overview of communication as a core deficit for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
• Discussion of forms of communication and pragmatic functions to teach.
• Presentation of techniques to facilitate verbalizations such as hand cues, signing and visual supports.
• Presentation of visual strategies to facilitate understanding of language.
• Video samples of strategies used to teach a variety of pragmatic functions including requesting, protesting/rejecting, labeling, commenting, greeting, asking and answering questions.
• Materials and resources displayed and discussed.

Sign Language for Individuals with Autism

• An overview of research supporting the efficacy of sign language will be presented.
• The benefits of teaching sign language will be discussed
• Functional signs will be practiced and handouts of these signs will be provided.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication Strategies
• An overview of augmentative and alternative communication strategies will be presented.
• Sign language, picture communication boards, PECS, as well as high tech systems will be discussed.
• Pros and cons of the various communication systems will be discussed.

Enhancing Communication in the Natural Environment

• Presentation of strategies to promote joint attention, social engagement and language during familiar routines.
• Discussion of playful ways to use the consistency of repetitive activities to enhance both receptive and expressive language.
• Hands-on learning and video samples will be used to demonstrate techniques to teach language in naturally occurring activities.


Supervision and Leadership: Cultivating a Passion for the Process
• This workshop is a development course for staff that work or may work in a supervisory position.
• Discussion of the difference between supervision and leadership.
• Learn to identify and become more aware of your own attitudes and practices in regards to supervising or being supervised.
• Explore effective strategies for facilitating open communication, dynamic problem solving, staff empowering, and a commitment to ongoing growth.


Understanding and Using Sensory Techniques: An Introduction

• Individuals with ASDs frequently exhibit sensory seeking and avoidance behaviors.
• This workshop offers participants an introduction to the vocabulary used to describe sensory functioning and sensory processing deficits.
• Emphasis will be placed on exploring how these concepts relate to individuals on the autism spectrum

Creating Therapeutic Sensory Environments and Programs for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

• Continuing from the introductory content of the first course, participants will explore in greater depth how to design and structure spaces and activities that meet the sensory needs of those with ASDs.
• A brief review of the concepts presented in the previous course will be offered at the start of the class.
• Based on case studies, participants will have the opportunity to practice designing sensory diets and environments that can lead to more optimal functioning for those with sensory processing deficits.


Understanding and Integrating Different Educational Approaches

• A discussion of the importance of utilizing programs based on an individual students needs and learning style as opposed to a “one size fits all” approach
• An overview of specific evidence-based educational programs including:  TEACCH, applied behavioral analysis (ABA), Picture Exchange System (PEC’s), and Relationship Development Intervention (RDI).
• Video examples will supplement program overview
• An introduction to academic and skill assessments will include a description of the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLL’s) as well as the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP)

Teaching New Skills and Behaviors to Students with Autism; Structuring the Environment for Success

• Overview of how learning and cognitive processes can be impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders
• Presentation of teaching strategies that capitalize on student’s strengths and provide support for their weaknesses 
• Practical strategies to structure the learning environment and how to incorporate visual supports (e.g., schedules, social stories and comic-strip conversations) to ensure success 
• An introduction to basic applied behavior analytic (ABA) strategies with accompanying examples of their application towards teaching new behaviors, functional activities and/or life skills   
Using Visual Supports to Teach Functional Daily Living Skills
• This workshop focuses on a variety of ways to use visual supports to improve behavior and increase independence and participation in daily routines in the home, school, and community environments.
• Examples of easy-to-use visual supports that have been successful for teaching and implementing functional daily living skills will be presented.
• This workshop will incorporate simple to follow strategies that can be used to create visual aides.
• All participants will have an opportunity to create a visual schedule to take home


Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis

• Overview of the principles of applied behavior analysis and how they are used in teaching students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
• Topics will include basic learning principles, effective use of reinforcement to increase behaviors and skills, effective teaching procedures, discrete trial instruction and strategies to increase verbal behavior
• Creating data driven programs to address academic, behavioral, daily living and social goals.
• Monitoring program effectiveness and troubleshooting learning difficulties

Functional Behavioral Assessment/Positive Behavioral Support

• Understanding the purpose that challenging behaviors serves for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and how to identify the environmental variables that impact behavior
• How to conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) utilizing various data collection tools
• Design effective behavioral support plans. An emphasis will be placed on teaching functional alternatives to problem behaviors and using differential reinforcement procedures to reduce challenging behaviors. Participants will practice applying these skills in simulated situations.
• Strategies to proactively address and meet the needs of student on the autism spectrum

Understanding and Implementing Positive Reinforcement Programs

• An overview of reinforcement as an evidence-based practice used to increase appropriate behaviors, decrease challenging behaviors and teach new skills in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders 
• How to use reinforcement programs to increase motivation, reduce barriers to learning and engage learners as they acquire new skills and behaviors.
• Understand the important concepts of reinforcement and how to utilize differential reinforcement procedures
• Creating and implementing different types of reinforcement programs.  Topics will include; identifying target skills/behaviors, how to identify positive reinforcers, utilizing token economies, selecting reinforcement schedules, troubleshooting learning barriers and monitoring learner progress.

Behavioral De-escalation and Strategies For Intervention

• This workshop will address our awareness of the individual and ourselves while dealing with challenging behaviors and the cycle of aggression.
• An in-depth discussion will focus on effective de-escalation techniques and when to use them, particularly as it applies to people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.


Life Beyond High School: College Support for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder’s

• This workshop can be differentially geared towards clinicians, educators and college administrators to better understand and support students on the spectrum OR towards parents who have a child on the spectrum that is considering college.
• High school preparation, choosing the right college, campus life and student preparation
• How to help prospective students identify as a student with a disability and obtain appropriate supports.  Positive approaches to self-disclosure and building self-advocacy skills
• Best practices in providing academic, social/emotional and behavioral supports. 
• An emphasis will be placed on High-Functioning individuals with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.


Understanding and Supporting the Parent Perspective

This workshop will help parents, extended family members, caregivers, and professionals in gaining an understanding of how autism may affect the family. We will consider the needs of the parents, the parenting relationship, siblings and the extended family. In this presentation we will
● Explore the range of parental reactions to a child’s diagnosis
● Identify the key issues that often emerge during lifestyle transitions
● Discuss the parent-professional relationship and the impact this may have on the  educational and therapeutic process
● Review strategies for supporting and empowering families.
A sensitizing video will be shown. Group discussion, activities, and handouts will  support the presentation.