2nd Annual Autism Conference

Over 200 people gathered at Pioneer Park

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Written by Denys Collins

On October 5th and 6th, more than 200 people gathered at Pioneer Park for the Autism Society of Alaska’s Second Annual Autism Conference.   The two day event saw people from all over Alaska including attendees from the Aleutians. Individuals with autism, professionals, educators, family members, and caregivers filled the Civic Center ready to learn and connect. Michelle Garcia Winner began Thursday bright and early with her keynote on Social Thinking and focused the day applying it to younger kids. On day two she  dug deeper into Social Thinking with application on teens and adults. Following her second day keynote began the 8  breakout sessions from local Alaskan speakers and a chance to visit the 15 exhibit booths to conclude the final day.

The Needs of the State

Vibrations of conversations filled the air with people making face-to- face connections. Those interested in networking and learning about products, resources, and services that address the needs and enhance the lives of individuals that experience autism were able to connect on a deeper level during the conference. One parent stated, “These past few days have been so impactful to me.I have learned so much and have received the gift of perspective.While being so informative it has also been a very emotional 2 days.”

“A beautiful connection between information and individuals blooms during the conference. We format the topics based on the overarching questions our organization hears come through our door from across the State. As an options based organization we see our role as being the platform for all resources, information and services for Alaskans. The conference gives us a stage to connect our community to the diverse resources available to help reach the needs of our families, ” expressed Danielle Tessen, the Executive Director for the Autism Society of Alaska.

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Attendees Registering (Photo Courtesy of Willow Photography)

This Alaskan focused information and interaction was made  possible because of  our generous sponsors and dedicated volunteers. In order for every Alaskan that experiences autism to have the highest quality of life, we must all do our part together as a community. This is precisely what was seen at the conference, Alaskans uniting to support those impacted by autism. It is also the reason the Autism Society of Alaska saw a need to host the first conference in 2016.

“Alaska has some amazing resources.  My intention with starting the ASA conference was to network at every level from parents to service providers and individuals who experience autism all under one roof.  Along with that idea is the reality that most of us can not afford to travel outside to seek additional information.  With everyone together, it’s another opportunity to enrich what Alaska has with some additional amazing outside resources like we have had the opportunity to do with Dr. Temple Grandin and Michelle Garcia Winner.  The power of shared information is an amazing catapult to impacting the lives of those who experience autism and the community of those who support and love them!” explained Brandy Raby, Board President of the Autism Society of Alaska.

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Michelle Garcia Winner (Willow Photography)

Michelle Garcia Winner & Social Thinking

Michelle Garcia Winner guided attendees  through Social Thinking strategies and treatment frameworks during her interactive presentations. Those attending were able to learn and understand that socializing is more complex than they may have previously thought prior to the event. Winner broke up the multifaceted process into simpler steps and concepts to better understand and apply in day to day situations. She unpacked a topic most of us never think about to find the core social issue those with autism may experience. The message resonated with many, as we heard in the comments in our evaluations and public testimony. Those with the fortunate opportunity to listen  found the atmosphere to be “relaxed,” and the information to be “relevant” and “useful.” Winner answered questions and offered insightful workshop time among those present.  By the end, many left with a new mindset on social cognition and what it means to  socialize. A framework all attending can apply to day to day life to positively impact our community.

Keeping it Local

Most of the second day focused on  information and resources for Alaska. 15 exhibiting booths offered one on one time to discuss services, agencies, and resources in state. Speakers from around the area covered an extensive variety of topics.

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Christie Reinhardt (Courtesy of Abigail Paige Photography)
  • Feel at Home: Unlock the Door to Healthy Living and Leisure with Amiee C. Smith, M.A: Alaska Autism Resource Center.
  • Alphabet Soup: ABA, BCBA, RBT and EPSDT (Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Behavior Analysis and How Medicaid is Going to Cover It) with Christie Reinhardt, Program Coordinator II: The Governor’s Council on Disabilities & Special Education.
  • Microenterprise Grant Application Process with Larrisa Cummings, Microenterprise Grant Fund Administrator: UAA Center for Human Development.
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    Heidi Lieb-Williams (Abigail Paige Photography)
  • Functional Neurological Interventions for Autism with Dr. Daniel Costello, DC: Alaska Brain and Spine.
  • What Can I Choose? Exploring Devices and Equipment Commonly Used to Influence Sensory Needs with Derrick Cannon, PT, DPT & Traci Roon, PT: Building Blocks.
  • Living Puzzled: How Being Autistic has Shaped My Purpose in Life with Heidi Lieb-Wiliams: Speaker/Self Advocate, Mom, Self Employed Entrepreneur, Actress & Aspiring Filmmaker.
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    Traci Roon & Derrick Cannon (Abigail Paige Photography)
  • Building Emotional Awareness and Regulation Skills for Children who Experience Autism with Matthew Sena, MS LPC. & Bill Couthran, Psy.D.: Hope Counseling Center.
  • The New Dr. Brennan is a Woman and ECHO is a Community? What in the World is Going on in Public Health and What Does This Have to do With Me? with Christie Reinhardt, Coordinator II: The Governor’s Council on Disabilities & Special Education.

If you were unable to make it to the conference, you can find handouts at here as they become available.

Wrap It Up

Alaska, a large state  faced with unique challenges and needs, makes it overwhelming to try to locate services, resources, and information related to autism. This conference offers a platform for people to discover local resources in Alaska and offers a community for support and networking. All attendees, presenters, volunteers, organizations and sponsors that come together for the Alaska Autism Conference are seeking and providing a level of connection, information, resources, and support. The Autism Society of Alaska is filled with gratitude to be able to offer this event for a second time. We continue to learn from each conference to grow and adapt to meet the needs of our state.  

Building Blocks: Eric Ahrns, Rebecca Schichtel, Briana Brooks Talkabout Inc: David Jamison AARC: Aimee Smith, Tara Maltby
(Willow Photography)

2nd Autism Conference Call for Papers

Alaska Autism Society of Alaska Conference Call for Papers

The Autism Society of Alaska’s 2nd Annual State Conference will be held October 5th and 6th in Fairbanks Alaska. 

If you wish to submit a proposal to present at one or more sessions at our 2017 conference, please note the following important information:

  • Submissions will only be accepted at our email address: autism907@gmail.com
  • All submissions must be received by August 8th, 2017.
  • A disclosure form (identifying potential conflicts of interest) will be required for all presentations. Please note the Autism Society of Alaska conference presentations cannot promote or advertise a commercial product or service without disclosure. All presentations will be permitted at the discretion of the Autism Society of Alaska.
  • All selected presenters will be notified by August 22nd, 2017.
  • All presenters must register for the conference.  Attendance fees will be waived for presenters. A registration code will be sent to speakers once approved.

 

BEFORE YOU SUBMIT – THINGS TO CONSIDER

 

The Autism Society uses People First language and encourages you to do the same. When preparing your proposal, keep in mind the audience is professionals, individuals on the autism spectrum, family members and advocates. Your presentation must encompass something for everyone and language should reflect the diversity of our conference attendees.

 

Presentations should include how your topic would help the audience to learn more about or help achieve one or more of these according to the lifespan topics indicated:

  1. Adult topics: Self-advocacy, transition, relationships, self-identity, housing pathways.
  2. Employment: What are options for employees & employers?
  3. Alaska Insurance: Medicaid, Alaska required insurance & social security.
  4. Financial: Abel Act, setting up a trust, care when primary providers are gone.
  5. Communication: Alternative communication options for nonverbal individuals, as well as the providers. Caregivers and support systems.
  6. IEP/504: What is an IEP, how do I get one, what does it allow, is this just for education or for college and employment as well?
  7. Healthy Lifestyles: How to spark interest and get started and what is available in Alaska?
  8. Diagnosis: Who can diagnose in Alaska. How to get a diagnosis as a minor as well as an adult. What is the next step after receiving a diagnosis?
  9. Services: What agencies, services and therapies are available in Alaska? What are the programs (i.e care coordination, STAR, mini grants, wait list, waivers, TEFRA, tri-care ECHO (military) respite, day habilitation, in home support , job coaches)
  10. Home therapies: What are things that can be done at home to help with sleep, eating, transitions, family and community engagement and interactions?
  11. Families: How can we support our siblings? How can we maintain healthy relationships, friendships and marriage? What can I do when I feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed about being a primary caregiver? How can we manage through everyday stresses?

STEPS & INSTRUCTIONS: Presenters

Biographical Sketch

In addition to contact information, please provide a biographical sketch for each presenter, in 50 words maximum.  Presenter(s) and co-author listing must include credentials (Ph.D., etc.)

Example bio

Temple Grandin, Ph.D. 

Dr. Temple Grandin is an internationally respected specialist in designing livestock handling systems. She is the most well-renowned individual with autism in the world today. Dr. Grandin is a best-selling author and activist.

Note: presenters submitting a presentation for a Continuing Education session must include a CV/Resume, 100 words maximum

Title of Presentation

Come up with a good, intriguing session title.  It’s the first and perhaps only impression you’ll make on a potential attendee. The primary purpose of a title is to get the attendee to read the first sentence of the description. Here is an example of a session title, and how it should be written:

Example 1:  A Long and Winding Road: An Examination of the Transition Process for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder 

Example 2:  Peer Mediated Supports for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

Learning Objectives 

(maximum 50 words for each learning objective: minimum two, maximum three) Craft strong learning objectives. Please complete two (2) out of three (3) Learning Objectives for each proposal in your submission. Any submission with fewer than two will be declined. It is crucial that you follow the guidelines for writing learning objectives as described below. There is a limit of 50 words for each learning objective. Strong Learning Objectives have three distinguishing characteristics: (1) observable, (2) measurable, (3) must match the content of your proposal as described in your title, description, and content plan. Encouragement of using active verbs that indicate what will be taught, demonstrated, or experienced. Here are examples of action verbs: Identify, summarize, list, describe, differentiate, discuss, compute, predict, explain, demonstrate, utilize, analyze, design, select, create, plan, assess, compare, critique, write, apply, demonstrate, prepare, use, compile, revise.

 

The following are three examples of well-written learning objectives using active verbs.  Participants who attend this presentation will be able to:

 

Example 1: List three attributes of autism spectrum disorder.

Example 2: Compare and contrast the characteristics of night terrors versus nightmares.

Example 3: Describe three clinical techniques to use when an individual with autism is suffering from disturbing nightmares or having sleepless nights.

 

Description of Presentation

(50 words maximum) The description must provide and be reflective of your title and your content plan. A session description should get the reader to say, “Hmm, that sounds interesting.” Choose the right words to accurately describe the session, pull readers in and get them to commit to attending the session and see the benefits of the presentation. This description is what attendees will see in the conference program.

 

Content Plan

This description must provide information that is essential to the review process. The content plan should include: details on the content that will be provided and sufficient information to determine how the session contributes to best practice and advances the field of autism spectrum disorders.  Abstracts are limited to 500 words maximum.