The Nation's Premier Autism and Disabilities Conference

November 16-18 | Columbus, OH

The Nation's Premier Autism and Disabilities Conference

November 16-18

Columbus, Ohio

OAR Featured Sessions


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OCALICON is pleased and honored to welcome special partner the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). OAR's mission is to use applied science to answer questions that parents, families, individuals with autism, teachers, and caregivers confront daily. OAR leaders will present several featured sessions during OCALICON 2016. 


Wednesday, November 16 | 8:00 - 9:15 am

Moving Beyond the Basics: Strategies for Addressing Higher Level Language Skills

Despite advances in the development of speech and language, many individuals on the spectrum continue to struggle with the comprehension and use of abstract and non-literal language. Research in the areas of executive functioning, theory of mind and central coherence theory have provided us with a framework to better understand some of these challenges. This workshop will provide an overview of the unique deficits in the use of higher level language. Specific strategies to move individuals with ASD beyond the comprehension and use of basic language will be presented.

Joanne Gerenser, Executive Director of the Eden II Programs


Wednesday, November 16 | 12:45 - 2:00 pm

An Initial Evaluation of an Evidence-Based Peer Education Program about ASD

Learn about a peer education program – Kit for Kids (KfK) – developed to teach grades 3-8 about ASD. The KfK consists of a teacher guide, lesson plan, peer education booklet, and classroom poster. This session includes student and teacher perceptions of the KfK as well as findings from an analogue experimental investigation examining the impact of KfK on elementary school students' (a) knowledge of ASD, (b) attitudes toward an unfamiliar student with ASD, and (c) self-efficacy about helping a student with ASD succeed within their classroom.

Jonathan Campbell, Ph.D., Professor of School Psychology, Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky


Wednesday, November 16 | 2:45-4:00pm

ASD Services Research Funded by National Institute of Mental Health

This session provides an overview of the autism services research funding strategy at NIMH. It highlights NIMH funding priorities and requirements for applying and for study approaches, with some information about the scientific review process. The session also includes an overview of studies that have been funded to date with highlights on specific studies that serve as good examples of addressing the services and research objectives of NIMH.

Denise Juliano-Bult, Chief of the Systems Research Program and the Disparities in Mental Health Services Research Program in the Division of Services and Intervention Research at the NIMH


Thursday, November 17 | 8:00 - 9:15 am

Customized Programming to Enhance Quality of Life for Children and Families

Although there are a wide variety of published curriculum guides and other materials available to help behavior analysts design many aspects of a therapeutic program, our clients with autism often present unique needs that sometimes necessitate development of novel instructional strategies within a behavior analytic paradigm. This session discusses factors impacting the selection of instructional targets such as family priorities, time allocation, availability of resources, and other considerations. Examples of customized instructional programming and data will be provided.

Suzanne Letso, BCBA, co-founder and CEO of the Connecticut Center for Child Development


Thursday, November 17 | 8:00 - 9:15 am

Sexuality Education and Learners with ASD: Needs, Challenges, and Complexities

Persons with ASD are sexual beings. However, individual interest in sex or in developing an intimate sexual relationship with another person varies widely across individuals at all ability levels. Despite much discussion about decision-making skills in the self-determination literature, there continues to be lack of evidence supporting the effectiveness of sex education and training for persons with ASD. This session provides an overview of sexuality education from the professional and personal points of view in ASD with an emphasis on safety, knowledge, values, and social understanding.

Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D., Executive Director of The EPIC School, Paramus, NJ


Thursday, November 17 | 12:45 - 2:00 pm

Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

PRT is an evidence-based model for children with ASD based on the science of ABA, and described in literature as a family-centered approach that may be implemented throughout the day and across natural environments. Dr. Openden will delineate the development of PRT and the implementation of procedures for improving the pivotal response of motivation to produce generalized improvements in language, social, and academic skills as well as reductions in disruptive behaviors. Video examples will illustrate how parents and professionals can implement the motivational procedures of PRT.

Daniel OpendenPh.D., BCBA-D, President and CEO of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC)


Thursday, November 17 | 2:45 - 4:00 pm

Making the World a Bit Easier to Navigate: Using Executive Function Skills

The newly defined 21st Century Skills have recognized the importance of executive function skills to life success. The multiple aspects of executive function challenges will be described with examples that relate to each of these environments. In addition, evidence-based interventions and supports will be introduced.

Brenda Smith Myles, Office of Policy, Strategic Initiative, and Stakeholder Engagement, OCALI


Thursday, November 17 | 2:45 - 4:00 pm

Leveraging Technology to Support Paraprofessional Professional Development

This session provides a go-to strategy for effective paraprofessional training. Learn how school districts, including large urban and small rural schools, have paired on-demand video-based training and on-site coaching to increase knowledge, skills, and effectiveness of paraprofessionals supporting children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. This session provides an overview of the model and strategy used, quantitative outcome data, and qualitative narratives regarding the impact and success of this initiative.

Patricia Wright, Ph.D., MPH, BCBA-D, Vice President of Professional Services for Rethink