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Autism: A Personal Perspective

In this presentation, Ryan shares with his audience some of the core challenges of having autism and strategies he has used to overcome those challenges.  He begins his story with memories of early childhood that include how he became intently interested in oscillating fans and a comparison between his experiences in a self-contained classroom and his experiences in an inclusive school setting.  Also discussed are the many benefits he received from the interventions and supports provided by his teachers, therapists and classmates along with the enduring relationships that developed.  Later on, Ryan discusses his experiences during his college years and his aspirations for the future.  His presentation ends with Ryan engaging his audience in a game that participants have found to be both fun and entertaining. 


Getting Your College Degree is Like Running a Marathon

In this presentation, Ryan compares his experience of getting his college degree to that of running a marathon. Many of the aspects involved in the successful completion of a marathon can also be applied to the attainment of a university degree.  Ryan shares with his audience how he successfully completed his degree by employing many of the same strategies he used to prepare for and complete a marathon.  They include such things as having a plan, setting goals and enlisting support, but also having an unrelenting resolve to continue until the goal is accomplished. 

Ten Common Mistakes Parents Make During IEP Meetings

(Matt Foley, Ed.D. & DeAnn Foley, M.Ed.)

For many students with autism their parents are their most important educational advocates.  Parent involvement in the Individual Education Program (IEP) process is a corner stone of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Through IDEA, parents have the opportunity for shared decision making with educators.   It is important that parents become informed and involved decision makers in their child’s education.  The more skills parents have and the more information they learn, the better they can advocate for their child.  Over the years, Matt and DeAnn Foley have found that parents tend to make some common mistakes during the IEP meeting.  The presenters will list some of the common mistakes and provide some suggestions for avoiding them. 

Parent Involvement in Education Planning for ASD

(Matt Foley, Ed.D. & DeAnn Foley, M.Ed.)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA) was created for schools and parents to share responsibility in the decision making of the Individual Education Program (IEP) process. IDEA requires school district personnel to ensure meaningful parental involvement or active participation in the IEP process.  Research, however, shows “In general, parents are not actively involved in the IEP process but rather they are limited to being recipients of information and in signing the document.”   (Fish, W.W., 2008). Research also shows that many educators assume parents enter IEP meetings with sufficient knowledge and parents are disinclined to convey their lack of special education knowledge. Parents are at a disadvantage when they lack sufficient knowledge to adequately participate in the IEP process.  Limited knowledge can result in a lack of meaningful parent participation in the IEP process which may contribute to conflicts between the parents and the school district.  This presentation discusses the parent’s role in the IEP process, different types of parent advocacy styles, primary functions of parent advocacy, and effective elements for building collaborative relationships between educators, professionals, and families with ASD.

Intellectually Able Girls with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

(DeAnn Foley, M.Ed.)

Intellectually abled girls with autism are less likely to be identified.  Currently one in 68 children in the US is affected by autism.  The ratio of females to males is typically reported as 1:4.  Among intellectually able individuals with ASD, the ration of girls to boys is significantly lower, approximately 1:10.  New research suggests that current diagnostic methods overlook girls.  Gender bias in existing screening and referral processes, diagnostic criteria and tools, protective and compensatory factors in females, and different gender-specific ASD profiles are contributing factors to missed identification.  Autism-like difficulties in girls are often discounted because their behavior conflicts with the stereotype of ASD core characteristics and associated features. Many intellectually able girls are misidentified by coexisting conditions and/or secondary symptoms such as mental health disorders. The presenter discusses how autism manifests differently in boys and girls.  She also discusses why girls are less likely to be identified, gender bias, and  provides suggestions on how to detect autism in girls.

Presentations can be developed and customized to meet the needs of your group.

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