The purpose of this conference is to increase awareness with parents, teachers, and professionals about “evidence-based practices” (EBP). What this means is interventions which are founded on research studies and which have data demonstrating efficacy. One of the strongest evidence-based practices is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which has over 20 years of research showing effectiveness for children with autism.It is important to note that when I say “ABA”, I am not speaking exclusively about Discrete Trial Training (DTT). Rather, I am talking about a very large field of science which focus on using the principles of behavior analysis to change behavior in order to make society a better place. This field is not specific to autism, in fact, many parenting books, marriage books, and addiction books focus on the principles of behavior analysis to help people. In autism, DTT is one type of ABA that has shown effectiveness. Other types of ABA, such as Pivotal Response Training (PRT) use more naturalistic teaching strategies and have also shown effectiveness for remediating certain symptoms of autism.
In developing new treatment approaches, or in implementing more established ones, it is essential that we look at the research, and incorporate information from those studies into our approaches. Schools are now mandating that teachers choose EBP and are increasing efforts to properly train staff in implementing these procedures.
The AEN conference brings in autism researchers, professionals, and parents, to share their knowledge with others about what is EBP, why are EBP important, what are some examples of EBP, how do we increase knowledge of EBP, and what are the gold standards for EBP. Some of the people that I am excited to see there are Ilene Schwartz (University of Washington), Bob & Lynn Koegel (UC Santa Barbara), Robert Putnam (May Institute), Deborah Ross-Swain (Swain Center), Jane Carlson (May Center), and many other excellent speakers. There will also be several informative panels such as multidisciplinary teams, transitions, etc.
I will be speaking there on Sunday, April 30th. I also plan to attend the entire conference to see some of these talks, which I always look forward to and learn so much from. TeachTown will also have an exhibit there if people want more information or a personalized demonstration of the software.
If you are interested in learning more about the conference, check out their website: Autism Education Network. Their site is also a good place to find information and resources on autism.