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Cal-ABA Conference: March 12-14, 2009

San FranciscoThe California Association for Behavior Analysis (Cal-ABA) is having its 27th annual conference March 12-14 at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt Regency.  The Jigsaw Learning team will have 2 presentations this year: 1) a workshop, presented by Manya Vaupel, and 2) a symposium chaired by me with presentations by Manya, Shannon, me, and Debbie Moss (from LA Unified School District). 

Both presentations are described below….

The conference is of special interest to college and university faculty, researchers, administrators, and practitioners in behavior analysis, psychology, regular and special education, rehabilitation, public health, behavioral medicine, speech and language, social work, business, and human services. Undergraduate, graduate students and family members of individuals with special needs are also encouraged to attend.

The conference offers information, resources, and prSan Francisco 2ofessional development opportunities for Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, speech-language pathologists, regular and special educators, students in those and related fields, and parents and/or consumers of behavior analysis services.

Keynote addresses will be delivered by CalABA’s public policy consultant James Gross, who is sure to inspire listeners to get involved in public policy work, and Sigrid Glenn, a visionary behavior analyst who will clarify burning conceptual questions about what it means to be a “radical” behaviorist. The 2009 Outstanding Contributor to Behavior Analysis, Jon Bailey, will describe “pillars of professionalism” for behavior analysts in his address. This year’s Glenda Vittimberga Memorial Lecture will be on the important topic of psychotropic medications for challenging behaviors, delivered by Jennifer Zarcone.




 Jigsaw Learning Presentations:

Friday, March 13, 2009     
Fri., 3/13 · 1:45 pm - 3:15 pm
(1.5 CEUs - BACB)
Sandpebble A - C
(ID #1149)    

Add #1149 to my program


Manya 3


Debbie Moss



Computer-Assisted Instructional Planning in California Schools
Chair: CHRISTINA WHALEN, Jigsaw LearningSchool districts in California are faced with many of the same problems as other states in the U.S. for serving children with special needs. These problems include insufficient staffing, teaching materials, data collection, and finding and implementing effective interventions. One of the biggest problems for schools is lack of funding to address most of these issues. Interventions that can reduce the burden on schools in California is much needed and computer-assisted interventions such as those provided by Jigsaw Learning may help. In this presentation, several computer-assisted programs will be presented by Jigsaw Learning staff and Los Angeles Unified School District including single-subject, case, and group design research.     

Linking Standardized Measures and Curriculum Standards to Intervention
MANYA VAUPEL, Jigsaw Learning
Christina Whalen, Jigsaw Learning
Shannon Cernich, Jigsaw Learning

The development of intervention often involves a ‘learning-as-you-go’ approach where various practices are tried out, often in a single-subject design or case study format. This approach is effective and accepted in most cases. However, when developing a computer-assisted intervention, this is often not possible due to the time and money required for development of the intervention. To ensure quality intervention, computer-assisted programs should be built from best-practices in assessment and intervention including the use of standardized measures, curricula, and national and state content standards. TeachTown programs including TeachTown Basics and TeachTown Avenue use top-notch measures, curricula, and standards to develop these interventions. In this presentation, the method in which the ABLLS, California Content Standards, and other resources were utilized in development will be presented.

Teaching Language and Social Skills Using an Animated Tutor
SHANNON CERNICH, Jigsaw Learning
Christina Whalen, Jigsaw Learning
Manya Vaupel, Jigsaw Learning
Molly Robson, Independent Consultant
Lauren Franke, Independent Consultant

Information on Team Up with Timo computer-assisted instructional programs for students with ASD and language delays will be presented. Team Up with Timo products utilize a lip readably accurate animated tutor, scaffolded teaching and other ABA techniques. Timo targets vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension, and narrative language skills. Timo Lesson Creator enables educators and interventionists to create individualized social, language, and academic lessons that tie directly to IEP goals. Research supporting the use of Timo in the laboratory will be reviewed, and new research with 3 ASD students in a school setting will be presented. This study uses a multiple baseline design to target narrative language skills in the classroom environment.

Using Teachtown Basics Computer-Assisted Intervention in a Public School Setting
DEBBIE MOSS, Los Angeles Unified School District
Christina Whalen, Jigsaw Learning
Shannon Cernich, Jigsaw Learning
Manya Vaupel, Jigsaw Learning

The implementation of interventions in a public school environment is often difficult and many schools are experimenting with computer-assisted interventions to address their issues with funding, staffing, and resources. In a grant supported by the National Center of Technology Innovation (NCTI), a clinical trial with more than 50 children with autism was implemented. Data will be presented on the effectiveness of the intervention (including on and off computer TeachTown lessons) as assessed by the Brigance and other standardized measures, the usability by staff, and automatic data collection by the TeachTown software. In addition, video clips of children using the on and off-computer lessons will be shown.

Automatic Data Collection and Reporting on Students of Teachtown Basics in the State of California
Paul Fielding, Independent Consultant
Asif Rahman, Independent Consultant
Shannon Cernich, Jigsaw Learning
Manya Vaupel, Jigsaw Learning

Data collection and student outcome are one of the biggest problems for effective implementation of intervention. TeachTown is an ABA-based intervention that uses the computer and off-computer activities to teach children with autism, language, and cognitive delays. TeachTown provides a system for collecting data automatically on the computer and offering a system for storing and sharing anecdotal data. In this presentation, data collected automatically from the TeachTown program will be presented including individual student data, classroom data, school site data, SELPA data, and the data on all customers in the state of California, and data on all users to date. Data on more than 1,000 students will be presented along with social validation research.

Saturday, March 14, 2009     
Sat., 3/14 · 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Workshop #10
(AUT, DD - Intro)
Room location TBA
(ID #1135)
Fee: $35
Max. enrollment: N/A    

Add #1135 to my program

Manya 3

Using Technology in Your ABA Programs for Children with Autism
MANYA VAUPEL, Jigsaw Learning
SHANNON CERNICH, Jigsaw Learning
There are many challenges to face when implementing effective ABA programs for students with autism. Technology can provide lots of solutions to the challenges teachers, clinicians, and parents deal with in effective ABA programming for students with Autism. In this workshop we will explore what has been done in terms of utilizing various assistive technology to enhance student learning in ABA programs in current research investigations. We will discuss different ideas for using technology in ABA programming in schools, homes and the community, we will provide examples of what is being done currently in schools and clinics, and we will explore the critical components to effective ABA programming and how technology can provide more efficient solutions to some of these components that are easily overlooked. At the end of this workshop, participants should have a better understanding of current practice and research in assistive technology in ABA programming, they should have additional resources in finding and implementing the appropriate technology needed in their programs, and they should be able to identify appropriate technology that will assist or enhance their current instructional programs for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Dr. Laurie Stephens from HELP Group Joins TeachTown Science Board

We are very excited to announce that AutHope-Frame_sm.jpgDr. Laurie Stephens from The HELP Group Center in the Los Angeles, California region (this picture is from the HELP Group and Dr. Stephens is the one on the bottom far right) has recently agreed to join TeachTown’s Scientific Advisory Board!

The TeachTown Scientific Advisory Board also includes Dr. Laura Schreibman from UC San Diego, Dr. Connie Kasari from UCLA, Dr. Ilene Schwartz from University of Washington, Dr. Geraldine Dawson from University of Washington, Dr. William Frea & Dr. Ronit Molko from Autism Spectrum Disorders, Dr. Aubyn Stahmer from San Diego Children’s Hospital, Dr. Gary Stobbe from ASTAR, and Dr. Brooke Ingersoll from Lewis and Clark College.

Dr. Stephens is Director of Autism Spectrum Disorders Programs and Director of The Help Group Center for Autism Spectrum Disorder, an outpatient program that provides diagnostic and therapeutic services for children.  She is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Behavior at UCLA.  Dr. Stephens oversees the walk-kids.jpgYoung Learners Preschool for Autism and has been instrumental in creating integrated and comprehensive education and social skills programs within the Help Group’s specialized day schools for children in the autistic spectrum.  She established an intensive social skills summer camp program for children with Asperger’s Disorder, which has an international reach with campers coming from the United Kingdom, El Salvador, Japan, Korea, Mexico and other countries.  Dr. Stephens is also the Editor of The Help Group’s Professional Newsletter, the HelpLine.

Before joining The Help Group, Dr. Stephens was a Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry, Director of Child Services and an attending psychologist at the State University of New York,  Stony Brook.  Dr. Stephens received her BA in Experimental Psychology from the UC San Diego, and her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from SUNY Stony Brook.  She has worked in the field of autism for more tstj-158.jpghan 20 years, focusing on the early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, designing and implementing educational, behavioral and social programming for children of all ages, and as a consultant to numerous school districts on the East Coast.  She co-founded the Early Diagnosis Center for Autism in Suffolk County, New York.  Dr. Stephens has published and lectured extensively, and appeared as an expert in autism on several news, radio and TV programs.  She has served as the autism consultant to TV shows.  Recently, Dr. Stephens traveled to Japan to lecture to 300 educators on the best practices in education for students with Asperger’s Disorder.  She also served as Program Chair of the Help Group/Semel Institute on Asperger’s Disorder, a four day intensive workshop for educators and clinicians.  Her research interests include the differential diagnosis of high-functioning autism and Asperger’s Disorder, and the development of theory of mind skills in this population. 
Founded in 1975, The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprecampuspic4.jpghensive nonprofit organization of its kind in the United States serving children with special needs related to autism, Asperger’s disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, mental retardation, abuse and emotional problems.  The Help Group’s six specialized day schools offer pre-K through high school programs for more than 1,200 students. The Help Group’s wide range of mental health and therapy services, child abuse, foster family and residential programs extend its each to more than 5,000 children and their families each year. With over 800 staff members, The Help Group’s state-of-the-art schools and programs are located on four major campuses in the Los Angeles area.

Schools Need Help!

It seems like every week I am reading an article about another school district struggling to keep up with the expenses of educating children with autism and how instead of adding resources, they keep getting taken away!

In South Carolina, $1.4 million were taken away from the already struggling programs.  This means that children might not get the needed treatment that they need, such as ABA.  More than $700,000 is being dedicated to serving the children with autism, which will cover ABA for only 30 students.  It seems to me that solutions must be found which can spread the limited amounts of money further, how can schools serve more children with the same amount of money while still providing the quality treatment that is needed?

000_86_Eric_catching.pngIt is time for researchers to start thinking about solutions for schools, there is a large amount of data supporting ABA and some other approaches as well.  However, I would like to see studies looking at how to develop ABA treatments further so as to be able to serve more children, perhaps in small group instruction, or utilizing technology, or simplifying procedures for less expensive staff to implement, or other creative solutions to deal with this critical issue in our education system.

In addition, I would like to see more funding and grants for school programs and more education for school staff to more effectively educate children with autism spectrum disorders.  This could be done easily through online learning programs or local conferences for educators.  In addition, more funding and research is needed for how to effectively and efficiently educate school staff so that they are empowered and motivated.

The other important thing that is needed for school systems is training and accountability for student outcome.  Researchers should consider designing assessments that are feasible and easy for schools to implement, and standards should be set for what exactly schools are expected to measure and report.  While some school districts require teachers to use standardized measures of assessment, these measures are often not appropriate or informative for measuring the progress of children with autism spectrum disorders.  If measurements are required, they should be scientifically validated for the autism population.  In addition, managable and efficient tools need to be developed and available to teachers to make data collection accurate and consistent.happyboy4_cl1.jpg

Some states are taking measures to address these important issues, such as California and the Blue Ribbon Commission.  I recently served on the task force for education for this group, and was pleased to see that I am not alone in these concerns and that there are initiatives out there that are working toward solutions.  I will post updates on this Commission as they are available.  Please post other initiatives or solutions that you think are helpful! 

How to find a behavioral consultant

Lisa_Simpson.gifWhen looking for a behavioral consultant, it is really important that you look at the qualifications of that person, particularly at the supervision level.

The California Association of Behavior Analysis provides a useful article about how to find a behavioral consultant: http://www.calaba.org/AAMR-BehConsultantsFlyer.pdf.

header.gifHere is another excellent article about finding a behavioral consultant from Community Gateway: http://communitygateway.org/faq/behavioral.htm

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board is the first organization to provide national certification credentials for behavioral consultants.  When you see BCBA or BCABA after sowia_photo.jpgmeone’s name, this assures you that the person has completed the required number of hours, supervision, education, and passing the national board exam.  If you would like to know if someone has these credentials, you can look them up on the BACB site!  This is a great place to start looking for someone to help you with a home program that lives in your state. 

First 5 California: Birth to 5 Years

pointing.jpgThe California Children and Families Commission is one of the few government programs which focuses on the treatment of children with ASD who have a diagnosis today - most government resources focus on research for a cause and a cure and although that is very important, it is also important to have programs to help the children currently diagnosed, and I am always excited to learn more about these programs. I recently learned about this program and wanted to share it with all of you.
First5logo54.gifThe First 5 California Mission:

Current research in brain development clearly indicates that the emotional, physical and intellectual environment that a child is exposed to in the early years of life has a profound impact on how the brain is organized. The experiences a child has with respect to parents and caregivers significantly influence how a child will function in school and later in life.

The California Children and Families Act of 1998 is designed to provide, on a community-by-community basis, all children prenatal to five years of age with a comprehensive, integrated system of early childhood development services. Through the integration of health care, quality child care, parent education and effective intervention programs for families at risk, children and their parents and caregivers will be provided with the tools necessary to foster secure, healthy and loving attachments. These attachments will lay the emotional, physical and intellectual foundation for every child to enter school ready to learn and develop the potential to become productive, well-adjusted members of society.
SNP002.jpgThe First 5 California Special Needs Project works with families, caregivers, child care providers – including Head Start and State Preschool programs, educators, health, mental health, and social services providers – to support young children with a broad spectrum of special needs in the context of and as an integral part of the First 5 School Readiness Initiative community approach.
Special Needs Project emphasis areas include: spot_photo_04.jpg

1. Universal access to screening for early identification/diagnosis and referrals for physical and developmental issues (including social/emotional/behavioral) 2. Improved access to and utilization of services and supports through coordination and reallocation of existing resources and building of new supplemental resources.

3. Inclusion of young children with disabilities and other special needs in appropriate typical preschools, child care and development and other community settings with provision of necessary supports to help the child succeed in these environments. 4. Evaluation to identify effective practices and to improve programs.

They also have the Map to Inclusive Child Care Project. The Map Project works under the umbrella of the California Institute on Human Services (CIHS) at Sonoma State University and is funded by the California 50134.jpgDepartment of Education’s Child Development Division. This project seeks to expand opportunities for children with disabilities and special needs in child care and development programs. The project is committed to improving the delivery of quality child care services to children with disabilities and other special needs in inclusive settings. This is accomplished by bringing together key stakeholders who have an interest in and have impact on quality child care programs that include children with disabilities and other special needs.

They have a book available to help parents who have children with difficult behaviors called Children with Challenging Behavior, it is a PDF, you can just print it out for your home or office.

Also interesting is their SCHOOL READINESS program whose goal is to implement programs that improve the transition from early care settings to elementary school and increase the schools’ and communities’ capacity to promote the sucesss of young children. You might also like to check out the POWER OF PRESCHOOL program, which is a high-quality, free, voluntary, part-day preschool program for all four year-olds (or three- and four-year olds). The program will assist children in becoming personally, socially, and physically competent, effective learners, and ready to transition into kindergarten.

I appreciate that they are also taking the time to collect data to assess the effectiveness of these programs.

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