MARCH 1–2 • Greenville, SC
Springbrook Autism Behavioral Health invites professionals from across the nation to converge for two days of presentations and breakout discussions covering a wide range of topics related to Autism—from diagnosis, behavioral health, and treatment and therapy results.
Our A-list of speakers will represent a variety of fields including Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Analysis, Special Education, Speech and Language Pathology, and Youth Psychiatry. It would be our honor to host you at Converge 2018.
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Register early to take advantage of early bird rates. Space is limited!
For more information and mail-in registration options, you can download the brochure.
8:00-9:00 – Registration/Refreshments
9:00-10:15 – Day One Keynote I
Trends in Autism with Dr. William Killion, Ph.D., BCBA
10:15-10:45 – Break/ Networking/ Visit Vendors
10:45-12:00 – Day One Keynote II
Adaptive Behavior Profiles in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Implications for Functional Independence with Dr. Celine A. Saulnier, Ph.D
12:00-1:30 – Lunch/ Ask the Experts Panel/ Vendors (No NBCC hours for Panel)
1:30-2:45 – Breakout Session I
- Professional Track: Spectrum Teens and the Issues They Face – Depression, Suicidal Ideation, Relational Deficits, Anxiety, and Gender Dysphoria with Stephanie Holmes, MA BCCC
- Parent and Education Track: Help for Teachers and Parents in Finding Exceptional Abilities not Disabilities with Jeff Cohn, OTR/L, MOT
2:45-3:15 – Break
3:15-4:30 – Breakout Session II
- Professional Track: Staying Engaged, Getting children and Adolescents involved in the Therapeutic Process with Jacklyn Murphy, MMFT, LMFT
- Education Track: Tips and Tricks for the Classroom Teacher with Patricia Hensley, AP
- Parent Track: Moving Beyond Surviving to Thriving with Stephanie Holmes, MA BCCC
8:00-9:00 – Registration/Refreshments
9:00-10:15 – Day Two Keynote I
Correlation, not Causation: Comorbidities and Autism with Dr. Fisher, MD
10:15-10:45 – Break/ Networking/ Visit Vendors
10:45-12:00 – Day Two Keynote II
Defining Autism: From Nonverbal to National Speaker with Kerry Magro, National Speaker
12:00-1:30 – Lunch/ Autism Advocacy and Legislation Panel/ Vendors (No NBCC hours for Panel)
Senator Michael Gambrell
Jim and Anne Johnston
Project Hope Representative
1:30-2:45 – Breakout Session I
- Professional and Education Track: Simple and Free ABA Style Programs/Activities for People With Autism with Dr. Killion, Ph.D. BCBA
- Parent Track: Autism and Falling In Love with Kerry Magro, National Speaker
2:45-3:15 – Break
3:15-4:30 – Breakout Session II
- Professional and Parent Track: Effective Parent and Professional Collaboration with Jim and Anne Johnston, Autism Advocates
- Education Track: Visual Supports with Meredith Pettigrew, Special Education
The following CEUs have been applied for:
- APPROVED: National Board of Certified Counselors
- APPROVED: SC Occupational Therapy Association
- APPROVED: SC Board of Professional Counselors
- APPROVED*: Greenville County School District (*Teachers attending can submit for credit through the county’s normal process)
- SC Board of Nursing
- SC Board of Social Workers
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- SC Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiolog
We will continue to update this list as CEUs are approved and finalized for the summit!
Dr. William Killion, PHD
Board Certified Behavioral Analyst
Dr. Killion possesses 40 plus years of direct experience with individuals with developmental disabilities including autism. He possesses a B.S. in Speech Pathology with a minor in Psychology, a M.Ed. in Special Education and a PhD in Developmental Psychology. He is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). He is the author of the Functional Independence Skills Handbook or F.I.S.H. Developmental Program.
Trends in Autism
This presentation will review the current research that relates to autism. Specifically, suspected organize realities for people with autism and known treatment efforts that appear clinically effective. Historical trends and methods will be discussed along with correlative information that appears to “go with” people who have the disorder. Specific techniques that should be kept in mind when developing a program will also be presented.
- • Identify the current probable incidence rates for autism
- • Identify current programs that appear to be successful
- • Identify specific techniques or teaching concepts that help people with autism
- • Understand the general results of some current research
Simple and Free ABA Style Programs and Activities for People with Autism
This presentation will discuss developmental needs for people with autism. Focus will be given towards known areas that may need enhancement for people with autism. A specific program including 9 lesson plans using very inexpensive materials will be offered and explained at no charge, compliments of Springbrook Behavioral Health. These programs can be used without assessment information as they achieve educational interaction and can occupy clients in a positive way when direct therapy is not being performed.
- • Understand the concepts of skill acquisition, including the sequential steps to learning, when working with people who have developmental disabilities.
- • Conceptually understand how to informally assess learning needs for children with autism.
- • Demonstrate specific program activities related to teaching people who have autism.
- • Understand how to generate inexpensive program materials for autism related teaching.
Dr. Matthew Fisher, MD
Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Dr. Fisher completed his General Psychiatry residency at the University of Texas-Galveston and a Child/Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at University of South Carolina. He serves as Medical leader of SpringBrook Autism’s Residential and Outpatient Treatment Program (specializing in treating Autism Spectrum Disorders) and is an authority in minimal medical management of ASD and ASD with comorbidities. Dr. Fisher speaks at Autism Conferences on Medical Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Medication Management for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Myths and Misconceptions in Autism, Autism and Co-Morbid Conditions, and Helping Siblings and Other Children Understand Autism.
Correlation, not Causation: Comorbidities and Autism
This presentation will highlight for parents and providers the common psychiatric and medical diagnoses found with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Common psychiatric disorder includes ADHD, Bipolar, Suicidal Ideation and Depression. There is a common misconception that those on the spectrum do not commit suicide. Another misconception is that those on the spectrum are not interested in being social. However, depression is often caused from the desire to be social and not knowing how. All of these psychiatric comorbidities can be treated with the right medications. It is important to know which medications are recommended since some can actually make symptoms worse because of the autism diagnosis. Lastly, alcohol abuse is a problem with older individuals with autism
Common medical diagnoses often found with autism that can complicate care. Common comorbidities are seizures seen in about 25% of those with autism. There are often silent seizures and some medication given for autism can make seizures worse. These are difficult to diagnosis and may require trails of medications. Seemingly unrelated symptoms such as sleep disturbances can be a sign of undiagnosed seizures. Other common medical issues that will be discussed are hormonal shifts in adolescence, pain, migraines, and gastrointestinal issues. These include constipation, diarrhea, reflex, indigestion, issues with gut bacteria, or flora. These issues effect absorption and can make medications ineffective. Smart 911 can help first responders understand these unique comorbidities.
- • Participants will obtain a better understanding of common psychiatric comorbidities and how they affect the Autism Spectrum Diagnosis.
- • Participants will obtain a better understanding of common medical comorbidities and how they affect the Autism Spectrum Diagnosis.
- • This session will provide students, parents, providers, educators, and others involved in caring for someone with autism, with strategies on how to address these comorbidities
International Speaker and Best Selling Author
Kerry Magro is an award winning national speaker and best-selling author. Kerry has become a rolemodel in the disabled community. Non-verbal at 2.5 and diagnosed with autism at 4, Kerry has overcame countless obstacles to get to where he is today. A recent Masters graduate from Seton Hall University, he currently is CEO and Founder of KFM Making a Difference, a non-profit corporation focused on disability advocacy and housing.
Today Kerry travels the country sharing his story and telling our society to define their lives and their dreams in the best way they can. Of his highlights include publishing 2 best-selling books (Defining Autism From The Heart and Autism and Falling in Love) and working on the 2012 Motion Picture Joyful Noise. Kerry currently resides in New Jersey and works in New York as the Social Media Coordinator for Autism Speaks.
Defining Autism: From Nonverbal to National Speaker
“Defining Autism: From Nonverbal to National Speaker” is a presentation from award-winning national motivational speaker Kerry Magro on how he got to and survived the education experience growing up being on the spectrum and how his experiences, both good and bad, can help students with disabilities from early childhood to the transition into adulthood. Kerry, will present on his experiences with therapies focused on his early development, how he founded a disability awareness organization and a non-profit for special needs housing, his work on 3 best-selling books and much more!
- •To understand the topic of autism in more detail from an autistic’s perspective
- •To offer hope for parent’s, caregivers and professionals that interventions and therapies can maximize positive outcomes
- •To increase awareness of challenges of leaving behind an IEP and/or entering a college/work setting with reasonable accommodations
- •To become familiar with the impact of adults with autism pursuing self-advocacy on the autistic community
- •To highlight the challenges facing the autistic community in terms of employment and housing opportunities for those reaching adulthood with autism
Autism and Falling in Love
Have you ever fallen in love before? In this presentation, award winning national speaker Kerry Magro discusses his own personal experiences as an adult on the autism spectrum and being in love. Those in the audience will learn about finding a partner and learning about social cues, empathy, communication, etc!
- • For the attendees to gain knowledge of the challenges and successes of those with autism in relationships.
- • To learn about the experiences of individuals with autism from the personal story of a self‐advocate.
OT: To be able to disseminate the occupational themes of a person diagnosed with Autism, from their life time narrative. Then teach them how to use those themes to maintain functional independence while keeping to the themes of the Model Of Human Occupation.
- • Attendees will leave with information on how to help people with autism pursue relationships and using their talents to help advocate in our community.
Celine Saulnier, Ph.D
Clinical Director for Research, Autism Division
Dr. Saulnier is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Director of Research Operations at the Marcus Autism Center, which is the largest center for clinical care for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the country. At Marcus Autism Center, Dr. Saulnier oversees all activities related to the diagnostic characterization of individuals participating in clinical research, and she is the Director of the Clinical Assessment Core for the NIH Autism Center of Excellence grant. Her research focuses on profiles of adaptive behavior in autism spectrum disorders, particularly on the discrepancy between cognitive ability and the application of functional skills to daily contexts and routines.
Dr. Saulnier is an avid lecturer and educator on autism, having conducted hundreds of workshops and seminars nationwide over the past decade. She is also is co-author of the book, Essentials of Autism Spectrum Disorders Evaluation and Assessment, and an Associated Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Emory College of Arts and Sciences.
Adaptive Behavior Profiles in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Implications for Functional Independence
Adaptive behavior is generally defined as the independent performance of daily activities that are required for personal and social self-sufficiency. Deficits in adaptive behavior are, by definition, criteria for Intellectual Disability. Yet in ASD, adaptive delays tend to be above and beyond what would be expected based on cognitive impairments, alone, especially for individuals with ASD who do not have cognitive impairment. This gap between cognition and adaptive behavior appears to widen with age and impedes functional independence into adulthood. This presentation will outline these profiles of adaptive behavior and discuss the importance of assessing for and teaching adaptive skills from initial diagnosis throughout the lifespan.
- • Define adaptive behavior & differentiate adaptive behavior from cognition or ability
- • Describe common profiles of adaptive functioning in ASD
- • Identify effective treatment strategies for enhancing adaptive functioning
Board Certified Therapist and Autism Specialist
Stephanie C. Holmes graduated from Campbell University summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1994, and obtained a Master’s degree in Counseling through Liberty University in May of 2000. She is now a Certified Autism Specialist, and is licensed through the Georgia Board of Examiners of Christian Counselors and Therapists as well as certified through the International Board of Christian Counselors. However her real credentials come from being the mother of an amazing Aspie (AS) teenage daughter. Stephanie’s career focus changed in 2004 when her eldest daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD). Her book Confessions of a Christian Counselor: How Infertility and Autism Grew my Faith was released in 2015. The book includes her personal story as well as an interview with Dr. Tony Attwood on spectrum teens. She is currently pursuing her Ed.D.
Spectrum Teens and the Issues They Face
It is shocking to read that rates of suicide among Spectrum (Aspie) teens are on the rise! Why? There are many reasons. Adolescence is tumultuous for Neuro-Typical (NT) and Spectrum teens, but ASD teens face more than their NT peers. Bullying, rejection, lack of social skills, difficulty in school, feeling different, and clinical anxiety or depression spell disaster for someone who cannot always judge consequences of strong emotions and the actions that follow. We cannot ignore what Spectrum Teens face at school and sometimes in their own family feeling isolated.
- • Identity brain differences in Neuro-Typical (NT) and Spectrum/ASD teens
- • Explore the challenges and the role of bullying, isolation, lack of peer relations in the role of suicidal ideation, and misdiagnosis of spectrum teens
- • Examine the symptoms that differ in suicidal ideation in Aspie teens: Normal symptoms and check lists do not always apply
- • Discuss implications of Spectrum Teens feeling different often leading to Gender Dysphoria
Moving Beyond Surviving to Thriving
Families with children who have special needs or are on the autism spectrum have various nuances and challenges. It is easy to assume the person with the special needs and challenges should be the focus of therapy, but special needs/autism affects the entire family system. The marriage is often under strain, family members struggle with the new normal, and the special needs person needs more energy and time. Autism/special needs will affect the functioning of the system. Many families say they feel they are just surviving. This workshop looks at ways to move beyond surviving to thriving and offers care for the family system.
- • Identify challenges and struggles of marriage and family with an ASD family member
- • Offer strategies for self-care
- • Examine autism and how it affects blended families
With a BS and MS in Occupational Therapy, Jeff has a deep well of educational professional experience. As lead OT in a pediatric development outpatient clinic, lead OT in CA school districts, experience in long and short term rehab facilities, and now with experience in the Autism Program at Springbrook Behavioral Health, Jeff brings a wide range of real-world patient and clinical experience with a specialization in Autism.
Help for Teachers and Parents in Finding Exceptional Abilities Not Disabilities
Join Jeffery Cohn MAOTR/L for a discussion on understanding how teachers and parents can best work with an Occupational Therapist to help a child with ASD develop. This discussion will show you how, with help, your child can develop better sensory strategies to increase attention and organization of behavior. You will learn basic strategies to understand how an occupational therapist in the school district can assist you in developing your child’s fine motor skills and visual motor skills in the classroom. You will learn about the primary goals of school-based occupational therapy, which is to improve students abilities to adapt and thereby enable them to enhance their potential for learning.
- • Learn about helping students with Autism participate in daily school activities through skill building, development of adaptive strategies and environmental access.
OT: Break down the skills or components required to assist student with Autism so they can participate in daily school activities. For example, Understanding the visual motor, fine motor and bilateral coordination required to complete a 3 step craft project.
- • Address the child’s physical, sensory motor environmental factors and activities that support limited participation at school and access to their curriculum.
OT: Understand and learn how to break down Sensory Adaptive strategies to help a student diagnosed with Autism adapt to various changing sensory environments and learn how to develop adaptive strategies to cope with the changes.
- • Offer various developmental strategies to begin fine motor development and continue it from preschool to grade school.
OT: Using Adaptive equipment teach how to foster functional writing grasp with Autistic children.
- • Form purposeful, goal directed activities to improve student function in postural stability, self-help activities required at school, fine motor abilities, visual perception and integration, motor planning and coordination, sensory processing and organization, and environmental adaptation or use of asisstive devices.
Jacklyn Murphy, MMFT, LMFT
Child, Adolescent, & Family Therapist
Jacklyn Murphy is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist that specializes in children and adolescents. Prior to her work as a therapist, Ms. Murphy taught in a Title 1 public elementary school for six years. Ms. Murphy worked for over three years as a therapist at SpringBrook Behavioral Health in the residential treatment facility. While at SpringBrook Ms. Murphy worked with patients that were diagnosed with a variety of mental health concerns, behavioral diagnoses, and developmental delays, including Autism Spectrum Disorder. In 2015 she completed a post-graduate certificate in “Evidence-Based and Empirically Informed Practices Addressing Problem Sexual Behavior in Youth” and frequently works with patients and clients that display sexually reactive behavior. In 2017 Ms. Murphy transitioned into a new role in which she created and implemented a therapeutic program at Hope Center for Children in Spartanburg, SC. She continues her work with children as she oversees and supervises the program at Hope Center.
Let’s Get Engaged: Strategies to Help Children and Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum Build and Maintain Interest in the Therapeutic Process
Engaging children and adolescents that are on the Autism Spectrum in the therapeutic process can prove to be a difficult task. This presentation will focus on the difference between neurotypical individuals and those on the autism spectrum. Barriers to engagement will be addressed as well as the modifications, incentives, and engagement techniques that will help to overcome these barriers. The presentation will also address how to maintain client engagement and how to modify techniques for different settings. Real life examples and materials will be used to expand teaching and allow for further understanding.
- • The difference between neurotypical clients and those on the autism spectrum in regards to engagement strategies.
- • Barriers to engaging those on the autism spectrum in the therapeutic process.
- • How to assess a client’s reward preferences and how rewards can be used effectively to encourage engagement.
- • Methods to modify factors in order to increase the likelihood of engaging clients on the autism spectrum.
- • Techniques to engage multiple clients on the same therapeutic activity.
- • Methods for maintaining engagement in a long-term therapeutic process.
Patricia Hensley, AP
Child and Youth Action Network Coordinator
Patricia has taught students with special needs in the Public School for 30 years. She is an active member in the Council for Exceptional Children and served in leadership positions on the local, state, and national levels. She is an adjunct instructor for Furman University in the Special Education Department and is currently a member of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force initiated through the SC Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Services.
Tips and Tricks for the Classroom Teacher
In this session, strategies will be given to teachers to help their students be more successful in the classroom. Even though many of these will work for the students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, many of these strategies may also help other students also. Strategies will be given to help students on all grade levels.
- • Attendees will understand the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder and the implications for children’s learning, behavior and ability to process information.
- • Attendees will learn accommodations and modifications that will support a student with autism in the classroom
- • Attendees will explore strategies that will help students with autism be more successful in the classroom.
Meridith Pettigrew is currently the Assistant Principal at Rutherford Academy, a private non-profit school for special needs children and youth, and previously, the Director of Autism Services at King’s Daughters’ School, a residential school for individuals ages 7 to late adulthood with developmental disabilities. Meridith Pettigrew has a background in education, training, teaching, and program management and development for children with autism. Meridith has a Master of Education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Bachelors of Science in Special Education, Early Childhood Education, and Elementary Education from Juniata College and the University of Pittsburgh. Meridith’s history includes not only work in the classroom but also time as a home therapist working with children with autism. She has also developed modules on teaching methodologies and presented them to other teachers. She has extensive history in many of the tools for children with autism, including Boardmaker, Picture Exchange, Writing with Symbols, communication devices (including DynaVox, Dynamo, and Alpha Smart), TEACCH, discrete trial therapy, Greenspan play therapy, relationship development intervention, behavior modification techniques, social supports, sensory integration needs, visual supports, behavior plans, and much more. Meridith frequently speaks at Autism Conferences about her passion for helping those with autism improve the quality of life with visual supports.
Visual Supports are My Superpower
This presentation will cover 5 specific types of visual supports for the novice, and new and fresh ideas for the pro! Preparing visual supports can be overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with how to do it – but all you need is motivation and respect. Start becoming a behavioral expert and change your behavior as an instructor. When you do, you will soon gain an amazing respect for visuals. Participants will realize how often they, as adults, use visual supports throughout their day. Afterwards ,they will be shown how their students need the same supports. This presentation will also offer several ideas and resources to re-energize classroom teachers who currently have a good understanding of visual supports.
- • Be able to describe why a visual support can have an impact on behavior for kids with ASD
- • Identify the different types of visual supports
- • Learn the basics for creating visual supports
Jim and Anne Johnston
As parents of a child on the spectrum, who both work professionally with parents of children on the spectrum, Jim and Anne Johnston bring an informed and thoughtful perspective based on their years of personal and professional experiences.
Anne’s journey to help her son receive community services and special education led her to her current position as the Western Regional Parent Educator for the Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center. Anne understands the challenges that parents face while accessing services, resources, and special education. She joined ECAC in 2013 to help other parents navigate these complex services. Anne provides parents individual assistance with educational concerns, and trainings and workshops for parents and educators on a wide variety of topics.
Jim has a special interest in assisting individuals and families in navigating the challenges autism presents as well as capitalizing on the strengths our children and students inherently possess. Jim brings over 15 years of experience providing clinical care to adolescents and their families in multiple settings. Jim’s professional passion is to help clients develop a deep sense of resiliency, self-efficacy, and resourcefulness at school, home, and in the community.
Effective Parent and Professional Collaboration
Over the past 60 years, many changes have occurred in the way that parents and professionals have learned to work together. Perhaps the most notable change has been a shift from services based solely on professional expertise to services that incorporate the knowledge of parents as part of coordinated planning for their children. Parents and professionals must build mutual respect for effective collaboration. The communication that occurs between parents and professionals can make a tremendous difference in the effectiveness of the collaboration. As parents of a child with ASD, and professionals who work with parents of children with ASD and other disabilities, Jim and Anne bring informed and thoughtful perspectives on effective parent-professional collaboration from both sides.
- • The Qualities Necessary for Effective Collaboration
OT: Develop collaborate strategies that will allow you to bring Occupational Therapy Theory to a multi discipline team to IEP’s.
- • What Parents and Professionals Can Do to Build Mutual Respect
OT: Create a professional dialog to assist with Parents, Family members and Occupational Therapist to help communicate about occupational centered practice. One that will allow them to build mutual respect, and assist in fostering the value of thoughtful and respectful phrasing to the child diagnosed with Autism.
- • Active Listening Skills and Parents Barriers to Listening
OT: Teach the difference between active listening skills and parent barriers to listening.
- • The Value of Thoughtful, Practiced, and Respectful Phrasing
OT: Teach the difference between subjective and objective reporting and how to properly document each properly in daily notes.
- • Empathy vs. Sympathy
- • The difference between Subjective and Objective Reporting
OT: Create a pre writing program that can be used in Pre school to 1st grade student that incorporate fine and visual motor development. And can be used for both teachers and be sent home for parental use with their children. Be able to teach parents how to foster good prewriting skills with their children.
- • Tips and Tools for Dealing with Angry or Frustrated Parents
Make Your Plans To Join Us
Converge 2018 is geared towards professionals in all fields relating to Autism.
However, we invite parents and students to attend as well. Attendees may include Licensed Social Workers, Licensed Independent Therapists, Certified Counselors, Teachers, Mental Health Workers, Occupational Therapists, Board Certified Behavioral Therapists, and Speech and Language Pathologists, and Nurses. Attendance is limited to 250. Register early to take advantage of early bird rates.
The Embassy Suites by Hilton Greenville Downtown Riverplace will be hosting Converge 2018. They are located downtown at 250 Riverplace, Greenville, SC in the heart of downtown Greenville.
Embassy Suites is offering a limited number of rooms at a discounted rate for attendees wishing to stay at the conference venue.
Our lunch sponsor for the 2018 Converge Conference is The Shape of Behavior, a Texas-based applied behavior analysis (ABA), health and behavior intervention, and behavior medicine clinic for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. We are thrilled to have them sponsoring lunch for both days of the summit this year! They will also have a booth set up in the vendor area at the summit.
Interested in vending for Converge 2018? Would you or your company like to sponsor a parent or student for the summit? Contact us via the form below. You can also download our Vendor/Sponsor packet for more information on vending booths and sponsorship opportunities for your company.
Springbrook Autism Behavioral Health is an autism-focused behavioral health center with a well-developed program for the treatment of autism in children ages 5-21. Our autism therapy program is staffed by some of the top professionals in the industry with a wide range—from Behavioral Analysts, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Psychiatric Nurses, Psychologists, Child and Family Therapists, Speech and Occupational Therapists, Special Education Teachers, and Registered Behavioral Technicians all who have expertise and a passion for treating children and adolescents with autism.
Our program is tailored to the child with autism and goal-oriented, rather than for long-term care, and works with children across the Southeast. We accept all developmental levels on the autism spectrum.