Professional Development

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Autism Spectrum Disorder in The Mix: Learning Together in Inclusive Classrooms 

—a 15-hour CE course for general educators and special-area teachers
In this engaging course, general educators discover why we need to reach students on the autism spectrum before we can hope to teach them. We discuss the challenges that these students face in inclusive classrooms and explore how those challenges may boil up into behaviors that stand in the way of learning. Participants collect fundamental, meaningful strategies to help put the fires out, turn down the heat, and let curricular learning begin.

The following sessions run 90-minutes to 2-hours, but can be customized to meet your needs.

Reaching Students on the Autism Spectrum AND the Parents Who Come with Them

—a compelling keynote session, customized for early-childhood, primary, or secondary educators
Students with special needs are being included in general ed classrooms more than ever, and they come to early childhood educators first. Early childhood teachers often need to broach significant concerns that parents don’t want to hear. This compelling session provides effective strategies for reaching young children on the spectrum and their parents by creating an inclusive environment that draws parents and caregivers into the dialogue and helps them begin to face the challenging road ahead.

Autism Spectrum Disorder at School: Life, Literacy, and the Pursuit of Content 

—a session for general educators
We hold this truth to be self-evident: Students on the spectrum need support with life literacy, before they can reach for content literacy. This lively session provides critical strategies for reducing anxiety, enhancing engagement, decoding behavior, and supporting socialization—all necessary benchmarks on the path toward curricular learning. We will look at effective techniques for getting information in and information out, as we move toward our collective goal of literacy and independence for all.

Common Core Meets Uncommon Kids: Finding Common Ground with Students on the Autism Spectrum

—a session for general educators
Even as classrooms become more diverse, teachers are expected to bring all students to a “common” destination. How do we differentiate for students on the autism spectrum in this seemingly paradoxical context? This dynamic session provides strategies for innovating on behalf of individual students while supporting all learners. Participants will explore new ways of seeing and being in the classroom: opening possibilities, closing achievement gaps, and transforming the next generation into one of acceptance

Keep Calm and Carry On: Support for Supporters of Students on the Autism Spectrum

—a session for classroom paraprofessionals
This session, specially designed for classroom paraprofessionals, introduces the underlying challenges that drive difficult behaviors among students on the autism spectrum. We discuss ways to look for the root of the problem, rather than respond to only the outward behaviors. Participants practice strategies for helping impulsive students capture that elusive “stop-and-think” moment before acting or reacting. The goal is to help front-line staff develop a fundamental understanding of the challenges and strengths among students with special needs, in order to generate empathic, effective support in the classroom.

The Ball’s in Your Court: Following Through in Special Area Classes

—a 2-hour session for teachers of Art, Library, Music, and Physical Education
Special area classes pose unique challenges to students on the autism spectrum. The sensory challenges are extreme and the group/team work expectations are intense, and all that while these students are outside their classroom comfort zones. This session provides practical information and strategies that are specifically attuned to the needs of special area teachers, so that every student shines.

Ten Things You Can Do Before Day One: Starting Off Strong with Students on the Spectrum

—a jumpstart session for general educators (Perfect for summer PD!)
Students on the autism spectrum enter your classroom bearing a backpack full of worries. If they can’t put those worries down quickly, then toting that heavy load becomes a way of life at school, imprinted as a learned behavior. Each day they will return burdened and compromised by the worries on their backs. Instead, seize this moment to help students offload their worries by setting up a classroom that exudes comfort, clarity, and consistency, even on Day One.

Living on the Edge: Building Bridges Across the Autism Spectrum

—a session for educators and/or parents and caregivers
This powerful session contrasts the acute academic challenges confronted by educators, with the chronic practical and emotional challenges facing parents and caregivers. Participants will take away simple strategies for bridging gaps in communication and creating a path of effective collaboration between school and home. Through mutual understanding, parents and professionals together become a crucial force in bringing out the best in the children we share.

Transitional Moments: Expecting the Unexpected

—a session for school building staff (e.g. secretaries, cafeteria workers, recess aides, nurses, hall monitors, security guards, custodians, and bus drivers)
School building staff and municipal workers come into contact with students on the autism spectrum at particularly challenging times. In moments of transition or emergency, these children are likely to become overwhelmed. Just when they need to move (and quickly), they may act out or shut down. Often these intense situations spiral from bad to worse: As the adult gets impatient, the child retreats even farther. This cycle can be broken with a little education about what autism spectrum disorders “look like” and how to respond efficiently and effectively.

Click here to schedule workshops.