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Archived News: What's New
August 2012

Applied Behavior Analysis at George Mason University Presents

Applied Behavior Analysis at George Mason University Presents:

The Verbal Behavior Approach: Using ABA/VB to Improve Autism Programming Across the Spectrum

Mary Lynch Barbera, PhD, RN, BCBA-D

Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21-22, 2012: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Verizon Auditorium, Occoquan Building

George Mason University - Prince William Campus

Click here to register.


Children with autism, regardless of age, ability level, or setting, need effective, individualized programming in order to reach their maximum potential. This workshop will utilize B.F. Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior to provide a framework for assessing and programming for children with autism and related disorders. Two forms of Applied Behavior Analysis: traditional discrete trial teaching and the Verbal Behavior Approach, will be compared and contrasted. Dr. Barbera will give an overview of her book: The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders and will highlight several strategies that can be used immediately to begin to assess and teach children with autism. Assessment tools and procedures used to assess verbal and non-verbal strengths and needs within children with autism will also be described. Group activities will enable participants to quickly and easily become familiar with VB terminology. Programming for children with autism will also be covered.

In addition to providing participants with specific ways to improve positive behaviors such as language, this workshop will also review ABA principles that should be used to decrease or eliminated problem behaviors such as hitting and crying. Through lecture, video examples and group activities, the participants will leave with a better understanding of Applied Behavior Analysis utilizing Skinner’s Analysis of Verbal Behavior as it relates to programming for children at various points on the autism spectrum.


Mary Lynch Barbera, PhD, RN, BCBA-D offers a unique perspective as a parent of a child with autism, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and an author. Since her son’s diagnosis one day before his third birthday, Mary has focused her attention and research on autism and related disorders. In 2000, she was the Founding President of the Autism Society of Berks County. She became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2003 and worked until 2010 as the Lead Behavior Analyst for the Pennsylvania Verbal Behavior Project, a statewide initiative assisting staff in the implementation of ABA/VB in over 100 public school autism classrooms. Through the PA VB Project as well as through her private consulting business, Mary has had the privilege of working with hundreds of children on the autism spectrum and has assisted in providing training to thousands of professionals and parents. In 2007 she published The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders and completed a Ph.D. in Leadership in 2011.


VCU-ACE Participates at Shining Stars Conference!

The VCU Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE) participated at Creating Connections to Shining Stars 2012, Virginia's Collaborative Early Childhood Birth through Five Conference, in July. The conference provided both early intervention and early childhood providers with information regarding service delivery for children with developmental delays and disabilities. VCU-ACE was able to contribute information specifically geared towards children with autism spectrum disorder through presentations and a conference exhibit.

Dawn Hendricks, VCU-ACE Training Director, partnered with Deana Buck from the Partnership for People with Disabilities to provide a presentation titled, "Supporting Families as they Learn More About Autism Spectrum Disorder: Hints, Strategies and Resources." The session provided participants with key information to assist families as they learn more about ASD and included tips for talking to parents. Participants also learned about the "Learn the Signs: Act Early" campaign, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. User-friendly resources were shared that were designed to improve developmental outcomes for all young children.

Alicia Hart, VCU-ACE Training Associate, presented on "Overcoming Feeding Difficulties in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder." The session provided an overview of the eating challenges children with ASD may present and the potential reasons why such challenges may develop. A focus was placed on strategies to address challenges and overcome feeding difficulties within the context of the home and school environment.


July PARAPro Training – Over 300 Trained in One Month!

Due to the high demand for training of paraprofessionals in the summer, VCU-ACE expanded the course participant limit to allow all interested the ability to participate in the Autism Spectrum Disorders for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports in July. Over 400 individuals registered for the July PARAPro Training and 316 successfully completed the course. This course is designed for paraprofessionals working with students with ASD in the educational environment but is appropriate for any person who works in a support role within a school division or who interacts with students with ASD, but may not have primary responsibility for the student. This online course is run on a monthly basis and is self-paced. Participants can receive a Certificate of Completion if they meet all of the course requirements. Visit the VCU-ACE website for more information and to register for an upcoming session!

Here are just some of the remarks from participants in the July course for paraprofessionals:

“I finished Module 5 and just wanted to tell you I have enjoyed taking this class. It gave me new idea(s) and insight on how to improve on some things I do now. I can't wait to talk to my supervising teacher when we go back to work in August about the “Apply it” and other things I learned.”

“I have finished the class!!! I really enjoyed it. It helped me to understand the complexity of some of the students in my classroom …Thanks for providing an excellent opportunity for the paraprofessionals to learn.”

“I am enjoying this class! I have worked one-on-one with a young man with Autism for the past 5 years with absolutely no training in Autism, but as I am taking this class, I realize that most of what I have done with this young man is what I was supposed to do. He has really come out of his shell and can now recognize the difference between literal and figurative language. He also can make jokes and talk freely to his peers. I now know that the techniques I was using were the right ones. Thank you for this wonderful class!”

“I just wanted to Thank You. I really enjoyed the Paraprofessional course on ASD. I enjoyed reading the comments and suggestions from the discussion boards and I am so glad I took the course. I really enjoyed reading the comments and suggestions you gave each and every one of us. So great job responding to us all and Thank you again. I would suggest anyone working with a child with ASD to take this course.”

VCU-ACE continues to make improvements to all course offerings ... Thanks for your feedback!!


News from the VCU-ACE Training Division!

The summer months have given many people an opportunity to expand their knowledge on autism spectrum disorders by participating in the VCU-ACE online courses, Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Autism Spectrum Disorders for Paraprofessionals: Providing Effective Instruction and Supports. Over 80 individuals participated in the Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders courses that concluded in July.

The Foundations for Autism Spectrum Disorders course provides participants with an understanding of the primary characteristics of ASD, which include impairments in communication and social development and the presence of repetitive patterns of behavior. Secondary characteristics, including sensory processing differences and motor deficits are also be explored. The Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders course is designed to provide teachers, related service providers, paraprofessionals, administrators, families and other service providers with skills and knowledge needed to support students with an ASD who demonstrate interfering behavior in the school setting. For more information and to register for either of these online courses, please visit the VCU-ACE website.


VCU-ACE Webcast Announcements

September Webcast Announced!

On Tuesday, September 11, 2012, Dr. Maria Urbano will provide an update of the evolving diagnosis of ASD including the current diagnostic controversy, the newest prevalence data, and recent genetic findings accompanied by neuroscience developments on the VCU-ACE monthly webcast titled, “Autism: An Evolving Diagnosis.”

Maria Urbano, M.D. is a board certified psychiatrist and fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. She is currently an associate professor of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Eastern Virginia Medical School. In February 2010, Dr. Urbano and Dr. Deutsch, chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, began the Autism Spectrum Disorders Program for Older Adolescents and Young Adults, which has a clinical, research, and educational division. Dr. Urbano has seen over 150 ASD patients since the beginning of the program. She is the principal investigator of three research projects including two promising drug trials of new medications for ASD. In conjunction with the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters Children's Hospital, the ASD Program sponsors an annual conference entitled Insights into Autism which features regional and national speakers who present new neuroscience and clinical data.

The schedule is now available for the entire 2012-2013 Webcast Series! Check out the great presenters and topics we have scheduled for September 2012-August 2013, and make it easy on yourself by registering for the whole series here too! And no worries if you can’t catch the webcast on the date it airs, all ACE webcasts are archived for future viewing at your convenience!


VCU-ACE Announces New Online Course for Medical Professionals!

VCU-ACE in collaboration with the Virginia Learn the Signs: Act Early Group is pleased to announce the launch of a new online course for medical professionals on Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorders. This introductory course is designed for medical personnel, specifically for pediatric health care providers, including practicing pediatricians, neurologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, medical residents, and medical students. However, the content is also applicable to any person who wishes to gain more information about the importance and procedures for screening for autism spectrum disorders. This online self-paced course contains four modules designed to help medical personnel gain the knowledge and skills to ensure timely and appropriate screening for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Participants will learn about the diagnostic process and best practices for supporting a family through screening and diagnosis for ASD. For more information and to register for Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorders, please visit the VCU-ACE website.


Be on the lookout for two new VCU-ACE Online Seminars!

- Children with ASD often have challenges learning to communicate. Children can be taught to communicate in a variety of different ways including the use of verbal language. An Introduction to Teaching Young Children with ASD to Verbally Communicate is designed to help caregivers and educators teach verbal communication to children with ASD. This seminar will provide information for finding ways to motivate children to talk, setting up an environment that encourages language, teaching communication during natural situations, and prompting the child to communicate.

- Because communication is so important for all of us, individuals with ASD must be provided with a way to communicate and must be taught how to build communication skills as they grow and develop. We want to support those with ASD so they can communicate anything they need to and can do so effectively and efficiently. An Introduction to Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) with Individuals with ASD is designed to provide an overview of the types of AAC systems available and to discuss how to use AAC devices to help individuals with ASD communicate.

Check Out the Entire Listing of VCU-ACE Online Seminars on the ACE Website!


VCU-ACE Provides Training in China!

VCU-ACE was invited to participate in a wonderful training opportunity in Beijing, China over the summer. Adam Dreyfus, VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Associate, was invited by Beijing Union University to attend a week long training that focused on assisting special education teachers in addressing the needs of their students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Adam joined Professors Ted Hoch and Carmen Rioux-Bailey from George Mason University in delivering two 3-day trainings. The first three days were dedicated to Applied Behavior Analysis and the utilization of research-based interventions that teachers could implement in their classrooms to help them address the communication, social skills, and behavioral issues that constitute the core deficits associated with autism. The final three days expanded on the initial training but also included how to promote successful inclusion of students diagnosed with autism in general education settings. Dr. Bailey is the proud mother of her adopted Chinese daughter Vivien as well as the Founder of the Washington Yu Ying Chinese Immersion Charter School located in Washington, D.C.


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