Speak Out: Conference Favorites

January 16, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

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Just returned from the 19th Annual Statewide Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) Conference (under full disclosure, I am the Director of the CARD Grant at NSU).  It was a very busy long weekend that began with a free pre-conference educators day and ended with one of  the  47 session options. I have tweeted some educational highlights that included a keynote by Dr. Amy Wetherby about the new  DSM 5  (thats right no more Roman Numeral) diagnostic features for Autism Spectrum Disorder (that’s right again, no ‘s’ on the end) and a dinner party talk by Dr. Temple Grandin (wow!).  I  tend to look at conference information as a teaser… first information is highlighted and then I do a more in-depth review and analysis into specifics that are related to me.

Quick Info on My  First 3 Favorite Topics/Resources

      • The Learning Curve– resources that include interesting and interactive  materials for teachers of students with autism or a related disability.   Although designed for teachers and centered around autism spectrum disorder, the PrAACtical AAC resources will help almost anyone who interacts with students with significant communication challenges. All resources are free and there are great social stories and other visual supports for home, school, and the community.  You can just begin printing materials or watching videos.
      • DSM 5 Development– the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) are scheduled to be released in May, 2013. Information on the proposed changed for DSM 5 and how to comment on the changes. In Spring 2012, there will be a final opportunity for anybody to comment on the changes and then work groups integrate valid information. Big changes in the neurodevelopmental category are happening.  There are no more subcategories of autism, qualitative disorders of social interaction, social communication, and restricted behaviors meeting specific criteria will be called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The reason for the elimination of subtypes is that there are no valid and reliable features that distinguish subtypes.   Within ASD, there are 2 categories of features that must be present to receive a diagnosis. These 2 categories are Leo Kanner’s original categories. Rett is not included in the DSM 5 because it is now diagnosed through genetic testing.  All DSM 5 (not just neurodevelopmental disorders) will have dimensional ratings. So once, a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is given, then a determination of level of support will be added (1. Support Needed 2. Substantial Support Needed 3.  Much Substantial Support Needed).  It is now also acceptable to have co-morbid disorders such as anxiety disorder or mood disorder and still receive a diagnosis of ASD. The proposed changes for Neurodevelopmemtal disorders were developed by a work group that included the first ever SLP (Congratulations, Dr. Wetherby).
      • GoTalk Now– Just have to say, I am so  happy to see another assistive technology company develop an AAC app!  Attainment has released GoTalk Now which has some advertising that says ‘Make your iPad into a GoTalk’. But be on the alert, GoTalkNow offers many more options than the GoTalk. Go Talk Now is a dynamic fairly comprehensive AAC app.  Thanks to John Sajdak, training and account specialist for the Attainment Company I got to ask a lot of questions and try it out. Here is a really quick view:  GoTalkNowvideo
Once  I explore these resources, I will post some more in-depth information.   Need to take some time now to begin exploring.



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This post was written by Robin Parker

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