Autism College Free Q & A with Visiting Professor Robert Naseef, PhD on November 20th

Join Visiting Professor Robert Naseef, PhD and moderator Chantal Sicile-Kira in a free interactive Q & A webinar on Tips for Enjoying the Holidays and Managing Stress. You can sign up  here.

Many of us seasoned parents joke that we get more religious during the holidays: we pray our child will not have a meltdown while doing the holiday shopping; we pray that he or she will stay regulated during celebrations with relatives; we pray that we will have the strength to politely ignore the judgments passed upon us and our ‘misbehaving’ child; we pray that our relatives will be more understanding and accepting than at prior holiday celebrations.

We’re happy to have as our Visiting Professor in November Dr. Robert Naseef, who is personally and professionally experienced with the struggles and rewards of raising a child with special needs. On Wednesday, November 20th, at 6:00 pm – 8:00pm PST (9:00 pm to 11pm EST), Dr. Naseef will join us and share Tips for Enjoying the Holidays and Managing Stress. Sign up here  to participate.

Robert NaseefRobert Naseef, PhD specializes in guiding families of children with disabilities at Alternative Choices in Philadelphia.. He is the author of Special Children, Challenged Parents: The Struggles and Rewards of Raising a Child With a Disability and Autism in the Family: Caring and Coping Together.


Autism College Free Q & A with Visiting Professor Lindsey Biel M.A. OTR/L on September 5th

Join Visiting Professor Lindsey Biel M


, OTR/L  and moderator Chantal Sicile-Kira in a free interactive webinar  on Back to School Sensory Tips




com/register/event?oeidk=a07e7xrekxj27cabd90&llr=pi7vyonab”> here to sign up for this free opportunity to get educated

And tell your friends!


Taking Your Son/Daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to the Dentist

This blog post was contributed by: Pam Anderson, Indiana Resource Center for Autism;  Kim Davis, Indiana Resource Center for Autism; Cristina James, Riley Child Development Center; Katy Messuri, Easter Seals Crossroads; Leanne Suarez, Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at Logan.

Taking your son/daughter on the autism spectrum to the dentist poses many challenges. This article hopes to make you aware of some of these challenges prior to your first visit, as well as provide some useful ways to deal with them. Included in this article are three main areas that are most often in need of attention: preparation, sensory issues and communication.


When seeking a dentist, call the office and discuss your son/daughter’s needs.The more you know ahead of time about their practices and why they do them, the more comfortable you will be.Ask if they have experience with children who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and if they have special procedures in order to optimize each visit.Ask about those procedures.Some procedures you might ask about are:accompanying your son/daughter in the room while doing the exam; having an appointment at a time of day when your son/daughter is at his/her best; having a short wait time; and having the same staff at each visit for consistency.If you’re not comfortable with the answers to your questions, consider another dentist.Some dentists may refuse to treat your son/daughter because they’re unsure how to make them comfortable.

Is your son/daughter accustomed to daily tooth brushing? If not, consider working with an occupational therapist (OT) or an autism or behavioral professional to teach the child good oral hygiene habits. Use of visual routines and a timer are helpful for good daily brushing habits.

Use their toothbrush or a plastic tooth mirror (available at local pharmacies) and get your child use to letting you put it in his/her mouth.Make a fun game out of counting their teeth.Vibration toys that are safe for oral use, or even electric toothbrushes, are also excellent for getting your child use to the strange sensations in their mouths.

One of the most effective preparatory steps you can take is to create and read a social story about going to the dentist with your son/daughter.The social story should take the uncertainty out of what will happen at the dentist office.Be sure to highlight things that you think your child will like or be concerned about.A social narrative, “Going to the Dentist” is listed in the “Resource” section of this article.Another idea is to include an incentive/motivator for when the appointment is over.Does the dentist have a prize basket?Can you stop for a treat afterwards?There are many good books about practicing good oral hygiene and going to the dentist that you can read with your child.A resource guide for helpful books is included at the end of this article.

To get your son/daughter off to the right start with a dentist, schedule a few short “happy visits” to start off with.Keep these visits very positive and short.Let your son/daughter get use to the office environment; try out the chair; let the hygienist look in their mouth or count their teeth, and listen to the sound the drill makes.These may not all happen on the same visit.Use these visits to slowly desensitize your son/daughter to the experience, as well as discover what could potentially be difficult at future visits.

Sensory Issues

There are many potential sensory challenges at a dentist’s office – tastes, smells, textures, sounds, lights and proprioceptive. Knowing in what areas your son/daughter tends to be sensitive will help you know what coping strategies to try.Share your son/daughter’s coping strategies with the dental staff before the visit.Collaboration and teamwork are essential for a successful trip to the dentist.

To be comfortable with the doctor’s chair, you may want to ask the hygienist to lean the chair back before your son/daughter gets in it, as sometimes they don’t like the feeling of being moved backwards.Also, try using a bean bag chair in the dentist’s chair during the exam to provide some snug comfort.Deep pressure can be used before and during the visit for calming.Consult your son/daughter’s classroom teacher or OT for suggestions.Wearing the x-ray vest may be similar to wearing a weighted vest.This can be discussed with the dental staff prior to the visit, too.

Consider a heavy work task to be done before and after the visit for calming.Let your son/daughter stretch a therapy band in their hands, or even wrapped around their ankles while they are in the chair.Lighting in a dental office is often too strong for children with autism.Let them wear sunglasses and request that the staff try to keep the light out of their eyes as much as possible.Night time eye covers can be used, but will make it difficult for the staff to show your son/daughter what they are going to do.If the noises of the office are upsetting, request to be moved to a more quiet or private area.If not available, the use of headphones or an iPod/music player are good ways to limit noise.To ensure that tastes are familiar and favorable, bring your son/daughter’s own toothpaste and toothbrush to the visit.


For a child who may not be able to verbalize or recognize a problem, the accompanying feelings of anxiety and frustration can be overwhelming.The impact of these feelings on behavior can be significant.Having a dental professional who can communicate effectively will be very important.Below are some tips to improve communication at the dentist office.

Tell/Show/Do.This is a shorthand way to explain to staff what they should do. First, Tell your son/daughter what they are going to do. Next, Show the tool or action they are going to use (let your son/daughter touch the tool, if possible).Then, Do only after they’ve done the other two.This verbal preparation and demonstration will help eliminate some uncertainty for your son/daughter and put them more at ease.

  • Modeling is very effective for some children.Bring along a sibling or friend and letyour son/daughter with ASD watch as the doctor or hygienist performs the task on them first.
  • Letting the child know ahead of time how long something is going to last can be very helpful.Instruct the staff to prompt the child with time durations as they work.Some examples:“This will be all done when we finish counting to 10.”“I need to touch 20 teeth… help me count them all.”“That gritty cleaner will only be there for 1 minute and then you can rinse and spit it out.”
  • Instruct the staff that your child responds best to immediate praise for good behavior.When your child does something they want, staff should not delay their praises.This will help your child make the connection between what he/she does and the consequences.Some examples:“Great job keeping your mouth open.”“I like how you are …”“You did great while I cleaned the front of your teeth, now I’m going to clean the back of them.”
  • Ignoring inappropriate behaviors is also something you’ll want to inform the staff about.Have them try to ignore inappropriate behaviors as much as they can.Maintaining a calm voice may help to minimize behavior problems.

Other Issues

There are some unique dental issues that you will want to discuss with your dentist, if they apply to your son/daughter.For those who engage in bruxism (grinding their teeth) or self-injurious behaviors (such as picking at the gums or biting their lip) a mouth guard might be recommended so long as it is tolerated by your son/daughter.Dentists should also review your child’s medications and/or supplements.They will then be able to advise whether medications are affecting saliva production or if they contain a lot of sugar, both of which will increase the chance of cavities.

Seizures may accompany autism, and if your child has seizures you will need to discuss this with your dentist.The mouth is always at risk during a seizure; children may chip teeth or bite their tongue or cheeks.The dentist should be able to help you develop a treatment plan for these challenges.Be prepared to manage a seizure if one occurs during the dental visit.Instruct staff to remove any instruments from the mouth and clear the area around your child.A simple trick is to attach dental floss to rubber dam clamps or mouth props before putting them in so that you can remove them quickly if needed.

Sedation is sometimes used with patients, usually in cases where the child has high levels of anxiety or discomfort that prevent good coping skills, for those with uncontrolled movements (including gagging), or for those requiring extensive dental treatment.Sedative medications cause most children to become relaxed and drowsy.Unlike general anesthesia, sedation is not intended to make a patient unconscious or unresponsive.You and your dentist should select a technique based on the specific needs of the child and discuss the benefits, limits and risks of that technique.Your son/daughter may be referred to a hospital for extensive procedures to be done under stronger sedation or general anesthesia.

If you have any dietary or chemical restrictions that you are following for your child, be sure to make your dentist aware of these before the appointment begins.They need to know up front what your expectations are so that they can attempt to work within your guidelines.

Financial Access to Dental Services

Families without health insurance and those with health plans that do not cover dental care may be able to benefit from a wide variety of programs to ensure that they have access to the care they need.Before you investigate using services that provide dental care, it is wise to check if you qualify for any public or private health coverage plans that would provide dental care.

If your child is covered under Hoosier Healthwise (Indiana’s Medicaid program), dental services are a covered service.In Indiana, this coverage is limited to $600 per recipient per 12-month period, except for surgical and periodontal procedures.One topical fluoride application is covered every 6 months per recipient for patients from 18 months to 19 years of age.You can search for a dentist that accepts Medicaid near you at

Families who have private health insurance coverage may have dental coverage as part of the plan benefit.Some employers offer separate dental coverage that employees can opt to buy.Families are encouraged to seek out information about what benefits are available and procedures for obtaining authorization of services.Your employer, human resources department or plan administrator are key sources for this type of information.

A variety of clinics, programs and organizations provide dental services to children and adults in Indiana who do not have dental coverage and cannot afford standard fees.Each program has different eligibility criteria.To find options near you consider the following:

  • Many Community Health Centers provide dental services.For a list of community health centers go to:
  • Dental schools can be a good source of quality, reduced-cost dental treatment.The Indiana University School of Dentistry offers services for fees that are generally 1/3 less than a typical dentist practice.Contact: IU School of Dentistry, 1121 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN46202-4186, Phone: 317-274-7461.
  • The Bureau of Primary Health Care supports federally-funded community health centers across the country that provide free or reduced-cost health services, including dental care.To obtain a list of centers in your area, contact the HRSA Info Center at 1-888-ASK-HRSA (1-888-275-4772) or
  • Each year the Indiana Dental Association hosts the Give Kids a Smile Day.During this one day event (in early February) dentists across Indiana open their offices to donate dental care to children from low-income families.There are requirements that must be met.Appointments are required.Information about scheduling an appointment can be found at between October and December each year.


Taking your son/daughter to the dentist presents challenges for both the parent/caregiver and the dental office staff.By working together, challenges and anxiety can be reduced.Using ideas presented in this article, the child with ASD may have a better understanding of what to expect when he/she visits the dentist for the first time and may have a greater chance of experiencing a successful dental visit.


American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. (n.d.)Sedation. From

Bennie, M.(n.d.) Dental Dilemma.from Autism Today website:

DynaVox Mayer-Johnson, 2100 Wharton Street, Suite 400, Pittsburgh, PA 15203;
Phone: 800-588-4548,Fax: 866-585-62620; Email:; Website:

Indiana State Department of Health, Sunny Start Initiative.(2009, April 20).Dental Care: Options to Access Dental Services.From:

Mabry, C. et al. (2008) Special Care Dentistry for the General Practice Resident: Practical Training Modules [PowerPoint Slides].Retrieved from NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities website:

Miller-Kuhaneck, H.(n.d.).Going to the Dentist.from the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation website:

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health.(2009, July 14).Practical Oral Care for People With Autism.From

Oakley, D.(2009, August 28).Autism and Dentistry: Dental Challenges for Families and Treating Dentists. The Autism News website:

Resource List – Dental Visit

Books for Children/Students – Dental Visit

Books for Parents/Professionals – Dental Visit

Videos/Photographs – Dental Visit

Social Narrative – Going to the Dentist

Visual Support Schedule – Visiting the Dentist


Autism College Q & A with Elaine Hall & Chantal Sicile-Kira on September 24th

Join  Visiting Professor Elaine Hall and Chantal Sicile-Kira,  author and founder of Autism College, for a free Q & A on Monday September 24th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm PST (9:00pm to 10:00 EST). Sign up for the Autism College newsletter to receive instructions on how to participate and send in your questions. Instructions will be sent via newsletter before the Q & A takes place. (Already registered? Hold tight, the participation link will arrive soon).

Topics to be discussed will be Elaine Hall’s work in the autism community including the  Autism Arts Enrichment program at Vista Del Mar,  and the upcoming conference they are hosting entitled  Re-Thinking Autism: Neurobiology, Technology, Policy, Community.  The conference will take place Thursday November 1, 2012, from 8:30 am-3: 30 pm. Speakers include Diana O’Brien, Founder of Impact Autism; Pat Levitt, PH.D,  Professor of Neuroscience, Director of USC Neuroscience Graduate Program; and Peter Bell, Executive VP Programs and Services for Autism Speaks.

Save the date – Information will follow soon on how to sign up.

Elaine HallAbout Elaine Hall:

Elaine Hall, “Coach E!” referenced by the New York Times as “the child whisperer”, was a top Hollywood children’s acting coach whose life changed dramatically after her son Neal, adopted from a Russian orphanage, was diagnosed with autism. When traditional behavioral therapies didn’t work, she sought the esteemed Dr. Stanley Greenspan who encouraged her to rally creative people to join Neal’s world and he slowly emerged out of his isolation.

Elaine then developed these methods to train staff and volunteers and created, The Miracle Project, a theater and film social skills program profiled in the Emmy winning HBO documentary, AUTISM: The Musical. A media personality, she has appeared on CNN, CBS, Oprah Radio, and featured in the LA Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

She is an international inspirational keynote speaker, an Ambassador for Inclusion, a workshop leader and blogs for the Huffington Post. Her memoir, Now I See the Moon, was chosen for World Autism Awareness Day at The United Nations, where she has spoken several times.  Now I See the Moon has now been selected as suggested reading for International Jewish Disability Month 2013. Elaine is currently the Director of the Autism Arts Enrichment program at Vista Del Mar in West Los Angeles, where she innovates  and oversees state of the art programs including the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and religious education programs.

Elaine has received honors from Autism Speaks, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Senator Pavley, Areva Marin, Holly Robinson Peete and others.

Her latest book, co authored with Diane Isaacs, Seven Keys to Unlock Autism: Creating Miracles In The Classroom, is receiving critical acclaim is being used as university text book and she has led workshops in the Seven Keys Internationally She lives in Santa Monica with the two loves of her life, her son, Neal and husband, Jeff Frymer, a Marriage and Family therapist.

Back to School Tips for Educators and Parents: Free Autism College Q&A with Chantal Sicile-Kira and Dana Pulde

It’s almost the end of  summer and  most parents  are  looking forward to the routine the new school year will provide, and teachers are busy getting classrooms and lessons ready for the new school year.  The start of a new school year can also mean more stress  for all involved – the student, the educator and the parent.  But there are ways to keep stress to a minimum  for a new and hopefully successful new school year.

Autism College hopes to help this year by offering you a one hour free Q & A with Visiting Professor, Dana Pulde, a Special Education Teacher,  moderated by Chantal Sicile-Kira. Both Dana and Chantal are looking forward to answering your questions and giving  tips to educators on how  to prepare the classroom, and to parents on how to prepare yourself and your child for the start of a successful new school year! Whether your child is fully included or in a special day class there are ways to prepare and alleviate some of the stress of the transition from summer to school, especially when there are teachers new to your child or teenager.

Join  Chantal and Dana  for the free interactive Q & A on Thursday, August 16 from 6:00pm to 7:00pm PST (9:00pm to 10:00 EST).

To submit  your questions, go here.

Here is the information for the day of the event:
To attend online, go to:
To call in:
Primary dial in number: (206) 402-0100
Secondary dial in number: (208) 272-9671
Guest pin code: 026332#

Dana Pulde Dana Pulde has been working in the field of special education for a little over a decade.  She began as a paraprofessional working in homes with families using Applied Behavior Analysis to help students with autism.  She resumed her studies to continue her professional growth receiving a moderate/severe teaching credential and masters in autism and she has completed her supervision hours to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  She began her teaching career working at a non-public school serving students with IEPs where she was responsible for developing student programs, creating and implementing Behavior Intervention Plans, Collecting and analyzing data, and creating/modifying materials to meet student needs and support academic growth.  She has continued her career as a supervisor for families of children with special needs by developing home programs and providing ongoing staff and parent training; as a teacher in a public school; and is currently working with an advocate making sure students receive a quality life and education through optimum support and offers of FAPE.

Chantal Sicile-Kira is the founder of and the author  of five books on autism, the latest being A Full Life with Autism: From Learning to Forming Relationships to Achieving Independence (co-authored with her son, Jeremy). Chantal’s first practical experience with autism was at Fairview State Hospital, teaching self-help and community living skills to severely developmentally disabled and autistic adolescents in preparation for their de-institutionalization.  Chantal has served on  the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders, and was appointed to serve as  Co-Chair, South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce.  Her son, Jeremy,  graduated from high school at age 22 with a 3.78 GPA despite being severely impacted by autism.

The Golden Hat : Q & A with Margret D. Ericsdottir moderated by Chantal Sicile-Kira

The Golden Hat

Why did  Kate Winslet ask  over 100 celebrity friends including  Oprah, George Clooney, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Hanks, Kobe Bryant and Leonardo DiCaprio,  be photographed wearing a Golden Hat for a book that includes photos of eleven non-verbal youngsters with autism wearing the same hat?

What are the long term goals of the Golden Hat Foundation?  What goals do you have for your youth’s future? What are your child’s long term goals?

Join the conversation on May 14 about creating  A Full Life with Autism when  Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir, President & CEO of the Golden Hat Foundation joins Moderator Chantal Sicile-Kira  to discuss  these topics.  The  one hour Q & A  on Monday May  14, 2012 will take place from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm PST  (9:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST). Sign up for the Autism College newsletter to receive instructions on how to participate and send in your questions. Instructions will be sent via newsletter before the Q & A  takes place. (Already registered? Hold tight, the participation link will arrive soon).

The Golden Hat Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers for people with autism around the world, and creating an environment that holds these individuals as intellectually capable.

Kate Winslet and Margret D. Ericsdottir

Guest: Margret D. Ericsdottir is the President & CEO of the  The Golden Hat Foundation; Founder Frontier Filmworks; Co-Author, The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism; Advocate for Individuals with Autism; Mother of Keli, 14-year-old with nonverbal autism.  Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir, MBA, had a successful career in business and held various executive positions in Icelandic companies. Then, in 1997 Margret’s youngest son Keli was born and diagnosed as having severe autism at the age of four. The sudden and profound changes in her family prompted Margret to shift her focus from career-related pursuits to caring for Keli. In 2006 Margret founded Frontier Filmworks, and made the documentary, A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism, which describes her family’s journey.

The  award-winning actress, Kate Winslet, narrated the documentary, and subsequently co-authored The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism, in which celebrities and some non-verbal individuals with autism are photographed wearing a “golden” hat.

Moderator:  Chantal Sicile-Kira is the founder of Autism College, author of five books on autism. Her latest book A Full Life with Autism, was co-authored with her son, Jeremy Sicile-Kira whose photograph appears in The Golden Hat.

Q & A Webinar: Temple Grandin, Chantal & Jeremy Sicile-Kira : A Full Life with Autism

Temple Grandin and Claire Danes

On Saturday, April 7 th from 8:00am PST to 9:30am PST (11:00am EST to 2:00am EST), Visiting Professor Temple Grandin will answer questions with Chantal Sicile-Kira  moderating. Then, for those who want to stick around,  from 9:45am PST to 11:15am PST (12:45pm EST to 2:15pm EST) Chantal and Jeremy Sicile-Kira will be answering questions in regards to their new book, A Full Life With Autism for which Temple wrote the foreword.

This is an opportunity to ask Temple Grandin questions, and get insight as to what is important for preparing our children for life as successful adults. Chantal and Jeremy will answer any questions you may have about raising a child with autism, and the transition to adulthood.  Register for our newsletter to sign up. (If you are already signed up, you will be receiving instructions shortly).

What questions do you have? Let us know, we’ll answer them!

Temple Grandin, PhD, is a doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. As a person with high-functioning autism, Grandin is also noted for her work in autism advocacy and is the inventor of the squeeze machine designed to calm hypersensitive people.  Grandin is listed in the 2010 Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and the subject of the Emmy award winning  HBO documentary, “Temple Grandin.” Temple is the author of many books including, The Way I See It, Developing Talents, and Animals in Translation.

Chantal and Jeremy Sicile-Kira

Jeremy Sicile-Kira was diagnosed severely autistic as well as mentally retarded when he was born in 1989. In 2010, he gave a commencement speech at his high school graduation.   Jeremy  co-authored a book A Full Life with Autism ( Macmillan, March 2012) as a  guide for parents and educators helping those on the autism spectrum transition  into meaningful and independent lives.  Jeremy writes for  autism magazines, and his new website,  He is one of three national Youth Advocates of the Autistic Global Initiative, a project of the Autism Research Institute. In 2007, Jeremy was highlighted on MTV’s documentary series True Life in the episode, “I Have Autism,” which won a 2007 Voice Award. Follow him on Twitter.

Chantal Sicile-Kira is an award-winning author, columnist, and autism advocate, as well as the founder of of which provides practical training  to parents and educators. Her latest book, is  A Full Life With Autism, co-authored with her son, Jeremy.  Their  story has been covered by a wide variety of media, including NPR, PBS, MTV, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Fox News.


Replay: Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention Conference (free and online)

For those that missed the Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention interactive conference on, it is being replayed for free on Saturday, March 10th, from 8:00am to 5:00pm PST (11:00am to 8:00pm EST). in partnership with the National Autism Association (NAA)  presented a series of free webinars on Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention. This online conference was sponsored in part by The Social Express. Due to requests from people who could not attend, it is being replayed. (Note that listeners will not be able to send in questions to be replied as for the live event).

Topics and presenters on Saturday March 10th, are as follows:

  •  8:00am – 9:30am PST, Dr. Nora Baladerian, Ph.D. – “How Can Parents Reduce the Risk of Sexual Abuse of Their Child or Young Adult?”
  • 9:45am – 11:15am PST, Dr. Lori Ernsperger – “The 3 R’s to Bullying Prevention for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Recognize, Respond, and Report”
  • 11:45am – 1:15pm PST, Dr. Joshua Feder – “The Problem of Depression and Suicidal Ideation in Autism and Related Disorders”
  • 1:30pm -3:00pm PST,  Wendy Fournier, NAA – “The Scope of Wandering, Prevention Strategies, and Resources”
  • 3:15pm to 5:00pm PST, Pat Amos, M.A. – “Preventing and Eliminating the Use of Restraints and Seclusion”
To register for free, go here. For a complete  description of the presentations, and bios of the presenters, go here.
Transcripts of the conference may be pre-ordered here.  A portion of the profits will be donated to the National Autism Association for their Safety Programs. Delivery may take up to three weeks. Thanks for your patience.

What Can We Do About Depression and Suicidal Ideation in Youths With Autism?

Depression and suicide ideation are are on the list of things we wish we did not have to know more about, but as parents and educators, it is an area that we need to be more informed about – knowledge is empowering!

Autism College in partnership with the National Autism Association (NAA) is presenting a series of free on-line conference webinars on Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention,  sponsored in part by The Social Express.

On Wednesday, February 15, 6:00pm to 7:30pm PST (9:00pm to 10:30pm EST) Dr. Joshua Feder will be addressing this topic. To register for free, go here.

Here is some information as to what this webinar will cover:

Presentation Topic: The Problem of Depression and Suicidal Ideation in Autism and Related Disorders

  • How often do we think it occurs?
  • How serious is it?
  • How do we distinguish serious symptoms from everyday frustration?
  • What are the risk factors? Are they similar to the general population, e.g. depression, loss, and substance use?
  • What should we look for?  Learning to read the cues.
  • When should we be very worried? Does the driven quality of those with ASDs make people more at-risk?
  • What can we do: in everyday life to help prevent depression; when people are sad;
  • How can we use the mental health system?  Are therapies or medications effective? Are there other ways to address depression in ASD?

Dr. Joshua Feder is the Director of the Department of Research in the Graduate School of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders, and a voluntary assistant professor at UCSD School of Medicine.  Dr. Feder specializes in neurobehavioral medicine and application of DIR/Floortime with families and in schools.  He co-chairs the DIR/Floortime Coalition of California, and co-chairs the South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce (SCART) of the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders. Dr. Feder helped write the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Practice Parameter for Assessment and Treatment of Autism and Related Disorders. He reviews grants for the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) and the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR), is a primary clinical investigator for National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and privately funded research in pharmacogenetics with the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Trials Network (CAPTN).  Dr. Feder serves as medical director for SymPlay developing interactive technology and distance learning systems to support relationship based interventions.  He is involved in advocacy for family choice in evidence-based practice, and he is a frequent commentator and speaker for ValeriesList and for Autism College. Dr. Feder has a full time child and family psychiatric practice in Solana Beach, California.

Register here for the conference.

How can parents reduce the risk of sexual abuse of their children (as adults or children) with autism?

“I have suffered real abuse. Really if it were not for my mom and my therapist pleading for me, I would have retreated into my world. When the bad thing  happened I wanted to  die. Greatly  my mom and therapist  found  a way to help  me grow  from this  experience. I learned  that  there  were really bad people that could do things  to your  body,  but I learned that  you don’t have to let them into your soul.”  – a young man with autism.

Although data on abuse of adults with disabilities is scarce, research on children with disabilities finds that they become victims of abuse at 3.4 times the rate of children who do not have disabilities (Sullivan,T. and Knutson, D., 2001).  While many agree that abuse occurs more, those who specialize in the field of abuse & disability believe that for both children and adults, increased victimization is more likely 10 times the rate than for those without disabilities.

Dr. Nora BaladerianAccording to Nora Baladerian, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist practicing both clinical and forensic psychology, children with disabilities have many of the same needs as any other child, for education, family, safety, recreation, among many others.  Most parents of children with disabilities receive information and guidance on these aspects of life, but nearly none on the problems of child abuse, sexual assault, molestation, or other types of maltreatment that they may experience.  Knowledge is power, and when parents and other family members are aware that their child (or adult family member) who has a significant disability is more likely to be targeted for abuse than other children, they are more likely to implement the risk reduction strategies available to them.

This is one of the reasons Autism College has partnered with the National Autism Association to put on a free online conference, Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention. This series of  webinars is sponsored in part by The Social Express.  Dr. Nora Baladerian will present on: How can parents reduce the risk of sexual abuse of their children (as adults or children)?,  on Saturday, February 11, 8:15am PST – 9:45am PST (11:15am EST – 12:45pm EST)

The webinar will be interactive. There will be an opportunity for those signed up to send in questions ahead of time or while listening to the program. Chantal Sicile-Kira will moderate the Q & A.  To register for free, go here. For more information about the other webinars included in this conference, go here. Instructions will be sent to those signed up. (For those who wish to purchase transcripts, they will be made available after the conference.)

Dr. Baladerian’s presentation  How can parents reduce the risk of sexual abuse of their children (as adults or children)? will focus on the basics all parents should know about sexual abuse among individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Topics to be included include:

  • You know your child. How can you prepare your child for this particular danger?
  • How can you prepare yourself to be not only their educator, but to be a part of an overall strategy to reduce the risk of becoming a victim?
  • This presentation will discuss the basics of being a knowledgeable parent in the area of sexual abuse, including knowing the signs of possible abuse, designing a plan, and developing a protocol to use for all new persons who you will approve or hire to work with your family.

Nora Baladerian, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in Los Angeles, California, practicing both clinical and forensic psychology . Since 1971, long before the crime victimization field as a whole focused attention on the needs of persons with disabilities, she has specialized in working with individuals with developmental disabilities. With an expertise in serving crime victims with disabilities and people charged with victimless sex crimes, she has successfully rallied victim/witness organization leaders, crime victims rights advocates, social service professionals, forensic psychologists, law enforcement, attorneys, members of the judiciary, and others to take up the cause of ensuring that the needs of society’s most vulnerable are not overlooked or otherwise forgotten. In 1986, as a proactive way both to bring together the growing number of those dedicated to this work and promoting greater cross-disciplinary dialog, she began convening national conferences on abuse of individuals with disabilities, hosting the 19th in 2005 with The Arc of Riverside County, and the First Online Professional Conference of its kind that same year. In 2008, the Attorney General of the United States presented her with the National Crime Victims Service Award in recognition of her pioneering efforts on behalf of persons with disabilities and in advancement of the mission of the Office for Victims of Crime of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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