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AutismMental Health

The Intersection of Autism Spectrum Disorders & Anxiety

By January 27, 2022No Comments

FREE ALL DAY VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

March 18, 2022

Continuing Education Units Available

This conference is sponsored by The Summit Center and the Western New York Regional Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for parents, teachers, therapists, and other helping professionals. Mental health difficulties, such as anxiety and depression may occur in children with ASD. The co-occurrence can complicate how professionals and families understand the individual’s behaviors, evaluate interventions, prescribe medications, and provide strategies for supporting them. This conference will begin with a presentation by Dr. Daniel Mruzek who will describe different types of anxiety disorders that may occur. Drs. Holly Brown and Deborah Napolitano will present their work on how to work with professionals to evaluate the effects of medications. Finally, Dr. David Meichenbaum will present innovative strategies for helping children to think positively.

Click here for more information or to register for the conference


MORNING KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Learners with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Who Have Anxiety: Key Considerations and Best Practices – Presented by Dr. Daniel Mruzek, Ph.D., BCBA, LBA, The Summit Center and the University of Rochester

Those who serve persons with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities regularly encounter clients who have been diagnosed with one or more anxiety disorders, and this circumstance requires specialized consideration of best professional practices. In presentation, Dr. Mruzek will: (1) review anxiety as it manifests in learners with ASD and other developmental disabilities; (2) link our knowledge of anxiety with useful intervention, supports, and modifications (e.g., self-advocacy, development of specific coping skills, visual supports, and systematic relaxation strategies); (3) consider how to integrate efforts with other professionals in a productive, collaborative manner; and (4) identify common barriers to success in supporting the learner with anxiety.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

  1. Participants will demonstrate knowledge of different types of anxiety diagnoses, discuss case conceptualization, and link to behavior in the classroom and other instructional settings.
  2. Participants will describe a model for understanding “anxiety-related” behavior and relate this to intervention, supports, and modifications.
  3. Participants will identify key classroom supports for learners with anxiety, including those that incorporate positive reinforcement of self-advocacy, development of specific coping skills, visual supports, and systematic relaxation strategies.
  4. Participants will demonstrate a working knowledge of how to integrate their professional service efforts with the practice of other helping professionals (e.g., healthcare professionals), in supporting a learner with maladaptive levels of anxiety.
  5. Participants will recognize the most common barriers to treatment of challenging behaviors related to anxiety, as well as strategies that aid in overcoming these barriers.

AFTERNOON SESSIONS

Session 1: Strategies for managing anxiety disorders in youth with ASD: It’s all about interprofessional collaboration – Presented by Holly E. Brown DNP, RN, PMHNP-BC, Associate Professor, Wegmans School of Nursing/Associate Director Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, St. John Fisher College and Deborah Napolitano Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA, Associate Professor, Applied Behavior Analysis Department, Daemen College; Consultant and Adjunct Professor, Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, St. John Fisher College

Individuals whom we serve, particularly those with Autism, can display co-occurring anxiety-based symptoms and associated behaviors that interfere with daily activities such as learning that can impact their overall quality of life. A treatment plan for anxiety disorders often includes prescribed psychotropic medications aimed at treating those symptoms and associated impairing behaviors. The difficulty for our colleagues, particularly behavior analysts, is often the lack of understanding of the benefits and risks of behavior modifying medications and a lack of experience working with professionals outside of typical treatment teams (e.g., psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners). Likewise, the healthcare professional may not have a full appreciation for the complement of supports a Behavior Analyst can offer in monitoring and managing a medication plan. Additionally, it can be unclear whether the medication prescribed is precisely targeting the important behaviors because the prescriber’s means for assessment is limited, particularly when important collaborative relationships are absent, such as one with a treating behavior analyst. This presentation will discuss the key opportunities and benefits of interprofessional collaboration in the treatment of individuals who are prescribed behavior modifying agents for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

  1. Attendees will be able to identify the benefits of interprofessional collaboration when working with individuals with autism and anxiety disorders and other brain health concerns
  2. Attendees will be able to describe tools for effective collaboration in decision making as part of an interprofessional team when working with individuals with autism and anxiety disorders and other brain health concerns.
  3. Attendees will be able to identify potential medications, the effects, and side effects of those medications to treat anxiety disorders in individuals with autism and anxiety disorders.
  4. Attendees will be able to identify potential effects of drug and behavior interactions when working with individuals with autism and anxiety disorders.

Session 2: Building Positive Thinkers: Ways to Reduce Anxiety within Individuals with ASD – Presented by Dr. David Meichenbaum, Ph.D., The Summit Center & the WNY Regional Center for ASD and Stephen R. Anderson, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA of The Summit Center

Feelings of anxiety are often preceded by worrisome thoughts and can result in a high degree of personal distress and avoidance. There is a large body of evidence, however, indicating that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be highly effective in reducing anxiety and its associated challenges. This presentation focuses on the adaptation of cognitive-behavioral strategies for children/adolescents with autism who have thinking tendencies that can be negative, rigid and/or concrete. Case examples with solutions will be presented, along with key considerations for supporting the generalization of positive thinking across different settings (e.g., home, school, community).

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

  1. Participants will be able to describe the limitation(s) of traditional calming and/or behavioral strategies to reduce anxiety/worry in individuals with autism.
  2. Participants will be able to identify common thinking errors that influence negative feelings and behaviors.
  3. Participants will be able to describe at least 3 tools that can be utilized to help cognitively restructure the negative thoughts of individuals with autism.
  4. Participants will be able to identify key considerations for increasing the generalization of positive thinking across settings.

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

8:30 – 8:40
Dr. Stephen Anderson, Ph.D., BCBA, LBA
Opening Comments

8:40 – 11:30
Dr. Daniel Mruzek, Ph.D., BCBA, LBA
Learners with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Who Have Anxiety: Key Considerations and Best Practices

11:30 – 12:15
Lunch

12:15 – 1:45
Dr. Holly Brown and Dr. Deborah Napolitano
Strategies for managing anxiety disorders in youth with ASD: It’s all about interprofessional collaboration

1:45 – 1:55
Break

2:00 – 3:15
Dr. David Meichenbaum, Ph.D. and Stephen R. Anderson, Ph.D.
Building Positive Thinkers: Ways to Reduce Anxiety within Individuals with ASD


ASHA, BCBA, CTLE, OT/OTA, PT/PTA CEUs are available for a fee of $15.00.

These courses are made possible by a grant from NYSRCASD. Requests for accommodations/special needs may be emailed to wnyrcasd@thesummitcenter.org or by calling 716-629-3417.

Cancellation Policy: All courses are free of charge to attend. If cancellation received 24-hours before the start of the conference, the cost of CEUs will be fully refunded. There is a separate CEU charge for each conference and each CEU type.