Autism Conference Oct. 28-29 Is for Family, Educators, Behavior Health Professionals

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Addressing the need to better understand autism spectrum disorders, the Florida Institute of Technology School of Psychology and The Scott Center for Autism Treatment will host the fifth annual Autism Conference, on Oct. 28. A workshop will follow on Oct. 29.

The conference is centered on “Taking Science-Based Practice from the Ivory Tower to the Troops in the Trenches.” It will present comprehensive, evidence-based information and feature noted autism experts speaking on a variety of related topics. Educators, providers and families will find support in developing effective educational and therapeutic programs for all individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The conference starts Friday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 a.m. with registration in the Gleason Performing Arts Center on the Florida Tech campus. Featured speakers include Cathy Watkins, Ph.D., BCBA-D; Linda Leblanc, Ph.D., BCBA-D; Caio Miguel, Ph.D., BCBA-D; and William Ahearn, Ph.D., BCBA-D.

Watkins will give the keynote address, “DI and ASD: A Good Combination.” Participants will learn what direct instruction (DI) is and how it differs from other types of explicit instruction, and how DI features may benefit ASD and effective instructional delivery techniques. A member of the Advisory Board of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, Watkins is a professor of special education and co-director of the Center for Direct Instruction at California State University, Stanislaus. She is a board certified behavior analyst, past president of the California Association for Behavior Analysis, and current president of the Association for Direct Instruction.

Leblanc will discuss “Teaching Complex Skills to Facilitate Success after Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention.” She will identify clusters of skills that are important to success in target environments after a learner has succeeded in early intensive behavioral intervention. She will also describe the use of behavioral skills training to teach community safety skills to learners with ASD.

A professor of psychology and director of the Applied Behavior Analysis graduate program at Auburn University, Leblanc is a licensed clinical psychologist and a board certified behavior analyst. Her publications examine the effectiveness of behavioral interventions for children with autism and developmental disabilities, including technology-based and naturalistic language interventions.

Miguel will present “Research on Verbal Behavior and its Clinical Applications.” Participants will learn how to describe verbal operants and evidence regarding functional independence. They will also discover the strengths and limitations of Verbal Behavior Assessment protocols and the most current research on derived relations.

Miguel is an assistant professor of psychology, coordinator of the master’s program in applied behavior analysis, and an affiliated faculty in the doctoral program in education at California State University, Sacramento. He is the past editor and current associate editor of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior.

Ahearn’s presentation will be “Tutorial: A Comprehensive Review of the Assessment and Treatment of Stereotypic Behavior.” He will describe efficient measurement and assessment, response blocking, and response competition techniques and their limitations for treating stereotypy, or a repetitive movement, posture, or form of speech found in people with ASD.

The director of research at The New England Center for Children in Southborough, Mass., Ahearn is also a clinical assistant professor in Northeastern University’s master’s program in applied behavior analysis and an adjunct faculty at Western New England College. His research interests include social skills in children with autism, verbal behavior, assessment and treatment of stereotypy, severe problem behavior, and pediatric feeding difficulties.

Conference pre-registration fees are $50 for parents and students and $150 for professionals; the fees for registration on-site are $75 for a parent or student and $175 for a professional. Lunch is included.

Saturday Workshop

On Saturday, Oct. 29, a workshop will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the College of Aeronautics’ Skurla Hall auditorium on campus. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. The cost for pre-registration is $150 and $175 for on-site registration. Lunch is included.

Facilitated by Watkins, the workshop is titled “Making Direct Instruction Work with Students with an ASD.” This will provide an overview of research on direct instruction and survey instructional programs for teaching, reading, math, and oral and written language. Participants will examine the Language for Learning program in detail and practice some instructional delivery techniques. Watkins will also discuss suggestions for implementing this program effectively with students who have ASD.

To register online, send email to or call (321) 674-8382. For more information, call (321) 674-8106 or visit

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