Helena to host conference on autism and Asperger’s

September 19, 2012 12:00 am  •  Independent Record

The ChildWise Institute will be holding an Autism and Asperger’s Disorder Conference Sept. 28 and 29 at the Best Western Great Northern Hotel.

Keynote speakers include Ellen Notbohm, an award-winning author and columnist, and Patricia Wright, the national director of autism services for Easter Seals.

Notbohm is scheduled to speak from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, Sept. 28. The title of her presentation is “Parent View, Child View: Putting Autism in Perspective.” Notbohm has two sons who are on the autism/ADHD spectrum; she will offer guidelines for facing a child’s autism with a healthy and productive outlook. Notbohm will also share some of the ideas from her book, “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew.” Copies of the second edition of the book will be available at the conference.

Notbohm will debunk misconceptions about autism, identifying common environmental, language and social-emotional challenges/characteristics of autism and how adults can modify their own behavior and environment to better communicate with and teach children with autism. Attendees will also gain a parent’s perspective on the multi-disciplinary network of therapeutic, educational and social services that parents must navigate and manage on behalf of their children with autism, and learn how professionals and family and community members can provide perspective and emotional support to parents of children with autism.

Wright is to speak from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28. Her presentation is titled “Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders.” The session will focus on effective services and supports that promote quality life outcomes for those living with autism. Specific strategies will be discussed with the focus on practical strategies that can be implemented to produce meaningful results. Through advocacy, service delivery and collaboration, individuals with autism can receive the services and supports they need resulting in a high quality life.

Also speaking will be Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman, who will open the conference on Friday, Sept. 28. Wineman was diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder when she was 11 years old and has overcome many obstacles in her life. She is passionate about raising awareness on autism spectrum disorders and advocating for Montana’s youth.

The Saturday schedule for the conference includes several breakout sessions. Topics include: transition into adulthood, insurance provider Q&A, nutrition for cognition, understanding the school’s responsibility and communication strategies.

The conference is geared toward educators, psychologists, therapists, mental health professionals, health care providers and parents. Continuing education credits are available. Cost of the conference is $99 for one day, $175 for two days. For more information and to register, visit www.childwise.org. Registration deadline is Sept. 24.

The Helena-based ChildWise Institute is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of vulnerable children through education, awareness and advocacy.

The ChildWise Institute was created by Intermountain but operates with its own staff and board of directors. The organization helps children by providing parents, policymakers and health care and education professionals with tools they can use to help better the lives of those in their care.

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