Professionals Share Insight on Autism

Wed, August 05, 2009

Some of the nation’s most prominent experts convened at the YAI Network’s Annual International Conference in Manhattan in May. Families, people with disabilities and professionals attended a keynote address and session by Dr. Temple Grandin, author, educator and one of the most well-known adults with autism in the world. Attendees participated in full-day workshops featuring national experts such as Dr. Vincent J. Carbone, and chose from more than 25 sessions and workshops by leaders in the field such as Dr. Lynda Geller.

According to Dr. Temple Grandin, an author and an Associate Professor at Colorado State University, early intervention and the involvement of family members is an essential part of helping a child with autism develop social and other skills. “Research is very clear that 20 hours or more a week of quality one-to-one interaction with a good teacher is essential.” For parents, she added, it is also important to find supports throughout the community to help. “Parents cannot do it all themselves.”

Dr. Vincent Carbone, Director of the Carbone Clinic, highlights the benefits of an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) approach. “It’s important to utilize a language-based program emphasizing expressive language very early on,” he said. Dr. Carbone promotes B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior, as well as sign language as an alternative form of communication to facilitate the development of vocalization in children who are non-vocal.

For Lynda Geller, Ph.D., Clinical Director of the Asperger Institute at the NYU Child Study Center, the key to working successfully with individuals on the autism spectrum is recognizing their individuality. “One of the most important things is that everyone with Aspergers is different, because they have various brain differences which affect their whole developmental profile.” Dr. Geller emphasizes the importance of unique visual, verbal and other sensory aspects that may impact an individual’s interactions.