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Autism, Learning Style, and the Impact of Visual Teaching Methods

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Online Webinars, Online, Armagh

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Autism, Learning Style, and the Impact of Visual Teaching Methods
Visual strategies are widely used when working and living with autistic children and young people, as they:
• Complement the learning style of many autistic children, young people and adults
• Can be introduced alongside other intervention strategies. 
• Are adaptable, portable and can be used in most situations. 
The use of visual strategies can have a notable impact on how an autistic child experiences family, community, and school life, as they help to clarify expectations and make abstract concepts more concrete. Visual strategies support children as they develop effective communication, appropriate social interaction, and positive behaviour skills, as well as accessing the curriculum.
This session will cover why visual teaching methods work. Professionals and parents will become more familiar with how their input will reflect a sound evidence base and be more able to adapt the school or home environment and individualised tasks to meet the needs of the child, in order, to enhance learning, play or leisure skills and social interactions. 
Expected Outcomes
• Understand the importance of visual teaching methods.
• Understand how visuals will improve the learning of the child and his or her experiences 
• Develop some visual strategies that can be used to support the child
• Why visuals work for autistic children.
• Using visuals in school or the family home
• How to develop visuals and implement visual strategies.

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Joan McDonald

Joan McDonald

Joan is a second level science teacher working independently as Posautive. Following many years teaching in mainstream classrooms, Joan worked on individual planning in centres for adults with learning disabilities and those with mental health struggles. She, then, became one of the first SENOs in Ireland, observing and providing school supports for students with atypical needs across eighty rural schools. While studying for an M.Ed. in Autism, Joan was taught by and met a variety of autistic adults, which ultimately led to her own autism assessment. Prior to meeting such a diverse range of autistic people, Joan would only have recognised autism in people with profound and complex support needs. Joan is passionate about using students’ interests to support autistic learners of all levels of cognitive ability to access education and contented lives. She currently works on a variety of projects with agencies such as Middletown Centre for Autism, Dublin City University, Nua Healthcare, Fingal Libraries. In recent years, creating and delivering the Posauteen and Posaudult courses to help autistic people understand and advocate for themselves has been a major focus of Joan’s time.

Autism and Communication

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Online Webinars, Online, Armagh

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Autism and Communication for students with additional Severe Learning Difficulties
For autistic children and young people with learning difficulties, the difficulties relating to communication can often be magnified. Many autistic children and young people have significant difficulties with speaking, language, and communication.
This session will examine why students experience difficulty not only with communication but also the motivation to communicate thus impinging on them becoming socially active partners. Understanding communication is as difficult as using language to express needs, wants or offer commentary. Autistic students are more likely to be successful communicators in environments that are designed to encourage and support their efforts. 
For the student to initiate effective communication, two conditions should be met.
1.    The student must see a reason to communicate, the Why. 
This is encouraged by using motivating materials and activities combined with creating situations in which he or she must communicate to make something happen. 
2.    The student must have a means to communicate, the How. 
The student may need to be taught the communicative behaviour needed, and visual supports for such communication will need to be available.

Participants will: 
•    Understand the various modes of communication used by students with learning difficulties.
•    Recognise that visual supports, as tools of communication with and for students, are critically important.
•    Understand the need to differentiate the visual support to meet specific needs in definite areas thus helping the student to understand you and develop his or her expressive means.
•    Understand how to use engagement as the starting point for communication.
•    Recognise various forms of communication and use of a variety of communicative tools.
•    Gain ideas for making meaningful communications with the student, even those who are largely non-verbal.
•    Look at the importance of motivation to learning and life.
•    Gain practical strategies and ideas for maximising the student’s motivation to learn and participate in social life.

Course Overview 
•    A look at verbal and non-verbal methods of communication.
•    Looking at novel approaches to communication such as intensive interaction and using technology to promote communication.
•    What is motivation and why is it important? 
•    How do we motivate autistic students with learning difficulties? 
•    Ideas for promoting greater engagement and motivation to participate in the wider social world.

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Dee Hogan

Dee Hogan

Dee Hogan is an Autism Trainer/Advisor in Middletown Centre for Autism. Dee has extensive experience teaching and supporting autistic children and young people. Her experiences include Pre-school, Early Intervention ASD Classes,S Primary ASD Classes, Mainstream Primary and Special Schools. She has written, lectured and assessed modules on the Special Needs Assistant and Level Four Autism qualification, as professional development for parents and professionals. Dee has also worked as a part time Lecturer with University College Cork designing and delivering the Diploma in Autism Studies as well as providing training for teachers, third level students, parents and professionals. Dee’s training specialism is Promoting Positive Behaviour, Early Intervention, Classroom Strategies, and Transitions. Dee holds a MEd in Special Education Autism from the University of Birmingham.

Autism and Sensory Processing

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Online Webinars, Online, Armagh

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Autism, the Special School and Sensory Processing

Many autistic children and young people have differences in how they process the sensory stimuli in the world around them. A child or young person who presents with additional learning needs may experience more challenges with how the or she perceives and responds to sensory input. This course is designed to look specifically at the sensory processing needs of autistic children and young people with other complex learning needs, such as communication difficulties, physical or sensory difficulties, attention difficulties and medical needs.

Participants will: 
•    Gain an understanding of the concept of sensory processing and how this relates to participation in daily activities.
•    Understand how sensory processing differences can affect the child or young person at home, in school and in other settings.
•    Understand the importance of identifying the potential sensory function of a behaviour.
•    Gain knowledge about intervention strategies, which can address the sensory processing needs of the children and young people with additional and complex learning needs at home, in school and in other settings.

Overview: 
•    Introduction to sensory processing.
•    The sensory processing differences, which may be experienced by a child or young with additional and complex learning needs.
•    The impact of these sensory processing differences on participation in daily activities
•    Identifying the sensory functions of some behaviours.
•    Strategies to support sensory processing needs of the child or young person with additional and complex learning needs.

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Eleanor McStay-Fearon

Eleanor McStay-Fearon

Eleanor McStay-Fearon is a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist at Middletown Centre for Autism. Eleanor works as part of the Learning Support and Assessment Service, working directly with autistic children across school and home. Prior to this, she worked in Essex, providing assessment and intervention to children and young people with learning disabilities and associated needs such as autism and behaviours of concern. She has worked closely with parents, teachers and health professionals to support the implementation of communication, sensory and behaviour management programmes across home and school environments. She has experience in supporting autistic children and young people with mental health needs in Glasgow, as member of a multi-disciplinary Learning Disability Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team. Eleanor holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Sensory Integration and is a registered Sensory Integration Practitioner

Autism and Anxiety for those with additional learning difficulties

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Online Webinars, Online, Armagh

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Autism and Anxiety for those with additional learning difficulties
For many autistic students, school can be a major source of stress. Everyone shows their anxiety in individual ways, so the most reliable observations that a student is anxious are going to be made by the people who know the student best. This shows the importance of working closely not only within the family structure, but also with the school staff.
This session is an introduction to strategies that can be used to alleviate the experience of anxiety in autistic students. This will include an introduction to cognitively based strategies and how to develop student centred strategies to deal with anxiety. 
Participants will:
•    Understand how anxiety can escalate and may result in an emotional response
•    Develop some simple strategies to prevent the escalation of anxiety.
•    Understand the basics of cognitively based management approaches.
Course Overview
•    Anxiety triggers and build up.
•    “On the spot” anxiety management strategies.
•    Developing a “stress kit.”
•    Cognitively based approaches and the emotional toolkit.

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Edel Quinn

Edel Quinn

Edel Quinn is an Autism Trainer/Advisor in Middletown Centre for Autism. Before taking up this post, Edel worked in the National Health Service Northern Ireland (NHS), developing and delivering home programmes for autistic children and young people, and their families. Edel holds a Psychology degree and an MSc in Autism from Queen’s University, Belfast and a Post Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Edel's main specialisms are in early intervention and delivering training in the implementation of visual strategies and positive behaviour. Edel is a certified TEACCH Trainer with Division TEACCH North Carolina. Edel has developed and delivered anxiety trainings and anxiety research projects to parents and professionals across Ireland. She has delivered at Autism and Mental Health Conference, NAS and the Autism Congress. Edel is an associate lecturer on the Post Graduate Autism Certificate with Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. Edel is working towards accreditation with BACP as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist.