2018 Transition Conference | Partnership Sponsor: Hinkle, Fingles, Prior & Fischer

2018 Autism New Jersey Transition Conference

Thank you for attending!


Schedule & Workshop Descriptions 

Registration & Exhibits  |  7:45am to 8:30am

Keynote   |   8:30am to 9:45am

A Life Course Perspective on Autism and the Transition to Adulthood: Implications for Research and Interventions

Paul Shattuck, Ph.D., Drexel University

This keynote address will describe Dr. Shattuck’s evolving conceptual framework for research and interventions targeting transition-age youth on the autism spectrum. He will share examples of population-based indicators research that raises awareness about the unmet service needs of this population, informs public policy, and identifies subgroups with higher risk for poor outcomes. He will describe his Transition Pathways initiative that is developing innovative programs to help transition-age youth achieve positive postsecondary outcomes. He will discuss a research agenda setting process he co-directed in the U.S. that culminated in an official statement of emerging research priorities. Dr. Shattuck will conclude with suggestions for future directions on how to advance research and interventions that result in improved postsecondary outcomes.

Keynote sponsored by:  Keynote Sponsor: Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health NK

Session A  |  10:00am to 11:15am

1. The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA): A Game Changer in Employment

Ernst VanBergeijk, Ph.D., MSW, Lesley University Threshold Program

The WIOA is a game changer when comes to the funding of pre-employment training for transition-aged youth especially those that are considered part of at-risk groups (including those youth on the autism spectrum). Participants will learn the following: where to locate funding for these services and how the funding has changed; what defines transition-aged youth; what types of services are eligible; and how WIOA interacts with other pieces of federal legislation (e.g. IDEA) and other agencies like school districts, colleges, and social service agencies.

2. Surrogate Decision-making and the Guardianship Process

Erika Kerber, Esq., Community Health Law Project

This workshop will provide an overview of the different types of surrogate decision-making, those that require court intervention and those that do not. Nonjudicial surrogate decision-making such as powers of attorney, advance directives, and similar instruments will be discussed. Surrogate decision-making which involves court intervention due to an individual's "incapacity" will be examined along with the different types of applications that can be made: conservatorship, limited guardianship, plenary guardianship, and special medical guardianship. The legal steps involved in filing for guardianship will be discussed, along with the obligations of a guardian once appointed by the court. [This workshop is not intended to train a person in filing a court application on their own without the consultation and assistance of a private attorney.]

3. Challenging Behavior in the Community: Assessment, Intervention & Prevention

Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D., EPIC School

Perhaps the most often cited reason for a lack of community-based instruction and programming with individuals on the autism spectrum is the display of challenging behavior. While this behavior in the community is certainly problematic, effective intervention is impossible unless the individual is provided instructional opportunities in the community environment. This workshop will provide an overview of the challenges associated with the assessment of and intervention with challenging behavior in the community along with recommendations for more targeted assessment leading to more effective intervention. In addition, strategies designed to proactively prevent and, when necessary, deescalate behavior challenges when they occur will be reviewed.

Lunch & Exhibits  |  11:15am to 12:25pm

Session B  |  12:25pm to 1:40pm

4. DDD Supports Program

Alison Capelli, NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities

The Supports Program – an array of services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities provided through a Medicaid-based, fee-for-service system – was launched by the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities in July 2015. This session will provide an overview of the services available through the Supports Program and how to access them as well as provide an update on the enrollment process and what it means for individuals as they complete their educational entitlement.

5. Maximizing Educational Services and Supports

Ira Fingles, Esq., Hinkle, Fingles, Prior & Fischer

School districts and other agencies involved in the education of students with disabilities are required to provide intensive services to ensure students are able to achieve success after graduation in employment, further education and independent living. This workshop will explore critical transition planning concepts, mechanisms to assess success, and the critical importance of the IEP in the transition and assessment process, along with strategies to ensure that appropriate services are provided to students with ASD both during and after the transition years.

6. Promoting Independence and Successful Inclusion Through Systematic Use and Fading of Supports

Amy Golden, M.S., BCBA, Behavior Therapy Associates

School administrators and IEP teams make important decisions regarding individual student needs, corresponding class placements, and supports; schools frequently rely on hiring paraprofessionals to provide services for these students. This workshop will provide a discussion of criteria to consider when including students in less restrictive settings, determining if a 1:1 paraprofessional is appropriate, and the associated training of paraprofessional staff (including RBT certification). The presenters will discuss user-friendly ways to make data-based decisions and determine student needs across the day. The goal of increasing student independence will be emphasized by discussing ways to introduce and fade supports and to monitor progress.

Session C  |  1:50pm to 3:05pm

7. Support Coordination Agencies in DDD Services: A Panel Discussion

Bill England, Disability Services & Advocacy; Alison Goodrich, Community Access Unlimited; Tina Wiltsee, Advantage Supports; moderated by Elena Graziosi, M.Ed., Autism New Jersey

Support Coordination is a service available to individuals enrolled in DDD’s two major programs: the Supports Program and the Community Care Waiver. Support coordination agencies are independent, community-based entities that are Medicaid and DDD-approved to assist individuals in gaining access to needed programs and State plan services as well as medical, social, educational, and other services. Using a person-centered team approach, support coordinators help with planning and budgeting, and they connect individuals to resources, services, and supports such as behavior support services, community-based supports, financial management, habilitative services, respite, and more. Panelists will provide an overview of their agencies’ services, discuss the process of selecting and working with a support coordinator, describe the support coordinator’s role and responsibilities, and answer questions about available services and how agencies assist families in obtaining them.

8. An Open Forum on Accessing Adult Services

Maria Fischer, Esq. and Paul Prior, Esq.; Hinkle, Fingles, Prior & Fischer

This open question and answer session will be a guided conversation with participants regarding important information on applying for and accessing services for adults from the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities. Caregivers will be provided with an understanding of how to obtain adult services, including day and residential services. Families will also learn about government programs which begin at age eighteen, including Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Medicaid. Families will be given practical strategies to navigate this complex service delivery system and help them access and maximize services.

9. The Challenges of Adolescence for Females with ASD

Elena Zaklis, M.A., BCBA and Rory Panter, Psy.D.; Behavior Therapy Associates

Females with ASD may experience the challenges of approaching adolescence in a unique way compared to their neurotypical peers. While families are often prepared for helping their daughters transition to various developmental stages in childhood, many females find themselves unprepared when approaching puberty. Parents may find themselves “caught off guard” when their daughter experiences her first menstrual cycle or when they find out that she is being teased in the locker room. Professionals who work with families and individual females can help them become better prepared for the transition to puberty and guide their daughters to cope with the challenges they may encounter. This workshop will provide guidance for individuals, caregivers, and professionals by using evidence-based practices to help achieve their personal goals.

Session D  |  3:15pm to 4:30pm

10. Developing Opportunities for Supported Employment

Christopher Manente, Ph.D., BCBA, Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services; Marissa Gynn-Ricafort, M.A., BCBA, Bergen County Special Services School District; Gregory MacDuff, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Princeton Child Development Institute

Recent research suggests that individuals with autism are likely to have far less favorable outcomes in terms of overall quality of life throughout adulthood as compared to individuals across other disability categories. The findings pertaining to employment indicate that the majority of adults with autism are either unemployed or underemployed. Despite the fact that ASD is a lifelong disorder, the transition from the educational system to adult services often involves a significant reduction in the availability of high quality support services. Many factors contribute to the lack of availability of high-quality programs, including a lack of funding, transportation, opportunities for community-based employment, training, research, provider agencies, and highly qualified staff. The panel will explore the various barriers to successful employment outcomes and examine the various models and strategies that are utilized at the presenters’ respective schools and agencies to address these hurdles.

11. Dependents with Special Needs: Making Their Future More Secure

Donald Brown, ChFC, CASL, LUTCF, MassMutual Tri State

This updated workshop will focus on what's important to caregivers: lifetime care and quality of life. Coordinating both the financial and legal issues facing families with special needs dependents such as avoiding disqualification from government services. The use of wills, trusts, benefits, and ABLE accounts to plan for the security of an individual with special needs in the most cost and tax efficient way will be explained. In addition, we will discuss how to prepare and enable a future guardian to best care for their dependent. If you have not done special needs planning for your child or have not updated past planning, this workshop is the ideal way to gain knowledge, obtain actionable takeaways, and enjoy learning answers to difficult planning questions.

12. Social Skills and ASD: Finding Relevant Targets for Instruction and Using Instructional Strategies that Work

Mary Jane Weiss, Ph.D., BCBA-D; Institute for Behavioral Studies, Endicott College

Social skills are an elusive target of intervention for ASD, especially for adolescents and adults. Clinicians must define and achieve outcomes that matter, including community engagement, independence, and real integration into multiple environments. This workshop will focus on these outcomes, and on skill building that fosters social connections, meaningful engagement, and reduced vulnerability. We will discuss what skills to teach--focusing on increasing integration, on preventing behaviors that lead to expulsion from community, on teaching survival skills in social contexts, and on teaching FUNCTIONAL social skills. We will also review how to teach these skills, focusing on using evidence-based practices, generalization strategies, and ensuring the availability of responses. Special attention will also be paid to measures of social validation and the assessment of quality of life.

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Thank you to the following sponsors and supporters for making this event possible.

Keynote Sponsor: Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health NK Friends of Cyrus
Scholarship Fund Donor: PerformCare

Learn more about sponsorship options>>

Bellwether Behavioral Health

CEA Schools


500 Horizon Drive, Suite 530 Robbinsville, NJ 08691
Phone: 609.588.8200; 800.4.AUTISM | Fax: 609.588.8858
Email: information@autismnj.org