Research is providing insight into how the brain thinks, creates and feels. Scientific progress also reveals that for each person brain plasticity allows competencies to develop even when early implications imply limitations.
Explore the newest scientific discoveries on how to recognize an individual’s challenges expressing intent and ideas. These challenges often stem from sensory processing, motor control and executive function difficulties derailing the ability to define and effectively respond to and achieve specific goals. In the DIR-FCD™ model intent and function are embedded in the affect that drives desire and gives meaning to communication via the relationships that mediate developmental progress. For so long many thought it was the processes of the mind that guided the body, but our understanding of mind and body is evolving as current neuroscience focuses on the interactions between the body and its environment, including other people, and how these interactions shape the mind.
This conference presented scientific research related to sensory motor process, executive function and state of the art developmental practice. Distinguished guest experts and the Profectum faculty engaged in a dialogue related to the challenges we observe in ASD as individuals get older sharing new treatment paradigms, strategies to support functional capacities, and how new science offers hope in being able to support each child’s exploration and self-discovery in natural environments leading to functional competence.
Full Conference Series
See note under the Amalgamation of Sensory and Relationship Practice Models, presented by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR, listing below.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Welcome & Program Overview
Working Productively toward Self-Directed Goals: Realizing Intent
Serena Wieder, PhD
Technology Meets Science: Towards a New Quantitative Path of Hope in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Elizabeth Torres, PhD
The characterization of autism as a cognitive/social problem has been up to now exclusively based on descriptions of observed behavior. Behavior however is constituted by a continuous flow of movements that are highly variable and have different levels of intent. These levels of intent evolve differently in different contexts, so it is important to promote environments where inter-relations between the child and the environment, including other people spontaneously emerge from the child’s exploration and self-discovery. Under such naturalistic settings the statistics of the patterns of motor output variability from the continuous flow of movements, particularly from those movements that occur largely beneath our awareness, can be objectively quantified at the periphery in non-obtrusive ways.
In the past few years we have developed new methods to individually assess such statistical patterns and track them in real time as individuals interact with their surroundings. We have learned that locked in the minute fluctuations of such patterns are ways to unambiguously detect Autism, sub-type its severity in terms of spoken verbal abilities, and steer the autistic individual towards the control of his/her actions at will. This new framework can be paired with DIR model based interventions to quantify spontaneous transitions from random trial and error motions to systematic goal-directed behaviors that the child self-discovers and comes to executively control under prospective planning. Through the improvement of anticipatory sensory-motor control we have been able to positively impact the accuracy and speed of the decisions in non-verbal children with ASD, as well as to evoke intent in their actions. We will discuss our new statistical platform for individualized behavioral analyses and our new conceptual framework to diagnose, track and treat autism spectrum disorders in unprecedented new ways using off-the-shelf wearable sensors to extract the predispositions, preferences and inherent capabilities of the person.
Amalgamation of Sensory and Relationship Practice Models
This webcast is not available as an individual webcast. It is available only as part of the complete conference package and in that package will only be able to be viewed for a limited period of time beginning 12/15/14 and ending 6/16/15.
Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR
Clinical practice and research continuously inform each other as they strive to identify the most effective interventions for children. This conference highlights new research and new treatment approaches for children with ASD and sensory processing disorders SPD and their families.
Research studies are beginning to provide information about the biological basis of ASD and SPD, implicating various neurological mechanisms. The overview of current research on SPD will include the latest studies on prevalence, etiologies, diagnostic markers, phenotypic presentation and treatment effectiveness.
State of the art clinical practice combines the DIR model and sensory-integration based therapies. This conference will highlight therapeutic approaches that are process- based rather than activity-based and cultivate parent-child interaction. The ultimate marker of success, the shared experience of joie de vivre, enhances acquisition of developmental goals but specific developmental skill acquisition is not a targeted outcome. Thus, the intervention moves away from “treating” developmental aspects of sensory processing and instead turns a broader eye toward participation and relationships within a rich sensory milieu that includes natural settings.
The method of education will focus on video-taped demonstrations of treatment sessions and will highlight how the STAR model of intensive treatment moves the therapeutic model from: (1) sensation to participation; (2) development to relationships; (3) child centered to family centered; (4) child improvement to parent empowerment; and (5) activity-oriented to process-based. This global model combines the DIR model with other approaches (sensory integration therapy, psychotherapy, family therapy, listening therapy, etc.). The foundation of the model is arousal regulation, followed by interpersonal engagement, and then sensory strategies are provided. Goals of treatment are increasing social participation, self-regulation and self-esteem/confidence within a process of joyful and successful play. Early evidence of treatment effectiveness, e.g., findings of a randomized controlled trial will be presented and current outcomes research efforts will be discussed including a promising methodology for clinicians e.g., multiple baseline effectiveness research.
Integrating Motor, Sensory, and Affect – The Foundational Grid of Development: A Case Presentation
DIR Model-Neuroscience Dialogue: Panel Discussion
Understanding Executive Function and Its Role as a Core Competency
George McCloskey, PhD
This presentation will cover executive functions in children, adolescents and young adults; definitions of “executive functions”– what they are and aren’t; current brain science – what is known about the neurological basis of executive functions; how executive functions develop in children from birth through young adulthood; the ways executive functions impact the learning of reading, writing, math, athletic performance, listening, speaking and social behavior; how to recognize the signs of strengths and/or deficits in executive functions; assessing executive functions and what to do to improve the development of executive functions in your individuals with developmental challenges.
Executive Functioning through the Developmental Lens: How the Functional Emotional Developmental Levels (FEDL’s) Foster the Evolution of Executive Functions
Monica G. Osgood & Griffin Doyle, PhD
Where does executive functioning start and how is it fostered within dynamic relationships? This plenary will build off of Dr. McCloskey’s presentation and explore how the developmental trajectory of the parent-child bond determines vital aspects of emerging EFs. This discussion will propose that the breathtaking conversion of baby into a discrete person (separation-individuation phase)and the growth of EFs are inherently interdependent. How healthy autonomy is developed as a foundational capacity and reflects age-expected self-governing will be illustrated through lecture and video examples. A close look at executive functioning and autism and specific strategies for fostering these foundational capacities in individuals with diverse needs will be included.
Establishing a Secure Base for a Child and Family to Enhance Relationships, Learning and Self-Confidence: A 25 Year Journey
Ruby Salazar, LCSW, BCD
Difficulties with executive function are often evident in early childhood and challenge the course of development in the child and family. This longitudinal case will explore both the strengths and challenge of executive functioning in a child into adulthood who began at age three with an Autism diagnosis and with limited internal resources and difficulty responding to external supports. The DIR model was consistently implemented to activate executive functioning. Three developmental stages: preschool, pre-puberty and late adolescence will highlight the focus on core elements and specific constellations of the individual profile in executive functioning in the service of intentionality, relating, learning and achieving goals. Discussion will focus on developmental progression over time, differential diagnostic changes, and linking the intervention to the specific profile shifts and needs of the child in his family and community.
Success and Challenges Living with ASD as a Young Adult: Executive Functions an other Foundational Capacities Needed for Life
Jennifer Ahluwalia, Keir Keebler, Anie Knippig, Alec Martinez, Katie Monroe, John Ritchie, Jenny Zaloom
This final presentation of the day will provide first-hand insights into the experiences of people with ASD moving into the adult world. How they were prepared and capacities and skills they wish they had, or wish were stronger, will be revealed. Common developmental themes among this group will be highlighted and suggestions for what we can do now to help adults, and equally as important, what can we do in the early stages of development to foster success for people with ASD in the 21st century!