Save the Date: Implementing a Social Skills Group for Students with ASD and related disorders

Great Falls - January 21
Missoula - March 11
Registration will be posted here when available.

An Interactive Workshop on Using Evidence-based Practices

in your Social Skills Groups

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related disorders experience a number of difficulties related to social and communication skills (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Special educators, speech and language pathologists, school psychologists, and other school professionals are recognizing the importance of providing intervention to address these specific skills. However, implementing social skills groups in the schools can be quite challenging. For example, schools often lack the necessary resources or personnel, there are difficulties with progress monitoring, and there are not many evidence-based social skill programs available. Consequently, the purpose of this workshop is to provide school professionals with specific knowledge and skills on how to implement a social skills group for students with ASD and related disorders that is evidence-based, data-driven, inexpensive, and engaging.

Overview of Training

This full-day workshop will be facilitated by Anisa Goforth, PhD, NCSP and Jennifer Closson, MS CCC-SLP from the University of Montana. The workshop is designed to be interactive and participants will role play and practice the skills throughout the day. There are five goals for this workshop. Participants will:

1. Learn about a variety of evidence-based strategies and techniques for working with children with ASD, including video modeling, role playing, visual supports, peer mediation, task analysis, social narratives, self-management, prompting, and contingent behavioral reinforcement.

2. Be exposed to a number of social skills interventions that are available and will be able compare the effectiveness of those interventions.

3. Understand how to develop individual and group goals that will meet state-standards.

4. Understand various data-collection techniques for formative and summative evaluation.

5. Developing present level of functioning and performance, goals and lesson plans to meet individualized and group needs.

Workshop Facilitators

Anisa N. Goforth, PhD, NCSP. is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Montana. As a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, she trains and provides assessment and intervention services to children diagnosed with a variety of problems, including Autism Spectrum Disorders. She has been collaborating with Professor Closson in developing the Youth Engagement Through Intervention social skills group therapy at UM and has presented several workshops on assessment and intervention related to autism. Dr. Goforth is an American and Australian citizen and grew up in Latin America and Asia. She obtained her B.A. in Psychology at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR and her M.A. and Ph.D. in School Psychology at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. Her primary research interests are related to multicultural issues in school psychology, social-emotional interventions for children, and adaptation of evidence-based interventions for ethnic minority children.

Jennifer K. Schoffer Closson, M.S. CCC-SLP is the Director of Pediatric Services for the RiteCare Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic and an Assistant Professor for the Communicative Sciences and Disorders Department housed in the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Services at The University of Montana (UM). She obtained her B.S. and M.S. in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Minot State University and is obtaining her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction at the UM with a research focus of adults and youth with autism. Professor Closson developed and co-directs the MOSSAIC (Mentoring, Organization, and Social Support for Autism Inclusion on Campus) program and co-directs the YETI (Youth Engagement Through Intervention) with Dr. Goforth. She is the 2014 president of the Montana Speech-Language Hearing Association, is a long standing associate board member of PLUK (Parents Let’s Unite for Kids), and has done a number of presentations throughout the state.


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