2015 Annual Autism Conference

14th Annual
Autism Conference
Autism: An Optimistic Perspective

March 11 & 12, 2015
Richmond, Virginia

Keynote Speaker
March 11, 2015

V. Mark Durand, Ph.D.
An Optimistic Approach to Helping Students with Challenging Behaviors

Challenging behaviors continue to top the list of concerns for families and teachers of persons with ASD. Although we have made impressive gains in helping reduce these problem behaviors, obstacles remain. This talk with cover new insights into these obstacles and how teachers, families and others can overcome them, and effectively help persons with even the most severe behavioral challenges. Evidenced-based approaches to replacing behavior problems will be discussed. The presenter will describe how advances in positive psychology can help caregivers and teachers be more effective in their efforts to help those with ASD, and how to help themselves lead happier and less stressful lives. The implications for this new approach on family-teacher partnerships will be described.

About the Presenter
V. Mark Durand is professor of psychology at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where he was the founding Dean of Arts & Sciences and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Dr. Durand is currently a member of the Professional Advisory Board for the Autism Society of America. He was the co-editor of the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions and has written 12 books.  His books include two textbooks on abnormal psychology that have been translated into 10 languages and used in more than 1,000 universities world-wide. His other books include the multiple national award winning Optimistic Parenting: Hope and Help for You and Your Challenging Child, and most recently the highly acclaimed, Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Clinical Guide for General Practitioners. He was named a 2014 Princeton Lecture Series Fellow for his body of work in the field of autism spectrum disorder. In addition he has more than 100 research publications and major themes in Durand's research include the assessment and treatment of severe behavior problems for children and adults with ASD and other severe disabilities, parent training and the development of treatments for child sleep problems.  Most recently he developed a new approach to help families work with their challenging children (optimistic parenting).

Closing Keynote

Zosia Zaks, M.Ed., C.R.C.
Facilitating Future Success Now: What Parents Can Do From an Insider’s Perspective
Often parents of children, teenagers, and young adults on the autism spectrum wonder what they can do to best help their son or daughter to prepare for a successful adulthood. Zosia Zaks, M.Ed., C.R.C., a disability counselor who is also on the autism spectrum, shares key cornerstones for success gleaned from several decades of personal and professional experience. You’ll hear why self-advocacy, exposure to the world of work, reducing social vulnerability, and even some failures are so important now, for success later.

About the Presenter
Zosia Zaks, M.Ed., C.R.C. is the Manager of Programs and Education at Towson University’s Hussman Center for Adults with Autism in Baltimore. In addition to developing and running programs for adults across the spectrum, he teaches courses on autism and disability issues; supervises students who work as peer mentors in Hussman Center programs; and provides staff training and professional development across the university system. Before working at Towson University, Zaks worked as a disability counselor, utilizing a strengths-based model to empower individuals with disabilities. Zaks continues to write and speak on autism issues; maintains a special outreach to underserved communities; and serves on the boards of several local and national autism organizations, advocating at the state and federal level on behalf of individuals on the autism spectrum, their families, and the professionals who work with them. Zaks was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 31. It was out of his own personal struggles that he endeavored to make the road a bit smoother for others.


Multiple Breakout Sessions
March 12, 2015