Title

A new challenge for an ever-expanding group: Trauma and students having Autism Spectrum Disorders

First Presenter's Institution

NA

Second Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Savannah

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

This proposal speaks directly to supporting a growing group of students within realm exceptional learners, learners having autism spectrum disorders. Beyond providing additional support, this proposal specifically explores a growing area of need, that being trauma informed practice that meets the specific social, communicative and behavior needs of students having ASD.

The interventions presented to attendees will specifically help maximize the social and emotional potential for students with ASD when implemented in their learning environment.

Brief Program Description

We know there are many students having ASD in schools. These students struggle with communication, socializing and often present odd behavioral patterns. What is the culmination of these challenges? It’s levels of trauma that for some, are approaching significant levels. This presentation explores what trauma is for students with ASD, its triggers and how educators can prevent and reduce trauma.

Summary

The authors will present information on how trauma affects learners with autism spectrum disorders using data collected from structured surveys, interviews and discussions with focus groups including educators and students having ASD. Data was collected from the western region of Pennsylvania, a region with considerably higher diagnosis rates for autism spectrum disorders in comparison to national averages (Shea, 2014). Specific questions explored include: What types of situations do students and educators regard as traumatizing? How can the educational environment reduce the chance for trauma? What are the interventions that are seen as the most helpful to process traumatic events?

Through the information collected to answer these research questions, the presenters will provide attendees information on the definition of trauma as described by students and educators sampled. Specific attention will be given to exploring the sensory and social variables that affect students perception of trauma. Information will be provided to help educators prevent trauma within there own instructional environments. Attendees will be presented with practical skills and interventions to process trauma, including supporting safety and crisis management. Finally, attendees will be presented with steps to design a trauma sensitive learning environment as well as promote advocacy for learners having ASD to reduce the chance for future exposure to traumatic experiences.

Evidence

Authors utilize recommended qualitative assessment procedures like surveys, structured interviews and focus group discussion in the pursuit of collecting data that is representative of the trends and themes occurring in daily lives of these learners and their educators.

Authors will expand upon the existing body of work on trauma informed care (TIC) (see Hodas, 2006) as well as utilize established assessment tools from the Integrated Self- Advocacy curriculum (see Paladiz, 2009) to address research questions.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Eric J. Bieniek PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. He is also a licensed behavior specialist in the state of Pennsylvania (LBS), nationally certified psychologist (NCP) and board certified behavior analyst (BCBA-D). Dr. Bieniek has a range of educational, clinical and supervisory experiences supporting the needs of learners having autism spectrum disorders and similar neurological, behavioral and emotional disorders across the lifespan in public, private and residential educational settings as well as community and vocational programs. Dr. Bieniek has also served as a curriculum developer for higher education and program developer for vocational and community programs for transition age learners. Finally, Dr. Bieniek serves as a independent evaluator and expert witness supporting families and families faced with due process disputes.

Dr. Matthew Erickson is a faculty member in the Special Education Department at Slippery Rock University. He received his undergraduate degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Slippery Rock University. He earned his Master's degree in Education with Principal Certification from California University of Pennsylvania. He also earned a doctorate in Education from Youngstown State University. Dr. Erickson was a special education teacher and also served as a principal in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas. Dr. Erickson does work throughout Pennsylvania in public schools in the areas of positive behavior supports, special education law and procedures, and instructional strategies. He has recently published articles in the International Journal of Special Education, and the Journal of College Teaching & Learning.

Keyword Descriptors

Trauma, autism, sensory, social, behavior, emotional, safety, crisis

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-7-2016 10:30 AM

End Date

3-7-2016 11:45 AM

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Mar 7th, 10:30 AM Mar 7th, 11:45 AM

A new challenge for an ever-expanding group: Trauma and students having Autism Spectrum Disorders

Savannah

We know there are many students having ASD in schools. These students struggle with communication, socializing and often present odd behavioral patterns. What is the culmination of these challenges? It’s levels of trauma that for some, are approaching significant levels. This presentation explores what trauma is for students with ASD, its triggers and how educators can prevent and reduce trauma.