ASD from A to Z

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About ASD

Training Opportunities

Barbara T. Doyle, M.S.  

Emily D. Iland, M.A.

Each offer a wide variety of presentation topics for


Please see below for full list of topics offered by Barbara and Emily.

Presentations by Emily Iland in English or Spanish,
for families and professionals.
Topics can be customized for your event.
Please call or write for availability and fees.

  1. Understanding ASD
    Simple, clear explanations of the use and meaning of diagnostic terms including autism, PDD, Asperger Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    How a diagnosis can be a “satisfying” explanation of a pattern of differences.

  2. The Impact of ASD
    Understanding and addressing learning strengths and challenges.
    Reasons why general education teachers, school staff and families should speak up if they suspect a child has an unidentified autism spectrum disorder.

  3. Theories of the causes of ASD
    An overview of the current genetic, biomedical and environmental theories including immunizations, diet and other research.

  4. From diagnosis to daily life: Working together for a wonderful future
    How parents may react to the diagnosis and how to get help: finding hope, learning, being organized, networking, mental health, and other supports.

  5. Supporting Socialization and Friendships
    An in-depth explanation of the social difficulties seen in ASD, and novel, practical approaches to helping people with ASD play, socialize and relate with others.

  6. Understanding the strengths and needs of people with ASD through successful assessments
    Components of a thorough assessment: What do we need and why?
    Challenges in assessment: how features of ASD impact the process.
    Strategies for staff and families to use to improve assessment for everyone.

  7. Assessments, Measurements and More!
    Types of assessments and what they measure
    The math of measurements: reporting and interpretation of scores and results
    Speech and Language: assessing strengths and needs at the heart of ASD

  8. Sharing information about ASD
    Why, when, and how to talk about autism disorders to the child, siblings, relatives, classmates and others

  9. Changing Society’s View: How to have a positive influence on society’s opinion of people with special needs
    Changing what we say and do: personal empowerment to create a more inclusive world.

  10. Ten Essential Skills That Everyone Should Know
    Learn to identify ten key skills for a safe and independent life
    Prioritize and gather resources to focus on there skills
    Strategies and suggestions for teaching

Also available is a “Guided Tour of Our Book” in which each participant receives a copy of Autism Spectrum Disorders from A to Z or Los Trastornos del Espectro de Autismo de la A a la Z to use during the presentations in place of handouts.  In a one-day “tour” any 3-4 topics can be presented; for a two-day “tour” 6-7 topics are selected.

What others are saying about the presentations:

Feedback from a day-long presentation by Emily in Spanish:
“Both as a professional and as a parent of a son with Autism, Ms. Iland’s workshops offer a very unique perspective on the impact of Autism and the adjustment and coping process of a family. Her workshops are highly interactive, very dynamic and provide workshop participants hands on practical information on diagnosis and intervention strategies for individuals with autism of all ages. We were delighted to have Ms. Iland join us to address an audience of Spanish speaking families in their native language.”

Patricia Herrera M.S.                         Director, Family Support Services
Koch♦Young Resource Center            Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center

Here is a comment from the mother of two boys with autism who attended a one-day “guided tour” of  Autism Spectrum Disorders from A to Z by Emily Iland:
“What a wonderful presentation! I attend many conferences before but I never felt so connected with the speaker as I felt today. I am very grateful that you devote your life to help our kids. You brought us hope! Listening to your stories and especially Tom’s life makes me realize that my boys have great potential and a great future. Thank you!”

A school psychologist wrote:
“Your presentation was excellent. Your Spanish language book will help me educate my Spanish-speaking parents. I am forever thankful.”

Presentations by Barbara T. Doyle

This paper describes some training opportunities provided by Barbara T. Doyle in 2007-2008. The workshops are described in a random order. All workshops can be customized to reflect organizational goals and outcomes as well as specific audiences. New workshops can be developed as needed. Trainings can be directed to participants concerned with children and/or adults with autism related disorders or to those concerned with children and adults with developmental disabilities. Fees for training events are negotiated on a case by case basis.

Who should participate in these teaching and learning opportunities?

Participants can include parents, family members and friends, general education classroom teachers, special education professionals and paraprofessionals, early intervention staff, classroom aides, staff providing adult services for people with disabilities (residential and community supports, day programs, employments supports), educational and program managers and administrators, students, child care workers, child welfare staff and other team professionals such as social workers, psychologists, nurses, behavioral specialists, psychiatrists, and  medical professionals.


Creating the Future Today: Changing Society’s View of People

with Autism Spectrum Disorders


Changing Society’s View: The Journey to the Future Begins Today!

90 minutes to 2 hours   A good keynote or first session of the day

Each of us can have a profound impact on societal perspectives towards people with special needs, regardless of our roles in their lives. We can help to create a future world society that honors, embraces and values all people. This presentation helps to empower participants to more consciously influence the attitudes of those around them, and thus, society and the world.

Families, friends and staff who know, love and support people with autism spectrum disorders and other diagnoses want society to respond with recognition, understanding, valuing and acceptance. Our destination is a society that embraces human diversity and values everyone. Who is society? How is society going to learn to appreciate people with special differences?

Perhaps the most powerful tool for societal change that families, friends and service providers have is ourselves! WE are the teachers of society in the journeys of our lives and relationships. Our behavior shapes societal values whether we know it or not! People in all communities are trained and attitudes are shaped when anyone observes our interactions with the special individuals we love and support. This presentation explores the powerful role of family members, friends and service providers in consciously creating the attitudes of the world of the future.

The presentation will address:

·        how and when opportunities to influence societal attitudes occur

·        how to model the types of interactions that promote valuing all individuals

·        the importance of choosing service goals that help individuals belong and contribute

·        interactive styles that demonstrate valuing people with disabilities

·        ways to prepare people with disabilities to contribute to their communities

·        activities that increase belonging for people with disabilities 


Welcome to the 21st Century: Changing the Lives of People

with Autism Spectrum Disorders by using Technology

Co-presented by Illinois Assistive Technology Staff

or technology staff from any state

Two to four hours

Staff and families may be aware of voice output devices for people who cannot speak and may think that this technology is the only one that applies to people with autism spectrum disorders. Think again!! There are literally thousands of technological devices that can improve the quality of life, learning, health, safety, participation, independence and contribution of people with autism and related disorders.

This presentation will enable participants to identify many types of assistive technology from “low tech” to “high tech” devices. Devices will be demonstrated to inspire participants to try them. The Illinois Assistive Technology Project device loan program will be explained. This is a program that enables staff and parents to “try before they buy” devices and to get help in the funding of needed assistive technology. (or technology related resources in any state will be discussed.)

Every IEP has a section on technology needs. Often staff and parents do not know how to address this area of need. This presentation will make staff and parents more creative and effective in identifying and meeting the technology needs of children and young adults with ASD served in schools.

Adult services providers are faced with an ever growing population to serve with limited funding. The use of carefully chosen technology is one way to decrease the need for personal support in some situations, often saving staff time and agency resources. In this presentation, providers and parents of adults with ASD will learn how to select technology and try it to be sure it will be effective. Funding sources other than adult provider agencies and families will be identified and help through the funding maze will be given.

This is a learning and “hands on” presentation. Come see and try devices and learn how to make anyone in the autism spectrum more “able” to do real life activities at home, school, work, and when having fun.



Creating Lifetime Plans

Two to three hours

A Lifetime Plan is a process through which everyone who is committed to being a part of the life of a person with special needs comes together to create a vision for the person’s future. When everyone agrees on the best possible life that can be envisioned for a person, it becomes easier to work in harmony with each other. It becomes easier for families to explain to others what is important to them. Teams can then choose and implement goals and strategies that are most likely to result in the acquisition of the skills needed to live a successful life, as described in the plan.

Participants will learn:

·        how to stop being afraid of lifetime planning and learn to love it!

·        the importance of lifetime planning throughout the life span of individuals with developmental disabilities and other special needs

·        components of the lifetime plan

·        strategies for the lifetime planning process

·        communication ideas to enhance lifetime planning

·        resources for Lifetime Planning


Teaching Ten Important Goals to People with Special Needs of All Ages

90 minutes to 3 hours

Staff and families often struggle in an effort to choose the most important and relevant behavior and skills to teach people with disabilities. Sometimes efforts result in an individual knowing many things and being able to do many things, but still not able to become an included member of a social group.

It has become clear that some skills and abilities are much more important than others in a person’s life time. In this presentation, these most important skills and abilities will be discussed. Participants will understand why these targeted and prioritized goals can become a basis for preparation for adulthood or a way of improving the quality of life experiences for people with developmental disabilities and other diagnoses who are already adults.

This presentation takes a positive and proactive approach to prioritizing goals when working with people with disabilities of all ages. The information can help teams commit to building more positive and targeted lifelong skills and behavior. It helps parents work activity as full team members to address their fears and concerns about their child’s future and ensure a more positive, safe, acceptable and accepting outcome for every person.


Another approach to the “Ten Goals” presentation:

“Teaching Skills: Avoiding Legal Problems”

Everyone needs to demonstrate safety and social skills that result in safe and productive lives. Safety and social interaction skills must be acquired to avoid unnecessary, common, legal problems. This presentation suggests ten essential skills and describes how to adapt teaching these skills to individuals with different cognitive abilities. It provides a format for discussing dangerous, potentially dangerous and stigmatizing behavior with program teams.  Could individuals who acquire these ten skills be at less risk for legal problems? Come and decide for yourself!



What the Legal System Needs to Know About People

with Autism Spectrum Disorders

two to four hours

One goal of human services is that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) do not become involved in legal and police related issues. However, when they do, providers and families need to inform police and legal systems personnel about the relevant features of ASD in a way that helps legal personnel understand the impact of ASD on thinking and behavior. The diagnostic features and their implications have a profound impact on the individual’s ability to be treated fairly and with understanding.

This presentation presents the relevant features of ASD and provides suggestions for service providers and families to prevent issues within the legal system through educational and training activities. Strategies are presented to assist families and staff in informing legal and criminal system personnel of relevant characteristics of ASD.  

Participants will learn:

·        a brief review of the diagnostic characteristics of ASD

·        ways in which the effects of ASD can be described and understood

·        how the diagnostic characteristics can impact fair access to the legal system

·        the importance of a diagnosis of ASD in legal proceedings

·        why the features of ASD must be explained to professionals in the legal and criminal systems

·        some ways in which the features of autism spectrum disorders can affect legal proceedings

·        human services goals and activities to help prevent people with ASD from entering the legal and criminal system

·        resources for working more effectively with law enforcement professionals where you live


Positive Behavior Management

Participants will become better able to define, discuss and change problematic behavior in a positive, effective manner focusing on practical environmental manipulations and effective communication-based strategies.

Participants will learn:

  • unifying assumptions that make interventions more effective
  • accurate, working definitions of behavior, behavior management and behavioral programming
  • the rationale for an emphasis on an environmental/communication approach objective vs. subjective observation and behavioral descriptions
  • the importance of the “can’t vs. won’t” dilemma
  • simple, effective ways to collect and analyze data
  • how to communicate more effectively with others regarding behavior in order to have better team decision making
  • why typical behavior modification approaches may not always be effective
  • the components of a functional analysis
  • how environmental adaptations reduce problematic behavior for a learner


Working Effectively with Children and Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome/High Functioning Autism:

A Special Four Part Program

Two classroom days

This special, interactive, intensive four-part series is designed to enable professionals and families to:

·          become more familiar with the diagnostic features of children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and high functioning autism;

·          assist in designing appropriate programmatic adaptations in schools, community services and other arenas

·          understand family, communication and social issues;

·          work and communicate more effectively with individuals with this diagnosis.


Session 1

Recognizing and Understanding the Clinical Features of Asperger’s Syndrome/High Functioning Autism (AS/HFA)

This session will describe the diagnostic features of children and adults with AS/HFA. Participants will learn how the features of AS/HFA effect socialization, communication, sensory processing and learning.

Participants will learn:

  • where AS/HFA fits in the spectrum of Pervasive Developmental Disorders
  • the diagnostic features of AS/HFA
  • examples of how each diagnostic feature can manifest in children and adults with AS/HFA
  • features that differentiate AS/HFA from other autistic spectrum disorders, mental illnesses or behavior problems


Session 2

Adapting Programs to Meet the Needs of Children and Adults with AS/HFA

Developmental disability programs and educational programs are not always designed to meet the needs of this special group of people.  Programmatic adaptations are needed to ensure success. This session describes programmatic adaptations that are reasonable, practical and inexpensive and are likely to benefit people with Asperger’s Syndrome and high functioning autism.

Participants will learn:

  • the importance of changing and adapting programs for children and adults with AS/HFA
  • how likes and interests can be used to teach children and adults with AS/HFA
  • programmatic adaptations that can be used to address sensory issues
  • ideas to help select and use peer mentors
  • how practice, role play, cartoons, scripting and video taping can be used in social skills training goals for children and adults with AS/HFA
  • how goal selection needs to relate to current and future life circumstances


Session 3

Family, Communication and Social Issues

Asperger’s Syndrome has a unique kind of impact on families. Professionals benefit from understanding family issues.  AS/HFA severely effects social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication even when the individual has typical or gifted intelligence.  Participants will become more familiar with the impact of AS/HFA in these areas and how to more effectively teach social and communication skills.

Participants will learn:

  • 5 ways that a family member with AS/HFA effects the entire family
  • ways that families can explain AS/HFA to others
  • resources for families of children with AS/HFA
  • how to involve families in the development of programs and the selection of goals by using specific family interview questions
  • appropriate language to use to discuss children and adults with AS/HFA
  • ideas to help identify learner strengths that can be used to teach social and communication skills

Session 4

Developing Personal Competencies that Improve Services for People with AS/HFA

Professionals can develop effective interpersonal skills that enhance communication and the development of relationships with persons with AS/HFA.  Specific skills will be discussed and practiced.

Participants will learn:

  • why the most important program component is staff skills, attitudes and knowledge
  • why the concept of “embracing diversity” must be integrated into all features of all programs and why professional staff must constantly model this attitude
  • the importance of being present and focused to observe and mediate peer interactions
  • how to use “telling” vs. “asking” techniques
  • how stress, anxiety, embarrassment and humiliation interfere with learning in people with AS/HFA

·        effective inclusive supports such as “making sense,” “unconditional acceptance,”  and “affiliation” strategies


Creating Functional Programs for People of all ages who have

Developmental Disabilities

two and an half to four hours


Many people with disabilities spend their whole lifetimes in educational and developmental services and yet sometimes are able to do very few real world tasks. When children and adults with developmental disabilities do not learn functional skills, paid support must be provided at a greater level of intensity and the person’s life becomes less varied, interesting and fulfilling. Functional programming is the art and science of teaching skills to children and adults with disabilities for use in “real” life. Functional and academic goals can be taught together in carefully planned programs. Functional programs result in greater independence, participation, satisfaction and contribution for children and adults with disabilities.


Participants will learn:

  • the definition and importance of functional programming and functional goals in the life of an individual with developmental disabilities of any age
  • the importance of assessing lifelong needs beginning early in education and training
  • the importance of discovering and using liked activities as a guide to the selection of functional goals
  • how functional and academic goals can be chosen and taught together.
  • how to help families select functional goals for their individual with disabilities
  • the importance of the principle of partial participation
  • the components of functional programming
  • the ecological inventory strategy for assessing skills and knowledge and for goal selection


Supporting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

a full training day


Children with autism spectrum disorders participate in general education classrooms throughout the United States. General education professionals and support staff may be unfamiliar with students who have this unique spectrum disorder and benefit from training regarding the nature of this disorder and how it affects children across the spectrum. Learning how to adapt classroom activities and how to use effective communication skills can assist educators in supporting these special children while meeting the needs of all students.


Participants will learn:

  • the characteristics of autism, pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and Fragile X SYNDROME
  • ways the characteristics manifest in students at different ages with various levels of intellectual functioning
  • effects of the characteristics on the behavior, learning, socialization and communication of these students
  • effectively utilizing supports from special education team members
  • useful learning strengths of students with ASD
  • simple classroom adaptations to promote participation and reduce distractions
  • how to use peer support appropriately and encourage peer relationships to develop
  • utilizing one-to-one or classroom assistants effectively
  • how to garner resources to help professionals in every school
  • techniques to communicate and work with families more effectively




Becoming the Instrument of Change:

Teaching Communication with Conscious Interacting

2.5-3 hours


Many children and adults with special needs have limited interpersonal communication skills. Many communication programs focus on teaching these individuals to respond. An often missing element is teaching us, the communicative partners, how to initiate in a way that encourages more communication attempts. This workshop teaches participants to be more conscious of their own role in developing communication skills in others. It will focus on useful communication variety, effective non-verbal skills, and interpersonal responsiveness, respectfully recognizing underlying messages, and teaching communication skills that will support people across their lifetimes.



Participants will learn:

  • a responsive approach as an effective tool to build communication
  • the importance of accepting and shaping all non-harmful ways of communicating
  • why too much focus on speech can actually reduce communication skills development
  • the communication skills that are most important for a quality life
  • at least ten valid communication methods to which we can respond
  • five important communication skills needed to have true quality of life
  • the roles of responsive and directive communication styles in building satisfying interpersonal relationships




2-4 hours



1. First version: if you want this to be for an audience who works with children and adults.


Inclusion Is Not Geography: Mapping Out Inclusion in the Minds of Others

How can staff and families know if children and adults with disabilities and special learning needs are truly included? Our efforts thus far have taught us that simply placing people along side one another does not result in the development of satisfying, reciprocal, lifelong relationships (that is, inclusive communities). What is the missing element in the inclusion puzzle? The MINDS of others! Inclusion is an attitude based on knowledge and experience that exists in the MINDS of those around the child or adult with disabilities or special learning needs. This presentation will help teams identify what information needs to be shared, who needs to know, and how to share information with others, including the child or adult with disabilities or special learning needs. Participants will learn techniques for talking about children and adults with disabilities to children of all ages, to staff in each environment, as well as supportive ideas to overcome reluctance to share information. The presentation will emphasize shifting attitudes and creating relationships by providing important, respectful, accurate and individualized information to everyone who needs to know.


2. Second version: if you want this to be for an audience primarily concerned with children:


Inclusion Is Not Geography: Mapping Out Inclusion in the Minds of Others

How can staff and families know if children with disabilities and special learning needs are truly included? Our efforts thus far have taught us that simply placing children along side one another does not result in the development of satisfying, reciprocal, lifelong relationships (that is, inclusive communities). What is the missing element in the inclusion puzzle? The MINDS of others! Inclusion is an attitude based on knowledge and experience that exists in the MINDS of those around the child with disabilities or special learning needs. This presentation will help teams identify what information needs to be shared, who needs to know, and how to share information with others, including the child with disabilities or special learning needs. Participants will learn techniques for talking about children with disabilities to children of all ages, to staff in each environment, as well as supportive ideas to overcome reluctance to share information. The presentation will emphasize shifting attitudes and creating relationships by providing important, respectful, accurate and individualized information to everyone who needs to know.