Autism Awareness Centre Conference – Calgary, AB – Nov 14 & 15, 2014

Delta Calgary South Hotel
135 Southland Drive SE, Calgary, AB

Learn practical skills that can be immediately implemented into existing curriculum and training programs, at home or in school!

Conference Description

Friday, November 14

Gary Mesibov

Structured Teaching

One of the world’s leading autism experts, Professor Gary Mesibov, former director of Division TEACCH in North Carolina, in the United States is coming to Calgary to speak to families, educators and therapists!

The TEACCH program has developed and taught strategies and programs (commonly referred to as structured teaching) that has served people with ASD all over the world of all ages and all levels of functioning. Structured teaching is based on the understanding of the neurological differences that research has identified in people with ASD and then adjusting educational, self-help, social and community-based program approaches to more closely match the learning strengths and needs of our children and youth with ASD.

This presentation will describe some of the learning differences that have been identified in people with ASD, and will show how these can be accommodated by making adaptations in how educational programs are created and delivered to assist people with ASD to think, learn and understand more effectively and independently in the home, school and community. The emphasis will be placed on educational programs in inclusive settings as well as home and community-based strategies.

Dr. Gary B. Mesibov, internationally acclaimed speaker, was the Director of Division TEACCH at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1992 until 2010. Prior to Dr. Mesibov’s appointment as Director of Division TEACCH, he served as the Division’s Co-Director from 1987 and the Associate Director from 1983.Dr. Mesibov also serves as Professor of Psychology, Dept. of Psychiatry, and Clinical Professor, Dept. of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 2010 he was given the American Association on Intellectual Developmental Disabilities award for service to people with disabilities and in the same year the Autism Society of America gave him their highest award, the Founders Award, given to those who have made substantial contributions to the field of autism spectrum disorders over a period of years. His world-wide contributions to the autism community have been numerous. Through his work, he has improved the lives of people affected by autism.

Saturday, November 15

Joyce Cooper-Kahn

Late, Lost and Unprepared:  How to Help Youth Build Better Executive Functioning

Executive functioning is an umbrella term for the mental processes that serve a supervisory role in thinking and behavior.  Individuals with autism spectrum disorders, attention disorders and learning disabilities all have weak executive skills.   For example, they may be disorganized and have trouble with planning, have weak ability to monitor their own behavior and performance, and struggle with situations where they must shift flexibly from one thought or behavior to another.  We can help these young people by creating plans that include both short-term supports for daily success and long term strategies that facilitate the development of executive skills and build greater independence over time.

This workshop will provide parents, teachers and other professionals with an understanding of executive functioning and how to help children who have weak executive skills.  First, we will focus on what research tells us about executive functioning.   We will use that information to consider practical principles of intervention, and we will apply these to intervention planning and to creating an “EF Smart” environment.  Participants will have the opportunity to consider the needs of an individual child and to create an intervention plan over the course of the day.  There will be ample time for questions and discussion to enhance learning.

Joyce Cooper-Kahn, Ph.D. is a clinical child psychologist with specific expertise in the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with executive functioning deficits. She is the author of two books on executive functioning: Late, Lost and Unprepared:  A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning (Woodbine House, 2008) written with co-author Dr. Laurie Dietzel, and Boosting Executive Skills in the Classroom:  A Practical Guide for Educators, written with Margaret Foster, M.A. (Jossey-Bass, 2013).

In her work, Dr. Cooper-Kahn brings together science, clinical experience, and an appreciation for the daily demands of those raising and teaching children. Her passion lies at this junction where psychology informs daily life.

For over 20 years, she has specialized in helping children, families and schools to successfully manage the full range of developmental challenges affecting children.   Dr. Cooper-Kahn has worked in a variety of settings, including Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Kennedy-Krieger Institute.  She is also the co-founder of Psychological Resource Associates, a private mental health practice in Severna Park, Maryland.

To register for this conference, or for more information, click here.


The Community Education Service – Tuesday Sept 30, 2014 Supporting Anxious Children: From Recognition to Response

The Community Education Service is pleased to present the following session taking place on Tuesday September 30, 2014

Supporting Anxious Children: From Recognition to Response

Participants will learn to better understand and recognize anxiety in children and adolescents. The presentation will review the “Do’s and Don’t Do’s” in supporting an anxious child, and will introduce a variety of strategies to better support children. Participants will also gain a clearer idea of when children should be referred for further assistance.

 To register to attend in person, or to create a new account, go to:

Community Education Service (CES)
email: ces [at] albertahealthservices [dot] ca
phone: (403)955-7420
fax: (403)955-2444
Community Education Service
Alberta Health Services
Alberta Children’s Hospital
2888 Shaganappi Trail NW
Calgary, Alberta
T3B 6A8

Category: Bit News - Latest in Calgary, Blog · Tags:

Sibshop Dates for Fall 2014

Fun groups for kids who have a sibling with a disability
Sibshop Dates for Fall 2014
All sessions to be held at Centre Street Church-West Campus
4120 – Centre Street N Calgary
Fall 2014
Sibshops : Ages 8-11, Cost: $80.00
8 Sessions
Session 1 – Orientation – 6:00pm -8:00pm, Monday, October 6, 2014
Sessions 2-8: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Mondays, October 20, 27, November 3, 10, 17, 24
December 1, 2014
Early Start Sibshop: Ages 6-7, Cost: $15.00
1 Sessions: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Monday, November 3, 2014
To register for this program or for more information contact
Connections Counselling and Consulting Foundation at 403-209-1100
Or E-mail: connect [at] calcna [dot] ab [dot] ca

Category: Bit News - Latest in Calgary · Tags:

What in the World is Going On? August 2014

August 2014

By Maureen Bennie


Autism Calgary Community


Autism Awareness Centre Inc.


sphere with pictures over a white background


Researchers have discovered a gene called CDH8 that is linked to autism in an estimated one half of one percent of patients. Their findings could discover a way for genetic testing for autism.

Children with a mutation of the CDH8 gene have a larger head size, wide-set eyes and gastrointestinal problems. In addition to their characteristic appearance, they experience sleep disturbances. The discovery of the CDH8 mutations was published in the biomedical journal Cell.

Although the number affected by this gene mutation is small, it could lead to the discovery of hundreds more genetic mutations involved in autism spectrum disorder. To read more about this research, click here.

There has been a long time debate on whether or not people with autism should drive. Researchers at Drexel University have created the first pilot study asking adults on the autism spectrum about their experiences with driving.

Maria Schultheis, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Drexel, says, “When we investigate whether and under what circumstances a condition or neurological difference might affect driving ability, as a standard starting point we want to go to individuals and find out from their perspective what problems they are having on the road, in their real-world experience. That question is pivotal to shape and inform the goals of long-term research – and is especially important when we turn to look at a developmental difference like autism, where there has been too little research to establish yet whether widespread driving difficulties exist.”

This is the first study that focuses on experienced adult drivers with autism. Because people with autism experience difficulties such as neurocognitive challenges and social recognition difficulties, it would make sense that these individuals would have significant challenges with driving.

“One intriguing finding that Daly and Schultheis noted was that the difficulties adults with autism reported were not clustered in any specific areas, such as problems related to social processing of other drivers’ or pedestrians’ expected behaviors, or difficulties with neurocognitive aspects of driving such as motion perception and reaction time.”

Access to transportation, particularly in rural areas where there may not be public transportation, can increase the capacity for participation and allow greater access in communities. To read more about this study, click here.

Is autism really as prevalent as the Centre for Disease Control says it is based on their study of 8 year-olds in multiple communities across the US? Are these results accurate since they are derived by just reading reports and not actually assessing the children?

Researchers say “the wide variety of results collected from the different study sites should be a red flag. In the latest CDC data, for example, 1 in 45 kids in New Jersey were said to have the developmental disorder compared to 1 in 175 in Alabama. There were also variances by race and ethnicity across the study’s 11 sites and there were differences in the number of children found to have co-occurring intellectual disability.”

The CDC has defended their position and said their estimate of 1 in 68 for autism prevalence may be on the conservative side. To read more, click here.

Vulnerable parents will often try treatments and products such as dietary supplements and biomedical therapies that claim to cure or improve signs of autism. At present, there is no cure for autism and current best practice involves the use of behavioural and educational therapies. If the claim sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Current autism research into the cause of autism is pointing more to genetics so be wary of paying for protocols that have no scientific evidence for improving or curing autism.

I recently read this piece about a parent’s experiences raising a son with autism that was featured in a North Carolina magazine called Mountain Xpress. I did not read the article itself but the comments father Ray Hemachandra made in his blog about how the media portrayed his child and the language used to describe him. The lesson here is even if a reporter has good intentions, the story can often be written in a hurtful and demeaning way which devalues people and who they are. Myths and negativity are created.

Ray wants people to know there is nothing that needs fixing when it comes to his son. “There are people to help and love, just like all people need help and love. That’s what parents of newly diagnosed children (as well as many professionals and society as a whole) need to learn. The faster they learn it, the happier and healthier their children will be, their family will be, and they will be.”

Read this insightful dissection of the published article and what it is we need to advocate for. Ray has other great blog posts that will change your thinking about autism.

Sleep disorders abound in the autism population. Parents often feel desperate for a good night’s sleep as well as a way to help their child get more rest. Melatonin has long been used in the autism community, but it is sometimes used incorrectly with unsuccessful results. Read this article on How to Use Melatonin Correctly from the Talk About Sleep website and look forward to a better night’s sleep.

Who doesn’t love free resources? Victories n’Autism has a number of wonderful visual tools like checklists and schedules available for free download. Laura Molleur, who creates the content on this site, was a special education teacher and you can instantly see how practical her resources are. Check it out!

Anxiety is commonly experienced by individuals on the spectrum. Anxiety BC has created an app called MindShift to help teens and young adults get their anxiety in control. This app can help change how a person thinks about anxiety. Rather than trying to avoid anxiety, you can make an important shift and face it.

MindShift will help you learn how to relax, develop more helpful ways of thinking, and identify active steps that will help you take charge of your anxiety. This app includes strategies to deal with everyday anxiety, as well as specific tools to tackle anxious situations like test anxiety, perfectionism, social anxiety and performance anxiety.

Australian mom with autism Ally Grace has an excellent blog about being autistic. She wrote a post entitled 14 Things I Hate About Being Autistic which gives the reader real insight into what people on the spectrum experience, often as a result of our own ignorance and assumptions. These voices on the spectrum are raising awareness, changing our thinking, and letting us know how they feel and what they need. Dignity, respect and the right to be who they are stand in the forefront. Are we listening?

How can you help kids with autism be flexible, get organized, and work toward goals – not just in school but in everyday life? It’s all about executive function, and this quick problem-solving guide helps you explicitly teach these critical skills to high-functioning children with autism (Grades K-8). Solving Executive Function Challenges: Simple Ways to Get Kids with Autism Unstuck and on Target can be used on its own or in tandem with the popular Unstuck and On Target!classroom curriculum, this practical guide shows how to embed executive function instruction in dozens of everyday scenarios, from morning routines to getting homework done. Designed for therapists, teachers, and parents, these highly effective techniques give children the skills they need to navigate each day, reach their goals, and succeed inside and outside the classroom.

Children on the autism spectrum are often highly visual learners, making colour a powerful and motivating learning tool.

Recently published Colour Coding for Learners with Autism: A Resource Book for Creating Meaning through Colour at Home and School by Adele Devine explains how colour coding helps young people with autism to generalize lessons already learnt. For example, assigning the colour aqua to all personal care activities or the colour purple to timetabling and transitions establishes clear, visual categories. This allows children to draw on learnt experiences, which creates a sense of order, reduces anxiety, and can aid communication, understanding emotions, organization, coping with change and diversifying diet. A wealth of tried-and-tested printable resources to enable the practical application of colour coding in the classroom and at home is included on a CD-ROM.

With colourful illustrations and resources, this book is an effective, must-have teaching tool for anyone involved in the education of young people with autism.

These are the highlights of what in the world is going on in autism for August 2014.

4 New Books for the Library (donated by Autism Awareness Centre)

I Think I Might Be Autistic: A Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis and Self-Discovery for AdultsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details


Thank you to Maureen Bennie at Autism Awareness Centre Inc. for her donation of 4 amazing books!

These books can be taken out from the Autism Calgary Library, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 9am-5pm.

For more information on the Autism Awareness Centre, please visit


Autism Calgary does not support, endorse or recommend any method, treatment, product, remedial center, program or person for people with autism or autism related conditions. It does, however, endeavour to inform because it believes in the right to have access to the information available and to make individual choices.

Our Events

I Have Autism

"I have Autism. I may not look unusual, but I experience the world much differently than you do. Autism makes it difficult for me to communicate with you, and sometimes causes me to have unusual behaviour. I am doing my very best. Please be patient with me and my caregivers, who are trying to give me a full and happy life."