Course Description

Outcomes for many individuals with autism are poor. Provision of accommodations and supports in the areas of employment, mental health, and education continues to lag behind the needs of people on the spectrum. In order to be effective, those who work with autism individuals need to expand their approach and adapt well-worn strategies. Furthermore, people on the spectrum often cope with the sense of being different and feeling the need to mask those differences along with a sense of shame.  Addressing these feelings and the characteristics of autism itself is central to improving outcomes and developing self-care strategies. 

For years, practitioners have known that a comprehensive approach to intervention is considered “best practice.” The Ziggurat Model, a framework for developing comprehensive interventions, employs evidenced-based strategies on five levels based on key needs associated with autism. Each of the levels directs attention to evidence-based strategies including sensory regulation, reinforcement, visual supports, predictability, and deliberate practice. 

Participants will learn the five questions as a framework for developing comprehensive program to improve outcomes. This framework is beneficial both to individuals on the spectrum and those who support them. The strategies discussed can be readily applied in daily life. Participants will be better able to anticipate challenges and identify needed supports. 

Participants will be able to:

  • List the five questions that guide individuals on the spectrum and providers in developing effective supports and improving outcomes.  
  • Describe emotional and social stressors that often contribute to low self-esteem.
  • Identify effective strategies to address emotional needs related to autism.  

Meet Your Instructors

Occupational Therapist Kimberly Clairy, OTR/L

Kim Clairy, OTR/L, an autistic occupational therapist, international speaker, consultant, author, and self-advocate. Diagnosed with autism Kim learned to break through personal and societal barriers, including navigating the healthcare system with ASD and an eating disorder. Her experiences forged a passion for educating others on autism with the hope of helping give voice to those unable to articulate their inner worlds. Using personal and professional experiences, Kim educates on many facets of autism across the lifespan including eating disorders, trauma, mental health, ADHD, intimacy, relationships, self-awareness, problem-solving through challenging behaviors, and much more!

Licensed Psychologist Ruth Aspy, Ph.D.

Ruth Aspy, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist specializing in transdisciplinary assessment and intervention for individuals on the spectrum. She is co-author of a comprehensive model of intervention, The Ziggurat Model, which earned the Literary Achievement Award from the Autism Society.  Dr. Aspy has provided training and consultation throughout the United States and internationally. She serves on the Autism Society of America’s Panel of Professional Advisors. Her focus is on understanding the underlying characteristics of autistic individuals keeping their neurological/brain differences in mind.  Dr. Aspy believes that kindness is at the heart of all good support strategies. She has an emphasis on working with females on the spectrum and with those individuals who have symptoms of catatonia.

Licensed Psychologist Barry G. Grossman, Ph.D.

Barry G. Grossman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and author in private practice. He specializes in counseling and assessing individuals on the spectrum and has an emphasis on working with females on the spectrum. Dr. Grossman presents internationally and has provided state-wide training and consultation to improve autism assessment and intervention in the public schools. He has authored books, textbook chapters, and journal articles. Dr. Grossman, along with his co-author, Dr. Aspy, wrote The Ziggurat Model-a book on designing interventions for individuals on the autism spectrum. The Ziggurat Model, which earned the Literary Achievement Award from the Autism Society, is being used successfully throughout the United States and internationally in countries including Japan, Greece, Canada, and Mexico. Dr. Grossman serves on the Autism Society's Panel of Professional Advisors and is on the board of the Autism Society of Texas.

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