Development of friendships is a challenge for individuals with autism. Many friendships are built around recess, family gatherings, and community events which require social and athletic abilities. Learn simple, research-based methods to improve interest, knowledge, and motor abilities via “Friends and Fitness.” This athletically oriented social opportunity offers an individualized, evidence-based curriculum for learners with autism in a small group format. This therapy “class” meets twice weekly at a studio or community location and is team taught by a certified personal trainer, Eric Perez and Tamara Kasper MS, CCC-SLP, BCBA. This social opportunity provides direct instruction with prompting and prompt fading using Direct Instruction cues and procedures in three areas: Athletic skills needed in order to participate in games and athletic activities, social skills required to make and maintain friends, and the ability to follow directions from a coach or peer who is organizing an opportunity. Goals are individualized and include recognizing games/sports, understanding the rules of games/sports, pairing games/sports with reinforcement, joining a formal/informal game or activity, organizing a game or activity, asking others to join, predicting the behavior of a peer, identifying and rating your own level of volume, fatigue, like/dislike, speed during an activity, asking others about their feelings, offering assistance, early negotiation/problem solving, and understanding language and figures of speech associated with sports. This instruction consists of cartoon representations of social language goals, video models, guided practice with feedback, and contrived opportunities to practice skills through games, and contrived social problems. The class is comprised of learners with autism and specially trained, typically developing peer models. Past participants demonstrate dramatic progress in post-test assessment of social skills, motor skills, and sports facts. Shadows are assigned on an individual basis as needed, based on the social skills and motor skills of the learner.
August 6 – 9, 2018
The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center
State College, Pennsylvania