On September 27, 2019, iSHINE Scholars attended the second annual day-long autism and neurodiversity conference for professionals, family members, people with autism, or other disabilities. The Hub for Autism and Neurodiversity (HANd) conference provided scholars with education and skill development in a variety of areas including technology supports, anxiety and autism, and tools for conquering daily transitions and change. The keynote address was given by Ray Hemachandra who told his family's story from his perspective as a parent and advocate for his son, Nicholas, who has autism and an intellectual disability. From Nicholas' early childhood and diagnosis through his transition to adulthood, Hemachandra reflected on how his own neurodiverse perspective developed and changed and the values he has come to hold dear.
Dr. Emily Lakey, the iSHINE Project Director and Assistant Professor of Speech-Language Pathology in the Beaver College of Health Science’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, led a breakout session on how social narratives can be used to guide student understanding of social situations and expectations. Social narratives are visual stories that provide information about social situations in order to support an understanding of social contexts and expectations. Lakey provided an overview of social narratives using real-life examples from a variety of social contexts.
Scholars also had opportunities to attend other breakout sessions led by faculty from Appalachian State University and by professionals from the community. Other breakout session topics included:
Daily Transitions & Change: Why It’s Hard & What Makes It Easier
• How Speech-Generating Devices Can Be Helpful for People with Autism
• Anxiety and Autism
• Technology Supports for Teens and Adults with ASD that Support Success at School, Home, and Work
• Nutritional Support
• Make and Takes
To learn more about the HANd conference and other community resources provided, check out the HANd website.