CEUs for SLPs

Evidence Based Interventions in ASD

6-hour course

Course Overview

Part 1: Supporting Social Learning in Autism: An Autobiographical Memory Approach to Promote Communication and Connection
Part 2: AAC Interventions and Gestalt Language Processing: What does the Evidence Show?
Part 3: Gestalt Language Processing (GLP): Evidence and Clinical Implications

Course Agenda

10 mins - Disclosures, Introduction
50 mins - Review of current research
240 mins - Objectives: What is autobiographical memory (ABM)?
A review of the empirical literature on ABM differences in autism; The theoretical mechanisms underpinning ABM differences in autism; Clinical presentation of ABM differences in autism: A qualitative analysis; Treatment of ABM in autism
Brief overview of different AAC systems; Definitions of terms; Brief overview of NLA stages and how they fit into current language development theories and best practice in AAC—what is the evidence? Brief overview of therapy techniques in NLA; Comparison of current best practices in therapy for AAC users with NLA practices; Current proposed adaptations for AAC users who are diagnosed as gestalt language learners; Discussions of the evidence for and against these modifications; Concerns raised;
50 mins - Results and Recommendations
10 mins - Q&A

CEUs/Hours Offered

ASHA: 0.6 ASHA CEUs, Advanced 
CA SLPAHB: 6 hrs 
CMH: 6 hrs

Course Description

Part 1: Supporting Social Learning in Autism: An Autobiographical Memory Approach to Promote Communication and Connection

This presentation describes what science has revealed about memory in autism to guide the development of social learning, social communication, and for the sharing of stories that structure our social realities. This session also describes the nature of memory differences in autism, shows how these present in the lives of autistic adults and children, and summarizes the evidence in support of an autobiographical memory approach to support communication and social connection. The presentation also describes new treatments to promote these goals in ways that elevate the autistic person’s voice and experience through a sense of agency, authenticity, and autonomy.

Part 2: AAC Interventions and Gestalt Language Processing: What does the Evidence Show?

This part of the presentation investigates and discusses the evidence base for whether an AAC system should be altered for those individuals who use what is sometimes called “gestalt language processing”. Definitions of terminology and the evidence base for the concept of gestalt language processing are also reviewed. Treatment methodologies are also compared.

Part 3: Gestalt Language Processing (GLP): Evidence and Clinical Implications

Many clinicians, educators, and parents of individuals with autism have become interested in using strategies for language intervention that are based upon a framework called Natural Language Acquisition (NLA). These strategies are purported to be effective for learners who are said to be “gestalt language processors”, with the latter term being used to refer to children who learn to produce memorized strings of words (e.g., “to infinity and beyond”) before they learn to break language down to the unit of the single word. This presentation will discuss the evidence behind Natural Language Acquisition as a theory of language development and the validity of using “gestalt language processors” as a descriptive term. The presentation will also focus on the evidence behind the strategies that comprise the intervention package that is based upon NLA and examine the plausibility of some of the assumptions included in the NLA-based approach. An update on best practice for language intervention for autistic learners with severe to profound expressive and receptive language disorders will be provided as well.

About the Presenters

Financial— Royalty recipient from Brookes Publishing

Nonfinancial— No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.

Dr. Hutchins has researched the relationships from parent-child interaction strategies to child language and social cognitive development. She has examined the construct of social learning including its nature and scope and has developed and validated new measures of theory of mind that are widely used in research and practice. Dr. Hutchins has also investigated the efficacy of story-based interventions to teach social communication skills as well as the nature, development, and treatment of social cognition and autobiographical memory deficits in four populations: autism, ADHD, hearing loss, and childhood trauma. Hutchins teaches courses in the development of spoken language, psycholinguistics, and language disorders.

Financial— Royalty recipient from Brookes Publishing

Nonfinancial— No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.

Ashley Brien is an Assistant Professor at California State University San Marcos where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses related to autism, social cognition, augmentative and alternative communication, and research methods. Dr. Brien’s research focuses on supporting episodic memory and social cognition in children and adolescents with autism, as well as designing and modifying a novel training to teach caregivers naturalistic strategies to promote connection with their children. Dr. Brien also provides clinical services to families of children / adolescents with autism to support social cognition and social communication. Dr. Brien’s clinical and research work are both interprofessional and family centered. Additionally, she has published book chapters and peer-reviewed articles and presented nationally and internationally on various topics related to autism.

Financial— No relevant financial relationship exists.

Nonfinancial— No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.

A licensed speech pathologist in California. She graduated from the University of Sheffield, England with a BA (hons) in English Language and Literature. She was awarded a Rotary international Scholarship to the University of California Santa Barbara, She holds a MA in German and Linguistics and a MA in Speech and Hearing Sciences. Her Master’s Thesis addressed communication differences in children with autism. She has co-authored a chapter with Dr. Adriana Schuler:Making Language Meaningful: Cracking the Language Code in the book Autism:from Research to Practice and a chapter in the book My Baby Can Dance. Cheryl has presented nationally and internationally at numerous conferences.

She has been working with children, adolescents and adults with communication disorders for many years. Cheryl received her AC/AT Certificate through CSUN Northridge in 2010.

In January of 2011 she obtained her BCBA certification.

Financial— No relevant financial relationship exists.

Nonfinancial— No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.

Beth Speaker- Christensen, SLP/ATP is a member of ASHA and ASHA SIG 12 (AAC), a member and PSB member of RESNA, and on the membership and advocacy committees for USSAAC. the US chapter of ISAAC. She has a private practice (AAC Helper) providing assessment and treatment for individuals in need of AAC services throughout Northern Illinois. [email protected].

Financial— No relevant financial relationship exists.

Nonfinancial— No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.

Traci Peplinski is a licensed Speech and Language Pathologist specializing in working with both children and adults with complex communication needs who require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Traci received her BA from the University of California Santa Barbara and her MA from Sand Diego State University.  Since 2003, Traci has worked in the public schools, private practice and with adult day programs providing speech and langauge and AAC assessments, therapy and trainings to staff and families.  Traci also provides Early Intervention services.  She has presented on topics such as communication, language, AAC, and partner communication strategies at the local, state, national, and international level.  In 2012 Traci started a Non-Profit called A Voice Discovered, which provides funding assistance, family support groups, information and resources as well as educational workshops to families, caregivers and professionals interested in learning more about AAC and related topics. 

Financial— Ms. Risen is receiving an honorarium from the Lavi Institute for this presentation. 

Nonfinancial— No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.

Sari Risen is a speech-language pathologist as well as a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (i.e., a practitioner of applied behaviour analysis). She has had extensive experience working with individuals with complex communication needs, including individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and individuals with intellectual disabilities. Having conducted her Master’s thesis in the area of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), Sari has always had a strong interest in this area and continues to have a strong focus on serving individuals with AAC needs within her practice. Sari’s training and experience in the area of communication disorders also includes a focus on improving speech clarity by addressing motor speech disorders and helping non-speaking children develop the use of spoken language. In the area of language development, Sari focuses on helping learners develop the language skills they need to thrive in the environments that are important to them and their families with applied behaviour analysis guiding her selection of strategies.  Sari also has experience in addressing feeding concerns in children with food selectivity and oral motor concerns. She also conducts assessment and treatment to address maladaptive behaviour,


Early in her career, Sari worked as a speech-language pathologist at the Geneva Centre for Autism in Toronto, Canada, serving as a member of a team that provided consultation and training to parents and professionals regarding communication and maladaptive behaviour for preschool children. In 2012, she opened her own private practice, Action Potential Services, in which she and her team provide speech-language pathology and applied behaviour analysis services, focusing primarily on serving individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders as well as toddlers with severe language delays and children with feeding difficulties.


Sari is a mom to her almost 2 and a half year old daughter. Along with her clients, her daughter serves as a wonderful teacher for Sari, helping her to learn about the complex and fascinating area of language and social development.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the nature and development of autobiographical memory
  2. Compare and contrast episodic autobiographical memory from semantic autobiographical memory
  3. Describe the nature of autobiographical memory differences observed in the autism research
  4. Implement autobiographical memory treatment
  5. Define what a gestalt language user is
  6. Discuss treatment methodologies for language learners and users of AAC
  7. Discuss the evidence base for or against altering a language system for gestalt language learners.
  8. Define the Natural Language Acquisition theory, list the data sources purported to serve as evidence for the Natural Language Acquisition theory, and state the type of information that these sources provide.
  9. Describe the strategies that are often used as part of a Natural Language Acquisition based approach, and state the merits of these strategies.
  10. Describe evidence-based approaches for the following learner profiles:
  11. Learners who might be classified as functionally nonverbal and do not yet imitate language that is modelled for them
  12. Learners who are classified as functionally nonverbal and do imitate language that is modelled for them
  13. Learners who use some language communicatively but do not yet use or understand language at a level that is sufficient for meaningful participation in daily activities

Satisfactory Course Completion Requirements

This course must be watched in its entirety. In order to receive the CMH or the CEU certificate, a quiz is required to be completed with 80% success.

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Our Guarantee. Lavi Institute seeks to maintain and enhance our reputation of providing you with high quality educational services for the speech pathology industry. If you attend one of our seminars or webinars and do not receive the educational and professional benefits described in our literature, or have some other professional complaint, please let us know in writing within seven days of attending our seminars/webinars. We value complaints as they assist us to improve our products, services and customer service. Lavi Institute is committed to being responsive to the needs and concerns of our customers or potential customers and to resolving your complaint as quickly as possible. You may contact us at www.laviinstitute.com/contact 

Accommodations. Contact Dr. Lavi (909) 724-8564 or [email protected]  if you require accommodations such as video course transcripts or video captioning.

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