Dr. Deb Leach on ASD Students: “Stop the mad dash for the door – – or fill the vending machine?”

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Wired Differently Conference Keynoter Dr. Deb Leach says understanding the function underlying a problem behavior is crucial to creating an effective intervention.  A specialist in Applied Behavior Analysis, Dr. Leach says an educator can often discover why a student is demonstrating a problem behavior simply by asking him or her.  But when a student has under-developed communication skills, an educator may need to use other methods of discovery.

Dr. Deb. Leach
Dr. Deb. Leach

Dr. Leach relays a story told to her by an autism specialist.  A teacher was concerned because a student with autism kept dashing out of the classroom.  The teacher had “tried everything” to stop the behavior – with no success.

So the autism specialist asked, “Where is he trying to go?” (What a smart question!)  The teacher replied, “I have no idea.  We just get him as soon as possible and bring him back to the classroom.  The autism specialist recommended following the student to see where he was going to be able to determine the function for the running away behavior.  It turns out that the student was running to get to the faculty lounge because he would see the man who refills the vending machines pulling into the school through the classroom window, and he wanted to get to the lounge to get a chance to see the man open up the machines and refill the products.  It was quickly determined that the student was not running to get attention or to avoid work: He was running to try to see something he found very interesting.

While the student was unable to tell why he was running out of the classroom verbally, he was able to show the teachers why he was running.  So the intervention was simple: Allow the student to go to the faculty lounge a few minutes before the vending machine operator was scheduled to arrive, and he would then receive some job training on refilling vending machines each time the operator came to the school.

To read the entire article, click here.

Dr. Leach will present a keynote session entitled “Using Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports to Help Students Who are Wired Differently Succeed in Inclusive Classroom.” and will also present a breakout session during the main conference.

The Wired Differently Conference will focus on providing critical insights and best practices for reaching and teaching students with emotional and behavioral conditions – including Asperger’s Syndrome, bipolar disorder, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder and more.  In addition to Deb Leach, other featured presenters include:

Author, therapist, internationally recognized expert on brain research and violence
Debbie Phelps
Author, motivational speaker, school administrator and mother of Olympian Michael Phelps
International speaker and consultant on students with emotional/behavioral challenges
Author, professional counselor and specialist in PTSD & trauma in youth.

This conference is intended for regular classroom teachers, special ed teachers, counselors, administrators and other educators in grades PK-12. Particular focus will be given to working with students in inclusive classroom settings.

Early Registration $325 (until 3/22/14)
Pre-Conference A:Climate Control: Setting the Conditions for Success with Students Who Experience Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Wellness Challenges

Presented by: Mike Paget

Wednesday, June 11
9:00 am – 12:00 pm

$50 Until 5/30/14
Pre-Conference B:Brain Development & Trauma: How Your Students and Children are Impacted by Everyday Experiences

Presented by:
Aaron Wiemeier

Wednesday, June 11
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

$50 Until 5/30/14

Tools and strategies will be featured for working with individuals and small groups – as well as in the classroom. Some of the most common types of disorders to be addressed include, but are not limited to:

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • ADHD
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Anger Disorders


Attendees at the Wired Differently Conference also receive complimentary access to the National Conference on Innovative Counseling Skills and Strategies, which will be co-located at the LVH Hotel.  Featured presenters include:

Trevor Romain
(Bestselling author of award-winning self-help books for children, motivational speaker and inspirational humorist)
Darlene Hunter
(Author, radio host and expert on life coaching)
Dr. Robert Bowman
(Author of The Magic Counselor and 201 Amazing Mind Bogglers and President of YouthLight Books)
Julia Cook
(National award-winning children’s book author and parenting expert)

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