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The Thompson Center hosts eighth annual Autism Intervention Conference

The MU Thompson Center held its eighth annual Autism Intervention Conference in Columbia this morning.

Keynote speaker Dr. Sally Rogers from University of California Davis spoke about a new intervention approach for young children with autism called the Early Start Denver Model.

ESDM could be applied to children under three years old, and as early as 12 months. It uses play as a treatment context. Teachers and therapists engage children through gesture, gaze and vocalization. The goal is to help them acquire nonverbal communication and develop social relationships.

Dr. Sally Rogers said young children with autism lack the ability of nonverbal communication, which is important for developing speech and language.

“Young children,” Dr. Rogers said, “toddlers and infant, learn to use gesture, eye gaze, and emotional signaling to send messages, and they also learn how to interpret other people’s nonverbal communication long before them can decode speech.”

About 340 people registered in this year’ conference. Attendees included parents of children with autism, special educators, occupational therapists, and more.

Dr. Stephen Kanne, Executive Director of the Thompson Center, said the purpose of the conference is to help educate and train people in how to intervene and work with children with autism.

On Saturday, Dr. Sean Smith from the University of Kansas will speak about technology-based solutions for people with learning disabilities.

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