This Saturday, I will be providing two workshops at the Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award and Conference in Dallas. The conference is sponsored by the Texas Association for Infant Mental Health ( and addresses many aspects of the needs of young children and their families.

The first workshop, “Autism Conversations: A Practical Framework for Early Childhood Intervention,” focuses on teaching participants how to recognize and talk about autism spectrum developmental differences in young children.

 Here is one of the issues I will be discussing with the group:

 Describe the Child First and the Diagnosis Will Follow

  • Parents of young children need professionals who…
  • Provide an intuitively understandable framework to understand their child’s puzzling behaviors
  • Use non-technical language
  • Link that understanding to practical strategies


Learning to describe instead of label when we observe a child is a cornerstone skill in understanding autism spectrum developmental differences in young children. Describing behavior allows us to see the world from the perspective of the child. I encourage you to get curious about how the child with suspected developmental differences perceives the world. Your careful description of the child’s behaviors will expand your ability to understand the child’s unique experience.

The second workshop, “Autism and Preschool Programming: Engineering the Communication-Centered Classroom,” is a collaboration with my colleague, Judy McCormack Freese. Judy is a speech and language pathologist who coordinates the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) services for a large urban school district. As a consultant, I work with Judy to support the teachers in preschool classrooms to include key visual supports for young children with autism spectrum differences. In addition to showing clips of teachers discussing their use of visual strategies, we will be targeting five key instructional supports.

One of the five key supports is School-Home Collaboration. The rational and several global strategies to support School-Home Collaboration that I will be sharing with the group are as follows:

 School-home collaboration 


           Close collaboration between home and school is necessary to…build trust;

           ensure that effective strategies are applied across settings.

   Global strategies:

            Use a notebook communication system between school and home.

            Create a form for the child to use to tell the parent about his or her day…

           “Three things about my day”

            “What I did today”

             “Who I played with today”

              Use photos with simple narrative

             Practice reviewing the sheet with the child at the end of the school day

             Invite parents to use a similar format for he child to share about events at home

             during circle time at school

The five key instructional strategies are discussed in detail in my book, “Autism Conversations.”