University Relations and Communications

International leader in social communication intervention presenting at the 7th annual autism conference

July 22, 2014 



Debra Miller, Montana Comprehensive System of Personal Development, 896-5890
Carmen Price, University Relations, 657-2269 


The two-day conference will be held Aug. 5-6 at the Holiday Inn Grand, from 8:30 a.m to 4 p.m. Registration is free and open to the public.


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — An internationally known leader in autism research will discuss the latest developments related to autism treatment at a two-day conference designed to help parents and professionals better understand the inner minds of individuals with social learning challenges.


Michelle Garcia Winner

Hosted by MSU Billings Extended Campus, “Social Thinking” will be held Aug. 5 and 6 at the Holiday Inn Grand, 5500 Midland Rd. Registration is free and open to the public. The convention is sponsored by Region III Comprehensive System of Personal Development in conjunction with the College of Education’s Montana Center for Inclusive Education, as well as Easter Seals-Goodwill.


This year’s keynote speaker and presenter, Michelle Garcia Winner, coined the term “Social Thinking” in the mid-90s and continued to evolve the framework that includes information, vocabulary, curriculum and various strategies that help individuals with social learning challenges become better social thinkers.


“Michelle Garcia Winner is a rock-star of social communication and social interaction interventions for children with autism and related disabilities,” Young-Pelton said. “The resources and training she provides makes her visit to Billings very special to parents, teachers and therapists.”


Winner’s work specializes in developing treatment models and strategies for helping people with social cognitive learning challenges that can apply across a range of learning challenges that extend beyond Autism Spectrum disorders. She was honored in 2008 with a Congressional Special Recognition award.


Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that represents a range of symptoms from mild to severe and affects overall developmental status in social communication and other relevant cognitive and motor behaviors. 


The most recent diagnostic criteria for autism focuses on severity in social communication and social interaction as well as restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior.   


About one in 68 children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.


The two-day conference aims to educate and provide support for families and professionals who work with individuals with autism spectrum disorders, including special educators, behavior analysts, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists and nurses.


“The MSUB Autism Conference has served as a catalyst for solutions to parents, families, teachers and therapists who work with children who have autism,” Young-Pelton said.


As a result of conversations sparked at the 2008 conference, insurance coverage for autism was expanded, a passage of what became known as Brandon’s Bill during the 2009 Montana Legislature, Young-Pelton said.


Winner will introduce day one’s workshop participants to the Informal Dynamic Social Thinking Assessment, a tool described in her book, “Thinking About YOU Thinking About Me.” Day two will focus on implementing social thinking concepts and vocabulary into the school and home.


Sponsored by the Montana Center for Inclusive Education in conjunction with the Montana Comprehensive System of Personal Development, the workshops are free of charge.


MSUB Extended Campus is offering educational credit for attending the conference, including Montana educator license renewal credit; speech and language and hearing certification maintenance hours; social work/LCPC credit; nursing CEU credits/license contact hours; and MSU Billings graduate credit.


> Get conference flyer


PHOTO ABOVE: Internationally recognized author and founder of “Social Thinking,” a curriculum for individuals with autism and social learning challenges, Michelle Garcia Winner will present the latest developments on dynamic assessment and implementation at a two-day conference co-hosted by MSU Billings Extended Campus and the College of Education’s Montana Center on Inclusive Education.