Understanding ways to support students with autism and other learning differences has been a long-standing passion for Wasatch Academy’s behavior specialist Joe Dixon. For the second year in a row, Dixon has been asked to share his expertise in the field of skill-based development for individuals with autism and developmental delays at the International Scientific and Practical Conference in Moscow, Russia.
The other presenters were Ph.D. level educators from the University of Arizona, professors from Brigham Young University, and teachers from school districts within Utah. Additionally, 300 individuals from 5 different European countries registered for the conference. They represented private, public, and home-based schools.
During the conference, Dixon discussed how to create individualized education plans (IEP), how to conduct school-based functional behavioral assessments for students needing emotional or behavioral supports, and how to implement multiple teaching strategies for classroom-based supports. The conference also provided two days of hands-on training where the educators were able to create their own plans and practice their own teaching strategies with feedback.
Dixon has worked with people with autism since 2008. During his career, he has worked with various age groups, including children in early intervention programs, adolescents living with family or in foster homes, and adults in programs of accompanied residence and employment. Over the last decade, Dixon has had the opportunity to master various teaching techniques, such as learning by individual blocks, learning basic reactions, conditional discrimination, verbal behavior, and learning in the natural environment.
In his work, Dixon closely collaborates with parents by training them and involving them in the therapeutic process to preserve and increase the achieved results.
Currently, children in Russia that are diagnosed with any type of disability are immediately institutionalized, often as early as birth. Dixon is optimistic that by creating educational platforms that teach different ways to approach learning differences, families in Russia will be better equipped to support youth with learning challenges. Dixon states, “Anytime we can educate teachers and families how to work with students with learning challenges, one more student is granted an opportunity to flourish.”