Erica Richley-Duda, Executive Director of Special Education (left), and Caitlin Keener,Regional Director of Special Education (right).

The pandemic challenged teachers and students alike to look at education differently. For autistic children, the unexpected school shutdown nationwide presented distinct obstacles and opportunities. Summit Academy Management’s Erica Richley-Duda, MSEd, LPPCC-S and Caitlin Keener, MSW, LSW will share research they conducted, during the pandemic, aimed at improving the academic functioning of students learning remotely. The two Summit Academy educators will discuss their discoveries at the 2021 Milestones National Autism Conference, June 16-17.

Specifically, Executive Director of Special Education Richley-Duda and Regional Director of Special Education Keener will deliver their study findings “Socialism and Remote Learning: Using Targeted Social Groups to Impact Academic Functioning in Students with Autism.” The pair’s investigation includes a compilation of data from a group of 32 Toledo, Ohio students ranging from elementary through high school grade levels who were educated remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research focuses on employing a targeted social skills group as a useful and tangible concept for improving the academic success of autistic students who are learning remotely.

“The goal of the session is to provide practical guidance for how school social workers and/or counselors can improve the overall academic functioning of autistic youngsters who are not attending school in person,” says Keener, winner of the National Association of Social Workers Region 1 Emerging Leader Award.

“The hope is that this session will inspire others to creatively use resources that they have available in any circumstance to help individuals with autism learn and grow,” Richley-Duda emphasizes.

Presented by Milestones Autism Resources, the conference is described as the nation’s leading autism event, bringing together world-class experts. During the conference, Keener will accept the prestigious Milestones Educator of the Year Award.

“We are extremely honored to have these two very capable and knowledgeable representatives of Summit Academy Management take this national stage to share their study findings and expertise in special education,” says Summit Academy Management CEO John Guyer.

This year’s conference will follow a virtual format. On-demand access to session will be available through August 15.