UK strips Chinese state-owned TV channel of broadcast permit

February 8, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgLONDON (AP) — The U.K. has stripped China’s state-owned TV channel of its broadcasting license, after an investigation found the license holder lacked editorial control and had links to China’s ruling Communist Party. The communications regulator, Ofcom, said Thursday it revoked the U.K. license for CGTN, an international English language satellite news channel. The watchdog said it gave CGTN “significant time” to comply but those efforts “have now been exhausted. CGTN didn’t reply to requests for for comment. The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded with renewed criticism of a recent BBC report on COVID-19 in China, calling ït “fake news” and demanding a public apology.last_img read more

The Weeknd vows to tone it down for his Super Bowl show

February 8, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgThe Weeknd may be known for his graphic music videos and performances featuring blood and violence, but the three-time Grammy winner says he will tone down his act during the Super Bowl halftime show.,The pop star said he will “keep it PG” during his headliner slot on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium as the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida. He promised to be “respectful to the viewers.”,“I will still incorporate some of the storyline. It’s a very cohesive story I’ve been telling throughout this era and throughout this year,” he said. “The story will continue, but definitely will keep it PG for the families.”,The 2021 Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show will be different this year due to the pandemic and The Weeknd said he will use different parts of the stadium, the field and a “little bit” of the famously massive pirate ship. But the singer would not be drawn into specifics of his show. “You have to watch on Sunday,” he said.,When asked for his favorite Super Bowl halftime show, The Weeknd cited Diana Ross’ 1996 performance. She was lowered to the stage by a crane of sparklers, hundreds of dancers spelled out her name on the field, she made three costume changes and she left via helicopter.,“The show just makes me smile,” said The Weeknd.,The Weeknd broke though into mainstream with his smash hit “Can’t Feel My Face” that was featured on his second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” which topped the Billboard 200 in 2015 and won a Grammy. He’s had three other chart-topping albums including his recent offering “After Hours,” which was released in March.,Last year, The Weeknd’s hit single “Blinding Lights” became his fifth song to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He’s also won Grammys for his album “Starboy” and the song “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey).”,Roc Nation and Emmy-nominated producer Jesse Collins will serve as co-executive producers of the halftime show. The game and halftime show will air live on CBS.,Collins said he wants to put on a live halftime show that is “unique and reflects the creativity all of us bring to the process to help translate The Weeknd’s unparalleled vision.”,The Weeknd, whose real name is, Abel Tesfaye, joins a list of celebrated musicians who have played during Super Bowl halftime shows, including Madonna, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Katy Perry, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and last year’s duo of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.last_img read more

Obama addresses students

January 26, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgPresident Barack Obama urged young people to stay involved in the political process Monday during a conference call with student journalists. “You’ve got to take the time to find out where does your congressional candidate stand on various issues, where does your Senate candidate stand on various issues and make an educated decision and participate in this process — because democracy is never a one-and-done proposition,” Obama said. “It’s something that requires sustained engagement and sustained involvement. And I just want to remind everybody of that.” The Observer was one of many student publications to participate in the conference call, which Obama called in order to discuss issues facing students and other young Americans. Obama began by outlining his administration’s plans to improve higher education. He listed three goals, which are to make college more affordable, to ensure higher education prepares students to enter the workforce and to encourage students to finish college. “The key here is that we want to open the doors of our colleges and universities to more people so they can learn, they can graduate and they can succeed in life,” Obama said. Obama’s message was one of optimism, and he expressed confidence that students would be able to find jobs upon graduation. “Things are real tough for young people right now,” he said. “But having said that, if you are getting a college degree, if you’ve got skills in math and science or good, sound communication skills, there are still jobs out there even in a tough environment.” And while improving the economy should help stop the inflation of college costs, a certain amount of the burden lies on universities themselves, Obama said. “You guys have to be good consumers, and your parents have to be good consumers, and we’ve got to offer you more information,” he said. “You should know where your tuition is going. There should be a pie chart at every university that says, out of every dollar you spend in tuition, here’s where your money is going.” The conference call was part of a whole day in which the administration addressed the issue of education at different levels. Monday morning, Obama appeared on NBC’s “Today” show to talk about public education reform in elementary and secondary schools. Monday afternoon, Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, spoke at NBC’s “Education Nation” summit in New York City, where she emphasized the importance of community colleges in higher education. The conference call also came at the beginning of a national tour of colleges for Obama and Biden. Obama is scheduled to speak at a rally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Tuesday, and Biden is scheduled to speak at Penn State Tuesday. Obama said the goal of those visits is to underscore the importance of young voters in the Nov. 2 midterm elections. “You can’t sit it out,” Obama said. “You can’t suddenly just check in once every 10 years or so, on an exciting presidential election, and then not pay attention during big midterm elections where we’ve got a real big choice between Democrats and Republicans.”last_img read more

Speaker discusses professional women

January 26, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgIn Carroll Auditorium on Tuesday evening, Kathy Ameche closed the fourth Saint Mary’s Bold Beauty Conference with a keynote address on the experience of women in the workplace. Ameche has authored a book, designed a line of travel gear for women and worked in the professional world. Ameche served as an accountant at Deloitte and a consultant and chief information officer at Tribune Company. After an introduction from senior and event coordinator JoLynn Williams, Ameche immediately engaged the audience in introductions. “Everyone stand up, turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself,” she said.Ameche observed the greetings exchanged in the audience and said they would not all be appropriate in the professional world.   “I saw some handshakes and hugging, but we won’t be doing that in the corporate world,” she said.   She advised students to give their first job a fair chance. “The most important thing is that you got your first job,” she said. “Don’t write it off if you don’t like it right away. Use the three-strikes-you’re-out rule.” Ameche also said professional women should stay up-to-date with companies on Google Alerts, network and dress for success. Ameche focused on the importance of appearance in the professional world, a topic addressed in the Bold Beauty Conference. She emphasized researching a company’s dress policy and even the type of corporate culture. If the company is more conservative, avoid wearing low-cut blouses and open-toed shoes, she said. Although Ameche said dressing professionally is important, women in the workforce should not worry about physical beauty affecting their work.   “Don’t get hung up on beauty,” she said. “I do look at appearance, but not beauty.” Ameche said double standards still exist for professional women.   “We [women] have to play the game a little [in order to be successful],” she said. However, Ameche stressed the importance of not simply ignoring these double standards currently in place but knowing how and when to resist them, which was a theme of the Bold Beauty Conference. Senior Rebecca Jones said she appreciated Ameche’s advice. “As a graduating senior who is currently job searching, her initial advice concerning first impressions and how something as simple as a handshake can be meaningful is significant to me,” Jones said. Ameche ended her talk with some words of inspiration. “You have a lot to give and a lot to offer,” she said, “Don’t forget that.”last_img read more

It never rained

January 26, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgROCKPORT, Mass. – Last January, I got a phone call from my mom, Jane, that I never could have expected. “Meghan, how do I ask a guy if he wants to go on a date?” My parents got divorced eight years ago, but never had my mom liked a guy enough to make the first move – that is, until David came along. David is a tall, sweet, handsome father from the heart of Revere, Mass. His daughter attended the same dance school as my sister, Erin, and my mom noticed how gentle and attentive David was with his three kids whenever she went to pick up Erin after class. “How do I let him know that I’m interested?” Welcome to the club, Mom. “Ask him out!” I suggested. So, she did. They got coffee, started to date, fell in love and were engaged within a year. I take all the credit. And this weekend, my mom and David finally made it official. After my boyfriend, Anthony, and I landed in Boston, we set straight to work. We only had three days to pull off the outdoor wedding from scratch. After spending Friday and Saturday crossing things off our checklists and reuniting with family members, the big day finally arrived. The wedding was held at The Yankee Clipper Inn in Rockport, Mass. It’s a colorful port town near Gloucester, the city known for “The Perfect Storm.” It was a foggy, cool day and the Clipper is an eight-bedroom inn perched right on the harbor’s rocky shore. The inn was like something on a postcard. I, however, felt as if the low-hanging clouds, at any moment, would condense into rain and ruin the outdoor ceremony. The happy couple was supposed to say their vows right on the edge of the lawn, under an arch that Anthony and I had decorated. I prayed that the downpour would hold off for at least a little while. “It’s not going to rain,” Anthony reassured me. “At least just wait until the ceremony is over,” I bargained with the elements. “Just until we can get under the tents.” This was my J-Lo “Wedding Planner” dream come true, except I was also a co-maid of honor with my sister, and I had the best team I could have asked for. They say it takes a village, but they hadn’t seen my family and friends in action yet. We stowed the bride in her room to get ready, hung the garland, laid out the tablecloths, set up the dance floor, moved in the band, put the finishing touches on the flowers and directed guests to their seats. The patio and tables were covered in hydrangeas spray-painted the right color at the last minute by my brilliant friend and florist, who pulled an all-nighter to finish his job at the bakery and still arrange all our flowers and bouquets. Our neighbor of 18 years made a gorgeous, three-tiered chocolate and buttercream frosting cake covered in icing seashells. My sister’s prom date brought his band to serenade us through the night, her French teacher took professional photos and a family from church served as the catering company. The bridesmaids, my sister and my future stepsisters, all wore soft pink and sea green dresses they picked out themselves, while my future stepbrother and his dad wore suits and white roses for boutonnières. Most importantly of all, my mom positively glowed in a tea-length white frock with sheer polka-dotted tulle. Everything and everyone came together perfectly. The band was warming up, my mother was blushing, I had the wedding ring and I was ready to finally call David, Dan, Analise and Ysabelle my family. My mom only looked like she was going to cry once, while her brother walked her down the aisle. But she made it through the vows, and I could see love made perfect in David’s eyes as he promised himself to my mother. The rest of the night was a blur. Relieved and ecstatic, we partied until the sun went down. I couldn’t thank everyone enough for how much they did for my mom and David. As crazy and hectic these past few months have been coordinating and planning and re-checking all the lists and reservations, each small contribution that everyone gave made this wedding all the more meaningful to my mom and our new family. Even though I had to fly back to Chicago before the week-long family camping trip to Maine, I feel rejuvenated and hopeful. Living in South Bend, so far from my mom and sister, has been difficult, but now I know that they’re all together, watching over each other and having way too much fun without me. This weekend was life-changing, beautiful and insane. And it never rained.  Contact Meghan Thomassen at mthomass@nd.edu,Last January, I got a phone call from my mom, Jane, that I never could have expected. “Meghan, how do I ask a guy if he wants to go on a date?” My parents got divorced eight years ago, but never had my mom liked a guy enough to make the first move – that is, until David came along. David is a tall, sweet, handsome father from the heart of Revere, Mass. His daughter attended the same dance school as my sister, Erin, and my mom noticed how gentle and attentive David was with his three kids whenever she went to pick up Erin after class. “How do I let him know that I’m interested?” Welcome to the club, Mom. “Ask him out!” I suggested. So, she did. They got coffee, started to date, fell in love and were engaged within a year. I take all the credit. And this weekend, my mom and David finally made it official. After my boyfriend, Anthony, and I landed in Boston, we set straight to work. We only had three days to pull off the outdoor wedding from scratch. After spending Friday and Saturday crossing things off our checklists and reuniting with family members, the big day finally arrived. The wedding was held at The Yankee Clipper Inn in Rockport, Mass. It’s a colorful port town near Gloucester, the city known for “The Perfect Storm.” It was a foggy, cool day and the Clipper is an eight-bedroom inn perched right on the harbor’s rocky shore. The inn was like something on a postcard. I, however, felt as if the low-hanging clouds, at any moment, would condense into rain and ruin the outdoor ceremony. The happy couple was supposed to say their vows right on the edge of the lawn, under an arch that Anthony and I had decorated. I prayed that the downpour would hold off for at least a little while. “It’s not going to rain,” Anthony reassured me. “At least just wait until the ceremony is over,” I bargained with the elements. “Just until we can get under the tents.” This was my J-Lo “Wedding Planner” dream come true, except I was also a co-maid of honor with my sister, and I had the best team I could have asked for. They say it takes a village, but they hadn’t seen my family and friends in action yet. We stowed the bride in her room to get ready, hung the garland, laid out the tablecloths, set up the dance floor, moved in the band, put the finishing touches on the flowers and directed guests to their seats. The patio and tables were covered in hydrangeas spray-painted the right color at the last minute by my brilliant friend and florist, who pulled an all-nighter to finish his job at the bakery and still arrange all our flowers and bouquets. Our neighbor of 18 years made a gorgeous, three-tiered chocolate and buttercream frosting cake covered in icing seashells. My sister’s prom date brought his band to serenade us through the night, her French teacher took professional photos and a family from church served as the catering company. The bridesmaids, my sister and my future stepsisters, all wore soft pink and sea green dresses they picked out themselves, while my future stepbrother and his dad wore suits and white roses for boutonnières. Most importantly of all, my mom positively glowed in a tea-length white frock with sheer polka-dotted tulle. Everything and everyone came together perfectly. The band was warming up, my mother was blushing, I had the wedding ring and I was ready to finally call David, Dan, Analise and Ysabelle my family. My mom only looked like she was going to cry once, while her brother walked her down the aisle. But she made it through the vows, and I could see love made perfect in David’s eyes as he promised himself to my mother. The rest of the night was a blur. Relieved and ecstatic, we partied until the sun went down. I couldn’t thank everyone enough for how much they did for my mom and David. As crazy and hectic these past few months have been coordinating and planning and re-checking all the lists and reservations, each small contribution that everyone gave made this wedding all the more meaningful to my mom and our new family. Even though I had to fly back to Chicago before the week-long family camping trip to Maine, I feel rejuvenated and hopeful. Living in South Bend, so far from my mom and sister, has been difficult, but now I know that they’re all together, watching over each other and having way too much fun without me. This weekend was life changing, beautiful and insane. And it never rained.last_img read more

Ecologist studies Great Lakes

January 26, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgNotre Dame research assistant professor Sheila Christopher earned a $155,358 grant from the University of Michigan Water Center, which focuses on environmental issues specific to the Great Lakes, to study environmental solutions in Lake Erie. Christopher, who works with Notre Dame’s Environmental Change Initiative (ECI), said her research will focus on creating a computer model to represent the effectiveness of two specific farmland-drainage management practices, the two-stage ditch process and the tile drain management process, to combat fertilizer runoff into the Great Lakes, which supply 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. “The goal would be to identify if these new and innovative management practices can help reduce nutrient pollution at a large scale, as compared to more traditional practices,” Christopher said. “And also by using this watershed scale [computer] model … we’ll be able to transfer the technology to other research groups, not only in the Great Lakes, but other watersheds around the country and even the world.” These management processes relate to the use of fertilizer in farming and the way farmers deal with excess fertilizer, Christopher said. Biology professor Jennifer Tank, who directs the ECI, saidsuch runoff fertilizer could greatly affect the aquatic ecosystem. “In order to have productive agriculture, we need to apply fertilizer, and oftentimes we apply too much fertilize,” Tank said.  “That ends up in our streams and rivers, and the streams and rivers transport those excess nutrients downstream, often to sensitive water bodies.” Researchers address the problem of nutrient pollution on a smaller scale by looking at alternative ways of managing the land, according to Tank. “We’ve been working on different management strategies and testing out different management practices that might reduce the impact of agricultural fertilizers,” Tank said. However, this small-scale research fails to address bigger problems like those in the Great Lakes, so Christopher stepped in, Tank said. “We hired Christopher as a research assistant professor … to take the field data that we’ve been collecting and the positive results that we’ve been getting at the smaller spatial scale … and then scale that up to whole water shed,” Tank said. “And then her goal is to put that into a water shed model to see if we can impact or improve the state of the Great Lakes Tributary.” While nutrient pollution occurs all over the world, this grant focuses specifically on the impact on the Great Lakes, according to Christopher. “The Great Lakes are used for tourism, for drinking water, [and] for fisheries, and we need to maintain and keep these lakes healthy. In order to do that, we have to look upstream,” Christopher said. The ECI brings together the efforts of about 40 different Notre Dame faculty members from several different disciplines to focus on issues regarding environmental change, Tank said. “The three areas that the Environmental Change Initiative focuses on is the impact of climate change on the environment, the impact of invasive species on the environment, and the impact of land use on the environment, mainly focused around fresh water,” Tank said. “The [Environmental Change Initiative] provides this umbrella initiative or organization that organizes faculty around these grand environmental challenges that really are facing society as a whole.” Contact Katie Sisk at csisk1@nd.edulast_img read more

SMC clubhouse event promote sustainable arts

January 26, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgSaint Mary’s art department featured different forms of social media through a variety of media arrangements Friday at The Sustainable Arts Café and Market at Dalloway’s Clubhouse. Dr. Adrienne Lyles Chockley, social justice program coordinator at Saint Mary’s, said when we think of social justice, art, poetry and music are not usually the first forms of expression to come to mind, but these mediums were at the forefront of last Friday’s event. “I wanted to have an installation of artworks created by students, and then [art professor] Julie [Tourtillotte] came up with the idea of having students sell their goods,” Chockley said. “Then the students chose to have all proceeds going to St. Margaret’s House, so it’s another way of promoting social justice by providing funding for a really important social program in downtown South Bend.” All of the featured media, from the artwork to the poetry, had an underlying theme of social justice, including the selection of free organic snacks and fair trade coffee and tea, Tourtillotte said. “You’re making sure that the coffee was produced in ways that were environmentally sound and also fair in terms of the people working are fairly treated both in terms of their wages and in terms of the kind of chemicals they might be exposed to in producing those products,” Tourtillotte said. Student-created pieces such as eco-dyed scarves, notecards and recycled denim paper were all made in Tourtillotte’s “Sustainable Textiles” course. She said Selected pieces were all on display for show and for purchase. “Everything from A-Z is the student’s work,” Tourtillotte said  “They fashioned everything really from scratch.”   The student-made pieces allowed the Café to increase awareness about the justice behind production of the things we consume, Chockley said.   “People didn’t know all these things were available on campus,” Chockely said. ” Just knowing you have a choice is an important issue to be raised today. Contact Emilie Kefalas at ekefal01@saintmarys.edu.last_img read more

ND creates new study abroad program

January 26, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgA new study abroad program at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England will offer juniors majoring in English and American Studies an immersive experience in an English-speaking country, Notre Dame International (NDI) associate director David Younger said.Sara Shoemake | The Observer Younger said the study abroad program is part of an exchange agreement between Notre Dame and UEA. He said the first UEA student is currently studying on Notre Dame’s campus this semester, and the first Notre Dame student will travel to Norwich in the spring.Younger said the University began working to establish the program in the spring of 2013, after an American Studies professor at UEA contacted the chairs of the English and American Studies departments. For the next three years, Younger said, each university will send a maximum of two students to the other school per semester — two for the full year or two students for the first semester and two for the second.“If the program [is] successful and interest in the program extends beyond these two disciplines, the program could expand to other areas in the future,” Younger said.Professor of English Valerie Sayers, who headed the Department of English when the program was established, said the department took an interest in partnering with UEA because the Norwich program would give English students the opportunity to experience the literary life of the city.“[The Department of] English was particularly interested in the wonderful history of creative writing at UEA, … the richness of their literature offerings and the possibilities for students who wanted to experience England outside of London and without the full support system of Notre Dame London,” Sayers said.Annie Coleman, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of American Studies, said the Norwich program would give American Studies students the ability to work towards their degree in an English-speaking country and at a university with a strong American Studies program.“In the past it’s been Dublin, primarily, and the program in Washington, D.C., where students in American Studies have been able to take classes for the major,” Coleman said. “It’s nice that there will be another program where they can do that.”Unlike the larger London program, where Notre Dame students all live in the same building, students in Norwich will live in dormitories with UEA students, according to the NDI website. Younger said this living situation contributes to the immersive experience of the program.“Having that direct connection to student life and the university will undoubtedly enhance the study abroad experience through cultural immersion,” Younger said. “Similar to ND and many other universities, the dormitories are not simply places where students sleep at night, but also serve as gathering places for study and recreation.”Sayers said this cultural immersion will extend to life in the city.“Students will be studying, working and living outside the communities of ND students who go to London and Dublin, so it’s definitely a program for independent and creative spirits who would like to immerse themselves in a side of the U.K. they might not otherwise experience so richly,” she said.According to the NDI website, UEA’s American Studies department ranks in the top three on several lists and surveys in the U.K., and the university has “a special reputation in creative writing.”Norwich, a city of 215,000 near the English coast, is a center of arts and culture, with several music and literary festivals throughout the year, the website said. According to the UEA creative writing program’s website, Norwich is the only UNESCO City of Literature in England.Coleman said American Studies students in particular will be able to study the United States from an outside view and contribute their own perspectives to discussions in the U.K.“When you’re not in the United States, but you’re thinking about the United States, the field of American Studies allows you an interdisciplinary look at a lot of different kinds of things — politics, society, culture, art, institutions, history,” she said. “… Our students have a lot to add to the students in Norwich. Having Notre Dame students represent us and be able to engage in these conversations from different perspectives is really valuable for both ends, which is why the exchange is going to be so great.”Tags: East Anglia, Norwich, Notre Dame International, study abroad, United Kingdomlast_img read more

Scholar examines religious freedom in light of HHS mandate

January 26, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgAt an event hosted by Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry on Wednesday evening, Margaret Harper McCarthy from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America spoke about contraception and religious freedom in light of the HHS mandate. The event, titled “The Contraceptive Mandate: What do Catholics Want When They Ask for Religious Freedom,” kicked off this semester’s “Theology On Fire” speaker series.McCarthy, an assistant professor of theology at Catholic University, focused her talk on contraception, noting that many who have spoken about the issue of religious freedom in the context of the HHS mandate have focused their attentions on the right to religious freedom and less on the topic of contraception itself.“The assumption is you cannot win if you talk about contraception,” McCarthy said. “It’s often said that the issue is not about contraception. It’s just about religious freedom.”She said focusing on religious freedom is a common strategy used to convince others that a company should not have to provide contraception benefits to its employees. McCarthy said contraception has become an issue that cannot be discussed in the public realm.According to the mandate, religious freedom allows for religious practice in private settings, such ceremonies in church and temples, McCarthy said. However, the mandate’s definition of religious freedom would restrict religious practices in a public setting, such as schools, universities, and businesses.“[Religious freedom] has just been relegated to a private faith, faith without public witness, a faith without works,” she said. McCarthy denied this definition and redefined it.“Religious Freedom is tied to an obligation to speak the truth and carry it into the world,” McCarthy said.Kaitie Maierhofer, a senior and ministry assistant in McCandless Hall, said attended previous “Theology on Fire” sessions and came to McCarthy’s speech Wednesday to learn more about the issue.“I use [these Theology on Fire sessions] more as information for me,” Maierhofer said. “Growing up, I was always only around one side of the argument or the issue wasn’t discussed at all and I had no idea there was an issue in the first place.Tags: Catholic Social Teaching, Contraception, HHS Mandate, theology on firelast_img read more

Autism conference examines therapy method

January 26, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgThe Special Friends Club of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s — a student group that pairs students with children in the South Bend community who are affected by autism spectrum disorders in the hopes of building friendships — hosted the sixth annual Notre Dame Autism Conference on Tuesday.Junior Allison Baglini, president of the Special Friends Club, said the group chose the keynote speaker for their first conference after a two-year hiatus to focus the conference on applied behavior analysis (ABA).“Another goal of our club is to increase education and awareness of autism and autism research, and this year’s conference is about applied behavior analysis,” she said. “ … It’s a great opportunity to reflect on the fact that there are many different approaches to intervention in the lives of individuals with autism, and that’s what I hope people take from it — just to think a little bit more about different approaches towards intervention.”The club chose ABA as the topic for the conference to explore due to its relevance, as well as interest from parents of children involved with the club who may be searching for effective methods of intervention, Baglini said.The conference consisted of a lecture aimed at students, faculty and staff entitled “Working Towards a Progressive Model of ABA,” and a family workshop entitled “Making Meaningful Differences Through ABA.”Keynote speaker Justin Leaf, director of research at the Autism Partnership Foundation, said the Autism Partnership Foundation provides intervention assistance to people affected by autism. This disorder affects one in every 68 children, a number that has objectively risen, Leaf said.Though there are hundreds of approaches to improving the lives of those with autism, Leaf said he, along with The Autism Foundation, endorses ABA, an approach developed by psychologist Edward Thorndike in the 19th century and based on behaviorism.In other words, Leaf said, ABA is “simply good teaching,” which involves providing motivation, clear feedback and assistance when necessary, but building independence at the same time.Leaf said he has seen positive results from the ABA method in his own clinic. When using the ABA method, he said, 70 percent of the children who received intensive ABA intervention are now considered to meet the best outcome according to clinical data.“We know that when individuals receive quality intervention they can make really good improvements, life altering changes for the better,” he said.However, Leaf said, ABA has gained a negative reputation among those who have seen it implemented in incorrect forms, including an overly rigid curriculum, the use of food as reinforcement and other characteristics that Leaf deemed “bad ABA.”Components of the progressive model Leaf has seen success with include a more structured, yet flexible approach that allows parents and teachers to make in-the-moment decisions regarding reactions to their child’s behavior, he said. This quality ABA is conducted intensively in a natural setting that teaches a child to handle distractions, with a curriculum that does not necessarily have to adhere to rigid protocols.Leaf voiced some concerns about inadequate training of instructors of people with autism, and said staff members should be fun, engaging, receptive to feedback and professional. The majority of instructors are certified using the Routines-Based Interview (RBI) technique, which Leaf said he believes involves a smaller amount of training than should be required.“There’s no research that shows 40 hours is enough,” he said. “For me it takes years and years of training to be proficient at it … the certificate means you are only minimally qualified.”To combat this issue, Leaf said he promoted time training academies, such as the Center for Applied Behavioral Analysis (CABA), which provides intensive quality ABA training to individuals.“We need people who are investing in training and realize investing in our professionals is the way to go,” he said. “Our approach is based on clinical judgment. Our approach is not rigid protocols, our approach is to have flexibility to adapt and change based on the needs of the child and the environment which they’re in.”Leaf warned against falling for the resurgence of “social thinking” — a procedure based on the idea that change in thought will force a change in behavior — and other intervention techniques that have little to no scientific research to back up their claims of success. Warning signs of such procedures include the reliance on anecdotal evidence to prove success, Leaf said.“I want you to behave differently if you’re in the field,” he said. “I want you to do that progressive model, I want you implement letting teachers make clinical judgments and make their own decisions, as opposed to following rigid protocols. And that’s my hope for the field.”In his second talk aimed at parents of children on the autism spectrum, Leaf once again discussed the same ABA techniques, and provided additional information that would assist a parent in using the methods in their home. In addition to implementing clinical judgment, curriculum that teaches applicable skills and quality staff, Leaf urged parents to keep high hopes for their children affected by disorders on the autism spectrum.“We are in this field to make meaningful differences, and parents, you should have high hopes and professionals, you should have high hopes,” he said. “We have to be like the little engine that could, we have to be like my idol from Notre Dame, Rudy … or Rocky or Helen Keller. It’s having high hopes. These are the components of quality ABA to me, and when we implement these components we get good quality outcomes.”Tags: applied behavior analysis, Autism, Notre Dame Autism Conference, Special Friends Club of Notre Dame and St. Mary’slast_img read more