Supporting Independence at Work and Home: Strategies for Job Coaches and Residential Staff

Supporting Independence at Work and Home:
Strategies for Job Coaches and Residential Staff

Presenters: Catherine Faherty and Ron Larsen


Below is the schedule for a one day workshop that Ron and Catherine are currently offering.  If interested in this workshop or any talks/workshops that fit your particular needs, contact Ron at or 1-888-268-6366.

8:00     Arrive, Registration, Coffee, Tea, light breakfast items

8:45     Introductions and The Day's Schedule

9:00     Presentation – Autistic Learning Styles

10:30   Break

10:45   Presentation - Independence: The Why in Pre-school to the What in the Work Environment

12:00   Lunch

1:00     Presentation – Schedules, Work Systems and Visual Aids:  More on Independent Functioning - “How to remove ourselves from the equation”

2:00     Small Group Activity – Discuss and determine examples of what would be needed to promote independence based on the specific characteristics of the individual indicated in each scenario. Sketch/draw examples of how to structure one or two independent tasks, create a schedule, work system and/or visual aids for the individual, based on the scenario you are assigned.  Ron and Catherine will individually consult and support the groups as they discuss and determine the specifics.

3:00     Break

3:15     Examples of Application of Visual Structure in a Group Home Setting

4:00     Wrap up, Question and Answer Questions


Ron and Catherine's Bios

Ron Larsen worked as a Psycho educational Therapist with the North Carolina University's TEACCH Program from 1991 until 2000 in Asheville, NC.  During that time his work involved direct intervention with autistic children and adults, parent/teacher consultations, child/adolescent/adult evaluations and professional presentations and trainings.  During the mid nineties, while working one-on-one sessions with young autistic children, Ron developed the design for ShoeboxTasks, activities that engaged their interest and promoted independence and success.  Encouraged by colleagues within the TEACCH program, Ron and his wife Linda spent the next few years researching materials and resources before putting together the first sixteen ShoeboxTasks  activities later to be called the “Basic Curriculum.”

The business, named Centering on Children, Inc., began in their converted garage where a young man on the autism spectrum was hired with his coach to assemble and package the activities.  As the ShoeboxTasks business grew, Ron left TEACCH, after spending the last two years as head teacher in a model-structured pre-school class.  Outgrowing the garage, the business relocated to downtown Asheville and a few years later, to its current location in a business park alongside the French Broad River.

There are currently 37 ShoeboxTasks available.  They are sold worldwide to families, therapists and schools. The ShoeboxTasks Vocational Workshop employs three autistic adults who do light manufacturing and packaging.  They are valued employees who are critical to the success of the business.  In addition to Shoeboxtasks, the ShoeboxTasks Handbook: Activities Designed with Success in Mind, the ShoeboxTasks Educational CD, and a set of FolderTasks are available for purchase.

Ron and Linda, along with their son Adam Larsen, produced a documentary that describes autism from the perspective of individuals on the spectrum entitled Neurotypical.  The Point of View series on PBS aired Neurotypical during the summer of 2013 to widespread critical acclaim from film critics, those on the spectrum and neurotypicals alike.

Catherine Faherty, one of the pioneers in the University of North Carolina’s TEACCH Program, first created a model TEACCH classroom in the mid-1980’s, and has served individuals with autism, their families, and professionals, as a TEACCH autism specialist and teacher trainer from 1990 to 2012. She has written training manuals, including the TEACCH Structured Teaching Self-Assessment: Guides to Individualizing the Schedule and Work System. Catherine’s first groundbreaking book Asperger’s…What Does It Mean To Me? promotes self-understanding for children and youth, encouraging mutual understanding within their families, schools, and communities.

Her book, Understanding Death and Illness and What They Teach About Life, was awarded The 2009 Book of the Year by the Autism Society of America, is an interactive guide for individuals with ASD and their loved ones. In her book, Communication: What Does It Mean To Me? she teaches how to avoid misunderstanding and improve communication between spectrum and non-spectrum communication partners. Catherine is one of five authorized trainers of Social StoriesTM, worldwide.

Visit to learn more about her services and books; download articles for parents and teachers with practical strategies; read her point of view; and learn about her exciting new offering, TAG: The Autism Gathering and its upcoming April 2013 retreat/workshop for autistic adults, near Asheville, North Carolina.

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