Master Trainer Training Conference April 26-27, 2014 in Central Indiana

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Saved By Typing, with seed-grant support from Answers for Autism, is presenting a Master Trainer Training Conference in Central Indiana:

Date: April 26 – 27, 2014

Time: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM each day

Location: Hamilton South Eastern High School at 13910 East 126th St, Fishers, Indiana 46037 (Google Maps opens in new window)

Cost: $250 for a single attendee, or $200 per attendee for groups of 3 or more that registers concurrently.

Click for answers to questions parents have about the conference.

About the Master Trainer Training Conference

This special event will bring Master Trainers recognized by the Institute on Communication and Inclusion at Syracuse University, to work with nonverbal autistic Hoosiers who type, their families, staff and doctors. Trainers will include adult autistic typer Tracy Thresher and his support aide, who starred in the movie Wretches and Jabberers.

They will train everyone in one-on-one and group environments at small tables using best typing practices to make progress toward independence of typing communication. Each typer’s body style and physical control is different. This largely ignored group reminds us daily of their competence and need for well-trained support.

The project will benefit at least 15 known typers in Central Indiana from Monroe, Hamilton, Marion, Hendricks and Boone Counties. We also hope to have a person who has supported Indiana typers for over 20 years attain the Master Trainer Award by Syracuse University’s Institute on Communication and Inclusion. Indiana and this population are desperately in need of a Master Trainer for the nonverbal autism population.



At least 15 supported typers live in Indiana, everyone in their support environment, and countless others by video staff training need and will benefit from this training. Most of each typer’s support people, including family, are untrained or inadequately trained to recognize the typer’s voice and support posture, focus, and fading to independence.

Typers sometimes have no support to communicate for days, were considered completely incompetent for most of their lives, and are still regarded as less than intelligent by many who judge by outward appearance. Even where medical needs are involved, a typer’s support is often highly inadequate. Yet, most of these Hoosier typers have demonstrated remarkable insight, intelligence, and unique perspectives.

Many typers, parents and support staff yearn to travel to Syracuse University in New York, where the Institute for Inclusion and Communication provides world-class best training for supported typing. The cost is too great for most. With your help, we would bring that training to Indiana, and grow our capabilities. We also need a Master Trainer to coach typer support persons in Indiana. Our training would help develop that.

The Autism Speaks website reminds us,
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=””]”… that as many as 25 percent of individuals living with autism spectrum disorders are non-verbal. That is, they cannot functionally communicate with others using their voice. Despite that substantial fraction, we still know very little about these individuals, their abilities, and their needs.”[/blockquote]

Thousands of nonverbal autistic are typing regularly throughout the world though they are unable to verbally communicate. Some do develop a voice. Most began with significant physical support. Professional expertise allowed them to move from questions about self-authorship to clear expression of self-authorship and even complete independence.

As with many Hoosiers now trapped in their bodies, the problem was never one of competence but of physical challenge. In addition to the great demand among those who already type, there is a substantial underserved population of nonverbal, competent Hoosiers silently praying to be discovered. When discovered, our typing community want to provide the most vibrant level of support possible.



Specific goals and objectives of the conference are:

  1. To instill best practices in as many typers and typing supporters as possible,
  2. To increase and enhance the quality, quantity, and independence of communication from our typer group,
  3. To benefit at least 15 known typers in Central Indiana from Monroe, Hamilton, Marion, and Hendricks Counties, and
  4. To have a person who has supported Indiana typers for over 20 years make substantial progress to attain the Master Trainer Award by Syracuse University.

We will measure our group’s practices before and at the end of our training, measure the quality, quantity and independence of communications 30 days after the event at our next monthly gathering of typers, and provide for typers who cannot afford even the most modest sums to be able to attend.

Syracuse University, in combination with several autistic typers who have moved to independence and the support persons who helped that happen, have a stringent protocol that allows us to measure form and results.

Best typing practices for typers include posture, focus, physical and eye mechanics, and confidence-building. Best support practices for families and aides include location of support, differences among typers, mechanics, emotional support and fading. These are what will be applied.

The community will have the joy of hearing from trapped persons who had been written off as incompetent and dead to real communion of thought and relationship. It will also have a reliable, enhanced support group for those with no voice to be able to be supported.


Project Design and Evaluation

Tracy Thresher

Tracy Thresher

Primary strategies for the conference include:

  1. Assessment with videos and questionnaires before attending by typers and support persons for determination of the best break out groups and support levels to serve all participants;
    Videotaping of the training and of demonstrations of best practices;
  2. Measurement of goals at the end of the training and 30 days later;
  3. Follow-up measurement after 6 months.

The training is scheduled for April 26 and 27, 2014. All typers have expressed an interest in attending. Family, aides, and medical personnel will have first priority. Evaluation plans are described in the primary strategies.

Three Master Trainers, including Tracy Thresher, star of Wretches and Jabberers and Harvey LaVoy, his support person, will train the typers, families and supporters for two full days.


  • By digital video files
  • By the typer’s communications, via website and Facebook.

We will share these with the service organizations who engage with this population as well as the schools, physicians and behavioral personnel. We will show them what is possible by sharing the videotapes and invite them to come and see for themselves, to share this with the parents, and to engage their own personnel in trainings.


Conference Financial Support Options

Option # 1: Consumer Investment Fund (CIF)
The Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities, through the Consumer Investment Fund (CIF), has made a commitment to invest resources in people with disabilities and family members to attend and participate in events that reflect the “community inclusion” mission of the Council.

Funds can be used for conferences/seminars that will enhance consumers’ knowledge about disability issues and citizen participation in the decisions that affect their lives, such as our Master Trainer Training Conference, and can be applied for by any organization or individuals. The Guidelines for Organizational Consumer Investment Fund Applicants memorandum describes the purpose, eligibility criteria and application process, including the forms needed to apply.

Applications should be submitted 5 weeks prior to the event, but part of that requires they be listed as a funding source on program/registration/etc. so would do sooner rather than later.

Download the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities Guidelines for Organizational Consumer Investment Fund Applicants. (PDF opens in new window)

Option # 2: Family Caregiver Training Funds (FCTF)

Registration for conference fees can also be paid with The Arc Family Caregiver Training Funds through the Waivers. Indiana’s Medicaid Waiver program provides that individuals receiving a Family Supports Waiver or Community Integration & Habilitation Waiver can spend up to $2,000 of their waiver budget per year for Family and Caregiver Training.

More information: The Arc of Indiana (website opens in new window)

These funds can be used to provide training and education to parents, family members, or non-paid caregivers in a variety of areas. Examples include workshops, conferences, marriage and family counseling, or how to develop an individualized support plan. Family and Caregiver Training funds can help families and caregivers better meet the needs of their loved one.

The Arc’s Family and Caregiver Training Services Program allows The Arc to pay for any upfront costs, and then seek Medicaid reimbursement, saving families the cost of out-of-pocket expenses.

Note: ARC charges a $50 administration fee to ensure compliance with the rules, if funds are used for Family Caregiver Training.

Download An Introduction to Indiana’s Medicaid Waiver Program for Home and Community Based Services. (PDF opens in new window)

To learn more, or to enroll in The Arc’s Family and Caregiver Training Services Program, call 317-977-2375 or 800-382-9100 or email

Note: If you would like to register for the conference before it sells out, you may pay by credit card to reserve your seat. If the funds come through to us before the training, we will happily credit the registration fee back your credit card. Think about anyone who works with your child doing this. If they will give it the time, there are ways to get much of this paid for.

Parents may want to first engage with Option # 1 so that support teams and family members can be trained from wherever they come from. With this information, and the relatively fast turnaround time that should be available, parents might get the advantage of the lower rates, without the use a lot of FCTF dollars, and get as many people into the training as possible.