Ideation Center

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Never Stop Learning.

Welcome to the Anne Carlsen Center’s Ideation Center! Here you will find the latest innovative tools, training and techniques to support special learners.

Marcy Szarkowski

Ideation Center

Ideation Center Rockstars

Questions about the resources available to you? Use our chat widget below or click the contact button to leave us a message.

Called to Serve

The Ideation Center team offers services to individuals with disabilities, organizations, schools and families in North Dakota and surrounding states.

We are committed to connecting people with the appropriate services and educational opportunities.

The overall impact of the Ideation Center at ACC is to first ensure that our staff are fully supported and empowered to carry out the mission and vision of ACC.

Services Include:

Anne Carlsen provides a thorough evaluation for families seeking to determine if their child meets the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. A team including, but not limited to: a pediatrician, behavioral support coordinator, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist, and a family support professional conduct the diagnostic evaluation in a clinical setting utilizing formal diagnostic assessment tools. We have a Systems Navigator who can provide information and connect families to services and programs help families with referrals to other services and programs.

Getting Started
Families can contact our Resource Center coordinator. She will ask you for basic information over the phone and will send you forms that need to be completed. We will request medical, educational and developmental information and any other information that is pertinent…the information is compiled, it is reviewed by our lead clinician. She will determine if the child meets criteria to be evaluated and determine if all of the required information is included. An autism screener needs to have been completed prior to the clinic.

Clinic Day
The clinics are held in Jamestown at the Anne Carlsen Center and typically last half of a day. Family input is part of the evaluation process. Family members are present during the evaluation to answer questions and offer insight. Video recording will be used throughout the course of the evaluation. The team reviews all available records (i.e., school, medical, therapy), completes interviews, completes ADOS-2 testing and observes your child as he/she is playing and communicating.

The pediatrician evaluates the child for medical concerns and rules out other potential diagnoses. The Behavior Supports Coordinator is responsible primarily for administering the standardized ADOS assessment tool. The speech language pathologist assesses the child’s speech language and communication skills. They may or may not do some formal language testing and provide informal observations during play.

The occupational therapist will conduct an informal motor assessment, looking at fine and gross motor skills. A sensory profile may be completed, if not done previously.

    • The team has gathered as much information as possible, we work together as a team to analyze the information and we then complete the DSM Checklist. This tool is used to summarize all the information that has been collected during the evaluation and is the final component in determining an Autism diagnosis.

This provides an opportunity for the child and their family to take a break for 60 to 90 minutes.

  • determination has been made, families are invited back in to meet with the team to discuss the results. An integrated final report is provided to the family within 3 weeks of the evaluation. Our clinics are held twice a month.

What is the ADOS-2?
ADOS-2 stands for Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule – Second Edition. The Anne Carlsen team uses this assessment as part of the Autism Diagnostic process. This assessment is a semi-structured, standardized assessment of communication, social interaction, play, and restricted and repetitive behaviors.

For young children, this assessment looks like the evaluator is “playing” with your child. For older children and young adults, this may look like a conversation with some different types of fun games and activities. It presents various activities that elicit behaviors directly related to a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) such as joint attention, eye contact, play, and language skills.

This isn’t the only “test” that is used to determine if your child has autism. It is helpful for us to consider the results of this assessment as part of the diagnostic process and when making treatment recommendations.

What is the DSM checklist?
DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Men¬tal Disorders is a handbook used widely by medical professionals in diagnosing and categorizing mental and developmental disorders. This manual was just updated to the fifth edition.


When considering Autism, the DSM V has two core areas:

1. Communication and Social Deficits
2. Fixed or Repetitive Behaviors

Skills under each of these areas are considered when considering the diagnosis of Autism. In addition, levels of severity are included:

1. Level 1 – requiring support
2. Level 2 – substantial support
3. Level 3 – very substantial support

The new DSM-V recognizes that people with autism have many of the same characteristics but they display them in varying degrees. Using the DSM V criteria, autism is not considered as a group of separate disorders, but rather it is reflected as a spectrum.

School personnel, families or other service providers may request a comprehensive assessment for several reasons. The goal of these assessments is to provide programming recommendations that may be specific or more holistic in nature. An outside perspective may be beneficial when developing a student or clients plan.

A multi-disciplinary team may include a behavioral specialist, speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, and special educator. An assistive technology professional or physical therapist may also provide additional support, if requested. While the team typically conducts comprehensive assessments in a natural environment, such as the school or home, they may also assess the individual in other environments as determined by the family, school or other provider and assessment team.

Hourly consulting services provide another level of follow up support to families and professionals. Often, additional assistance is needed in the areas of classroom management, visual supports, assistive technology equipment set-up, and environmental modifications. These services typically follow a comprehensive assessment to support implementation of recommendations.

GRASPs are vocational assessments completed in the individual’s home community. This assessment assists school personnel and adult service providers to implement a vocational program for individuals with disabilities (ages 16 years and up).

GRASP assessments also assist school instructors to meet transition requirements as outlined in IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). The evaluator completes an individual interest survey and assists the individual in job exploration. Areas assessed include, but are not limited to: dependability, job attitude, job effort, social skills, personal traits, etc. From the assessment results, vocational strengths and needs are determined and a list of recommendations is provided for use by the educational teams and adult providers.

What to expect:

  • Initial meeting: The evaluator will meet in the individual’s school/community location to conduct an interest inventory with the client, meet team members, and talk about the goals of the assessment. This is typically around 1 hour. The evaluator works with community businesses to secure up to four sites to conduct the assessment. The evaluator will send a schedule with meeting times and locations to the client and their team members for the assessment day.
  • Assessment day: The evaluator will meet the student/client and their support staff at each site. Assessment at each location is typically around one hour. The assessment usually takes up to one full day which includes a lunch break. The schedule times are flexible and dependent upon individualized needs.
  • xit Meeting: The evaluator will meet the student/client and their team members within ten business days, to go over report, recommendations and answer any questions.

The Systems Navigator is the source for individuals to get answers that are otherwise difficult to find. Supporting families to receive appropriate services and resources includes linking them to the right contacts and programs within ACC as well as to local providers and within their home community.

The Systems Navigator has built relationships with key parent agencies and other providers throughout the state in order to support and serve people in the manner most fitting to their specific situation.

Our Systems Navigator is a source for individuals to get answers that are otherwise difficult to find. Supporting families to receive appropriate services and resources will include linking them to the right contacts and programs within ACC as well as to local providers within their home community. By fostering relationships with key parent agencies and other providers throughout the state, the Systems Navigator will build a network of supports to serve people in the manner most fitting to their specific situation.

The Learning Academy department of The Resource Center at ACC offers professionals and families options for personal or professional development through a variety of training options. Past trainings have included the following:

Customized trainings are available on request.

Request Initiated Trainings provide specific school teams/groups and other providers with professional learning opportunities. The Resource Center at ACC will provide training sessions in the following areas: Family Support, Education, Occupational Therapy, Assistive Technology, Speech Therapy and Transition Planning. Training topics may include sensory integration, early childhood interventions, specific hardware/software training, and techniques for successful transition planning.

Conferences provide another avenue of learning for professionals, other service providers and families. In the past, we have offered conferences on Social Thinking, Autism, Sensory, Assistive Technology and Literacy instruction.

In addition to these services, the Resource Center is also responsible for the internal staff training and development of the 570+ employees.

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