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Detailed Conference Schedule

16 03 28 MN Autism Conf v4The Autism Society of Minnesota invites you to participate in the 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. During this event, we will join our voices as a passionate community to inspire learning, hope, and innovation. Here experts, parents, caregivers, educators, paraprofessionals, mental health professionals, service providers, and individuals on the spectrum will have a platform to connect, collaborate, advocate, and educate.

Conference participants will be issued certificates of attendance at the conference. AuSM has secured Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from the Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy, the Minnesota Board of Social Work, and the Minnesota Board of Psychology.


Audience-Specific Conference Session Attendance Planning Guides
Parents and Caregivers
Therapy Professionals
Transition-Age Individuals and Adults with Autism 

NEW in 2017: Because the loud noise of applause can be a challenge for those with sensory sensitivities, we are asking audience members to show their appreciation for conference speakers by using American Sign Language clap, which looks a little bit like jazz hands but is silent. We appreciate your understanding and your willingness to make this minor adjustment to help make the conference more inclusive for our community.

Sessions marked (*) are eligible for CEUs from the Minnesota Board of Social Work. Sessions marked (**) are eligible for CEUs from the Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy. Sessions marked (***) are eligible for CEUs from the Minnesota Board of Psychology.

(4/4/17) NOTE: Thursday, April 27 of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference is SOLD OUT as of April 4. We are no longer accepting Thursday full day or full conference registrations. Registrations are being accepted for Steve Silberman’s keynote on April 26, Kerry Magro’s keynote on April 27, Chris Ulmer’s keynote on April 28, Friday all day, and Saturday morning. We look forward to seeing you at this exciting event at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place at the end of April.

(3/29/17) NOTE: Temple Grandin’s keynote presentation on April 27 is SOLD OUT as of March 29. We are no longer accepting registrations for Dr. Grandin’s keynote presentation. Full conference and Thursday registrations purchased after March 29 will NOT include Dr. Grandin’s presentation, and registration fees have been reduced to reflect this fact. Thank you for your excitement for this year’s conference. We look forward to seeing you at the other information-packed conference sessions April 26-29 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

6-7 p.m. Registration and AuSM Bookstore Open

7-9 p.m. Keynote Presentation Sponsored by Minnesota Life College

Steve Silberman
Great Minds Don't Always Think Alike (***)
During this presentation, take a deep look at the hidden history of autism and the promise of a future in which everyone is given the support needed to reach maximum potential.


Steve Silberman is an award-winning science writer and author of the New York Times
best-selling NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, which unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who first became famous for discovering it, while also uncovering surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.

9-10 p.m. Steve Silberman Book Signing

Thursday, April 27, 2017

7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Registration, AuSM Bookstore, Exhibits Open

8:30-10:30 a.m. Keynote Presentation Sponsored by St. David's Center for Child & Family Development - SOLD OUT

Temple Grandin, PhD
Autism and My Path Through Life(*)(**)(***) - SOLD OUT
Dr. Grandin, one of the world’s most accomplished and well-known adults with autism, will talk about how her mind works, sharing her ability to “think in pictures”, which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. Her presentation topics will include sensory problems, how people with autism think, and careers.

RWTemplewebTemple Grandin, PhD, is a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University where she researches and teaches. Dr. Grandin’s popular books include Thinking in Pictures, Emergence Labeled Autistic, The Way I See It, and The Autistic Brain. Dr. Grandin is a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America. In 2010, Dr. Grandin was honored on Time Magazine’s list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” She was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

10:30 a.m. Break – AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open, Dr. Temple Grandin Book Signing in the AuSM Bookstore

11 a.m.-12 p.m. Breakout Sessions I

1. Neurotypical Syndrome 101: Jillian Nelson, Lucas Scott
Understand common traits and behaviors of neurotypicals (NT) and learn applicable strategies for successfully working with the NT population.

2. Understanding Executive Functioning(*)(**)(***): Amy Carrison, PsyD
Learn about the Barkley Deficits in Executive Functioning Scale (BDEFS). The scale defines "executive functioning" as self-regulation across time for the attainment of one’s goals (self-interests), often in the context of others. Review the five scales measured by BDEFS: Self Management to Time, Self Organization/Problem Solving, Self Restraint or Inhibition, Self-Motivation, Self Regulation of Emotions.

3. The Social Times: Using Systems, Narratives, and Fun to Teach Social Information(*)(**)(***): Kari Dunn Buron, MS
This presentation is based on the premise that challenging social problems are the natural consequences of a developmental issue, therefore best addressed through the teaching and practice of specific skills. The Social Times Curriculum will be used to illustrate the use of systems and narratives to teach these skills.

4. Alexithymia and ASD: Eric Ringgenberg, BS
Alexithymia is a sub-clinical construct related to difficulty identifying and describing emotions. Recent research has shown that while nearly half of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have co-occurring alexithymia, the two are separate but related conditions, impacting assessment and treatment of ASD.

12-1 p.m. Lunch – AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open

1-2 p.m. Breakout Sessions II

1. Circles of Comfort: A Framework to Support Anxiety in ASD(*)(**)(***): Connie Persike, MS, SLP-CCC; Jessica Nichols, BA
Students with autism are at a higher risk for developing anxiety disorders. Learn about theories explaining why there is an increased prevalence. Through real world examples, learn how to proactively support students experiencing anxiety.

2. The Imagery-Language Connection: Improving Comprehension for Children with Autism: Dana Kernik
Imagery is a primary factor in cognition, word reading, and language comprehension. Instruction to develop the interplay between imagery and language aligns with Dual Coding Theory. Neurological and behavioral research validates the imagery-language connection resulting in improvements in comprehension, and in the interconnectivity of specific brain areas in children with ASD.

3. From Chaos to Calm: Yoga-Based Interventions for Peace(**)(***): Chrissy Mignogna, RYT
Calm the chaos with interventions for self-regulation, de-escalation, focusing, sleep, and overall well-being. Use Yoga Calm’s social/emotional activities; emotional guidance; and mind/body interventions to cultivate a more peaceful home. Using lecture, hands-on learning, reflection and discussion, learn self-regulation practices for the whole family.

4. Positive Parenting Strategies for Individuals with Autism(*)(**)(***): Mitch Lepicello, MSW, LICSW
Parents, care providers, teachers, and others who need a new perspective, gain new strategies, and solid “take-aways” for parenting and coaching young people, from elementary-age youth to young adults with autism. Assess your own ASD Parenting Wheel and leave the presentation with more than 10 parenting strategies and tools.

2 p.m. Break – AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open

2:30-3:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions III

1. Requests and Protests: Understanding Behavior as Communication(*)(**)(***): Glenis Benson, PhD
The inability to communicate conventionally, is often replaced by "behaviors". Children need a way to communicate functional needs. The form needs to change; the function is legitimate. Learn about functional assessments and subsequent strategies for replacement behaviors.

2. 8 Pillars of Parenting for Peace at Home(**): Samantha Moe, MA, SLP
Are you stressed out and exhausted? Discover why children with autism want things their way, and how to transform your home into an enjoyable space rather than a war zone. Receive solutions from the Mad2Glad Blueprint that are key to having a calmer, more cooperative child and restoring your sanity.

3. How Does Personality Type Affect Autism?: Nellie Moore, Curly Hair Project
Personality type affects a person's behavior and overall experience of life just as much as autism. Look at introversion and extroversion and the way each affects the way autism is expressed. The needs of an introvert versus an extrovert also will be different and so life will need to be managed differently.

6-7 p.m. Registration and AuSM Bookstore Open

7-9 p.m. Keynote Presentation 

Kerry Magro
I Used to Be Bullied for Having Autism: Here's When It Stopped(*)(**)(***)
Obtain a first-hand account of a young man on the autism spectrum who was bullied as he grew up. Magro will share the difficulties of having autism and not being able to express and defend himself. Learn about the causes and effects of bullying on our community and in our schools, as well as which behaviors are considered bullying, including in cyberspace. Self-advocates, families, and professionals, obtain a seven-step plan for taking a stand against bullying.

KerryMagrowebKerry Magro is an award-winning disability advocate, best-selling author of two books (Defining Autism From The Heart, Autism and Falling in Love); movie consultant, non-profit founder that has given more than 30 college scholarships to students with autism, and is a full-time employee at Autism Speaks. Magro was completely non-verbal until the age of 2 and was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old. He travels around the country as a motivational speaker and disability advocate. In the past six years, Magro has spoken at more than 600 events about his journey on the autism spectrum.

9-10 p.m. Kerry Magro Book Signing

Friday, April 28, 2017

7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Registration, AuSM Bookstore, Exhibits Open

8:30-10:30 a.m. Keynote Presentation Sponsored by Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes

Chris Ulmer
Unlocking Student Potential Through Empowerment
Learn to embrace each day in your classroom with fresh enthusiasm and a dedication to making it a great day for each student. Meet students where they are, empowering them and motivating them by acknowledging what makes them unique and appreciated. Ulmer will invite several local teachers to share how they make their learning environments positive and supportive.

ChrisUlmerwebChris Ulmer began his career as a special education teacher in Jacksonville, Fla. After spending three years with the same students, he observed a disconnect between his pupils and society. For this reason, Ulmer started Special Books by Special Kids (SBSK), a multi-media non-profit that is spearheading a worldwide acceptance movement. Chris dedicates his time to traveling around the world and teaching others about neurodiversity, performing speaking engagements, and interviewing neurodiverse individuals for feature on SBSK.

10:30 a.m. Break – AuSM Bookstore, Exhibits Open; Chris Ulmer Meet and Greet

11 a.m.-12 p.m. Breakout Sessions I

1. Engaging Students in Their Individual Education Programs: Allana Walsh, MA; Jessica Metke, MA
Greater student involvement in the Individual Education Program (IEP) and process has been advocated by many; however, teachers and families may be unaware of the materials that can assist them in preparing students for this involvement. Learn how to increase student self-advocacy and self-confidence by providing resources to engage students with a wide range of ability levels in their IEPs.

2. There’s a Crocodile in the Corner! Tales of Terror and Heroism in the Classroom: Erin Dilley-Jones, MSW, LISW
When our students become stressed or overwhelmed, they begin to use the “crocodile” part of their brain, making it difficult for them to process, plan, and reason. This frequently leads to meltdowns and other rough moments, turning our students into crocodiles. Learn about what causes crocodile brain, what to do when it happens, and how to prevent it.

3. Maximizing the Potential of Shared Book Reading with Young Children with Autism(*): Maria Lemler Hugh; Andrea Boh, MS, CCC-SLP; Kelsey Young, MA; Veronica Fleury, PhD, BCBA-D
Shared book reading is a developmentally appropriate activity that can support oral language and other early literacy skills. Many children with ASD require supports to actively participate in shared reading activities. Learn about strategies that can be implemented to build routines and support engagement during book reading.

4. Building Self-Determination: Adults with Autism Mentoring High School Students with Autism: Kelly Kautz, MS, ED; Dianna Michels, MS, ED
Learn about an innovative program in Minnetonka in which adults on the autism spectrum mentor high school students with autism to help develop the students’ self-determination skills. Mentors share their own experiences, challenges and strategies, and provide support for the students as the students navigate high school and beyond.

12-1 p.m. Lunch Sponsored by Autism Advocacy & Law Center, LLC - AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open 

1-2 p.m. Breakout Sessions II 

1. Using ABA to Improve Quality of Life in Home and School Environments(*)(**)(***): L. Lynn Stansberry-Brusnahan, PhD; Erin Farrell, MA, BCaBA; Hamad Al Arbi
Obtain a definition of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Learn examples of ABA principles that can be used in the home and school environment to improve quality of life.

2. Maximizing the Learning Potential(*)(**): Michael Zaccariello, PhD, LP; Katherine Nickels, MD
Learn about specific learning disorders and how epilepsy and medications affect learning. Understand how to work with schools to maximize learning potential.

3. Supporting the Sexual Health of People with Disabilities in the Classroom: Katie Thune, MA, ED
People with disabilities want friendships and relationships as much as anyone else. Unfortunately, there is a lack of appropriate education out there to support safe and healthy relationships. The rate of sexual assault is 40 percent higher for individuals with disabilities than for those without. We can work together to lower that statistic by supporting the sexual health for this population through conversations, education, and awareness.

4. Understanding the Parent Perspective(**)(***): Theresa Namie, Parent, ANSWER Founder
Communicate better by understanding the parent perspective when raising children and adults on the spectrum.

2 p.m. Break - AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open 

2:30-3:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions III 

1. Executive Functioning for Teachers: Amy Carrison, PsyD
Learn about the Barkley Deficits in Executive Functioning Scale (BDEFS). The scale defines "executive functioning" as self-regulation across time for the attainment of one’s goals (self-interests), often in the context of others. Review the five scales measured by BDEFS: Self Management to Time, Self Organization/Problem Solving, Self Restraint or Inhibition, Self-Motivation, Self Regulation of Emotions, and learn how BDEFS can assist in the classroom.

2. Success in Life Through Self-Management: Teaching Students to Manage Their Learning and Behavior: Michele Glynn, MA; Kathy Healy, MA
Self management interventions help students learn to independently regulate their behaviors and act appropriately in a variety of home, school and community situations. Self-management interventions can be used to target skills in all domains including language/communication; social; behavioral; and adaptive. The ability to use self-management techniques increases student independence and reduces student over reliance on adult supports. Receive examples and step-by-step procedures to implement this intervention with students.

3. A Collaborative Approach to Sensory Integration in Physical Education and Recreation Activities SESSION IS CANCELED

4. Career Planning and Person Centered Practices: Promoting Valued Social Roles(*): Joe Timmons, MSW; Rebecca Dosch-Brown
Adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum benefit from a strengths-based approach to career planning and work. Learn how person-centered thinking leads to valued social roles and to greater opportunity.

6-10 p.m. Oh, the AuSM Places We'll Go! AuSM Gala Celebration

Join AuSM for an exciting evening bringing the community together for fantastic food, drinks, games, prizes, a silent auction, and a celebration of those serving as true inspirations to individuals affected by autism. Click here for more information.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

7:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Registration, AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open 

8:30-9:30 a.m. Breakout Sessions I 

1. Developing Individualized, Thorough, and Effective Transition Plans: Maria McGinley, JD, MST
Learn about two transition-related scenarios. Analyze corresponding vocational assessments, discuss students’ strengths, areas of need, interests and preferences, and create an outline of an appropriate transition plan for each student.

2. Secure Your Own Mask First: Self-Care, a Necessary Part of Transition(**)(***): Nina Jonson, BS, ED; Gretchen Peck, BA
Parenting individuals with autism is exhilarating, life-changing ... and exhausting! Trying to fill every role takes a toll on one's well-being, relationships with others, and overall happiness in life. It is impossible to be the best parent when your cup is empty; self-care is vital to providing quality support. Re-imagine your identity as a happier, healthier parent.

3. In-Home Positive Behavior Support: Functional Communication for Children Via Telehealth(**)(***): Joe Reichle, PhD; Jessica Simacek, PhD; Adele Dimian, MA; Quannah Parker McGowan, PhD; Marianne Elmquist, BA
Examine case studies describing family-implemented strategies (who are the recipients of coaching via internet applications) to teach communicative alternatives to idiosyncratic and/or problem behaviors with children experiencing moderate to severe neurodevelopmental disabilities.

9:30 a.m. Break - AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open 

9:45-10:45 a.m. Breakout Sessions II 

1. Supporting the Sexual Health of Young Adults with ASD(*)(**): Katie Thune, MA ED
People with disabilities want friendships and relationships as much as anyone else. Unfortunately, there is a lack of appropriate education available to support safe and healthy relationships. The work to increase awareness begins with parents, caregivers, and trusted adults who are a part of a young person's life.

2. Autistic Darwinism: Mitch Potter
Traditional workplaces often have been unfriendly to people with autism. As workplaces rapidly evolve, opportunities exist for people with autism to be a better fit with the brave new work world. Learn how autistic qualities can be adapted to emerging needs for self-directed expertise, learned empathy, logical decisions, and virtual team readiness.

3. EIDBI: Navigating Your Minnesota State Health Benefits: Sirad Shirdon, Nicole Berning, Britannia Martinez-Dixon, Linda Monchamp
Learn how the Autism Benefit (Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention) works with a child who may have autism or a related condition through medical determination.

10:45 a.m. Break - AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open 

11 a.m.-12 p.m. Breakout Sessions III 

1. Finding Best Fit Colleges for Students with Autism - SESSION IS CANCELED

2. Common Mental Health Challenges(*)(**)(***): Jennifer Reinke, PhD, LAMFT, CFLE
Individuals with autism often struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other mental health challenges. Diagnostic confusion with mental health issues can occur and be attributed to the ASD or to the ASD not being recognized due to other symptoms. Learn about common mental health diagnoses that frequently co-occur with autism and strategies for coping with these symptoms.

3. Future Planning for Special Needs: Understanding Supplemental Needs Trusts: Jason Schellack, Esq.
Many individuals with disabilities can benefit from an array of government programs, including Social Security, Medical Assistance, and Waivers. Adults with disabilities, however, must meet strict asset limits to be eligible for these programs. Explore how a supplemental needs trust can avoid the asset limit problem.

The 22nd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference is sponsored by Autism Advocacy & Law Center, LLC; the Institute on Community Integration (ICI); Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND); Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes; the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD); Minnesota Life College; and St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development. Thank you for your support!

Conference Registration Policy 
Registrations will not be accepted without payment or purchase order. Registration confirmations will be sent via e-mail by April 19, 2017. Please include your e-mail address on the registration form. Refunds less a $10 processing fee will be given for cancellations received in writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. seven business days prior to the conference. Following this date, no refunds will be given. Requests for transfers of registration to another individual will be considered on a case-by-case basis.