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2019 Minnesota autism conference keynote speakers announced

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On April 24-27, 2019, the Minnesota autism community will come together as a passionate network to connect and inspire innovation during the 24th Annual Minnesota Autism Conference organized by the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM). Expert speakers, educators, professionals, caregivers, and individuals with autism will have a platform to exchange knowledge and ideas with one another – all with the goal of enhancing the lives of those on the autism spectrum.

We are pleased to announce our 2019 Minnesota autism conference keynote speaker line-up that includes Sue Swenson, MBA; Theresa M. Regan, PhD, CBIS, CAS; Patrick Schwarz, PhD; and Jennifer O'Toole.

The conference will kick off on Wednesday, April 24 with a session from Theresa M. Regan, PhD, CBIS, CAS entitled “Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults and Aging Adults: Lessons Learned”. Dr. Regan will combine vignettes, personal stories, and specific strategies to illustrate the lessons she has learned, sometimes the hard way, on her journey to serve those on the autism spectrum. Dr. Regan is a rare combination of adult neuropsychologist (specialist in brain-behavior relationships), parent of a child on the spectrum, and Certified Autism Specialist. She has worked for more than 25 years in medical settings with adolescent through geriatric patients.

Dr. Regan’s presentation will be followed on Thursday morning by “From Possibility to Success: Achieving Successful Student Outcomes” presented by Patrick Schwarz, PhD. With the goal of building lifelong skills, Patrick Schwarz offers authentic processes and supports that help educators plan lessons and units while at the same time embracing students' interests and passions, working toward students' dreams, promoting leadership, self-advocacy, self-determination, and membership in both school and the community. Patrick Schwarz is the CEO of Creative Culture Consulting, LLC and Professor Emeritus at National Louis University, Chicago. He is the author of From Disability to Possibility®; You’re Welcome (with Dr. Paula Kluth); Just Give Him the Whale (with Dr. Paula Kluth); and Pedro’s Whale (with Dr. Paula Kluth).

Jennifer O’Toole will present the Thursday, April 25 evening keynote. Her presentation, “Connecting to Others and Understanding Social Rules through Counterculture,” will give funny, honest, real scenarios with first-hand advice that will help participants understand those confusing expectations and provide tools for using popular culture as emotional vocabulary. O’Toole was identified as being on the spectrum in 2011, just after her children's diagnoses. Over the following five years, she wrote the six-book Asperkids series and created the AK (Asperkids), a multimedia social re-education company focused on being "Different. Together."

The final keynote of the conference, held on Friday, April 26, will be “How To Change the World” by Sue Swenson. Sue Swenson has been a parent, advocate, federal official, and national and international leader. She has seen and participated in change across the country and around the world, and she has seen too many people give up after trying the same thing over and over. During her presentation, Swenson will weave together the stories and ideas she has lived and collected along the way into a theory of change that works across ages, places, philosophies, and political persuasions to help participants find the inspiration needed to direct their own paths – whether they are a parent, sibling, teacher, human services professional, civil servant, community leader, or a person who lives on the spectrum.

Registration for the conference along with breakout session topics and presenters will be available in February 2019. Click here for more conference information as it becomes available.