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Detailed Conference Schedule

2018ConfLogowebThe Autism Society of Minnesota invites you to participate in the 23rd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. During this event, we will join our voices as a passionate community to inspire learning, hope, and innovation. 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 is working on securing 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.

Sensory Accommodation: 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.


Special thanks to our overall conference sponsor, Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

3:30-5:30 p.m. Julia's AuSM Autism Celebration

JuliaImageWEBThe conference will begin with an exciting family celebration featuring Julia, the newest Sesame Street Muppet, a character who was created to increase awareness and understanding of autism. Meet walkaround Julia, visit resource tables, participate in sensory activities, and play games during this age and ability inclusive event.
™/© 2018 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved.

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

6-6:30 p.m. Meet Julia from Sesame Street

7-9 p.m. Keynote Presentation Sponsored by Fraser

CampagnaWebFrank Campagna, "Autism Daddy"
Things No One Ever Told Me When My Son Was Diagnosed with Autism
Learn, in a humorous way, how to be a great special needs parent without losing your former self in the process. "Autism Daddy" will talk about some of the important things that can sometimes fall through the cracks when you're caring for someone with special needs, and he will cover topcis including: "You're Allowed To Be Mad", "You're Going to Get Advice From Everyone", and "Stop Googling Everything".

Frank Campagna (aka "Autism Daddy"), father of a 14-year-old son with autism, has been riding the special needs roller-coaster for over 12 years, writes about his experiences, and has become a social media sensation with his blog and Facebook page. His claim to fame is giving people a realistic, non sugar-coated look at the world inside an autism household. Campagna also has worked at the Sesame Street Workshop for the past 23 years, and contributed to their autism initiative, Sesame Street & Autism: See Amazing in All Children.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

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

8:30-10:30 a.m. Keynote Presentation Sponsored by Rosenberg Center

BakerWebJed Baker, PhD
Managing Anxiety and Frustration In Caregivers and Clients: Educate, Don't Incarcerate
How we understand difficult behavior in clients and family members can make things better or worse. Learn how to achieve better outcomes in challenging moments. Obtain ways to de-escalate meltdowns in the moment and develop effective behavior plans to prevent recurrence of problems. Dr. Baker will discuss seven common triggers to meltdowns and how to prevent these difficult situations.

Jed Baker is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, a private organization serving individuals with autism and social communication problems. He also directs social skills training for Millburn Public Schools in New Jersey. He is on the professional advisory board of Autism Today, ASPEN, ANSWER, YAI, the Kelberman Center, and several other autism organizations. In addition, Dr. Baker is an award-winning author and lecturer, and he provides training internationally on the topics of social skills training and managing challenging behaviors.

10:30 a.m. Break – AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open

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

1. Creating Effective Prevention Plans for Challenging Behaviors: Jed Baker, PhD
Learn about prevention plans for common triggers to frustration and anxiety. Plans include dealing with difficult work demands; fears and phobias; waiting and disappointments; threats to self-esteem (mistakes, losing and teasing); attention seeking behavior; sensory overload; and unexpected triggers.

2. Social Coaching and Social Dancing; Teaching Skills Using Interests: Beth Pitchford, MA, LPCC

3. How Aging Affects My Autism Panel Part 1: AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services

4. Intro to Autism: Jillian Nelson and Robert Waltz

12-1 p.m. Lunch Sponsored by Accra and Optum – AuSM Bookstore and Exhibits Open

1-2 p.m. Breakout Sessions II

1. Why Most Social Skills Programs Fail! Six Key Components of Social Skills Training: Jed Baker, PhD
Regardless of the strategy used to teach social skills, certain key components must be considered in order to create effective outcomes, including: prioritizing relevant skill goals; establishing motivation to use skills; skill acquisition (choosing a strategy to teach skills based on language ability); generalization strategies to use skills in real settings; creating accepting peer environments; and measuring progress.

2. Protecting the Vulnerable: Strategies for Keeping Children on the Spectrum Safe: James Rechs, LICSW

3. Advancing Social Coping Mechanisms from School to the Workplace: Allen Mavis

4. How Aging Affects My Autism Panel Part 2: AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services

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

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

1. Peer Sensitivity Lessons and Questions and Answers: Jed Baker, PhD
Obtain sample lessons to sensitize peers and engage them in protecting clients from bullying. Time also will be allocated for an audience question and answer session regarding social skill issues or behavior challenges.

2. Asking the Right Questions: Affirmative Perspectives at the Intersection of Autism and Gender Identity: Rachel Becker-Warner, PhD, LP

3. Coming Soon! AMP: Developing a One-to-One Mentoring Program for Youth on the Spectrum: Emily Goldberg; Michael Etten; Jenn Peterson; AJ Hokland; Grady Garman; Jenny Austin; Johnny Jimenez Lezama; Dr. Rebekah Hudock; and Carolyn
Scherer, MSW

4. Getting Older and Getting What You Need: Autism and Aging: Barb Luskin, PhD, LP

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

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

ShoreWebStephen Shore, PhD
Developing an Understanding of the Hidden Curriculum for Learners on the Autism Spectrum: A Lifespan Approach
When is it appropriate to talk in class? How does one act when hanging out with friends, in school, or in the library? Is there a way to reckon with the fact that the "lunch hour" at work is only 30 minutes? Most people automatically know the answers to these questions and many like them through observations of social interaction. However, the ability to infer proper social interaction through observation often is impaired in people with autism. Examine Power Cards, Social Stories by Carol Gray, emotional thermometers, and mnemonic devices such as Stop, Observe, Deliberate, and Act, and other strategies for providing practical solutions to the problems of teaching appropriate social interaction to people on the autism spectrum and developing skills in executive functioning. In taking a strength-based approach, the common theme between these and other related educational devices is that these techniques employ the often considerable cognitive and analytical powers of people on the autism spectrum.

Nonverbal until age 4 and diagnosed with "atypical development and strong autistic tendencies" and "too sick" for outpatient treatment, Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. With support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Dr. Shore now is a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism. Dr. Shore is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations, and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure. His most recent book, College for Students with Disabilities, combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education.

9-10 p.m. Stephen Shore Book Signing

Friday, April 27, 2018

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

KuypersWebLeah Kuypers, MA Ed, OTR/L
Developing Pathways Toward Regulation
Self-regulation is not “one thing” we do, but rather is a combination of mental and emotional processes that encompass reflecting on the situation we are in, how we are feeling, and using our tools and strategies to regulate our feelings and behaviors. Kuypers will explore the topic of self- regulation and share the latest evolution to her framework, The Zones of Regulation®, outlining a concrete pathway approach to foster self-regulation skills. While learning from a visual structure and a simple, common language, take away ideas to support co-regulation with students and clients as a stepping-stone to the development of independent regulation. Hands-on strategies will be shared that make self-regulation and emotional-management less abstract and simpler for all to navigate.

Leah Kuypers earned a Bachelors of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Graduate Certificate in Autism, and a Master of Arts in Education from Hamline University. She has practiced as an OT/autism specialist in school and clinical settings, specializing in self-regulation and social learning, and has worked with students of all ages and challenges, including anxiety, ADHD, and ASD. Kuypers created The Zones of Regulation® (www.zonesofregulation.com), a framework designed to teach self-regulation, and is author of the book and two apps by same name (2011, Social Thinking Publishing; 2013, 2016 Selosoft, Inc). In addition to working with students, she provides trainings and consultation to parents and professionals on self-regulation and challenging behavior, and also conducts workshops on the Zones to groups across North America.

10:30 a.m. Break – AuSM Bookstore, Exhibits Open

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

1. Sexuality for All Abilities: Katie Thune, MA Ed

2. Executive Function Solutions in The Classroom and Beyond: Mary Beth Kelley, MA and Rachel David, EdD

3. Call in the Reinforcements! Building Independence Through Understanding of ABA Principles: Lucas Scott and Sara Pahl, MS, BCBA, LPCC, NCC

4. Engaging Students in their IEPs: Allana Walsh, MA and Jessica Metke, MA

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. How to Work with Somali Parents with Autistic Children: A Culturally Sensitive Approach: Iman Dadras, PhD, LMFT; Asad Mahmoud, BA; and Sandra Espinosa, PsyD

2. Creative Interventions for Children with Social, Sensory, and Processing Difficulties: Briana Colton MA, ATR

3. Leadership Enrichment Opportunities (LEO): An Alternative Approach for Gifted/Talented Education: Brandy Schwab, MA and Malory Kosher

4. Teaching the Teacher: Managing Your Class with ASD: Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan, PhD; James Williams; Maci Spica; and Erin Farrell, MA, BCBA

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

2:30-3:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions III 

1. A Picture of Success: Improving Reading and Language Comprehension in Children with ASD: Dana Kernik

2. Behavioral Crisis Management: Brittney Kalicki, Med, BCBA

3. College Aspie: John MacCormick

4. Teaching Whole Class Social Skills: Kelsey Kinsella, MA; Lindsay Herman, MA; and Logan Krause

Gala2018Color6-10 p.m. Celebrate the Magic Within AuSM Gala

Join AuSM for an enchanting evening of food, drinks, games, silent and live auctions, and a celebration of those serving as true inspirations to individuals affected by autism. Gala proceeds benefit programs and services for the Minnesota autism community. Click here for more information.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

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

8:30-9:30 a.m. Breakout Sessions I 

1. "Related Services" for Middle and High School Students with ASD: Joe Timmons, MSW; Tara Wagner, MS, CCC-SLP; and Emily Trindal, MS, CCC-SLP

2. Using Technology to Increase Safety and Positive Outcomes with First Responders: Nick Tietz and Dawn Brasch

3. Hacking Your Executive Function: Tips From Someone Who's Been There: Olivia James

4. Services and Supports Available for Families Impacted by ASD: Nicole Berning, BCBA

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

9:45-10:45 a.m. Breakout Sessions II 

1. Video Games: Obstruction or Asset?: Blake Plankers, MS

2. The Hidden Harm of Functionality Labels: Laura Dettloff

3. Matchmaker, Matchmaker Find Me a Career: Jody Van Ness, MA and Mark Olson

4. Parent Support: The Power of Connection: Beth Dierker, PhD; Mariam Egal, MPH; and Shannon Andreson, MA

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

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

1. Yes, And … (Social Skills Through Improv): Kelly Kautz, MEd, NBCT and Michael Bruckmueller, MFA

2. Estate Planning for Special Needs Families: Jason Schellack, Esq.

3. Promoting Resilience in Families of Children with Autism: Amy Gunty, MA


The overall sponsor of the 23rd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference is Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes. The event also is sponsored by Autism Advocacy & Law Center, LLC; Fraser; Minnesota Life College; Rosenberg Center; 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, 2018. Please include your e-mail address on the registration form. Refunds less a $15 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.