Minnesota Autism Conference Schedule

Schedule At a Glance

Day 1: April 18. 8-9:30 a.m. Keynote: Paula Kluth. 10-11 a.m. Breakout 1. 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Breakout 2. 12:15-1:15 p.m. Lunch. 1:15-2:45 p.m. Keynote: Devon Price. 3:15-4:15 p.m. Breakout 3.  Day 2: April 19 8-9:30 a.m. Keynote: Joyner Emerick. 10-11 a.m. Breakout 1 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Breakout 2 12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch 1:30-2:30 p.m. Breakout 3 2:45-3:45 p.m. Breakout 4

Specialty Content (Included in Full Conference Registration)

Foundational Workshop Virtual Content

Online registrations are now closed, but walk ins are welcome.

Detailed Conference Schedule 2024

Hover over the title of each session to see a full description, and hover over the name of each presenter to read their bio. Information may change or be updated, so check back often!

Thursday, April 18

8-9:30 a.m.Keynote: You’re Going to Love This Kid!
Presented by Dr. Paula Kluth
Sponsored by MNLEND

In this session, participants will learn practical ways of supporting students with autism spectrum labels and other disabilities within a general education classroom. Topics addressed include listening to the voices of those on the spectrum, teaching to fascinations and providing opportunities for communication skill development. The session will focus on the importance of pushing beyond access and asking schools to challenge students and to understand each learner as complex and capable.

Dr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, author, advocate, and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities and to create more responsive and engaging schooling experiences for all learners. She is a former K-12 special educator who has served as a classroom teacher, co-teacher, and inclusion facilitator. Paula has also been a university professor and has taught courses on both inclusion and disability studies. Most recently, Paula’s work has centered on helping teachers and administrators educate all students in their schools and classrooms. She also frequently works with families and advocacy groups to support goals related to inclusion. In addition to inclusive education, her professional interests include Universal Design for Learning, co­teaching, and educating students with complex support needs.

All In: 18 Ways to Include All Students in Virtual Classrooms is Paula’s newest book. She is also the author or co-author of 15 other titles including Universal Design Daily, 30 Days to the Co­Taught Classroom, Don’t We Already Do Inclusion?, and “You’re Going to Love This Kid!”: Teaching Students with Autism in Inclusive Classrooms. She is also the author of a few books for children including Coaster, a story of a puppy with wonderful wheels.

Paula has won several awards in her field. She is the recipient of the PEAK Parent Center’s Ally for Inclusion Award; The PEAL [Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership] Center’s Inclusive Education Champion Award; The National Down Syndrome Congress’s Educator of the Year; The Belle Center of Chicago’s Inclusion Advocate of the Year; and the University of Wisconsin’s “Forward Under 40” Award.


10-11 a.m.

Breakout Session 1

Session 1-How to Write a Neurodiversity-Affirming IEP presented by Maren Christenson Hofer*, Joyner Emerick, and Ryan Haenze

Session 2-Accessibility At Work – Disability Justice in the Workplace presented by Megan Perera

Session 3-Trauma in Autistic Children and Young Adults presented by Beth Pitchford, Barb Luskin, and Sara Lahti

Session 4-Estate Planning For Families with Special Needs presented by Jason Schellack


Breakout Session 2

Session 1-The Roots of Behavior: A Neurodiversity-Affirming Perspective presented by Elizabeth Duffy and Michelle Pettit

Session 2-Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know presented by Tanya Heitzinger and Sarah Dicks

Session 3-Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth: Tools for Parents and Other Adults presented by Cat Hammond

Session 4-Trauma in Autistic Adults presented by Beth Pitchford, Barb Luskin, and Sara Lahti





1:15-2:45 p.m.

Keynote: The Future of Autistic Self-Advocacy: Self-Realization, Solidarity, and Growing Class Consciousness
Presented by Dr. Devon Price
Due to an emergency, Dr. Price will not be joining us in person but has generously agreed to present virtually
Sponsored by Minnesota Independence College & Community

In the last few years, the Autistic self-advocacy community has witnessed an explosion in public awareness of our disability, with a growing number of late-diagnosed and late-realized Autistic individuals joining our community and more and more organizations making gestures at broader neurodiverse inclusion, to varying degrees of success. Our prior frameworks for understanding Autism have been challenged, the diagnostic procedures of the past have been revealed to be bias-laden and counter-productive to our community, and regular debates within our own ranks reveal the need to redefine for ourselves who we are and what our broader political goals are as a marginalized group fighting for justice. In this talk, Dr. Devon Price will discuss the Autistic self-realization movement, recent major wins in the fight for Autism acceptance, and explore synergies with other justice movements that are currently running in parallel to ours, such as the Mad Pride movement and anti-psychiatry movement, to provide a vision of what the future of neurodiverse self-advocacy might look like.

Devon Price, PhD, is a social psychologist, professor, author, and proud Autistic person. His research has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and the Journal of Positive Psychology. Devon’s writing has appeared in outlets such as the Financial Times, HuffPost, SlateJacobinBusiness Insider, LitHub, and on PBS and NPR. He lives in Chicago, where he serves as an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.


3:15-4:15 p.m.Breakout Session 3

Session 1-Taking a Person Centered Approach to ADLs presented by Nicole Ogren and Jake Archbold

Session 2-Leadership: Leading Without Conforming presented by Jillian Nelson

Session 3-Assessing Transition Needs Among Individuals With Disabilities and Caregivers presented by Mahasweta Bose, Dr. Rebekah Hudock*, Dr. Chimei Lee, and Maren Christenson Hofer*

Session 4-What’s Behind the Mask: An Exploration of Masking, Burnout, and the Autistic Experience presented by Santanna Ficken and Sophie Tomsky

Friday, April 19

8-9:30 a.m.Keynote: Beyond Words: Exploring Autistic Multimodal Communication
Presented by Joyner Emerick
Sponsored by Advocating Change Together

What does it mean to communicate with gestures, movie scripts, sound effects, and music? Joyner Emerick, an autistic adult, parent, and educational leader, presents a keynote that challenges traditional communication boundaries and highlights how autistic people of all ages and abilities utilize diverse methods to express themselves and relate to each other. Emphasizing sensory-rich, emotion-driven communication, we’ll uncover how colors, places, and melodies can both convey complex narratives and serve day-to-day communication functions. This session advocates for inclusive approaches that are responsive to autistic culture, and creative strategies that empower autistic people and those supporting them. Join us in redefining communication to embrace the multifaceted nature of the autistic experience.

Joyner Emerick (any pronouns) is an autistic storyteller, parent, and advocate, and was the first openly autistic person elected to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education. With a background in grassroots organizing and a passion for communication and literacy access for all, Joyner’s world centers on their family, which includes two autistic children. Joyner’s lived experiences as an autistic person, caregiver across diverse support needs, educational advocate, and school board member have shaped their perspective on supporting neurodivergent development.

10-11 a.m.

Breakout Session 1

Session 1-The Art of Coregulation: Strategies to Regulate Emotions from Neurodivergent Perspectives presented by Tiffany Schroeer, Chelsey Hendrickx, and Revel Weber

Session 2-Setting and Keeping Boundaries presented by Sara Lahti

Session 3-Accessible Healthcare presented by Dr. Rebecca Vaurio

Session 4-Centering Joy: Lessons Learned from a Family Camp for Autistic Children in the Somali and Oromo Communities presented by Delia Samuel, Abyan Ali, Said Shaiye, Maren Christenson Hofer, and Fatima Molas*

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Breakout Session 2

Session 1-Empowerment and Belonging for Adult Women with Late Diagnoses presented by Laura Adrian

Session 2-Bridging Silos presented by Sara Swan

Session 3-Let’s Talk About ‘It:’ Building Comfort Around Sexuality and Development presented by Elissa Marble and Alyssa Perau

Session 4-Autistic Mental Health: Preventing and Responding to Crisis presented by Amelia Maciejewski

12:30-1:30 p.m.





1:30-2:30 p.m.

Breakout Session 3

Session 1-“Subtle but Significant” Autism presented by Dr. Megan Helmen

Session 2-Beyond To-Do Lists: Executive Function from an Affirming Perspective presented by Elizabeth Duffy and Santanna Ficken

Session 3-Obtaining Assent in Service Provision for Autistic Individuals presented by Rebecca Kolb with panelists Cara McGlynn,  Amber Reilly, Kaiyuan Zhu, and Bradley McMahon

Session 4-Takeaways from the 2023 International ADHD Conference: RSD, Hormones, and More presented by Beth Pitchford

2:45-3:45 p.m.

Breakout Session 4

Session 1-Research on Autism, Driven by Autistic Researchers (RADAR) presented by Isabelle Morris*, Freya Roherty*, and Jesica Sykes

Session 2-Helping Autistic Minnesotans Make Friends: Lessons Learned from Hosting Events presented by Mitchell Schaps

Session 3-Sleep Well: Tips and Tricks for Effortless Sleep presented by Jeremy Goldberg

Session 4-Accessible Vaccination: A First Step Towards Health Equity presented by Allie Tasche and Kirsten Cooper


*MNLEND speaker

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