Detailed 2021 Conference Schedule

Wednesday, April 21


6:30 p.m. Conference Orientation – Navigating the Event Lobby and Features

7-9 p.m. KEYNOTE: Lydia X.Z. Brown (they/them/theirs/themself or no pronouns)

black and white image of person wearing glasses, smiling, and looking off to the rightTitle and description coming soon!

Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, organizer, educator, attorney, strategist, and writer whose work has largely focused on interpersonal and state violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people living at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, and language. They are Policy Counsel for the Privacy and Data Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology; Adjunct Lecturer in Disability Studies for Georgetown University; and Director of Policy, Advocacy, & External Affairs at the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. Brown also is founder and volunteer director of the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment. Currently, they serve as a founding board member of the Alliance for Citizen Directed Supports, presidential appointee to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, and chair of the American Bar Association’s Section on Civil Rights & Social Justice, Disability Rights Committee.

Brown’s work appears in numerous scholarly and community publications, and they have received many awards for their work, including from the Obama White House, the Society for Disability Studies, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Washington Peace Center, the Disability Policy Consortium, and the National Council on Independent Living. Brown was named to the Gold House Foundation’s A100 list of the most impactful Asians in America in 2020.

Thursday, April 22


9-10:30 a.m. KEYNOTE: Peter Vermeulen, PhD (he/him/his)

image of man with white hair, wearing glasses, and wearing an orange shirt with a black bowtie and smilingAutism and Happiness: from Neurodiversity to Neuroharmony

With more than 10 scientific articles per day, Autism Spectrum Disorder is one of the most studied conditions in the world. Research increases our understanding of this developmental disability that has many myths and misconceptions. However, the research about how different, specific, and unique autism is has made us forget that people with autism share more than we think with neurotypical people, especially when it comes to basic needs such as happiness. Accepting neurodiversity is fine, but it emphasizes the differences between people. While recognizing the many ways a brain can operate is a big step toward autism acceptance, it is only the first step in our commitment to a better world and more well-being for people with autism. We also should focus on what connects all people: the pursuit of happiness.

Happiness has received little attention in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Outcome and effect studies, for instance, rarely take emotional well-being as a desired outcome. And when the focus is on well-being, it is often from a negative perspective, namely the lack of well-being and quality of life. It is time to make a U-turn in our approach and change the focus from a clinical and medical approach to happiness in people with autism toward a shared and positive focus – we all want to be happy. Let’s move from neurodiversity to neuroharmony.

Explore how we can increase the well-being of autistic people. Learn how to promote positive feelings about life satisfaction and contentment as main sources of emotional well-being. Concepts will be illustrated with the story of Thijs, a boy diagnosed in the 80s and now a happy adult. His story will show how we can move from neurodiversity to neuroharmony, an inclusive world where autistic and non-autistic people are living in harmony.

Peter Vermeulen has an MSc and PhD in Psychology and Educational Sciences and has worked with people with ASD and their families for more than 30 years. He is the founder of “Autism in Context,” where autism is understood in context. Dr. Vermeulen is a senior lecturer at Autisme Centraal, a training and education center for autism spectrum disorders. He is an internationally respected lecturer and trainer and he presents all over Europe and beyond. Dr. Vermeulen has written more than 15 books and several articles on autism. In 2019, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in the field of autism.

11 a.m.-12 p.m. Breakout Sessions 1

12:30-1:30 p.m. KEYNOTE: Neurodivergent Teacher, McAlister Greiner Huynh (she/her/hers)

image of a woman wearing a gray shirt, pearls, and a brown sweater; woman is smiling and has long, brown hairThe Power of Accessibility: What Happens When We Change the World to Fit the Person Instead of Changing the Person to Fit Into the World

We all want success for the autistic people in our lives: success in their education, their relationships, their careers, their happiness. However, despite our greatest efforts, we consistently fall short. Schools respond to autistic students with disciplinary action at alarming rates; autistic adults face chronic under- or unemployment; autistic individuals struggle with unmet mental health needs. This tells us one undeniable truth: what we’re doing…simply isn’t working. In our efforts to prevent autistic people from failing in this world, we have ignored the ways the world is failing them. In this session, learn from a neurodivergent educator–with a decade of professional experience working with autistic individuals–how an acceptance of differences and a focus on accessibility can make all the difference. After this session, you will be able to adapt your instructional approaches, educational support styles, and social-emotional interventions with the autistic neurology in mind to create a culture of acceptance, connection, belonging, and success for autistic individuals within the neurotypical-dominated world.

McAlister Greiner Huynh is a special educator in Raleigh, N.C. She has been working with and learning from autistic individuals professionally for 10 years, steadily growing in her passion for neurodiversity, disability culture, and radical acceptance. She received her Bachelor of Science in Special Education and Bachelor of Arts in English from UNC-Greensboro and her Masters of Education with a concentration in Autism and Developmental Disabilities from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a Nationally Board Certified Exceptional Needs Specialist. McAlister is the educator behind “The Neurodivergent Teacher” pages on Facebook and Instagram, where she connects with families, professionals, and neurodivergent folks across the globe to share philosophies around teaching, self-advocacy skills, accessibility, and coping strategies.

2-3 p.m. Breakout Sessions 2

3:30-4:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions 3

Friday, April 23


9-10:30 a.m. KEYNOTE: Temple Grandin, PhD (she/her/hers)

Image of woman wearing black western shirt with red tieHelping Different Kinds of Minds Be Successful

In this special presentation backed by personal experience and evidence-based research, Dr. Temple Grandin will provide a look into her personal experiences, including intervention, problems with sensory and over-sensitivity. She will also discuss the thinking process, the importance of developing strengths as well as the importance of work skills. Take away practical tips for parenting, teaching and learning from the individuals with autism in your life.

Temple 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.

11 a.m.-12 p.m. Breakout Sessions 4

12:30-1:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions 5

2-3 p.m. Breakout Sessions 6

3:30-4:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions 7

6:30-8:30 p.m. VIP Evening with Temple Grandin, PhD

Cost Per Participant: $75 (must also be registered for the general conference to participate in this VIP event)

  • Access to a 2-hour Zoom session with Temple Grandin, limited to 30 participants
  • Opportunity to ask Dr. Grandin one question
  • Digital picture with Dr. Grandin (e-mailed after the event)
  • Signed copy of a Dr. Grandin book (shipped to you)

Saturday, April 24


9-11 a.m. KEYNOTE: Wale Elegbede, MBA, PMP (he/him/his) and Audrey Elegbede, PhD, ACC (she/her/hers)

Image of a woman wearing a black shirt, red sweater, and black glasses with a man wearing a gray suit with a red tie. Both are smiling.Rising to the Challenge – Unleash Your Superpower for Social Justice

Transformational social change requires passion, perseverance, and truly original thinking. The autism community with its focus on inclusion, neurodiversity, self-empowerment, and genius is poised to make a significant contribution to social justice efforts. Drawing on their expertise in systemic inequality, antiracism, autism advocacy, community building, and strategic planning, Wale and Audrey Elegbede will take us on a journey of new ideas and inspire us to actively engage in social equity efforts. Building on Wale’s TED Talk titled “It Takes a Community to Eradicate Hate,” Wale and Audrey will demonstrate the power of community in advancing systemic change.

Wale Elegbede, MBA, PMP is a TED motivational speaker, social justice leader and director of strategy management services at Mayo Clinic. Described as a community servant leader, Elegbede is president of NAACP Rochester Branch, Rada Distinguished Alumni of University of Wisconsin La-Crosse, and President of La Crosse-Rochester Project Management chapter.

Audrey Elegbede, PhD, ACC is Curriculum Development and Assessment Manager at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, former Professor of Ethnic and Racial Studies, and active autism advocate. She is an educator, speaker, and professional coach, and she serves on state and local boards supporting the autism community.

They are the parents of three children, the oldest son of whom is autistic.

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions 8

1-2 p.m. Breakout Sessions 9

2:30-3:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions 10