Minnesota Autism Conference Virtual Content

In recognition of the valuable partnership our organizations have developed after co-hosting two years of virtual conferences, the Autism Societies of Minnesota and Greater Wisconsin are collaborating to offer on-demand, bonus virtual content as part of our 2023 in-person autism conferences. We are proud to be able to extend our partnership in a way that increases access to the rich educational content featured at each of our conferences.

The following sessions will be included as part of the virtual content.

  1. The Key to Successfully Supporting Autism in our Schools – Acknowledgement, Acceptance, Celebration & Expansion presented by Gail Wilke

Schools have been working for years to improve practices surrounding the support of students with autism. How are schools changing their programming to embrace the wealth of knowledge that autistic individuals have now shared with us? The focus of this session will be on how districts can create schools and classrooms that are not only welcoming of neurodiverse students, but also truly effective in meeting their needs. To do this a systematic approach & commitment is needed. This session will examine how reallocating resources to designated resource teams, re-focusing on evidence-based practices, developing school spaces where students with autism feel accepted, partnering with families during student-led IEPs, and expanding staff development are key components to success with autism in our schools. This session will address these ideas from educator, parent and student perspectives with real life examples which the presenter has seen work and not work over her years in the field and as a parent of an autistic child.

  1. Intersections of Self: Autistic and LGBTQIA+ presented by Lydia Rhoads

Autistic individuals are more likely to also be members of the LGBTQIA+ community than those who are not autistic. This is especially true for those who fall under the T (transgender, GNC, non-binary, gender expansive, etc.)” umbrella. How can parents and caregivers best advocate for their children in spaces that are cisgender, heterosexual, and neurotypically coded, such as school and medical settings? In this breakout session we will cover strategies to ensure your child is embraced for and supported in their whole self.

  1. Creating a Sense of Belonging in a Neurodiverse Classroom through Peer Education presented by Chelsea Budde and Denise Schamens

While the interventions for students on the autism spectrum are numerous, how can interventions with neuromajority peers help prevent bullying? Children with disabilities including autism are far more likely than their typically-developing peers to be subjected to bullying. By using peer education to create a culture of acceptance, schools can prevent disability harassment, which is a violation of three federal laws. Teaching neuromajority classmates about autism and fostering connection can lead to healthy social-emotional environments that provide a sense of belonging for all learners.

  1. Bereavement As A Spectrum: Supporting Autistics Through Grief & Loss presented by Colleen E McCluskey

Dealing with the complex emotions of loss can be tricky, even more so when one’s grieving process runs counter to the neurotypical response. The autistic experience of bereavement often fundamentally differs from that of people without autism. This presentation offers an inside look at what loss is like for people on the autism spectrum and how those who care about them can help them through times of grief. In addition to drawing from the personal experiences of autistic individuals, this lecture will also provide a survey of contemporary literature on the topics of grief support and neurodiversity.

  1. Building the Foundation: The Role of Regulation in Managing Mental Health and Independence presented by Michaela Faretta and Trish Layde

Many families come to Common Threads seeking therapeutic support around ways to increase their child’s independence and success. The foundation for building independence skills and mental health is regulation. This presentation will underline the importance of establishing baseline regulatory supports, in home and community environments, that allow individuals the opportunity to be successful and confident in their everyday activities.

  1. Looking Ahead: Financial Planning for The Future presented by Bob Johnston and Paul Brokenshire

What will happen to your child when you are no longer around to take care of them? How does the ABLE Act of 2014 impact their future? This workshop is designed to help families plan for the financial future of their child(ren), or other dependents, with special needs. Learn about eligibility for government benefits while helping to meet the needs for lifetime of care and quality of life issues. This presentation will cover estate planning, guardianship, will and trusts and Letter of Intent.

      7. Plain Language Writing: What It Is and Why It Matters presented by Donnie Denome

Plain language is a way of writing that makes your material more accessible to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. People with disabilities, including people with IDD, deserve equal access to information, just like everyone else. While all writing should be written at a level that everyone can understand, plain language is especially important when writing about topics related to disability. Writing in plain language is part of making your writing accessible and fulfilling the promise of “nothing about us without us.”

   8. Neurodivergence, Sex, and Sensory Processing presented by Sarah Hernandez

Neurodivergent people are sexual beings, so why are we not talking more about neurodivergent needs for sex? There are many reasons, but most are rooted in ableism and shame surrounding sex. It’s time to shed the stigma and start the conversation! Participants of this presentation will:

  • Be informed on Dunn’s Sensory Processing model, including thresholds (low/high) and sensory strategies (active vs. passive) and how it relates back to sexuality and intimacy
  • Explore the intersectionalities between neurodivergence, sexuality and intimacy
  • Explore the barriers experienced by neurodivergent individuals to occupational engagement with regard to sexuality and general health.
  1. Using DBT to Help Adolescents Manage Stress and Anxiety presented by Ann Duevel

This presentation is for parents, caregivers, educators, and/or health care providers who wish to know more about how to incorporate tools from Dialectical Behavior Therapy  (DBT) into their work with children and adolescents who struggle with stress and anxiety. This presentation will outline the basics of DBT, discuss how it’s used in therapy, and offer practical tips for using helpful skills and treatment tools from DBT to help young people manage their stress and build emotional resilience.

  1. Trauma, Special Needs and Interventions presented by Tamera Pulver

Developmental Trauma is where trauma meets attachment. The study of trauma is new – within the last 30 years. The research has discovered multiple ways we can all recover from trauma and live more joyful lives. Further, the effects and symptoms of trauma, mimic ASD and other mental health conditions. Learn what the experts are finding in research-based interventions in therapy, everyday living, and classroom practices to regulate ourselves and co-regulate with others for a more peaceful and joyful life.

  1. When the Frontal Lobe Does Not Cooperate presented by Sara Swan

The frontal lobe is the motherboard of the brain. A person’s executive functioning occurs in this area and at times the frontal lobe does not function as it should. During this breakout session we will explore what is executive functioning and how to use the tools in your life toolbox to adapt to your environment so you can be a productive member of society.

  1. Supporting Individuals with Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities (PIMD) presented by Eric Ringgenberg

Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities (PIMD) is a term used in Europe to reference individuals with significant support needs that are intensive, unique, and required for their care and quality of life. These individuals live in our communities, and providing support across settings is possible. Join this session to learn more about these topics, as well as discuss options to better include these individuals in our communities.

  1. Centering the Margins: Intersectionality, Power and Radical Solidarity presented by Ashley Oolman

This workshop uncovers the complex relationship with multilayered identities, power, and solidarity. A facilitator will lead a dialogical session intended to dig into the nuance of carrying marginalized identity and holding space. Participants will be challenged to confront their own power, and identify ways to actively challenge the status quo. Together we will build skills in disrupting social norms and centering marginalized voices, leaving with collective ideation mapping for healing and liberation.