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Sponsorship Application Form

The Autism Conference welcomes organizations who wish to reach out to our attendees-professionals who work with individuals with autism spectrum disorders- to become sponsors. A limited number of opportunities are available including utilizing exhibition space, underwriting meals or providing promotional materials.

For more information contact Krista Hughes



Conference Learning Objectives:

  • to describe recent advances in the causes of autism and/or other developmental disorders,
  • to describe recent advances in the treatments for autism and/or other developmental disorders,
  • to show an increase in knowledge about specific assessments and/or treatments for autism and/or other neurodevelopmental disorders,
  • to demonstrate a change in the use of current best practices or to report an intent to change practice,
  • to increase knowledge about the practices of other disciplines involved in the care of children with autism and other developmental disorders, and
  • to report an intent to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration and practices that promote positive patient outcomes


Thursday, September 21, 2017
8:45 - 9:45 a.m.
Keynote: The Challenges and the Opportunities of the Spectrum of Autism
Wendy Chung, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
The session will review the diversity among individuals with autism spectrum disorder and discuss why that has led to some of the challenges with autism research.  We will review ways in which we can learn more about autism by studying genetics and studying subsets of individuals with autism who are more similar to better understand the brain and behavior.  We will also review the advances that are being made that will better support research and individuals with autism in the future.
Breakout Sessions
10:00-11:30 a.m.
1. Autism in the Somali community of Minnesota: Prevalence, Diagnosis, and Community Engagement (Current Topics)
Amy Esler, University of Minnesota

Community concern about high numbers of children with severe forms of autism within the Somali community in Minnesota prompted research on prevalence, autism characteristics, and community needs. Dr. Esler will present results of this research into how autism is impacting the Somali community in Minnesota. Based on her experience as a psychologist in the Autism Spectrum and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Clinic at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Esler will discuss strategies for conducting evaluations with Somali and other immigrant and linguistically diverse families to obtain valid and helpful information to guide diagnosis and treatment planning. Finally, information will be presented on outreach and community engagement efforts with diverse immigrant communities in Minnesota to help eliminate health disparities. 
2. How a Self-Management Sustainability Project Made Me a Better Consultant (ABA)
Amanda Kelly, University of West Florida – Hawaii Cohort

As behavior analysts, we are charged with helping others achieve behavior change. We are often called in when stakes are high and situations are escalated. As with any behavior change program, it is important to ensure strong treatment fidelity, meaning we need others to follow the plans we create. There are plenty of times when families, teachers, or other implementers feel frustrated, overwhelmed and unequipped to face certain challenges. As consultants, it can be equally as frustrating when we believe we have buy-in, but later learn that we do not.

This past fall, I developed a behavior change program for myself.  I was confident I had the tools needed to achieve change. I decided to eliminate consumption of single-use plastic straws. Though motivated and equipped with the science of ABA, I found my behavior change program challenging. Despite being a behavior analyst myself, the degree of my behavior change fluctuated and did not always go in the desired direction. Needless to say, I learned (and I’m still learning) a lot about behavior change by attempting to change my own. In this presentation, I will share these valuable lessons with you.
3. Using Video Based Instructions in Classroom Contexts to Promote Independence (Schools)
Kevin Ayres, University of Georgia

This presentation overviews basic concepts and research relate to video based instruction for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Attendees will learn about current research in the area and variations of video based instruction that can be used to promote greater independence including self-instructional techniques.
Breakout Sessions
1:00-2:30 p.m.
4. Exploring Screening Measures in Autism Spectrum Disorders (Current Topics)
Stephen Kanne, University of Missouri Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

There are many available tools with varying levels of accuracy designed to screen for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in young children, both in the general population and specifically among those referred for developmental concerns. With burgeoning waitlists for comprehensive diagnostic ASD assessments, finding accurate methods and tools for advancing diagnostic triage becomes increasingly important. This presentation will describe how those in the field rely on and use screening measure, will explain how screening measures operate, then go on to describe a recent study that compares the efficacy of a novel mobile-health screening tool developed by Cognoa, Inc. (Cognoa) to three oft used paper and pencil measures, the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers Revised with Follow-up, the Social Responsiveness Scale, Second Edition, and the Social Communication Questionnaire.
5. Assessment-based Instruction and Treatment Integrity for Receptive Identification(ABA)
Tiffany Kodak, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
(Note: Part II continues 2:45-4:15)

Learning to discriminate among stimuli is a fundamental component of many tasks and is typically a high-priority goal in educational programs for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A common type of discrimination targeted during instruction for children ASD is auditory-visual conditional discrimination, which is commonly referred to as receptive identification. Despite the importance of teaching auditory-visual conditional discrimination, and the large amount of time focused on teaching these skills during children's special education and early intervention services, there are few assessment procedures that measure specific skills that may be related to performance on conditional discriminations. Dr. Kodak will review an assessment that measures prerequisite skills for auditory-visual conditional discrimination that can be used in practice and describe training procedures to teach missing prerequisite skills. In addition, Dr. Kodak will describe several methods that are used to calculate treatment integrity during training, discuss strengthens and limitations to each method. The presentation will include information about the effects of treatment integrity errors on receptive identification training outcomes, and provide guidelines and examples of how practitioners can collect treatment integrity data during instruction.
6. Bringing ABA to the Classroom: An Introduction to Classroom Pivotal Response Teaching (CPRT) (Schools)
Janice Chan, University of California, San Diego

IDEA mandates the use of evidence-based practices (EBPs) in the classroom, making it necessary to learn how to teach children with autism using EBPs, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Most of the commonly used interventions based on ABA, however, can sometimes feel out of place in the school environment. This begs the question, how can a teacher use ABA in a natural manner? In this session, learn how to incorporate Classroom Pivotal Response Teaching (CPRT), a naturalistic behavioral intervention in your classroom. Make learning motivating, fun, and evidence-based!
Breakout Sessions
2:45-4:15 p.m.
7. Model Programs for Improving Early Screening and Diagnosis (Current Topics)
Zachary Warren, Vanderbilt University

Early accurate identification and treatment of young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) represents a pressing public health and clinical care challenge. Unfortunately, large numbers of children are still not screened for ASD, waits for specialized diagnostic assessment can be tremendous, and the average age of diagnosis in the US has remained between 4 to 5 years of age. Further, groups from traditionally underserved communities are even more likely to be diagnosed at later ages. The current session will review model service system intervention strategies and programs for rapid identification of ASD and ASD risk. This will include a review of diagnostic consultation programs for use within the medical home, tele-health strategies for diagnosis/service, and risk-based Part C intervention programs.
8. ASD & High Risk Law Enforcement Contacts: Planning & Disclosure (Schools)
Dennis Debbaudt, Debbaudt Legacy Productions, LLC

This session will identify predictable high risk contacts that students and adults with ASD will have with law enforcement professionals throughout their lifetimes and describe safety and risk strategies that can manage these risks. Educators and families, through the IEP meeting, can develop a personalized safety plan that will be outlined at this session. This session will also describe how and why a growing number of law enforcement and public safety agencies, school districts and families throughout North America are forming educational and informational partnerships. These partnerships serve to educate students and care providers about what to do when they are in contact with police and public safety professionals and educate these professionals about ASD communications, sensory and social challenges that the child or adult may present. The session will provide tips and background for forming successful partnerships in any local community.
Friday, September 22, 2017
8:30 - 9:45 a.m.
Keynote, Developing Social-Communicative Biomarkers for Autism Spectrum Disorder
James McPartland,
Yale School of Medicine
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is understood to be a neurodevelopmental disorder with a biological basis. Yet, decisions about diagnosis and treatment are reliant upon subjective observation of behavior and parent report. There is an urgent need for cost-effective, accessible objective measures of social-communication to guide clinical practice. This presentation will review the state of the science in social-communicative biomarkers for ASD, characterizing key objectives for the field and the challenges that hinder progress. The lector will describe strategies for approaching biomarker development and will highlight particularly promising biomarkers for social communication in ASD. In conclusion, potential methods for developing more powerful biomarkers and more informative scientific studies will be presented.
Breakout Sessions
10:00-11:30 a.m.
9. Early Detection and Intervention for Toddlers with ASD: Examining a New Model of Health Care Delivery (Current Topics)
Wendy Stone, University of Washington

Early detection of autism is the key to specialized intervention that can lead to significant gains in social, language, and behavioral functioning. However, families of young children often encounter many obstacles as they navigate the path from autism concerns to autism treatment. The marked variability in symptom expression, inconsistent screening practices of community providers, and long waits for a diagnostic evaluation prevent many children from accruing the benefits that early, specialized intervention can offer. This presentation will describe the early behavioral features of autism, the limitations of our current service delivery model, and a multisystem preventive intervention model for expediting access to early and specialized services for toddlers with autism.
10. Automatically Reinforced Self-Injury (ABA)
Louis Hagopian, Kennedy Krieger Institute

Recent research has identified subtypes of automatically reinforced behavior (the least understood and most treatment resistant type of SIB) based on unique patterns of responding observed in the functional analysis. The subtyping model was empirically derived and validated in a replication study involving an analysis of all identified published cases. Findings from these studies revealed marked differences in subtypes of SIB on several dimensions, most notably their responsiveness to treatments. These findings identified a critical source of heterogeneity in what was long-considered to be single category of SIB, and point to the need for future research to control for these subtypes, examine the underpinnings of their differences, and identify more effective treatments for the variant that is less responsive to treatment. These findings, and current efforts applying methods used to identify and quantify the accuracy of predictive behavioral markers and their broader implications will be discussed.
11. Science and Pseudoscience in Autism Treatment: Professional and Ethical Considerations to Guide Practice (Schools)
Thomas Zane, University of Kansas

Autism has been described as a "fad magnet," due to the large number of treatments that have been used with this population. Some interventions work well. Others fail. A key determinant seems to be the extent to which a scientific approach has been utilized when developing and testing any particular intervention. Treatments that have been shown through research to be effective adhere closely to the attitudes and practices of science. Pseud scientific or fad treatments tend to ignore the rules and practices of science and rely instead on weak or no evidence of effectiveness. This is important to both the consumer and professionals. Treatment that have been vetted by science and careful research are more likely to be effective, thus maximizing benefits to the client. Professionals are obligated to use practices that have been scientifically supported to be effective. This presentation will discuss professional and ethical considerations to guide effective practice in using scientifically supported treatments and resisting the siren call of pseudoscience.
Breakout Sessions
12:30-2:00 p.m.
12. Enteric Serotonin as a Potential Link in Brain-Gut Axis Disease: A Focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders (Current Topics)
Kara Gross Margolis, Columbia University Medical Center

Gastrointestinal disorders are over four-fold more common in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Further, the severity of gastrointestinal pain that results from these disorders is significantly associated with the exacerbation of both core ASD manifestations as well as other behaviors including self-injury, anxiety and aggression. Despite the prevalence of GI disorders and their associated problems, the underlying causes of GI problems in this population are largely unknown. This talk will address the origin and diagnosis of GI problems in individuals with autism spectrum disorders and will also provide evidence-based answers to GI-relevant treatment questions that families and caregivers often ask about (e.g, the gluten-free diet and fecal transplants).
13. Best Practices in Supervision of Behavior Analysts (ABA)
Mary Jane Weiss, Endicott College

Supervision of behavior analytic services is essential to the development of competent professionals. It is an enormous responsibility to train and prepare the next generation of interventionists and to ensure adequate and ongoing oversight of services. In recent years, supervision has received a great deal of attention in the profession, and guidelines have been identified to ensure that supervision is consistent and effective. Effective supervision, however, remains a concern for many practicing behavior analysts. As the field has evolved, it has become increasingly complex, and the depth and breadth of the field can be form dab le. Supervisees must master a wide range of methodologies, and be prepare to deal with an array of clinical, professional, and ethical challenges. Supervisees must utilize effective strategies for helping trainees to master the procedures of the field and to utilize them effectively and appropriately. This workshop will highlight best practices for supervision including training clinical skills in the context our ethical code and using behavior analytic procedures to develop skills in supervisees. In this workshop, we will cover how to identify goals, instruct supervisees in essential skill sets, and measure the performance of supervisees. Attention will be paid to the use of behavior skills training and performance based evaluations of skill development. In addition, strategies for building more complex skill sets such as effect e collaboration and ethical decision making will be discussed.
14. Assessment to Intervention: Addressing Social Competence for Individuals with ASD (Schools)
Janine Stichter, University of Missouri

Most educational personnel who work with children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are aware of their students’ social competence difficulties. Indeed, most individuals with ASD lack the social interaction skills needed to develop and maintain successful interactions. The purpose of this presentation is to provide a decision making process for educators to use to assess children’s social behaviors and develop individualized social skills targets for intervention programming.
Breakout Sessions
2:15-3:45 p.m.
15. Thinking Differently about Autism (Current Topics)
Evdokia Anagnostou, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

Significant heterogeneity hampers efforts for the development of novel treatments in ASD and despite significant investment we still lack interventions that change the developmental trajectory  of this group of disorders.  In addition early investment into understanding the biological heterogeneity of the spectrum suggests that  findings in genomics and related fields lack specificity for ASD.    The presentation will review state of the art initiatives to understand biological heterogeneity across neurodevelopmental disorders and how this information is used  to develop new treatments.
16. Recent Advancements in the Treatment of Food Selectivity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ABA)
Kathryn Peterson, Munroe-Meyer Institute, Institute of Nebraska Medical Center

Recent studies have shown that 25% to 45% of children experience feeding difficulties, whereas up to 80% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or developmental disabilities have feeding problems (Manikam & Perman, 2000). Many children with ASD display food selectivity, which is defined as the consumption of a severely limited variety of foods. Food selectivity inevitably leads to inadequate dietary intake, which is associated with learning and behavior problems. If left untreated, children with food selectivity also may suffer from weight loss, malnutrition, nutrient deficiencies, or other health problems (e.g., constipation, Type II diabetes). Currently, treatments for pediatric feeding disorders based on applied behavior analysis (ABA) have the most empirical support (Volkert & Piazza, 2012). However, there are not as many studies demonstrating the effectiveness of ABA in the treatment of food selectivity in children with ASD. In addition, there are a limited number of clinics and professionals in the country that specialize in the behavioral treatment of pediatric feeding disorders. In the current presentation, recent research on effective ABA treatments for food selectivity in children with ASD will be reviewed. In addition, strategies will be reviewed to promote long-term maintenance of skill acquisition relative to feeding as well as common challenges that caregivers face when attempting to seek help for their child with a feeding disorder.
17. ASD and Bullying: Positive Interventions for Victims and Perpetrators (Schools)
John Miller, Palm Beach County Schools

One of the biggest problems facing young individuals with autism is victimization by bullies. The presenter will provide strategies that will help students with autism to avoid bullies and to protect themselves from them. Also, teachers will be given strategies to help teach skills that will promote self-advocacy and make students aware of difficult situations and how to deal with them. Attendees will learn how to question individuals with autism that are either victims or perpetrators in bullying scenarios. My goal is to create an environment where individuals with autism are empowered and bullying is dealt with in a practical and proactive manner.