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2017 Conference Presentations

This page lists the 2017 presentation titles, presenters, descriptions, and learning objectives. Many presentations are now available for download. Presentations are divided into four tracks: Educators, Parents 1, Parents 2, and Adults. The conference occurred on April 21, 2017. 

Click here to download 2017 Conference Agenda 

Click here to download a draft of the Spanish Presentation Agenda.

Quick Links: Track 1: Educators    Track 2: Parent 1     Track 3: Parent 2      Track 4: Adults      Track 5: Spanish

Keynote Presentation:

The Road To Inclusive Education

Presenter: Debbie McAdams, M.Ed., Executive Director of Exceptional Education, Metro Nashville and Sonya Dobbs, M.Ed., Disability Services Coordinator, Metro Nashville


Debbie McAdams is the Executive Director of Exceptional Education for the Metropolitan Nashville Public School District. She has a Masters in Special Education from Lehigh University and Administration Certification from David Lipscomp University. Mrs. McAdams has been in the education field for the past 23 years. Her experiences include; Transition Coordinator, Master Teacher, Principal of a High School which serves students with severe behavior disorders, and Director of Special Education. Her most recent accomplishment has been the restructuring of the service delivery model of a large urban district (Metro Nashville). Sonya Dobbs, M.Ed., was a special education teacher for nine years and has been the Disability Services Coordinator at Metro Nashville since 2006. 


McAdams and Dobbs will tell their story of transitioning a large, diverse urban school district from utilizing self-contained categorical classes to a district that supports inclusive education.

Track 1: Educators

Inclusion Strategies for Teachers


Presenter: Christina Moore, MS. Ed


Description: As an educator, it is important to gain a better understand of the types of inclusion strategies you can you use in the class. Teaches who Include children with special needs into the mainstream classroom can make for a healthy experience for all students in the class, though it may require extra attention from the teacher.


Learning Objectives: Teachers will be able to identify the different learning styles and how to implement the learning styles in the classroom. Teachers will be given a variety of different strategies they can implement throughout the day.




IGNITE Program: Individual Growth in an Inclusive Teaching Environment


Presenters: Angela Bouch, MS. Ed and Charles Weems, MA. Ed


Description: The IGNITE program is an academic and social enrichment program incorporating system-wide students into the general education curriculum


Learning Objectives: Attendees will attain a working knowledge of an academic and social skills program that facilities the inclusion of every student. - better address Individual Education Plan goals and objectives -train and facilitate general education teachers and student mentors -screen and select appropriate typical peers as student mentors -pair student mentors with student mentees -schedule and monitor student mentors - select and schedule general education courses -analyze and modify curriculum and assessments -collect and utilize progress monitoring and data collection


School-Based Strategies for Developing Social Resilience


Presenter: Courtney Carlisle Bolton, PhD


Description: In this interactive presentation, Courtney Carlisle Bolton of the UCLA Semel Institute will be providing an overview of PEERS, an empirically supported social skills program for teens and young adults and their parents. Additionally, a brief overview of an adaptation of the treatment program for toddlers will be provided. Within the framework of solid research evidence, concrete rules and steps of social etiquette will be highlighted to promote the development and maintenance of friendships for youth struggling with these skills.


Learning Objectives: Educators and school-based professionals will receive an overview of how to teach social skills within using empirically supported instructional methods as well as an overview of specific skills and strategies for handling social situations in preschool, middle and high school.



Accommodations that Make a Difference


Presenters: Dell Zimmerman and Becca Millott, M. Ed


Description: In this entertaining presentation, a 6th grade teacher and a high school senior (with ASD) will offer suggestions to teachers on a number of essential accommodations and strategies that promote success of students with ASD in the classroom.


Learning Objectives: 1. To familiarize teachers with accommodations that have proven essential to the success of students on the spectrum.  2.  To discuss difficult situations that may arise with ASD students and provide paths to resolve them.  3.  To familiarize teachers with success stories of students who have flourished within the public school system.



Begin in the Beginning with Person-centered Planning


Presenters: Treva Maitland, MS and Jenny Williams


Description: Person Centered Planning includes powerful planning tools which build Self-Determination and Self-Advocacy skills which leads to Student-Directed IEPs. Thinking ahead, practice makes perfect so get started now!


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to choose which Person Centered Planning Tool to use in their situation; describe the difference in Self-Determination and Self-Advocacy; and name the steps in Student-Directed IEPs. These strategies can be practiced at home and implemented in the classroom.


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Track 2: Parents 1
Parents 1

Genetic, Neurological and Behavioral Perspectives on Autism

Presenter: Leslie Rubin, MD


Description: This presentation offers perspectives on the genetic, neurological and behavioral characteristics of autism and explores approaches to promoting health, development, and success in life for children and their families

Learning Objectives: 1. understand some of the reasons for patterns of behavior, 2. recognize effective strategies for therapeutic intervention, 3. navigate the rough waves of information that come from various sources


Child Directed Play Skills for Young Children on the Autism Spectrum

Presenter: John-Paul Abner, PhD

Description: Child Directed play increases language development, play skills, and imitation among young children. Attendees will practice directed play techniques to help them enter their child’s world. 


Learning Objectives: 1. Participants will develop introductory skills in Child Directed Play skills for young children (ages 2-7) 2. Participants will be able to identify resources where they can increase their child directed play skills.


Increasing Independent Thought and Behavior

Presenter: Steven C. Altabet, PhD

Description: Many people with high functioning Autism spectrum Disorder and Asperger's disorder have ample knowledge for self-care and achievement, but often lack the initiative and wait for others to direct them. This workshop will discuss positive behavior support techniques useful in increasing initiative and encouraging individuals with ASD to think for themselves.


Effective Behavior Therapy for Adolescents with High Functioning Autism

Presenters: Holly Blanc Moses, MS, BCBA, LPC, LPA

Description: Adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder are more likely to experience social deficits, rigidity, anxiety, and depression. This presentation examines how to improve relational responding, increase flexibility, and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to identify at least two ways to use special interests to teach skills, Demonstrate techniques to decrease experiential avoidance, Demonstrate techniques to increase perspective taking.


Evidence-Based Autism Treatment

Presenter: Ken Pittman, MD

Description: This is an update on what current evidence exists for a variety of autism treatments. Medicines, therapies, and alternative treatments are all discussed in an objective format.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will understand which treatments for autism are evidenced based versus those that are theoretical and/or not supported by scientific evidence.


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Track 3: Parents 2
Parents 2

Siblings: Too Important to Ignore

Presenters: Tina Prochaska & Caitlyn Brown

Description: Find out who are siblings, what are their unique challenges, and how do we support them

Learning Objectives: Identify some common factors or themes of the sibling experience for brothers and sisters of individuals with disabilities across the lifespan. • Identify state and national resources that can offer support to siblings of persons with disabilities.



Pass the Life Jackets: How to Decrease Stress and Increase Self-care in parent of Children with Autism

Presenter: Holly Blanc Moses, MS, BCBA, LPC

Description: High levels of parenting stress are often reported by parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This presentation addressed how to increase parent support, self-care and family functioning. Decreasing parenting stress will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to describe research on parenting stress. Attendees will be able to implement strategies to increase self-care and support. Attendees will be able to implement strategies to decrease parenting stress.



Parent Child Interaction Therapy: Reducing Disruptive Behavior using the Parent as a Therapeutic Agent.


Presenter: John-Paul Abner, PhD


Parent/Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT) reduces disruptive behaviors in children with ASD and helps them feel more secure and positive. Parents feel less stressed and more confident in their parenting. Come learn about PCIT!    


Learning Objectives: 1. Identify children who would benefit from Parent Child Interaction Therapy. 2. Describe research on the effectiveness of PCIT with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. 



The Power of Visuals at Home


Presenter: Laurie Shaw, BS, SLP-A

Description: Parents will be given a brief overview of the functions of behavior to help answer the question, "Why does my child do that and how can I help?" The purpose of the training is to give parents examples of visual supports (i.e. sticker charts, daily planners, emotional regulation aids, etc.) that can be used to help their child experience success at home and beyond.

Learning Objectives: Design and implement visual support systems at home, Understand the "ABCs" of Behavior


Decision making and "incapacity": Current and proposed options for assisting individuals with special needs.


Presenters: Amy Boulware, Peter Harrison, & Rebecca Miller


This panel will explore ways to help identify and implement methods to assist in decision-making for persons with disabilities that are less restrictive than full guardianship.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to identify the pros and cons of full guardianship/conservatorship and less restrictive means when caring for people with disabilities.


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Track 4: Adults

Mentors and Friends: Two Men's Experience

Presenters: Daniel Durany & Alan Bonderud

Description: The gradual unfolding of a Mentor / Mentee relationship into a lifelong friendship between two men, impacting them in ways they couldn’t have imagined. Presented so others can learn from their experience.

Learning Objectives: Know the importance of mentoring in the personal development of individuals with Asperger’s. Encourage men and women to step up and accept the mentor role in the lives of persons with Asperger’s. See the benefit of two-way mutual edification and learning. Allow persons attending the seminar to share their experiences so we all can learn from them and be encouraged by them.


Steps to Independence

Presenter: Miyah Sundermeyer

Description: People with autism long for independence but often struggle to realize that many things come in between.

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to learn which steps that need to be taken to become independent.


All the World's Our Stage: Using Improv to Build Social Skills

Presenter: Sandra Bruce

Description: Improv is fun, without a doubt. But did you know that improvisational acting can be a key to developing stronger social and workplace communication skills in people with Asperger’s?

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: identify how improv can effect improved social communication skills; learn how improv encourages flexible thinking, adapting to change and unpredictability, and understanding a different point of view; describe how improv promotes self-confidence by overcoming communication barriers, learning to respond outside your zone of comfort, and letting mistakes go.


Self-Advocate Mentors: Helping Others to Speak Up and Speak Out - Panel Discussion



Facilitator: Kelly Bradley-Owens, Panel: DIDD Self-Advocate Mentors

Description: Do you know and exercise your human rights? Are you interested in helping people to learn about their rights? Are you interested in being a leader? Come learn more about standing up for yourself and others.

Learning Objectives: 1. Identify rights that are especially important to them Know about DIDD Self-Advocate Mentor program • Learn ways to Advocate for rights in different groups (family, staff, community, medical…) 2. Help others to advocate for themselves. 3. Develop a Focus Group program for their support agency.


Sex and the Spectrum

Presenters: Scott Kramer, MS. Ed & April Jagger, MEd

Description: Healthy sexuality is important to the ASD adult, and can benefit adults on the autism spectrum throughout the lifespan. The presenters will share research and techniques for initiating and sustaining beneficial sexual expression.

Learning Objectives: 1. To prepare for self-reflection on the forms of sexual expression one desires 2. To make a plan for achieving sexual fulfillment regardless of life circumstances 3. To learn strategies for keeping life in balance and keeping sex “sexy” 4. Findings from research on autistic adults and sexuality.


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Track 5: Spanish Language Presentations 

La Familia y el Medio Ambiente

Facilitator: Maribel Negron, BA-PSY



Maribel hablara acerca de  la comunicación y el papel de otros miembros de la familia, especialmente los abuelos. Mostrará barreras que existen en las familias latinas y cómo confrontarlas. Los asistentes también recibirán recursos en español que con más información sobre autismo y recursos para su familia.


Objetivos de aprendizaje:

Los asistentes ...

1) adquirir nuevas habilidades de comunicación.

2) aprender a contar con otros miembros de la familia.

3) aprender nuevas maneras de lidiar con el estrés cuando surgen ciertas barreras.

El Trauma Viene En Muchos Empaques: Como Detectar Señales De Trauma

Presenters: Shady Hernandez, MA, HS-BCP


1. Tipos de trauma
2. Comportamientos del trauma
3. Reconocimiento de los signos de los comportamientos y la terapia centrada en el trauma
4. Qué hacer
5. ¿Cómo puedo mantener a las familias seguras
6. Recursos

Objetivos de aprendizaje:

Las familias...

1. podrán aprender que hay diferentes tipos de trauma
2. tendrán un mejor conocimiento de cuándo y cómo el trauma puede afectar a un individuo
3. serán capaces de enumerar diferentes tipos de comportamientos asociados con eventos traumáticos
4. tendrán una mejor comprensión de qué hacer cuando son golpeados por un trauma

Transición en la Vida Escolar en los Niños y Jóvenes

Presenters: Patricia Valladares y Dorca Rose Guayurpa - STEP


La transición en la vida escolar se trata de todos los cambios que un estudiante con discapacidad pasará de Pre K a Kindergarten, desde kindergarten a elemental, de elemental intermedia, de la escuela intermedia a la secundaria y de la escuela secundaria a la vida adulta. Patricia y Dorca informaran a los asistentes cómo hacer estas transiciones  y enseñarán cómo trabajar con el equipo IEP de sus hijos para que tengan éxito. La preparación de estas transiciones también ayudarán no sólo en la escuela, sino también proveerá a los padres a aprender cómo asegurarse que su hijo esté listo para cualquier cambio en el hogar.


Objetivos de aprendizaje:

Los asistentes serán capaces de ...

1) preparar a su hijo para cada cambio que suceda durante sus años en la escuela.

2) encontrar recursos que ayuden con las transiciones.

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