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2020 Conference Presentations (virtual)

2020 Workshops


Link to one-page agenda with times for each presentation.

This page lists all the 2020 presentation titles, presenters, descriptions, and learning objectives. Presentations are divided into four tracks. Click the links below to jump to a specific track.  You can also click on many of the presentations to download their PowerPoints. Some will not have links because either the presenters did not have PowerPoints or did not give us permission to share them online.






The Educator’s Sensory Toolbox - Click to download presentation


Presenter: Erin Wilke, MA, OTR/L


Description: All too often, children with autism are placed in classrooms where there are limited tools for addressing their sensory processing needs. These children’s performance would likely improve with the right resources, but these resources are often seen as expensive and unavailable for teachers. In this session, educators will learn specific and simple sensory strategies they can implement tomorrow in their classrooms without spending (much) money.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 

  • Identify the behaviors in the classroom that may be an indication of sensory dysfunction.

  • Strategize techniques that may be helpful for a variety of sensory differences.

  • Implement mostly free (some low cost) ways to support these children and their sensory needs.


Let’s Talk Specifics: Communication for Relationship Enhancement - Click to download presentation


Presenter: John Paul Abner, PhD


Description: Research shows that children who have a good relationship with an adult have much greater resiliency. Forming these positive relationships can be challenging for any child, but they can be particularly difficult for children on the autism spectrum. This workshop will teach educators relationship-building and communication skills that will facilitate strong connections between teacher and child and help children follow directions in the classroom.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 

  • Identify the principles for making their directions easier to follow.

  • Practice strategies designed to build positive relationships with children on the spectrum.

  • Identify strategies to improve specificity of communication when working with children on the autism spectrum.

Accommodations and Inclusion: Panel Discussion - Click to download presentation


Presenters: Maria Reap (Mod.), Bridget Fischer, & Jessica Stokes


Description: Expert educators from Tennessee and Georgia will each present strategies and examples of inclusion techniques and accommodations they and their colleagues use in their classrooms. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask these questions about other accommodation and inclusion issues. The goals are to give teachers more rationale for the importance and effectiveness of inclusion and accommodations, and also for everyone to leave with more tools for working with diverse learners.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 

  • Describe different accommodation methods that educators are using with autistic students.

  • Explain the importance of inclusion. 

  • Describe strategies for successful inclusion.

Understanding Disruptive Behaviors: Changing the Classroom so Students Thrive - Click to download


Presenters: Alyson Thompson & Jane Griffin, EdD


Description: When classroom behavior can be controlled, children thrive. Presenters in this session will address factors like environments and schedules that may be fueling disruptive behaviors, and describe how to moderate these behaviors by making simple adjustments and using easily accessible resources. Participants will leave with their own practical tool kit and an understanding of how to use it. 


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 

  • Understand that all behaviors have a cause.

  • Determine antecedents of and motivation for disruptive behaviors.

  • Implement behavior management strategies and tools in the classroom.

Function-Based Treatment of Challenging Behaviors - Click to download 

Presenters: Amy Thomson, MEd, LBA, BCBA & Mary Haymaker, MEd, LBA, BCBA


Description: How do you deal with challenging behaviors in the classroom? Behavior analysts Amy Thompson and Mary Haymaker will answer this question by focusing on the four functions of behavior. Participants will learn how to match prevention and intervention strategies with the function of behavior in order to decrease challenging behaviors. Attendees will be equipped to define challenging behaviors, determine appropriate replacement behaviors, and write specific goals for replacement behaviors. 


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:  

  • Operationally define challenging behavior.

  • Identify the 4 functions of behaviors and functionally equivalent replacement behaviors.

  • Identify appropriate, function-based prevention/intervention strategies to increase replacement behaviors and decrease challenging behaviors in the classroom.​​

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Educator Workshops

Fly, Crash, Burn, Fly: Tips for Nurturing the Whole Family in a Spectrum Household - Click to Download

Presenter: Angela Joyce Sehstedt


Description: In this session, Angela Joyce Sehstedt will share from her personal experience on the trials and victories of living each day in a household with a loved one once they are diagnosed with autism or ADHD. Topics include next steps, caring for other family members, balance of love and attention, ideas for smooth transitions in the home, everyone learning together to live together in harmony, and more.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:  

  • Implement strategies they can use at home to prevent meltdowns.

  • Include siblings and have resources for explaining autism to family members.

  • Leave with resources for activities for everyone in the household.

Autism and Screen Time - Click to download


Presenter: Matt McUmber, LCSW, CADC II


Description: Screen time includes time spent watching TV and/or movies, browsing the internet, and playing games on handheld devices, computers, or gaming consoles. In this presentation, Matt McUmber will explore the risks and benefits of screen time among individuals with autism. He will also discuss current standards, research, and recommendations regarding screen time. This session should be electric, as this issue has been a hot topic of debate among everyone in the autistic community.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 

  • Define different types of screen time. 

  • Understand current standards and research as they relate to screen time.

  • Develop personalized rules and routines for healthy use of technology.


Parent Mediated Interventions: The Power in your Day-To-Day Interactions - Click to download

Presenter: Heidi Hosick Joyce, MS CCC_A/SLP


Description: Parent Mediated Interventions (PMI) provide therapeutic opportunities through rich and loving relationships. These interventions provide coaching to parents, supporting meaningful interactions during play and day to day routines. This approach gives children consistent, engaging opportunities in a relevant environment. Relationship-based services allow a child to feel safe and secure, thus promoting natural growth and development as their body is ready.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 

  • Discuss three different parent mediated interventions.

  • Describe relationship-based services.

  • Name three strategies used during relationship-based play.


What’s Available After High School? A Parent Panel - Click to Download


Presenters: April Grubbs (Mod.), Sondra Skelton, Kathy Corley, & Amye Warren


Description: Panel of four parents who will discuss navigating post-secondary options for students on the autism spectrum.  


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:

  • Describe example of how parents and teachers can help students prepare for life after high school.

  • List resources or programs available in our region that can help with the transition process.

  • List the areas of focus when it comes to preparing teens for the transition and why they are important.


5 Simple Strategies to Improve Social Skills - Click to Download

Presenter: Holly Blanc Moses, MS BCBA, LCMHC, LPA


Description: Social challenges are common in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. In this workshop, Holly Blanc Moses will provide a step-by-step blueprint for improving social interaction by teaching inner speech, social skills at recess, check-in development, and classroom participation.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:  

  • Identify 3 essential components of a social check-in.

  • Identify 3 ways to pre-arrange social interaction for success.

  • Identify 3 steps for successful social interaction during recess.

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A Teacher’s Gift: From Non-verbal to Singing at the Grand Ole’ Opry - Click to Download


Presenters: Tammy Vice & Logan Blade


Description: Through stories and original songs, Tammy Vice and Logan Blade will share Logan’s journey from being non-verbal to singing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and beyond. "It is our hope that attendees will be encouraged and inspired, knowing how much their attitude and input matters, and the critical difference they can make in a child’s life.”


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:

  • Look for, and focus on the individual strengths of each child, regardless of their ability.  

  • Use the arts to motivate and communicate. 

  • Understand how each small step, even the missteps, can add up to progress.  

  • Give their child, and themselves, do-overs.

Steps to Becoming Independent - click to download

Presenter: Miyah R. Sundermeyer

Description: Miyah Sundermeyer is an autistic adult who will discuss steps other autistic adults can take to increase their independence. She sees the progression to independence from the autistic perspective and understands the obstacles autistic individuals might face in some of these steps. She will talk about how running errands is important when you live with your parents as well as doing your share of chores. Ms. Sundermeyer will also teach attendees about using natural supports to help them with money management, and how to pay bills when they are due. She'll discuss how to select roommates and other ways you can be successful as you live on your own.

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:  

  • Describe the importance of running errands and doing chores. 

  • Manage money better through natural supports, including paying bills on time.

  • List the steps for selecting roommates effectively.

If You Think You Can: Powering Thru Perceptions and Hard Times - Powerpoint not available


Presenter: Taylor Duncan


Description: A successful non-profit leader/TedX speaker/autism advocate, a young adult on the autism spectrum will share his personal story of spreading the importance of opportunities for others with autism. Taylor Duncan will share his three-step strategy toward success (to IDENTIFY, DECIDE, and EXECUTE) for use in all areas of life, making adjustments when necessary...


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 

  • Apply a new three step strategy toward their individual objectives for their specific needs.

  • IDENTIFY a goal, DECIDE on a plan, and EXECUTE on that plan to achieve success.

  • Make the most of what they have, making adjustments when needed.

  • Embrace a new and exciting outlook on the capabilities of those with a disability, when given the opportunity to succeed.  

Entrepreneurship & Small Micro Business Panel Discussion - Click to Download


Presenters: Jonathan Sharp, AAS and Yadira V. Calderon, MA


Description: This will be a panel of entrepreneurs (both on the Spectrum and not) who will talk about the joys and pitfalls of being an entrepreneur.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:

  • Discuss entrepreneurship from the perspective of those who have experience in the field. 

  • Describe what is needed to be an entrepreneur.  

  • Describe how to start with E-commerce (Ebay, Etsy, Etc).

  • Engage with other topics surrounding entrepreneurship and autism.

Autism: A Spiritual Care Perspective - Click to Download

Presenter: Melvin Rodgers, DMin, APC,  BCC, ACPE

Description: Melvin Rodgers will discuss spirituality, religion, faith communities, and spiritual resources for persons on the autism spectrum. He will also discuss some social challenges faced by persons on the autism spectrum. This presentation will differ from some in that it will be from the perspective of someone who is an ordained minister in the Christian faith, a board certified chaplain, and has training in theology, psychology, and world religions. 


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:

  • Apply a new three step strategy toward their individual objectives for their specific needs.

  • IDENTIFY a goal, DECIDE on a plan, and EXECUTE on that plan to achieve success.

  • Make the most of what they have, making adjustments when needed.

  • Embrace a new and exciting outlook on the capabilities of those with a disability, when given the opportunity to succeed.  

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Adult Workshops

Co-occurring Conditions in Children with ASD - presentation not available


Presenter: Cindy Chestaro, MD


Description:  There are common coexisting conditions that should be considered as part of the assessment and management of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The conditions that overlap with ASD generally fall into the following groups: medical conditions, examples such as gastrointestinal issues, feeding or sleep disorders; neurodevelopmental conditions, such as ADHD, intellectual disability or language disorder; and psychiatric conditions such as anxiety. When taking care of a child with ASD, it is very important to consider these and other frequent diagnosable conditions that have a high impact on the social and functional impairment of the child in different ways at different ages. These conditions may either be treatable in their own right or may influence the long-term outcome for the child. Being aware and having a good understanding of these conditions could improve the quality of life and future development of the child with ASD.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to

  • List some of the most common medical, psychiatric, developmental, and behavioral conditions seen in children with ASD.

  • Identify appropriate tools to aid in the diagnosis of coexisting conditions.

  • Discuss the evidence for psychosocial and pharmacologic treatments for coexisting conditions.

Neurology and Autism: What is the Role a Pediatric Neurologist? - Click to Download

Presenter: Day Breen, MD

Description: Dr. Day Breen will discuss autism from the perspective of a developmental neurologist. Attendees will learn about the neurological assessment for autism as well as how and when to refer patients to a neurologist. Dr. Breen will discuss the characteristics of autism that service providers should be looking for, as well as the types of co-occurring disorders and medical issues a neurologist would test for or attempt to rule out.

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 

  • Describe the autism diagnostic process performed by a developmental neurologist.

  • List characteristics a neurologist is looking for when diagnosing autism.

  • Explain the limitations a developmental neurologist might have in diagnosing autism.

  • List other neurological and medical conditions that a neurologist might assess for while assessing for autism.

  • List the characteristics that would lead you to refer a patient to a developmental neurologist.

What's ABA Anyway? How it Works and When to Refer

Presenter: Holly Blanc Moses, MS BCBA, LCMHC, LPA


Description: Behavior analysis is the systematic application of effective interventions based on learning theory. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been successful in increasing communication, academic skills, adaptive behavior, and social skills in children with autism. It has also been used to decrease dangerous behavior such as aggression, self-injury, and bolting. This presentation provides an overview of ABA and two case presentations.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 

  • Identify the components of a functional assessment.

  • Name 4 types of behavior that are typically targeted for ABA treatment.

  • Identify when to refer patients for ABA treatment.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for Children on the Autism Spectrum - Powerpoint not available

Presenters: Christopher K. Owen, & Corey Lieneman, MS

Description: Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an evidence-based intervention shown to decrease severe disruptive behaviors in children. Treatment is divided into two phases: child-directed interaction (CDI) and parent-directed interaction (PDI). CDI strengthens the caregiver-child bond, whereas PDI teaches the caregiver to discipline effectively. A novel third phase—“Social Directed Interaction” (SDI)—involves the caregiver coaching the child to engage in pro-social behaviors while interacting with other children and adults. Attendees will learn about PCIT through demonstration, video modeling, and interactive role-play.

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:  

  • Explain the theoretical rationale and empirical evidence for providing PCIT to children on the autism spectrum (PCIT-ASD). 

  • Describe ways to address specialized issues and comorbid difficulties using PCIT-ASD.

  • Apply new techniques related to social skills training.

Occupational Therapy for Children with Autism: Supports, Services & Best Practices - Click to Download

Presenter: Erin Wilke, MA, OTR/L


Description: Occupational therapy is a powerful and dynamic profession that is perfectly suited to work with children on the autism spectrum. In this session, Erin Wilke will review the ways - supported by the evidence - that OTs have a unique skill set to facilitate improvements in daily living and functioning for children with autism and their families.

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to:  

  • Describe the role of an OT and how these therapists can support children with autism.

  • Identify best practices for children with autism related to occupational therapy.

  • Discuss the current research, including the Ayres Sensory Integration research, and how this theory and practice is especially important for children with autism. 

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Medical Workshops
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