top of page

2018 Conference Presentations

This page lists the 2018 presentation titles, presenters, descriptions, and learning objectives. Presentations are divided into four tracks: Educators, Parents 1, Parents 2,  and Adults (you can attend presentations from multiple tracks). See below for more information!



Click here for a one-page version of the agenda



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

Keynote Presentation:

A Game Changing View of Autism: How Nature May Be Hijacking the Mind for Problem Solving and What It Means to the Autism Community

Presenter: Rick Rader, MD

Description: Dr. Rader offers a novel and thoughtful new theory based on the principles of bio-adaptation; or how nature changes the body in response to emerging threats for survival. While it remains a theory, it provides food for thought on how we should begin to rethink what autism is all about and how it may impact on the way we provide social support, education, and inclusion. Dr. Rader will discuss different types of problems and problem-solving, and why the "autistic mind" is well suited for these challenges.

Track 1: Educators

Feeding the Brains of Students with Autism: Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom

Click Here for Powerpoint

Presenters: Lindee Morgan, PhD, CCC-SLP & Michael Siller, PhD


Description: This presentation will focus on the role of social-emotional development for student success, and how ASD disrupts this developmental process. Strategies will be shared for creating a context to foster social-emotional engagement in students with ASD.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Summarize how social-emotional development differs for children with autism

2. Describe the critical role of social-emotional engagement for all children

3. List the primary strategies for fostering engagement in the classroom

Power of Playfulness

Click Here for Powerpoint


Presenter: John Paul Abner, PhD


Description: This presentation will explore the importance of play in the life of children on the spectrum and the adults who teach them. Attendees will learn and practice child-directed play skills.


Learning Objectives:

1. Implement child-led play skills in a role play situation

2. Identify how play and playfulness can positively impact all children 

3. Learn techniques to expand play skills in children on the autism spectrum

Implementing Visuals in Classroom Settings

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Laurie Shaw, SLP-A


Description: Participants will be given a brief description of the functions of behavior as it pertains to classroom related scenarios. The presenter will offer ideas and examples of visual schedules, token economy systems, as well as parent communication tools for behavior management in the classroom.


Learning Objectives:

1. Identify functions of behavior

2. Determine possible causes of behaviors in the classroom

3. Share ideas for implementing visual schedules, token economy systems, and parent-teacher collaboration strategies


Using a Strength-Based Approach to Develop Positive Change

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Karen Weigle, PhD


Description: Using one's own strengths in daily work and life not only improves health, but can help improve outcomes for students and other collaborators. Attendees will learn how to use positive psychology strategies to accomplish these goals. PRIOR to the conference, attendees of this workshop must complete their own "Character Strength Survey"  Click here to complete. It is free and takes less than 15 minutes.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Identify how understanding one's own strengths helps in identifying strengths in others

2. Use that knowledge to move students toward positive outcomes

3. Describe the tenets of positive psychology and how focusing on what's strong brings students to better learning and health


Special Education: Tools for Success at School and Home

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenters: Angela Bouch, MEd & Dewayne Galyon, BSEd


Description: This session will explore common parental concerns regarding special education. Developing appropriate expectations for students will be explored and participants will be equipped with a toolbox of strategies to implement both in school and at home. 


Learning Objectives:

1. Identify and address common parental concerns pertaining to special education

2. Evaluate expectations for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

3. Implement strategies for success at home and school



Back to top

Track 2: Parents 1
Parents 1

Autism and Anxiety: Real Strategies that Work

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Holly Moses, MS, BCBA, LPC, LPA


Description: Individuals with autism often experience clinically significant anxiety, which compounds impairment in social functioning, academic work, and challenging behavior. This presentation examines how to identify anxiety and use effective techniques to manage anxiety.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Demonstrate a technique to decrease experiential avoidance

2. Explain how to identify anxiety in children and adolescence with autism 

3. Demonstrate how to use a special interest to decrease anxiety

Relationship Goals: Supporting Social Skills for Peer Relationships

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Andrea Kirkman, MS, CCC-SLP


Description: This presentation will address issues impacting individuals with ASD ranging from peer friendships and aspects of dating. The purpose of this presentation is to explore the potential for people with ASD to improve social skills and to encourage families and support people to combine evidence-based practice with creativity to achieve meaningful goals.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Identify the significance of social skills training for individuals with ASD

2. Learn methods to promote social skills through evidence-based strategies


Concrete Communication: It's All in the Phrasing

Click Here for Powerpoint 

Presenter: John Paul Abner, PhD


Description: This presentation will help parents and educators construct effective communication that will help children and adolescents follow directions quickly. This lively and practical presentation will give skills designed to increase understanding and compliance.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Learn how to phrase directions in a positive manner

2. Distinguish between indirect commands and direct commands


Explaining Sensory Differences, How It Impacts Function, & What You Can Do About It


Presenters: Jeni Yielding, OTR/L & Juli Braswell, OTR/L


Description: What does it feel like for your child when they experience sensory overload or when they are seeking sensory input? Why do sensory issues turn into so many different behaviors? What can we as parents do? Jeni and Juli, "The OT Twins" will describe the basic components of sensory processing and help you understand their impact on functional performance in life activities.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Identify how dysfunctional sensory systems may interfere with daily activities

2. Understand functional ways to integrate sensory strategies into everyday activities

Top 10 Tools for your ASD Toolbox


Presenters: Amy Rutherford MEd, LPC & Michelle Rigler, EdD


Description: Parents, are you wondering what your kids are going to need to help them transition to adulthood? How can you best prepare them for life after high school, work, or college? Attendees will learn about the "top ten tools" used by the presenters to best support young adults on the autism spectrum. The audience will be given a resource list to develop their own toolkit that will be the most helpful for their own child.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Understand why some of the difficulties exist for young adults with ASD

2. Engage with presenters regarding the effectiveness and use of specific tools for support

3. Develop the beginning of their own ASD toolbox


Back to top

Track 3: Parents 2
Parents 2

What's My New Role? Family Systems Perspective of an ASD Diagnosis & Therapeutic Needs

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenters: Brandon Rodgers, PhD & Von Poll, MS


Description: This presentation will explore the diagnostic impact of an autism spectrum disorder through a systemic lens of the entire family. Common transitional role struggles and therapeutic needs identified by families will be discussed.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Gain an understanding of systemic perspective when identifying family needs

2. Identify several family role struggles commonly identified following an autism spectrum diagnosis

3. Identify potential resources to address the therapeutic needs of families


Engaging Young Children with Autism: Strategies for Families

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Lindee Morgan, PhD, CCC-SLP


Description: The features of autism that contribute to challenges in actively engaging children will be summarized in this presentation. The importance of active engagement for children’s learning will be explored, along with strategies for parents to foster active engagement.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Summarize challenges in active engagement for children with autism

2. Describe how active engagement is critical for learning

3. List the primary strategies for fostering active engagement


Focused Playtime Intervention - Engaging Young Children with Autism in Shared Toy Play

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Michael Siller, PhD


Description: Focused Playtime Intervention (FPI) helps parents to create a successful playtime routine. This presentation will describe the intervention process, discuss specific strategies, and review the research on child and family outcomes.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Describe the process by which FPI supports parents

2. Describe specific strategies for encouraging shared play

3. Understand the promise and limitation of this intervention approach


Assistive Technology in the Schools

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenters: Emily Darr, M. Ed., Shelia Garner, M. Ed., & Felicia Bowers, CCC-SLP, MA


Description: In this session, the presenters will define assistive technology as it relates to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and describe services that are available within the school setting.


Learning Objectives:

1. Gain an understanding of assistive technology in the public school setting

2. Explore assistive technology supports for learning deficits


Most Frequently Asked Legal Questions

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Martin Pierce, Attorney


Description: Martin will discuss the most frequently asked questions that Parents and others ask about legal issues, including: Do I need a will or a trust? A power of attorney or a guardianship? A special needs trust or an ABLE account? What about medicaid, SSI and other benefits? Schools and educational options? Is there anything new? What does it all cost? This presentation will address these and other common legal questions.


Learning Objectives:

Attendees will be able to:

1. describe how the following programs and products could be used by their family in their unique situation: Medicaid, SSI, Special Needs Trusts, ABLE account, Guardianship, and Power of Attorney.

2. explain the pros and cons of when to use a Will vs Special Needs Trust, Power of Attorney vs Guardianship, or Special Needs Trust vs an ABLE Account.


Back to top


Track 4: Adults

Self-Employment and the Autism Spectrum

Click Here for Powerpoint


Presenter: Jonathan A. Sharp


Description: Jonathan will discuss how self-employment has helped him and how it can help others on the Spectrum. This presentation will address employment statistics, advantages of self-employment, disadvantages of self-employment, and what kind of careers people with autism can be successful in (including alternatives to computer science type careers).


Learning Objectives: 

1. Be empowered to coach people with autism to be effective followers, a precursor to being effective leaders

2. Discuss whether self-employment is right for them (or their loved one)

3. Think outside of the box when looking at career options


Supported Decision-Making in Action

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Tina Campanella, MA


Description: Supported Decision Making (SDM) is a process to help people gain and/or maintain control of their life. This presentation will highlight approaches to decision-making that promote respect, dignity and personal autonomy for people with disabilities.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Define Supported Decision-Making (SDM)

2. Identify the difference between substituted and supported decision-making strategies

3. Describe tools that can be used to implement a supported decision-making approach


Mindfulness for Everyday

Click Here for Powerpoint


Presenter: Christy Tittsworth, APRN, CPNP, PMHS, BCN


Description: In this presentation, the history, neuroscience, and benefits of mindfulness will be discussed. Participants will be introduced to several mindfulness practices that can be used in everyday life.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Define mindfulness and describe its origins in history and evolution in the West

2. Understand how neuroscience supports the usefulness of mindfulness practices

3. Describe how mindfulness can support self-regulation


Employment Opportunities for People on the Spectrum

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Luke Queen, MBA, D.Min, LPC-MHSP


Description: What are the employment opportunities for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder? Unemployment rates are high for people with disabilities. Overcoming poverty depends largely on a person's ability to find employment that pays a sufficient wage.This presentation will discuss competitive employment options in Tennessee and give valuable information on how to access the referral system. 


Learning Objectives:

1. Identify sources of funding through the state ECF program, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the CMRA program

2. Learn how to access the state-funded system to help people with autism find employment 

3. Be empowered by success stories of people with autism who are doing great things in the community


Autism in the Workplace: Strategies for Success

Click Here for Powerpoint 


Presenter: Johnny Payne, MEd & Grace Powell, OTS


Description: The demands of finding, attaining, and excelling in a job provoke a heightened level of stress for any transitioning adult, particularly one with autism. However, independence through vocation provides confidence and constructive personal growth opportunities. In this presentation, attendees will navigate how to utilize inherent strengths as a way to mitigate challenges within the workplace.


Learning Objectives: 

1. Describe the most common challenges experienced by adults with autism in the workplace as a way to prepare for the transition.

2. Explain and be able to use practical strategies that adults with autism can use to overcome workplace challenges


Back to top

bottom of page