September 30-October 1, 2017
619-600-0683

Past Conferences

2016

Steve Silberman

Steve Silberman is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, the New Yorker, the MIT Technology Review, Nature, Salon, Shambhala Sun, and many other publications.  He is the author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (Avery 2015), which Oliver Sacks called a “sweeping and penetrating history…presented with a rare sympathy and sensitivity.”  The book became a widely-praised bestseller in the United States and the United Kingdom, and won the 2015 Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction, a California Book Award, and a Books for a Better Life award.  It was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2015 by the The New York Times, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Boston Globe, The Independent, and many other publications.  In 2016, Silberman gave the keynote speech at the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day.  He has given talks on the history of autism at Yale, MIT, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Imperial College London, and many other major institutions.

David and Kristen Finch

David Finch is a humorist, public speaker, and author of the acclaimed New York Times best-selling memoir, The Journal of Best Practices. Married in 2003 and diagnosed five years later with Asperger syndrome, David has committed himself to relentless self-improvement, sometimes to a comical extent. David has written for The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Slate, and he writes a relationship blog for Psychology Today. But his greatest accomplishment by far has been learning how to thrive as a family man.

Session – “The Happiness Myth: Showing Up In a Meaningful Way”

  • It turns out that marriage really isn’t about making each other happy.
  • In this session, you will learn just three of the many ways you can improve your relationship without wasting efforts: practicing self-love, ownership, and over-the-top celebration.

Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

ASD is too often defined by a checklist of deficits. This perspective has led to disrespectful treatments that often focus on ridding a person of “autistic” symptoms. In this presentation a paradigm-shifting position will be offered. Instead of classifying meaningful and purposeful behavior as pathological, we will examine it as part of human development and human behavior— a range of strategies to communicate and to cope with a world that at times, feels confusing, overwhelming and frightening. The experience of autistic people with autism is addressed in a manner that provides greater insight into behavioral patterns leading to more respectful strength-based and developmentally appropriate approaches. Specific educational implications will be presented that challenges approaches that focus on “fixing” autistic people.

Session – Autism: A Uniquely Human Experience

Michael Tolleson: An Autist Savant Artist

To create his prolific works of art, with no formal instruction in art, Michael relies on his Asperger’s-mind. During his short-painting-career (less than 5 years) he has painted more than seven hundred gallery-worthy paintings. Regardless of its size, paintings are usually completed in less than an hour. As a result, Michael is reluctant to take credit for his work, believing his autism is actually the artist within him. Until his mid-fifties, Michael was unaware of his autism. In 2015, at the age of fifty-eight, he was formally diagnosed.

Since 2012, the year Michael established his first artist social media page, Michael’s paintings and writings have been featured in three books: Dr. Tony Atwood’s Been There, Done That, Try This, A European artist-collective/compilation titled, Sachet Mixte and A collection of women based artworks with inspirations, The Strength Of Women.
In October 2014, Michael received a global first place in visual arts at the “ANCA Naturally Autistic 2014 Awards” in Scotland. In April 2015, Michael appeared and painted live at the Nokia Center in Los Angeles during the “Temple Grandin and Friends’” event, demonstrating, as a savant, the gifts autism brings through him. He does this often at autism benefits and conferences. As an author, advocate, and artist, Michael and has been featured on: NBC affiliate KING 5 Morning Show (New Day Northwest) in 2013, The Seattle Cable Channel 2013, KCPQ Fox Q13 Seattle 2014, KING 5’s Evening Newscast in Seattle 2015, Huntington, West Virginia’s NBC affiliate WSAZ newscast 2016. He has also been interviewed for countless newspaper articles and radio shows.

Michael and his autistic and artist husband maintain and operate The Michael Tolleson Savant Art Center, a 1600 square-foot facility that houses art studios, offices and art mentoring classrooms for autistic youth. It is located in the Seattle, Washington metro area.

Session – The New “Normal”

  • A new vision of what “normal” looks like
  • Establishing conversations and communications based on a revised “Normal”
  • A relationship based in reality rather that socialized behaviors

Caren Zucker

Caren Zucker is a journalist and television producer who has reported on a broad range of subjects both domestically and internationally. As a producer for ABC’s World News and Nightline, working alongside Peter Jennings, Charlie Gibson, and Diane Sawyer, she covered economic summits, presidential campaigns, social trends, and the Olympic Games. Emmy-nominated, she was honored for her part in ABC’s coverage of 9/11 with two of television’s most prestigious prizes, the Peabody and the Alfred L. DuPont awards. Her oldest son Mickey’s autism diagnosis inspired a new direction in her reporting: to bring a better understand­ing of autism’s realities. Zucker and her husband, the NBC Sports execu­tive John McGuinness, have three children and reside in New Jersey.

John Donvan

John Donvan is a correspondent for ABC News, and host and mod­erator of the Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates, which are heard on public radio and by podcast. During his journalism career, in addition to anchoring such broadcasts as ABC’s Nightline, John served as chief White House correspondent, and held multiyear postings in London, Moscow, Jerusalem, and Amman, Jordan. He is the winner of three Emmys and the Overseas Press Club Award. He became interested in autism’s impact on families upon meeting his wife, the physician and medical school professor Ranit Mishori, who grew up in Israel with a brother profoundly affected by autism. John also performs as a live storyteller with the group Story District. He has two children and lives in Washington, DC.

Alex Plank

Alex Plank is the 28 year old guy behind WrongPlanet.net, the incredibly popular site for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. Both Alex and Wrong Planet have been featured by CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Good Morning America. Wrong Planet has more than 90,000 registered members and its discussion forums contain millions of messages.

Alex graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Film and Video Studies. His areas of interest and expertise include public speaking, the Internet, writing, directing, and filmmaking. He lives in Beverly Hills, California. Alex is also a consultant and actor on FX’s hit series The Bridge.

Daniel Wendler

Daniel Wendler is a social skills expert – which is pretty surprising for a guy with Asperger’s syndrome.

As a child, Daniel suffered from bullying, social isolation and depression. But after being diagnosed with Asperger’s in high school, Daniel started studying social skills the way one might study a foreign language. His study paid off, and Daniel began to make friends and experience the power of community.

Today, Daniel works as a social skills author to share what he’s learned with others. He’s written the books “Improve Your Social Skills” and “Level Up Your Social Life”, as well as the website ImproveYourSocialSkills.com. He has also advocated for autism awareness through presentations at TEDx University of Arizona, the Marbridge Foundation, and the Matthew Reardon Foundation Conference for Autism.

Daniel holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology and is pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology from George Fox University.

Session – Platonic Love: Autism and The Power of Friendship

  • Gain a deeper appreciation for the value of frienship
  • Learn practical tools for making and forming friendships
  • Explore the ways that friendship prepares individuals for romantic relationships.

Chou Chou Scantlin

Autistic self advocate Chou Chou (pronounced “Shoo Shoo”) Scantlin is a singer, actress, costumer, and producer of Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra. She and her husband, Doc, perform internationally with their twenty three member 1920s-1940s Big Band Show and live a lifestyle true to the period.  She is a fourth generation performer, trained by Philip Meister at the National Shakespeare Conservatory and uses her talents to connect and communicate her strong message of love. Embracing her differences and relentlessly committed to creating  infectious positivity, her colorful journey through an “ incident-prone” life is shared through her one-woman show, “Blissfully Being”. Based in Washington DC, she is known for her humorous, heartfelt, “Bombshell Blonde” style, and has received many accolades, awards, and credits, none more valued by her than credit awarded by her son, a retired Navy SEAL, who proudly calls her” the strongest person he knows”.

Session – “Blissfully Being: Life as an Atypical Valentine”

  • What can be learned from a baby-voiced, piano-crawling, non-academic, show biz chantoozie who finds it hard to live life as most people do?
  • Can different thinkers stay different thinking and lead full and happy lives?
  • What is the one skill that can be learned, in less than two minutes, that can make anyone happier, healthier, and more successful in life, and get away with it most of the time?

Kirsten Lindsmith

Kirsten Lindsmith is an author, artist, consultant, and autism advocate. After receiving an ASD diagnosis at the age of 19, she began co-hosting the online television show Autism Talk TV, and speaking about her experience as a young woman on the spectrum. Kirsten has written columns for WrongPlanet.net and AutismAfter16.com, and she was profiled in The New York Times in a feature titled Navigating Love and Autism. She is a member of the board of advisors for the Yale Child Study Center’s Initiative for Girls and Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She currently works in partnership with the home care agency Melody of Autism in the greater NYC area, and as a consultant for parents, professionals, and individuals on the spectrum. Kirsten maintains a blog at KirstenLindsmith.wordpress.com where she writes articles about ASD-related topics.

Session – Two Worlds, One Family: Navigating Neurodiversity in AS/NT and AS/AS Relationships

  • How and why autistic and non-autistic (“allistics”) differences mimic social cultures. How does autism affect social relationships?
  • How does allism affect social relationships?
  • How to navigate “cultural differences” in AS and NT social dynamics. Learn to build a life together, emotionally and practically. Causes and solutions for common relationship issues in both AS/AS and AS/NT pairings. Fundamental rules that can be applied to both romantic and non-romantic relationships (e.g., cohabiting with roommates, bonding with coworkers).

Breakout Session Speakers

Hela Kammoun Bali, MNRI

The sense of touch can be a catalyst for healthy development and can bring healing to the sensory system of children on the Autism Spectrum. Hela Kammoun Bali, MNRI (Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration) Core Specialist takes us on a journey helping her own twice exceptional child and other kids using the MNRI method of reflex integration which is a set of programs focused on the restoration and maturation of primary movements, reflexes, coordination systems, skills for optimal performance of natural mechanisms, developmental processes, brain functioning, and sensory-motor integratio

Session – “Bringing Peace to the Sensory System using the MNRI method”

  • How parent(s) of children on the autism spectrum can help their kids reconnect with the world and with their bodies using the concepts of “Reflex Integration” to facilitate sensorimotor rehabilitation, emotional recovery from traumatic stress, as well as learning.

Chantal Sicile-Kira

Chantal Sicile-Kira is the award-winning author of five books, advocate and leader in the field of autism, with over 25 years of experience as a parent and a professional. Chantal is known for her practical advice on autism as an International  speaker  and for her keynote – Love Sex God & Autism. Chantal’s areas of expertise include the affects of autism on the family, adolescence, and transition to adulthood. Her books include:  Autism Spectrum Disorder (revised edition, Penguin 2014); A Full Life with Autism (Macmillan 2012); What is Autism? (Turner 2012); and  Autism Life Skills (Penguin 2008). Chantal has served on various non-profit and advisory boards.

Chantal’s first practical experience with autism was teaching functional living skills to severely developmentally disabled adolescents in preparation for their de-institutionalization. Years later, Chantal raised her own autistic and non-verbal son, Jeremy, in France, the UK, and the US. Jeremy graduated from high school with a full academic diploma and gave a commencement speech using voice output software. He is an artist and has a studio in downtown San Diego. For more information visit www.autismcollege.com

Session – A Full Life with Autism: How to Prepare for Real Life

  • What needs to be taught before a child ages out or graduates from school services so they can live, work, or go to college – based on their abilities, strengths and interests
  • How to create Circles of Support.

Nydia Celina Viloria, Esq., LL.M.T., LL.M.C.

Celina Viloria is a parent of a child with autism and a certified RPM provider.  Previously working as a special education attorney advocating for the rights of differently abled individuals, Celina is now able to take her advocacy one step further by directly working with individuals with communication challenges and supporting them in their journey to achieve the learning, communication and self advocacy through RPM.

At age 2 Celina’s son was diagnosed with Autism, at age 10 he remains pre-verbal, unable to orally express his thoughts or feelings.  After looking into the traditional alternatives for communication, a family unlocks  their child’s voice through an innovative approach.  In 2013 Celina Viloria and her family traveled to Austin, TX to meet with Soma Mukhopadhyay the developer of the Rapid Prompting Method.  Little did they know that would be the trip that would change their life and finally allow them to know their child’s thoughts.   Through RPM Celina’s  7 year old son learned to spell on a letterboard to communicate his thoughts, feelings and dreams.

Join us to learn about a family’s journey from silence to communication and the approach that allowed them to gain access to their son’s thoughts.   Finally, learn how the IDEA and ADA come together to protect the mode of communication of individuals using a letterboard.

Session – Journey to communication through RPM.

Laura Sylvester

Laura Sylvester is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Good Dog! Autism Companions. She is also mother of a 15 year-old boy with autism and, along with her family, the owner of an autism companion dog named Orbit.Along with day to day operations of Good Dog! Laura teaches autism service dog courses at Bergin University of Canine Studies and lectures to parents and communities about the laws and benefits pertaining to autism service dog companionship.

Session – Our family’s journey:  A story of acceptance and the unconditional love of a service dog

  • How the dogs teach us and our kids through the unconditional love they provide
  • How we teach families how to handle their dogs: 1. No living being likes to be pulled or pushed or forced to do things, 2. How love and motivation get results faster and more reliable, 3. That if you make the dog  do things over and over with no purpose they will eventually stop listening and refuse to do things for you

Hannah Smith LaFrenz

Families and individuals are often forced to alter their religious or spiritual practices when Autism enters the frame. There are certain challenges that may occur with this unique neurology which interfere or conflict with the expectations of the faith community, causing tension, frustration, and even fractured relationships and fellowship. How are families and individuals finding ways to continue in their faith practice? What has caused them to stop or leave? Let us really open this up and LEARN from each other.

Spirituality is a vital part of every human’s life whether they believe it or call it that or not. Finding ways to talk about this ‘mystical’ or ‘invisible’ part of the human experience is one of the ways we can feel LOVE. In fact, I would say that the flavors of LOVE experienced through spiritual exploration is a profound LOVE that can’t really be described outside that construct.

As an Autistic woman raising an Autistic child married to an Autistic spouse, Hannah Smith LaFrenz will share her lived experiences exploring Neurodivergent personal power through spiritual expression. Hannah is a cancer survivor, artist, activist, collaborator and passionate advocate for health, natural wellness, food safety and (most important of all) self-advocacy for EVERYONE regardless of perceived ability.

“We must listen to and attend to those disguised as poor thinkers – most carefully- for they often have such important messages for us to hear.”

Session – Autistic Spirit:Connecting through Communities of Faith

Dr. Ned T. Sahin

Dr. Sahin is a neuroscientist and neurotechnology entrepreneur. He holds degrees in neuroscience from Williams College (BA), MIT (Master’s), and Harvard (PhD), and completed post-doctoral fellowships at UCSD Medical School and the Salk Institute in San Diego. His academic work has been published in journals such as Science and Nature Neuroscience, and he has been invited and presented his research in dozens of cities across twelve countries.
He also worked at Bell Labs and in startups and mid-sized companies, in Boston, San Diego, London and Dublin; and has been the Principal Investigator for five government contracts for wearable brain monitoring systems to assess and modulate cognitive states. Dr. Sahin founded Brain Power, LLC to bring neuroscience ideas and technological innovations to people who can directly benefit from them.
Dr. Sahin is a hands-on leader of the growing Brain Power team, actively participating in coding software, as well as designing and producing hardware add-ons for Google Glass — to unlock the power of this nascent wearable platform to use it as a neuro-assistive device that in turn can unlock the power of your brain.

Session – What is the Brain-Power System?

  • How our tools empower children and adults all along the spectrum to teach themselves practical life skills, and assess their progress numerically.

Jennifer Palmiotto, Psy. D. LMFT, Certified RDI Consultant

Jenny will facilitate a panel discussion where participants can ask questions of our panelists. Each panelist brings a unique perspectives of what it means to live and love on the autism spectrum. Panelists range from 10-55 years of age. Each panelist may share about their relationships; with diverse experiences amongst them from married to dating and enjoying childhood friendships. Panelists include Michael Tolleson, a savant artist who owns an art gallery with his partner. Tolleson was diagnosed on the autism spectrum when he was 50 years old. He has taken this gift and its challenges to bring more love and light into this world. Lindsey Nebeker, 38, a three time Love & Autism speaker has been featured in PBS’s breakouthit “Autism In Love” with her now husband David Hamrick. Alex Plank, creator of Wrong Planet has just celebrated his thirtieth birthday. While maintaining his autism advocacy, he also enjoys his singledom in Beverly Hills. Kirsten Lindsmith, 26 lives in New York. She is in a long-term relationship with another fun-loving aspie. David Rivera is a teenager who has strong family ties and a satisfying social life. Alfonso Camacho, 10 years old, is the youngest panelist. Yet don’t let age fool you, the wisdom that he has gathered in his ten years will “wow” you. Each panelist is ready to let you in to their experiences. In Love & Autism spirit, each will be raw, honest, real. This is your opportunity to ask anything.

A’verria Martin, Ph. D. LMFT, RDI Consultant in Training

Dr. A’verria Martin received her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2008 from Alliant International University and her Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy at Loma Linda University in 2012. During her doctoral studies, she specialized in Medical Family Therapy which focuses on the integration between biopsychosocial and family systems approaches.

Dr. Martin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (CA LIC #83363) and a Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) Consultant in Training. Dr. Martin has advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy and specializes in working with couples from this attachment-based model—helping partners reprocess the emotional response that maintains marital distress, shaping new key interactions and bonding events, and overcoming therapeutic impasses. Additionally, Dr. Martin works directly with parents and children diagnosed with autism using RDI, a family-based model, to address autism’s core deficits and develop deeper, more meaningful relationships. Based on these theoretical frameworks, it is the goal of therapy to support individuals, couples, and families to openly process feelings, develop secure attachments, harmonize beliefs and ideas, and organize and share responsibilities to enrich future development.

Session – Creating and sustaining connection with your partner while raising a child on the spectrum

  • Gain an understanding of the literature regarding the impact of raising a child with autism on the couple relationship.
  • Learn about the attachment view of love relationships as it applies to parents of children with autism.
  • Consider the integration of mindfulness training on systemic change.
  • Leave with concrete ideas of how to create and sustain connection with your partner. 

Amber Hasbun, MFT Intern, Certified RDI Consultant

Jennifer Palmiotto, Psy. D. LMFT, Certified RDI Consultant

We’ve all heard these said either to ourselves or someone close to you.  Many are common for people on the spectrum, yet knowing enough to get the help you or a loved one needs can make all the difference. The fancy clinical term for when two issues overlap is co-morbidity. But in everyday language, these things like persistent anxiety or low moods coupled with spectrum issues can create challenges. In our clinical practice, we’ve noticed that its often these overlapping conditions that make it hard for young children to go to school, difficult for the teen to find the energy to create social opportunities, or as for any of us to muster the courage to clock in. Generally, mental health issues also affect relationships. At Love & Autism, we want everyone to live the life of their dreams, find happiness in everyday moments, and love our loved ones better. This breakout session will focus on mental wellness and look at practical strategies to calm those distressing symptoms. In this discussion, we will share our years of wisdom moving past the most common mental health issues.

Session – Autism & Anxiety? Depression? ADHD? Learning Disabilities?

  • What each of these diagnoses mean?
  • How you can recognize when they are present?
  • How to intervene and where can you find support?
  • Practice strategies to create the wellness that you deserve

Kasey Connors, MFT Intern, RDI Consultant in Training

Kasey specializes working with children and pre-adolescents. She focuses on helping through transitions in early life, by supporting young people in finding their voice and sense of self. Through being authentic, empathetic, and transparent, Kasey provides a safe space for her clients to discuss obstacles they face which may inhibit positive growth.

Kasey is a creative and nature inspired individual who believes in the power of making art and being in-tune with nature as guides to healthier functioning. By engaging and guiding her clients through the process of creating art and being in tune with nature, Kasey focuses on the importance of perspective taking and having tangible creations to aid in discussion of depression, communication issues, self-awareness, and relationship problems. Kasey received her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy specializing in Art Therapy from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont California.

Session – Expressions of Self Love

Brian Bovino, BCBA, Certified RDI Consultant in Training

Brian Bovino attended the University of Massachusetts, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Finance.  He recently graduated with his Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and is currently a Consultant in Training for the Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) program.

Brian has been working with children and families with Autism Spectrum Disorder since 2004.  He specializes in educating parents to build consistency and confidence and explore new learning opportunities that are available in everyday activities.  Brian is passionate about helping parents become an active part in their child’s learning and development.  He believes that through everyday routines and leisure activities, each moment is a potential learning opportunity and can be made enjoyable.

Brian has worked in public, private, and charter schools as well as clinics, in home and community based settings.  Brian has a diversified background working with many different populations including the Special Olympics, Juvenile probation, short-term residential facilities, and the healthcare field.  Brian lives in San Diego with his wife, daughter and golden retriever.

Session – Limit Setting with Love and Respect

  • Hearing your child’s voice while cultivating growth and maintaining limits.
  • Setting limits as a team
  • Picking your battles: when to say “No.”
  • Getting your child off the IPad and engaging with you.

2015

Stephen Shore, Ed. D.

Diagnosed with “Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies” and “too sick” for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization.

Nonverbal until four, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism.

In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen presents and consults internationally on adult issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure as discussed in his books Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Ask and Tell: Self-advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum, the critically acclaimed Understanding Autism for Dummies, and the newly released DVD Living along the Autism Spectrum: What it means to have Autism or Asperger Syndrome.

President emeritus of the Asperger’s Association of New England and former board member of the Autism Society, Dr. Shore serves on the boards of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, the Autism Services Association, and other autism related organizations.

Session – Relationships and Sexuality for People with Autism: We do…

  • Learn easy to implement practical solutions for supporting those on the autism spectrum in achieving their goals for leading fulfilling and meaningful relationships of all kinds
  • Understand that the diversity of needs, wants, and desires for relationships in people on the autism spectrum are as diverse as the general population.

Anita Lesko, BSN, RN, MS, CRNA

Anita went the first fifty years of her life not knowing she had Asperger’s. She had never even heard the word until one night at work when a co-worker told Anita that her son had just been diagnosed with Asperger’s. Lisa handed Anita some papers with information about it. Anita’s eyes widened as she read on….the pieces of the puzzle of her life suddenly fell into place to create a full picture. Anita always knew she was different and never fit in but never knew why. She struggled with making and maintaining relationships, keeping eye contact, attending any kind of social events, all kind of sensory issues and more. Anita thought she was the only person on earth with these problems. It also created many difficulties on the job, even threats of being fired for being so different. Anita went the first fifty years of her life not knowing she had Asperger’s. She had never even heard the word until one night at work when a co-worker told Anita that her son had just been diagnosed with Asperger’s. Lisa handed Anita some papers with information about it. Anita’s eyes widened as she read on….the pieces of the puzzle of her life suddenly fell into place to create a full picture. Anita always knew she was different and never fit in but never knew why. She struggled with making and maintaining relationships, keeping eye contact, attending any kind of social events, all kind of sensory issues and more. Anita thought she was the only person on earth with these problems. It also created many difficulties on the job, even threats of being fired for being so different.

Abraham Nielsen

Abraham’s dad, Stanley, noticed that something wasn’t quite right with Abraham as he was reaching his second birthday. Insisting that he be taken for evaluation, Abraham was diagnosed with Autism at age two in Seville, Spain where he was born. He was talking by age three, as captured on home videos. The doctors had provided multiple suggestions for mapping out a plan of action for early intervention to help Abraham maximize his potential. Unfortunately, his mother would not listen to anyone, instead believing his condition could be cured through the use of herbs. She instead took him to herbal medicine people to get the herbs she believed would get rid of his condition. Abraham thus never received any of the traditional methods of early intervention that autistic children typically receive. Abraham’s dad, Stanley, noticed that something wasn’t quite right with Abraham as he was reaching his second birthday. Insisting that he be taken for evaluation, Abraham was diagnosed with Autism at age two in Seville, Spain where he was born. He was talking by age three, as captured on home videos. The doctors had provided multiple suggestions for mapping out a plan of action for early intervention to help Abraham maximize his potential. Unfortunately, his mother would not listen to anyone, instead believing his condition could be cured through the use of herbs. She instead took him to herbal medicine people to get the herbs she believed would get rid of his condition. Abraham thus never received any of the traditional methods of early intervention that autistic children typically receive.

Session – Autistic Love…The Journey of an Epic Romance

    • An autistic person learns / understands the difference between love for parents and love for a partner
    • Individuals will learn the importance of becoming friends first and building a romantic relationship: acceptance, trust, respect, communication, consideration
    • Individuals will learn how to manage a romantic relationship: How to be team players! How to be spontaneous!
    • Individuals will learn the importance of learning skills of daily life: cooking, laundry, banking, making phone calls, household chores, grocery shopping, personal hygiene, etc.
    • Parents need to encourage independence, not dependence and encourage autistic children to build their own life

Alex Plank

Alex Plank is the 28 year old guy behind WrongPlanet.net, the incredibly popular site for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. Both Alex and Wrong Planet have been featured by CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Good Morning America. Wrong Planet has more than 90,000 registered members and its discussion forums contain millions of messages.

Alex graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Film and Video Studies. His areas of interest and expertise include public speaking, the Internet, writing, directing, and filmmaking. He lives in Beverly Hills, California. Alex is also a consultant and actor on FX’s hit series The Bridge.

Session – Positive Outlook on the Love and Autism and Work on “The Bridge.”

David Finch

David Finch, New York Times best-selling author of The Journal of Best Practices, presents a unique seminar for couples in baffling relationships. This session is loaded with personal insight and relevant, actionable strategies for making relationships thrive.

Session – “So…Are We Supposed to Hug Now?” — Best Practices for Neurologically Mixed Relationships

    • Gain a nuanced understanding of the unique challenges facing couples in NT/AS relationships
    • Learn fundamental strategies for thriving in NT/AS relationships
    • Discover how the differences in your neurological wiring can serve the relationship

Peter Mundy, Ph. D.

Peter Mundy, Ph.D., is the Lisa Capps Professor of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Educational Research at the UC Davis MIND Institute, Department of Psychiatry and School of Education. He received graduate training as developmental psychologist at the University of Miami (1976-1981) and post-doctoral training at UCLA as child clinical psychologist (1981-1986). He has been working on understanding the nature of autism and developmental disabilities for the past 34 years.

Session – The Human Nature of Autism, Joint Attention and Social-Relatedness

    • Attendees will better understand how autism may be most accurately thought of as involving difference in social-learning, as well as social interaction abilities.
    • Attendees will gain knowledge about how social motivation and social-relatedness is associated with learning in human nature and in autism spectrum development.
    • Attendees will better appreciate the nature of the social-learning abilities and difficulties of school aged as well as preschool children with autism spectrum development.

Anthony Ianni

Anthony Ianni, of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, is one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in the country.

At the age of 4, Anthony was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), a disorder on the autism spectrum. Doctors told Anthony’s parents that he would barely graduate from high school, would never graduate from college, would never have a shot at being an athlete, and as an adult, he would likely live in a group institution. Anthony’s family was devastated but pledged they would help Anthony be successful, no matter what.

And he is. In spite of the bullies, the adversity and the many personal challenges, Anthony worked hard and never gave up. Not only did he earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Michigan State University, he is the first-known athlete with autism to play Division 1 college basketball.

Session – Dreams, Goals and Aspirations

  • Living Your Dreams and how big a support system is in life

Lindsey Nebeker

Lindsey Nebeker is a pianist/composer, international speaker, and disability rights advocate currently based in the Washington D.C. metro area. She was born in Tokyo, Japan, and moved to the United States at age 11. She was diagnosed with autism at age 2 and began to develop speech at age 4. She holds a B.A. Degree in Music Technology from the College of Santa Fe and is a Partners in Policymaking graduate. Besides her own autism diagnosis, she also has a brother on the autism spectrum. She is an outspoken advocate for the sexual rights of people with disabilities and focuses her presentations and writings on the importance of unconditional love. Lindsey has appeared in Glamour, NPR, Good Morning America, and the full feature documentary Autism in Love (2015 Tribeca Film Festival official selection) along with her significant other, Dave.

Session – We Are No Longer Silent: A Heart-to-Heart Conversation on Autism and Sexual Abuse

  • We will review and compare the current studies conducted on autism, developmental disabilities and sexual abuse, while shedding light into the reality of how love can intertwine with the psychological response to sexual abuse.
  • We will learn 8 unique obstacles that individuals on the autism spectrum face when it comes to sexual abuse and sexual assault.
  • We will learn strategies to take action in expanding the conversation and to reduce the incidents of sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual violence for individuals on the autism spectrum. And we will begin a conversation how love interconnects with our actions towards positive change and personal empowerment.

David Hamrick

David Hamrick is a 35-year-old man with high-functioning autism. He has a Master’s of Science degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University. He is currently a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland, and has been an employee of the NWS since 2006. In addition to his academic pursuits, Mr. Hamrick is also active in the autism community. He has been an active board member of The Autism Program of Virginia, and has served as an officer of a Virginia autism society chapter in Newport News. Since 1999, he has been a frequent presenter at autism conferences throughout Virginia and neighboring states about how autism has personally influenced him.

Session – Weathering Autism in Relationships

  • To explain how people with autism envision romantic relationships.
  • To distinguish differences between flirting and non-romantic friendliness
  • To offer dating advice for people on the autism spectrum.

A’verria Martin, Ph. D. LMFT, RDI Consultant in Training

Dr. A’verria Martin received her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2008 from Alliant International University and her Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy at Loma Linda University in 2012. During her doctoral studies, she specialized in Medical Family Therapy which focuses on the integration between biopsychosocial and family systems approaches.

Dr. Martin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (CA LIC #83363) and a Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) Consultant in Training. Dr. Martin has advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy and specializes in working with couples from this attachment-based model—helping partners reprocess the emotional response that maintains marital distress, shaping new key interactions and bonding events, and overcoming therapeutic impasses. Additionally, Dr. Martin works directly with parents and children diagnosed with autism using RDI, a family-based model, to address autism’s core deficits and develop deeper, more meaningful relationships. Based on these theoretical frameworks, it is the goal of therapy to support individuals, couples, and families to openly process feelings, develop secure attachments, harmonize beliefs and ideas, and organize and share responsibilities to enrich future development.

Session – Creating and sustaining connection with your partner while raising a child on the spectrum

  • Gain an understanding of the literature regarding the impact of raising a child with autism on the couple relationship.
  • Learn about the attachment view of love relationships as it applies to parents of children with autism.
  • Consider the integration of mindfulness training on systemic change.
  • Leave with concrete ideas of how to create and sustain connection with your partner. 

Amber Hasbun, MFT Intern, Certified RDI Consultant

Jennifer Palmiotto, Psy. D. LMFT, Certified RDI Consultant

We’ve all heard these said either to ourselves or someone close to you.  Many are common for people on the spectrum, yet knowing enough to get the help you or a loved one needs can make all the difference. The fancy clinical term for when two issues overlap is co-morbidity. But in everyday language, these things like persistent anxiety or low moods coupled with spectrum issues can create challenges. In our clinical practice, we’ve noticed that its often these overlapping conditions that make it hard for young children to go to school, difficult for the teen to find the energy to create social opportunities, or as for any of us to muster the courage to clock in. Generally, mental health issues also affect relationships. At Love & Autism, we want everyone to live the life of their dreams, find happiness in everyday moments, and love our loved ones better. This breakout session will focus on mental wellness and look at practical strategies to calm those distressing symptoms. In this discussion, we will share our years of wisdom moving past the most common mental health issues.

Session – Autism & Anxiety? Depression? ADHD? Learning Disabilities?

  • What each of these diagnoses mean?
  • How you can recognize when they are present?
  • How to intervene and where can you find support?
  • Practice strategies to create the wellness that you deserve

2014

Dan Siegel, MD

Daniel J. Siegel received his medical degree from Harvard University and completed his postgraduate medical education at UCLA with training in pediatrics and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. He served as a National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellow at UCLA, studying family interactions with an emphasis on how attachment experiences influence emotions, behavior, autobiographical
memory and narrative.

Dr. Siegel is currently clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. An award-winning educator, he is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and recipient of several honorary fellowships. Dr. Siegel is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational organization, which offers online learning and in-person lectures that focus on how the development of mindsight in individuals, families and communities can be enhanced by examining the interface of human relationships and basic biological processes. His psychotherapy practice includes children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. He serves as the Medical Director of the LifeSpan Learning Institute and on the Advisory Board of the Blue School in New York City, which has built its curriculum around Dr. Siegel’s Mindsight approach.

Meet Daniel Siegel, MD on Autism and Relationships……

Session – Mindsight, Neuroplasticity, and Autism: How understanding the social brain can help us support the development of individuals along the Spectrum.

  • Identify the basic social circuitry of the brain involved in mindsight, metallization, and theory of mind.
  • List four ways that experience shapes neural development, structure and function.
  • Describe the major neurological findings associated with individuals with Autism.

Kathy Darrow​, ​Parent, Certified RDI Consultant

Kathy Darrow is an autism spectrum specialist that specializing in the RDI(TM) Program. Kathy was introduced to autism in 2001, when her son was diagnosed just before his third birthday. She began her work with her son in 2005. She maintains a professional certification in Relationship Development Intervention® and has been a Certified since 2010.
Kathy is extremely passionate about her work and has presented at autism conferences in Chicago and New Jersey, along with being the guest speaker at area colleges, speaking on the topics of Relationship Development Intervention, RDI and school, Before and After case studies on RDI and Advocacy, She is the writer of the blog, What is RDI and Autism Remediation for our children. After the success of her own children, Kathy’s passion is to support the families she works with to effectively address the core obstacles of autism.

Session – A Mother’s Love: Reflecting Back to Move Forward

  • Learning to recognize how your thinking effects your decision making as a parent.
  • How to position yourself to make effective decisions when it comes to your child with Autism.
  • Parent to parent- insights on reconstructing the road ahead.

Joshua Feder, MD

Dr. Joshua Feder is Director of Research in the Graduate School of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders, is on the faculty of Profectum, is a Voluntary Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, and Medical Director at SymPlay LLC Family Games for Autism. Dr. Feder has an active clinical practice in child and family psychiatry seeing people of all ages, infant through adult. Dr. Feder focuses about half of his practice helping people with autism spectrum and related challenges, while teaching, conducting research, advocating for evidence based practice, developing technology to support relationship-based interventions, and applying developmental principles related to resilience and regulation to peace building efforts in conflict zones.Love & Potions – Dr. Feder presents on psychopharmacology for relatedness. Read more here…

Session – Mindsight, Neuroplasticity, and Autism: How understanding the social brain can help us support the development of individuals along the Spectrum.

  • Relationships and Desire
  • Usual things that help us connect
  • Medications that can help too

Jessica Hobson, PhD

Jessica Hobson is an Adjunct Professor in the Psychology and Early Childhood Studies Departments at Sonoma State University, and a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Child Health, University College London. She is a clinical psychologist, with a PhD in Child Clinical Psychology. Her research and clinical interests include joint attention, symbolic play, and parent-child interaction, with a focus on autism and early typical development. She has been an RDI Consultant since 2001 / 2006 – current, and is involved in a program of studies on quality of parent-child interaction and therapeutic change for families taking part in Relationship Development Intervention.I like you and you like me back- Affective Contact and Why it Matters. Read more here…

Session – Affective Contact, Why Does It Matter?

  • To learn about the relevance of intersubjectivity and joint engagement, for the cognitive difficulties experienced by children with autism.
  • To learn about the role of guided participation in early child development, and why this is compromised for children with autism.
  • To learn about a therapeutic approach for fostering joint engagement and guided participation in children with autism.

Peter Hobson, Ph. D.

Peter Hobson is Emeritus Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, University College, London, and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic, London. He is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and has a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Cambridge. His research interests converge upon the significance of interpersonal relations for understanding the course of human development, both typical and atypical, and include programmatic studies of autism and mother-infant relations. He has written two books on early development and autism. The first, Autism and the Development of Mind (Erlbaum, 1993), is rather dense, but the second, The Cradle of Thought (MacMillan, 2003 and in the US, Oxford University Press, 2004) was written for a wider readership. Peter is now semi-retired and living in California.

Session – Autism and The Dimensions of Love

  • To have deeper appreciation of the nature and developmental value of personal relations.
  • To further develop one’s respect for the relational challenges and potential opportunities for children with autism and their caregivers.
  • To ask: What’s love got to do with it?

Paul Louden

Paul Louden is a 31 year old diagnosed with autism at the age of 23. He is co-host of the Understanding Autism radio show and speaks regularly about the difference between awareness and understanding when it comes to the topic of autism. He has been sharing his experiences and the lessons he has learned living with the disorder to audiences both on the radio and in person for four years.

Session – Love in Shared Culture: How Autism Changes Messaging

  • Learn how to identify weaknesses in how we present love through common culture such as TV and other media.
  • Learn about modeling and sharing the strengths of your own relationships.

Sarah McConnell, MA, LMFT, LPC

Sarah McConnell, MA, LMFT, LPC is a certified EFT Therapist in private practice with The Couple Zone in Houston. Sarah was part
of a research study using EFT with the parents of children on the autism spectrum and has presented with the research team at the TAMFT (Texas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy) and AAMFT (American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy) conferences. Sarah has studied extensively at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland completing the Gestalt Training Program and the Advanced Program in Working with Physical Process. Sarah formerly worked in the Oil and Gas industry for 27 years and maintains a consulting practice helping clients via coaching, team alignment and strategy development. Sarah also volunteers at Bo’s Place, a bereavement center in Houston as an adult grief group facilitator.

Finding Each Other Again: Sarah McConnell speaks on emotionally focused couples therapy with parents of children on the autism specturm…

Session – Finding Each Other Again: Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy with Parents of Children on the Autism Spectrum

  • Participants will develop an understanding of research that shows improvement in marital satisfaction in couples with a child on the autism spectrum.
  • Participants will learn about Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy showing how to relieve distancing and conflict in relationships.
  • Participants will practice an exercise that enables reflection on relationships to demonstrate some of the kind of work that EFT involves.

Lindsey Nebeker

Lindsey Nebeker is a pianist/composer, international speaker, and autism self-advocate currently based in the Washington D.C. metro area. She was born in Tokyo, Japan, and moved to the United States at age 11. She holds a B.A. Degree in Music Technology from the College of Santa Fe and is a Partners in Policy making graduate. Besides her own autism diagnosis, she also has a brother on the autism spectrum. She is an outspoken advocate for the sexual rights of people with disabilities and focuses her presentations and writings on the importance of unconditional love. Lindsey has appeared in Glamour, NPR, Good Morning America, and the full feature documentary Autism in Love along with her significant other, Dave Hamrick.

David Hamrick

David Hamrick is a 34-year-old man with high-functioning autism. He is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the Washington, DC area, making short-term weather forecasts for the continental United States as a member of the Weather Prediction Center. In addition to meteorology, Mr. Hamrick is also active in the autism community. He was an active board member of Commonwealth Autism Service, served as an officer of a local autism society chapter, and a frequent presenter at autism conferences throughout Virginia and nationwide about how autism has personally influenced him.

Session – Weathering Autism, Dating & the Art of Unconditional Love

  • The participant will be enlightened with the knowledge of how people with autism envision relationships — romantic or
    otherwise — and the unconventional ways how these individuals may express love and empathy.
  • The participant will receive dating and long-term relationship strategies for people on the autism spectrum, including
    distinguishing the differences between flirting and non-romantic friendliness.
  • The participant will be encouraged — and may even be challenged — to explore into the importance of unconditional love: finding love within ourselves, love towards others, and (for some of us) love within romantic relationships.

Sponsored By:

Why this price point?
Our conference offers an honorarium and travel accommodations for all speakers! With 80%of our speaker identifying as on the spectrum, this is our commitment to fair wages for people with disabilities.

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