September 30-October 1, 2017


2017 Speakers

The speaker information is being constantly updated in preparation for the upcoming Fall conference. Please check back often for the most recent news!

Nick Walker

Nick Walker is an autistic author, educator, speaker, transdisciplinarly scholar, parent, and aikido teacher. He is one of the founding editors of Autonomous Press, an independent publishing house owned and operated entirely by neurodivergent workers. He holds a 6th degree black belt in aikido, and is founder and senior instructor of the Aikido Shusekai dojo in Berkeley, California. Nick is a faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Studies program at California Institute of Integral Studies and the undergraduate Psychology program at Sofia University. He is widely recognized as one of the leading thinkers in the emergent field of neurodiversity, and he is a sought-after speaker and consultant on the topics of autism, cognitive liberty, creativity, and transformative learning. Books in which Nick’s writings appear include The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children, The Spoon Knife Anthology, and Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber. He has been featured in the documentary films Orphans of Delirium, Dreambody/Earthbody, and Spectrum: A Story of the Mind. Many of his essays on neurodiversity and related matters can be found on his blog, Neurocosmopolitanism. He is also the co-author of a science-fiction webcomic called Weird Luck

Session – Changing the Ways We Talk About Autism

  • Different individuals and communities have different ways of talking about autism
  • What impact do our various ways of talking about autism ultimately have on the lives of autistic people and their loved ones?
  • What sort of changes might we make in the ways we talk about autism, in order to promote better long-term outcomes?

John Elder Robison

John grew up with Asperger’s Syndrome, and was undiagnosed until the age of 40. He nevertheless lived an incredible life. He is the author of Switched OnRaising Cubby, Look Me in the Eye, my life with Asperger’s and Be Different, Adventures of a free-range Aspergian.  John’s writing has been translated into 18 languages and is sold in 60+ countries. John is also the Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, a speaker, autism self-advocate, father and husband.

More information coming soon

Asperger’s Are Us

More information coming soon

Kristine Mastronardi and Jake Mastronardi

Founder of MindGuiding & RDI Certified Consultant/Parent and her son Jake- Follow Jake’s journey from a young boy diagnosed with autism who started RDI when he was nine and continued with the cutting edge Dynamic Intelligence Curriculum at the age of sixteen to the man he is today. Guided by his Mom, RDI Consultant Kristine Mastronardi and consultations with Dr. Gutstein.

Session – Becoming: Our Story of Autism and RDI, Relationship Development Intervention

Laura Nadine

Not diagnosed with autism until age 26, this single mother of two teens takes you on a musical journey of life on the spectrum. She tells her story through the eyes of Phoenix, her autism, sharing the struggles and the victories as she navigated autism with her violin. Working hard as a neurocognitive music instructor, Laura Nadine shows the beauty of presuming competence and the unbreakable link between her and her music, now sharing her love for music through her students. As always, Laura ends her presentation with a film of her creation highlighting the beauty and strength of autism.

 Session – Rising Like the Phoenix

Tom Iland

Tom Iland was diagnosed with autism at 13, and has worked hard to achieve many of his goals: full-time employment, driving, living in his own apartment and having a girlfriend. Tom is a graduate of California State University Northridge and a Certified Public Accountant and is currently co-authoring a book, sharing practical suggestions based on experience to help parents, educators and other self-advocates navigate transition and adulthood. He enjoys public speaking and offer unique insights with heart and humor in my engaging presentations.

Session – “Know Yourself. Love Yourself. Be Yourself”

  • This inspiring presentation for parents, educators, other professionals and self-advocates focuses on these key concepts to support self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-advocacy skills.
  • Tom will explain why he created this mantra, how it applies to everyday life and how you can apply it to become your best self.

Dena Gassner

Dena Gassner is a wife, mother, grandmother, social worker, doctoral student and was diagnosed with autism in 1999. She is on the national board for the Arc US, and GRASP and is an advisory board member for the Autism Society. She has written multiple published articles and book chapters. “Without one, there would be none” is how she describes the gifts of unconditional love and authenticity that she received with the birth of her son who is now at Marshall University.

Session – Redefining Marriage and Bourbon: How to Make it Work when Clash of the Conditions Exists

Amy Gravino

Amy is a Certified Autism Specialist and college coach for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, and the founder of A.S.C.O.T Coaching, LLC. She is also a seasoned public speaker, having spoken at conferences, professional development workshops, support group meetings, writer and more since the age of 14.

More information coming soon

Elaine Hall

Elaine Hall “Coach E!” referenced by The New York Times as “the child whisperer, “ is a pioneer in using inclusive Theater, film, music, and movement to bring out the best in individuals of all abilities. Her work has been lauded in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, on the Oprah Winfrey Network, on CNN, CBS and on HBO. Elaine is the founder and creator of the Miracle Project, a groundbreaking methodology to provide individuals with autism and other disabilities the tools to build communication, social skills, community, and greater self-esteem through inclusive theater and expressive arts programs.

Session – Love is Autism, Autism is Love

  • Contrary to popular myth, individuals with autism are capable of deep emotional expression!
  • She will show video clips of students from her award winning program, The Miracle Project: Helping her students find their voice, discovering their passion, accepting and loving their own ‘quirks.’
  • The presentation will examine how to build a foundation of Self Love, Self acceptance and Self Appreciation.

Breakout Session Speakers

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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