The speaker information is being constantly updated in preparation for the upcoming Fall conference. Please check back often for the most recent news!
John Elder Robison, Maripat Robison and Jack Robison
Session – Neurodiversity in the Family
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?
Breakout Session – Autistic Partners in Love & Relationships
- When one member of a couple is autistic and one isn’t, it can add a whole new layer of complexity to the already complicated dance of intimacy.
- Explore how good communication, loving connection, and mutual empathy can be cultivated between two people whose minds are vastly different from one another.
Amy Sequenzia is a non-speaking Autistic, multiply disabled activist and writer. Amy writes about disability rights, civil rights and human rights. She also writes poetry.
Amy has presented in several conferences in the US and abroad, and her work is featured in books about being Autistic and Disabled. Amy is deeply involved with the Neurodiversity Movement and has been outspoken about the rights and worthy of disabled people.
Her first published work was as a contributor for the anthology “Loud Hands, Autistic People Speaking”
In 2015 Amy co-edited an anthology of essays written by people who type, write or point to letters to communicate (Typed Words, Loud Voices – Autonomous Press, publisher), and her work appeared on a book edited by Michelle Sutton, a resource for parents of Autistic children (Real Experts – Autonomous Press, publisher) Amy’s writings have also appeared in other publications by Autonomous Press: The Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber, Barking Sycamores: Year Two. She collaborated in a book to be published by Oxford University Press to be released later in 2017: “Speaking of Music” by Michael Bakan.
Amy serves on the Board of Directors of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).
She blogs regularly for Ollibean.com and the Autism Women’s Network. All her online published work can be found on her blog nonspeakingautisticspeaking.blogspot.com
Session – Non-Speaking Autistic, Speaking About Being Proudly Autistic
Asperger’s Are Us
Session – Asperger’s Are Us, Live!
- Asperger’s Are Us will entertain with an original absurdist comedy sketch
- Live Q&A with the cast, moderated by Alex Plank (creator of Wrong Planet)
Kristine Mastronardi and Jake Mastronardi
Kristine Mastronardi, Founder of MindGuiding, RDI Certified Consultant. Kristine left her job as a computer programmer on Wall St. and began her autism education when her oldest son Jake was diagnosed with autism. Kristine pursued her Masters in Special Education, was trained in Applied Behavior Analysis, worked in the school system and created a website www.joeschedule.com to create visual activity schedules. Kristine found RDI, Relationship Development Intervention, when Jake was nine years old and saw the profound effect it had on him. She became a Certified RDI Consultant in 2012 and founded MindGuiding where she teaches parents to become guides to their own children. Kristine is currently part of the Dynamic Intelligence Workgroup and works closely with Dr. Gutstein, founder of RDI. Kristine runs Online Parent Groups and teaches parents how to guide their children to learn from their experiences so they can handle challenge and set goals in their every day life utilizing the Dynamic Intelligence Curriculum developed by Dr. Gutstein.
Session – Becoming: Our Story of Autism and RDI, Relationship Development Intervention
- Hear the journey of discovery led down a path towards Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®).
- Learn how RDI® gives confidence back to parent as the primary guide for their children.
- Listen to Kristine’s story of struggle, dreams, accomplishment and the hope for the future she now shares with her son.
Session – Rising Like the Phoenix
- Autistic single mother of two teens takes you on a musical journey of life on the spectrum, sharing the struggles and the victories as she navigated autism with her violin.
- Laura ends her presentation with a film of her creation highlighting the beauty and strength of autism.
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.
Session – Information TBA
Session – Redefining Marriage and Bourbon: How to Make it Work when Clash of the Conditions Exists
Breakout Session – Resilience, The Autistic Way
Amy Gravino, M.A., is a Certified Autism Specialist and the president of A.S.C.O.T. Coaching. Amy offers autism consulting, mentoring, and college coaching services for individuals on the autism spectrum. Amy is a professional national speaker who has given two TED talks and presented to numerous audiences on a variety of topics, including autism and sexuality; preventing and ending bullying; issues related to girls and autism; growing up on the spectrum; and autism and transitioning to secondary education. She also currently serves on the Board of the Golden Door International Film Festival of Jersey City, the Self-Advocate Advisory Board for the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, and co-facilitates the Morris County chapter support group meetings for ASPEN-NJ. Amy’s writing has been published in a variety of outlets, including the textbook Exceptional Children: An Introduction to Special Education, the Reader’s Digest book The Best Life Stories, “Autism Spectrum Quarterly” magazine, the official blog of Autism Speaks, and more. She is also the author of The Naughty Autie, a memoir of her experiences with dating, relationships, and sexuality from the firsthand perspective of a woman on the autism spectrum. For more information or to contact Amy, please visit www.AmyGravino.com.
Session – Sexuality and the Spectrum: Lessons on Sex, Dating, and Love, Autism Style
- Firsthand perspective from an autistic woman about her experiences with dating and sexuality on the spectrum .
- She will discuss strategies to assist people on the spectrum (and their families and caregivers) in discussing sexuality, navigating relationships, avoiding victimization, and fostering empowerment.
- Bonus discussion: The potential for teaching dating skills to autistic individuals.
Kassiane Asasumasu (Sibley)
Session – Love Will Tear You Apart, and Love can Put You Back Together
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.
The Miracle Project
Coby Bird, Tristen Bonnaci Miller, Domonique Brown
The Miracle Project uses 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. The Miracle Project was founded in 2004 by Love & Autism speaker Elaine Hall and describes itself as “An Artistic Expression of Autistic Empowerment”.
Session: A Musical Performance
Kyler Shumway, MA, is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at George Fox University. Kyler is a sought-after speaker and neuroscientist with a mission of translating mental health research into something digestible for kids and families. Kyler’s research is diverse, ranging from social skills and brain development to Dungeons and Dragons and empathy. He has a passion for helping youth succeed and feel connected, with a background as a school counselor and collegiate track coach. In his free time, he enjoys lifting weights with his best bud Daniel Wendler, cooking food with his wife Mary, and playing Overwatch. He is excited to attend the Love and Autism Conference this fall — it’s his first time! Connect with him at KylerShumway.com
Session – Go here for more information
Rupert is the creative force behind Horse Boy, Rowan is his mentor, teacher and muse. Together all aspects of Horse Boy begin with them and from there the wider team helps to develop each aspect of the Horse Boy Programs. Rupert has also been mentored by Dr. Temple Grandin and other adult autists. What makes Rupert unique among autism practitioners is that from the get go he thought and still seeks direct mentorship from the population he serves.
Rupert Isaacson was born in 1967 in London to a South African mother and Zimbabwean father, and grew up half in London, half on a remote horse farm in the British countryside and also with Africa looming large in his life. Coming from a family of pioneers and adventurers – Russian Jews who went to Africa on his father’s side, British, Dutch and mixed race settlers on his mother’s side – Rupert’s grandparents were journalists, war correspondents, cattle ranchers and artists. His father is an architect and his mother a sculptor.
So making your own destiny is something he grew up with. A journalist for the British and American press from the early 1990s (Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Independent on Sunday, Esquire, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveller – among others), he has also published several guidebooks to Africa and India, and is he author of three non-fictional memoirs: The Healing Land (a New York Times Notable Book), which tells the story of his family in Africa, and of his own time spent living with the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert; The Horse Boy (a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller), which tells the story of his journey across Mongolia on horseback with his autistic son Rowan; and The Long Ride Home, which tells of the three subsequent healing journeys he and his son made to Africa, Australia and the Navajo Reservation, as well as his discovery of how horses can help autism and special needs in general.
Rupert also runs the Horse Boy Foundation, from his New Trails ranch near Austin, Texas, which offers services to autism families, and helps direct several satellite centers offering similar services in North America and Europe. In partnership with Iliane Lorenz he also teaches Horse Boy Method, Movement Method (an kinetic learning program designed for homeschool and mainstream aimed at autism, ADD and ADHD), and other kinetic learning techniques, along with Stress Free Dressage, a way of introducing riders to the higher levels of equitation without being screamed at(!).
A succesful documentary filmmaker – The Horse Boy and Endangerous – and write and conceiver of reality TV shows (The Quest – which aired on ABC in 2014 – was his original concept and he helped produce the show), and in addition his mainstream Hollywood projects include The Horse Boy feature film and The Goth Lords.
A career in human rights runs parallel to all this. In 2004 he founded the Indigenous Land Rights Fund, which helps hunting and gathering tribes gain legal title to their ancestral land and which helped the Bushmen of Botswana win the largest land claim in African history in 2006 – as a result of which he is now banned from Botswana (!).
Finally there is his first love – horses both cross country riding, and classical dressage (he works closely with the Valenca Family in Portugal and studies with Christian Bachinger of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna as well as Christoph Hess of the German FN). A small time breeder of Lusitano horses, Rupert relaxes by reading historical novels, planting trees and drinking beer, especially IPAs. He quite likes wine too. And food.
Session – The Gifts of Autism: Why the therapists got it backwards, and why we need to fall in love with Autism
Alex Plank is the 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 – Happy Hour
- Conference Unwind with Alex Plank including Q & A
Breakout Session Speakers
Session – Information TBA
Jenny Palmiotto is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and certified RDI program consultant. She uses well-researched treatment methods including Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), Behavioral and Brief Models. She has extensive training and a decade of experience treating individuals on the autism spectrum.
She specializes in serving persons with invisible social deficits. She also has advanced training in working with couples that are longing to reconnect with on another. She is currently a 4th year doctoral student at Alliant International University. She received her masters from University of San Diego.
Session – Love is Autism, Autism is Love
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 – Processing the Journey: A Creative Exploration Between Past and Present
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 (MedFT) which focuses on the integration between biopsychosocial and family systems approaches.
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 to enhance relational equality by deeply considering the impact of socio-cultural issues on couple relationships using Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy. Dr. Martin also works with individuals from an attachment perspective, while developing richer narratives through a Narrative Therapy approach. In addition, she, more recently has started training in the Relationship Development Intervention a family-based, behavioral treatment designed to address autism’s core symptoms. 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 their future development.
Session – Information TBA
Breanna is a Couples and Family Therapist Registered Intern passionate about working with individuals, couples and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. She has been working with families to remediate autism since 2010. After witnessing the significant impact that familial relations had on treatment she received her masters in Couples and Family Therapy from Alliant University.
Breanna’s undergraduate degree in philosophy, along with empathy and authentic curiosity help her to reach into the experience of a person affected by ASD. When working with individuals and families, Breanna obtains an understanding of a client’s emotional and sensory experiences. Together they examine the client’s environment, motivators and relationships together while collaborating in developing self-advocacy skills. This allows Breanna to incorporate the client’s motivation and salient relationships into treatment in a meaningful and lasting way. Treatment is also complemented with creative and individualized interventions or coping techniques. Breanna is influenced by Narrative Therapy and Emotionally Focused Therapy.
When working with couples, Breanna has found success in utilizing her training in Emotionally Focused Therapy. In doing so, she illustrates her clients’ negative pattern of interactions, inclusive of each partner’s behaviors, perceptions, secondary emotions, primary emotions and unmet needs. This initial identification is the first step in the examination of many of the issues which commonly include but are not limited to: the challenges associated with having a child or spouse with ASD, feeling alone, having a negative perception of one’s self, feeling misunderstood, unheard, overwhelmed or depressed. Breanna helps couples discover that love and care are often just lost in translation, and that each partner can become well versed in understanding one another in a meaningful and loving way.
Session – Psyche and Soul: An Opportunity for Self Care
Amber is a marriage and family therapist registered intern who specializes in providing counseling to individuals, couples, and families. She is particularly passionate about helping individual and families cope with and overcome a traumatic event/s and the negative emotional responses associated with traumas. She enjoys collaborating with clients to overcome depression, anxiety, feelings of decreased self-worth, low self-esteem, and those who feel marginalized or devalued within their relationship, family, or their larger social system.
Amber is kind, warm, compassionate and empathetic. She believes change starts when clients feel accepted and safe; therefore works to ensure these are present in the client-therapist relationship. Through the use of Contextual, Attachment, and Narrative Therapy approaches, Amber helps clients achieve a higher state of emotional and mental well-being.
Amber received her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2011 from Alliant International University and is pursuing a Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD.) in Marriage and Family Therapy, also from Alliant. Amber also works at the Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control (NCCOSC) at the Navy Medical Center in Balboa in the development and implementation of a program designed to increase quality of care for active duty service members.
Session – Information TBA
I have spent my career working in the field of autism and other various developmental disabilities. Over the past many years, I have witnessed the value of strengthening the family unit as a whole, as a vital piece of a child’s success and growth. Therefore, as a certified RDI consultant and Marriage and Family Therapy Intern, my approach has consisted of providing a safe, comfortable environment in which I can support each member of the family in their relationships with each other, as well as with themselves.
I specialize in working with children, adolescents and adults with autism and co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression. I also have a particular interest in working with couples or individuals who are impacted by a diagnosis.
I firmly believe in the importance of collaborating with my client and am constantly learning and growing from each experience a client shares with me. I ensure that I view each client as an individual and support them to find the right level of challenge necessary to experience growth.
Session – Breaking the Emotional Iceberg
Cindy has over two decades of experience working in the nonprofit sector in multiple capacities. She’s helped both individuals and families (most of whom lived at or below the poverty line) with navigating the system and obtaining appropriate educational assistance and disability resources. Her experience ranges from those living with an array of mental health diagnoses to assisting caregivers in finding creative ways to reach out and engage with their loved ones diagnosed with developmental delays.
Cindy served on the board of directors of the Autism Society San Diego from 2009-2016, serving as president of the organization after spending a year as president-elect. She went on to begin the San Diego chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and served as president until the local chapter programs were discontinued by ASAN’s National organization. Cindy has been writing grants for years and has extensive experience with both active and passive fundraising.
Cindy is an autistic mother of two autistic sons, ages 20 and 10. Cindy has been married to a Neurotypical 13-year Marine Corps veteran since 2002 and during her tenure on Camp Pendleton she served on the Commanding General’s Advisory Committee for the Exceptional Family Member Program. She has worked with military personnel to connect Camp Pendleton with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department’s Take Me Home program – a registry that uses facial recognition technology and surveys of caregivers who register their loved ones to locate missing individuals with limited communication skills, reuniting them safely with their loved ones. She also brought sensory friendly movies to the Camp Pendleton base theater, where they are still played on a quarterly basis for individuals with sensory issues. Cindy also helped collaborate on a program that helps military members with disabled dependents make a smooth transition from the military life back into the civilian world.
She has had her writing published in several mediums, including Exceptional Parent Magazine, where she explains some of the issues unique to the military community. Most recently, her poetry was published in an anthology called All The Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, which was a collaborative effort amongst dozens of autistic individuals.
Cindy is currently the Chief Operations Officer for Yes I Can – Unity Through Music & Education, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Santa Clarita, CA. that provides social vocational services to autistic teens & young adults to develop skills that will assist them in obtaining work within the music/recording industry at competitive wages.
Session – Play, Dance, & Meditate: A Guided Tour of the Movement and Calming Rooms
- An interactive tour of both the Movement and Calming Rooms provided at Love & Autism 2017
- Participants will be provided a hands-on demonstration of items available for use in both rooms
- Cindy will lead a discussion on the importance of both authentic autistic movement and the need for quiet spaces to avoid sensory overload
Session – Acceptance is Painless: How & Why Society’s Expectations of “Normal” are Dangerous
- A group discussion about the oftentimes impossible expectations placed by mainstream society upon autistic individuals to conform and the harm “pretending to be neurotypical” can cause
- Session will include a brief introduction period followed by a time for participants to share their experiences
- Exploring ways we can create opportunities for acceptance through community education and facilitating societal accommodations for people with different neurotypes
Hannah La Frenz
Session – Information TBA
Session – I’ve Been There, Done That & Still Doing It
Aisha Pope is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Positive Discipline Trainer in private practice in La Mesa, CA where her focus is on family therapy related to adoptions, foster care, and parenting children with special needs. Aisha has provided therapeutic services in a variety of settings including outpatient, inpatient, residential treatment facilities, homes, and Skype. She also works as a clinical supervisor to therapy interns providing individual, group, and family counseling to youth and their families struggling with a variety of behavioral health challenges. She has taught parent training courses to foster parents entering into specialized foster care with severely at risk youth, teaches Positive Discipline Parenting Classes, and is certified to train others to teach Positive Discipline. Aisha is the author of My Brother – Autism – And Me, a children’s book about autism, all through the eyes of a sibling. In the book, readers meet a little boy who sometimes struggles to make sense of his brother’s unusual behavior. He understands that because of autism, his brother does some things differently, but when he sees how much attention that gets him from parents and teachers, he sometimes feels left out. While Aisha has been trained in a variety of evidence based therapeutic models, she gains her most valuable training “on the job” as mom to Jayden, an amazing 11 year old who has autism, and Maya, a precocious 4 year old who keeps her on her toes.
Session – Parenting with Positive Discipline
Dr. Joshua Feder is an Associate Clinical Professor at University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, Adjunct Professor at Fielding Graduate University, Faculty with The Interdisciplinary Network on Development and Learning (ICDL) and with Profectum, and a Senior Associate Member of the International Network on Peace Building with Young Children. Dr. Feder develops programs, conducts research and works with clinicians, caregivers and children to promote regulation, social communication, and learning. Dr. Feder advocates nationally and internationally on issues related to peace building, informed consent, and Evidence Based Practices, and he serves as Medical Director at SymPlay, developing interactive technology and distance learning systems to support relationship-based interventions. Many of Dr. Feder’s lectures can be found at circlestretch.com.
Session – Safety and Trust
Session – Information TBA
Session – Because I Said So: Respectful Discipline
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu is a community advocate, writer, Christian, mom, and educator. American-born to immigrant parents, Morénike is a Black Autistic woman in a multicultural, neurodiverse family of color and a firm supporter of human rights and neurodiversity. She has several years of program management experience and is involved in a myriad of social justice activism endeavors including including HIV-related advocacy, disability rights, learning via technology, research, gender and racial justice, and promoting inclusion.
Morénike’s executive experience includes board membership of a number of national disability, advocacy, and family service organizations, chairperson of both a large HRSA-funded local planning body and an international NIH-funded community research network, and leadership roles within various entities, including Autism Women’s Network and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. She has presented at a number of peer-reviewed conferences and was awarded the “Advocating for Another: Health Activist of the Year” 2014 WEGO Health Award and the “Service to the Self-Advocacy Movement” 2015 ASAN Award.
Morénike has written for and/or been featured in numerous blogs, magazines, books, and other platforms. She often draws from her personal experiences as a late-diagnosed Autistic adult, a person of color, an Autistic parent of Autistic and non-Autistic children, and a survivor of intimate partner violence. In addition to writing, she is one of the editors of a groundbreaking anthology on autism and race.
Currently balancing her roles as a professor at a state college and as a doctoral student in an educational leadership program, Morénike considers herself a “lifelong learner” who is constantly growing and changing, hopefully for the better! She considers her wonderful children (biological and adopted) to be her greatest accomplishment.
Session – What’s Love Got To Do With It? Well…Everything.
- Explore numerous ways that love impacts, intersects, and influences various aspects of our lives
- Dismantle myths surrounding autistics and our relationships
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.