Their Voice: 2019 UVU Autism Conferences delivers eclectic range of topics

April 7, 2019

April is Autism Awareness Month, so in Utah Valley, that means it’s time for the annual Autism Conference at Utah Valley University. As always, this year promises to be a day full of great information and opportunities to network with other families and professionals.

The theme this year is “The Lived Experience” and is scheduled for Friday, April 12. Keynote speaker Jared Stewart will be presenting first. Being diagnosed himself, Stewart knows firsthand about living in the world of autism and will provide powerful insight into unique but similar experiences of adults maneuvering through the complexities of autism.

The most difficult aspect of attending this event is having to choose which concurrent sessions to attend from a list of four per time slot. Morning sessions will include “Building Independence through Photographic Schedules” presented by Thomas Higbee, Ph.D., “Safety for Individuals with ASD,” presented by Capt. William Cannata Jr., “Spreading the Truth: Busting Myths About Working and Social Security Benefits” presented by Sarah Heuser and Derek Stoker and “Why is Sleep Such a Big Deal for People with Autism” presented by Deborah Bilder, MD.

Following lunch there will be three separate sets of hour long concurrent sessions. The first set includes “Managing Difficult Behaviors in the Classroom and Home,” presented by Karen Fairchild, LCSW and Laura Smith, B.A., “Innovative Approaches to Employment—Views from Autism, Non-profits and Employers” facilitated by Amy Wadsworth, MS, “Understanding Women and Autism”, presented by Julia Connelly, Ph.D. and “Promoting Daily Happiness Among People with Severe Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence-Based Strategies” presented by Dennis Reid, Ph.D.

The second set of afternoon sessions include a panel discussion facilitated by Jared Stewart, M.Ed. “The Lived Experience-A Panel of Personal Perspectives,” “Autism and Suicide,” presented by Mikle South, Ph.D., “Feeding Difficulties in Autism Spectrum Disorders,” presented by Vanessa Feola, M.Ed. and Katerra Miller Johnson, M.Ed. and “Building Cohesive Classroom Teams” presented by Christine Reeve, Ph.D.

The final afternoon session group includes “Living on the Spectrum: The Intersections of Autism, Gender and Sexuality,” presented by Dorothy Simister and Karen Keysher, “Supporting Social Relationships for Children and Youth with Autism,” presented by Crystal Emery, B.S., “Treatment of Severe Problem Behavior: Issues and Supports,” presented by Jane Carlson, Ph.D., and “When It’s Not Just Autism: Tips for Treatment Professionals Targeting Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues” presented by Marette Monson.

I only make a complete list of sessions because I want people to know that this conference is not just for scholars or researchers but for every real person who works with, has family members, educates or interacts in any way with individuals on the spectrum or who lives in the autism spectrum. It is an eclectic list of topics that addresses these people on every level.

Although the conference is filling fast, registration and more details are available at https://www.uvu.edu/autism/conferences.

And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t add a plug for one of my favorite autism-friendly events, “Uplifting Celebration for Autism.” This year, the celebration will be held on April 20 at the UCCU Events Center Lawn at the UVU campus. This event includes free food, T-shirts, carnival games and sensory-enriched activities. This event begins at 11 a.m. and ends with the grand finale at 1 p.m. More information available at laurie.bowen@uvu.edu.