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Colorado Autism Conference: Partnering for Potential

Partnering for Potential, Colorado Department of Education & Colorado State University logos
Co-sponsored by Colorado Department of Education and Colorado State University

Thank you to our partners and volunteers that helped make the first Colorado Autism Conference a success!

This conference focused on strengthening educational practices in the Rocky Mountain region for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related conditions.  This conference shared strategies on relevant, evidence-based presentations and discussions for family members, educators and others interested in this field.

Keynote Speakers

Laura Gutermuth Anthony

Dr. Anthony is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Children's Hospital Colorado. Her work focuses on children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, authoring or coauthoring over 30 publications, while receiving 11 federally funded and seven foundation research grants. She is one of the co-authors of Unstuck and On Target! addressing executive functioning challenges for students with autism or ADHD. 

Lindsey Nebeker & Dave Hamrick

Lindsey and Dave were featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary "Autism in Love", which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and aired on PBS. They will share their adventures and insights into the unique challenges, strengths, and what they have learned as a couple on the autism spectrum. 

Printable Keynote Speaker Flyer (PDF)


Distinguished Speakers

Bryn Harris

Culturally & Linguistically Responsive ASD Evaluation Dr. Harris is an Associate Professor in the School Psychology doctoral program in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver. Her primary research interests include the psychological assessment of bilingual learners, culturally and linguistically responsive assessment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), health disparities among children with ASD, and improving mental health access and opportunity within traditionally underserved populations. 

Jack Robinson

Mr. Robinson was the attorney for the parents in Endrew F. v. Douglas County Sch. Dist., a landmark case decided by the United States Supreme Court in 2017 that established a “markedly more demanding” standard for determining the educational rights of children with disabilities. He has represented clients in the U.S. District Court, and appeals in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Robinson is a member and founder of the Colorado Council of Special Education Lawyers and is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates.  

Printable Distinguished Speakers Flyer (PDF)


Breakout Sessions Tuesday, June 4

8:30am-10:00am Keynote: Dr. Laura Anthony

What is Executive Functioning and What Can We Do to Help Our Kids Develop It?
This session will start with a discussion of how to recognize executive functioning (EF) difficulties when it is seen at school or at home, and how to distinguish a “can’t” from a “won’t.” EF difficulties can include problems with regulating emotions, goal-setting, making plans, and thinking flexibly. Some quick tips and tricks will be covered that have been proven in treatment research studies, and that the audience can use immediately.

10:30am-11:45am Breakout Session 1

The Importance of Focusing on the Gifts of Our Students Who are Twice Exceptional Rather Than the Challenges -Jessica Howard, Lisa Weiss (panel)

All in the Family: Helping Find Your Voice and Happiness in the World of ASD –Vince Sleep, Ginger Sleep

Autism and Skilled Trades Education by TACT –Danny Combs, Becky Mershon

Communication: A Vital Tool for Building Student Success -Ashley Meyer, Meggin Funk

Social Skills: The Parent Connection 24:7 –Brandi Timmons

Challenges and Resources for Individuals with ASD Before and After Transitioning to College –James Graham, Becky Ingalsbe

Squashing Worries & Facing Fears: A School-based Effort to Help Children with Autism Overcome Anxiety -Caitlin Walsh, Lisa Hayutin

Lots of Looking: Autism and Joint Attention –Teri McGill

Autism in Women and Girls: It Looks Different –Laura Anderson

1:30pm-2:45pm Breakout Session 2

Integrating Behavior Analytic Practice within Mental Health Treatment Settings –Julia Barnes, Pat Romani

Introduction to Project ImPACT: An Evidence-Based Parent Mediated Intervention for Young Children with ASD –Katherine Pickard

Organizational and Instructional Strategies for Secondary Students -Mary Lizakowski

The Rhythm within – Living to the Beat of Your Own Drum! –Jonah Berger, Megan Hoffey

Helping Children with ASD Sleep –Karen Landmeier

Comprehensive Program Planning Using Ziggurat Model and CAPS for Students with ASD –Jamie Lewis

Visual Supports – For the Special Needs Classroom and Beyond –Laura Keathley, Sara Mair, Shari Kerr

Navigating Communication (Verbal Behavior): The Overlap in Communication and Behavior –Jodi LeGray, Kelly Tousley

3:00pm-4:15pm Breakout Session 3

Flipping the roles: a panel of students prepared to help teachers – Rachel Bedard (panel)

The Building Blocks of Brain Development-What Educators Should Know – Heather Hotchkiss, Nicole Crawford

Autism and Skilled Trades Education by TACT – Danny Combs, Becky Mershon

Teaching Play to Young Children with ASD – Teri McGill

Challenges and Resources for Individuals with ASD Before and After Transitioning to College – James Graham, Becky Ingalsbe

Identifying and Addressing Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues in Students with ASD - Nicole Pearson, Kristen Kaiser

Enhancing Functional Communication Through Visual Supports – Sarah Strothkamp Fournier, Stephanie Marshall

Brain+Music=Love – Max Miller

Printable Tuesday Breakout Sessions (PDF)


Breakout Sessions Wednesday, June 5

8:30am 10:00am Keynote: Lindsey Nebeker & Dave Hamrick 

Let's Get Personal: A Heart-to-Heart Conversation with Dave & Lindsey
Many individuals on the autism spectrum and their loved ones may express ongoing and sometimes exhausting challenges associated with relationships, interpersonal communication and interaction. What can we learn from these challenges, and how can we as a community better support and enable individuals on the autism spectrum to feel empowered, and what can we work on ourselves in our own relationships? In a semi-informal atmosphere, Dave and Lindsey (featured in Autism in Love) will talk about their personal journey of finding love and navigating through life, expressed through spoken word, imagery, and selected scenes from the Emmy-nominated documentary film. Join us for a special session with the lovebirds as they share their stories of celebration, loss, encouragement, sorrow, wisdom, companionship, truth, power and vulnerability -- and what they have learned so far through their adventure as individuals and as a couple.

10:30am-11:45am Breakout Session 4

Integrating Behavior Analytic Practice within Mental Health Treatment Settings - Julia Barnes, Pat Romani

Introduction to Project ImPACT: An Evidence Based Parent-Mediated Intervention for Young Children with ASD – Katherine Pickard

Navigating Communication (Verbal Behavior): The Overlap in Communication & Behavior – Jodi LeGray, Kelly Tousley

Psychiatric Medication Management in Autism Spectrum Disorder – Elise Sannar

Autism in Women and Girls: It Looks Different – Laura Anderson

Visual Supports – For the Special Needs Classroom and Beyond – Laura Keathley, Sarah Mair, Shari Kerr

ABA – Practical Tools That Can Apply to All Educators – Part 1 – Amy Fetter

11:45am– 1:30pm Lunch

1:30pm-2:45pm Breakout Session 5

Girls on the Spectrum: Hiding in Plain Sight – Michelle Brenner, Olivia Blake, Kelly Miller Jenny Maybee (panel)

Unified Theatre: Creating a community of inclusion – Jennifer Moriarty

College: Is it Possible? Outlining Options for Students with Autism – Shelby Bates

Anxiety and ASD: Strategies to Support Anxiety Management in Different Environments – Cindy Sharpe, Sara Freeman

Social Skills: The Parent Connection 24/7 – Brandi Timmons

Organizational and Instructional Strategies for Secondary Students – Mary Lizakowski

Communication: A Vital Tool for Building Student Success – Ashley Meyer, Meggin Funk

Best Practices to Support Students in the Inclusive Early Childhood Classroom – Amy Wallin, Allison Durgin

ABA Practical Tools That Can Apply to All Educators – Part 2 – Amy Fetter

3:00pm-4:15pm Workshop 1: Bryn Harris, Ph.D.

Disparities in ASD Identification: Implications for School Professionals & Advocates – Disparities in ASD identification, particularly by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic indicators, have been documented for decades. Despite the awareness, reduction of these disparities has been limited. This workshop will provide national and Colorado state data pertaining to trends in ASD identification disparities. Participants will gain knowledge pertaining to strategies used by professionals nationwide and Colorado to reduce these disparities and how partnerships can improve earlier and more accurate ASD identification in traditionally underserved populations.

Printable Wednesday - Thursday Breakout Sessions (PDF)


Breakout Sessions Thursday, June 6

8:30am 10:00am Workshop 2: Jack Robinson, Esq.

Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1, The Establishment - and Its Impact - of a Substantive Standard for a Free Appropriate Public Education for Children With Disabilities- The U.S. Supreme Court in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1 established a markedly more demanding standard for determining when a school district has met its substantive obligation of providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA.  While the Court did not directly address the IDEA’s least restrictive environment (LRE) requirement, Endrew F., nevertheless, establishes a legal “expectation” that the provision of a FAPE will involve inclusion in the regular classroom with an individualized education program (IEP) calculated to achieve advancement from grade to grade for all children - regardless of the disability.  This session will examine the FAPE requirement under the IDEA and the Supreme Court’s establishment of a substantive FAPE standard and how that standard impact the placement of children with disabilities in the regular education classroom. 

10:20am-11:50am Moderated Panel: Mitch Sleep, Ben LeSatz & Families

Living with ASD-The Best Is Yet to Come - Please join us as we share our journey and personal stories about autism from the early years through today. The riveting road for each of us (whether son or parent) have held continuous challenges and victories, but have proven to us the best is yet to come.

11:50am Closing

Printable Wednesday - Thursday Breakout Sessions (PDF)

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