2020 Conference Schedule Coming Soon! 


2018 Conference Schedule 

Friday, April 20, 2018

  • 7:30 - 8:30 - Registration
  • 8:30 - 9:30 - Opening Keynote: John Constantino, MD 
  • 9:40 - 10:30 - Breakout 1
  • 10:40 - 11:30 - Breakout 2
  • 11:30 - 12:00 - Lunch
  • 12:00 - 1:00 - Lunch Keynote: Susan Levy, MD, MPH
  • 1:00 - 1:30 - Student Poster Presentations
  • 1:40 - 2:30 - Breakout 3
  • 2:40 - 3:30 - Breakout 4
  • 3:40 - 4:30 - Breakout 5




Merlin G. Butler, MD, PhD
University of Kansas Medical Center

Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Update
This review of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) will focus on genetic causes and factors known to contribute to ASD including classical syndromes in which autism is a common finding. An overview of the principles of medical genetics will be presented along with genetic testing options now in use including high resolution chromosomal microarray analysis, the first tier of genetic testing for individuals presenting for services to identify known syndromes, associated conditions or genetic defects. The status and current outcomes of genetic testing will be discussed and illustrated related to autism. Questions will be entertained.

Matt Mosconi, PhD
University of Kansas
Functional Brain Mechanisms of Sensorimotor issues in autism
Sensorimotor impairments are common in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and associated with worse functional outcomes. We have conducted a series of studies clarifying the nature of sensorimotor issues in individuals with ASD and mapping their functional neuroanatomy. Results suggest that individuals with ASD show reduced motor precision associated with intrinsic alterations in sensory processing and motor control brain networks, as well as atypical connectivity across these networks. Our studies show that dysfunction of neural systems involved in translating sensory feedback into behavioral output represents a significant component of the neurodevelopmental processes that cause ASD.

David Beversdorf, MD
University of Missouri

Roles of Stress in Etiology and Treatment of ASD
Stress plays a number role in ASD. First, recent evidence suggests that maternal stress exposure can have important effects on development. Second, stress reactivity can impact medical comorbid conditions associated with ASD. Third,treatment targeting stress reactivity may be relevant for the treatment of ASD. Recent evidence for these factors will be reviewed.

Zohreh Talebizadeh PhD
Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City
Promoting partnership between genetics and outcomes researchers to improve translational aspects in autism research
Concerns over the need to improve translational aspects of autism genetics research and engage community members have been noted in the literature and raised by patient advocates. One of the main reasons why this gap has been overlooked is the lack of communication between genetics and outcomes researchers. This talk provides a brief overview of (1) autism genetics findings with the focus on subtyping to reduce heterogeneity, and (2) a recent initiative aiming to promote partnership between genetics and outcomes researchers in the context of improving translational aspects in autism research. The overall objective is to discuss potential research examples that may fit with both genetics and outcomes research, and stimulate interest toward developing such multi-disciplinary research approaches.

Jessica A. Hellings, MB.BCh, M.Med. Psych., DFAPA
University of Missouri-Kansas City

ADHD in Autism Spectrum Disorders
A diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is now allowed using DSM-5 in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We will discuss manifestations of ADHD in ASD throughout the lifespan, as well as pitfulls leading to misdiagnosis as bipolar disorder. Relationships to aggression and self-injury will be covered. We will also describe treatments and side effects, and some case examples.

Ann Genovese, PhD
University of Kansas Health System

Psychopharmacologic Management in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Dr. Genovese is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who will review the evidence for psychotropic medications in autism. There are other developmental and mental health conditions that are known to frequently co-occur with autism spectrum disorder. The discussion will focus on the managment of autism and associated conditions that contribute to the behavioral challenges that young people on the spectrum commonly encounter.

Natalie Haultain
Children's Mercy

Recognizing and Treating Anxiety Disorders in High Functioning Youth with ASD
From the time Autism Spectrum Disorder was first describeed, researchers and clinicians have associated many of the difficulties associated with the disorder (e.g., overreaction to trivivial changes, reliance upon rituals and routines, difficulty transitioning) with underlying anxiety. While all children have ASD may present with some anxious behaviors, many have children with ASD experience such significant anxiety symptoms that a co-morbid anxiety disorders diagnosis is warrant treatment with medication or therapy. We will discuss evidence-based therapies targeting anxiety symptoms in medication or therapy. We will discuss evidence-based therapies targeting anxiety symptoms in typically developing youth with anxiety disorders, and how researchers havve modified these programs to better serve children with ASD. Thirdly, case examples with illustrate strategies which have been scientifically shown to reduce impairment associated with anxiety in this population.

Jessica Schuttler, PhD
Mallorey Marked, BA
Rene Jamison, PhD
University of Kansas Medical Center

Sex matters: The unique presentation of autism in females and the secondary impact of prevalence on social-emotional health.
This session will include a brief overview of research illustrating the unique characteristics of autism in females and then focus on interventions to promote overall social-emotional health. Small samples of females in autism research means much of what we know about ASD based on males, causing potential pause when generalizing findings or considering evidence based interventions for this population. Girls with ASD experience a secondary impact by being isolated from other girls due to male dominated ASD programs and high rates of boys in special education. This means fewer opportunities for girls with ASD to socialize with other girls their age, limiting practice of critical social-communication skills necessary to build networks and establish relationships. Adolescent girls with ASD may experience a ‘double whammy’, demonstrating increased social difficulties during adolescence and more severe symptoms of anxiety and depression than occur in girls or boys without ASD or boys with ASD. If mental health protective and risk factors are similar between those with and without ASD, elevated risks for anxiety and depression in females with ASD might be fueled by difficulties related to social competence and limited social supports, resulting from prevalence rates and disparities in quality health care.   

Susan E Levy
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania

Complementary and Alternative Medical Treatments for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Chillenges to Care
Complementary therapies or health approaches are used in addition to conventional therapies, and alternative therapies are used instead. CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) treatments, in combination with traditional practices is known as Integrative medicine. Families of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly use CAM treatments. This session will discuss predisposition factors for use of CAM by individuals and families with ASD, describe evidence for efficacy and/or potential harm, and report strategies for providrs to enhance partnering with families and individuals with ASD.

Brenda Salley, PhD,
Debby Daniels, CCCP-SLP, PhD
University of Kansas Medical Center

Engaging Young Children in Shared Book Reading to Promote Early Language and Pre-Literacy
This Presentation will provide an overview of evidence based strategies for promoting early book sharing between parents and their young children with develomental delays and/or autism spectrum disorder. We will discuss strategies to support early attention, engagement, and language. We will also present preliminary data from a manualized 8-week parent training intervention that targets high quality book sharing with infants, with results demonstarting improvements in early language and attention.

Joshuaa Allison-Burbank, MA-CCC-SLP,
Jessie Fox, MA-SLP graduate student, KU Intercampus Program in Communicative Disorders
KU Center on Developmental Disabilities

Cultural Perspectives of Disability: How Does Bias Impact Responsive Care?
This session will explore several cultural perspectives of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other realted disabilites. Presenters will elaborate on the importance of cultural sensitivity in assessment and treatment of children and adults with ASD. An emphasis will be on understanding Euro-American biases on ability and how provider bias can influence evidence-based practive.

Rochelle Harris
Children's Mercy Developmental and Behavioral Sciences

Emerging Sexuality and Bullying Prevention
This will provide parents with guidance on talking to their pre-adolescents or teens about the physical, emotional and psychological changes that will be (or are already) occuring for them during puberty. The unique challenges experienced by individuals on the autism spectrum will be discussed. Additionally, information about the greater vulnerability for bullying at this stage of development and ways to protect or minimize its impact will shared .

Linda Heitzman-Powell, PhD, BCBA-D,
Jay Buzhart, PhD
University of Kansas Medical Center, Juniper Gardens Children's Project

OASIS-D, Dissemination of a Tele-Health Based Parent Training Model
The Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training in partnership with the Center for Child Health and Development and key stakeholders in the community will be disseminating the Online and Apllied System for Intervention Skills (OASIS) to the broader community of service providers, working with families impacted by autism through the development of the necessary infrastructure and training requirements. The goal of this projectis to improve the delivery and quality of training services. The objectives of this project are to 1) collaborate with key health-care partners to create the infrastructure needed to enable service providers to receive compensation for implementation of OASIS 2)to develop the processes necessary to disseminate OASIS, and 3)train service providers from key agencies to implement OASIS. We anticipate the outcomes of this project to be 1)usable billing codes for professionals to use for OASIS implementation, 2) OASIS Coaches at key agencies serving children with autism, 3) successful reimbursement for OASIS, 4)increases in parenting behaviors that have a beneficial impact on 5)child outcomes. The expected products are marketing and outreach materials, caregiver training, OASIS Coach Training, and partnership with key insurers as a referral services for families impacted by autism.

Jacqueline Russell, BFA, New York University
Chicago Children's Theatre/ The Red Kite Project

Theatre as Intervention for Children with Autism
Jacqueline Russell will share her experience of using theatre to assist in improving communication skills in young people with autism. Attendees will be led through a brief series of theatre games and will be introduced to multi-sensory theatre. In this session attendees will be interacting and up on their feet. Through fun and play participants will gain ideas and insights about how theatre for children with autism can be a positive intervention.

Howard Wills, PhD,
Leslie Bross, MS
Jonathan Huffman, MA
Emma Watson, BA
Juniper Gardens Children's Project

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Increasing competence in social skills, problem solving, and community engagement with a technology based multicomponent intervention package
This presentation will provide an overview of the ASD On The Go technology based multi-component intervention package for adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The intervention is individualized based on needs and focuses on improving social communication, organization/planning, and problem solving. The primary components of ASD On The Go include: a) learning through modules; b) coaching support; and c) self-monitoring, and are provided with a customizable range of intensity and duration specific to the needs of an individual or small group of individuals with ASD. The ASD On The Go intervention incorporates the use of technology to assist with the delivery of the modules through an online learning system, supportive coaching through online video conferencing, and self-monitoring through a custom designed web-based application. The ASD On The Go is most appropriate for individuals with ASD that are working to become more engaged in work, school, and community settings. The ASD On The Go modules are free to consumers and will be displayed during the presentation. Results from multiple single-case design research studies utilizing the ASD On The Go intervention will be shared. This presentation would be beneficial for employers, teachers, and community members who aim to support individuals with ASD in community engagement and quality of life improvement. rtained.

Scott Adams
CommunityAmerica Trust Services

Legal and Financial Transition to Adulthood
Transition Planning - In this workshop we address key issues with young persons 16-25 years old as they transition from school to adulthood including the move from at-home to independent or residential living. Specific topics include Social Security, it's importance and retaining it; Medicaid; and the advantages and disadvantages of graduating at 18. Guardianship will be defined as well as alternatives to guardianship. Lastly, we will illustrate how Special Needs Trusts help to ensure quality of life for the child when the parent(s) are no longer able and the importance of a Continuity of Care Plan.

Wendy Parent-Johnson
Center for Disabilities, University of South Dakota

Transition to Employment: Strategies for Success
Graduation is an exciting time full of hopes and dreams for a happy, productive, and fulfilling life filled with work, community, friends, and activities. At the same time, it is a period of change and uncertainty with many questions, decisions, and new areas to navigate. How do you know the possibilities for making the change from school to work and what is most helpful to prepare for this journey? This session will describe strategies to assist with becoming employed, what to expect, and how best to contribute to the process. Activities and resources to assist with preparing for employment will be discussed. An innovative TransitionInAction Clinic integrating employment, education, health, and independent living will be presented. .

Mary Morningstar PhD,
Dana Lattin, M.S. Ed.
University of Kansas

KU-TPE: Inclusive College Experience for Young Adults with ID/D
The University of Kansas Transition to Postsecondary Education (KU-TPE) is an inclusive postsecondary education program that provides a 2-year certificate program for young adults with intellectual disabilities in which students participate in all typical campus academic and student life activities. In addition, KU-TPE students participate in inclusive work-based learning experiences aligned with their career interests. Come learn about KU-TPE and what you can do to prepare youth with ID/D for an inclusive college experience!

Karrie A. Shogren
Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities

Self-Determination and Supported Decision-Making
This session will discuss emerging research and practice strategies related to self-determination and supported decision-making. The focus will be on practice-based strategies that enable supported decision-making and enhance self-determination. New assessment and intervention approaches that can be used across the lifespan will be described and research on their application in the field. life improvement. rtained.

Carrie Greenwood, Johnny Gomez,
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy

Listen To Me: I am my own best advocate!
Gain the skills needed to advocate in all areas of your life! This presentation is specifically designed for the youth audience. Learn how to voice your thoughts, wants, and needs to everyone around you, including your parents, teachers, doctors and healthcare providers, and your peers. This presentation covers a variety of topics in an interactive, informative way. Topics include: explanation and exploration of self-advocacy; forms of advocacy; profiles of advocates through the years; communication techniques; tips on how to advocate in a variety of settings; and personal stories of advocacy.

Cole Brown, Colin Olenick, Stephanie Sanford
Center for Disabilities, University of South Dakota

Transition to Employment: Strategies for Success
Graduation is an exciting time full of hopes and dreams for a happy, productive, and fulfilling life filled with work, community, friends, and activities. At the same time, it is a period of change and uncertainty with many questions, decisions, and new areas to navigate. How do you know the possibilities for making the change from school to work and what is most helpful to prepare for this journey? This session will describe strategies to assist with becoming employed, what to expect, and how best to contribute to the process. Activities and resources to assist with preparing for employment will be discussed. An innovative TransitionInAction Clinic integrating employment, education, health, and independent living will be presented. .

Sarah Mai
Sawyer Niedens
Kenny Flanagan The Mission Project

Problem Solvers- The Mission Project Model for Teaching Social Skills to Adults with Autism
Problem Solvers, a weekly social skills program is often referred to as the 'glue' of The Mission Project community. In this weekly group, participants build friendships, learn and practice conversational skills, engage in conflict resolution, and practice self-advocacy. The leader, the 'social coach', individualizes social instruction, continually reinforces positive and appropriate social behaviors, and maximizes on teaching moments that occur naturally. Come learn about this group approach and customize it to your community's needs. Adults with autism will share their success stories as a result of participating in Problem Solvers.


Keynote Speakers 

John Constantino

John Constantino, MD
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis
Deconstructing Autism: Early developmental targets along the discovery frontier for higher-impact intervention

A recent generation of family studies has revealed that autism can be predicted from an array of neurobehavioral susceptibilities that are appreciable before the syndrome is diagnosed, and that each may be traceable to partially-independent sets of genetic influences. Some of these liabilities are not necessarily specific to ASD—those that are non-specific could account for a significant share of the “missing heritability” of autism, and relate to so-called “co-morbidities,” which are inappropriately named if they actually contribute to (or exacerbate) the severity of autism itself. Linking genetic variants to these underlying traits rather than to a diagnosis of “autism” may be more productive in devising personalized interventions for autism.  A picture is emerging that autism arises from a critical co-aggregation of earlier-interacting neuropsychiatric liabilities, the phenotypic expression of which—importantly—can be moderated by sex.  Future biomarker and molecular genetic studies should attend to biological signatures that are not necessarily specific to ASD but nevertheless contribute to its severity.  Early interventions capable of improving or resolving early non-specific developmental liabilities that may contribute risk for ASD may be particularly potent in ameliorating ASD outcomes among infants known to be at elevated risk.

John N. Constantino, MD is Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, where he directs the William Greenleaf Eliot Division of Child Psychiatry and the University’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, one of 14 U.S. Kennedy Centers funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.  Dr. Constantino’s research is focused on disorders of social development in childhood, which includes family studies to elucidate mechanisms of inherited transmission of autism spectrum disorders and efforts to prevent child maltreatment as a principal cause of social impairment in childhood. His scientific contributions have focused on critical frontiers of behavioral neuroscience, including genetics, early childhood development, neuroimaging, and epidemiology. Standard methods for measuring and understanding the symptoms of autism as quantitative traits were developed by his team and are in use world-wide in clinical, educational, and research settings.  Dr. Constantino previously chaired the Missouri Mental Health Commission and the scientific steering committee of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, a U.S. national gene bank for autism. He has received lifetime achievement awards in both prevention (the Irving Philips Award) and developmental disabilities (the George Tarjan Award) from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has authored over 125 original peer-reviewed scientific papers, and maintains an active clinical practice in child and adolescent psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. 


Susan E. Levy, MD, MPH
Director of the Autism Integrated Care Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Shared Decision Makeing: Improving Care for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder Across the Lifespan

Shared decision making (SDM) is characterized by exchange of information by at least two parties, knowledge transfer, sharing perspectives, values, preferences and goals, and mutual agreement about treatment choices. Across the lifespan, families of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face many complex decisions. SDM promotes family and clinician collaboration, with goals of improved health and satisfaction. This session will discuss characteristics of individuals with ASD, families and their providers, which may present challenges to the use of SDM principles, evidence, based benefits of SDM and guidance for use of SDM.

Susan E. Levy, MD, MPH is board certified in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.  She is a Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN), a member of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) at UPENN.  Her clinical activities include attending physician in outpatient clinics in DBP and Founder of the Regional Autism Clinic at CHOP.  Dr. Levy is active in policy and advocacy on a local, regional and national level. She is chair of the Autism Subcommittee for the Council on Children with Disabilities of the AAP.  She is active in research activities as a member of the Center for Autism Research (CAR) of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Dr. Levy is the Co-Principal Investigator of the Autism Treatment Network at CHOP and the SEED (Study to Explore Early Development) with UPENN School of Nursing.  Other research involvement includes early identification of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), epidemiology of ASD, clinical shared decision-making, and Complementary and Alternative Medical treatments of ASD.  

CE will be provided for Psychology and BCBA.

Certificates of attendance will be provided for all attendees.

The University of Kansas Clinical Child Psychology Program is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The University of Kansas Clinical Child Psychology Program maintains responsibility for this program and its contents. 

Other conference details:

  • 25 Additional Break-Out Sessions
  • Student Poster Session
  • Thursday, April 19th, Midwest Leadership Education in Neurological Disabilities Pre-Conference Session - This is free for all conference attendees. Please check if you are attending. This will feature speakers faculty and students from our regional Midwest LEND programs from Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri and the University of Kansas.