Issues in Independent Living for Adolescents and Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Keynotes: Dena Gassner & Jed Baker
Saturday, April 8, 2017
8:15am – 4:00pm
A Sellout Every Year!
Ruth S. Harley University Center
One South Avenue
Garden City, New York
Directions: Directions to Adelphi’s Garden City campus can be found at http://www.adelphi.edu/visitors/directions.php.
THROUGH THE LENS OF ASD:
DO YOU KNOW YOUR AUTISM?
Dena Gassner, M.S.W., Ph.D. candidate
PREPARING FOR LIFE
Jed Baker, Ph.D.
Plus Panels, Breakout Sessions, Resource Walkway, and Bookstore. An exciting day with speakers, presentations, panels and breakouts relevant to professionals, family members and individuals with ASD.
A star-studded list of presenters:
Rajesh Anandan, Jed Baker, Ph.D.; Larry Dubin, J.D.; Nick Dubin; Lynda Geller, Ph.D.; Dena Gassner, M.S.W., Ph.D. candidate; Valerie L. Gaus, Ph.D.; Marjorie Madfis, M.B.A.; Shana Nichols, Ph.D.; Shirley Ruch, M.A., CCC-SLP; Alyson H. Sheehan, Ph.D.; Marcia Scheiner, M.B.A.; Stephen Shore, Ed.D.; and Danielle Zito, Psy.D.
Dena Gassner, M.S.W., Ph.D. candidate
After a lifetime of confusion and bewilderment, you find yourself in an office with a report saying you’re autistic. So what is autism? How are things experienced differently because of autism? How does the world experience my expression of autism? How can I apply that information in real time to make solid, constructive progress? This keynote will help you learn about ways to understand your worldview through the lens of autism. Participants will develop knowledge to expand capacity for resilience. How can you leave “normal” behind to achieve your own best authentic autistic self?”Participants will learn:
- To identify strategies to discover their unique expression of autism.
- To understand how to integrate this knowledge into everyday life.
- How to maximize abilities through adaptation, accommodation and disclosure.
Moderators: Marcia Scheiner, M.B.A.
Presenters: Rajesh Anandan, Valerie L. Gaus, Ph.D., Marjorie Madfis, M.B.A., and Shirley Ruch, M.A., CCC-SLP
The increase in incident rates and the benefits of early intervention for those with autism are resulting in an ever-growing population of adults on the spectrum who want to be employed, but the employment world has yet to catch up with the needs of our community. Although having the highest unemployment rate among people with disabilities, those with autism can bring tremendous skills to the workplace. Yet most individuals on the spectrum find it nearly impossible to find, let alone retain, an appropriate job. Join our panelists, including employed individuals on the spectrum, in a discussion on the latest movement in creating autism-friendly businesses and the efforts underway to not only prepare young adults for the work world, but to prepare the work world to be willing and effective employers of individuals with autism.Participants will learn to:
- Define the barriers to employment.
- Increase their self-understanding to successfully enter and sustain employment.
- Define the elements of an autism-friendly workplace.
Jed Baker, Ph.D.
Key predictors of successful adult outcomes among individuals with ASD and related conditions include the awareness of strengths and challenges, perseverance, learning skills to accomplish realistic goals, and preventing disruptive behaviors. Although strengths can build careers, challenges can often interfere with social and employment opportunities. This keynote describes how to help individuals, their family members and the professionals who work alongside them design effective plans to prevent frustration and anxiety. The second part of the presentation details effective social skills training and strategies for all individuals and reviews some common skills needed for relationships, including dating and sexuality. Information will be imparted though lecture, interactive exercises and video.Participants will learn:
- To identify predictors of success in transitioning to adulthood
- To understand how best to think about challenging behaviors to insure better outcomes
- How to identify emotional triggers to help in emotional regulation
Presenters: Nick Dubin, Larry Dubin, J.D., and Lynda Geller, Ph.D.
Increasing numbers of people with autism and other developmental disabilities are being convicted of online-only sex offenses, resulting in heavy and lengthy punishment. Yet they do not pose the same level of threat to society as other types of offenders and lack the core understanding of why their actions break the law. Nick Dubin had a graduate degree and was an author and public speaker when his life was completely upended by an unwitting online act and its consequences. This presentation describes the judicial failure to protect such defendants and how we need to be aware that normal sexual development and issues of ASD may come together to produce a vulnerability to online sexual content that can lead to criminal punishment.Participants will learn:
- How ASDs can affect psychosexual development
- To define sexual harassment and its ramifications
- To understand the dangers the Internet can pose for those looking for social interaction or love online
Presenter: Jed Baker, Ph.D.
This workshop will outline the key components of a prevention plan to cope with challenging behaviors. Poor executive functioning (EF) skills create academic or work demands that may seem overwhelming; poor self-esteem makes people feel they are always making errors, triggering a fear of failure. Having difficulty with changes in routine and schedules creates anxiety. The plan includes modifying triggers, understanding the alarm system, motivating participation, handling unexpected triggers and developing trust to show that most problems can be solved.Participants will learn to:
- Identify key components of a good prevention plan for challenging behaviors.
- Increase capacity to handle work and school demands, mistakes, losing, waiting and accepting unexpected changes.
- Understand how to help individuals gradually face their fears through self-awareness, education, scientific thinking, exercise and meditation.
Presenter: Stephen Shore, Ed.D.
An autobiographical structure combining experiences of others on the autism spectrum. Making fulfilling and productive lives for individuals with autism the rule rather than the exception will be used to charge participants to reframe their thinking away from deficit and disorder towards seeking abilities based on individual strengths. The session ends with generalizing focus on strengths-based thinking to the rest of humanity—and finally, to the audience themselves.Participants will learn to:
- List at least three situations where perceived deficits can be reframed as strengths.
- Learn to navigate around areas of challenge while still leading a fulfilling and productive life.
- Understand the importance of people with autism and other disabilities in understanding themselves as a key factor in success.
Presenter: Dena Gassner, M.S.W., Ph.D. candidate
The illusion of high functioning (HF) as less disabled is costing individuals with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Asperger’s syndrome (AS). Research reflects that these populations experience less access to healthcare due to a lack of qualified providers. Challenges specific to ASD interfere with initiating contact, engaging and reporting effectively, and reporting and arriving on time to access healthcare. Providers struggle to address the intersectionality of ASD and gender expression. Ultimately, these ASD and AS populations are experiencing poor healthcare, higher rates of suicide and shorter lifespans than the general public. This workshop will provide critical outcome research to help inform advocacy from the kitchen table to the national arena and the research community.Participants will learn to:
- Identify the outcomes experienced when accessing healthcare.
- Understand how the experience of autism impacts access to healthcare.
- Use this information as an advocacy tool at all levels.
Presenters: Shana Nichols, Ph.D., Alyson H. Sheehan, Ph.D., and Danielle Zito, Psy.D.
How do we live personally meaningful lives? How do we commit to engaging in actions and behaviors that matter, especially when doing so can often be emotionally challenging? This experiential workshop will introduce participants to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). With its overarching goal of increasing psychological flexibility and incorporation of mindfulness strategies, ACT is a model of psychotherapy that has great potential for individuals with ASD. Using interactive demonstrations, role-play and practical examples, this session will describe the treatment and illustrate effective techniques for achieving life changes.Participants will learn to:
- Define ACT and the six interconnected components of treatment.
- Identify challenges associated with ASD that can be targeted as part of ACT.
- Describe three therapeutic techniques that can be used to increase meaningful life actions.
About Our Presenters
RAJESH ANANDAN, CEO, ULTRA Testing, SVP UNICEF Ventures, is an intrapreneur, entrepreneur and growth architect, passionate about purpose as a motivator and neurodiversity as a competitive advantage. He is the co-founder of ULTRA Testing, a high-quality software testing company employing individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and co-creator of UNICEF Kid Power, the world’s first Wearable-For-Good.
JED BAKER, Ph.D., is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, an organization serving individuals with autism and social communication problems. He is on the professional advisory board of Autism Today, ASPEN, ANSWER, YAI and the Kelberman Center. In addition, he writes, lectures and provides training internationally on the topic of social skills training and managing challenging behaviors. He is an award-winning author of eight books, including Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents With Asperger Syndrome and Social Communication Problems; Preparing for Life: The Complete Handbook for the Transition to Adulthood for Those With Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome; The Social Skills Picture Book; and others. His work has also been featured on ABC World News, Nightline, Fox News, the CBS Early Show and the Discovery Health Channel.
LARRY DUBIN, J.D., a law professor and author, has received awards as an independent television producer of documentaries for public television. His only son, Nick, who is on the autism spectrum, has experienced the harshness of the criminal justice system, which has now labeled him a registered sex offender even though it is undisputed that he has never posed a risk of harming anyone. Professor Dubin now devotes much energy to helping other families with ASD relatives who are being processed by the criminal justice system.
NICK DUBIN was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in 2004. He has a B.A. in communications, an M.A. in learning disabilities and a doctorate in psychology. He has always shown signs of autism but was not diagnosed until later in life. He has had interactions with the criminal justice system and wants to prevent this from happening to others on the autism spectrum.
DENA GASSNER, M.S.W., Ph.D. candidate, has a master’s degree in social work and is a Ph.D. candidate in social welfare at Adelphi University. She is a national board member for Arc US and has provided consultative services and given testimony to the Government Accountability Office in Washington and at the UN in Geneva. She’s presented internationally for the National Autistic Society in Scotland, at the University of Birmingham and to researchers in the clinic run by Simon Baron-Cohen, Ph.D., at Cambridge. In October she presented in Russia at its national autism research event. Dr. Gassner was inspired to her work by her son, Patrick, who is in the College Autism Program at Marshall University. She seeks to live an authentic life not in spite of, but by wholly integrating, her autistic identity. Dr. Gassner has been published in Scholars With Autism Achieving Dreams and contributed to College for Students With Disabilities: We Do Belong.
VALERIE L. GAUS, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist with more than 20 years of experience providing mental health services to people with disabilities in her private practice offices on Long Island in Huntington and at Spectrum Services in New York City, where she offers psychotherapy to adults with ASD as well as those with stress, anxiety and mood disorders, using a cognitive behavioral approach. Dr. Gaus is on the grant review committee for OAR and the adjunct faculty at Long Island University and is a valued member of AHA’’s advisory board.
LYNDA GELLER, Ph.D., is the founder of Spectrum Services, a multidisciplinary group of independent practitioners dedicated to children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome and related conditions. She is a valued member of AHA’s advisory board.
MARJORIE MADFIS, M.B.A., is president of Yes She Can, a nonprofit based in White Plains, New York, dedicated to helping young women with autism spectrum disorder develop job skills. Madfis concluded a 30-year career in marketing prior to founding the organization in 2013. She is the mother of a 21-year-old daughter with ASD.
SHANA NICHOLS, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and researcher and has worked in the field of ASD for over 20 years. She is owner and director of ASPIRE Center for Learning and Development in Melville, New York, an outpatient assessment, treatment and consultation program. Dr. Nichols specializes in the experiences of females with ASD, growing up and adolescence, and dual diagnosis and mental health. She is a sought-after speaker nationally and internationally, and she is the lead author of the book Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum: What Parents and Professionals Should Know About the Pre-Teen and Teen Years. Dr. Nichols is also a co-author of the treatment package Facing Your Fears: Group Therapy for Managing Anxiety in Children With High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Nichols is a valued member of AHA’s advisory board.
SHIRLEY RUCH, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a licensed speech-language pathologist and a family coach and consultant who specializes in working with clients who have a diagnosis of autism, attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. Ruch is also the CEO of the South Fork Bakery, which was founded in May of 2016 with a mission to educate and employ adults with disabilities.
ALYSON H. SHEEHAN, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and the clinical coordinator/director of clinical training at ASPIRE Center for Learning and Development in Melville, New York. Dr. Sheehan specializes in comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and evidence-based psychotherapeutic interventions for children, adolescents and adults with co-occurring or complex neurodevelopmental (ASD, ADHD) and mental health conditions.
MARCIA SCHEINER, M.B.A., is the founder and president of the Asperger Syndrome Training & Employment Partnership (ASTEP). Prior to founding ASTEP, Ms. Scheiner spent 25 years in the financial services industry in a number of management roles. She graduated from Wellesley College and from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, and is the parent of a young adult son with Asperger’s syndrome.
STEPHEN SHORE, Ed.D., teaches special education courses at Adelphi University. He presents and consults internationally on educational and social inclusion, as well as issues concerning relationships, employment, advocacy and disclosure. Dr. Shore is a valued member of AHA’s advisory board.
DANIELLE ZITO, Psy.D., is a psychology postdoctoral fellow at ASPIRE Center for Learning and Development in Melville, New York. Dr. Zito recently graduated from LIU Post with a specialization in school and child psychology and developmental disabilities.
Membership & Fees
Registration includes meals and materials
Members in AHA and Not for Profit Agencies
Non-Members (includes 1 year membership)
Students, Individuals on the autism spectrum and Adelphi Faculty
(students & faculty must send a copy of current ID)
AHA Member Professional (ASHA/SW)*
Non-AHA Member Professionals (ASHA/SW)*
*Includes fees for CEA and CEUs Credits
Credentialing information and Continuing Education Credit hours for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, Social Workers and Certified Autism Specialists (IBCCES) is included in the conference brochure.
Receiving the AHA eNews does not mean that you are members of AHA. The AHA eNews is a free service to our members and the ASD community.
If you prefer to mail in your registration please send a separate copy for each registrant with the registration page only and include a check or credit card information to:
PO Box 916
Bethpage, NY 11714-0916
Receipts are sent automatically with online registration. If you require a receipt when mailing in your registration you must send a stamped self-addressed envelop.
AHA offers a limited number of partial need-based scholarships. In 2016 we were given a grant by Autism Speaks Long Island Chapter to provide full scholarships to 33 individuals on the autism spectrum for the spring conference. If applying for a partial or full scholarship you must fill out the registration form and the scholarship form.