A comprehensive day of learning for Professionals, Parents/Family, Caregivers, Direct Care Providers, and Individuals with ASD, Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities with sessions on Treatment, Provider & Agency Support, Education, Legal & Medical topics!

4340 E Cotton Center Blvd.

Phoenix, AZ 85040

8:30AM - 4:30PM


In Person Event!

30 Informative Sessions plus 2 Keynotes

FREE CEU’s for BCBA’s and SLP’s!

Resource Fair with over 40 Sponsors and Exhibitors

Continental Breakfast, Lunch Buffet, Morning/Afternoon Refreshments

Event Program

Professional Development Certificates

Complimentary on-site Parking

Appropriate health and safety measures in accordance with CDC recommendations will be implemented on event day

Keynote Speakers



Looking Ahead: Our Changing Understanding of Care Delivery as We Emerge from the Pandemic

Jami Snyder, Director, AHCCCS

This presentation will focus on how the pandemic has and will continue to influence care delivery in the future. It will specifically touch on innovations being advanced by Arizona's Medicaid program, AHCCCS, which promote access to care, leverage technology and attend to the needs of the whole person.

Innovative Programming for those with I/DD and their Families

Christi Lundeen, Chief Innovation Officer, Mercy Care, Sunshine Dean, Spectrum Healthcare

This presentation will focus on how the pandemic has brought a lot of changes in the way we do things. It’s made us all imagine if we could we do things better? Safer? More conveniently? This presentation will focus on the collaboration between Mercy Care and Spectrum Healthcare to bring localized, innovative healthcare programs to our community.




Personal and Emotional Awareness through Acceptance and Mindfulness

Sexual Violence and the l/DD Community

Prioritizing Self-Development in Organizational Culture

Jagmeet Sangha, MA, BCBA, Julius Schillinger, Kyo (CEU)

TJ Glahn, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA, & Kai Glahn, Fun and Functional Behavioral Services. (CEU)

Gina Griffiths, AZ Sexual Violence & I/DD Collaborative, Leigh Ann Davis, The Arc of the United States, Jon Meyers, The Arc of Arizona, Lindsay Ashworth, ACESDV, Betty McEntire, ACDHH

Everyone experiences confusion, stress, and an inability to cope with life's periodic difficulties. Adolescents and adults with ASD and/or IDD frequently encounter intense challenges associated with life stressors including the symptoms typically associated with ASD such as anxiety, difficulty with transitions, and social interaction complexities. Practical and straightforward strategies, derived primarily from the principles of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), will be explained based on the presenters' clinical experiences. The transformative power of Mindfulness and Acceptance will be explored. These concepts are at the core of ACT (Hayes, Strosahl, and Wilson, 2012). Through Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Transitioning, live success-fully being present now!

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our field saw increases in staff burnout, conferences canceled or delayed, and learning how to help families and staff navigate during the pandemic, while trying to navigate it ourselves. Soft skills can buffer clinician burnout by creating dense schedules of reinforcement. Tools such as ACT and the Emotional Intelligence framework, allow us to empower ourselves and prioritize personal wellbeing while achieving professional goals. This talk will walk through the components of Kyo’s unique culture that promotes professional wellbeing through placing value on self development, devoted mentorship, and intentional learning. 

Launched in 2019, the Arizona Sexual Violence & I/DD Collaborative includes more than 50 different organizations, survivors, and families. We work to ensure the needs of people who have intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities aren't lost when addressing sexual violence. The Collaborative has created and/or vetted a myriad of resources to help individuals, families and professionals prevent, identify and report sexual abuse and violence, as well resources to support survivors. The purpose of this session is to share the Collaborative's work and to ensure that this important information is utilized by the community as we all work to protect individuals with IDD from all forms of abuse and neglect.

Assistive Technology: Tools for Life!

Guardianship, ABLE Accounts and Special Needs Trusts

Science Behind Autism: Future of Diagnosis and Treatment

Mitch Galbraith OTD, OTR/L, Margaret Egan, PT, Christy Hegebush, MLS, Arizona Department of Education.

Dr. Richard Frye, Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Emily Kile, Kile Law Firm, PC.

Guardianship processes have changed due to COVID-19. While the law remained the same, the court process is very different now. Learn not only when you might want to file for guardianship, but what to expect in our "new" world. ABLE accounts and special needs trusts may serve different purposes. Come learn about the differences and when to think about using each.

The benefits of assistive technology (AT) for students with disabilities are wide-ranging. It can help students increase independence at home and school as well as prepare them for transition to adulthood. In this session, we will review the definition of AT and the requirements outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Act for students with special education services. Participants will learn about some of the current tools available to help students in areas like reading, writing, communication, and executive function. There will be demonstrations and opportunities for hands-on exploration. Resources available through the Arizona Department of Education will be reviewed.

Dr. Frye will discuss some of the biological abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), both in and outside the brain, that may be targets for treatment that may improve outcomes in individuals with ASD. Previous and ongoing clinical trials which support these targeted treatments will be discussed.


2.0 Behind the Scenes Matter Most

Rebecca White, BCBA, Laura Murray, RBT, Kendall Brundrett, RBT, Aspen Behavioral Services. (CEU)

Behavior analysis is influenced by assessments, guided by science, and driven to make socially meaningful behavior change. Meaningful change from the perspective of whom, is a lingering question. Previously in our presentation titled Your Child, Not Just a Score, we discussed barriers in integrating quality-of-life indicators within treatment objectives, and highlighted resources to increase advocacy for a person-centered approach to treatment. The pur-pose of this presentation will be to re-focus on those indicators through a behind the scenes look at shared decision making models and family-centered treatment. This presentation will distinguish strategies for identifying quality-of-life indicators as treatment priorities and documenting these factors for medical necessity justification.

Efforts to Improve Access to Early Diagnosis

Christopher Smith, Ph.D., SARRC. 

We will present results from a five-year study to investigate the effects of the Get SET Early model implemented to improve early diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder in Phoenix. Additionally, we will discuss efforts that are currently underway to adapt our findings from the study to practical application by the medical and diagnostic community in Phoenix, with the intent of having a state-wide effect on lowering the age of ASD diagnosis in Arizona. This project and translational efforts will create a model for other states to replicate.

Transition of In Home Parent Training Model to Telehealth Services for Behavior Reduction

Summer Abdeh, BCBA, Jennifer Bacigalupo, BCBA, AZA United. (CEU)

AZA United's Clinical Family Coaching (CFC) program is a parent/caregiver training program focused on the treatment of challenging behavior. Between March 2020 and May 2021 this program pivoted to an almost exclusively telehealth model and in many cases, found unexpected success. This presentation will explore the elements that contributed to CFC's success during the pandemic, potential barriers to telehealth services, and plans for the future for the way telehealth will be integrated into the CFC program.

The Remote Work Revolution: Helping Job-Seekers with Autism & I/DD Find Competitive Work-From-Home Employment

Byran Dai, Daivergent

Remote work has become widely accepted following COVID-19, but adoption has been slow in the Autism/IDD community. The ability to work from home eliminates many barriers to entry for employment, but is rarely discussed with families. In this presentation, we are educating families, job-seekers, and providers about how to be a competitive candidate for remote roles. We will cover the most common work-from-home jobs, and how adults in the autism community can find them. Attendees will learn about in-demand skills they need to be successful, and how they can determine if a role is a fit for them. Additional resources and tools will be distributed to attendees.

Pledge to Prevent

Gina Judy, Pledge to Prevent, Inc.

Pledge to Prevent is a unique way to promote the prevention of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of individuals. Pledge to Prevent is different than other programs because it focuses on a promise - a commitment to work together. Not only will participants learn practical prevention methods, they will have an opportunity to sign a promise and pledge to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Research shows that pledging to take a certain action can be very powerful. Individuals have a natural desire to keep a promise they have made.

Health Starts at Home

Maureen Casey, Brad Herron-Valenzuela, MA, Dr. Caroline Kim Kupfer, Diane Wasley, Joyce Millard Hoie, First Place Global Leadership Institute Center for Education.

Individuals with autism and other neurodiversities need a healthcare equity model and better treatment approaches to ensure no one goes untreated or is medically misunderstood. Hear about three interrelated health and wellness activities at First Place Phoenix. In early 2021, we launched the Virginia G. Piper Health Spot, licensed by Dignity Health and staffed by Caroline Kim Kupfer, M.D. The First Place 360 Health & Wellness curriculum provides three courses of 10 modules each for three distinct cohorts: adults with autism, their families and direct support providers, and healthcare professionals. Finally, a medical elective at Creighton University Medical School.


Approaching Medical Crises in Individuals with Autism

(BCBA-CEU Eligible)

Assent-Based Treatment: Affording Dignity to Clients with Disabilities

Ashley Bennett, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA, Bierman ABA. (CEU)

As Behavior Analysts, it is our responsibility to involve our clients in the treatment planning process and obtain informed consent prior to implementing treatment (BACB 4.02). By law, these responsibilities are almost exclusively afforded to parents and legal guardians for individuals with disabilities. Obtaining assent from the client and accepting assent withdrawal is all too often overlooked and can have a deleterious impact. This presentation will discuss the importance of assent-based treatment in ABA, review the components of assent-based treatment and provide recommendations for building assent-based programs.

Getting Results from Play-Based ABA Therapy

Jagmeet K. Sangha, MA, BCBA, KYO., Jagmeet K. Sangha MA, BCBA, & Lisa M. Rodriguez, M.A., BCBA

A great way to teach new skills is by making everyday activities fun and engaging. When kids are enjoying learning, they pick up new skills more easily, are better able to generalize them across environments, and are more easily able to maintain them over time. Naturalistic teaching techniques like PRT engage children in learning as they participate in an appealing, immersive activity. This presentation will share examples of how you can make learning activities fun and enticing for the whole family and find teachable moments within your family's natural routine.

To Infinity and Beyond: 10 Tips To Take Your Business to Its Next Level

Alison Hulsof, Obok Consulting

Expanding your business can be a difficult task if you don't have the right resources to help you along the way. Obok Consulting wants to share the best ways to prepare your business for these changes and also share a few of the possible pitfalls that can come along with growth. We plan to stand beside you every step of the journey to ensure success.

Alice Ridgway, RBT,

Charnel Silverman, BCBA

Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center

In this presentation, the researchers will share two different strategies for approaching medical crises in two participants with ASD in their natural environment. In both cases, these intervention strategies increased preparedness, personal safety skills, and overall responding to those providing immediate, medical support. Furthermore, the foundation of independent advocacy skills was promoted for each participant.

Unified Champion Schools

Shae Knowlton, Special Olympics Arizona, Carly Bacha, South Mountain High School.

We may not fully know what every school will look like or feel like, but we do know that each will have a renewed need to foster social connection and inclusion amongst a returning student body that is starved for it. There are opportunities to 'build back better' in academics, access, and safety. Empowering them to return where all students experience social inclusion, connectedness, and support. Unified Champion Schools program in Arizona empowers students and educators to create more inclusive school climates: reducing bullying, increased opportunity for social-emotional learning, and youth leadership development.

Parents & Schools: How to Get Along and Get What Your Child Needs

Hope Kirsch, Esq., Kirsch-Goodwin & Kirsch PLLC-Education Attorneys, Heather R. Pierson, M.Ed., Esq., Udall Shumway PLLC.

Two attorneys on opposite sides - a parent attorney and a school attorney - discuss how they and their clients collaborate to resolve disputes, and how to avoid disputes in the first place. This is a unique opportunity to see what happens when attorneys are involved, and how to avoid needing an attorney. They will also explain the various alternative dispute resolution methods available. Guaranteed to be fun and entertaining while very informative.

Beyond 20/20: Vision and Learning

Christina Esposito, 0.D., Midwestern University.

This presentation is designed to discuss the connection between vision and learning with children on the spectrum, developing an understanding among parents and therapists that vision is more than 20/20 on the eye chart, how to assess and diagnosis learning related vision problems in this population, how to manage these conditions and lastly how to provide accommodations to the school to help the student learn based on the their diagnosis and correlated findings.


Clinical Decision Support Systems: Improving Outcomes for Applied Behavior Analysis

Kristen Byra, BCBA-D, LBA, Nathan Albright, The Cedar Group. (CEU)

"You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant" (Harlan Ellison). The Cedar Group was founded on an ideal that clinicians can deliver high quality services at a significantly higher consistency of integrity while reducing the heightened risk for individual decision inconsistency across the field. Clinical decision support systems are a technology that offer clinicians the ability to identify variables that affect various clinical decisions, the resources to guide the decision making process, and action plans for best outcomes - regardless of the clinician's experience or background.

Echolalia and How it Can Be a Natural Part of Speech Development

Jonathon Barsness, MS CCC-SLP. 


This is designed to help people unfamiliar with echolalia gain some understanding of what we speech language pathologists have learned through evidence based studies. We see that echolalia has roots in typical language development. We can support our autistic children to gain more language skills with this as a basis.

Arts and Aging - Creative Aging & l/DD Programming

Taylor Buttrey, The Opportunity Tree.

In the United States, over 47.5 million people are currently living with dementia-related disorders - this figure is expected to explode to over 75 million by 2030. This staggering statistic presents a health crisis on the horizon; the figures for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are even more dramatic. This population already receives far fewer services than their neurotypical peers, even from a young age; as they age, this disparity grows ever larger.

School-Based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Neurodiverse Students

Kenneth Mims, M.Ed., Science Prep Academy.

As individuals with ASD transition into adulthood, they face many challenges. Importantly, ASD is a spectrum disorder, meaning that the behavioral profile is highly variable and includes a range of severity across multiple dimensions. Research shows that even though there is some abatement of symptoms as children grow into adults, significant limitations still persist and impact a range of outcomes. School-Based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Neurodiverse Students, addresses the far-reaching challenges of stress, anxiety, depression and mental health issues among children and youth with Autism in the U.S. as they transition out of the K-12 system.

Planning for the Future of Your Child with Special Needs

Karen Starbowski, CLU, ChSNC, MassMutual Arizona

Jon Meyers, The Arc of Arizona. This session will focus on how to avoid the pitfalls of poor or no planning, how to get started planning, what steps to take and where to find essential resources.

The Importance of Caring for the Caregivers

Michelle Thorne, MS, CAS, Gabrielle Ficchi, Ph.D., LPC, CRC, DAMES Charities Inc.

Caregivers raising a child with a disability are often overlooked and their protective factors are withered away over time. Unfortunately, the toll of caregiver stress and isolation often leads to increased abuse and neglect of children who have a disability. This presentation will teach organizations the basics of the Protective Factors Framework and how they can make small but meaningful changes to decrease caregiver stress and reduce the likelihood of abuse in the home.


On-Demand Therapy Support: Increasing Learning Time with Discrete Video Modeling Technology

Maria Gilmour, Ph.D., BCBA-D., LBA, Inga Siler, MS, CCC-SLP/CPSP; SLP. (CEU)

The following aspects of discrete video modeling technology will be addressed: What we have learned from the pandemic regarding efficiency, real-time collaboration, generalization, and access to therapy. Further discussion of the key components of clinician/teacher and student roles will include: ENGAGE - monitor progress and update video assignments by all team members, PLAN - review as signed videos for each learner and create their own videos to use images and videos familiar to the learner, PRACTICE - the learner watches, listens, and imitates the video concepts, and ALIGN - multiple providers can view the learner's targets through the student account and continue to generalize lessons in direct therapies.

Thriving Sibling: The Impact On Values-Driven Behavior Change for Siblings of Children with ASD

Kaitlin Winter, Shannon Weller, MS, BCBA, LBA, Arizona Autism United. (CEU)

The Thriving Sibling is a piloted program designed to respond to the unique social and emotional needs of siblings of children on the autism spectrum. This program is derived from the work of Dr. Louise Hayes creator of the Thriving Adolescent, a therapeutic curriculum intended to help teens and pre-teens get in touch with their values, develop mindful awareness of stress and self-doubt, work toward goals and embrace difficult feelings that sometimes get in the way. Our adaptation was delivered via telehealth to two groups of siblings over 12 weeks in 2021. Results indicated measurable progress toward values informed goals.

 Diagnosing Autism in Adulthood: Challenges Experienced on the Path to Self-Discovery

Erica Skepnek, Psy.D., Arizona Autism United.

This presentation will focus on the challenges experienced by adults seeking an autism diagnosis from personal (i.e., recognizing the difficulties experienced and the need for an evaluation, overcoming feelings that something could be "wrong" with them), practical (i.e., funding, finding a provider, providing an informant on their early developmental history), and clinical standpoints (i.e., complex differential diagnoses, limited and/or conflicting information about developmental history). Suggestions for overcoming these challenges will be provided, including how integrating telehealth may improve clinical accuracy while also reducing stress on the client.

Light-Tech Resources: Meeting Needs in the Classroom & Around The World

Brandi Wentland, M.A., CCC-SLP, We Speak AAC.


High-tech resources and speech generating device (SGD) options are abundant. However, durable light-tech and/or no-tech options still remain to be few. Come join us in this session where we will explore the options available including specific websites to download free resources, using screen captures, device emulators and paper-based housing solutions (e.g., binders, spiral binding, PicSeePal, etc.). In this session we will learn why, how and when light-tech may be needed. Interactive opportunities will be provided to make and take your own light-tech re-sources. Join us and learn about our global initiative to bring no-tech solutions around the world.

The Start of Something Special

Kyle Guerin, MBA, Pacific Dental Services Foundation, Dr. David Jourabchi, DDS, Dentists for Special Needs.

Improved overall health through improved oral health and a new way of patient care for individuals with autism. We'll discuss dental behavior modification practices, desensitization, and how to have success at oral health success at home.

My Insurance Provider Contract Says What?

Diedra Freedman, JD, Ann Monahan, Honoris Group.

While each contract is unique, there are some basic terms and conditions shared by most insurance provider contracts. We will review selected sections of a mock insurance provider contract and highlight examples of some important contract terms, conditions and/or obligations that providers may want to pay extra attention to when carefully reviewing their own insurance provider contracts.








AAC Members

Non-AAC Members

Individual with Autism

Individual with Autism

AAC or The Arc Members

Non Members





Thank You 2021 Sponsors!

Keynote Sponsors

CEU Sponsor

Workshop Track SponsorMedical & Health

Provider Scholarship Sponsor

Tote Bag Sponsor

Scholarship Sponsors

Title Sponsors

VIP Sponsors

2021 Vendors

AZ Aspire Academy

MeBe Arizona

Arizona DES Division of Developmental Disabilities

Meridian Special Needs Planning

Bluesprig Pediatrics

Milestone Pediatrics

Caring for Angels

Share Your Blessings, Inc.

Chandler Gilbert Arc

Sonoran UCEDD


Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC)

Guthrie Mainstream Services

The Opportunity Tree

MassMutual Special Care Planners Arizona