Autism Society of Wisconsin

29th Annual Conference

April 19-21, 2018
Kalahari Resort & Convention Center, Wisconsin Dells


Pre-Conference Options

Pre-Conference A: April 19th from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
A Girl’s Eye View: Understanding and Working with Girls on the Autism Spectrum
Presented by Shana Nichols, Ph.D.

Much of our understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been based on research and intervention development that has predominantly been conducted with male participants. In recent years, an emerging focus in both research and clinical practice has identified the importance of the female experience of ASD and how it may differ from that of males on the spectrum. A small, but growing, body of literature based on research, reports from clinicians, and published experiences of women with ASD is beginning to contribute to how best to identify females with ASD and meet the unique challenges that females on the spectrum face. This workshop will provide an overview of the current research findings regarding differences between males and females with ASD, and their implications for accurately detecting ASD in females. Appropriate diagnostic protocols for females suspected of having ASD will be discussed. Using case examples and experiences of women with ASD, effective strategies and resources for social, emotional, and physical development will be reviewed.

Pre-Conference B: April 19th from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Mental Health Treatment Techniques and Modifications for People with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Presented by
Robert Peyton, Ph.D., BCBA-D

This workshop will provide a broad overview of research and treatment techniques that are beneficial in the mental health treatment of older children, adolescents, and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The workshop will focus on the most common co-morbid disorders: anxiety, depression, phobias, disruptive behavior disorders (e.g., ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder), feeding and elimination disorders. This workshop will show how function-based approaches and treatments consistent with early intervention techniques (e.g., applied behavior analysis, applied verbal behavior, early start Denver model) can be effective for the treatment of these disorders, and also when treatment for these disorders goes outside the scope of those approaches. Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to create a hypothetical treatment plan appropriate to their own training at the parent, teacher, BCBA, or mental health provider level during this workshop for one of the co-morbid disorders reviewed in the presentation portion of the workshop. The workshop will end with a few tips from the presenter and an open discussion on collaboration between mental health providers, schools, and early intervention providers.

Pre-Conference C: April 19th from 1:45 pm – 4:45 pm
Making the World a Bit Easier to Navigate: Using Executive Function Skills
Presented by Brenda Smith Myles, Ph.D.

The newly defined 21st Century Skills have recognized the importance of executive function skills to life success. The multiple aspects of executive function challenges that impact home, school, community, and employment will be described with examples that relate to each of these environments. In addition, the speaker will describe evidence-based interventions and supports that can be implemented to help individuals on the spectrum develop and use the diverse skills known as executive function.

At the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:
1. Define executive function and its relation to Autism Spectrum Disorders.
2. Describe how executive function impacts individuals with ASD in the home, school, and community.
3. Identify interventions that can be used to teach and support executive function. 

Pre-Conference D: April 19th from 1:45 pm – 4:45 pm
Sensory Overload vs. Behavioral Tantrums: Understanding the Difference and How to Respond
Presented by Jen Bluske, OTR, and Danna Hamlett, MS, LMFT

A child with an overloaded sensory system can lead to significant stress this is communicated through behavior. Challenging behaviors can also arise out of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. Children with autism often deal with several of these factors all at once. How we as adults interpret these actions lays the groundwork for how children communicate what they are feeling and what they need. Often it is both sensory and behavior which have an intertwining relationship with one another across development. It can be challenging to determine what the best tactics are to use to help shape your child’s behavior and support emotional regulation. This presentation will dive into the similarities, differences, and strategies to help parents/caregivers respond in ways that can promote emotional development through a sensory smart lens. Join us as we examine common behaviors and present a framework for breaking down the reasons and responses.

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Keynote Friday, April 20 brenda_smith_myles

Critical Mass, Purposeful Practice and Autism: Creating Independent Learners
Presented by Brenda Smith Myles, Ph.D.

Teach a skill from start to finish! Promote independence! Help individuals with ASD learn independently! Most individuals with ASD are taught skills only to a certain point. For example, an individual may learn to read a calendar of assignments and check it the night before; however, he is not totally independent on this task because he has not learned that you often need to check your calendar more often than one night before an activity., such as a test. As adults, they may be taught to pay bills and pay them on a timely basis when an invoice is provided. However, what if there is no invoice—such as with rent. These challenges are directly related to a lack of success in independent living, employment, and social interactions. How do we change this trajectory? This presentation focuses on describing the factors that lead to critical mass for those on the spectrum when providing instruction and supports. Critical mass, in this regard, is the point where an individual has gained enough information to apply it to situations, activities or skills in which instruction has not been provided. Learn easy-to-use strategies that can help individuals with ASD to move about their world as independently as possibly, making informed decisions about their wants and needs. Teaching to critical mass will help learners to be successful with tasks they have been taught to do, but will also help them to be successful with activities on which they have no received instruction.

Keynote Saturday, April 21 jonathon

Finding My Voice(s): My Personal Autism Journey towards Independence
Presented by Jonathan and Jodi Murphy

As an autistic child, Jonathan Murphy felt voiceless. As an autistic adult, he became the voice of a major theme park. In his keynote address, Jonathan shares how self-acceptance, a strong support team, willingness to change, and stepping into his fears and anxieties put him on his path towards independence and a fulfilling life. Jodi Murphy acts as Jonathan’s “wingman” to offer the successful strategies she used to help Jonathan thrive at every stage of his journey.

Jonathan Murphy is a SAG-AFTRA voiceover actor appears in video games, apps, audio books, and throughout a major theme park. Jonathan shares his autistic life experiences through public speaking and Mighty League children’s book app series. He’s received a Temple Grandin Award and People’s Choice Award for his storytelling (

Jodi Murphy is Jonathan Murphy’s proud mom and founder of Geek Club Books, a creative autism nonprofit focused on innovative, entertaining autism storytelling to change perceptions and end the stigma. She works with a team of autistic adults who contribute to everything Geek Club Books’ creates.

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Register Online
Download the fillable registration form.
Group registration form (10% off for 4 or more attending from the same agency).
Frequently Asked Questions

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We have reserved rooms at the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center. Lodging reservations must be made directly with the hotel at 877-253-5466.  When making a reservation identify yourself with the Autism Society of Wisconsin room block. Call in advance; only a limited number of rooms are blocked at a special rate of $109 per night for a single or $122 for a double, triple or quad room Wednesday– Friday. The rate will increase to $139 per evening for reservations on Saturday.  All overnight guests are invited to indulge in the complimentary use of the water park and fitness center. Room reservation cutoff date is March 18, 2018; all unconfirmed rooms will then be released to the general public.


Exhibiting provides the opportunity to engage with over 700 attendees including some of the top leaders committed to improving lives of individuals living with autism. For more information, download the Exhibitor Prospectus.

Register to exhibit online here.


There are many benefits and levels for your business as a conference sponsor. Download the fillable sponsor form to view the different options to sponsor the conference.

Advertisement Opportunities

Place an advertisement about your company’s products and/or services in our 2018 Conference Program. This is an additional opportunity for you to reach individuals with ASD, parents, educators, therapists, agencies, school districts and others, making them aware of the services you provide. View the Advertising guide and fillable form here.

Secure your advertisement online here.

Conference Sibshop

A Sibshop will be offered at ASW's Annual Conference for typically-developing children ages 8-12 on Saturday, April 21st from 9:50 am - 12:40 pm in the Ironwood meeting room. Registration is required for attendance. 

Sibshops are celebrations of the many contributions made by sisters and brothers of kids with special needs. These workshops combine recreation, information, and discussion for a lively kid-focused event that address both concerns and joys of having a sibling with special needs. (For more information about Sibshops, visit

Talent Show

The Annual Conference Talent Show will be taking place on Friday, April 20th from 7:00 - 8:00 pm. This event is open to the public and is designed to celebrate the talents of those on the autism spectrum. Due to limited space, participation is accepted on a first come, first serve basis. It is a requirement to provide a valid email upon registering, as you will be notified via email once your registration has been received.  If capacity is reached you will be contacted and placed on the waiting list. Click here to sign-up

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