Parenting Autism Summit 2019

Insights, wisdom, and advice from over two dozen autism experts, curated by two parenting coaches and moms who truly understand the information you need.


Meet Your Experts

Carol Stock Kranowitz, MA

Author of The Out of Sync Child, Sensory Expert

Susan Hopkins, EdD

Executive Director of The MEHRIT Centre

Kelly Mahler MS, OTR/L

OT, Author of Interoception: The 8th Sense

 Julie F. Skolnick MA, JD

Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm

 Kristine Mastronardi & Jake 

Certified RDI® Consultant

Ruth Aspy, PhD & Barry G. Grossman, PhD

Psychologists & Co-Creators of the Ziggurat Model

Julie M Bowen, LCSW

Director of Therapy & Services at HOPE Therapy & Wellness Center

Debbie Reber, MA

Author of Wired Differently, Founder of TiLT Parenting

Donna Henderson, PsyD

Clinical Neuropsychologist with The Stixrud Group

 Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP

Pediatric Psychologist

Kathy Dow-Burger, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist/ Associate Clinical Professor

Elisa Song, MD

Integrative Pediatrician, Whole Family Wellness

Colleen Kessler, MEd

Gifted Ed Coach, Author,

Yulanda Swindell, MD

Pediatrician at The One World Center for Autism

 Kim Clairy, OTR/L 

Licensed OT, Private Consultant, ASD Expert

Rachelle Sheely, PhD

Clinical Psychologist, Co-Developer of RDI®

Dr. Edward Hallowell

Child & Adult Psychiatrist, NYT Best-Selling Author

Caron Starobin, LCSW-C, & Jamell White, PhD, LCSW-C

Therapists and Certified PEERS® Instructors

Sharon Saline, PsyD

Clinical Psychologist & Author

Brendan Mahan, MEd, MS

Executive Function Consultant, Veteran Educator

Laurie Ackles, LMSW

Director of the Spectrum Support Program at RIT, College Autism Spectrum

Abila Tazanu, MD

Founder & Director of the One World Center for Autism

Stephen Shore

Professor of Special Education, Consultant & Author

Sasha Long, BCBA, MA

Behavior Analyst, Former Special Ed Teacher, Founder of The Autism Helper

Joan L. Green, MA CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist, Assistive Tech Specialist, Author

Kristin Cook

Special Education Navigator

Sarah Wayland, PhD


RDI® Consultant, Parent Coach, Special Needs Care Navigator

Penny Williams


Award-Winning Author, Self-Care & Parenting ADHD & Autism Coach

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for this summit. It has been SO eye opening. I am seriously in tears because it is the perfect message at the perfect time. I’ve passed the link on to all of my fellow Autism mom friends. All of your efforts in organizing this are appreciated.”


“I just wanted to reach out to thank you so much for putting together this summit and allowing me to participate as a parent free of charge. I have been finding the sessions so incredibly helpful and encouraging. It’s eye opening and educational to understand the world of autism beyond my everyday experiences with my son, but to hear beyond from experts I wouldn’t ordinarily hear from, helps me help my son. Thank you.”


What You'll Learn

Behavior, Emotions & Self-Regulation

Autism is a complex neuro-developmental disorder. Learning how to help children who struggle to be flexible, self-regulate, and cope with sensory issues leads to happier kids and families. Better understand your child so you can help them succeed.

Parenting the Kid You Have

Many parents worry about how to change autistic behaviors and reduce symptoms, but it’s more helpful to understand what causes the behaviors and what your child needs to succeed. Learn what your child’s behavior is telling you, and how to address it.

Making Connections & Social Development

Social and communication skills are a well-known struggle for those with autism and Aspergers. Learn how to strengthen the parent-child relationship, improve social skills, and help your child make connections and navigate relationships.


Treatment and therapies can greatly improve the lives of individuals with autism, even those with symptoms that are less obvious. Learn about the options so you can determine what will be most helpful for your child.

School, Work & Beyond

Many families wonder how to help their autistic child function in a neurotypical world. We’ll tackle some of the issues that face kids in school, college, employment, and in the community, as well as how to make those transitions as smooth as possible.

This conference is for you if:

    • you feel like you don’t understand your child and his/her behavior.
    • what you’ve done so far hasn’t helped your child and you’re looking for a better way.
    • you struggle to figure out the right treatment and interventions for your child.
    • you want guide your child to craft a successful, happy adulthood.

These expert libraries will empower you to help your child… and your entire family.

Yes please! I want to own these expert sessions.


What You Get When You Purchase the Conference

  • Forever access to all 28 video sessions
  • Forever access to all 28 audio MP3 sessions (listen on the go)
  • The Empowerment Workbook
  • All 28 speaker bonuses
  • Certificate of Completion

The Sessions

Sensory Challenges: What They Are and How to Help Your Kid Cope
1:06:21 LENGTH

There’s no such thing as a bad kid, but sometimes adults think kids are misbehaving when what they are actually doing is trying to self-regulate. This is particularly true when kids have sensory differences – and kids with autism almost always have a sensory processing disorder. Carol Stock Kranowitz, MA, describes the eight sensory systems: the five senses that tell us what is happening in the outside world and the three senses that help us understand our own bodies as they relate to the world . You will also learn what happens when these senses are out-of-sync, as well as strategies that can help your kids self-regulate.

Carol Stock Kranowitz, a former teacher, introduced Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) to parents and educators around the world through her groundbreaking book, “The Out-of-Sync Child,” the first publication in her “Sync” series. She speaks internationally about SPD’s effect on children’s learning and behavior and how families, teachers, and professionals can support children as they grow — at home, at school, and out and about.

Self-Regulation and Autism
1:01:36 LENGTH

Everything is harder when you feel out of sorts. And so often we focus on the issue that triggers a breakdown, when in fact the real problem can be traced to the fact that you are struggling with something else. This is true for our kids, but it’s also true for the adults in their lives. In this interview, Susan Hopkins, Ed.D. describes a methodology that will help you assess what might be going wrong. She describes the five domains of Self-Reg (biological, emotional, cognitive, social and pro-social), and the 5 processes you can use to restore balance.

Susan Hopkins, Ed.D. is an experienced, passionate educator and advocate for children, families, schools and communities. Over the course of her career, Susan has worked in every area of education from the early years to post-secondary. Susan relocated in 2014 to work with Dr. Stuart Shanker as Executive Director at The MEHRIT Centre. Under her leadership, The MEHRIT Centre has grown into a respected international hub for learning about how to support self-regulation in children and adults via Shanker Self-Reg®.

Interoception — How You Feel Your Emotions
53:26 LENGTH

“How are you feeling?” It seems like such a simple question, but it’s not, and it’s especially not if your “interoceptive sense” doesn’t work the same way as other people’s. To answer the question, you need to know how your body is feeling (Sweaty hands? Empty tummy? Achy muscles?), how that feeling relates to a state (Nervous? Hungry? Worked out too long?), and what action to take (Use calming strategies? Eat? Take a day off from the gym?). In this fascinating exploration of the interoceptive sense, Kelly Mahler explains how to help your child learn to understand how they are feeling and what to do with those feelings once they understand them.

Kelly Mahler MS, OTR/L, earned an MS in Occupational Therapy as well as a Post-Professional Pediatric Certificate from Misericordia University, Dallas, PA. She is currently a doctoral student at Misericordia University. Kelly has been an occupational therapist for 17 years, serving school-aged children and young adults. She is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Elizabethtown College. She is co-investigator on several research projects pertaining to autism, interoception and social programming, and is also an international speaker on these subjects.

When the Two Exceptionalities are Autism & Giftedness
45:40 LENGTH

What are the characteristics of gifted people? What are the characteristics of autistic people? And how do they overlap? In this interview, Julie Skolnick explores perfectionism, rigidity, intense interests, and memory as they are expressed in giftedness and in autism. Learn about Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities, Julie’s strategies for helping your kid with PRAISE™, and the importance of getting curious about behavior.

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-esteem in their 2e students and clients. Julie serves as Secretary on the Maryland Superintendent’s Gifted and Talented Advisory Council, is the Maryland liaison for Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), reviews parenting strand conference proposals, is a Committee member for the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), and serves as an advisor to “The G Word” feature documentary currently in production. Julie produces 2 Days of 2e Virtual Conference which includes renowned speakers, discussion forums and a virtual exhibitor hall. A frequent speaker and prolific writer, Julie is also the mother of three twice exceptional children who keep her on her toes and uproariously laughing.

Developing Flexible Thinking
56:00 LENGTH

Flexibility is hard for many of us, but it’s especially hard for people with autism. And teaching people how to be flexible can seem like an insurmountable task. So many parents of inflexible children cater to their children’s difficulty with change by sticking to familiar patterns and routines – but that doesn’t prepare their kids for the real world, and it’s incredibly stressful for a family. Listen as Sarah Wayland talks with Kristine Mastronardi and her son Jake about how they worked to develop his flexible thinking abilities using a curriculum developed by Steven Gutstein of the Connections Center. You will learn about the importance of bookmarking important events (positive AND negative!), recording videos so you can revisit the moment in the future, and using those previous experiences to anticipate possible alternative responses. Through this ongoing process, people with autism can learn to be flexible, to set goals, and work through the messy process of realizing their dreams.

Kristine Mastronardi is a a RDI® Certified Consultant and Veteran Parent of the RDI® program, Relationship Development Intervention. Kristine began her autism education when her son Jake was diagnosed with autism. Kristine was trained in Applied Behavior Analysis, and created a website to create visual activity schedules. Kristine found RDI® when Jake was nine years old. Inspired by Jake’s profound progress Kristine became a RDI® Consultant, founded MindGuiding, and empowers others to achieve their own success. Kristine works with families in NJ and NY as well as distance families from all over the world in online settings.  Kristine guest blogs for Jakes website where she shares the guide perspective on autism and RDI.

Jake Mastronardi is a Certified Dog Trainer, passionate animal advocate and avid cyclist. Diagnosed with autism, Jake struggled in his daily life, unable to engage, choosing to isolate himself in repetitive behaviors and rituals. Jake’s life was transformed when he began RDI®. Jake developed the ability to form meaningful relationships. Jake progressed from an out of district school placement to a self contained classroom before full inclusion prior to graduating. Jake was a member of his High School Marching Band, Symphonic Band and Track and Field. Jake serves as a peer mentor in online groups with other teens in the program. Jake has created a social media presence with his YouTube Channel Jake’s Take On Autism and website where he shares his unique perspective of being an adult living with autism.

Designing Comprehensive Intervention Plans with The Ziggurat Model
49:26 LENGTH

How do you help an autistic child accomplish the goals that are important to them? You have to respect who they are – their strengths, challenges, and the world they live in. And you have to think about how to put supports in place so they can learn what they need to learn. The Ziggurat Model is a comprehensive planning tool that will help you understand your child as you figure out how to support them. Listen to this talk to learn about the eight areas covered in the Underlying Characteristics Checklist (UCC) and the Individual Strengths and Skills Inventory (ISSI), the Antecedent Behavior Consequences Intervention Iceberg (ABC-I) and the five levels of intervention required to “ascend the Ziggurat”. By asking yourself The Five Questions, and using these tools, you can learn the best way to help your child.

Ruth Aspy, PhD, is a licensed psychologist specializing in transdisciplinary assessment and intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. She is co-author of a comprehensive model of intervention, The Ziggurat Model, which earned the Literary Achievement Award from the Autism Society of America. Dr. Aspy has co-authored other works including: FBA to Z; Excelling with Autism; Talk With Me; and High-Functioning Autism and Difficult Moments. She has provided training and consultation throughout the United States and internationally. Her focus is on understanding the underlying characteristics of those with ASD, keeping their neurological/brain differences in mind. She believes that kindness is at the heart of all good intervention strategies. Dr. Aspy has an emphasis on working with females with ASD and with those individuals who have symptoms of catatonia.

Barry G. Grossman, PhD is co-owner of the Ziggurat Group, which specializes in transdisciplinary assessment and comprehensive intervention for individuals with ASD. Dr. Grossman, along with his co-author, Dr. Aspy, wrote The Ziggurat Model—a book on designing interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The Ziggurat Model, which earned the Literary Achievement Award from the Autism Society of America, is being used successfully throughout the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Grossman serves on the Autism Society of America’s Panel of Professional Advisors.

Autism, Trauma, and Therapies That Can Remap the Brain
55:28 LENGTH

Trauma is not caused only by abuse, violence, or war. Many experiences can be traumatic and change the brain, especially for kids and young adults with autism. There are many therapy modalities that help to work through many aspects of trauma and remap the brain in more positive ways — DBT, EMDR, play therapy, and art, to name a few. In this session, Penny talks with therapist, Julie Bowen, about what traumas individuals with autism might experience, how that changes the brain and affects behavior and communication, and how these therapies can remap the brain through neuroplasticity.

Julie Marie Bowen, Director of Therapy and Services at HOPE Therapy and Wellness Center, LLC, holds a LCSW. She is a Certified Trauma Specialist and works with children and adults in the healing process from traumatic experiences. She earned her certification as a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor and has experience working with teenagers and adults working through the addiction and recovery process. She has practical experience working with children, teens, and adults suffering from depression, anxiety, bullying, anger management, social skills, military families, blended families, substance abuse, trauma, ADHD, and developmental and intellectual disabilities. She is a certified Autplay Therapist. AutPlay is a type of play therapy that benefits children with Autism as well as developmental, learning, social, and impulsive-control disorders. She is a mother of four and a proud military wife.

Honoring the Emotional Experiences of Teens & Young Adults With Autism
47:03 LENGTH

As our kids get older the world gets harder to navigate. This can be quite overwhelming both for the teen/young adult, and for the parents trying to help them navigate their way through the tricky terrain that is the “transition to adulthood”. In this interview, Debbie Reber describes some of the strategies she has found helpful when her son is having a hard time. Learn how she keeps from “getting in the pool” with him, and how she stays calm so he can learn to solve problems for himself.

Deborah Reber, MA, is a parenting activist, New York Times bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a top podcast, community, and educational resource for parents who are raising differently wired children. The TiLT Parenting Podcast has grown to be a top podcast in iTunes’ Kids and Family category, with more than 1 million downloads and a slate of guests that includes high-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. Debbie’s newest book is “Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World”. In November 2018, she spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, delivering a talk entitled Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired.

The Subtle Presentations of Autism
49:42 LENGTH

Kids with less-obvious autism tend to mask their difficulties making it harder for them to get an accurate diagnosis. Sometimes they remain undiagnosed, other times they end up with labels like “narcissist”, “personality-disordered”, or “rude”. In this presentation, Dr. Donna Henderson goes through the DSM-V Criteria for Autism point by point, and describes how each issue can present. Once you understand what the criteria actually entail, you’ll be better able to communicate with your diagnosticians if you suspect autism. And if your child already has autism, you’ll better understand the issues they may struggle with.

When asked to describe herself, Donna writes: “One day, my kids were asking me to explain what I do at work. I didn’t think they wanted to hear about neuropsychological tests and report writing, so I explained it this way: I’m a detective. The mystery is always that a wonderful, bright person is not doing well in school or at work, and I need to figure out why and help them do better. I can only look for clues by spending time with that person, asking them to do different kinds of tasks. I have been doing neuropsych evals for over twenty years and I can honestly say that I am enjoying it now more than ever. No child or adult should have to go through life with an undiagnosed problem, feeling badly about themselves and not knowing how to make things better. In addition to my formal training, I have had additional training at home with my three children, who have taught me all about parenting kids with autism and ADHD.”

How to Let Go of the Struggle and Focus on What Matters
32:45 LENGTH

Parents tend to latch on to traditional expectations and the traditional model of parenting, even with kids with autism. And yet, holding on to those visions can be more detrimental than helpful to your kids, you, and your entire family. Letting go of some of the minutiae and accepting and honoring our kids for who they are will improve behavior and your stress level, as well as helping your child thrive. Dr. Lockhart talks with Penny about what assumptions are holding you back and how to let go of them.

Dr. Ann-Louise Lockhart is a Pediatric Psychologist and Board Certified in Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. She is the President/Owner at A New Day Pediatric Psychology, PLLC in San Antonio, TX specializing in the treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with acute and chronic behavioral health and medical conditions. Dr. Lockhart started her practice in 2016 after working 12 years in clinics, schools, and military hospitals. She is also a national speaker and presents to professional audiences on a variety of topics. After experiencing a category 5 hurricane during her senior year of high school and losing her home, she began to understand how powerful our words, language, and thoughts are in the way we perceive our circumstances. She has been married for 20 years and has 2 children (ages 9 and 7).

The Power of Creating Structure & Routine
52:25 LENGTH

Poor working memory, executive functioning deficits, and lagging skills like time blindness can lead to much nagging and many family battles. These deficits and delays can be combatted and combatted successfully while creating the opportunity for more successful independence for you child. It all comes down to creating external structure for your child and within your family — through schedules and routines. When the process is habit, you no longer have to depend on executive functions to complete a task successfully. It removes those hurdles for your child. In this session we’re discussing more about why external structure is such a powerful parenting tool, how to create the schedules and routines, and what tools and strategies will lead to more success and independence for your child (and more sanity for you).

Penny Williams trains and coaches parents raising kids with ADHD and/or autism. She’s the award-winning author of four books on parenting ADHD — “Boy Without Instructions,” “What to Expect When Parenting Children with ADHD,” “The Insider’s Guide to ADHD,” and “The Hidden Layers of ADHD.” Penny hosts the annual Happy Mama Retreat and the Purposeful Parent Bootcamps, and is also a frequent contributor on parenting and ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications.

Holistic Care for Kids with Autism
35:16 LENGTH

There are several health concerns commonly found in kids with autism — gut health being the most commonly known. The wellness of our kids depends on the health of the whole child, not just treating symptoms. In this session, Penny talks with Dr. Elisa Song about Integrative Medicine and Functional Medicine, as well as the most common physical ailments often seen in kids with autism and how to address them. We’re discussing testing, what to be looking for in test results, diet changes, supplements, and more.

Dr. Elisa Song, MD is a holistic pediatrician, pediatric functional medicine expert, and mama. In her integrative pediatric practice, Whole Family Wellness, she’s helped 1000s of kids get to the root causes of their health concerns and helped their parents understand how to help their children thrive – body, mind, and spirit – by integrating conventional pediatrics with functional medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and essential oils. These health concerns have ranged from frequent colds, ear infections, asthma, and eczema; to autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and autoimmune illnesses. Dr. Song has taught around the world on integrative pediatrics topics for multiple podcasts and summits, including Fx Medicine Australia, BioCeuticals Australia, Integrative Medicine for Mental Health, The Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy, Academy for Pain Research, Center for Advanced Acupuncture Pediatrics, Institute for Functional Medicine, and Holistic Pediatric Association. Dr. Song created Healthy Kids Happy Kids as an online holistic pediatric resource to help practitioners and parents bridge the gap between conventional and integrative pediatrics with an evidence-based, pediatrician-backed approach.

Finding Purpose: Exploring & Nurturing Your Child’s Interests
43:17 LENGTH

We tend to worry about our kids’ futures even more when they have autism. It can seem like a daunting, maybe even impossible, task to help them find and develop their purpose. In this session, Colleen Kessler helps us determine where to start and what steps we can take to begin the process of guiding our kids to find their purpose through exploring and nurturing interests and passions. This is about more than signing our kids up for classes… this is about getting creative, thinking outside the box, and growing to understand who are kids really are.

Colleen Kessler is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and 2e children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, and is the founder of the popular podcast and blog Raising Lifelong Learners as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. The author of more than a dozen books for teachers, parents, and kids, Colleen left teaching after more than a decade to write and speak about parenting, education, giftedness, and hands-on learning and play. Homeschooling is an adventure she hadn’t planned on, but she has embraced the opportunity to learn alongside her kids every day, and is inspiring other moms and dads to do the same.

How to Talk to Your Child’s Pediatrician
44:54 LENGTH

Making sure that your child with autism is healthy can be extremely challenging, especially if they have sensory differences or misunderstand what you say to them. Dr. Yulanda Swindell knows how important it is for your pediatrician to be part of the team that will help your child be the best they can be. If you don’t feel good, it’s impossible to learn anything! Listen to Sarah’s interview with Dr. Swindell to learn about the importance of continuing to advocate when you think something is wrong, how help your pediatrician understand your concerns, and why you need to verify that you (and your child) truly understand what you need to do next.

Dr. Yulanda Swindell is the Medical Director and Primary Care Pediatrician for the One World Pediatrics, a division of the One World Center for Autism. She is also one of the founding members of the nonprofit and a longstanding Board member. She brings over 25 years of pediatric expertise to OWCA, having earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from Howard University in 1994. Prior to joining the OWCA, Dr. Swindell served as a Pediatrician in a predominately Spanish-speaking private practice. Her very first job was as a Primary Care Provider at North Capitol Kaiser Permanente in Washington, DC.  She later worked with developmentally and mentally challenged youth at the Board of Child Care in Washington DC, helping to create the Health Suite. In addition, she served in student health at the University of Maryland, in community medicine with Greater Baden Medical Services, Inc and finally in group medicine with Potomac Physician’s Associates in Annapolis, MD. Her experience has made her a strong advocate for all children. Her approach is collaborative, child centered, and family focused. Dr Swindell has a passion for teaching and strives to improve quality of life for her patients and their families. She has a special interest in children with exceptional needs, having singly raised a now adult son with autism.

What I Wish They Knew When I Was Young…
57:38 LENGTH

Autistic people have to work hard to navigate a world that is mostly built for non-autistic people. They are often forced to do things that are detrimental to their mental health in the interest of “fitting in”. In this talk, autistic self-advocate Kim Clairy and her husband, William Miller, talk about the challenges of being autistic and what supports they have learned can be helpful. Listen to this wide ranging talk, to learn why eye contact is so hard, how to help your child break out of their “loops”, the cost of telling a child they cannot self-regulate, how Kim’s parents help her, what a meltdown feels like, the challenges of communication, and the power of acceptance.

Kim Clairy, licensed Occupational Therapist, private consultant, ASD expert, and keynote presenter has unique expertise in understanding the interconnections and inner worlds of ASD, SPD, ADHD, and eating disorders. Diagnosed with all four, her life is an ongoing journey of overcoming obstacles and new opportunities. Kim went from being told, “your autism is severe, you need to live in a nursing home,” to conducting didactic and experiential workshops on autism worldwide. As a team, Kim and her husband (mystery novelist, William Miller), educate healthcare clinicians, families, businesses, educators, and the community at large through group discussions, first-hand accounts, and interactive demonstrations. Workshops focus on early childhood through older adulthood and Kim speaks on many facets of life with Autism including topics on: eating disorders, mental illness, SPD, ADHD, accommodating ASD in healthcare, transitioning into adulthood, classroom inclusion, sex and intimate relationships, community integration, and much more! As a class participant explained: “There is Temple and then there is Kim. The experts are the ones living with autism, they are the ones we really need to listen to.”

Language Skills: How They Cause Difficulties with Theory of Mind, Problem Solving, and More
58:00 LENGTH

We sometimes think of speaking, listening, reading, and writing as skills that are separate from other aspects of dealing with the world, but everything is interrelated. And it turns out that some of the core challenges of autism are also reflected in language use. In this practical and comprehensive talk, speech language therapist Kathy Dow-Burger describes how to provide opportunities that will allow your child with autism to develop awareness of their challenges in a structured and manageable way, and explains how to help them come up with their own ways of solving problems and understanding others.

Kathy Dow-Burger, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland-College Park. She is also the Co-Director of the University of Maryland Autism Research Consortium (UMARC). Kathy is the founder and program designer of the Social Interaction Group Network for All (SIGNA) She and the SIGNA and UMARC team are conducting outcome research on the SIGNA programming and virtual reality (VR) projects related to ASD. She was a speech-language pathologist at Kennedy Krieger Hospital, the Kennedy Krieger Center for Development & Learning Programs & Services and the Kennedy Krieger School in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, she has worked as an SLP at the Katherine Thomas School in Rockville, Maryland as well as in Prince George’s County Public Schools.

A Friend for Me: Navigating the Journey of Friendship
48:45 LENGTH

So often we try to teach social skills without thinking about whether they are developmentally appropriate, and whether the child has the foundations required to appropriately implement the new skill. For example, we think about the goal (able to work with others on a group project) and put the child in a situation where they can practice working  on the goal. Unfortunately, if the child doesn’t have the skills to manage the situation (e.g., the ability to figure out how others are feeling, problem-solving skills, flexibility) they won’t do well, and will feel like a failure. In this session, Dr. Rachelle Sheely will explain the importance of giving children opportunities to practice their skills in a developmentally appropriate sequence and in the context of a safe and loving guiding relationship. She will also describe how to determine when your child is ready to join with other kids to play and accomplish their goals together.

Rachelle K. Sheely, Ph.D., serves as the President of RDIconnect® as well as the head of professional training and supervision. For the past fifteen years she has been a leader in the development and logistical implementation of programs for both families and professionals working with children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities. Along with her extensive clinical training, Dr. Sheely brings an accomplished background in education, art, music and poetry allowing her to inject creativity and originality into the teaching, training and management of the thousands of professionals and families she reaches on a daily basis. Profoundly effecting, Dr. Sheely has spent a lifetime working with children on a professional and personal level. With a gift for moving from observation to intuitive precision, her work extends far beyond treatment, and into the everyday moments that resonate in the lives of her clients.

The Importance of Making Meaningful Connections
39:49 LENGTH

Sometimes our kids will tell us that they really don’t want to socialize or have friends. It can be hard to figure out whether they are afraid of social interaction because of previous failures, introversion (getting energy from time alone, but also enjoying time others), or if they genuinely prefer to be alone. In this interview, Dr. Ned Hallowell helps us understand the importance of connecting on the child’s terms. While connection may look different for a child with autism, we should honor their unique ways of connecting, and encourage them to join with us as they can. No one wants to be lonely – but you don’t have to be the life of the party to genuinely connect with others.

Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D., is a board-certified child and adult psychiatrist, leading authority in the field of ADHD, the host of “Distraction” – a weekly podcast for thriving in this CrazyBusy world, NY Times best-selling author, world-renowned speaker and the founder of The Hallowell Centers in Boston MetroWest, NYC, San Francisco and Seattle. He has authored twenty books on various psychological topics, including ADHD, the power of the human connection, raising happy children, and managing your “crazybusy” life. Dr. Hallowell is a highly recognized public figure and has appeared on major TV show including Oprah, Dr. Oz, Good Morning America; Today; 60 Minutes and CNN and interviewed for The New York Times, Newsweek, Time and many other leading publications. Learn more at

The Foundations of Connection and How to Teach Them
39:12 LENGTH

Learning how to interact with others is a developmental process that requires you to put the foundations in place before you start learning the skills that rely on those foundations. Despite this, our kids are often taught the “rules of social interaction” when they don’t have skills to implement those rules. In this interview, Sarah Wayland describes the skills that form a foundation for connection as described in the RDI curriculum. Listen to learn about the skills of joint attention, co-regulation, self-regulation, episodic memory formation, and dynamic thinking – and how to help your child learn these critical skills.

Sarah Wayland, PhD, is an acclaimed speaker, a certified RDI Consultant, parenting coach, and Special Needs Care Navigator at the company she founded, Guiding Exceptional Parents. She is also one of the co-organizers of this event! She helps parents learn how to confidently and effectively help their children at home, at school, and in the community by learning about everyone in the family and collaborating with them to develop customized strategies that work. Learn more about her at

Teaching Social Skills Using the PEERS® Curriculum
40:55 LENGTH

Connecting with other people is one of the hardest things for people with autism and social communication disorders to do. This is in part because the skills we (as adults) tend to think are important (“Introduce yourself and ask if you can play!” or “Make sure you say hello!”) actually make our kids look socially awkward. And when we send our kids to social skills classes, we (as parents) may not know what our children are being taught, so it’s hard for us to reinforce what they have learned. The PEERS® Curriculum for teaching social skills is a manualized 16-session course that teaches people with social communication difficulties ecologically valid rules for social interaction. Learn from two expert providers of this curriculum about the kinds of skills they teach, the importance of teaching the parents the skills at the same time, and some of the challenges they’ve encountered when working with complex kids with different challenges.

Caron Starobin, LCSW-C, provides individual, couples, family, and group therapy for adolescents, adults, and families at her private practice in Olney, Maryland. Her therapeutic process is rooted in her years of study and practice in Structural Family Therapy and Cultural Competence, Family Systems Studies with the Post-Graduate Program at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family, and Relational Life Therapy with the Relational Life Institute. In addition, Caron has over 18 years of experience providing social coaching, social skills groups, and individual and family therapy to autistic children, adolescents, and young adults and their family members. She is a PEERS® Certified Provider. In her private practice, Caron offers Parents Together, a parent support group program that offers parents opportunities to strengthen their capacity to navigate the emotional and practical challenges of raising children, teens, and young adults on the spectrum. She has also presented on autism-related parenting and family issues in various venues throughout the Washington metropolitan area. 

Jamell White, Ph.D., LCSW-C  is a therapist specializing in working with children, adolescents and adults with Autism and other developmental disabilities. She has over 20 years of experience providing individual and family therapy, social skills intervention, and care coordination for individuals with disabilities and their families. She also serves as a child specialist and consultant for collaborative divorce services. Dr. White has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in social work, a master’s degree in special education, and a doctorate in Human Development and Quantitative Methodology. Dr. White is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Child and Adolescent) at Georgetown University School of Medicine as well as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Caron and Jamell, together offer MoCo PEERS®, an evidenced-based social skills program for adolescents and young adults, located in Olney, MD.

Helping Your Anxious Child with Social Interactions & Connections
40:55 LENGTH

When our kids are anxious, their brains are hijacked and it becomes difficult for them to use their thinking skills to figure out how to navigate challenging social situations. And then when they realize that they are making mistakes, they get even more nervous, which makes it even worse! In this practical presentation, Dr. Sharon Saline shares strategies that you can use to help your child learn how to handle their anxiety. You will get ideas for helping your child recognize that they are anxious, how to help them calm down, and strategies for handling awkward situations that may require your child to process information more quickly than they can handle.

Sharon Saline, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and author of What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew, specializes in how ADHD, learning disabilities and mental health issues affect children, teens, and families. Her unique perspective, namely growing up in a household with a sibling who wrestled with untreated ADHD, combined with decades of clinical experience, assists her in guiding families as they navigate the confusing maze of information, emotions, stress and conflict related to ADHD. She helps them create successful dialogues, interventions and connections.

Working With and Improving Executive Functioning Deficits
50:02 LENGTH

Executive functioning is one of the most misunderstood aspects of our neurology, but also one of the most important aspects of day-to-day functioning and success in all aspects of life. Learn exactly what executive functioning is, how to spot executive functioning struggles in your child, and many tools and strategies to improve executive functioning skills and reduce the impact of these deficits on your child’s life.

Brendan Mahan, M.Ed., MS., host of the ADHD Essentials Podcast, is an internationally recognized ADHD/Executive Function expert, and an engaging, sought-after speaker. He helps individuals, families, schools, and businesses manage the challenges of executive function through an approach that blends education, collaborative problem-solving, and accountability with compassion, humor, and a focus on strengths and growth. Learn more at

College Supports & Preparing for Employment
54:26 LENGTH

Is your student ready to go to college? If your child is finishing high school, this question may well be on your mind. But how do you know if it’s the right next step? In this presentation, Laurie Ackles helps you think about the skills that your student will need in order to be successful at college. She describes the important skills your child will need in the areas of self-management, self-advocacy, time management, and taking care of their health. Learn how college accommodations differ from those your student got in high school, and how to develop the skills you will need to succeed in college and beyond.

Laurie Ackles is a licensed social worker in upstate New York and a higher education consultant with College Autism Spectrum (CAS), an independent organization of professionals whose purpose is to assist students with autism spectrum disorders and their families. She has served as the Director of the Spectrum Support Program at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) since 2010. Under her leadership, the Spectrum Support Program has become a national leader in addressing the complex needs of an expanding population of degree-seeking college students and job seekers on the autism spectrum. Laurie is also an advisor for Untapped Group, an Australia based organization that is working to create a sustainable neurodiverse employment ecosystem that realizes untapped talent.

The Intersection of Race, Autism & Emotional Disabilities
52:35 LENGTH

Kids with disabilities are suspended and expelled from school at a much higher rate than kids without disabilities. And kids of color are also suspended and expelled at higher rates. This makes it particularly difficult if you have a child of color who also has a disability. If you are in the majority and you are worried about what others think when your child has extreme behaviors, imagine what it must be like for a parent of a minority child. Dr. Abila Tazanu, a pediatrician born to an African father and a West Indian mother, is raising three children of color with autism. Listen to her conversation with Sarah Wayland as they discuss the issues that parents of kids of color in the USA must confront when dealing with the big emotions and unexpected behaviors that sometimes come with autism. It is our hope that our conversation will spark the discussion we as a nation must have about this incredibly difficult issue.

Abila Tazanu , M.D. is the founder and executive director of the One World Center for Autism, Inc. where she serves as the Pediatric Autism Medical Consultant providing diagnostic evaluations and medical care for children and youth with a suspected and/or confirmed diagnosis of autism. She also serves as the medical director for the Prince George’s County Special Needs Identification Physician Support Program, PGSNIPS. This collaborative outreach program designed by One World Center with Prince George’s County Early Intervention Services educates and supports community-based pediatric healthcare providers on the importance of developmental screening and early referrals to life changing educational and therapeutic interventions for children with developmental differences. Prior to her full transition to the above roles, Dr. Tazanu served as a general pediatrician and Clinical Associate at Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., as the school based medical consultant for children with special needs. This period of services was preceded by her work in private practice and as a hospitalist and emergency room pediatrician at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

Dr. Tazanu has five children, three of whom have autism. Her personal struggle to identify her children’s diagnosis and support them created the vision for the One World Center for Autism, Inc. and continues to fuel her passion to help individuals living with autism and related special needs. Her vision is to create a standard of centralized care for all individuals on the spectrum that incorporates family support, community awareness, and comprehensive medical and therapeutic interventions.

How to Help Autistic Kids & Teens Develop Self-Advocacy Skills
53:15 LENGTH

When our children are younger, we anticipate the situations that will be difficult for them and work to make sure they will be able to cope effectively when they are in those situations. But as they get older, they will need to learn how to advocate effectively for themselves. In this presentation, Dr. Stephen Shore explains his 4-step process for telling your child about their diagnosis, and then describes the three steps for effective advocacy.  We talk about person-first vs. identity-first language, how to collaborate with teachers, and how to effectively address bullying.

Diagnosed with “Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies” and “too sick” for outpatient treatment ,Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until 4, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a full time professor at Adelphi University and adjunct at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, focusing on aligning best practice in supporting autistic people to lead fulfilling and productive lives. In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is an internationally renowned educator, consultant and author on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, and self-advocacy. His most recent book, College for Students with Disabilities, combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education. A current board member of Autism Speaks, and the Organization for Autism Research (OAR), president emeritus of the Asperger/Autism Network, and advisory board member of the Autism Society, Dr. Shore also serves on the advisory boards AANE, and other autism related organizations.

Tools & Strategies for the Classroom
38:08 LENGTH

Our modern classrooms can be distracting and overwhelming for all students, but even more so for kids with autism. In addition, many students with autism struggle with language in both communication and processing, which can add many challenges to their classroom experience and their ability to succeed in school. Learn a variety of tools, strategies, interventions, and advocacy strategies to help your child with autism or Asperger’s have the opportunity to find success at school.

Sasha Long, BCBA, M.A., is the founder and president of The Autism Helper, Inc. She is a board certified behavior analyst and former special education teacher. Sasha works full time as a consultant, writer, and behavior analyst. Sasha manages and writes The Autism Helper Blog, as a way to share easy to use and ready to implement strategies and ideas. Sasha also travels internationally as a speaker and consultant providing individualized training and feedback to parents, educators, therapists and administrators in the world of autism. She is currently an adjunct professor in the school of Applied Behavior Analysis at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Sasha received her undergraduate degree in Special Education from Miami University and has a Masters Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Assistive Technology To Help Students with Autism and Related Learning Challenges
54:19 LENGTH

Nearly every platform (iOS, Android, Macintosh, PC) has tools that make it easier for people to communicate and stay organized. But which ones actually work? And more importantly, which ones will work for your child? And how can you control what your child can access? In this conversation with speech language therapist Joan Green, we explore how to help people with autism communicate more effectively and stay organized using tools that are free or inexpensive. Watch as Joan shows you how to set up To Do lists, transcribe your speech, and create visuals to help your child understand what you want. She also explains how to control access so your child doesn’t get distracted and stays on task. 

Joan L. Green, MA CCC-SLP is a nationally known speech-language pathologist, assistive technology specialist, author, presenter, and mother of 4 young adults. After receiving her formal education at Northwestern University, she has spent the past 30+ years helping children and adults who have a wide range of communication, cognitive, literacy and learning abilities. She provides unique therapy, consultation and training programs using affordable cutting-edge technologies. Joan is also the creator of the free webinar series and the administrator of the free private IST Tech Savvy Solutions Facebook Group. Both were created to support families as well as professionals as they strive to learn to use everyday technologies to support communication and learning. Joan’s most recent book is Assistive Technology in Special Education. 3rd edition: Resources to Support Literacy, Communication, and Learning Differences. She is a frequent presenter for local and national organizations. Her presentations are constantly updated to reflect the forever changing world of affordable technologies.

Navigating Special Education When Your Child has Autism
53:55 LENGTH

The special education system in the United States is complicated and can be very challenging for parents to navigate. Yet, our advocacy is crucial for our child’s school success. In this session, Penny talks to Special Education Navigator, Kristin Cook, about 504 Plans, IEPs, how to qualify, how to get services, what to ask for and many other strategies to help you successfully navigate the special education system and advocate for your child with autism effectively.

Kristin Cook is the owner of Spectrum Navigation Services. She ventured into advocacy work after advocating for her own autistic son for several years. Kristin’s passions are teaching parents how to effectively advocate for their children and connecting special needs parents with local resources.

  • “I have a renewed sense of hope for the future and a ton of new tricks in my bag! I could never have found all of these resources on my own in a lifetime, and you gave them to me in a week.”

    — Jennie

  • “The Summit is a gold mine of information. Every parent of a special needs child needs to listen to it. Amazing!”

    — Marni

  • “Not only do I feel empowered with knowledge, but also understanding that my son is who he is supposed to be. I’m grateful and proud and, more than anything, I’m at peace.”

    — Amy

Meet Your Hosts

Penny Williams

Parenting ADHD/Autism Coach. Award-Winning Author. Speaker.

Penny Williams trains and coaches parents raising kids with ADHD and/or autism. She’s the parent of a son with ADHD and autism, and the award-winning author of four books on parenting kids with ADHD, including Boy Without Instructions.

Penny is the founder of, Founder and Instructor for the Parenting ADHD & Autism Academy, host of the Parenting ADHD Podcast, facilitator for the Happy Mama Retreat, and a frequent contributor on parenting and children with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine.

Sarah Wayland, PhD

Parent Coach. RDI® Consultant. Special Needs Care Navigator.

Sarah Wayland, Ph.D. founded her company, Guiding Exceptional Parents, to help parents learn how to confidently and effectively help their children with ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, and other brain-based differences at home, at school, and in the community.

In addition to hosting trainings, lecturing, and working with individual clients, Sarah is co-editor of the book “Technology Tools for Students with Autism”, and has written articles for the 2e Newsletter, Washington Parent Magazine, and the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum.

Yes please! I want to own these expert sessions.

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