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2017 Symposium Conference Presenters

This page lists the 2017 presentations, including their titles, presenters, description, and learning objectives. They are divided into five theme tracks: Employment, Independent Living, Social Relationships/Skills, Health & Wellness, and Research.  A title and description is given for the Autism and Society session.



Presenter: Courtney Bolton, PhD


Dr. Courtney Bolton received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and English from Vanderbilt University and completed her Ph.D. in counseling, clinical, and school psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Bolton gained experience in intervention models, such as pivotal response treatment and the early start Denver model, during her graduate training through UCSB’s Koegel Autism Center and as a LEND extern at JFK Partners at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow and clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. As a postdoctoral fellow in the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, Dr. Bolton facilitated evidence-based social skills training groups for youth with social challenges and their parents. These experiences shaped her research interests in the areas of early identification, intervention and building resilience for children with autism spectrum disorder and their families. Dr. Bolton now consults and presents on social skills development and building social resiliency.


Bolton will share on "The Science of Making Friends"




"Employment and Autism"

Presenter: Meghan Lindsey, BCBA, STAGES Director


This presentation will educate service providers and others how to effective reach adults on the autism spectrum who are interested in employment opportunities.


Learning Objectives: 1. Reaching adults on the autism spectrum.  2. Identify and utilize employment support for individuals on the autism spectrum.  3. Understand how the support businesses who employment adults on the autism spectrum.




"A New, Less Restrictive Decision-making Tool Compared to Guardianship"

Presenters: Amy Boulware, Peter Harrison, & Rebecca Miller


This panel will explore ways to utilize a recently developed tool to help identify and implement decision-making for persons with disabilities that are less restrictive than guardianship. 


Learning Objectives: 1. Identify less restrictive means than guardianship when caring for people with disabilities.  2. Identify the tools and individuals available to assist in coordinated decision making.  3. Identify the limitations for tools outside of guardianship. 




"Social Skills Development"

Presenter: David Griffin


An adult on the autism spectrum/autistic adult, the presenter shares his experience both in the workplace and in social settings and how he acquired effective social skills as a person on the autism spectrum.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to apply the strategies that the presenter has suggested about acquiring social skills in the workplace and in the community at large.



"Keeping Friends & Developing Romantic Relationships for ASD Adults"

Presenter: Courtney Bolton, PhD


This presentation will review the scientific literature and evidence-based strategies for making and keeping friends and developing romantic relationships for adults with Autism.


Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to identify evidence-based strategies for making and keeping friends, building romantic relationships. This session will also cover important empirically supported methods for learning and applying new social skills knowledge through practice and will provide a brief overview of skills.




"Cook Once - Eat All Week"

Presenter: Beth Bergren


Planning and preparing meals in advance allows you to save money and spend less time in the kitchen. You will learn what you can freeze now and serve later. Topics include menu planning, freezer meal prep, packaging meals and proper storage.


Learning Objectives:  Participants will able to

1. List the benefits of planning and preparing simple and nutritious meals on a weekly basis. 2. Describe proper storage techniques and use of appropriate containers for freezing foods. 3. Immediately use techniques to save time, money and decrease anxiety about food preparation, preservation, and presentation.



"Vanderbilt Trans-Institutional Program"

Presenters: Beth Malow, MD, MS; T A McDonald, PhD; Deborah Wofford


A new Vanderbilt Trans-Institutional Program includes research and educational components, embedded in a novel week-long intervention that immerses adults with ASD, accompanied by neurotypical peers, in a variety of activities that appeal to their interests.


Learning Objectives:  1. The intervention goals of adults on the autism spectrum different from those of children and adults on the autism spectrum. 2. The similarities and differences in goals and skills between neurotypical adults and adults on the autism spectrum. 3. Individualized programming utilizing community resources can address the needs of adults regardless of communication level.




"VR Study"

Presenter: Deanna Swain, MS



"What Do We Know About Employment and Persons on the Spectrum?"

Presenter: Lynette Henderson, PhD


We will review the existing research, best practices and successful models for obtaining and retaining employment, and look at new tools and technologies designed to support successful employment for people on the spectrum.


Learning Objectives:   1. Identify the key elements present in successful approaches to employing people with ASD.  2. Recognize what to look for in a program that supports employment for people with ASD that will increase its chances of success.  3.  Identify what has been missing from your unsuccessful attempts at employment in the past