4th Annual Southeast Adult Autism Symposium
2020 Speaker Information
Read below to find out more information about the speakers and presentations we will feature at this event. As more speakers confirm their timeslots, we will add their information to this page, so check back periodically for updates!
Breanna Kelly - Autism and Mental Healthcare
Description: Mental health challenges and diagnoses can be more common for individuals on the autism spectrum than in the general population. Unfortunately, these needs are often overlooked, untreated and access to services can be limited to non-existent. This presentation will explore the importance of mental health supports and discuss barriers individuals on the autism spectrum frequently encounter. Participants will leave with a better understanding of interventions and resources to access services and supports.
1. Describe mental health and wellness and why it is important
2. Identify various types of mental health supports and interventions
3. List barriers to accessing supports
4. Learn tips and obtain resources for accessing mental health services
Breanna Kelly is the owner and lead clinical consultant of Synergy Behavior Consulting, LLC. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Exercise Science and Social Science from Florida State University. Her involvement with the organization Best Buddies led her to Atlanta to complete a master’s in social work at Georgia State University. Breanna is a former trainee of the Georgia Leadership & Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (GaLEND); an interdisciplinary training program for future professionals, disability advocates, and family members housed in the Center for Leadership in Disability. Breanna went on to later complete a master’s in criminal justice and applied behavior analysis from Saint Joseph’s University.
Breanna is a licensed clinical social worker and board-certified behavior analyst. Breanna’s areas of expertise include co-occurring diagnoses, crisis intervention, autism spectrum disorder, behavior intervention, skill development, and program development. Breanna was inspired to create SBC after seeing a need for social and behavioral supports that were comprehensive and individualistic. She was particularly focused on this type of support for individuals with complex behavioral needs.
Daniel Durany - Thriving Through Employment
No Powerpoint used for this presentation
Mr. Durany will discuss about Thriving through Employment. One of the struggles for a person with autism is excelling in the job world. Mr. Durany will breakdown the keys to successful employment, the phases of employment, and what people with autism and neurotypical people need to know about each other in the job world.
1. Grasp deeper understanding of what life is like living with Autism
2. Building a Foundation of Employment through Autism
3. Devising strategies to improve cognitive processing and problem solving techniques
Daniel Durany is a speaker, author, and advocate for people with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and others who are associated with it. He pioneered an adult support group with FEAT (Families for Effective Autism Treatment). In 2013, Durany was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders and became the Keynote Speaker for the Texas State Autism Conference in Corpus Christi. Since 2014, Durany has stretched his horizons outside of Texas by speaking at the Oklahoma Statewide Autism Conference, OCALI (Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence), University of Central Arkansas and Chattanooga Autism Conference. Outside of speaking, Durany works as sports official (volleyball, basketball and softball) and in the education field. He is married to Mandy and they have a son named Benjamin.
Katie Thune, MA Ed. - Safe and Healthy Relationships for All
Students with disabilities want friendships and relationships as much as anyone else. Unfortunately, there is a lack of appropriate education out there to support safe and healthy relationships. The rate of sexual assault is 7 times higher for individuals with disabilities than for those without. We can work together to lower that statistic by supporting the sexual health for this population through conversations, education, and awareness.
1. Describe the background on sexual education for those with disabilities.
2. Implement 1-2 strategies to support sexual health conversations with people you support.
3. Identify 1-2 tools/resources to have conversations about sexual health, appropriate boundaries and healthy relationships.
Katie Thune, MA Ed. is an educator, author, and advocate for people with disabilities. She has her Teaching License in Health Education, and Special Education K – 12, as well as her MA in Education and worked as a teacher in the public school system for 12 years. She has done extensive curriculum writing on relationships and sexuality education.
Melvin R. Rodgers - Autism and Aging: A Spiritual Care Perspective
Description: I am sixty seven years old and on the autism spectrum. I was formally diagnosed at the age of sixty four. Since being diagnosed, I have explored the subject of autism and spirituality. My previous occupation also included work with the mentally challenged. Still, my educational training included theology and psychology. This presentation will include aspects of my personal journey on the autism spectrum and my educational training. So the journey on the autism spectrum is the focus. What are the challenges? What strengths do we have to assist in the journey? What skills are needed on the journey? What are the spiritual resources that we have to assist with the journey?
1. Define Spiritual Care and its implications or persons on the autism spectrum.
2. Explore some spiritual challenges faced by persons on the autism spectrum related to aging.
3. Offer a framework for healthy aging and spiritual well-being.
4. Explore some spiritual resources available for persons on the autism spectrum associated with aging.
Speaker biography: BA, Religion and Philosophy, Wiley College; Master of Divinity, Psychology of Religion/Pastoral Care and Counseling, Interdenominational Theological Center/Doctor of Ministry/Pastoral Counseling, Interdenominational Theological Center. Ordained Elder, United Methodist Church. Chaplain at Alabama Birmingham Hospital, 1995-2016. Pastor in the United Methodist Church for 29 years and Pastoral Counselor for 35 years. Also, I am an autistic adult and working with young adults on the autism spectrum in Alabama.
Kayla Rodriguez and Spenser Norris - Dating, Relationships and Sex on the Autism Spectrum
Description: In this presentation, Kayla and Spenser will discuss sexual health education, the needs and rights of autistic people, and the barriers they face in the dating world. We will brainstorm potential solutions, gather audience perspectives, and inform attendees about current happenings on this subject around Georgia.
1. Attendees will discuss the importance of comprehensive sexual health education for autistic people.
2. Attendees will discuss the barriers to healthy and fulfilling dating relationships for autistic people.
3. Attendees will compare and contrast dating and relationship experiences, needs, and expectations for both neurodiverse and neurotypical people.
Speaker biographies: Spenser Norris is the Inclusive Employment Coordinator for the Inclusive Digital Expression and Literacy (IDEAL) at Georgia State University, an inclusive college program for students with intellectual disabilities. Spenser is a certified Georgia special educator, clinical rehabilitation counselor, and focuses most of her work on: inclusive postsecondary education, supporting folks with disabilities to find meaningful career opportunities, systems-level advocacy, mental health, and sexual health education.
Kayla Rodriguez is Puerto Rican and was diagnosed with Aspergers when she was a child, but she prefers to identify as autistic. Kayla is originally from New York but currently resides in Buford, Georgia. After high school, she made connections with autistic self-advocates and realized advocacy was her calling. She joined Autistic Self-Advocacy Atlanta and she learned advocacy in the Bobby Dodd Institute Ambassador Program, the GaLEND (Georgia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) program and the My Voice My Participation My Board program. In addition to advocating for autistic people and people with disabilities, she plans to advocate for Latinx rights, diabetes healthcare, mental health and sexual assault survivors in the future. In her free time, Kayla loves to play video games, watch movies especially animated ones, and hang out with her friends.
Entrepreneurship and Autism Panel Discussion
No Powerpoint used for this presentation
Jonathan Sharp, AAS (Moderator)
Catie Beaulieu, MA, MBA, LPC, CPT
Antonio Blazevic, MS, MBA
Taylor C. Duncan, TEDx
Eric D. Zimmerman