Understanding the Puzzling Pieces of Autism


2018 ASI Calendar Of Events

Friday, November 2

Autism Society of Iowa Fall Conference & Resource Fair

Keynote Speaker Stephen Shore, Ph.D.

Sheraton Hotel – 1800 50th Street, West Des Moines

Stephen Shore

The Autism Society of Iowa Fall Conference will feature internationally renowned keynote speaker Stephen Shore, Ph.D. presenting on the 3A’s of Autism: Awareness to Acceptance to Appreciation as a Pathway to Fulfilling and Productive Lives. The conference will also offer multiple breakout sessions to choose from in the afternoon sessions.

To register online, click here.

To view a list of Resource Fair participants, click here.


  • 7:30am – Registration
  • 8:00am – Welcome and Announcements from Todd Kopelman, Ph.D.
  • 8:15-9:30am – The 3A’s of Autism: Awareness to Acceptance to Appreciation as a Pathway to Fulfilling and Productive Lives – Part 1  Presented by Stephen Shore, Ph.D.
  • 9:30-9:45am – Break and Resource Fair and Daytime Silent Auction Begin
  • 9:45-10:45am – The 3A’s of Autism: Awareness to Acceptance to Appreciation as a Pathway to Fulfilling and Productive Lives – Part 2  Presented by Stephen Shore, Ph.D.
  • 10:45–11:00am – Break
  • 11:00- Noon – Panel of Adults with Autism
    Leo Bird, Mike Dierdorff, Drew Foster, Tyler Leech, Stephen Shore, Joe Stueckrath
  • Noon – 12:15pm – Introduction of past Autism Society of Iowa Presidents to celebrate the Autism Society of Iowa’s 40th anniversary and presentation from Autism Society of America to Affiliate of the Year, Autism Society of Iowa
  • 12:15-1:15pm – Lunch

Please select one breakout session:

  • 1:15-2:15pm – Teaching Social Skills to the Young Child with Autism
    Presented by Megan Abens, Kristin Rourk, and Michelle Mullins
  • 1:15-2:15pm – Self-Injurious Behaviors and Autism
    Presented by Aaron Kauer, M.D., Todd Kopelman, Ph.D., Matt O’Brien, Ph.D.
  • 1:15–2:15pm – Enriching Social-Emotional Relationships through Psychosexual Education
    Presented by Emily Monahan, Suzanne Richards, and Leslie Rogers


  • 2:15–2:30pm – Break and Resource Fair and Daytime Silent Auction Conclude


Please select one breakout session:

  • 2:30-4:00pm – Individualized Education Program (IEP) – What are the Rights of the Parents and How to Navigate Through the IEP Process  Presented by Jan Turbes
  • 2:30-4:00pm – Sharing our Stories of Living with a Family Member who is Significantly Impacted by Their Autism, Including Self-Injurious and Aggressive Behaviors
    Facilitated by Todd Kopelman, Ph.D. and Matt O’Brien, Ph.D., Presenters: Christina Maulsby, Joe and Elise Joyce, Mary Roberts, April Winston
  • 2:30–4:00pm – A discussion on dating and relationships when you have autism
    Facilitated by Susan Askeland, Presenters: Mike and Margo Dierrdorff, Joel Wesselink, Jessie Witherell, Ron Wright
  • 2:30–4:00pm – College Options for the Student with Autism
    Des Moines Area Community College, Loras College, Minnesota Independence College and Community, Northwestern College, University of Iowa REACH Program


  • 4:00pm – Adjourn
  • 6:00pm – Autism Society of Iowa Benefit Auction


Stephen Shore
Diagnosed with “Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies” and “too sick” for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism.
In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure. His most recent book College for Students with Disabilities combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education.

Megan Abens
Megan Abens is a preschool/early childhood special education teacher in the West Des Moines district.  She is in her 21st year of teaching.  She has an Early Childhood Special Education degree from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, and her Master’s degree in Education from Morningside College in Sioux City.  She also has an Autism Spectrum Disorder MA Certificate from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Susan Askeland
Susan Askeland graduated from the University of Nebraska with a master’s degree in speech language pathology. She worked for Northwest AEA in Sioux City as a speech language pathologist and a member of the autism resource team for 37 years. In 2013 she and her husband Greg moved to Solon, Iowa to be closer to grandchildren. She worked as an autism consultant for Grant Wood AEA until her retirement in 2017.
Susan continues to be actively involved in the autism community. She is a board member of the Autism Society of Iowa, Corridor Autism Resource Expo (CARE) and the Awesome Autism Awareness and Acceptance Art Project. Susan also facilitates an Iowa City area grandparent support group and a parent support group that meets in Lisbon Iowa. Susan has a passion for helping autistic individuals, their families and people who support them. She is a firm believer that education leads to understanding and acceptance and is ready and willing to help educate others in any way needed.

Drew Foster
Drew Foster is currently studying to be a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. He has been a Special Education teacher for 4 years and autistic his whole life. Drew also works with the Hand in Hand ministry at Valley Church in West Des Moines where he has the opportunity to work with students that have varying diagnoses as a way of serving the students and their families. He has lived his whole life in Des Moines and is a graduate of Drake University.

Lynn Gallagher, Ed.D.
Lynn Gallagher, Ed.D. is the Director of the Lynch Learning Center at Loras College in Dubuque.  She has served as the Past President of IL TASH, a member of the Executive Board of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities as well as the Chair of the Education and Employment Committee of ICDD and Past President of Iowa TRIO.  Gallagher has been an advocate for individuals with disabilities for over 25 years and has dedicated her research and writing to improving access for all.  She is a passionate inclusionist and looks forward to the day when everyone has a seat and a voice at the table of life.

Todd Kopelman, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Dr. Todd Kopelman is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is the co-director of the University of Iowa’s Autism Center. Dr. Kopelman co-directs an interdisciplinary autism team and works with children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities who are engaging in challenging behaviors. Dr. Kopelman has served as the project coordinator for three federally funded projects that have evaluated the use of telehealth to conduct behavioral assessments and treatments with young children with autism. He has also been actively involved in a statewide training project focused on improving the quality of behavioral services provided in schools.

Tyler Leech
Tyler Leech was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old. He grew up in Des Moines, graduated from Lincoln High School and Des Moines Area Community College. He works at Wells Fargo, is a board member of the Autism Society of Iowa and is the originator of the Barefoot for Autism Movement. In his free time, he likes to share how going barefoot helps him stay focused and maintains his Barefoot for Autism Facebook Page.

Christina Maulsby
Christina Maulsby is a mother turned advocate after a traumatic brain injury forever changed the life of her 5-month son, Quentin.  She has seen the role motherhood in new and different ways.  When her youngest son Urijah was diagnosed with autism she knew it was time to take action and make a difference in her community.  She was instrumental in starting the Children’s Autism Center in 2013 in Clear Lake, IA, bringing services and support to a rural community in desperate need.
She since has devoted her life to caring for her sons, other children and families, fighting for the healthcare and specialized care they need, arranging support services, numerous therapies, making sure everyone receives the proper care they deserve.  Maulsby has also made it her mission to be a voice to raise awareness about autism, create acceptance and promote action giving individuals a platform to be heard.
Christina lives in Clear Lake, IA with her loving husband Grant, their beautiful daughter Kaylee (19) and their two EXTRA-incredible sons, Quentin (8) and Urijah (7).

Emily Monahan, OTR/L
Emily Monahan, OTR/L earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2011 and her Masters of Occupational Therapy in 2012, from Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, IA.  She began her career as an Occupational Therapist at Central Rehabilitation in West Des Moines, IA.  While there, she had the opportunity to work with a variety of clientele in their homes and daycare settings.  In 2013, Emily followed her passion of working with children and joined the outpatient pediatric rehabilitation team at ChildServe in Johnston, IA.  She is currently the Outpatient Autism Team Lead and involved with various Autism programming including; intensive treatment in the Autism Day Health Program, organizing and conducting Project ImPACT parent education course for families of young children with Autism, social and life skills groups for children with Autism and she joins a multi-disciplinary team to conduct an Autism Diagnostic Clinic.   As a member of the ChildServe’s Autism Team, Emily enjoys sharing her knowledge about Autism Spectrum Disorder and her experience working with children on the Autism Spectrum.

Michelle Mullins
Michelle Mullins is a preschool/early childhood special education teacher at Westridge Elementary in the West Des Moines district.  She is in her 10th year of teaching.  She has an English degree from Grinnell College in Iowa, and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Colorado at Denver.

Matthew O’Brien, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Matthew O’Brien, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.  He completed his doctorate in Psychological and Quantitative Foundations from the University of Iowa and completed postdoctoral fellowships in neuropsychology and behavioral psychology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.  Dr. O’Brien currently directs the Biobehavioral Day Treatment Clinic, which serves individuals with severe and challenging behavior.  His research interests include functional analysis of severe and challenging behavior in individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Suzanne Richards
Dr. Richards is a child and adolescent psychologist specializing in the assessment of Autism and intervention with individuals with Autism.  In her clinical practice, she has a passion for children with learning and social skill challenges.  Dr. Richards has been involved in clinical education and research on multiple topics including school violence, bullying behavior, learning, and social skills. She has extensive clinical experience providing mental health therapy services and assessment in a wide range of settings. She has served many children, adolescents, and their families with behavioral and adjustment disorders in addition to major mental illness, including psychosis and Autism Spectrum Disorders. She also consults with and advises schools and training programs on appropriate interventions.  She is currently licensed as a Psychologist, Health Service Provider, Youth Sex Offender Treatment Provider, and a Youth Sex Offender Evaluator.

Mary Roberts
Mary Roberts is a Behavioral Health Consultant and the Autism Center Coordinator at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She is also the parent of two young adults, both of whom are significantly affected by autism, and the President and Co-founder of The Village Community, a 501c3 disability service provider located in Johnson County, which works to provide a cooperative model of learning and working for young adults with developmental disabilities.

Leslie Rogers
Leslie Rogers, M.S., CCC-SLP graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with her Bachelor of Science in Education in 2000 and her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology in 2002. She then worked for Omaha Public Schools from 2002-2007 as a Speech-Language Pathologist. After moving to Des Moines, IA in 2007 she started work at ChildServe, a non-profit organization focusing on pediatric rehabilitation. Currently, Leslie is the Autism Clinical Manager for the ChildServe Autism Progam which focuses on serving children with Autism up to 21 years of age. She is an integral part of the interprofessional Diagnostic Clinic, Project ImPACT parent education program for young children with Autism, social and life skills groups for children with ASD and other diagnoses.  Leslie also is instrumental in staff education throughout ChildServe and the community on various ASD topics.

Joe Stueckrath
Joe Stueckrath is funny and gregarious when at home.  And he is obsessed with politics. He has learned to take Uber and he is practicing grocery shopping and making doctor appointments on his own (that isn’t going so well). He is working on getting ready for the time that he may live on his own.  Joe is 28 years old and works at John Deere Financial for Aramark.

Jan Turbes
Jan Turbes is the lead Challenging Behavior and Autism strategist for Northwest Area Education. She has been involved with working with students, teachers and families the past three decades.
She has been involved with the Department of Education’s Challenging Behaviors Team project with collaboration with the Center for Developmental Disabilities in Iowa City since the inception nine years ago. She has presented at numerous local, state and national conferences. Jan sits on several local and state boards and recently served two terms on the Governors appointed Autism Council.


Conference Information
Rooms have been reserved for the conference at the Sheraton Hotel and will be held until October 12, 2018. The hotel is located at 1800 50th St. West Des Moines, IA. Please call 515-223-1800 for assistance.

Continuing Education Units
The Autism Society of Iowa is an accredited sponsor for CEU’s for Social Work #300 and Speech Language Pathology #191. This conference offers 5.75 credit hours of SLP CEU’s and 5.75 credit hours of SW CEU’s.
ADA Accommodations

ADA Accommodations
If ADA Accommodations are needed for you to attend the conference, please contact the Autism Society of Iowa by October 1, 2018.

Friday, November 2  6pm

Autism Society of Iowa Silent and Live Auction Benefit

Sheraton Hotel – 1800 50th Street, West Des Moines

The Autism Society of Iowa is holding its 30th Annual Silent and Live Auction to raise money for those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders in the state of Iowa. This annual event includes many wonderful items up for bid including tickets to local events, autographed sports items, handmade quilts and gift baskets.

The silent auction preview will begin at 6pm with the live auction beginning at 7pm.

$10 per person or $100 for a table of ten.

To register online, click here.

SAVE THE DATE!  Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Autism Advocacy & Acceptance “Day On The Hill”
Iowa State Capitol
Wednesday, February 20, 2019   8am-12noon