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Adults with Autism: Diagnosis and Supports Virtual Conference via Zoom

March 4, 2022 @ 8:15 am - 3:30 pm

The Adults with Autism: Diagnosis and Supports conference will be held virtually via Zoom on Friday, March 4.

To register, click here.

8:15 a.m. – Introductions and Welcome – Todd Kopelman, Ph.D.

8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.- Equitable diagnosis for autism in adolescence and adulthood: Learning from sex, gender, and social developmental perspectives Presented by Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai, MD, Ph.D.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understanding the latest research discoveries about the impact of sex and gender on the recognition and diagnosis of autism
  • Reflecting on social developmental issues pertaining to new autism diagnosis in adolescence and adulthood
  • Reflecting on clinical considerations to improve the assessment and care for autistic youth and adults

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. – Break

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – ASD Adult Panel with Dr. Todd Kopelman: What Happens Now That I Have This Diagnosis and What Does it Mean? Presented by Todd Kopelman, Ph.D., Abby Niederhauser, Marie Ugorek, Joel Wesselink

12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch Break

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Introduction to Social Strategies: Building and Maintaining Friendships and Relationships Presented by Paige Burden, MA, CCC-SLP and Audrey Wood MA, CCC-SLP

This session will provide:

  • An introduction to some common strategies for making and keeping meaningful friendships and romantic relationships.
  • Presenters will review available interventions and resources for those interested in further building social skills.

2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. – Break

2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Common Psychiatric Concerns and Medication Management Presented by Aaron Kauer, M.D.

Learning Objectives:

  • Increase knowledge of psychiatric diagnoses that may co-present with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Increase awareness of psychiatric medications that may be prescribed for co-presenting diagnoses

3:30 p.m. – Closing Remarks


This conference is for autistic adults, family members, therapists, social workers, physician assistants, speech language pathologists, mental health providers, case managers, psychiatrists, psychologists, ARNP’s, and others who are interested.


Keynote Speaker

Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai is a psychiatrist and clinician-scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and Graduate Faculty at the Institute of Medical Science and Department of Psychology, University of Toronto. He is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, and an Adjunct Attending Psychiatrist at the National Taiwan University Hospital. He is an Editor of the journal Autism. As a Canadian Institute of Health Research Sex and Gender Science Chair, Dr. Lai’s work focuses on how sex- and gender-related factors act as modulating mechanisms for the presentation and adaptation, clinical recognition, neurobiology, and etiologies of neurodevelopmental and co-occurring mental health conditions across the lifespan.



Paige Burden, MA, CCC-SLP

Ms. Burden is a Speech Language Pathologist at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Center for Disabilities and Development.  She specializes in working with children and young adults with complex communication and social needs, such as autism and speech and language disorders. She is a PEERS certified provider for both adolescents and young adults. She is also trained in Project ImPACT therapy.

Aaron Kauer, M.D.

Dr. Kauer is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and spends his time providing care for patients in the outpatient Child and Adolescent Clinic as well as inpatient staffing. Additionally he serves in the role as a Co-Medical Director of the Child Outpatient clinic. He has specific interests in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Tic Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. He also spends time educating medical students and residents at UIHC. He completed his MD at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine and residencies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is board certified in both child and adult psychiatry.

Audrey Wood MA, CCC-SLP

Ms. Wood is a Speech Language Pathologist at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Center for Disabilities and Development.  She specializes in working with children and adults with a variety of communication needs including autism, speech and language disorders, and augmentative and alternative communication. She is a PEERS certified provider for young adults.



Brian Johnson

After years of uncertainly, Brian Johnson was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as a sophomore in high school.  Since his diagnosis, he has been a member of the Siouxland Autism Support Group in Sioux City, Iowa.  In 2004,he graduated from Lawton-Bronson High School in Lawton, Iowa as valedictorian of his class.  In 2008, he graduated summa cum laude from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, earning a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications.  He currently lives in Bronson, Iowa and works in Moville as a copy editor for a regional newspaper called The Record.   Since graduation, Brian has presented his story to numerous groups of parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, college students and others who are working with and learning about people with autism.  For the past several years, he has also been involved in an organization called “The Human Library.”  This past spring, he joined the Autism Society of Iowa as a board member.

Todd Kopelman, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Todd Kopelman is a licensed psychologist and board-certified behavior analyst. He is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. His primary clinical interests are the assessment of autism in children and adults and the evaluation and treatment of challenging behaviors in children and adults with developmental disabilities. Dr. Kopelman is the co-director of the UIHC Autism Center, has served as the coordinator for 3 federal research studies evaluating the use of telehealth to coach parents to evaluate and treat severe challenging behaviors displayed by their young children with autism, and co-teaches a graduate seminar on autism spectrum disorders. He has served as a board member on the Autism Society of Iowa since 2010.

Abby Niederhauser

Abby Niederhauser is a 34 year old autistic adult who was diagnosed at age 18. She is an artist and paints bright and colorful pop art. She enjoys advocating for herself and others affected by Autism. She also speaks on LGBTQ+ topics.

Marie Ugorek

Marie C Ugorek is an autistic ADHDer with hEDS and an assortment of secondary mental illnesses. In the 2.5 years since she sought professional diagnosis of her neurodivergence, Marie has been fortunate to be able to focus full-time on reprocessing four decades of life with the goal of growing into a healthy, unapologetically neurodivergent identity. She is supported in this by her husband, dogs, and cat, who live with her in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Joey Wesselink

Joey Wesselink is an autism self-advocate in the state of Iowa. He was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum when he was 25 years of age while beginning his Bachelor of Arts program at The University of Iowa. He is currently the Administrative Assistant at Access 2 Independence, which is one of the six centers for independent living in the state of Iowa. He lives in Iowa City and enjoys reading, writing, playing video games, being outside, working out, watching sports, or pro wrestling with friends and trivia nights. He was a part of the LEND training program in 2019-2020 as a self-advocate trainee. He graduated from the LEND program in May of 2020. Joey is also on the Autism Society of Iowa Board and is a member of the group #UpgardeMedicaid. Joey graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism in 2013. Starting in February of this year, he will attend Mount Mercy University to take some courses in business and then transfer to the University of Iowa and complete the Nonprofit Leadership and Philanthropy program.


March 4, 2022
8:15 am - 3:30 pm
Event Category:


University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Autism Center
Autism Society of Iowa