Understanding the Puzzling Pieces of Autism
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2019 Autism Society of Iowa Fall Educational Conference

November 1, 2019 @ 8:15 am - 4:00 pm

To register online, click here.

For a printable event flyer, click here.

The 2019 Autism Society of Iowa Fall Conference will feature keynote speaker Dr. Scott Bellini presenting Building Social Relationships through Evidence Based Social Skills Programming for Youth and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum.

The conference will offer multiple breakout sessions to choose from in the afternoon and a resource fair with the following vendors:

  • Amerigroup Iowa – Medicaid MCO
  • ASK Resource Center
  • Axis ABA Therapy and Support Services
  • Balance Autism
  • ChildServe
  • Corridor Autism Resource Expo
  • Developmental Wellness
  • Drake University
  • Educational Resource Associates
  • Emergent Learning Clinic
  • Epilepsy Foundation Iowa
  • Iowa Family Support Network
  • Iowa Public Television
  • Iowans with Disabilities in Action
  • Metro West Learning Center
  • Minnesota Independence College and Community
  • Mosaic in Central Iowa
  • The Driving Coach
  • University of Iowa UI REACH Program
  • University of Iowa Michaelson Lab and SPARK Team
  • University of Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program
  • University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Autism Center



7:30 a.m. – Registration begins

8:15 – Welcome and Announcements – ASI President Molly Jones

8:20 – 9:45 – Building Social Relationships through Evidence Based Social Skills Programming for Youth and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum presented by Scott Bellini, Ph.D.

The workshop will provide an overview of the Building Social Relationships (BSR) program, a social skills instructional model developed by Dr. Bellini. The workshop integrates research on social-emotional functioning with effective strategies for teaching social skills to children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The BSR program provides a systematic and comprehensive framework to guide parents and practitioners in the development and implementation of social skills programming

Learning Objectives for Participants

Increase knowledge of social and emotional functioning

Increase awareness of the relationship between social skill deficits and social anxiety

Develop skills necessary to assess social functioning

Increase awareness of skill acquisition versus performance deficits

Increase awareness of evidence based social skill strategies

Develop skills necessary to implement social skills strategies


9:45 – 10:00 – Break and Resource Fair Opens

10:00 – 11:30 – Youth and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Presented by Scott Bellini, Ph.D.

11:30 – 11:45 – Break

11:45 – 12:30 – Panel of Adults with Autism – Facilitated by Evelyn Horton, BCBA; Alex Archavaleta, Brandon Arkland, Reyma McCoy-McDeid, Alex Wherspann

12:30 – 1:30 – Lunch provided

There will be tables available for:

  • Families who have newly diagnosed family members
  • Self-advocates
  • Those interested in driver’s education for those with autism


1:30 – 2:30 – Breakout Sessions Begin – Please select one breakout session

1:30 – 2:30 – Family Functioning and Coping During Times of Difficult Behaviors; Presenter:  Alyson Beytien, BCBA, MS/Autism

This presentation will discuss:

  1. When you get call from school about behaviors
  2. When your home goes into crisis mode due to behaviors
  3. When you seek hospitalization for behaviors and may be turned away
  4. Residential care placement due to behaviors

1:30 – 2:30 – Internet Safety and Tech Social Skills/Social Rules; Presented by Amanda Berns, Ed.S., Ph.D.

The internet is an important tool for accessing current information, as well as socially interacting with others.  However, use of the internet comes with risks, not just for the general population, but especially for youth and those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  It is important to explicitly teach internet safety and social rules to individuals with ASD to minimize this risk.  This presentation will:

  • provide information about internet risks
  • identify needs for instruction concerning internet safety and social rules
  • present resources to guide this instruction and provide internet safeguards
  • discuss instructional strategies and tools

1:30 – 2:30 – Networking Ideas for Teens/Adults with Autism; Facilitated by Susan Askeland

This presentation will discuss:

  1. How to explain to someone you have autism, for instance a new friend or in a dating situation
  2. How to meet and network with others who have autism
  3. How to safely meet others on social media


2:30 – 2:45 – Break and Resource Fair concludes


2:45 – 3:45 – Breakout Sessions – Please select one breakout session

2:45 – 4:00 – Integrative Approaches for the Autism Spectrum; Presented by Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, M.D., and Todd Kopelmen, Ph.D., BCBA

 This presentation will discuss:

  1. Review evidenced-based dietary considerations for individuals with autism
  2. Identify mind-body approaches and learn the science behind their effects on the brain.
  3. Investigate the use of some common dietary and herbal supplements for individuals with autism
  4. Discuss empirically supported treatments for autism
  5. Discuss cannabinoids and autism

2:45 – 4:00 – Learning About and Handling our Own Anxiety, Depression and Stress; Presented by Kelly Vinquist, Ph.D., BCBA

This presentation will offer coping strategies for those with autism who experience anxiety, depression and stress.

2:45 – 4:00 – The Beautiful Life We Never Knew We Needed, A Guide to Self-care; Presented by Josh and Tina Cobbs

  1. After our time, together you will be able to identify the following:
  2. Parent stressors and emotions
  3. Review stages of change
  4. What tools can help with stress

2:45 – 4:00 – Panel of Residential Care Providers; Facilitated by Shawn Kolb

  • Balance Autism – Scott Atwood and Jessica Crawford
  • ChildServe – Stephanie Malone and Amy Richardson
  • Hills & Dales – Alyson Beytien
  • Mosaic – Nicole Hallada
  • The Village – Ann Brownsberger


4:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Medical Cannabis in Iowa – A Primer; Presented by Rebecca Lucas


6:00 p.m.  – The 31st Annual Autism Society of Iowa Benefit Auction


Keynote Speaker Dr. Scott Bellini

Dr. Scott Bellini is a Licensed Psychologist and a faculty member with the Indiana University School Psychology Program. He is a prominent and highly impactful researcher in education and school psychology and the Director of the Social Skills Research Clinic, a university-based clinic that specializes in developing and empirically validating social skills programming for youth on the autism spectrum. Dr. Bellini was identified as one of the Top 25 most cited school psychology faculty in the country. Dr. Bellini is also the author of the award-winning book, Building Social Relationships, which has been honored as the Literary Work of the Year by the Autism Society of America and the winner of the National Indie Excellence Award in Education. To date, Dr. Bellini has provided training to educators, therapists, and parents in over 40 states.



Brandon Arkland

Brandon Arkland is 24 years old and recently moved to Sioux City over the summer to work at the Pier Center for Autism. He recently graduated with his masters in applied behavior analysis from Drake University and passed his exam and now is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He served on the Iowa Autism State Council for 3 years and was co-chair his final year and serves on the board of directors for the Autism Society of Iowa but had to put it on hold while getting his degree. He was diagnosed with autism at age 4.

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 moved to eastern Iowa where 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.

Amanda Berns, Ed.S., Ph.D.

Dr. Amanda Berns is a Licensed Psychologist in the state of Wisconsin who recently joined the Autism Core Team at Grant Wood Area Education Agency (AEA).  She graduated from the College of Education at the University of Iowa with a Doctorate of Philosophy in School Psychology.  Dr. Berns has worked both in the public education system as a school psychologist, as well as in outpatient clinic settings, providing assessments, consultation, and interventions for individuals of all ages with a focus on those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  She is excited for the opportunity at Grant Wood AEA to provide consultation to adults in the schools to support significant positive change in the lives of Iowa youth.

Alyson Beytien, BCBA, MS/Autism

Alyson Beytien is a popular speaker, trainer and mother of 3 sons with autism. She does training and consulting throughout the U.S. and Canada. Alyson is a board certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and has a Masters degree in Autism Spectrum Disorders from the University of Kansas. Alyson is a Behavior Analyst for Hills and Dales in Dubuque, IA where she is involved in assessment, intervention and training.   She is the author of “Autism Everyday” which received the 2012 Literary Work of the Year from the Autism Society of America. Alyson listens to true crime podcasts, loves to quilt and read, and is trying to learn the meaning of the word “relax.”

Josh Cobbs

Josh Cobbs serves as Director of Career Education at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, IA, is a parent to three children – his 19-year-old son Noah was diagnosed with autism as child. He has spent over a decade advocating for the needs of families and people with autism. Josh twice provided testimony to the United States Senate on access to care and the efficacy of remote ABA treatment. He has worked with postsecondary institutions on how to set up transitional and work programs for people with autism and intellectual disabilities. Cobbs holds a master’s degree in Human Service Counseling with a concentration in life coaching. Cobbs also founded The Pier Center for Autism in Sioux City, helping spearhead ABA service delivery for families in Northwest Iowa. He was the driving force for the development and passage of legislation to establish the Iowa Governor’s Council on Autism, serving as the Chairperson for four years. Most recently Cobbs established Joyency LLC a company that works to empower people through coaching, activity and recreation. Joyency provides work opportunities for his son through their apparel, flag and tailgating lines.

Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, M.D.

Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller is an OB-Gyn and integrative medicine physician, as well as the mother of a 19-year-old son with autism.  Her son’s diagnosis was instrumental in her decision to pursue a study of integrative medicine, which involves use of evidence-based complementary and alternative approaches. Suzanne has been a board member and past president of ASI since 2005.

Todd Kopelman, Ph.D., BCBA

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. He is the co-director of the UIHC Autism Center. Dr. Kopelman conducts autism evaluations with children and adults and he also does clinical work and research in the area of severe and challenging behaviors. He has been a board member of the Autism Society of Iowa since 2010.

Kelly Vinquist, Ph.D., BCBA

Kelly Vinquist, PhD is an associate professor, Director of Behavior Services for inpatient psychiatry, and Co-Director of the intellectual disability-mental illness program at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She is a licensed psychologist and board certified behavior analyst. Dr. Vinquist is a member of an interdisciplinary team that evaluates the etiology of severe challenging behaviors, develops therapy plans, and provides behavioral support. She has been a board member since 2018.


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 6.0 credit hours of SLP CEU’s and 6.0 credit hours of SW CEU’s.


Autism Annual Benefit Auction

The Annual Autism Benefit Auction will be held on Friday, November 1, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel.  Cost is $10.00 per person and you can pay at the door.  Everyone is welcome.



November 1, 2019
8:15 am - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Autism Society of Iowa


Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel
1800 50th St
West Des Moines, 50266 United States
+ Google Map
(515) 223-1800