Profound Autism Conference

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Autism Center, Hawk IDDRC, & Autism Society Iowa (ASI) are hosting a 1- day virtual conference on Friday, March 3, 2023, focusing on profound autism.
9:00 am – Welcome – Dr. Todd Kopelman

9:05 am – What exactly is profound autism, and why is the new definition needed? Judith Ursitti, co-founder of the Profound Autism Alliance, will share research and information to create a broader understanding of this new term and will also share how targeted advocacy, in addition to advocacy for the entire spectrum, can be a good thing. 

9:50 – Break

10:00 – “The Case for Profound Autism” – Dr. Lee Wachtel, MD

11:30 – Lunch Break

12:30 – Panel of Family Members Living with a Member with High Need Autism – Panelists will share their stories and take questions.

Panelists – Josh Cobbs, Nazil Kibria, Mary Roberts, Sarah Schrader, Judith Ursitti
1:45 – Break

2:00 – Panel of Specialists on Topics Relevent to High Need Autism

3:00 – Conference adjourns

Continuing Education Credits

 The Autism Society of Iowa is an accredited sponsor for CEU’s for Social Work #300. This conference offers 5.0 credit hours. Certificates of Attendance will be provided for CEU’s.

The Autism Society of Iowa is an accredited sponsor for CEU’s for Speech Language Pathology #191. This conference offers 5.0 credit hours. Certificates of Attendance will be provided for CEU’s.


9th Annual Autism & Employment Conference

9th Annual Autism & Employment Conference

Presented by the Autism Society of Iowa and the Iowa Development Disability Council

Friday, September 11, 2020

Virtual Conference Held by Zoom

Click here to register!

For a printable event flyer, click here!



9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. – How to Prepare for an Interview

Presenters:  Candice Fedeler, MA, Ed.  and Ambrose Ball-Harney

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Accessing Employment Services – Faciliated by Bill Kallestad, Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council


  • Brian Dennis, MS, CRC – Iowa Employment Solutions and Ticket to Work
  • Chris Phillips – Transition Alliance Program at Cedar Falls Schools
  • Scott Atwood, Ph.D. and Bridget Quinn – Balance Autism
  • Michelle Krefft, MS, Director of Business Relations, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services

11:30 a.m.  – 12:30 p.m.-Scanning the workplace – 4 scans autistic people can do at work to recognize where they might face sensory, movement, communication, and executive function issues.

Presenters:  Josh Cobbs and Anne Grego-Nagel

Welcoming Workplaces: Scanning the Workplace

In this session, we introduce one of the tools included in the Welcoming Workplace digital course series available to participating job seekers and autistic employees at participating employers. The course for autistic employees was design by Autism Speaks to help autistic people navigate the workplace and understand how autism affects their individual workplace experience. The workplace scan tools in this course support autistic employees in advocating for their needs, including accommodations and adjustments that can improve their comfort and performance.

12:30 p.m. – Break

1:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m.Finding a good fit: Connecting Passion to Vocation  

Presenter:  Ashlea Lantz, MA

This session will focus on Discovering Personal Genius.  We all have Personal Genius, but how do we tap into our Personal Genius and use it to find employment? Believe it or not there are unlimited ways to make a living!  If you’re interested in exploring your own Personal Genius or a family member’s, please join this session to learn more about exploring your skills and talents and connecting them to the world of work.

2:15 – Panel of Employees with Autism – Facilitated by Sue Askeland

  • Leo Bird – U.S. Post Office
  • Mike Dierdorff – Talk to Me Technologies
  • Tyler Leech – Wells Fargo
  • Reyma McCoy McDeid, MA, – Central Iowa Center for Independent Living
  • Joel Wesselink – Mercy Hospital, Iowa City


Continuing Education Units

Continuing Education Credits: The Autism Society of Iowa is an accredited sponsor for CEU’s for Social Work #300. This conference offers 5.5 credit hours. Certificates of Attendance will be provided for CEU’s.


Keynote Speakers

Ambrose Ball-Harney

Ambrose is the Lead RBT Classroom Support and Transition at Metro West Learning.  He received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology along with a minor in Religious Studies from the University of Iowa. He has a long history of working in the Human Services field and greatly enjoys working with students with autism and challenging behavior.

Josh Cobbs

Josh Cobbs is Manager of Employment Initiatives at Autism Speaks. His work encompasses managing the day to day operations, and implementation of the Autism Speaks employment ecosystem of services and supports. His past work includes serving as a vocational counselor for the State of Iowa, working with post-secondary institutions on transition and employment programs for individuals with barriers, and founding an autism center. Cobbs resides in Iowa with his wife and three children.

Candice Federler, MA ED.

Candice is the Director of Programming and Metro West Learning and holds a degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Northern Iowa and completed her course work in Applied Behavior Analysis from the Chicago School of Psychology. She worked for Des Moines Public Schools as a Behavior Interventionist for grades K-5. Candice has been trained in ABA, Verbal Behavior, Lindamood-Bell Visualizing Verbalizing and Seeing Stars, TEACCH, Picture Exchange Communication Systems, and other communication devices. She is well-versed in Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) and has given several trainings to staff and families on how to implement with fidelity. Candice is a Certified Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) Trainer and A Registered Behavior Technician. Candice is a board member of the Autism Society of Iowa.

Anne Grego-Nagel

Anne Nagel is a cognitive engineer and human factors specialist at Autism Speaks. She is also an executive function coach with a focus on autistic girls and women. Anne earned her PhD in industrial engineering from Kansas State University. Her main research interest includes building products, services, practices and tasks based on how the brain processes information. After years of struggling with everyday tasks, Anne was diagnosed with autism as an adult.

Ashlea Lantz

Ashlea Lantz is a Senior Consultant with Griffin-Hammis Associates. She provides training and technical assistance around Customized Employment, Supported Employment, Self-Employment, Benefits Planning, and Agency Capacity Building. Before joining Griffin-Hammis Associates, Ashlea was the Director of Employment of a community-based rehabilitation agency. She has extensive experience in working with families both personally and professionally. Ashlea is a certified benefits planner and has a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Drake University.