A Live Controversy

Conferences and Training

Note: We will be posting more information about upcoming state, national and international conferences and training with regards to autism and inclusion. Stay tuned!


Next Event

Two Half-Day Workshops: Senses & Sensibilities and Obstacles into Opportunities

May 8, 2014
German Club Manor
711 Southgate Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Cost: Early Registration (must be received before April 18, 2014) $75/person
Regular Registration (on or after April 18, 2014) $100/person

Presenter: Dr. Stephen Shore, Ed.D. is an assistant professor of special education at Adelphi University in New York. As a child, he was recommended for institu-tionalization after being diagnosed with "Atypical Development and strong au-tistic tendencies" and "too sick" for outpatient treatment. Nonverbal until age 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, Dr. Shore presents and con-sults internationally on adult issues per-tinent to education, relationships, em-ployment, advocacy, and disclosure.

Senses & Sensibilities: An Inside View on Sensory Issues, What They Look Like, Avoiding Them, and Working Through Ones That OccurLike, Occur: The aim of this presentation is to enable susceptible individuals and those close to them to avoid and minimize the effect of sensory overload through easy to implement solutions, thereby enabling those with sensory issues to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Goals of the Training:

  1. Experience what sensory overload may feel like for an individual on the autism spectrum.
  2. List at least three situations that might indicate that a sensory issue is present.
  3. Learn how to develop and implement accommodations for sensory issues.
  4. Become familiar with instruments for assessing for sensory issues.

Obstacles Into Opportunities: Turning Away from Closed DoorsObstacles Doors and Opening New Onesand Ones: In this second presentation, Dr. Shore employs an autobio-graphical structure combined with experiences of others with autism to examine how deficits and challenges so per-vasively attributed to autism can be reframed as strengths.

Goals of the Training:

  1. List at least three situations where deficits can become strengths.
  2. Develop a familiarity as to how strengths can be used to navigate around challenges.
  3. Learn that considered decisions can be made to avoid areas of challenge while still leading a fulfilling and productive life.
  4. Understand the importance of people with autism and other disabilities in understanding themselves as a key factor in success.

Please remember to register early, since our workshops and training spaces fill up fast. There will be NO on-site registrations. Please mail in the Registration Form below or register online.

Download the Conference Information Flyer and Registration Form

Register Online Here


Past Events

Liane Holliday Willey: Understanding, Supporting and Living with Asperger Syndrome

November 6, 2013
German Club Manor
711 Southgate Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Cost: Early Registration (must be received on or before October 21, 2013) $75/person
Regular Registration (after October 21, 2013) $100/person

Presenter: Liane Holliday Willey, Ed. PH.D, received her B.A. in Speech Communications (1981), her M.Ed. (1983) at the University of Missouri, and her EdD in Reading Education-Psycholinguistics (1988) from Mississippi State University. Her first book, Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger's Syndrome (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1999) is a bestseller in the field having sold over 70,000 copies to date. Her books Asperger Syndrome in the Family: Redefining Normal (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2001) and Adolescents and Asperger Syndrome in the Adolescent Years: Living With the Ups and Downs and Things in Between (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2003) are also on their way to becoming bestsellers in the field. Liane has also contributed individual chapters to several books on Asperger syndrome. Her fourth release, Safety Skills for Asperger Women ~ How to Save a Perfectly Good Female Life, debuted to great reviews in July of 2011.

In this presentation, Professor Liane Holliday Willey shares her personal journey with Asperger syndrome as a person with AS, a parent of an Aspie and an academic who studies communications and learning style differences. From her unique perspective, Liane leads a frank discussion on the challenges people with AS face, followed by practical support suggestions that address communication, executive functioning and emotional challenges. This presentation is best suited for parents, counselors, teachers and caregivers to people with AS.

To learn more about Liane visit www.aspie.com

Download a list of books by Liane Holliday Willey

Download the Conference Information Flyer



Executive Function Deficits: A Practical Strategies Seminar for Educators and Clinicians Working with Students Diagnosed with Executive Function Disorder, Autism, Asperger's, ADD, NVLD

April 17, 2013
German Club Manor
711 Southgate Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Cost: Early Registration (must be received on or before March 1, 2013) $75/person
Regular Registration (after March 1, 2013) $100/person

Presenter: Rebecca Moyes, M.Ed., is a former regular education teacher for nine years in public and private schools in Pennsylvania. She has two children, one of whom has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. She left her teaching position to become an autism inclusion consultant. Today, she serves as the Regional Coordinator for Autism Training and Consultation at Pressley Ridge in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Rebecca also serves as an autism presenter with the Bureau of Education Research and travels to many cities throughout the United States and Canada. She is highly recognized as an authority in the field of autism education.

Description of Training: Executive functions are the cognitive tasks that allow us to plan, organize, initiate, attend to task, and regulate & monitor behavior. They are the key building blocks to learning! Until recently, not much as been known about how to address executive function disorder in children and adolescents with autism. Many times, the child's problems were considered to be "just poor behavior," but we do know that kids with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and certain types of learning disabilities (including nonverbal learning disability) can all be impacted from executive function deficits.

To learn more about the speaker visit: www.rebeccamoyes.com.

Download a list of books by Rebecca Moyer



William Stillman

December 5, 2012
VCOM Conference Center
2280 Kraft Drive (same building as StellarOne Bank)
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Cost: $70/person

Presenter: William Stillman has authored ten books on the Autism Spectrum. He will discuss two unique and important topics:

Autism and the 90 Percent Factor: Building Authentic Relationships In supporting individuals with autism, it may be shown that 90 percent of the work has nothing to do with those individuals but, instead, involves decoding myth-understandings among families and caregivers. When persons with autism are perceived as our intellectual peers, unlimited possibilities await us. Autism author and self-advocate, William Stillman, and New Light, Inc. staff, via video testimony, share their inspiring and revolutionary anecdotes for building authentic relationships.

The Autism Spectrum and Employment Unemployment rates among individuals with autism range from 90 to 98 percent. William Stillman offers parents, caregivers, and self-advocates hope for viable employment via thoughts, wisdom, and strategies to poise individuals for success in potential vocational opportunities. Topics addressed include presuming intellect, sensory sensitivities, building upon passions, and new employment models.

As an adult with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild "cousin" of autism, Stillman's message of reverence and respect has touched thousands nationally through his acclaimed autism workshops and private consultations. In addition to his frequent work in California, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, William Stillman has presented at national conferences such as ASA, TASH and NATTAP, as well as conferences throughout Pennsylvania. Other presentation forums have included universities, hospitals, state centers, and schools. Stillman has a B.S. in Education from Millersville University in Pennsylvania, and has worked to support people with different ways of being since 1987. He was formerly the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Office of Developmental Program's statewide point person for children with intellectual impairment, mental health issues, and autism. In his work to support those who love and care for individuals with autism and Asperger's Syndrome, Stillman sets a tone for our collective understanding of the autistic experience in ways that are unprecedented. Autism should not be defined as an "affliction endured by sufferers," but as a truly unique and individual experience to be respected and appreciated by all. In so doing, Stillman highlights the exquisite sensitivities of our most valuable, wise and loving "teachers."

To learn more about the speaker visit: www.williamstillman.com.

Download the Conference Information Flyer



Early Intervention: Getting Babies Ready for the Future - Birth to 5 years

October 3, 2012
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Presentation: Key Note Speaker - Laura Hartmann

Laura has spoken nationally and internationally about her experiences from the other side of the spectrum, as a person growing up with a sibling with autism. Laura has earned an English M.A. from VA Tech and a Spanish M.A. from St. Louis University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English literature at Northeastern University in Boston. This last spring, Laura presented a paper entitled "Writing on the Spectrum: Neurodiversity and the First-Year Writing Classroom" at the 63rd Conference on College Composition and Communication, a national conference in the field of college writing. Laura actively pursues ways to blend her academic interests and her role as a sibling advocate.

Presentation #1 Title: Proactive Strategies for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Proactive Strategies for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a workshop designed to introduce participants to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as well as effective strategies for supporting infants and toddlers who have (or who are suspected of having) ASD in home and community environments. A focus is placed on strategies designed to support the child’s understanding of the environment and to enhance receptive and expressive communication. The training is geared toward early intervention and early childhood service providers and parents of young children with autism spectrum disorders.

Presentation #2 Title: An Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Primary characteristics associated with autism spectrum disorders
  • Secondary characteristics associated with autism spectrum disorders
  • Strengths associated with autism spectrum disorders
  • Support needs of young children with autism spectrum disorders

Presentation #3 Title: Implementing Visual Supports and Environmental Structure in the Home and Community

  • Description and importance of environmental structure
  • Description and importance of visual supports
  • How to use environmental structure and visual supports to enhance understanding and increase independence

Presentation #4 Title: Enhancing Communication in Young Children with ASD

  • Importance of social-communicative interactions on development
  • In depth review of characteristics of expressive and receptive communication in infants and toddlers with ASD
  • Practical strategies to support communication development within the context of natural activities and daily routines

Presentation #5 Title: Sensory Processing, Anxiety, and Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga is quickly becoming a new alternative therapy to help children in the spectrum deal with anxiety and sensory issues. Restorative yoga is a type of yoga that requires a minimal physical effort and that encourages relaxation, a calm focus, and deep breathing techniques. This presentation will provide you with information on how your child can learn new ways to deal with stress and anxiety through restorative yoga.

Download the Conference Information Flyer

Download Speaker Bios



Inclusion in 2012: Promoting Membership, Participation, and Learning in General Education Classrooms for Students with Autism and Related Disabilities

May 3, 2012
German Club Manor
711 Southgate Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Cost: $70/person

Presenter: Michael McSheehan is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of New Hampshire and a Project Director with the National Center for Inclusive Education at the Institute on Disability/UCED. He has worked on a variety of state and national initiatives to advance research, policy, and practice in inclusive education, alternate assessment, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), autism spectrum disorders, and Response to Intervention (RTL). He consults with various state departments of education and is nationally recognized for his presentations at conferences.

Michael was a developer, researcher, and author of the 'Beyond Access Model,' which has been used successfully by schools across the U.S. to promote...

  • Membership in general education classrooms,
  • Participation in general education instruction, and
  • Learning of general education curriculum by students with significant disabili-ties.

Dr. McSheehan is currently working on two books based upon his collaboration with public schools to address school improvement and students with complex support needs.

To learn more about the speaker visit: http://www.iod.unh.edu/PriorityAreas/inclusive-education/about-ie/about.aspx.

Download the Conference Information Flyer and Registration Form




Autism and Mental Health: Fostering Awareness and Resilience

April 18, 2012
VCOM Conference Center
(Same building as One Star Bank)
2280 Kraft Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Cost: $70/person

Presenter: Pat Amos, M.A., has been an advocate for people with disabilities and their families for over 25 years. She is a founder of Autism Support and Advocacy in Pennsylvania and the Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect, past president of the Greater Philadelphia Autism Society, a founder and past president of the Autism National Committee, has served as a member of Pennsylvania's Developmental Disabilities Council, and is a Board member of international TASH. She currently works as an Inclusion Specialist with the Youth Advocate Program's Autism Institute. Her involvement in the movement to prevent restraint and seclusion is longstanding, and she has worked with the national Alliance for the Prevention of Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion (APRAIS).

The goal of this training is for parents, professionals, and community members to recognize the mental health needs and challenges that may be experienced by people on the autism spectrum, to enhance their capacity to foster healthy emotional development and psychological resilience, and to become more aware of resources that can support those efforts. This training also enhances the ability of parents, professionals, and community members to recognize, support, and appreciate the development of communication, language, speech and literacy in the lives of persons on the autism spectrum.

Download the Conference Information Flyer and Registration Form