2017 Autism Conference Session Schedule

Conference Session Descriptions

Presenter Handouts

Conference Feedback Survey


Keynote Speaker

Dr. TJ Glahn

image06My professional career has been varied and rewarding both nationally and internationally. Love for being with children, adolescents and adults with Autism started over 30 years ago as a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). This passion has never wavered, just taken diversified paths. It has expanded to include an emphasis for training those persons delivering instruction. Work has led me from being a Psychologist at a California State Hospital, to being a Research Psychologist at UCSB, to developing and conducting research regarding least restrictive living settings known as Teaching Homes, and to then work in the area of early intervention. My most recent professional work is in the areas of developing clinics and preschool settings emphasizing “naturalistic” teaching strategies inclusive of Positive Behavioral Supports (PBS) in both the United States and Canada. I truly believe in the Power of Nature to instruct and influence all persons to learn and explore this great big world, but ever mindful of presenting constant functional learning experiences within a Behavioral framework. Nature promotes self-initiation, exploration and creativity, areas needing additional study in Autism and with those individuals whose lives we impact. This focus on naturalistic teaching first started many years ago for me in Santa Barbara, when I founded a school and research center for persons with Autism and related disorders. As children watch a butterfly or touch a leaf, they learn in a holistic sensory manner to stop-look-learn, thus providing communication & learning opportunities. My work has focused on developing FUN & FUNCTIONAL learning opportunities and strategies utilizing an expanded, contextualized ABA Framework.


Session Speakers

Jared Stewart

image05Jared was named the 2011 Educator of the Year by the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC). In addition to supervising the education, speech therapy, health, fitness, arts, and recreation staff at ScenicView Academy, he teaches classes in disability awareness and provides tutoring for college support. Born and raised on Kodiak Island, Alaska, Jared dropped out of school before going on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Brigham Young University. He has spent more than a decade working with adolescents and adults with autism and other learning disabilities, and has shared his views on the techniques and mindsets that lead to improved outcomes for these individuals with many local and national audiences. His passion for the subject arises from personal experience: he has family members with disabilities and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome himself. On the side, Jared is an adjunct professor at Utah Valley University—helping run their annual Conference on Autism, teaching classes for their Autism Studies track, and assisting with their Passages Program as a life-skills instructor and curriculum developer. In 2016 he was appointed by the governor to the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council as a citizen advisory member.


Tom Evans

image01Tom is a passionate Special Education teacher. He started his teaching career in 2002 teaching at a private institution in California for Emotionally Disturbed students. In 2012, he earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education specializing in ADHD. Upon finishing his Masters Degree Tom went back to school and completed a four course, 12 credits, Autism Credentialing Program. Tom has a California Autism endorsement and a Nevada Autism Credential. Tom’s experience includes ABA strategies such as PECS, Augmentative Communication Devices (Go-Talk 20), Token Boards, Choice Boards and reinforcement systems, as well as other autism interventions in the classroom.



Liz Banner

image03My family has been blessed with a child with special needs that has forever changed my perspective on raising children. I decided to change my professional endeavors and concentrate on Special Education. I have loved working at Spectrum Academy and also being a member of the CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) and, USEAP (Utah Special Education Advisory Panel); representing Individuals with Disabilities as a parent of a student with disabilities. I have two very special people in my life that began my desire to work with special-needs children. The first is my son Jackson. He was diagnosed with Autism. The second is my nephew Jacob. These wonderful children inspired both my husband and I to return again to school and complete my Degree in Special Education. I am currently employed at Spectrum Academy as an elementary school Principal. Spectrum Academy concentrates on helping students with high functioning Autism and other disabilities.


Krisanne Lewis

Krisanne received her BS in Psychology and her Master’s Degree in occupational therapy from the University of Utah. She currently works as the Student Services Coordinator for Spectrum Academy in North Salt Lake, Utah, collaborating with teachers and providing occupational therapy services to children with a variety of disabilities. She has worked with children with ASD and other disabilities in Texas and Utah, and has worked in clinical, early intervention, home, and education-based settings. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Utah and enjoys teaching adults almost as much as kids! She is certified in sensory integration and in the administration/interpretation of the SIPT (Sensory Integration and Praxis Test) and has extensive experience with sensory integration. Her interests include best practices in providing inclusive educational opportunities for children with disabilities. She currently lives in Utah with her husband and children.


Suzanne Grimshaw

image09Suzanne has worked with adults who are on the Autism Spectrum and those with Learning Disabilities for the past 8 years. She believes that developing problem solving skills and using a
strengths based approach are vital to her clients’ growth. She has co-developed and currently teaches a social skills curriculum that is geared specifically for teens and adults. Suzanne has had the opportunity to present at many national conferences on social skills and transitioning into adult services. Suzanne graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.A. in Political Science and spent 10 years working in various government agencies.



image07After working for ScenicView Academy for 6 years as a recreation therapist, Ryan was recently hired as a psychotherapist at ScenicView. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management from Brigham Young University, and recently finished his master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from University of Phoenix. He has presented at a local, state, and national level on topics such as transition planning, ScenicView’s recreation therapy and social skills programs, and working with individuals with ADHD.


Kristen Wilson, MS, CCC-SLP, BCBA

image04Kristen received her Bachelor’s and Maste’rs degrees from Brigham Young University. She has spent the majority of her career working in Utah, California and Florida as a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist; with most of her time spent working in the schools, clinics and private settings. She has worked with children from birth to adulthood with varying disabilities and abilities.:) Several years ago, Kristen began a search for information to help her maximize her limited therapy time with preschool children on the spectrum. That search led her to pursue her Board certification in Behavior Analysis, which she obtained through the Florida Institute of Technology. Kristen whole-heartedly believes that ALL children can learn and communicate when you establish a relationship with them and tap into their highest levels of motivation. She now has her “dream job” at Spectrum Academy in Pleasant Grove where she has been working as an SLP and as a BCBA. She has also assisted in oversight and collaboration of the school’s Functional Skills program. She has also been trained as an Instructor in Professional Crisis Management and has trained staff members to assist students in crisis. Kristen is now beginning a new adventure as an Assistant Principal. She is excited to be able to broaden her influence as she serves the students, parents and staff of Spectrum.


Sarah Sanders

image02Sarah Sanders holds a Master’s in Special Education and has been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst since 2008. She co-founded Utah Behavior Services and currently oversees the Central and Southern regions of Utah. She specializes in developing treatment and teaching programs for achieving skill growth and positive behavior change within an applied, home-centered environment. Sarah supervises individuals seeking their own certification, and believes in the efficacy and power of a collaborative team. Her passion is preserving families and preparing individuals for independent living.



Summer Gunn

image10Summer Gunn received a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Birth to 5 services and significant disabilities and a Master’s of Education in Special Education from Utah State University (USU). She is currently a clinical instructor in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation at Utah State University. She is primarily responsible for supervision and instruction of pre-service teachers seeking a licence in early childhood special education. Previously, Summer taught special education in a self-contained preschool classroom, an early Intensive Behavior Intervention (EIBI) preschool classroom, and as an autism consultant to special education preschool and elementary resource/ life skills classrooms. More recently, she worked as a case manager for the ASSERT program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at USU, designed and implemented a behavioral coaching system for a college student with ASD, and designed supervision systems for preservice teachers in birth to 5 practicum. She is the mother of four beautiful children and has had the opportunity to sit on both sides of the IEP table, both as a teacher and as a parent. She has a passion for applied behavior analysis and its utility for all families and children.


Lisa G. Larson

image08Lisa G. Larson is a writer, public speaker, and mother of three who loves exploring Southern Utah’s natural beauty, spending time with her family and curling up with a good book… when she has time. A Summa Cum Laude graduate of Southern Utah University with a degree in public relations and advertising, Lisa spent 14 years as a reporter and feature writer in the newspaper world. Now, she’s furthering her writing, public relations and public speaking career on a freelance basis and revels in the array of topics and experiences that world provides.



Jacqueline Whitaker

image00An educator with a passion for all things Autism. Jacqueline graduated from Utah State University with a Degree in Psychology and went on to obtain her teaching license with an endorsement in severe-disabilities, as well as her Master’s in Special Education. She has taught students with Autism for the past eleven years, and has found that trust, kindness and humor are an integral part in working with others-especially those with Autism!





View the 2017 Autism Conference Sessions Descriptions