Covid-19 Modified Operations Information

COVID-19 Modified Operations

In response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, The Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism will remain open under the following modified conditions.
  1. All public events have been postponed.
  2. Services are still available to the public but may be provided under modified conditions.
  3. We discourage everyone from coming to the center until further notice.

If you need to contact the autism center, please contact us at or 801-863-7620. You may also reach out to any of our staff via phone or email.

For additional resources, please visit our crisis response page.


For more information, visit the Return to Campus website.

Autism conference banner 2022

Autism Conference 2022

This Conference is Beneficial For:

  • Individuals with autism
  • Families and the Community
  • Educators
  • Professionals

The Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism is pleased to announce the 11th annual Autism Conference at Utah Valley University. The conference theme this year is Cultivating Competencies Across the Community.

Join us for multiple sessions geared to meet the interest and need of students, adults on the spectrum, families, educators, professionals, and service providers. There will also be informational booths sponsored by various providers and support vendors.


The two-day event will be held in person on March 3rd and 4th, 2022.
BCBA and Social Work CEUS will be available.

Call for Proposals Open Now

Keynote Speaker for March 4th: Amy Gravino

Amy Gravino

Amy Gravino, M.A., is an autism sexuality advocate and Relationship Coach in the Center for Adult Autism Services at Rutgers University. She is also the President of A.S.C.O.T Consulting, which offers autism consulting, college coaching, and mentoring services for organizations, schools, individuals on the autism spectrum, and their families. Amy is an international speaker who has given TED talks, spoken twice at the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day, and presented worldwide to audiences on a variety of topics related to autism, with a dedicated special focus and research on the subject of autism and sexuality. Ms. Gravino obtained her Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Caldwell University in 2010 and currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Specialisterne USA, Yes She Can, Inc. and the Golden Door International Film Festival of Jersey City, as well as the Scientific Advisory Board of Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research (SPARK). She is an award-winning writer whose work has been featured in Spectrum, the leading online news source for autism research, Reader’s Digest, special education textbooks, and other outlets. Visit to learn more.



Entering Into Adulthood with Autism:

Description: "Autism is defined as a lifelong developmental disability that affects communication, social skills, and behavior, yet the image of autism that we see both in the medical community and popular culture tends to be almost entirely of children. By painting autism as something that only happens in childhood, we overlook and ignore a simple yet incredibly important truth: That autistic children grow up and become autistic adults. This presentation interweaves the limited knowledge that we have of autism in adulthood with one young woman’s personal story, and the journey her parents and she embarked on after she received the diagnosis of autism at age 11. Strategies for fostering interdependence in individuals on the spectrum will be discussed, as well as ideas for talking about and planning the future with, rather than for, your autistic children and clients."

Please join us for a pre-conference all day workshop with Mark Dixon on PEAK Relational Training on March 3, 2021

Mark Dixon

Dr. Mark R. Dixon, BCBA-D, is professor and coordinator of the Behavior Analysis and Therapy Program at Southern Illinois University. His interests include the study of complex verbal behavior, gambling addiction, and organizational behavior management. Mark has published 10 books and over 200 peer reviewed journal articles. He has served as Editor of Behavior Analysis in Practice and The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, associate editor for Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and a reviewer for over 20 non-behavioral journals. Dr. Dixon has generated over 2.5 million dollars in funding to infuse behavior analysis within local schools and treatment facilities, and create a behavioral therapy clinic for persons suffering from autism and related conditions. Mark's research and/or expert opinions have been featured in Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, National Public Radio, This American Life, Bill Nye Saves the World, a New York Times best seller, and regional affiliates of ABC, CBS, and PBS.


Workshop Description:

PEAK is a contemporary, evidence-based language training curriculum. PEAK has been extensively researched and is clinically versatile. The PEAK Relational Training System is an evaluation and curriculum guide for teaching basic and advanced language skills from a contemporary behavior analytic approach.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is well known for its functional and effective approach to teaching language skills, often referred to as Verbal Behavior Therapy (VB). However, an exclusive VB approach may fail to develop a complete verbal repertoire. Learning mands, tacts, and intraverbals are a great foundation for language but there is much more complexity to human language. Traditional ABA targets very limited verbal skills that are often inflexible and lacking in generativity and the abstract symbolism that typifies conversational language. Additionally, few current VB approaches are equipped to evaluate or teach children the relational and complex repertoires needed to respond to their world with meaning and understanding.

While traditional VB focuses on direct instruction and stimulus generalization (the process of learning to respond to similar stimuli as those that were taught), the PEAK system takes language learning a step further and includes prerequisite training for equivalence and relational learning that allows for derived responding. Derived responding, or learning through relations between stimuli without needing to be directly taught, is a process that is at the heart of human language and responsible for our ability to readily interpret novel expressions and understand the meaning of words.

Conference Sponsors

Utah Parent Center logo
Life With logo
Autism Research of Utah County Council logo
Rise logo

UVU School of Education logo

UVU College of Humanities and Social Sciences logo

Spectrum Academy logo
Wasatch Behavioral Health logo 
Autism Council logo
Utah Behavior Services logo