UVU Conference on Autism

2015 UVU Conference on Autism


UVU's College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science and Health, and School of Education – along with sponsors and supporters, are pleased to announce the 2015 UVU Conference on Autism.

The single day conference is on Friday, April 3rd, 2015 in the Sorensen Student Center on UVU campus. This is the fifth annual conference, and it has become a much anticipated event within the state. Our keynote presenter for this year will be Dr. Peter Gerhardt – renowned expert on autism education. We will also feature an afternoon plenary session from social-media sensation Autism Daddy. Joining them will be over 25 skilled and knowledgeable presenters, representing professionals, educators, and families living with ASD.

We seek to provide information for those who are service providers, therapists and social workers, educators, students, families and individuals with an interest in ASD. The conference will feature sessions on topics such as:

  • Music therapy
  • Resources and services available to parents
  • Effective Educational practices for individuals with ASD
  • Treatment options, methods and theories
  • Ethical and legal issues
  • Enhancing social skills
  • Anxiety and depression

 and more will be featured.

 This year we are also pleased to present a special all-day workshop designed particularly for EMS/First Responders. Presented in conjunction with (F.A.A.S.T), this workshop is aimed at creating greater awareness of the roll law enforcement and first responders play in the growing population of those living on the Autism Spectrum.

The conference will also feature informational booths sponsored by various service and support vendors from throughout the state.

Early registration ends on March 16th! So please take advantage of the discounted fees. Regular registration will begin on Tuesday, March 17th. Seating is limited.

We encourage all to attend and share in this unique opportunity to explore and discover more about the many facets of Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Call For Proposals

You can download the Call For Proposals here



2015 UVU Conference on Autism

Dr. Peter Gerhardt is the director of education – upper school for the McCarton School in New York City. He has over 30 years experience utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis in support of adolescents and adults with ASD in educational, employment, residential and community-based settings.





Keynote Presenter: 

Peter Gerhardt, PhD

Dr. Peter Gerhardt is the director of education – upper school for the McCarton School in New York City. He has over 30 years of experience utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis in support of adolescents and adults with ASD in educational, employment, residential and community-based settings.


Afternoon Plenary Presenter:

Autism DaddyAutism Daddy

Autism Daddy is the father to an 11 year old son with severe, classic, non-verbal autism.  He doesn’t have a degree in anything related to autism, but he has been riding the autism roller-coaster for over 9 years now living on the corner of Autism Avenue & Seizure Street, and has been anonymously blogging about his experiences.  His claim to fame is giving people a realistic, non sugar coated look at the world inside an autism household; the good, the bad, and the poop. :-)


Session Presenters:

Holli ChildHolli Child

Holli Child graduated from BYU with a degree in Early Child Education.  In addition to obtaining her degree Holli has also had five years of experience working with children on the Autism Spectrum.  She is currently a teacher at Clear Horizons Academy.  Holli has always had a love of working with children and fostering language development in the children.


Lisa Cohne

Lisa Cohne is the Community Partnerships manager for the Utah Education Network. In this position, Lisa has the opportunity to connect UEN resources with educational communities including libraries and special needs populations. She has partnered for several years with the Autism Council of Utah and several higher-ed institutions to bring film screenings regarding issues and concerns about Autism to families and the general public across the state.  Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and an Elementary Education certification from Clark University in Massachusetts.  She earned a Special Education certification from Utah State University and a Master’s degree in Social Welfare Administration from the University of California, Berkeley.

caitlin cottonCaitlen Cotten

Caitlin Cotten is a native of Oklahoma, who graduated in Theatre Education from Brigham Young University. She has worked with children of all abilities in the classroom and in theatre workshop situations. She has worked at Clear Horizons Academy for two years and is currently the drama specialist there.


Autism DaddyJannica Dale

Jannica Dale has been the Autism Teacher Leader for Alpine School District since 2012.  She began her special education teaching career in 2001 as a special classroom teacher for kindergarten-aged students with autism.  She has been a mentor and coach in Alpine School District for over 6 years for both general education and special education teachers working with students with autism and other developmental disabilities.   


Sharlene DeanSharlene Dean, APRN

Sherlene Dean graduated from the University of Utah, and is Board Certified in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health.  She has worked in Outpatient Clinics for both IHC and the U of U.  Most recently her work has focused on the Autistic population of all age ranges, working at the University of Utah Neurobehavioral clinic and the HOME program.  She is Adjunct faculty at the College of Nursing, and guest lecturer for the College of Social Work at the University of Utah.  She is also the Co-Founder of Matts Place, a center for the support and treatment of Individuals and families impacted by Autism.

Crystal EmeryCrystal Emery

Crystal is a child development specialist with 18 years of experience in autism.  She is an experienced trainer and parent educator.  She worked in early intervention for 15 years where she gained experience in both behavioral and relationship-based interventions.  She is a Certified PLAY Project Consultant and has been practicing this relationship-based intervention for over 5 years.  She is currently working as the Training and Development Specialist for Easter Seals-Goodwill in Utah.  She is also a transition coordinator and supervisor in the Peer Connections Program for transition-age teens and young adults with High Functioning Autism. 

Nathan JensenNathan Jensen, CHMC

Nathan came to ScenicView Academy after having worked 13 years in residential treatment.  Nathan worked with both and youth and adults during this time period.  He has received specialized training in biofeedback, autism, behavioral modification, governmental services, and MANDT.   Nathan often spends timeresearching additional information or proven therapeutic strategies so that he can better help his clients.  He has a lovely wife and five adorable children, two which have disabilities and this motivates and helps him what he does. 

Ryan KellemsRyan Kellems, PhD

Dr. Kellems earned his Ph.D. in Special Education at the University of Kansas with a major in Special Education and Transition. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Brigham Young University, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in Special Education. Prior to coming to BYU Dr. Kellems was on the faculty at the University of Oregon. His primary research interests are transition, post-school outcomes of students with disabilities, assistive technology, video modeling, and working with young adults with autism in community-based vocational settings. 

Lt. Mark Lowther

Retired Weber County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mark Lowther is currently an instructor of various law enforcement topics including hostage negotiation across the country. He served 20 plus years in law enforcement service for the Weber county community. 

Karen MalmKaren Malm, PhD

Karen W. Malm is a licensed psychologist who is the Executive Director of Summit Community Counseling, a mental health agency with offices in Orem, Taylorsville, Park City and Heber.  She has been working with individuals with Autism since being the recipient of a specialized grant in graduate school to work with individuals with Autism in 1985.  


Ryan Miller, LCSW

Ryan Miller has worked as a psychotherapist at ScenicView Academy for over eight years. He received his bachelors in Psychology and a masters in Social Work from Brigham Young University. He has presented on a local and state level on topics such as: transition planning, tools for working with adults with Autism, changing entrenched behaviors, and sensory processing disorders. He coauthored, along with other ScenicView staff, a quick reference guide for social skills entitled, “Why Is It So Hard To Make Friends?” He enjoys sports, games, recreational activities, and spending time with his family.

Talia Morales

Talia is a Board Certified Music Therapist, Expressive Arts Therapist and supervisor at Coast Music Therapy, a San Diego-based agency assisting learners with special needs. She holds a Master’s degree in Expressive Arts for Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding integrating intermodal art approaches to promote positive social change and community building. Talia is also co-founder of The SongStream Project, a mobile recording project which explores the interwoven path of music and memory by shining a light on the songs behind peoples’ stories and the stories behind their songs. Talia has additional certification in Neurologic Music Therapy through Colorado State University. She also provides family workshops in Spanish.

Andrea Moriarty

Andrea and her husband adopted twins at birth. She shadowed nearly 50 exceptional therapists in a dozen interventions and turned their home into a virtual clinic after their son was diagnosed with autism at age 3. Her blog, AutismUnplugged.com, is written as a mother’s reflective voice in the hullabaloo. She started Banding Together, a music therapy nonprofit, Young Life Capernaum in San Diego, and BEACON, an outreach in China. Andrea is completing a book titled, “The Poppins Revelation,” a story of deliverance told through her son’s obsession with movies. 

Reid Moriarty

Reid brings a contagious sense of joy to every audience. A charismatic performer on keyboard and seasoned vocalist, he has a song in his heart and music on his lips. His podcast “Talk Time with Reid Moriarty” is a series of 5-7 minute interviews with people he finds interesting, and others might too! Reid’s voice breaks through social barriers to inspire.

Michelle Murphy

Michelle Murphey has been a parent consultant from the Utah Parent Center serving families in Granite School District for the last 10 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She is also the mother of two boys ages 14 and 5. She currently has one child and a brother who are on the autism spectrum. It is this personal experience that has motives her to continue with the important work of helping families who like her have children with special needs. 

Kathrine Parnell, LCSW

Kathrine Parnell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Draper, Utah.  With over ten years of therapeutic experience, she offers specialized help for children, adults and families who are faced with challenges related to the autism spectrum. Kathrine has obtained specific professional training in the field of autism as well as personal experience having three children who are on the spectrum. 

Thomas Parry, MEd,BCBA, LBA 

Thomas Parry is a licensed and board certified behavior analyst serving families at Parry Behavioral Consulting, LLC in Kaysville, Utah.  He has worked with individuals with autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, ADHD, TBI, Bipolar, FAS, intellectual disabilities, speech and language disorders, and other behavioral challenges.  He completed his Master’s Degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis at George Mason University.  Thomas is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Old Dominion University.  Thomas conducted social skills groups for children and teens with autism and intellectual disabilities in Falls Church, Virginia, as well as a social skills group for adults with Asperger’s. 

Aaron Ridenour, ACMHC, SSW

Aaron graduated from Brigham Young University in Marriage, Family, and Human Development in 2007 and received a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from University of Phoenix in 2011. His research paper “The Infertility Resilience Model: Assessing Individual, Couple, and External Predictive Factors” was published in Contemporary Family Therapy in 2009. He has worked at ScenicView since 2006 in several capacities, including human service worker, case manager, and psychotherapist. Aaron loves spending time with his family and four children and enjoys working with the students at ScenicView.

Carrie Rogers-Whitehead

Carrie Rogers-Whitehead is a senior librarian for Salt Lake County Library Services. In March 2011 she created the first public library programming in the state of Utah for those with special needs, particularly autism and is currently running library programming for older youth with special needs. She is the 2013 Utah Librarian of the year and a Red Cross “Community Hero” for her work with the special needs population. Carrie has a Masters in Library and Information Science and a Masters in Public Administration. 

Jared Stewart, MEd

Jared Stewart was named the 2011 Educator of the Year by the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC).  He is the Director of Education at Provo’s ScenicView Academy.  After graduating Magna Cum Laude from BYU he has spent the past decade working with adults with autism, and has shared his views on the techniques and mindsets that lead to improved outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum with many local and national audiences.  His passion for the subject arises from personal experience: he has family members on the spectrum and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  

Elein Sutherland, TRS, CTRS

Elein Sutherland came to ScenicView with experience with adults with low-functioning Autism, Down’s Syndrome, and other moderate to severe mental and emotional disabilities. Elein has a passion for recreation therapy and believes in the self-efficacy theory and leisure-ability model. Elein continually seeks to create a safe place for students to explore leisure interests, independence in healthy recreation, practice social skills, and develop healthy relationships. She believes that resiliency and motivation are vital for success and strives to help each student acquire and maintain those qualities. She recently presented at the Utah Recreation Therapy Association Conference and will continue to spread awareness of Autism and recreation therapy through applying to present at other conferences.

Anna VaginAnna Vagin, PhD

Anna Vagin, PhD, a licensed speech/language pathologist in private practice in Marin County, provides individual sessions and social learning groups to families and children 6 months through college age. She is the author of Movie Time Social Learning (2012). Her new book, YouCue Feelings: Video Viewing for Social Learning, will be available January 2015. 


James Vaughan James Vaughan, MBA

James holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and is employed full time with the United States Airforce as a Program Manager. Along with his wife Robyn, he is the co-founder of F.A.A.S.T. (Families of Autism and Asperger’s Standing Together). 



Scott Wood, CHMC

Scott graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.  Scott has worked for ScenicView since it opened, and has enjoyed seeing its growth, and seeing the students benefit from the services provided at ScenicView.  Scott also works with the WHY TRY organization as a National Training Consultant helping youth and others develop the social and emotional skills necessary to reach their goals. He enjoys spending time with his family, being in the outdoors, and participating in sports.



Opening Keynote 

Dr. Peter Gerhardt

Grande Ballroom • 9 – 9:50 am 

Renowned Autism expert, Dr. Peter Gerhardt, is the director of education - upper school, for the McCarton School in New York City. He has over 30 years experience utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis in support of adolescents and adults with ASD in educational, employment, residential and community-based settings.



Amplifying Voices on the Spectrum 

Talia Morales, BCMT; Andrea Moriarty and Reid Moriarty

Ragan Theater • 10-11:50am EXTENDED SESSION (110 minutes) session will end at 11:50am 

Join board certified music therapist Talia Morales as she shares how her work in clinic and school settings developed into the Songstream Project: “Voices of Autism”, an audio documentary exploring the path that music has woven through the lives of four young musicians on the autism spectrum.  Andrea Moriarty will relate her experience as the parent of one of the young musicians featured. She will share various ways music therapy was central to their son’s education over more than a decade, and now in his adult vocational life. She and her husband have leveraged Reid’s special interest in music and performance to motivate him at every stage of life, creating performance opportunities and now his own podcast. Reid will perform his original songs with Talia. The stage is where he is most comfortable, and his songs inspire listeners while illuminating his unique perspective on the world.


Increasing Student Contact with Positive Reinforcement

Jannica Dale  

Centre Stage 10– 11:50 am EXTENDED SESSION (110 minutes) session will end at 11:50am

The majority of educators are striving to do anything necessary to help their students be successful.  Most have also received at least minimal training in classroom management.  Despite best efforts, frustration can easily occur when educators do not feel they have effective tools to positively support their students through class-wide and/or individual behavior management plans.  The bad news is there is no magical one-size-fits-all solution.  The good news is there are a number of simple applications of research-based strategies that can increase student contact with positive reinforcement in both the general education and special education settings.  This presentation will remind us about the difference between rewarding and punishing strategies, consider how we might be implementing punishing strategies or escalating problem behavior without our knowledge, and discuss hands-on classroom examples of simple positive strategies that have shown to make a real difference.  This presentation will be of special interest to educators.


We Have a Diagnosis, Now What? 

Kathrine Parnell, LCSW 

SC 213 A/B 10am – 10:50 am  

Join Kathrine Parnell as she presents a session designed for parents, caregivers and family members of children ages zero to six who are newly diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Many parents struggle in the first few years of diagnosis to find appropriate resources, explain the diagnosis to family and friends and manage their own grief and loss. This 50-minute session will explore various resources which are readily available to assist parents to have positive interactions which promote growth in their children. Additional topics highlighted will be the journey of a parent’s grief and loss which is often minimized, and strategies to provide education and organize support from friends and family. 


New Curriculum Standards and Media Based Social Learning: 

Structured Video Viewing to Build Social Knowledge

Anna Vagin, PhD 

SC 206ABC 10am – 11:50 amEXTENDED SESSION (110 minutes) session will end at 11:50am

New core Curriculum Standards have multiple outcomes that are dependent on social thought. For those supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related disorders, it can be challenging to formulate goals, identify specific areas for therapeutic intervention and support teachers while keeping these standards in mind. A general overview of the Core Curriculum will emphasize social and emotional knowledge, and the impact for students with ASD. After discussing how we as adults can mediate social learning and language most successfully, Dr. Vagin will address a systematic way to deconstruct student IEP goals into underlying social concepts. She will then illustrate how to use highly engaging media to facilitate teaching of the abstract social concepts that are not incorporated into curriculum standards. The remainder of time will be spent exploring specific ways to use structured viewing of pre-selected movie, movie shorts and YouTube videos to build social knowledge. Participants will leave with a list of recommended media choices and accompanying activities they can use immediately. This session will be most enjoyable to those with moderate to advanced understanding of ASD and general educational principles. 

Presentation materials 


Law Enforcement and Autism: A Crucial Conversation

Lt. Mark Lowther and James Vaughan

Library Lakeview Room (4th floor) 10am – 4pm)  

EXTENDED WORKSHOP SESSION (4 hours, with break for lunch and afternoon plenary), this Workshop will end at 4pm.

In conjunction with the 2015 UVU Conference on Autism, we are proud to join with Families of Autism and Asperger’s Standing Together (F.A.A.S.T) to offer a special focus workshop for EMS/First Responders. This workshop is aimed at creating greater awareness of the role Law Enforcement and other First Responders will plan in the growing population of those living on the Autism Spectrum. This two-part program includes ‘Autism 101’, focusing on the basics of the Autism Spectrum and the daily struggles of those facing the disorder. 

Part 2, taught by Lt. Lowther (ret.), focuses on the law enforcement response, challenges to officers and the increased focus that must be shared due to the growing population of those living on the spectrum in our communities today. Each section includes a variety of visual aids and video presentations. The workshop will break at 11:50 to allow participants to join the general conference for luncheon, exhibitor fair and afternoon plenary session. Participants will reconvene at 2pm for the remainder of the day – ending at 4pm. This workshop is particularly designed for EMS/First Responders.


Medications: Autism and Co-Morbid Diagnosis

Sherlene Dean, APRN

SC 213 AB  11am-11:50am

Join Sherlene as she provides an overview of the different classifications of psychiatric medications used for a wide variety of diagnosis, including Autism and the many co-morbid diagnosis such as BiPolar, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, OCD and psychosis. Common side effects and monitoring will be discussed. This presentation is appropriate for all levels of experience, and for professionals and parents alike. 

Presentation materials


LUNCHEON and Exhibit Fair • Grande Ballroom •12 noon – 1pm 

Please join us for a wonderful lunch and the presentation of the annual ARUCC Heroes of Autism award. Also, please visit the Exhibit Fair in the Ballroom Commons area. Area service providers and conference sponsors will provide information on resources available to those on the spectrum. 


Plenary Session :Things No One Ever Tells You After Your Child is Diagnosed with Autism

Autism Daddy

Grande Ballroom  1pm – 1:50 pm

Please join us for this honest and personal message from social media sensation ‘Autism Daddy’. In the 3 years since ‘Autism Daddy’ hit Facebook and began blogging, he has been followed by thousands of people around the world. With over 1000 unique visits per day, ‘Autism Daddy’ posts his personal experiences, joys, hardships, tips and tricks – all with a purpose aimed at educating and supporting autism parents and families. 


Ethical and Legal Issues Across the Spectrum: What’s your Duty?

Karen Malm, PhD

Grande Ballroom 2pm – 2:50 pm

Individuals on the Autism Spectrum provide unique challenges to clinicians when addressing ethical and legal issues of duty to warn, abuse and neglect reporting laws, maintaining confidentiality, and obtaining informed consent. This workshop will bring up the questions to consider about the ethical and legal issues in dealing with the host of challenges that individuals with Autism bring to our practices. Legal concepts around Duty to Warn, Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Laws, Confidentiality and Informed Consent Laws will be addressed. This session will be of particular interest to clinicians and professionals.


Autism and Healthy Sexuality

Jared Stewart, MEd

Ragan Theatre  2pm – 2:50pm

Among all the research and discussion of issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorders, one subject is consistently overlooked: sexuality. And yet, despite the developmental delays associated with ASD, people with autism are still people – with the same hormones, same urges, and same physical development; and who face the same decisions that neurotypicals do. Parents, professionals and caregivers may find it awkward or unpleasant to address sexual issues, but ignoring the subject is neither helpful or possible. In this interactive presentation, participants will learn both the critical importance of sexual education and a host of tips for effective teaching and intervention across the lifespan. This session is designed for those with at least moderate understanding of ASD. 


Creating Engaging, Challenging and Enriching Learning Experiences 

Holli Child and Caitlin Cotten

Centre Stage 2pm-3:50pm WORKSHOP SESSION (110 minutes) workshop will end at 3:50pm

This interactive workshop is meant to target teachers who have students with Autism in their classrooms. It will focus on how to combine arts integrated learning with evidence based best practices to create an engaging, challenging and enriching learning experience for students of differing abilities. Holli and Caitlin will lead participants through hands-on small group experiences, real-time lesson delivery and practice teaching. Packed with opportunities for sharing and interactive learning, this workshop will highlight how teachers can best engage and reach their students in fun and enriching experiences for both teachers and their students. This workshop will be best enjoyed by those with some classroom experience and expertise.  


17 Strategies to Enhance Social Skill Training

Thomas Parry, MEd, BCBA, LBA  

SC 213 A/B – 2pm- 2:50pm

Enhance your child’s social skills using behavioral strategies and evidence-based practices. This session will offer a review of current interventions and strategies used to teach social skills to children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental or learning disabilities. Participants will learn about evidence based practices in teaching social skills such as incidental teaching, behavioral rehearsal and feedback, peer-mediated intervention and social skills groups. Additional strategies to enhance social skill training practices will also be presented. This session is appropriate for educators and parents of all experience levels. 

Presentation materials


From Homework Horror to Homework Happiness

Michelle Murphey

SC 206 ABC •  2pm – 2:50 pm

Join Michelle for this realistic and practical session for parents who would like to take some of the pain out of homework. Learn how technology can help parents to support their children with autism to get organized, study effectively and monitor progress. This session will focus on websites, apps and other simple techniques to bring you and your student from homework horror to homework happiness! Parents and educators will find this session particularly interesting. 


Treatment Options for Anxiety and Depression for Those on the Autism Spectrum

Nathan Jensen, CMHC and Scott Wood, CMHC

Grande Ballroom • 3 pm-3:50 pm

Anxiety and Depression often accompany the diagnosis for those on the Autism Spectrum. In the past, treatment options have often followed a medical model rather than assessing the individual in a holistic manner. During the course of this presentation, Nathan and Scott will share tried and true methods for treating anxiety and depression – but with specific modifications that are effective with those on the Autism Spectrum. This will be a hands-on presentation with materials and activities that can be used with clients or family members. This session will be particularly enjoyed by those with some experience and at least a moderate understanding of autism.


There’s an App for That

Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, MLIS, MPA; Ryan Kellems, PhD; Lisa Cohne, MSWA

Ragan Theatre  3pm-3:50pm 

So, you have a tablet. Now what do you do with it? In this session, participants will learn how to use technology to serve the special needs population. Carrie, a librarian – Lisa, an educator – and Ryan, a professor of special education will share best practices, tips and data from studies and programming. Find out good resources and recommended apps to better education and entertain. Educators with some teaching experience will particularly enjoy this session. 

The Infrastructure of Relationships: Helping Young Adults with Autism Make Sense of the Behind the Scenes of Social Interaction

Ryan Miller, LCSW  and Aaron Ridenour, ACMHC, SSW 

SC 213AB 3pm – 3:50 pm 

In the room you are sitting in, there are things you can see (paint, carpet, ceiling tiles, etc.) and things you can’t (pipes, wiring, concrete, etc.). The same is true of relationships. There are things you can see (eye contact, facial expressions, general personal appearance, etc.) and things you can’t (thoughts and feelings). In this presentation, presenters will focus on strategies and skills to help young adults with autism better understand how to recognize and respond to the ‘behind the scenes’ aspect of relationships. This session is designed for those with moderate to advanced understanding and experience with autism.


Fostering Independence in Adolescents with High Functioning Autism 

Crystal Emery

SC 206 AB/C  • 3 pm-3:50 pm

This session will address the tasks of social/emotional development in adolescence and how those tasks need to be adapted for individuals with autism. Participants will discuss how to support the social/emotional growth of adolescents as they move toward independence. It will also discuss discipline, and how it changes in adolescence to meet the changing needs of the child. A brief description of the Peer Connections program and how its principles support the changing needs of adolescents will be included. Participants will practice interpreting common communicative message of adolescents in order to recognize how best to sensitively respond and support them. There will be ample time for group discussion as participants explore this difficult arena together. This session is appropriate for all experience levels.


If you would like to have a space in our Addiction Conference Exhibitor hall and you are an event sponsor you can download the application here.

If you would like to have a space in our Addiction Conference Exhibitor hall and you are not an event sponsor you can download the application here.

If you have any questions about exhibit space or becoming an event sponsor please contact Toni Harris at 801-863-6816 or harristo@uvu.edu.

Conference History



 Passages logo


Here at Passages, we believe that any student who truly wants to go to college needs to be encouraged and supported in their decision. Our mission focuses on supporting those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to more fully realize their potential and utilize their strengths for enriched lives-- through higher education, social experiences, independent living, and career guidance.


Our Vision:

Led by enthusiastic, expert teachers and peer-mentors utilizing current best-practices, the UVU Passages program empowers current and prospective students with autism- spectrum conditions to develop the awareness, skills, and supports they will need to succeed in all aspects of university life: personal, academic, and social.

We Value:

  • Each individual with autism, and their potential to become independent, contributing members of society
  • Each individual's need to develop social relationships and recreational/leisure outlets
  • Each family's desire for their child with autism to have the supports and services they need to succeed
  • Each individual's rights to equal access under the law (ADA)
  • Each individual's right to be treated with respect; regardless of disability, race, creed, or ethnicity



Our classes will be held each week on Mondays and Wednesdays, with each class focusing on the skills needed to succeed in college as well as in everyday life. These classes strive to guide students in a way that encourages self-advocacy, proactivity, and aims to help them be more aware of their surroundings, themselves, and others. They focus on social opportunities, professional placement, higher education, independent living, Tuesday's activities and coursework are specifically aimed at helping students improve their social skills. Classes will improve student's social effectiveness, increase motivation to use these skill in the future, and help students make social interaction a more manageable and pleasant experience.

Monday Night Curriculum

9/8 –Get to Know You: Intro Activities, “What is Autism” (DSM V symptomatology in adulthood)

9/15 – ASD Symptoms and College: Academic Survival Tips

9/22 – ASD Symptoms and College: Academic Survival Tips

9/29 – ASD Symptoms and College: Wrap-up and Intro to Systems

 10/6 – ASD Success Systems

10/13 – ASD Success Systems, Continued

10/20 – Independent Living: Personal Safety Tips

10/27 – Independent Living: Relationship Safety Tips and Intro to Sexuality

11/3 – ASD and Sexuality

11/10 – ASD Dating and Relationship Tips

11/17 – Disclosure and Self Advocacy


12/8 Final Autism Class: Wrap-up, Guess-the-Success Game, and Celebration!

Wednesday Night Curriculum

9/10 – R.E.A.C.H Assessment, Overview of Social Skills Class, Why Cross the Social Divide? - Students are introduced to overcoming their "social divides" by becoming aware of:

- Things that cause such divides

- Negative thoughts about social interactions

- Finding reasons to interact

- Taking opportunities to interact

- Seeing the need for skills that are vital to social success


9/17 – Bridges We Call Relationships - Here we focus on defining what a relationship is and how they are built, strengthened, and maintained. We will begin to explore how their own needs, wants, challenges, and experiences impact relationships. Students will also consider various types of relationships and differentiate the expectations, time, work, trust, and emotional connection needed for each.


9/24 – Constructing What We Feel, Say, and Do - Here we look closely at how feelings, communication, and behavior impact our relationships. Important concepts such as non-verbal communication, listening, empathy, and problem solving are introduced.


10/1 – Constructing What We Feel, Say, and Do – Constructing What We Feel, Say, and Do continued. (See above.)


10/8 – Non-Verbals - Non-verbals are emphasized as a critical part of communication and as a key part of relationships. We heavily focus on the importance of appropriate personal appearance as well as utilizing and understanding body language. We will also cover how to maintain proper appearance and hygiene, facial expressions, eye contact, touch, gestures, and proxemics.


10/22 – Non-Verbals – Non-verbals continued. (See above)


10/29 – Conversations - Students will learn how to initiate and carry on two way conversations, including how to change topics, listen actively, and take turns talking. Additionally, they will learn how to enter other's conversations, how to fix conversations when there has been a misunderstanding, and how to navigate sensitive subjects


11/5 – Conversations – Conversations continued. (See above.)


11/12 – Conversations – Conversations continued. (See above.)


11/19 – Maintaining and Strengthening Relationships - Students will learn the importance and key skills necessary to maintain and strengthen relationships. We will emphasize skills regarding conflict resolution, giving compliments, expressing gratitude, respecting others points of view, giving and receiving feedback, and progressing relationship. Guidance regarding the use of technology in relationships is also given.


12/3 – Maintaining and Strengthening Relationships – Maintaining and Strengthening Relationships continued. (See above.)


12/10 – Final Social Skills Class/Party, Peer Pressure, Evaluations, Review



Toni harris

Toni Harris, MBA • Assistant Dean, College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Toni comes out of a solid business and testing/assessment background. She earned an MBA and spent eight years working as a Certification Program Manager and Test/Certification Executive Director for Thomson Prometric and Development Services Inc. This experience offered her the opportunity to develop a broad experience base in the tools and processes necessary to build, track and enhance varied cross-audience certification and training programs for companies such as HP, Adobe, Microsoft, Brocade, Google, and Citrix. Prior to working in certification, Toni spent 13 years with Covey Leadership Center working as a project manager on new books and publications. She has been at UVU since 2008 and serves as the Assistant Dean for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.




Laurie Bowen

Laurie Bowen • Coordinator

Laurie completed her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction for Autism, with an emphasis in Board Certified Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University, and will be receiving her BCBA in August. She has two Bachelor of Science Degrees: one in Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Psychology from Utah Valley University, and a second in Communication Disorders from Utah State University. She also has Autism Specialized Studies Certificate through the University of California-Davis, and has been trained in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Floortime (DIR), Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), and Best Practices Interventions with Autism. Laurie began working with children with Autism in 2000, and is currently co-chair of the Autism Resources of Utah County Council, coordinator with the Passages program, and teaches Introduction to Autism at UVU as adjunct faculty.



Teresea Cardon

Teresa A. Cardon, PhD., CCC-SLP • Autism Consultant

Teresa has worked with individuals on the autism spectrum for over 20 years. Dr. Cardon completed her doctoral training in Speech & Hearing Science with an autism emphasis and is currently the Director of Autism Studies at Utah Valley University. Dr. Cardon has published her research on autism in peer-reviewed journals and presents at conferences both nationally and internationally.




Tracy Golden

Tracy Golden, PhD. • Primary Faculty Member

Tracy received her PhD and MSW from the University of Utah. She is a licensed, clinical mental health counselor, with expertise in adults with autism spectrum disorders as well as a general practice in other mental health issues including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Tracy is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Utah Valley University. Her research interests are around the unique patterns of relating that parents develop with their children with autism. Dr. Golden has been involved in the disability field since 2004. She helped co-found Utah Families for Effective Autism Treatment and served as vice president. She is also a collaborating member of the Utah Autism Council, the State of Utah "Learn the Signs. Act Early" Team, the Maturation Work Group for Children with Developmental Disabilities, and the Utah Autism Project (a volunteer organization serving Latino families). Her interest in the Utah Act Early Program arose from her belief that parents should have opportunities for early detection in order to access early intervention. She is particularly interested in increasing identification of developmental disabilities in underserved populations.


Jared Stewart

Jared Stewart, M.Ed. • Primary Faculty Member

Jared was named the 2011 Educator of the Year by the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC). He is the director of education at Provo's ScenicView Academy, and an adjunct professor at UVU. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from BYU, he has spent the past decade working with adolescents and adults with autism, and has shared his views on the techniques and mindsets that lead to improved outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum with many local and national audiences. His passion for the subject arises from personal experience: he has family members on the spectrum and has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.



Meera Andersen

Meera Andersen • Student Assistant

Meera Andersen is currently a student at UVU and is working toward becoming an Occupational Therapist. She loves helping people in anyway she can, and strives to make the lives of those around her better. Meera has a strong love for the outdoors, and enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and being with friends and family.





Kari Bushman

Kari Bushman • Passages Ally

Kari Bushman is a non-traditional UVU student majoring in Speech Communication with a minor in Autism Studies. Kari has worked for almost 20 years as a Radio and event DJ and loves social media, music, singing, people and parties! She has a passion for working with teenagers and adults on the Autism Spectrum. She has also worked as a Life Skills aide at the Junior High level for 5 years, and has served as a volunteer for both the Alpine School District and Scenic View Academy working with ASD students. As a Senior at UVU, Kari looks forward to graduation (next spring) and to working as an advocate and mentor for teenagers and adults with Autism.









Toni Harris • Assistant Dean, UVU College of Humanities & Social Sciences

harristo@uvu.edu Phone: 801-863-6816

Laurie Bowen • Coordinator

laurie.bowen@uvu.edu Phone: 801-885-8265

Tracy Golden • Primary Faculty Member

tracy.golden@uvu.edu Phone: 801-863-7535

Jared Steward • Primary Faculty Member

jareds@svacadamy.org Phone: 801-342-3436

Teresa Cardon • Autism Consultant

teresa.cardon@uvu.edu Phone: 801-863-5517

Meera Andersen • Student Assistant