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Registration is open!

Our Early Registration period is being extended for a short period of time. Take advantage of the discount now!

Date: Sunday, October 29, 2017
Time: 8:00 AM – 4:45 PM

Location: APA Hotel Woodbridge
120 Wood Ave. South, Iselin, NJ 08830

NJDOE Professional Development Provider #1619

CLICK HERE to register online now.
CLICK HERE to download the conference brochure with registration form.
CLICK HERE to download the conference registration form only.
CLICK HERE to download the conference exhibitor contract.

CLICK HERE to download the sponsorship/ad journal form.

Our Ad Journal information will be available soon.


Michelle Garcia Winner - Keynote SpeakerMichelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC

Executive Function for Organization in Tweens, Teens and Adults

Adults on the Higher End of the Spectrum: How Can We Help?


Christine FerraroChristine FerraroSesame Street's new character, Julia

Sesame Street’s Autism Initiative: See Amazing in All Children



Bullying in the Schools: Diagnostic & Treatment Perspectives in the Legal Context

Lenore Boyarin, Esq. and Erik Dranoff, Ph.D.

Transition to Adulthood

Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC

Decluttering Your Life: A Blueprint for Tackling Clutter and Enjoying a Less Stressful Life

Andrea Walker, CPO

College Success for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Elizabeth Williams, MA and Jennifer Cleveland, Ph.D.

Special Needs Trusts: Who Needs Them and Why

Mary Browning, Esq.


Finding Meaningful Employment

Marcia Scheiner, MBA

Promoting Self-Esteem in Children and Adults with ASD

Thomas Boyle, Ph.D.

On the Wrong Side of the Law: When Individuals with ASD Misuse the Internet and Electronic Media

David Holmes, Ph.D.

The Role of Assistive Technology for Students with ASD and Challenges in Executive Function

Vincent Varrassi, MA, LDT-C

The Journey to Community Housing with Supports

Deborah Wehrlen, MA


Keynote Presentations Become an Exhibitor/Sponsor
Afternoon Workshops Directions to the APA Hotel Woodbridge
About Our Presenters Hotel Accommodations
Who Should Attend? General Questions
Conference Schedule Registration Fees




Executive Function for Organization in Tweens, Teens and Adults

We will explore how tweens, teens and adults can learn strategies to address organized thinking and related skills. This talk will focus on practical application of the research on executive functioning through a range of examples from clinical experience.We will address specific ideas on how to teach what a strategy actually is, ways to encourage motivation, dealing with roadblocks, emotions and distractions, all while moving towards a specific goal!

Adults on the Higher End of the Spectrum: How Can We Help?

Mature adults on the higher end of the autism spectrum bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and anxieties into their vocational, educational, home and/or community life. In this session, we will celebrate their accomplishments and avoid assumptions about their social learning and social communication skills. We will explore ideas for helping them manage their anxieties while building social competencies.



Sesame Street’s Autism Initiative: See Amazing in All Children

Christine Ferraro, long-time writer and creator for Sesame Street, will share an insider’s view of working on the iconic show’s Autism Initiative and the development of Sesame Street’s new Muppet character with autism, Julia.


Conference attendees will choose two workshops, one for each of the following two afternoon breakout sessions.


A) Bullying in the Schools: Diagnostic & Treatment Perspectives in the Legal Context

presented by Lenore Boyarin, Esq. and Erik Dranoff, Ph.D.

The issue of bullying in the schools will be discussed as it relates to children and adolescents with ASD and their parents who have been helping them navigate their experience. An overview of the various characteristics seen in ASD and how these differences make children on the autism spectrum more vulnerable to bullying and other forms of victimization will be presented. Psychosocial treatments such as school-based counseling, individual and group cognitive behavioral therapy, and family therapy necessary to combat bullying will be covered. The current laws regarding bullying in the schools will be addressed, including how special education attorneys advocate for their clients and how they select experts in order to develop a theory of the case and proceed with appropriate recommendations for the school district.

B) Transition to Adulthood

presented by Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC

Transition to adulthood is a complicated time in anyone’s life, but is often filled with added complexities for those who function on the higher end of the autism spectrum. This session will define areas of abstraction such as “conformity,” what we mean by “independence” and the 10 levels involved in achieving it, how the public education and disability laws change with age, and how to encourage our students to become directors of their own treatment team.

C) Decluttering Your Life: A Blueprint for Tackling Clutter and Enjoying a Less Stressful Life

presented by Andrea Walker, CPO

Clutter can be both a symptom and a cause of stress. It can affect every aspect of your life: your home, your family and your work. Your stuff can distract you, weigh you down, and add chaos to your life. Tackling the clutter can seem like an insurmountable task if you don’t know where or how to start. By dedicating a little of your time to getting rid of the clutter and taking steps to maintain a clutter-free lifestyle, you’ll reap the rewards of reduced stress, improved productivity, more inviting living spaces, and a generally more pleasant existence. This session will provide a blueprint of how to start tackling that clutter and enjoying a less stressful life.

D) College Success for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

presented by Elizabeth Williams, MA and Jennifer Cleveland, Ph.D.

Despite the academic and social challenges associated with an ASD diagnosis, many facets of autism align with college success. This presentation will discuss the manifestation of ASD symptomology in college functioning, recommended college support services and accommodations, as well as important legal implications associated with changes in educational laws upon entering college, specifically the switch from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The presenters will also provide recommendations for utilizing the junior and senior years of high school to prepare for a smooth college transition. Emphasis will be placed on the development of self-advocacy and help-seeking skills.

E) Special Needs Trusts: Who Needs Them and Why

presented by Mary Browning, Esq.

The presenter will discuss the use and importance of the special needs trust to preserve eligibility for government benefits, including the selection of trustees and the funding of a special needs trust. She will also discuss the process and possible need for guardianship once a child turns age 18.


F) Finding Meaningful Employment

presented by Marcia Scheiner, MBA

Today more than 35% of individuals with an ASD diagnosis go to college, however 75-85% are unemployed or underemployed after graduation. This session will provide parents and professionals with insight into how to maximize their young adult’s success in conducting a job search. Topics include: Building and Leveraging Your Network; Creating a Project Plan; The Dos and Don’ts of the Job Search; Disclosure; and Support for the Jobseeker.

G) Promoting Self-Esteem in Children and Adults with ASD

presented by Thomas Boyle, Ph.D.

This presentation will focus on how to promote positive self-esteem in children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (focusing largely on those formerly diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome). Obstacles to the development of self-esteem will be discussed, as well as strategies that parents, educators, and other family members can employ to help foster positive self-esteem in individuals with ASD.

H) On the Wrong Side of the Law: When Individuals with ASD Misuse the Internet and Electronic Media

presented by David Holmes, Ph.D.

Research supports the notion that the majority of youth with ASD/Asperger’s engage in “non-social media” and “social media” activities during their leisure time. Often times, the viewing is repetitive and redundant, creating “scripts” for those on the spectrum, not unlike learning the lines from a theatrical production. These scripts then become the new norm for them and can lead to unsavory behaviors and illegal acts. This presentation will review the current status of the research, laws that are being generated to ensure that treatment is secured, and positive uses of social media to avert scripting of anti-social behaviors in individuals on the autism spectrum. Attendees will discuss the pros and cons of social and non-social media when addressing the educational, social and leisure engagements of individuals with ASD.

I) The Role of Assistive Technology for Students with ASD and Challenges in Executive Function

presented by Vincent Varrassi, MA, LDT-C

IDEA 2004 requires IEP teams to consider the assistive technology needs of all children with disabilities (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(3)(B)(v)). Because of the “there’s an app for that” thinking, individuals are losing sight of the fact that Assistive Technology is more than just buying apps and devices. It includes analyzing the needs of an individual with learning, executive function and attention difficulties. It involves the careful selection of items that can assist that individual to access his/her education in a way he/she could not without them. This session will discuss categories of apps, software and web-based technologies for use in the learning process for students on the higher end of the autism spectrum.

J) The Journey to Community Housing with Supports

presented by Deborah Wehrlen, MA

The presenter will provide an instructional overview of the NJ Guide to Housing: The Journey to Community Housing with Supports – A Roadmap for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families. Topics will include a review of innovative housing models, current funding options and regulations governing these supports. Actual case studies exemplifying persons who have designed self-directed supports will illustrate the use of this guide as a resource for planning. Participants will receive a copy of the housing guide and learn how to use the information to live more independently.


Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC, founder of Social Thinking®, is a speech language pathologist who specializes in the treatment of individuals with social cognitive challenges, including Autism Spectrum Disorder/Asperger Syndrome, ADHD/ADD, Twice Exceptional and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder. She has a private practice in San Jose, California where she works with clients and consults with families, schools and state policy makers. She helps develop programs for schools and classrooms, and travels internationally to train psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors. Michelle specializes in working with older students and adults. She has written or co-authored numerous books, was featured in the 2016 Sundance Premiere Documentary Life, Animated and was honored with a “Congressional Special Recognition Award” in 2008.

Christine Ferraro is a long-time writer for the critically acclaimed television show, “Sesame Street.” She is also one of the key creative people behind the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” initiative and the creation of Julia, Sesame Street’s new Muppet character with autism. Christine has earned 13 Emmy Awards and 3 Writers Guild of America Awards for her writing on Sesame Street. Beyond the series, her extensive work on the Sesame brand extends to award-winning specials, digital media, live stage shows, DVDs, songs, books, games, PSAs, commercials, live appearances, community outreach and social impact initiatives.

Lenore Boyarin, Esq. is a lawyer and former certified speech pathologist. Her background makes her uniquely qualified to advocate on behalf of her clients in forums ranging from the Office of Administrative Law to the federal courts.

Erik Dranoff, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist with specialized training in the area of forensic mental health assessment. His private practice is focused on conducting clinical, neuropsychological and forensic evaluations for children, adolescents, adults and families.

Andrea Walker, a Certified Professional Organizer®, is owner and founder of Smartly Organized, LLC, a professional organizing firm headquartered in New Jersey. She has been quoted in numerous publications, has appeared on the TV show, “Hoarders: Buried Alive,” and was interviewed on NBC’s home improvement show, “HouseSmarts TV” where her work was featured in a segment.

Elizabeth Williams, MA is a school psychology doctoral candidate at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is one of the coordinators for the university’s transition program for students with ASD. She has worked in a variety of school settings, including public and private schools and residential treatment centers. Elizabeth also teaches undergraduate courses at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Jennifer Cleveland, Ph.D. is a full-time faculty member at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and serves as the Associate Director of the COMPASS program for students with ASD. A licensed psychologist for 17 years, she has special expertise and interest in the areas of Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Learning Disabilities and parenting issues. She maintains a part-time private practice where she specializes in neuropsychological assessment.

Mary Browning, Esq. is a partner in the Tax, Trusts and Estates Department at the law firm Cole Schotz P.C. She focuses her practice on sophisticated estate and special needs planning, elder law planning, estate administration, and business and tax planning. She has lectured in the areas of trusts and estates, special needs planning, elder law planning, multistate tax issues and charitable gifting.

Marcia Scheiner, MBA is founder and president of Integrate Autism Employment Advisors. Prior to founding Integrate in 2010, she spent 25 years in the financial services industry. In her role as president of Integrate, she has spoken at numerous conferences about neurodiversity in the workplace. A graduate of Wellesley College with an MBA from Columbia University, she is also the parent of a young adult son with Asperger Syndrome. Integrate is a non-profit agency whose mission is to help companies identify, recruit and retain professionals on the autism spectrum. Integrate’s goal is to increase inclusive competitive employment for college graduates with autism.

Thomas D. Boyle, Ph.D., BCBA-D is a clinical psychologist and board certified behavior analyst with over 35 years experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum. He specializes in assessment and behavioral treatment of individuals with ASD. Dr. Boyle has a private practice where he works with families and individuals on a private basis, as well as consulting regularly to schools and agencies.

David L. Holmes, Ph.D. is Board Certified in Forensic Science, Behavioral Science and Psychology. He is founder and immediate past president of The Eden Family of Services and the longest standing Chairman of the Panel of Professional Advisors of the Autism Society of America. He has served on the faculties of numerous universities and most recently [28 years] on the psychology faculty at Princeton University. A featured guest on many TV and radio shows, he is also the host of the National/International radio show, “Adults with Autism TODAY!” He is a national award-winning author of numerous books, book chapters and articles, most notably Autism through the Lifespan – The Eden Model. He is currently Chairman and CEO of Lifespan Services, LLC, a full service consulting company established to help families and individuals with autism and related disabilities access what they need and are entitled to have.

Vincent Varrassi, MA, LDT-C is the author of Transition to College and Career: Experienced-Based Strategies to Improve Readiness of Students with Disabilities. He is the former Director of the Regional Center for College Students with Learning Disabilities at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Prior to that, his career in Public Education spanned 27 years, during which time he was a general education teacher, special education teacher, Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant and the Supervisor of Special Education for a NJ high school district. He presents at the state and national level to parents, students and professionals on the topics of Learning Disabilities, Asperger Syndrome, Transition to Post-Secondary Options, Executive Function, UDL and Assistive Technology.

Deborah Wehrlen, MA has over 40 years experience establishing innovative residential supports and developing affordable housing in New Jersey. Prior to establishing her consulting business in 2002, she was Director of New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). In this policy making position, she advanced efforts to develop in-home supports, fund deinstitutionalization and downsize the state operated developmental centers. While employed as Residential Director and then Executive Director of The Arc of Monmouth, she established housing for more than 85 people. As a consultant in DTW Consulting Group, she works with organizations to obtain funding, implement supported housing and provide residential supports for persons with disabilities needing permanent supported housing. She is the primary author of the housing resource guide The Journey to Community Housing with Supports, A Road Map for Individuals and Their Families in New Jersey.


Parents, grandparents, other family members and caregivers; individuals (age 14 and older) with Autism Spectrum Disorder; educational professionals; medical and health professionals; legal professionals.

Educators attending this full-day conference will earn 6 Professional Development Hours.


Conference exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities are available on a first come-first served basis. Please download the documents below. All Exhibitor/Sponsor reservations and payments are by US Mail and payable by check.

  • Our Ad Journal Form will be available soon.

For more information, please contact our office at (732) 321-0880 or aspenorg@aol.com.


9:00 AM MICHELLE GARCIA WINNER — Morning Keynote Presentation – Executive Function for Organization in Tweens, Teens and Adults
10:30 AM MICHELLE GARCIA WINNER — Adults on the Higher End of the Spectrum: How Can We Help?
1:00 PM CHRISTINE FERRARO — Afternoon Keynote PresentationSesame Street’s Autism Initiative
Conference concludes 4:45 PM.


Directions are available at the APA Hotel Woodbridge website.


For special ASPEN Conference hotel room rates at the APA Hotel Woodbridge, call 1-732-494-6200 as soon as possible.


Please contact us at (732) 321-0880 or aspenorg@aol.com if you have any questions.

  • All registration fees are per person. Cash, check, money order, purchase order or online via Paypal.
  • Mail-in registrations must be postmarked by 10/20/17. Early registration is suggested due to seating limitations. Early Registration Discount Pricing has been extended for a short period. Take advantage of Early Registration Discounts now!
  • Additional copies of the conference/registration brochure may be downloaded here.
  • If the number of registrants reaches capacity, registration will close earlier than the deadline.
  • Confirmations are sent ONLY to those who include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • Cancellations and Changes – No refunds for cancellations received after 9/29/17. Sorry, no exceptions. Kindly notify us in advance if substituting for original registrant.
  • If, due to unforeseen circumstances, it becomes necessary to substitute speakers without advance notice, fees are non-refundable.




Early-Bird Discount Pricing is in effect through 10/13/17!

$115.00, $145.00 (after 10/13/17)
$185.00, $215.00 (after 10/13/17)
$80.00, $100.00 (after 10/13/17)
$150.00, $180.00 (after 10/13/17)
$225.00, $255.00 (after 10/13/17)
$120.00, $135.00 (after 10/13/17)

CLICK HERE to register online now.
CLICK HERE to download the conference brochure with registration form.
CLICK HERE to download the conference registration form only.
CLICK HERE to download the Conference Exhibitor contract.

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