This conference is named in honor of  Dr. Daniel Rosenn -- a dedicated professional and founding AANE board member.

AANE’s annual fall conference presents cutting-edge information of interest to the entire Asperger/autism community: individuals with Asperger/autism profiles, family, friends, and professionals. This two-day virtual conference event will include keynote presentations from Morénike Giwa Onaiwu and Kyle Hill, nine breakout session options, and a variety of topic-based virtual discussion groups. Read all the presenter bios here.  This renowned conference provides an opportunity for the entire autism community to work together, learn, and connect.

DATES: Friday, October 22 & Saturday, October 23, 2021 - Livestream only

TIME: 10:00 AM - 3:30 PM ET (Please note all times are in Eastern Time)

COST: $40 for AANE Members, $50 for non-AANE Members, $75 for Professional Ticket*

* Professional attendee ticket is for physicians/medical professionals seeking CME credits, as well as Massachusetts-based social workers, psychologists, and LMHC’s seeking continuing education credits. All professional attendees will be required to complete an evaluation and post-test following participation to be eligible for CEUs. Learn more information about professionals seeking CE/CEU/CME’s.

Contact to learn more about membership. AANE provides discounted and free admission upon request. Contact to inquire further.

REGISTRATION: Registration is required. After you have registered, you will receive an email confirming your registration which will include the instructions on how to access the conference. Registrants who do not receive the confirmation email should check their email spam folder. Registration will be closed on Thursday, October 21 at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. 


ASL Interpreter Services: Please specify on your registration if you would like to request ASL interpreter services. Please request ASL accommodations by October 1, 2021.

Refund Policy: Refunds, minus a $10 processing fee per registration, are available until the end of our business day on October 8, 2021. No refunds/credits after October 8, 2021, including no-shows.

Thank You to Our Conference Sponsors!

Logo for PLAN of MA and RI                


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Janet Barbieri, MSW, LICSW, Director of Training & Education, Asperger/Autism Network (AANE)

Forged by Fire: The Intersection of Race, Disability, and Gender, Morénike Giwa Onaiwu    (1 CE)

Existing at the intersection of multiple marginalizations dramatically shapes the way an individual perceives the world and is perceived by the world. Utilizing facts as well as personal experience, this presentation will highlight some of the unique ways that gender and race impact individuals with disabilities (including neurodevelopmental disabilities i.e. autism).

Check out our Virtual Sponsor Booths!

WORKSHOP A: Effective Therapy for Clients on the Spectrum: The Role of Mindfulness in Managing Anxiety, Dr. Janet Price    (1 CE)

Anxiety plays a role in each of our lives. This can be especially true for people on the Autism Spectrum. This workshop will explore opportunities in the outpatient therapeutic environment to help clients on the spectrum recognize the experience of anxiety, understand triggers to their anxiety, and incorporate mindfulness strategies to manage and minimize anxiety.

WORKSHOP B: Understanding the Intersection of Autism and Gender Diversity, Kendrick Cronin & Dr. Meredith Maroney    (1 CE)

Emerging research has highlighted the co-occurrence of autism and transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse (TNGD) identities. This workshop will provide an introduction to understanding the intersection of autism and gender diversity along with implications for supporting autistic-TNGD individuals. We will begin with an overview of key terms and concepts. Using both recently published and emerging research, we will provide an overview of gender-affirming care; implications for family members, autistic self-advocates, and providers; and best practices on responding to autistic folks who may be exploring their gender identity. This workshop will be presented from the lenses of a psychologist with expertise in autism and gender diversity and lived experience from a trans autistic adult who works in mental healthcare.

Check out our Virtual Sponsor Booths!

WORKSHOP C: Autism & Co-Occurring OCD: Treatment Considerations, Dr. Rebecca Sachs    (1 CE)

Autistic individuals are at an increased risk of developing co-occurring psychiatric conditions such as anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at various points across the lifespan. However, these individuals are often unable to access Cognitive Behavior Treatment (CBT) for Anxiety/OCD. Many therapists want to use CBT tools to address Anxiety/OCD in autistic patients, but may erroneously believe that ASD is intrinsically different and that they cannot effectively use CBT to treat this population. This talk is designed to bridge the knowledge and confidence gap and help attendees understand what treatment looks like when working with clients with ASD who present with co-occurring OCD.

WORKSHOP D: Understanding Sensory Needs, Anxiety, and Behavior, Amanda Bailey    (1 CE)

Children and teens with Asperger/autism profiles often have unique sensory needs and frequently deal with co-occurring anxiety as a result. These issues sometimes lead to behavior that stymies parents and family members. This workshop will untangle common causes underlying behavior and offer concrete strategies to help caregivers support their children in and out of school.

Check out our Virtual Sponsor Booths!

WORKSHOP E: The Dignity of Risk: Social and Economic Inclusion, De-Stigmatization, and the Successes of Neurodiversity, Dr. Roy Richard Grinker    (1 CE)

This lecture describes the cultural and historical threads that have brought us to the present, a time when societies throughout the world are challenging the stigma that has, for centuries, shadowed disabilities. We are acknowledging that developmental disabilities and mental illnesses are more common than we used to think and that they affect us all – either individually or because of our relationships with others. The de-stigmatization of autism epitomizes what Anthony Giddens calls the “third way” between socialism and capitalism. If capitalism created new kinds of people to be excluded, like “the disabled” and “mentally ill,” under new historical conditions capitalism can also facilitate inclusion. The growth in autism hiring programs suggests that inclusion and de-stigmatization of autism derive both from changing moral values but also the embrace of the capitalist ideal of individual autonomy and the dignity of individual risk-taking in a competitive marketplace.

*The program schedule is subject to change. 


Janet Barbieri, MSW, LICSW, Director of Training & Education, Asperger/Autism Network (AANE)

Autism is My Superpower, Kyle Hill    (1 CE)

Award-winning science educator and entertainer Kyle Hill tells his story about discovering and embracing his autism spectrum diagnosis. It wasn’t until 2016 that Kyle realized his “quirks” were so much more than that, and this is his first full talk on the subject since partnering with AANE. Kyle explains what he’s learned about efficiently living and working in a neurotypical world, examines how learning more about his brain has influenced and aided his science communication work, and takes questions from the audience.

Check out our Virtual Sponsor Booths!

WORKSHOP F: Adolescent Issues for Teenagers on the Spectrum, Dr. Tony Attwood    (not approved for CEs)

The presentation focuses on issues faced by teenagers on the autism spectrum, which range from the physical aspects of puberty to changes in friendship, the development of sexuality, the change in academic expectations, emotion management, issues regarding self-esteem, and preparation for college and employment. Please note that due to time zone differences, this presentation will have been previously recorded, and played at the event.

WORKSHOP G: The Journey Towards Self-Understanding and Authentic Living, Sue Ann Pien and Elise Wulff    (1 CE)

Learning about ourselves - our interests, hopes, talents, and needs - is an individualized journey of discovery and exploration. Understanding who we are provides us with a framework for building an authentic life. Unfortunately, disempowering messages and experiences can impact self-discovery and authentic living. Join this workshop to hear about the process of self-discovery, the path towards authentic living, and the importance of self-compassion as a guiding principle.

Check out our Virtual Sponsor Booths!

WORKSHOP H: Building Connections in Intimate Relationships, Karen Lean & Ilia Walsh    (1 CE)

Navigating intimate relationships comes with its joys and its challenges. In this workshop we will explore the many dimensions of building deeper connections in intimate and/or romantic relationships. Join us for a discussion about how creating a safe space, explorations, open communication, and self-understanding can support meaningful connection.

WORKSHOP I: Myths and Truths: Deconstructing Autism and Women, Dena Gassner    (1 CE)

Research continues to portray autism in women as some odd, unique expression of the condition. However, in this presentation, the speaker will deconstruct those myths, explain the possible harm in them, and address proactive solutions that people who identify as female and their families can use to reframe their advocacy and efforts toward support. The presentation will begin with diagnostic and accessibility challenges, how to prepare for an evaluation or to advocate for support, masking myths and ideas for deconstructing challenges for personal success.

Check out our Virtual Sponsor Booths!

AANE will be hosting the following virtual discussion groups (optional):

  • Alternatives to College
  • Autism & Educational Advocacy
  • Building Meaningful Connections
  • Coping with Anxiety
  • Dating and Relationships
  • Disclosure
  • Employment
  • Gender Diversity and Autism
  • Life Coaching Strategies for Professionals
  • Navigating a New Diagnosis
  • Neurodiverse Relationships
  • Non-Conformity and Self-Acceptance
  • Parenting without Power
  • Parenting Teen Girls on the Spectrum
  • Self-Compassion
  • Self-Advocacy
  • The Power of Sport and Fitness
  • Transition to College
  • Turning Your Passion into a Career
  • What's Your Superpower?

All groups will be facilitated by an AANE conference staff. Facilitators will lead a guided discussion in each group. These groups will afford participants an opportunity to connect with other attendees and will not include a lecture or presentation.

*There is limited space in each of these discussion and networking groups. Please be sure to register for the conference as early as possible to ensure your spot!**

*The program schedule is subject to change. 

Learn More About Our Speakers!

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu is a highly sought after public speaker, trainer, and consultant who has presented at the White House, the United Nations, and numerous peer-reviewed international conferences. Morénike works collaboratively with various entities, including The Color of Autism, the Institute for Exceptional Care, Autism in Black, Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health, the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities, the National Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Center, the Cambridge University Autism Centre for Excellence, and the Stanford University Neurodiversity Project to address the needs of underrepresented and marginalized individuals and groups. A contributing author/editor of several publications, Morénike has written for and/or been featured in the NY Times, Psychology Today, the Atlantic, the Today Show, NPR, BBC, Salon, HuffPo, Spectrum, POZ, and Autism in Adulthood, etc. Books include Sincerely, Your Autistic Child: What People on the Autism Spectrum Wish Their Parents Knew About Growing Up, Acceptance, and Identity from Beacon Press, All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, and the forthcoming Neurodiversity en Noir: A Collection of Black Neurodiverse Voices from Jessica Kingsley Publishing (2022).

Kyle Hill is a science educator and entertainer based in Los Angeles, California. He received his bachelor of science in civil and environmental engineering from Marquette University in 2011, and his master of arts in science communication from the same university in 2013. His work has been published in WIRED, Popular Science, Slate, and The Boston Globe, he has appeared as an expert on Fox News, Al Jazeera America, BBC World Service, and Huffington Post Live, held writing positions at Scientific American and Discover Magazine, and has worked as a TV host/expert for Science Channel (MythBusters: The Search, How to Build Everything), Netflix (Bill Nye Saves the World), and Al Jazeera America (TechKnow). Kyle was the Science Editor of and host of the popular YouTube science show Because Science from 2014 to 2020. He was named one of the top science communicators to follow by WIRED magazine in 2013 and Science Influencer of the Year by the Outpost in 2020

Dr. Tony Attwood is a clinical psychologist who has specialized in Autism Spectrum Disorders since he qualified as a clinical psychologist in England in 1975. He currently works in his own private practice and is also an adjunct professor at Griffith University, Queensland, and senior consultant at the Minds and Hearts clinic in Brisbane. His book Asperger’s Syndrome – A Guide for Parents and Professionals has sold over 500,000 copies and has been translated into 27 languages. His subsequent book, The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, published in October 2006 has sold over 300,000 copies and has been translated into 18 languages, and is one of the primary textbooks on Asperger’s syndrome, otherwise known as Autism Spectrum Disorder – Level 1. He has several subsequent books published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Future Horizons Inc., and Guilford Press on emotion management, relationships and sexuality, and general advice for autistic children and adults. Tony has been invited to be a keynote speaker at many Australasian and International Conferences. He presents workshops and runs training courses for parents, professionals, and individuals with Asperger's syndrome all over the world and is a prolific author of scientific papers and books on the subject. He has presented several live webinars with his colleague, Dr. Michelle Garnett, which have been recorded and can be accessed via their website at

Amanda Bailey is a Family Support Specialist with AANE's Child and Teen Services department. Trained as a special education advocate, she has helped families all over the country with their IEPs, 504 plans, and working collaboratively with their school-based teams. Amanda also draws on her knowledge as the parent of two autistic children and direct experience in family support through leadership of her local Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) and prior work with Mass Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC).

Kendrick Cronin is a neurodivergent trans man who is currently completing a master's degree in clinical counseling through Southern New Hampshire University. He is passionate about person-centered care and intentional, intersectional inclusivity of folks across the spectrum of humanity. His professional focus is to increase understanding and thus depathologize neurodivergency, transgender experiences, and living with mental illnesses. He currently lives in Minnesota, where he works for BridgesMN in employment services to support disabled people in seeking meaningful employment, and interns at Touchstone Mental Health, a residential treatment facility.

Dena Gassner is the co-chair of the Autistic Researcher Committee (ARC) for the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR). She is currently serving on the University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCCEDD), Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities (CDHPD) a member of the ARC Review Board for the Autism Intervention Research Network in Physical Health (AIR-P) and is a member of the AIR-P Gender, Sexuality and Healthcare Node. She has provided consultative support for two SIGs (Special Interest Groups) for iNSAR and helped to reconstruct how SIGs are done (shifting protocols from lectures to information gathering/networking events). She coordinated this year’s first SIG at INSAR- “Building on the Strengths of Autistic Scholars by Addressing Systemic Barriers to Autistic Success in Academia” Year One with Patrick Dwyer and others. In 1999 she was awarded the Cathy Pratt Professional of the Year Award from Autism Society of America. She spoke as a panelist for the NIMH Autism Awareness Month on girls and women. She’s on the National Board of Directors of the Arc US and has published multiple book chapters and journal articles and her presentations include NYU London, The United Nations (Geneva and US) (autism + aging, disparities for autistic women, and autistic motherhood/reproductive healthcare access) and others.

Dr. Roy Richard Grinker is Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Grinker was born and raised in Chicago where his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father worked as psychoanalysts. He graduated from Grinnell College in 1983 and received his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at Harvard University in 1989. He is the author of Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness (NY: W.W. Norton, January 2021), Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism (NY: Basic Books), In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin M. Turnbull (Chicago: University of Chicago), Korea and its Futures: Unification and the Unfinished War (NY: St. Martin’s), and Houses in the Rainforest: Ethnicity and Inequality among Farmers and Foragers in Central Africa (Berkeley: University of California). He is co-editor of Perspectives on Africa: Culture, History, and Representation (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell) and Companion to the Anthropology of Africa (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell). Grinker was a 2008 recipient of the National Alliance on Mental Illness KEN award for “outstanding contribution to the understanding of mental illness” and the 2010 recipient of the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology in the Media award for “communication of anthropology to the general public through the media.”

Karen Lean, originally from Canada, lives with her husband in Massachusetts where she works in Healthcare IT. She was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2009, at the age of 32. Karen Lean brings the perspective of a woman who was diagnosed in her 30's with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Central Auditory Processing Disorder. She represents one of the less-recognized autism profiles: shy, sensitive, compliant, academically strong but socially suffering. Karen speaks about being an autistic female, sensory processing, self-advocacy, intimacy and relationships, mindfulness, and self-esteem.​ ​Her writing appears in the book of essays, Sincerely, Your Autistic Child: What People on the Autism Spectrum Wish Their Parents Knew About Growing Up, Acceptance, and Identity.​ Karen is an engaging, seasoned speaker whose sensitivity and deep intellect are readily apparent in her talks. Among her many speaking credits, Karen was a keynote speaker at the Asperger/Autism Network's Spring 2019 Sexuality Conference.

Dr. Meredith Maroney (she/her/hers) is an Assistant Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of Calgary. She received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston and completed her doctoral internship at the University at Albany’s Counseling and Psychological Services. Her research and clinical interests are in the areas of sexual orientation, gender diversity, autism, and intervention development. Specifically, she is interested in understanding and coping with minority stress, as well as the intersection of autistic and LGBTQ+ identities. She co-authored Gender, Sexuality, and Autism, which was honored as the 2021 Distinguished Book of the Year by the Society for Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. She is the Chair for the American Psychological Association's Division 17 Section for the Advocacy of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

Sue Ann Pien identifies as an actually autistic actor who is starring in an upcoming Amazon Original series about three roommates in their 20s who are on the spectrum. For Sue Ann, self-discovery included learning who she is and also who she is not. She found that taking the risk to live as her authentic self brought meaningful connections into her life and meant she could stop working so hard to fit in where she wasn't welcomed anyways. Along with acting, Sue Ann enjoys filmmaking with her singer-songwriter wife, Cynthia Catania, rock climbing, space (the outer kind), and coming up with novel ways to protect Earth's biodiversity.

Dr. Janet Price is a seasoned practitioner in the realm of working with children and families. With over 30 years of experience as an educator previously and psychologist currently, Dr. Price has chosen over time to focus on the process of supporting mental and emotional well-being, including what gets in the way of that process of becoming our best selves. Currently in private practice, Dr. Price’s clients include children and adults on the spectrum.

Dr. Rebecca Sachs is a licensed psychologist and an expert in the top recommended treatments for Anxiety, Autism, and OCD. She believes in empowering individuals and their families with knowledge and skills they can use to not only manage current challenges but to also be ready to handle new problems when they may arise. Dr. Sachs brings warmth, sensitivity, and a strong sense of humor to her work. Board Certified in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology, Dr. Sachs is a sought-after clinician and speaker, regularly presenting at conferences such as the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), and the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). She has a private practice in New York City (and virtual in the state of NY) and is co-Director of Successful School Transitions, a comprehensive program for school refusal. In addition to these roles, Dr. Sachs is a single mother to an energetic and determined pre-schooler.

Ilia Walsh is the Executive Director at The Spectrum Strategy Group and the creator and host of The Autism In Real Life Podcast. She has over 25 years of experience in training and education working with adults and children. She is currently on the Board of Directors for AANE and served on the Board of Directors for the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health. Working alongside clinicians, Ilia has supported single and partnered individuals in seeking deeper connections in their relationships. She has worked with many influential individuals such as Temple Grandin, Tony Attwood, Carol Kranowitz, David & Kristin Finch, Stephen Shore, Becca Lory, Isabelle Hénault, and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu. Ilia Walsh is also like many of you; she is a wife, sister, friend, and mother of two adult children, one of which is on the autism spectrum.

Elise Wulff has been working with the neurodiverse population in both the public and private sectors for over 15 years. With Aspire since 2008, Elise oversees child programming, parent programming, Aspire Works, and related services where participants engage in multi-disciplinary, strengths-based learning. Elise feels strongly and has observed that there is a mutual accountability of neurodiverse individuals and their environments (schools, communities, workplaces) to create safe, inclusive spaces that enhance the potential for success for all involved. In her consultation, prior to joining Aspire, Elise worked as an Inclusion Facilitator for a therapeutic intervention program for students with Asperger’s, NVLD, ADHD, and similar profiles. In collaboration with Aspire, Elise co-wrote a multi-year tiered self-awareness curriculum based on Aspire’s model ‘The Science of Me,’ as well as curricula to address enhancing executive functioning skills and supporting resistant writers. Elise received her undergraduate degree in psychology and theater arts from Emory University and her master’s degree in special education from Lesley University.