2016 Rethinking Autism Conference to Kick Off Autism Awareness Month


April is National Autism Awareness Month, a nationwide effort started by the Autism Society in the early 90s to “promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with ASD is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.”

While in the coming weeks we will be writing more about the Autism Awareness effort, and it’s evolution into the new Autism Acceptance movement, we want to start by letting you know about a very special event that will kick off Indiana’s efforts on behalf of the ASD community, the 2016 Rethinking Autism State Conference: Research Uncovered / Evidence Revealed.

Hosted by Optimal Rhythms and the ACCESS Academy, a special private day school for students with severe autism, the 2016 Rethinking Autism Conference will take place on Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2, at the Airport Holiday Inn in Evansville, IN.

Hosted by Optimal Rhythms/Access Academy

Hosted by Optimal Rhythms/Access Academy

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About the 2016 Rethinking Autism Conference: Research Uncovered / Evidence Revealed

The Rethinking Autism Conference will bring together hundreds of voices as a passionate network to inspire hope and ignite change. Conference participants will engage in multi-modal learning experiences from Keynote Speakers Elizabeth Torres, PhD, Researcher with Rutgers University, and Suzanne Oliver, Clinician, Founder and Executive Director of Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona.

The conference will also feature presentations from other speakers, including Jayme Whitaker, System of Care Expert from FSSA, Andrew Simmons, Grant Blasko, Josh Berkau, SBT co-founder John Smyth, as well as a panel discussion by autistic self-advocates about critical issues related to educational access for students on the autism spectrum.

Who Should Attend?
Anyone who wants to learn about cutting edge autism research and evidence-based practices related to the diagnosis, treatment, and education of individuals on the autism spectrum, or who wants to hear first-hand accounts from individuals on the spectrum about how their lives have been changed when those around them learned to rethink autism, is encouraged to attend this informative conference, including:

Physicians & PAs
OTs & OTAs
​Speech & Language
Direct Care Staff
Music Therapists
Mental Health Workers
Special & Gen Ed Teachers
Educational Assistants
Social Workers
Law Enforcement
Criminal Justice
School Administrators

Continuing Education Training
Optimal Rhythms, Inc (501c3) is pleased to offer Continuing Education (CE) units (12.5 (60 min) Contact Hours OR 15 (50 min) Contact Hours for full conference attendance) for professionals attending the 2016 Rethinking Autism Research Conference, including pre-approval for:

  • Occupational Therapists
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants
  • Social Workers
  • Clinical Social Workers
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Mental Health Counselors
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Clinical Addiction Counselors
  • Music Therapists (pending CBMT Approved Provider approval)

Please check this webpage for updates on CEUs; additional professionals will be added as approved. If your discipline is not pre-approved, you will receive a general certificate with the total contact hours indicated. If your desire or approval to attend the conference is contingent upon availability of CEUs, please do not register until the CEUs of interest to you are posted. ​Feel free to call 812-491-9401 with any questions or concerns.

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2016 Rethinking Autism Conference Details

Friday, April 1, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Saturday, April 2, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Click here for Schedule of Events. (PDF opens in new window)

Holiday Inn Evansville Airport
7101 U. S. Highway 41 North Evansville, Indiana, 47725

The Holiday Inn Evansville Airport Hotel offers exceptional service and uncompromised convenience. The hotel just completed a beautiful renovation, and offers their guests a complimentary hot breakfast buffet, free Wi-Fi, and an indoor pool and whirlpool.

SPECIAL AUTISM CONFERENCE ROOM RATE: $99/NIGHT (available until March 1, 2016)
To make a reservation, click here, or call the hotel directly at 812-867-7999, Use Group Code: ORA

Registration Guidelines:

  1. All attendees must register. Children under the age of 18 are complimentary but must be registered.
  2. Pre-registration is not available for minors, they must be registered onsite.
  3. Registration cancellation requests received by March 18, 2016 will be processed without a cancellation penalty. A full refund will be granted. Registration cancellation requests received after March 18, 2016 will be processed minus a $50.00 cancellation penalty per registration.
  4. Professional group registrations must be submitted together. Per-person discount is available for a minimum of 5 registrations when all registrations in the group are submitted together or on the same day, if submitted online. All names must be listed on the registration form.

Registration Fees:
Early Bird discount rates are available before March 1, 2016; Regular/Onsite rates (in bold) apply on/after March 1, 2016. Registration fees shown are for both days of the conference; single day registration is also available. Download the Conference Registration Packet for complete details. (PDF opens in new window)

  • Professional Registration Rate (See conference website for pre-approved CEU offerings): $149; $179
  • Group Discount Rate (5 or more Professionals): $129 (before March 1)
  • General Registration Rate: $99; $129
  • Student Registration Rate: $65; $85
  • Rethink Autism Luncheon (1 ticket included with registration): Additional Ticket(s) – $25 each

Registration fees include:

  • Two days of conference programming with internationally recognized speakers
  • Continuing education credits (Professional Registration Only)
  • Silent Auction/Door Prize Drawings
  • A Free Conference T-Shirt (if registered by March 1)
  • Free Parking
  • Vendors/Exhibitors
  • Snack on each day
  • One ticket to the Rethink Autism Benefit Luncheon on Saturday

Financial Aid:

  • NEED-BASED SCHOLARSHIPS: There are a limited number of need-based scholarships that will be awarded to students and family members (one per family limit) for those who are interested in attending but cannot afford the fee. Scholarships are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. Individuals on the spectrum/self-advocates with financial needs can call (812) 491-9401 or email us at (admin@optimalrhythms.org?subject=Rethinking Autism Conference Financial Aid Request) to request help with registration fees.
  • FAMILY & CAREGIVER TRAINING: The Rethinking Autism Conference will qualify for Family & Caregiver Training via Indiana Medicaid Waiver. Please contact your case manager or call Integrative Music Therapy (an approved Family & Caregiver Training provider) at 812-491-9400 for information about how to select FCT as an option in your waiver budget.

The Rethinking Autism Banquet will be held on Saturday, April 2 at 11:00 AM. This event will celebrate the start of Autism Awareness Month by highlighting exciting and innovative research that is informing both clinical treatment and educational practices for individuals in our community on the autism spectrum. We have two Banquet Sponsorship Packages for businesses, schools, professional organization, etc., to show their support of the ASD community.

We are also encouraging vendors/exhibitors of all types to consider joining us as we plan to have a unique variety of of conference attendees: professionals, families, stakeholders, etc. The Rethinking Autism Vendors Marketplace will be located in the atrium of the Holiday Inn, adjacent to the conference meeting room. Exhibitors will have a reserved space for both conference days.

If your business or organization serves families affected by autism spectrum disorder, please consider sponsoring this important event. Exhibitor space is also available if you are interested in meeting with individuals and families face-to-face to share your products and services. Deadline to be included on conference t-shirt is March 10, 2016.

For more information about becoming a Conference Vendor, or Banquet Sponsor and the benefits that come with sponsorship, download the 2016 Rethinking Autism Conference Sponsorship Packet. (PDF opens in new window)

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