437 S Yellowstone Dr Ste 217A, Madison, WI 53705 info@autismsouthcentral.org (608) 630-9147
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INTEGRAL Adult Autism Conference

November 8 @ 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM

$40 – $50

Interactive Networking, Talks, & Education to Grow Relationships for Autism Legitimacy

Adults on the autism spectrum don’t have as much of a voice as they should. Their roles and relevance to autism issues are under-represented not only scientifically and politically, but within the autism community itself. Yet adults on the autism spectrum have a tremendous amount of lived experience that can help put autism issues into their most proper context – the context of what it’s actually like to live a life on the autism spectrum.

What: The INTEGRAL Adult Autism Conference helps to fill this major gap by inviting adults on the autism spectrum and the other stakeholders of the autism community to engage with each other directly, openly, and honestly. INTEGRAL is an opportunity for our autism community to truly be a community on important issues of social & cultural factors, economic & employment factors, and identity & justice factors. Other stakeholders are vital to these discussions, and you are encouraged to attend if you are a parent of a person on the autism spectrum, a researcher, clinician, therapist, educator, support worker, legislative advocate, business leader, and/or a member of law enforcement. INTEGRAL promotes the exchange of important ideas, experiences, roles, and proposals across all of these groups in the autism community.

How: INTEGRAL will feature six speakers, including a mix of presenters both on and off the autism spectrum, covering a range of relevant and far-reaching topics. There will also be roundtable sessions for in-depth group conversations about major issues, and a town-hall-style session for all conference attendees to share perspectives within a general community setting.

Why: There are invisible barriers between groups within the autism community, especially between adults on the spectrum and adults not on the spectrum. This has led to a persistent lack of any coherent sense of community or shared purpose by adults on the spectrum in our region. INTEGRAL seeks to address these issues by bringing adults on the spectrum and many other key players in their lives together to listen and learn from the experiences, concerns, and goals of adults on the spectrum while those adults actively learn from, and place themselves within, the larger context of these key players’ roles.

INTEGRAL emphasizes that adults on the spectrum need and deserve a model of growth and dignity, not of deficit and disorder, to best pursue their potential and be integrated members of their community. It also emphasizes that adults on the spectrum have existential concerns that are too often ignored or inadequately addressed, often in favor of training for skills that will make them more similar to other people, without exploring or promoting an understanding of purpose, legitimacy, hope, and dignity about their roles in society. INTEGRAL recognizes adults on the autism spectrum as full people who deserve, whenever possible, to be taught how to actively pursue growth and personal goals, not to absorb the inadvertent message that they are unable to do more than passively allow others to support them.

Doors open at 9:30 a.m., conference begins at 10:00 a.m. – lasts until 10:00 p.m. (including social event after the main conference, which otherwise ends at 7:30 p.m.)

9:30 – Doors open

10:00 – Introduction to INTEGRAL by Scott Allen
10:35: Break
10:45: Breakout Session 1 (3 Breakouts)
12:00: Break
12:15: Breakout Session 2 (3 Breakouts)
1:30: Lunch is served
2:30: Break
2:45: Breakout Session 3 – Roundtable Talks (3 Roundtables)
4:00 Break
4:15: Town Hall Session
5:30: Break for dinner
7:30: Semi-structured Social & Networking Time
9:45: Conference ends
10:00: Doors close

Presentations by:

MADELINE BARGER: “Sex on a Spectrum: The SOL Approach to Individualizing Sex Education and Treatment.

Madeline’s talk explores current gaps in sex education and sex therapy for people on the spectrum, goes behind the scenes in sex therapy with people with unique neurology, and asks participants to think about their educational and life experiences, personal definitions, and goals for the future.

Madeline Barger, MS, LMFT, BCBA, CST is a licensed behavior analyst and licensed marriage and family therapist, and one of the few behavior analysts in the country who is an AASECT-certified sex therapist. Barger has spent 10 years working with adults with autism across the lifespan. Barger focuses on evidence-based intervention for higher quality of life for individuals seeking support. She believes everyone has the right to an appropriate sex education and positive, consenting relationships.

LAUREN USHER: “Discerning Options for Employment and Life Fulfillment.”

Lauren will present on how an entrepreneurial mindset can be applied to identifying goals, setting priorities, recognizing obstacles, and problem-solving for adults on the autism spectrum as employees and as potential small-business owners.

Lauren earned her PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Miami and recently completed postdoctoral training in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the WaismanCenter at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The focus of her research was adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum, and various aspects of their lives including friendships and other social relationships as well as employment. Currently, she works for gener8tor in Madison where she helps new local businesses and nonprofits that are making a positive social impact on the Madisoncommunity.

DOUG MAYNARD: “The Child with Autism as an Individual.”

Autism-related behaviors challenge what most people take for granted socially. Autism “makes the familiar, commonsense world strange,” so it is a challenge for usual social interactions. Such challenges are also opportunities. If a neurotypical person enters the world of a person with autism, it is possible to “make the strange familiar.” Strategically using the familiar/strange dynamic of autism allows more diversity and inclusivity in social life because it also means appreciating individuality. Doug explores this with stories, video clips, and analysis.

Doug is a Professor of Sociology at UW-Madison. He teaches ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, & social psychology. Doug teaches the course “Sociology of Autism.” His recent research is for a project called “A Sociology of Testing, Diagnosis, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.” He will use video and other materials from this project for his presentation.

MARK HUNTSMAN & DAWN CIESZYNSKI: “Dating Neurodiversely: Maintaining Low Conflict in a Multi-Condition Relationship.”

Mark, who has autism and borderline personality disorder, and Dawn, who has major depressive disorder and a physical disability, have been dating for more than three years. Despite these challenges, they enjoy a low-conflict relationship that defies all odds. They will speak on what they feel makes their relationship work as well as techniques to navigate potential difficulties.

Mark Huntsman received his autism diagnosis at age 35, grew up in MadisonWI, and has lived in France and South Korea. He received BA’s in French and linguistics from UW-Madison in 2002 and an MA and PhD in French from Louisiana State University in 2007 and 2012, respectively. A former National Merit Scholar, he is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Board of Regents fellowship from Louisiana State University.

Dawn Cieszynski is an alumna of WITC and Madison College.  A former member of the ARC of Dane County Board of Directors, she has worked at Encore Studio for the Performing Arts for the past 14 years.  Dawn had bacterial meningitis, spent 11 days in a coma, had severe brain damage and could not walk.  Despite doctors’ predictions, she has largely overcome these challenges – and she’s not done yet!


Hope will delve into the challenges presented to adults on the spectrum that identify as queer. The main points will range from discovering one’s sexuality and/or gender identity, adapting to fluctuations in one’s identity, available outlets and resources, how to figure out if one is ready to be in a relationship with someone, and what sort of options are available in regards to dating and meeting people.

Hope has been an active participant in the autism community for several years, volunteering for a variety of groups and speaking publicly for the benefit of others on the spectrum. Growing up with an LGBTQ identity and having been diagnosed with autism as a toddler, they possess a great deal of insight into what it means to be a queer and autistic individual. They are constantly looking to expand their reach while continuing to advocate and spread awareness, aiming to change the lives of people with similar experiences with the hope of leaving a strong, positive impact on their world.

SARINA GREGOIRE: “Medical Dimensions of Autism and the American Healthcare System.”

Sarina has personally dealt with poor medical practice when seeking and receiving medical treatment as a person on the autism spectrum, and also works in the medical field herself. She will discuss the many physical symptoms that often accompany autism, conditions that co-occur with autism, and how to navigate the world of heath care as an autistic adult.

Sarina Gregoire studied biochemistry at UW-Madison and is currently working as a biological technician in stem cell research. She has spent the last three years serving on the Education Committee for the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin, and helped establish the AS WE ARE autism empowerment group at UW-Madison’s McBurney Disability Resource Center. Sarina plans to attend graduate school to explore how an accumulation of metabolic errors that are common in the general population may cause some forms of autism.

SCOTT ALLEN: “Who Are We? Defining and Promoting Healthy Identity on the Autism Spectrum.”

A lot of focus is placed on where people on the autism spectrum can go for support, but where do we go for legitimacy? How do we claim and maintain a positive sense of who we are when the culture around us defines us as deficient? Scott explores how to understand, define, and promote a coherent sense of autism-spectrum identity based on growth and dignity rather than deficit and disorder. He evaluates multiple sources of legitimacy – science, psychiatry, social justice, and community – in order to better define what it means to have a positive sense of self on the autism spectrum.

Scott Allen has been a public autism-spectrum self-advocate since 2002. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 15, he has an MS in counseling from UW-Whitewater and has worked as a group facilitator for the UW-Madison Waisman Center and at the McBurney Disability Resource Center, where he co-founded the AS WE ARE empowerment group for college students on the autism spectrum. A board member of the Autism Society of South-Central WI, he has given dozens of talks on autism issues to various audiences and organizations. He is presently employed as a counselor specializing in clients on the autism spectrum at Westside Psychotherapy in Madison.

Ticket prices: $50 general, $40 for attendees on the autism spectrum. Lunch is included in the price. To help this conference contain a number of different kinds of stakeholders, there are tickets available for professionals/community leaders of various backgrounds. Please scroll down to buy a ticket that best fits your background. If you are a parent who is attending the conference acting as a support person, please get a ticket for “Support Person (attending this conference to support an autistic person here)” instead of getting a parent ticket.

The Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin is grateful to the McGinnity Family Foundation Autism Fund for awarding us a grant to help us put on this conference.

We have an optional pre-conference questionnaire here. It would help us prepare for the conference if you could fill it out after you buy your ticket.


Tickets are no longer available.


November 8
10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
$40 – $50
Event Categories:
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Goodman Community Center Ironworks Building
149 Waubesa Street
Madison, WI 53704