2017 Annual Conference

16th Annual Autism Conference: Optimize for Success!

Registration for the conference has closed. You can get handouts for specific presentations in the sidebar on the right. 

March 8 & 9, 2017

The Westin
Richmond, Virginia

Official press release for our annual conference

Wednesday, March 8

Morning Keynote Speaker: Dr. Justin Leaf
Implementing Social Skills Groups

Dr. Leaf will also present a breakout session on Thursday, March 9. 

Justin Leaf, Ph.D., BCBA-D is the Director of Research and Training for Autism Partnership Foundation and the Center for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis. Justin received his doctorate degree in Behavioral Psychology from the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas under the mentorship of Dr. James Sherman and Dr. Jan Sheldon. Currently, Justin leads the research team at Autism Partnership Foundation, which conducts research nationally and internationally. Justin also leads the internship program for the Center for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis. Additionally, Justin is an Adjunct Professor at Endicott College. Justin has over 50 publications in either peer reviewed journals or book chapters and has presented at both national and international professional conferences and invited events. Justin is an Associated Editor for the Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities.


Dr. Marjorie CharlopAfternoon Keynote Speaker: Dr. Marjorie Charlop
Naturalistic Teaching Strategies

Marjorie H. Charlop, Ph.D., BCBA, has dedicated her life’s work to helping children with ASD and their families.  She is Professor of Psychology at Claremont McKenna College and Director of The Claremont Autism Center, her renowned research and treatment center for children with ASD and their families. As a Licensed Psychologist, she also maintains a private practice and consultation services. Dr. Charlop has hundreds of professional conference presentations and publications in the field of autism and has done workshops and lectures around the globe.  Her book, How to Do Naturalistic Teaching Strategies with a Focus on Incidental Teaching with Autism Spectrum Disorder is in its second edition. Her latest book, Play and Social Skills for Children with ASD will also be out soon. Dr. Charlop’s  research areas focus on the treatment of communication, motivation, social skills, and behavior problems. Using technology is among her newer research interests. Parent collaboration and education is among her primary areas of practice.


Networking Reception and Raffle immediately following Keynote Sessions

Thursday, March 9

Closing Keynote: Kerry Magro, Disability Advocate
Defining Autism: From Nonverbal to National Speaker

Kerry will also present a breakout session on Thursday, March 9. 

Kerry Magro, 28, is an award-winning disability advocate, best-selling author of 3 books, movie consultant of 2 autism films, and founder of a nonprofit that has given over 30 scholarships for students with autism to attend college. He is also a full-time employee at a nonprofit in digital marketing. Magro was completely non-verbal until the age of two and a half and was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old. These days, Magro travels around the country as a motivational speaker and disability advocate. His speeches have included two TEDx Talks. In 2014, he received accreditation from the National Speakers Association as one of the only professionally certified speakers with autism in the country. In the past 6 years Magro has spoken at over 680 events about his journey on the autism spectrum. Those speaking engagements led to a stint in TV hosting his own local cable show called the "Different is Beautiful Show," which focuses on people who overcome adversity. For his efforts Magro has been featured in major media and worked with amazing brands including CBS News, Upworthy, Sports Illustrated BBC News, HuffPost Live, HuffPost, American Express, J.P Morgan Chase, NBA.com and much more!

PLUS multiple breakout sessions including:

  • Sibling Support
  • Transition
  • Preventing Bullying
  • Sexuality
  • ...and MORE

​For more details on breakout sessions, check out the session descriptions in the right sidebar. 

​Share our Save the Date Flyer with others who may be interested

​Special Thanks to our Sponsors

Charterhouse School, Gold Sponsor
Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA), Gold Sponsor
Compass Counseling, Bronze Sponsor
St. Joseph's Villa, Bronze Sponsor

Centra Autism + Developmental Services, Networking Reception Sponsor
EMG Consulting, Lanyard Sponsor
Thrive ABA, Wednesday Beverage Break Sponsor
Miracle League of Richmond, Provided conference scholarships


Continuing Education

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA): Commonwealth Autism is a Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) provider. Type 2 Continuing Education Credits will be available for both days of the conference. 

Virginia Teacher Licensure Renewal Points: Teachers can earn up to 5 points per day for attending this conference.  Participants will receive a certificate of attendance that specifies the hours attended.   Please see the Virginia Licensure Renewal Manual for a complete list of criteria for professional conferences. 

Previous Conference Information