Autism Opportunities Conference 2015

Join us for our third annual Autism Opportunities Conference in Guelph on Saturday, February 21st. This is a warm and welcoming event, helping to bridge the gaps in the autism world. We choose speakers and exhibitors who provide information and support for parents, educators, health professionals and adults with autism. Learn about challenging the myths of autism, sensory integration, assessing and treating the medical aspects of autism and find out what autism is really like -- from the inside!


Jonathan Alderson, EdM

“Challenging the Myths of Autism”

Jonathan Alderson is an autism treatment specialist and Founder/ Director of the innovative Intensive Multi-Treatment Intervention Program. A graduate of Harvard University, with experience in Texas as a Curriculum Specialist Coordinator with Teach For America, he trained in autism treatment for eight years at the Autism Treatment Center of America in their Son-Rise Program in Massachusetts, where he worked as program administrator and Senior Therapist Trainer.

Click here to read more about Jonathan Alderson...

He has worked with over 3000 families, supervising home-based programs in the UK, Ireland, Holland, Spain, Australia, Israel and Mexico. Now based in Toronto, Jonathan specializes in blending play therapy, behavior modification, direct instruction, sensory, and biological treatments in the integrated Multi-Treatment model. Alderson explains that "The issues underlying the challenges of children with autism are multifaceted – so the treatment has to be multifaceted too." He is the author of Challenging the Myths of Autism, the 2012 International Book Award for Best Parent Resource.

Presentation “Challenging the Myths of Autism”

How many times have you heard that people with autism lack creativity? That they reject affection or suffer from mental retardation? As the number of children diagnosed with autism surges, researchers and educators are racing to define the amorphous nature of this spectrum disorder and its wide range of symptoms. But in trying to characterize, people often generalize and perpetuate a host of limiting and potentially damaging misconceptions in the media, in academics, and on the web. These myths don't hold up when examined, and they don't reflect Jonathan Alderson's experience working with more than 2,000 children and families over two decades.

Alderson weaves together real-life examples with research to help parents and professionals move beyond stereotypes and toward new insights that help us build rapport faster with people diagnosed with autism. He'll discuss some of the most provocative fallacies, explain how they developed, why dispelling them matters and, most importantly, he'll highlight new understandings that change the way parents and professionals view autism.

Elizabeth J. Bell, OT and Heide Emrich, SLP

“speakSENSE: SLP -- OT Collaboration in Therapy for Children with ASD”

Elizabeth J. Bell is a registered occupational therapist and Director of kidsTHERAPY in Guelph. A graduate of Queen’s University, she has been practicing in pediatrics since 1991. In 1998, Elizabeth started Bell Therapy Services, a private occupational therapy practice providing assessment, consultation and treatment services to infants, preschoolers, school-aged children and adolescents.

Click here to read more about Elizabeth Bell and Heide Emrich...

kidsTHERAPY was established in 2009, reflecting a change in philosophy -- expanding on the idea of community service and linking professionals towards a common goal.

Elizabeth's keen interest to learn has led her to become an experienced practitioner in vestibular, auditory and visual interventions. She uses tools such as Therapeutic Listening and Astronaut Training and is certified in Sensory Integration and Praxis Testing. She continues to advance her clinical expertise in core and breath development, neurodevelopment, vision and reflex integration which has enabled her to develop unique programs such as bodySENSE, bodyGAMI and kidsWRITE. She also co-facilitates KidsPLAY, an Integrated Social Skills Group for school-age children.

Elizabeth strives to help children and families, providing a voice for the "misunderstood and hidden" challenges involved with sensory processing and regulation disorders and children with ASD. Her work also includes assisting children with a variety of mental health and developmental challenges.

Elizabeth is passionate about teaching others and has been an invited speaker at schools and community agencies in Ontario. Her clinic provides specialized groups and assessment teams, trains post-secondary students, parents and other disciplines.

Heide Emrich is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist, having graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Master of Clinical Science in 1992. As a follow-up to an extensive masters research project, which was recognized with the OLSA Student Paper Competition Award in 1992, she co-authored the book Helping Kids Discover and Develop Language, which provides the reader with speech and language milestones and helpful suggestions to facilitate their acquisition. Heide is also Hanen certified and as such, she has had many opportunities to lead Hanen programs for parents and caregivers. She has many years of experience working with caregivers and children in schools, child care settings, homes and in-clinic, providing workshops, both individual and group therapy, as well as hands on coaching for caregivers and other team members.

Currently, Heide provides private speech and language services for children with speech, language and social communication challenges. Through KidsTHERAPY, she co-facilitates KidsPLAY, an Integrated Social Skills Group for school-age children, and Family Magic, which focusses on developing self-esteem, attention, motor skills and social communication using magic tricks, crafts and games. Heide also participates on the Guelph-Wellington Autism Spectrum Disorders Assessment Team and facilitates Stay & Play Integrated Social Skills Group at St. Joseph’s Health Centre-Guelph, as part of Wee Talk Wellington-Dufferin Preschool Speech and Language Services. Recently, Heide co-authored a manual for Stay & Play Integrated Social Skills Group, which was deemed a Best Practice by the Ontario Association of Children's Rehabilitation Services (OACRS), and has been teaching other professionals to facilitate Stay & Play programs in their regions. Heide cares deeply for and puts tremendous effort into supporting children and their caregivers with her knowledge and expertise.

Elizabeth and Heide have had the opportunity to work collaboratively since 1998, when they were involved in forming the first collaborative community assessment team in Guelph-Wellington, the Guelph-Wellington Complex Developmental Disorders Assessment Team. Since that time, they have participated together on pediatric and school-aged assessment teams, as well as provided collaborative individual and group treatment sessions and summer camp experiences through KidsTHERAPY in Guelph.

Presentation “speakSENSE: SLP-OT Collaboration in Therapy for Children with ASD”


  • to increase understanding of self-regulation and sensory processing and their impact on attachment, emotional functioning and social communication
  • to increase understanding of the SLP's and OT's role in treatment of ASD, social communication and other complex developmental disorders
  • to introduce a model of care centered on the family and child, empowering caregivers.

Sonya Doherty, ND

“Assessing and Treating the Medical Aspects of ASD: Biomedical 101”

Dr. Sonya Doherty, is a licensed, board certified Naturopathic Doctor and MAPS (candidate) who is an active member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors.  She completed her undergraduate training at the University of Western Ontario in a Bachelor of Science Honours Kinesiology program.

Click here to read more about Sonya Doherty...

In 2003, Sonya completed her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

Dr. Doherty believes in supporting development before pregnancy through healthy lifestyle as well as during pregnancy through an individualized Well Pregnancy and Baby Program. She specializes in alternative treatment of Autism, ADD, ADHD, OCD, Tourette’s Syndrome and learning disabilities. Sonya is a registered Defeat Autism Now! Doctor. She has completed her level I and II with The Autism Research Institute training providing her with the research and tools needed to help each child reach their developmental potential.

Biomedical treatment has the potential to help the majority of children on the autism spectrum. Not all children will benefit from biomedical but most children see significant developmental gains.

Jackie McMillan, BES, Asperger’s

What autism is really like -- from the inside!

Finding no helpful model of autism to explain her experiences, Jackie McMillan has spent the years since 1976 discovering ways to help herself and other autistics. Her goal has been to improve health and function in what autistics experience as an out-of-balance and over-stimulating world.

Click here to read more about Jackie McMillan...

Jackie has drawn on her degree in environmental studies, two years of pre-medical training, many certifications in complementary health practices, and the collective experiences of adults with autism.

Jackie pulls key findings from health research in a broad range of disciplines, specifically that which addresses the causes of poor health, expressions of stress, and learning challenges in those with ASD. Her work in documenting and applying relevant research and practices now consistently helps autistics and those who support them (parents, educators, health professionals, and social service workers) to optimize the gifts, and minimize the challenges of Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

AOK Lunch – Adults with ASD

A one-hour brainstorm session with Jackie McMillan open only to adults with ASD.

  • Jackie McMillan is again inviting adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, who are conference participants, to join her for the Autism Opportunities Keynote lunch. If you are an adult on the autistic spectrum, you may feel that your quality of life suffers when you try to integrate into typical social settings. Help Jackie create a comprehensive understanding of the improvements that spectrum adults most want (as opposed to what others want in terms of employment, relationships, overall health).
  • Bring your own bag lunch. Tea and coffee provided.
  • Register early as seating is limited.
  • A strict scent-free event.

Register Now



Saturday, February 21st, 2015


Registration 8 am
Conference 9 am to 4:30 pm


War Memorial Hall
University of Guelph campus
50 Stone Road East
Guelph ON N1G 2W1

Registration fees:

Single $45 (plus HST)
Couple $70 (plus HST)
AOK Lunch with Jackie -- free
(A limited number of sponsorships are available for those in financial need).

Note: This Conference is Scent-Free.

Please refrain from wearing heavily-scented deodorants, hair products, skin lotions or makeup. Please also avoid wearing recently dry-cleaned clothes, heavy laundry scents (including dryer sheets) or clothes that have been exposed to scent worn on other occasions.

Conference Flyer (Click to download pdf)