Friday, December 6, 2019 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM EST
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Georgian Court University 
517 Ninth Street
Lakewood, NJ 08701

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POAC Autism Services 
POAC Autism Services 

Conference for Professionals, Caregivers, and Self-Advocates: Autism Sexuality Education -Navigating Relationships, Avoiding Victimization, and Becoming Empowered


Join us for a full day conference for self-advocates, professionals, parents and caregivers on sexuality education for individuals with Autism (ASD) and Developmental Disabilities (DD). Included are four informational sessions and a panel discussion as well as breakfast and lunch. NJ Department of Education Professional Development hours available for educators and 1.5 Type II BACB continuing education credits are available. 

This conference will feature an interdisciplinary team of presenters who will discuss a variety of topics including:

  • The missing educational opportunities individuals with ASD/DD face, how this can lead to increased risk of “inappropriate" sexual behaviors, and strategies to support appropriate sexual behavior
  • Legal approaches to incorporate these educational opportunities and strategies into IEPs, 504 Plans, ISPs, and IHPs
  • The risk factors that can make people with ASD/DD particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, victimization, criminalization, and ways to support survivors
  • The personal perspective of a woman with autism: becoming empowered to navigate relationships and avoid victimization
  • Breakfast and Lunch Included

Register before October 11th for reduced rate:

Professionals                                                    $60 ($65 after October 11th)

Parents/Caregivers                                           $35 ($40 after October 11th)

Self-Advocates and Current POAC Members  $20 ($25 after October 11th)

Purchase orders are accepted but must be received by November 21, 2019 to finalize registration. No refunds after November 8, 2019.


8:00am - 9:00am             Check in and Breakfast 

9:00am - 10:15am            Session 1: Identifying the need for Sexuality Education for                                                            Individuals with ASD/DD   Dr. Bobbie Gallagher, BCBA

In this session, the audience will learn about the missing educational opportunities for individual with I/DD and how this may lead to other challenges, including inappropriate sexual behaviors, incarceration, and/or victimization.  Additionally, looking to the future, what strategies should be included to increase appropriate sexual behaviors, including understanding boundaries of oneself and others, identifying appropriate space for masturbation behaviors, and healthy friendships/relationships.   

10:15am - 10:30am          Break   

10:30am - 11:45am          Session 2: Accessing Appropriate Sex Ed from Public Schools and                                              State Agencies   Hillary Freeman, Esq.

Attendees will learn about how to identify individual's needs and access supports under the IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Methods to challenge school districts and state agencies when they fail or refuse to respond appropriately will also be discussed.  

11:45am - 12:45pm          Lunch 

12:45pm - 2:00pm          Session 3: Sex Education as Abuse Prevention:  Why It is Important to                                        Be Informed about Sexual Violence and Supports for Survivors                                                   Melissa Keyes DiGioia, CSE and Tracy Higgens, MA, LPC

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are particularly vulnerable to experiencing exploitation and sexual violence.  In this session, attendees will learn about factors that contribute to vulnerability and ways to support a survivor of sexual violence.  Attendees will also learn about counseling and educational programming that aims to build people’s awareness of sexual violence, abuse prevention, and support for survivors.

2:00pm - 2:15pm            Break 

2:15pm - 3:30pm            Session 4: Sexuality and the Spectrum: Lessons on Sex, Dating, and                                          Love Autism Style    Amy Gravino, MA, CAS

Individuals on the autism spectrum are sexual beings, yet they are often not taught the necessary skills to be successful in romantic relationships. This session features a firsthand personal narrative from a woman on the autism spectrum, and gives an inside perspective on both the triumphs and heartbreaks of young adulthood. The potential for using principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to teach these skills and challenges that may arise in doing so will be addressed, as well as differences between males and females on the autism spectrum and challenges they may face as they encounter adolescence, puberty, and young adulthood. Strategies for professionals and parents to discuss issues and assist individuals on the spectrum in navigating relationships, avoiding victimization, and becoming empowered will also be discussed. 

3:30pm - 4:00pm          Panel Discussion with Q and A