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Autism Tennessee is proud to present
our annual fall conference:

 “Autism Can Work”

Co-hosted by TN Dept of Education
Saturday, September 9, 2017

8:00-8:45 a.m.
9:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m.

Cross Point Church
7675 Hwy 70 S, Nashville, Tennessee 37221

Conference Information

With the theme “Autism Can Work,” we will empower attendees to focus on what individuals with autism can do in the workplace and how to support the transition to adulthood for maximum independence.  Attendees who will benefit from this conference include educators, administrators, and support staff, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, and caregivers. Each attendee will use the information presented at our Autism Can Work Conference to enrich the lives and experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum. We hope you will consider being part of this exciting event.

The conference format will 

  • Opening: Advancing Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Autism
  • Session 1: Importance of Early Planning
  • Session 2: Autism Advantage
  • Session 3: Transition Success
  • Transition Insights Panel Discussion

Participants will leave with practical ways to support individuals on the autism spectrum to improve workplace readiness skills and promote maximum independence. 

Know an amazing educator? Nominate them for the Coston Education Award! 


Registration is currently open. If you have any questions or are in need of any ADA accommodations, please contact Autism Tennessee at (615) 385-2077, ext. 3 or admin@autismtn.org. Registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, and handouts.  *To register as a Family Member, you must be a family member of an individual with ASD.

Registration Rates:

  • Click here to register
    Autism Tennessee Members  
    • Individual with ASD- $35
    • Student (with Student ID)- $35
    • One Family Member*- $40
    • Professional- $75
    • Individual with ASD- $35
    • Student (with Student ID)- $35
    • One Family Member*- $60
    • Professional- $120
  • Group Rate 8+  Click here for group registration
    • $60 per person

Thorkil Sonne

Thorkil Sonne is a Director and President of Specialisterne Foundation, Inc. and Chairman of the Specialist People Foundation, which he founded December 2008.
He founded Specialisterne (The Specialists) in 2004 as the first market driven company where the skills of high functioning people with autism spectrum disorder are used to perform high-quality services like software testing for corporate customers. 
Specialisterne is a case study at Harvard Business School, was awarded ‘Best large social firm Europe 2006’ by CEFEC and named ‘One of 12 shocking ideas that could change the World’ by Wired Magazine.
Thorkil Sonne has a long background in the private IT and Telecommunications business, most recently with TDC, the incumbent Danish telecommunications firm. Thorkil has previously also been president of a local branch of Autism Denmark, and is father of a son with autism.
Thorkil has been recognized for his work with Specialisterne :

Autism Prize 2004 by Autism Denmark
IT Prize 2008 by The Danish IT Industry Association
‘Brave Thinker’ by The Atlantic Magazine, November 2009
‘Intelligent Optimist’ by Ode Magazine, January 2010
Thorkil is an Ashoka Fellow and participates in the Globalizer program.

 Ernie Dianastasis

Ernest (Ernie) Dianastasis is Founder and CEO of The Precisionists, Inc., a global administrative services, and information technology company dedicated to employing 10,000 people with disabilities by the year 2025. In this role, Ernie is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company, which is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware with a national focus. Throughout his career, Ernie has demonstrated a passion for creating meaningful careers for people with disabilities, while at the same time delivering world class service to customers.
Ernie is Chairman of First State Innovation; a private sector led non-profit initiative to foster a more entrepreneurial environment in Delaware. First State Innovation is closely aligned with the Council on Competitiveness in Washington, D.C., to which Ernie also belongs. Ernie also serves on the Board of Directors of the University City Science Center, which is the first and largest urban research park in the country, located in Philadelphia, PA.
He earned a B.S. degree in Finance and an M.B.A. in Management from Lehigh University and remains active in supporting numerous university initiatives. Ernie and his wife Jennifer reside in Wilmington, Delaware, with their two children, John (Jack) and Paisley.

Keivan Stassun

Dr. Keivan G. Stassun is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Vanderbilt University. He earned his Ph.D. in Astronomy as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He was a postdoctoral research fellow with the NASA Hubble Space Telescope Program before joining the faculty at Vanderbilt.

As the parent of an autistic son, as a person committed to diversity in all its forms, and as a scientist interested in the power of human visualization for scientific discovery, he is involved in a pilot initiative at Vanderbilt — the Center for Autism and Innovation — that is devoted to:
developing a strengths-based — as opposed to deficit-based — understanding of neuro-diverse capabilities; modeling of novel employment arrangements, management trainings, and workplace practices that fully utilize these capabilities to spur innovation; invention of new technologies that enable autistic and other neuro-diverse individuals to succeed in employment and achieve their full potential; documenting and disseminating an all-hands community-based approach — including educators, researchers, employers, philanthropists, and community organizers — to enhance quality of life for autistic individuals through meaningful employment.

Shimul Gajjar

Shimul Gajjar is an educational consultant with TennesseeWorks at Vanderbilt University. Her work primarily focuses on helping young adults with disabilities transition successfully out of high school. She develops content for transition-related professional development modules for educators and other stakeholders. Shimul graduated from Vanderbilt with a Master’s degree in Special Education with a focus on high incidence disabilities in 2016



Jennifer L. Bumble

Jennifer L. Bumble is a doctoral student in special education at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on community engagement strategies to improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities in the areas of employment, inclusion, and independent living. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Jennifer worked as an educational consultant with TennesseeWorks and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, delivering professional development and online resources to educators across the state. She also worked as a middle-school special education teacher in San Antonio, TX and overseas in South Korea.

Transition Insights Panel Discussion

  • Dr. Dave Caudel*Executive Director, Center for Autism and Innovation, Vanderbilt University
  • Thorkil Sonne, President, Specialisterne USA
  • Ernie DianastasisCEO, The Precisionists, Inc.
  • Julian Fry, Managing Director, UBS Financial Services, Inc.
  • Juli Liske*, Autism Advocate

*Individual on the Autism Spectrum


We expect to see around 250 professionals, parents, and educators of individuals with ASD at our conference.  Share information, highlight your program offerings, and network with the autism community by becoming an Exhibitor at our conference.Because there are a limited number of exhibit opportunities available, we will accept exhibitors directly related to the purpose of the conference and meet the mission of Autism Tennessee.

 Exhibitor Fee Includes:

  • One table (no table cloth) and one chair
  • Access to family members, professionals, and educators of individuals with ASD
  • Your marketing materials/products included in registration packets for attendees (limit one)
  • Conference registration (including snacks and meals) for one individual
  • You may request access to an electrical outlet, but we cannot guarantee that access.
  • Exhibitors have the option of donating their conference registration to be used as a scholarship for a parent to attend the conference in the exhibitor’s name.
  • Your annual membership to Autism Tennessee

Exhibitor Fees

  • Individual on the spectrum                                                 $75
  • Non-profit, Agency member of Autism Tennessee            $150
  • For-profit,  Agency member of Autism Tennessee             $225
  • Additional exhibitor attendants requesting meals              $20/each

The Exhibitor registration deadline is September 1. Space is limited, so register today! If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Cloud at (615) 385-2077×4 or Lisa@autismtn.org.
Please Note:  Items can NOT be sold at the exhibit tables without PRIOR APPROVAL.


Reasons for Support Direct access to potential customers. Support of services for the autism community and their families. Benefits of Sponsorship Social Media and Advertising Impressions ~20,000. Brand development through recognition on-site and in print materials. Sampling opportunities and visibility.

  • Date – Saturday, September 9, 8:00-4:00
  • Location – Cross Point Church 7675 Hwy 70 S, Nashville, Tennessee 37221
  • Expected Attendance – 250 (educators, parents, and autism professionals)

Types of Sponsorships

Co-Host Sponsor: $5,000
Presenting Sponsor: $3,000
Community Partner: $1,000
Friends: $500

(615) 385-2077 ext 1
955 Woodland St
Nashvillle, TN 37206

Autism Tennessee, legal name ASMT, Inc. is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and donations are tax deductible. This statement is not intended to be tax advice. Please check with your accounting professional or the I.R.S. for information regarding tax deductions for donations to 501(c)3 charitable organizations. Tax ID # 27-1003749
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