Ottawa, ON – March 30 & 31, 2017



Shaw Centre
55 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON

Learn practical skills that can be immediately implemented into existing curriculum and training programs, at home or in school!

Thursday, March 30

Kelly Mahler

Interoception: The Eighth Sensory System

Friday, March 31

Ruth Ellingson

The Science of Making Friends and Handling Peer Rejection for Teens and Young Adults with ASD: The UCLA PEERS® Program

Conference Description

Thursday, March 30

Kelly Mahler

Interoception: The Eighth Sensory System

Interoception is an extremely important sensory system that helps us to ‘feel’ the internal states of our body. For example, the interoceptive system helps us feel many different internal sensations including: hunger, thirst, needing the bathroom, pain, body temperature, sexual arousal, heart rate and muscle tension. Additionally, interoception is a key component to our emotional experience. Research indicates that interoception (our ability to clearly sense body signals, like an increase in heart rate or tingly stomach), enables us to accurately identify, understand and control our emotions.

Many individuals with high functioning ASD have an underlying disconnect with their interoceptive system. In fact, brain research has revealed the brain’s ‘Interoceptive Center’ as an area that is consistently impacted in people with autism, making interoception a crucial consideration when addressing skills in these individuals. Not only can difficulties with interoception cause significant challenges when regulating emotions and regulating body functions (such as hunger, thirst and pain), it has far reaching effects to skills such as perspective taking, problem solving and empathy.

This presentation will provide teachers, therapists, parents and individuals with high functioning ASD a firm understanding of interoception including an overview of what research tells us about interoception, and how to apply this research when developing programming for individuals with high functioning ASD. Discussion will focus on the link between interoception and many important skill areas including emotion regulation, perspective taking, problem solving and empathy. Many practical strategies for assessing and improving interoception will be shared. Finally, a special segment will provide new and unique emotion regulation ideas, developed by individuals with ASD, that highlight their extraordinary way of thinking and viewing the world.

Kelly Mahler earned a MS in Occupational Therapy, as well as a Post-Professional Pediatric Certificate from Misericordia University, Dallas, PA. She is an occupational therapist and autism consultant who supports school-aged individuals and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In the evenings, Kelly is co-founder of Destination Friendship, an organization providing fun opportunities targeted at developing friendship skills in young people with ASD. Kelly has presented numerous seminars and workshops at the international and national levels. Kelly is the author of three books: Sensory Issues and High Functioning Autism (with Myles and Robbins)—winner of 2015 National Parenting Publications Bronze Medal; Destination Friendship (with Benton, Hollis, and Womer) and Hygiene and Related Behaviors for Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders–winner of Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Medal 2011. She currently resides in Hershey, Pennsylvania with her husband, Nicholas and her 2 daughters, Olivia and Madeline.

Friday, March 31

Ruth Ellingson

The Science of Making Friends and Handling Peer Rejection for Teens and Young Adults with ASD: The UCLA PEERS® Program

Deficits in social skills are considered one of the defining challenges among young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), yet few evidence-based social skills programs exist for higher functioning youth with ASD. Using the techniques outlined in Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson’s book, The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults, Dr. Ruth Ellingsen will be providing an overview of the social skills needed for making and keeping friends and handling peer conflict and rejection.

In this interactive and engaging one-day workshop, attendees will be given tips on how to provide social coaching using concrete rules and steps of social behavior derived from the widely popular PEERS® program, the only known evidence-based social skills program for teens and young adults with ASD. Within the framework of solid research evidence about what works and what doesn’t work socially, attendees will be given easy-to-use strategies to assist young people with making and keeping friends. The workshop will include topics such as appropriate use of conversation skills; strategies for entering and exiting conversations; organizing successful get-togethers with peers; and advice for managing arguments and handling teasing, physical bullying, cyber bullying, rumors, and gossip.

Ruth Ellingsen, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Ellingsen received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wake Forest University. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from UCLA in 2016 and completed a clinical internship in child psychology at UCLA from 2015-2016. As a postdoctoral fellow for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, Dr. Ellingsen co-facilitates PEERS® for Adolescents and PEERS® for Young Adults social skills intervention groups under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. She is also a postdoctoral fellow in the UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center where she specializes in the prevention and treatment of traumatic stress in children and families. Her research focuses on factors that influence positive parenting of children at risk.

Tentative Daily Schedule

Thursday, March 30

Registration 7:30 am – 8:45 am
Opening Remarks 8:45 am – 9:00 am
Kelly Mahler
9:00 am – 10:30 am
Refreshment Break 10:30 am – 10:45 am
Kelly Mahler 10:45 am – 12:00 pm
Lunch on Own 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
Kelly Mahler 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm
Refreshment Break 2:30 pm – 2:45 pm
Kelly Mahler 2:45 pm – 4:00 pm

Friday, March 31

Registration 8:00 am – 8:45 am
Opening Remarks 8:45 am – 9:00 am
Ruth Ellingson
9:00 am – 10:30 am
Refreshment Break 10:30 am – 10:45 am
Ruth Ellingson 10:45 am – 12:00 pm
Lunch on Own 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
Ruth Ellingson 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm
Refreshment Break 2:30 pm – 2;45 pm
Ruth Ellingson 2:45 pm – 4:00 pm




Professional Rates

BEFORE March 10, 2017 AFTER March 10, 2017
2 Days
$315.00 + $40.95 HST = $355.95 $345.00 + $44.85 HST = $389.85
1 Day Only $240.00 + $31.20 HST = $271.20 $270.00 + $35.10 HST = $305.10

Parent/Para-Professional Rates

BEFORE March 10, 2017 AFTER March 10, 2017
2 Days $275.00 + $35.75 HST = $310.75 $305.00 + $39.65 HST = $344.65
1 Day Only
$165.00 + $21.45 HST = $186.45 $195.00 + $25.35 HST = $220.35

Registration Includes

Sessions, session materials, refreshment breaks. If you do not receive a confirmation seven business days prior to the conference please contact Autism Awareness Centre. Registrations received after the deadline may not be sent a confirmation before the conference.

General Information

Conference Location

Shaw Centre
55 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 9J2
Tel: 613-563-1984 or 1-800-450-0077
Fax: 613-563-7646


Les Suites Hotel
130 Besserer Street
Ottawa ON K1N 9M9

Reservations: (613) 232-2000
Toll free: 1-800-267-1989

Premiere One Bedroom Suites: $189.00/night

Notes: Rates are based on hotel availability
$25.00/night for each additional person
Rates subject to applicable tax and fees
Complimentary Wireless High Speed Internet
Parking is an additional $22.00CAN/day (plus applicable tax) with unlimited in/out access

Password: AACC0330

Reservations can also be made by calling the hotel direct:

  • Reservations: (613) 232-2000
  • Toll free: (800) 267-1989
  • By fax: (613) 232-1242
  • By email:

Certificates of Completion

Delegates will receive a certificate of course completion for 6 hours of training for each day of the conference.

Dress Code

Dress is business casual. Delegates are reminded that the room may be chilly at times and are encouraged to wear a sweater.

Meals, Refreshment Breaks

Delegates are on their own for lunch. Refreshment breaks will be served in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be in writing and received prior to March 10th, 2017. There will be a $50 administration fee applied to all cancellations until March 10th.  No refunds will be issued after March 10th, 2017.


Paid parking is available at the Shaw Centre, and at surrounding parkades in downtown Ottawa.


The Autism Awareness Centre Bookstore will be open throughout the conference.



Download Ottawa Conference Flyer »


Download Ottawa Conference Brochure »

Autism Awareness Centre Inc.

To Register by Phone or Email
Or For Books and Resources:

Maureen Bennie:

Phone: 403-640-2710
Toll Free: 1-866-724-2224

To Display a Product or Service at an AACI Event

Maureen Bennie:

Phone: 403-640-2710

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2017 Catalogue

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