Cal Lutheran presents autism conference
Students, educators, therapists and entrepreneur featured
Keynote Speaker Andreas Forsland
Keynote Speaker Andreas Forsland

After more than 400 people from throughout the country flocked to California Lutheran University’s first autism conference early this year, a second event was organized for Saturday, Oct. 8.

Cal Lutheran’s Autism and Communication Center will present The Spectrum of Opportunity Conference: Autism, Inclusion and Community from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Gilbert Arena on the Thousand Oaks campus.

The event will highlight communication strategies. Educators, families and professionals will learn how to support and include people with autism who experience complex communication challenges in school and community settings. Between 30 and 40 percent of children with autism spectrum disorders speak minimally or not at all.

Andreas Forsland, the CEO of Smartstones, will give the keynote address, “Think to Speak: The Future of Communication.” The Santa Barbara resident is working on a wireless headset that would analyze brainwaves to help nonverbal people speak.

Elizabeth Vosseller will give a presentation titled “Changing Assumptions About Autism and Communication.” A pediatric speech-language pathologist, Vosseller in 2009 launched a private practice in Virginia called Growing Kids Therapy Center for children who have difficulty communicating because of autism or other disorders. Since 2013, she has focused her practice on “spelling to communicate” using letter boards and keyboards.

Dillan Barmache, Debbie Spengler and Amanda Johnson will discuss “Instructional Approaches and Accommodations in the Classroom.” Barmache is a teen with autism who learned to communicate by typing out his thoughts on an iPad and using an augmentative and alternative communication app to read them out loud. Spengler, a Verdugo Hills Autism Project supervisor, is Barmache’s therapist and communication partner. Johnson, a behavioral therapist with Children’s Developmental Milestones, serves as a communication partner to a boy with autism who types to communicate in a general education classroom.

Ali Steers, Adie Buchinsky and Sarah Salazar will give a presentation titled “Working With Teachers, Parents and the IEP Team to Support Alternative Communication at School.” Steers, a speech-language pathologist, and Buchinsky, a special education teacher at CHIME Institute’s Schwarzenegger Community School in Woodland Hills, founded Communication and Learning Consultants. Salazar is a general education teacher at CHIME.

Two college students with autism who communicate by typing will share their experiences. Samuel Capozzi attends California State University, Channel Islands, and Kayla Takeuchi goes to Clovis Community College.

Registration is $85. Discounted tickets for students and people with autism are $25. Registration is requested by Oct. 1. For more information, email or visit