Augustana University to Host 14th Annual Lighting the Way Autism Conference With Focus on Advocacy

By Jill Wilson | June 08, 2022
Lighting the Way Autism Conference

Augustana University’s Sharon Lust School of Education will host its 14th annual Lighting the Way Autism Conference at Memorial Middle School in Sioux Falls, on Thurs., June 9, and Fri., June 10. 
“The 2022 Lighting the Way Autism Conference allows parents to gain strategies to build their child’s communication, engagement, positive behavior, daily living skills and much more! We are offering new sessions on managing grief, addiction and advancing autism advocacy. The conference also provides opportunities to network with others who promote awareness, understanding and inclusion of those on the autism spectrum,” said Dr. Julie Ashworth, Augustana assistant professor of education. 
This year’s Lighting the Way Autism Conference will focus on advocacy for those who have autism spectrum disorders in our community. The conference is for parents, caregivers, self advocates, educators, social workers, counselors and therapists, adult service providers, as well as business and community members who will have the opportunity to learn about supporting families, best practices in education, health and wellness, and transitions across the lifespan.
The 2022 keynote speakers for the Lighting the Way Autism Conference include Russell Lehmann and Dr. Kari Oyen.
Lehmann is an award-winning and internationally recognized motivational speaker, poet, author and advocate who happens to have autism. His words have been featured in USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio (NPR), Yahoo! News, Autism Speaks and archived in the Library of Congress, reaching more than 25 million people worldwide. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Leadership in the Digital Age Course, Lehmann is a council member of the Autism Society of America, the youth ambassador for the mayor of Reno, Nevada, and sat on the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders. His book entitled, On the Outside Looking In, is in bookstores nationwide.
Oyen is the program director and assistant professor of school psychology at the University of South Dakota, as well as a licensed psychologist in South Dakota whose research focuses on risk and protective factors that lead to student outcomes. Before this appointment, Oyen was a practicing rural school psychologist for 10 years. She is a state coordinator for the multi-tiered Systems of Support/Positive Behavior Interventions and Support project in South Dakota and sat on the Special Education Interim Legislative Committee as a governor appointee, as well as a task force to address the national shortage of school psychologists.
For more information on the 2022 Lighting the Way Autism Conference, visit or contact Lighting the Way Campus Coordinator and Augustana Professor of Education Becky Hatch Fiala at

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