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OARacle Newsletter

April has been designated as a month to celebrate and campaign for autism acceptance since the 1970s. As part of OAR’s April activities, we are hosting a four-part webinar series on the themes of sexuality and relationships. Conversations about sexuality and relationships are needed just as much in the autistic community as they are in neurotypical ones. It is also important to engage, inform, and advocate for relationships and sexuality conversations that support autistic people across the spectrum.

Join us to hear experts discuss sexuality and relationships along with identity, consent, interpersonal communication, social skills, and more. The four webinars will offer expert information for self-advocates, parents, educators, and other professionals who support the community.

All of the webinars are free and include a Q&A session. Those who attend the live webinars will receive certificates of attendance. To suggest future webinar event topics or provide general feedback on OAR’s webinar program, please contact us at webinar@

Preparing for “the Talk”: Ways to get ready to talk about sexuality, relationships, and identity

April 13, 2023 at 12:00 pm, EDT

Presented by: Eileen Crehan, Ph.D.

The landscape of dating, relationships, and sexuality changes rapidly — and for those of us providing support or guidance in these areas, knowing where to begin can be daunting. Join Dr. Crehan, a licensed clinical psychologist and autism researcher, to build your comfort with discussing sexuality and relationship topics and to hear about current research. She will identify comfort zones for dating, relationships, and sexuality to promote positive, self-directed outcomes for autistic individuals. She will also use a positive framework to think about goals for attendees’ learning and share resources for additional learning. Register for this webinar here!


Dr. Eileen Crehan is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in autism and neurodivergence in adolescence and adulthood. Her research lab at Tufts University focuses on improving access to care using methods developed in collaboration with autistic individuals. In her clinical practice, Pegasus Consulting, Dr. Crehan conducts assessments with adults and works with organizations to improve accessibility and understanding of autism across the lifespan.


Getting and Giving Consent: For People with Autism

April 20, 2023 at 1:00 pm, EDT

Presented by: Katherine McLaughlin, M.Ed., AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator

How do we know that someone wants to do something with us? How do we make sure we are clear about what we want? Whether it is being in a person’s company or being sexual with another person, it takes both people to communicate clearly and to listen to the response. In this workshop, Katherine McLaughlin will explore what consent means, how to give consent, how to get consent, and ways to manage rejection when we ask for consent. You can register for this webinar here!


Katherine McLaughlin, M.Ed., AASECT certified sexuality educator, is the founder, CEO, and lead trainer for Elevatus Training. As a national expert on sexuality and intellectual and developmental disabilities, she trains professionals and parents as well as individuals to become sexual self-advocates and peer sexuality educators. She is the author of the  Sexuality Education for People with Developmental Disabilities Curriculum and developer of online courses that engage parents, professions, and self-advocates. She has spent her 25+ year career committed to elevating the status of all people, which is why the name of her growing company is Elevatus Training. Contact her at

Friendship Development for Autistic Youth: Lessons from the UCLA PEERS® Clinic

April 27, 2023 at 1:00 pm, EDT

Presented by: Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D.

This interactive webinar will provide an engaging overview of an evidence-based intervention for neurodivergent adolescents and adults seeking to make and keep friends. The webinar leaders will highlight methods for teaching friendship skills utilized in the PEERS® intervention, including video demonstrations of targeted skills. As one of the only empirically supported and internationally recognized social skills programs for neurodivergent youth, PEERS® is currently used in over 150 countries and has been translated into over a dozen languages. Attendees will be given concrete strategies for friendship development and maintenance, along with tips for handling bullying and rejection. Register for this webinar here!


Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and a licensed clinical psychologist. She is also the founder and director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, the director of the UCLA Tarjan Center, and the program director for the Predoctoral Psychology Internship Program in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at UCLA. Dr. Laugeson has trained tens of thousands of mental health professionals, educators, and families worldwide. She is dedicated to developing and testing evidence-based treatments to improve social skills across the lifespan and across the globe.


A Guide to Interpersonal Communication and Conflict for Autistic Teens and Adults

May 11, 2023 at 1:00 pm, EDT

Presented by: Courtney Lang, Ph.D., and Liana Hicks

Interpersonal communication and relationship conflicts happen to us all. In this webinar, Liana Hicks and Courtney Lang will discuss interpersonal communication and relationship conflicts and how to guide autistic teens or adults through them. The two experts will present on how to interact during and grow from arguments and misunderstandings, as well as when to escalate and when to cool off. Lastly, they will share tips, tricks, and tactics to practice navigating interpersonal interactions in everyday scenarios. You can register for this webinar here!


Liana Hicks is a student support coordinator in the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst University (AIM) with four years of experience within the department. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gannon University and a master’s degree in special education from Mercyhurst University. She is integral in assisting with CREATE program development and increasing AIM’s external network of local and global partnerships. She has attended past vocational exposure experiences and is helping plan the upcoming spring 2023 trip to Washington, D.C.


Dr. Courtney Lang is a corporate education consultant and owner of See Bea Media. She spent nearly two decades teaching communication and research analytics at the university level. Her last position of service was as communication department chairperson at Mercyhurst University, where she worked closely with the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst. During her time there, she taught in the CREATE program and worked closely with AIM to improve communication interactions and outcomes for autistic and neurodiverse students.