2015 Conference Materials

Conference materials from our 2015 annual conference for parents and professionals caring for children with special needs.


Keynote Speaker: Patricia Prelock, Ph.D., Dean, University of Vermont College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders, University of Vermont

Keynote Topic: Leadership in Advocacy: Connecting the Dots and Inspiring Change

This keynote will highlight the role families and providers can and do play in inspiring change as leaders advocating for the health and educational needs of individuals with disabilities. The components of disability that substantially limit participation in major life activities must be understood. The specific body functions and structures, activities and participation, and environmental and personal factors that impact the health and well being of an individual with a disability must also be defined. Families and providers will connect on opportunities to lead and advocate for change through a discussion of four case studies involving children, youth and adults with disabilities. We will explore, as families and providers, the inspiring words of Jane Goodall, that “what you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Workshop #1: Best Practices in Communication: Connecting Families & Providers

Identifying personal qualities and intrinsic characteristics is crucial to successful collaboration among families and providers. Sharing responsibility for outcomes, recognizing problems, and giving issues the time they deserve will be emphasized. Strategies for mediating conflict through identification of shared interests and finding new positions will be demonstrated. Specific examples of effective listening and speaking will be reviewed to ensure positive connections between families and providers. Tips for communication around the diverse health and educational needs of individuals with differences and their families will be provided.

Presenter: Patricia Prelock, Ph.D., Dean, University of Vermont College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders, University of Vermont


Workshop #3: Making Connections with Medicaid

A five person panel of knowledgeable staff from Children with Special Health Needs (CSHN), Bi-State Primary Care Association, Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) and Economic Services Division will present on utilizing Vermont Medicaid and other resources for your child with special health needs on these identified topics, including diapers, durable medical equipment, application and renewals, refugee and immigrant access, Vermont Health Connect, expanded Medicaid, care coordination, and medical home. The second part of the workshop will be opened for attendees to ask questions to the panel.

Facilitators: Kristen Bigelow-Talbert, Quality Improvement Facilitator, Bi-State Primary Care Association and Betty Morse, Health Services Training & Technical Assistance Specialist, Vermont Department of Health, Children with Special Health Needs


Workshop #4: Addressing Your Child’s Challenging Behaviors Starts with You

A parent who learned how to do a simple Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) for her son and then used that information to develop an at-home Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) recently commented:  “I recognized that my son’s behavior is only part of the problem. By learning to change my own behavior, I have a lot more confidence as a parent and he is doing better.” The FBA and BIP approaches are systematic, proven techniques which are used successfully by many schools in Vermont. Families, who know their children best, can apply these same approaches at home and reap the benefits of a more peaceful home life.

Presenter: Tracy Harris, Coordinator for Behavioral Supports, Vermont Agency of Education


Workshop #9: Help! They Suspended My Child!

Unfortunately, students with disabilities are more likely to be formally and informally suspended from school. This session will offer an in-depth review of the law regarding suspensions, expulsions, and informal exclusions for students with disabilities. Practical advice with case examples, local and national resources, and a Q&A on exclusionary discipline will be discussed.

Presenter: Jay Diaz, Staff Attorney, Vermont Legal Aid Disability Law Project

Handouts: Suspension Hypotheticals 


Workshop #10: Developmental Trauma: How It Impacts Children’s Ability to Function

Trauma is often thought of as a single event that results in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, research now demonstrates that chronic and protracted exposure to stress can derail normal childhood development across multiple domains.  This interactive workshop will examine the impact developmental trauma has on the developing brain, particularly during the first few years of life, and how it affects children’s ability to develop relationships, attend to learning, and regulate their thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Utilizing research and frameworks developed by experts in the field, participants will learn practical strategies to become “co-regulators” for children in order to mitigate the impact developmental trauma has on their functioning across environments.

Presenter: Kym Asam, LICSW, Regional Director of Schools and Clinical Programming – NFI

Handouts: Activities that Promote Self-Regulation and ResiliencyComplex Trauma in Children and AdolescentsPotential Impact Developmental Trauma Has on Student Functioning; Reflection Activity and Skills; Targeted Activities for Trauma-Sensitive Practices

Translate »