Our annual conference is on Wednesday April 3, 2019. There will be a Keynote Address and 10 workshops. Here is a list of the workshops that we’ve confirmed so far. Stay tuned for more information to come!

Keynote Presentation

Don’t DISmyABILITY: A Transformational Journey from Juvenile Delinquent to Juris Doctor

Hasan Davis will share his journey through the education, justice and social service systems. Systems that often failed to provide him the support he needed to be successful. Hasan was lucky to find that on his journey there were, within each system, outliers and resisters who found a way to engage, encourage and empower him. With their support, he transcended his mounting list of “failures” to become an strong self-advocate and eventually a champion for others facing difficulties. Hasan believes that each person in the community has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to influence and change the way youth encounter the education, justice and social service systems. Hasan will share the simple strategies his personal champions employed to help him complete the “JD shuffle” and go from Hasan Davis Juvenile Delinquent to Hasan Davis Juris Doctor. Presenter: Hasan Davis

This keynote is intended for everyone.

Session 1- 10:45 am – 12:00 noon

Workshop  – Finding Your Story 

Every person hopes to one day become the hero of their own story. For young people experiencing disabilities it is, sometimes, difficult to own our own experience and to feel empowered to determine how we navigate them to find personal success. In this workshop Hasan will lead participants through a creative, self-exploration exercise and then share his personal strategies for success beyond the daily challenges that we face when trying to write our own stories. Hasan has shared these strategies (Hasan’s Rules) which were instrumental in shaping his own journey with groups of youth and many settings. He is very excited to share them with you! Presenter: Hasan Davis

This workshop is intended for transition-age youth (ages 14-26) and those who support them.

Workshop  – Challenging Behaviors and School Success: Turning it Around with an FBA and BIP

Children with challenging behaviors often struggle with school success. These behaviors do not happen in a vacuum. Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is a process for identifying the underlying reasons for problem behaviors — the things that reliably predict them and keep them happening.  A Behavior Support Plan (BSP) turns the information gathered from the FBA into a concrete plan of action for supporting the struggling student. This workshop will provide an overview of how to conduct a simple FBA and use that information to guide a BSP. Participants will learn the skills they need to look at behaviors differently, to prevent or replace problematic behaviors, and to participate in FBA/BSP meetings at school. Workshop participants will also be given guidance on when to ask for a more complex FBA. Presenter: Tracy Harris, Coordinator for Behavioral Supports, Vermont Agency of Education

This workshop is intended for the parents of school-age children and those who support them.

Workshop – The Sibling Perspective

Siblings in all families influence each other. When there is a child with a disability, what kind of new challenges does the sibling without the disability face? What skills and insights have they learned? Come hear the unique and compelling stories from a panel of siblings and find out how this important relationship has shaped their lives. Presenter: Jamie Rainville, Family Support Consultant, Vermont Family Network and a panel of teen and adult siblings.

This workshop is intended for everyone.

Workshop – Anxiety in Children and Teens:  When Should I Worry?

We all experience anxiety and worry to some degree, but when should we be concerned that it has become something that requires a diagnosis and treatment? Can young children have anxiety disorders and is it true that in the past couple of years, greater numbers of children and teenagers are displaying more profound anxiety symptoms? Workshop participants will develop an understanding of a range of anxiety disorders and appreciate how anxiety can impact children of all ages. We will discuss strategies for identifying anxiety and reflect upon practical strategies that can help caregivers build resilience and prevent and address anxiety in children and adolescents. Presenter: Jeremiah Dickerson, MD, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist,  University of Vermont Medical Center, Vermont Center for Children Youth, & Families

This workshop is intended for parents of children/youth and those who support them.

Workshop – Self-Care: The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Children!

“You cannot pour from an EMPTY cup. You must fill your cup FIRST.” Practicing self-care is not only important for your own health, it’s also an opportunity to model healthy behaviors for your children. Finding time for some personal space, making healthy eating a habit, and fitting in regular physical activity are all skills that will support your children and family in living healthy and happy lives. Join us for an interactive workshop on strategies that other parents and caregivers have found to be helpful in balancing their busy lives with some time to practice self-care. In this workshop, you’ll learn about available resources on healthy living, learn what has worked well for others, and plan out some steps that might work well for you. Presenters from the Vermont Department of Health: Sue Kamp, Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Women’s Health Program Director and Allie Perline, Chronic Disease and Disability Program Coordinator

This workshop is intended for parents of children/youth and those who support them.

Session 2 – 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm

Workshop  – Including Families and Students as Partners in the IEP and Transition Planning

In this interactive session, filmmaker and parent advocate Dan Habib will discuss detailed tips and strategies for fostering collaboration between families and schools throughout the IEP process and transition planning. Habib will share how he and his wife have worked to support Samuel’s self-advocacy through student-led IEPs, person centered planning, open team communication and extensive family engagement in writing the IEP itself. Presenter: Dan Habib

This workshop is intended for the parents of school-age children and those who support them.

Workshop – Calling all Youth! Hear the Inspiring Stories from Young Adults who Turned Their Dreams into Reality

What does it take to have a successful transition from high school to postsecondary or employment? A panel of young Vermonters will share their transition tips and stories, exploring the important topics ranging from IEP transition plans, post-secondary paths, the world of employment, independent living, and the agencies and resources that helped along the way. These successful young adults will share what helped, what didn’t, and what is really making a difference in their adult life. Come hear from peers who raised their aspirations, faced their challenges head on, and succeeded! Presenter: Martha Frank, Family Support Consultant, Vermont Family Network, and a panel of transition-age youth

This workshop is intended for transition-age youth (ages 14-26) and those who support them.

Workshop  –  Special Needs Planning for Your Peace of Mind

Special Needs Planning is essential to protect and plan for your disabled child. Most families know that not having the right plans in place can be detrimental to people with special needs but don’t know where to begin. This workshop will include an overview of what parents and grandparents need to know about special needs planning, including: the protection of important government benefits (SSI, Medicaid);  special needs trusts; how to avoid a “payback” to the state for Medicaid; ABLE accounts; guardianship; and providing guidance to future caregivers. Presenter: Claudia I. Pringles, Vermont attorney whose practice includes Special Needs Planning and Estate Planning.

This workshop is intended for everyone.

Workshop – Developmental Trauma:  Fostering Resilience for Children Who Have Had Adverse Childhood Experiences

Trauma is often thought of as a single incident event that results in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, research now demonstrates that chronic and protracted exposure to toxic stress can derail normal childhood development and, therefore, how children function in all environments – school, home and community. This workshop will examine how the brain is impacted by adverse childhood experiences and the resulting challenges children have in different domains of functioning. Based on the work of experts in the field, participants will learn practical and key trauma-informed concepts and skills that foster resilience in both children and their caregivers (parents, grandparents, teachers, etc.) and reduce the impact toxic stress has on children’s ability to be successful. Presenter: Kym Asam, LICSW, Regional Director of Schools and Clinical Programming NFI Vermont

This workshop is intended for parents of children/youth and those who support them.

Workshop  – Talking to your son or daughter about sex!

This workshop is presented by adults with disabilities. We will share our answers to 50+ common questions kids, youth and adults with disabilities have about sex. The answers we suggest are in plain language. We live in a world that is constantly bombarding us with all kinds of messages about sexuality. Let’s work together. It will be fun. We need our families to help us make sense of it all. Presenters: Max Barrows and Karen Topper of Green Mountain Self Advocates

This workshop is intended for everyone.

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