Schedule

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Speakers

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Judy Bass, CEP

Certified Educational Planner
Bass Educational Services
Judith S. Bass, CEP is an internationally recognized expert in the field of college placement for students who learn differently. For the past 18 years, Ms. Bass has provided comprehensive college and post-secondary planning for students who learn differently.

Ms. Bass has developed CollegeWebLD, a one-stop source of information on college disability services at over 400 colleges in the US.

Ms. Bass is the current Chair of the Commission on Credentialing for AICEP (www.aicep.org) and is a past Board Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). She also serves as a consultant to several independent high schools in the Washington, DC area.

Ms. Bass is a contributing author in the recently published book, Navigating the Transition from High School to College for Students with Disabilities. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Washington Parent and ATTENTION Magazine.

Ms. Bass received her undergraduate degree in Spanish and Education from Stony Brook University, earned a Graduate Level Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA and holds the designation of Certified Educational Planner.

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David Black

Director
Center for Assessment and Treatment
Dr. David O. Black is a pediatric neuropsychologist and internationally recognized expert in autism spectrum and related disorders. In addition to his work with individuals who have social and self regulatory problems, Dr. Black provides comprehensive neuropsychological assessment and consultation services to children, adolescents, and young adults with learning differences, attention disorders, and medical conditions such as epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, and genetic disorders. His assessments are comprehensive, integrated, and individualized, emphasize strengths, and capture the nuance that makes each person unique. He provides ongoing individual and family consultation and support, including assisting families navigate the transition to adulthood. Dr. Black frequently assists with the implementation of treatment plans and school placement decisions, attends school meetings (including I.E.P. meetings and due process hearings), and forensic evaluation and expert testimony in cases that involve autism spectrum and developmental disorders.

Dr. Black’s more recent work has focused on the transition to adulthood and unique challenges inherent in that transition, as well as in the role of stress and anxiety in autism and intervention that may reduce its impact. Prior to founding the Center for Assessment And Treatment, Dr. Black was a researcher in the Pediatrics and Developmental Neuroscience Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH. There, he investigated the factors that contribute to the best outcomes among children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. His clinical and research interests have focused on the neurocognitive and psychological underpinnings for effective navigation of the social world. Dr. Black has repeatedly published his work in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Dr. Black often serves on advisory and expert review committees for autism-related services and programs. He is frequently asked to give lectures on a variety of topics related to autism, social cognition, child development, learning disabilities, and post secondary transition.

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Matt Bogin

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Kim Brown

Head of Intermediate
The Lab School

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Mary Dickerson

Head of Lower School
McLean School
Dr. Dickerson has been a school administrator for over twenty years in public and private schools. Dr. Dickerson holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Kansas, a Master's degree from Harvard University in Educational Leadership, and a PhD in Educational Leadership from Boston College.

She is currently the Head of Lower School at McLean School. In addition, she teaches graduate level classes to aspiring school leaders.

She has experience teaching music education and violin, and has used music as a vehicle to support children who learn differently. It is her passion to find out how children learn and to support them in the classroom with excellent teachers, strategies, and resources.

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Whitney Ellenby

Author, Founder of Autism Ambassadors
Autism Ambassadors
Whitney Ellenby is a former US Department of Justice, Disability Rights attorney whose writings have been published in The Washington Post, law review periodical and the U.S. DOJ website. She is the author of “Divinity vs. Discrimination: Curtailing the Divine Reach of Church Authority,” Golden Gate University Law Review (1996)), as well as an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. DOJ Disability Rights Division regarding discrimination against mo bility-impaired individuals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

She is the proud parent of a son with Autism and founder of “Autism Ambassadors,” a charitable venture through which she runs exclusive recreational events for over 600 families impacted by Autism in the Washington, DC/Maryland area.

She is an expert on Autism and has testified before the Maryland Senate, and serves on the University of Maryland Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board. Whitney’s expertise is steeped in her extensive disability law background and over 10 years of serving children, teens and adults with Autism through her “Autism Ambassador” events. Her “Ambassador events” have been featured in local TV news, The Washington Post and Bethesda Magazine.

Whitney was most recently honored with a “Community Leader” award for her advocacy and dedication to the disability community of Maryland. She has what she describes as a “healthy obsession” with all things Autism.

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Jennifer Engel Fisher

Associate Director
Weinfeld Education Group
As Associate Director, Jennifer serves as an educational consultant for students in elementary through high school, conducting observation, reviewing records, and attending school meetings. She is also responsible for the Advocacy division of WEG, which involves ongoing training of our thirteen advocates. Additionally, Jennifer runs our School Selection and Organizational Coaching divisions of WEG. Jennifer consults with schools, providing them with training on effective instructional strategies and methodologies.

Jennifer earned her B.S. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and her M.S. in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University. Jennifer taught in both self-contained and inclusion settings in Howard County Public Schools, Maryland. She served a variety of student populations including students with AD/HD, Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disabilities, and those with an Emotional Disturbance diagnosis. Jennifer was also the Learning Resource Specialist at the Lowell School in Washington, DC. She consulted with teachers to support students with a wide variety of special needs as well as the gifted population. Her expertise in a variety of methodologies, including Orton-Gillingham, allows her the broad knowledge needed to work with a variety of populations.

Her current Board positions include: Board President of Washington Independent Services for Educational Resources (WISER), Academic Excellence Chair on the Board of Creative Minds International Public Charter School in DC, and Board Member of the International Dyslexia Association, Maryland Branch. Jennifer has co-authored two books; Take Control of Asperger’s Syndrome: The Official Strategy Guide for Teens with Asperger’s Syndrome and Nonverbal Learning Disorders and Take Control of Dyslexia and Other Reading Difficulties. Jennifer is also a contributing author of School Success for Kids with ADHD.

Jennifer provides advocacy and expert witness services at WEG.

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Fran Gage

Special Education Para Educator
MCPS

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Gretchen Holtzinger Levine

Transition Specialist/Teacher
The Katherine Thomas School
Ms. Levine assists students to plan and obtain services for transition from high school to post secondary life, both as a transition teacher with Katherine Thomas School and through her work with Eric A. Levine and Associates.

She has presented at local, state and national conferences on a variety of topics related to inclusion, self-direction, transition planning and customized employment for individuals with disabilities.

As a Supervisor and Director of The Arc of Frederick County's Local Services Program, Gretchen was able to implement many new initiatives to enhance community support for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Gretchen worked with The Way Station, in Frederick, a psychiatric rehabilitation program, to help develop employment programming for people with developmental disabilities and mental illness. Gretchen focused on individual outcomes through customized employment planning, and the use of local, state and federal funding streams for staffing of these services.

Ms. Levine earned a bachelor's degree in Special Education from Hood College and her Master of Arts Education and Human Development at The George Washington University and is a certified Special Education teacher.

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Sarah Finch Jackson

Instructional Specialist - Twice Exceptional
Montgomery County Public Schools
Sarah grew up in MCPS, graduating from Gaithersburg High School. After, she attended Roanoke College, and received her BA in Environmental Policy and Political Science. After working in a outdoor education with the Girl Scouts, and science education with the Science Museum of Western Virginia, and the IT world, she earned her M.A.T. in Secondary Social Studies Education from Hollins University. While there, she specialized in environmental education through a social studies lens.

In 2010, she then moved back to MCPS and began working in the Bridge Program at Hoover Middle School. She received my M.S.Ed. in Special Education, with endorsements in Gifted Education and Advanced Methods of Differentiation and Inclusion. In 2014, Sarah began working at Northwood High School where she taught in and coordinated the GT/LD program for four years. Sarah is currently an Instructional Specialist in the Division of Accelerated and Enriched Programs, where she specializes in working with twice-exceptional students, their teachers and developing programs. Sarah is also married and has a two-year-old daughter.

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Clay Kaufman

Head of School
The Siena School
Clay Kaufman,co- Head of School at The Siena School, is a longtime educator in the Washington, D.C. area.

As a teacher and administrator he has implemented hands-on, experiential learning and developed integrated curricula in the humanities and math/science for students with learning differences.

Mr. Kaufman has been selected for a variety of leadership roles, including: the E.E. Ford Fellowship for private school leadership; the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program in Ankara, Turkey; an d the National Endowment for the Humanities Independent Scholars program.

He is a former board member of Sheridan School in Washington DC, and has presented workshops five times at the NAIS annual conference on the subject of skills and strategies for students with learning differences that are valuable for all students.

He has run training sessions and served as a consultant at numerous DC area public and private schools.

He holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University, and a Master's from Georgetown University.

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Joe Kavitski

Head of School
Fusion Academy
Joe is thrilled to serve as Fusion Academy Rockville’s Head of School!

After graduating with a BFA in Film, Photography, and Visual Arts from Ithaca College, Joe lived in New York City for a decade working as a filmmaker. While shooting a documentary in Poland and Prague about a Holocaust survivor returning to the concentration camps he was placed in as a child, Joe became invested in utilizing digital media as a therapeutic tool. Earning his M.A. in Art Therapy from New York University, he worked with adolescents in the juvenile justice system, adults struggling with mental illness, older adults with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and spent time working at a clinic for men with physical and cognitive disabilities in Ghana. Later, he became a program manager for a NYC based non-profit organization specializing in 3D computer animation as a means to serve at-risk youth, teaching and running therapy groups in all five boroughs of New York City. He has guest lectured at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and served as adjunct faculty at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Having left the “Big Apple” for the “Old Bay,” Joe is elated to continue providing students with cutting-edge educational opportunities at Fusion, and formerly served as Fusion Academy Rockville’s Director of Admissions and Outreach.

Joe is an avid weightlifter, yoga enthusiast, and Reiki practitioner. You’re likely to find he and his wife hiking, rocking out to live music, appreciating local art, antiquing for unique “curiosities,” or enjoying a spicy meal.

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Devin Goozh Kesterman

Kindergarten Teacher
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS
Devon Goozh Kesterman has been teaching for over 20 years in both public and private school settings, from nursery school through high school. Devon attended Georgetown University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. After teaching for a few years in Maryland and Tennessee, Devon attended Columbia University Teachers College where she earned her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Teaching. She is currently a kindergarten teacher at Bethesda Eleme ntary in Montgomery County.

As a teacher in an inclusion model school, Devon has experience teaching all types of learners and working alongside the parents during the school year. She has experience teaching students with multiple special needs, Rett Syndrome, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down's Syndrome, Emotional Disturbance Diagnosis, Developmental Delay and Intellectual Disabilities. She works to continuously incorporate strategies, resources and activities that engage all of the learners in her classroom.

Although she has taught in the upper grades, Devon truly loves working in Early Childhood maintaining her kindergarteners sense of wonder and curiosity. In the classroom, she enjoys the process of discovering how each child learns best in order to help her students reach their individual potential. Devon hopes to find ways to encourage independence and responsibility as the kindergarten year progresses, developing a sense of confidence and a love of learning in all of her students.

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Connie Lorentzen

Advisory Committee
Fairfax County School Board
Connie Lorentzen was born in Washington D.C., received a B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of Maryland.  Following graduation, she taught school on Maryland for a decade.

She is married and has three children; two of whom are twice exceptional.

She served for over a decade on the Fairfax County Council of PTAs and since 2004 have advocated, with Fairfax County Public Schools, for improved awareness and services to better meet the academic, social emotional and functional needs of 2e learners.

She currently serves on the Fairfax County School Boards Advisory Committee for Students with a Disability.

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Deborah Lourie

Director of Admissions
Chelsea School
Director of Admissions, Debbie Lourie, Ms. Lourie is a Licensed Certified Social Worker - Clinical (LCSW-C) with 12 years of service to Chelsea School. Previously serving as admissions Director at Katherine Thomas School, Debbie has a proud career with social work in educational environments and leading individual & group therapy for social, emotional, and learning disabled youth. She is responsible for ensuring that each and every applicant will thrive at Chelsea, and their pr ofile is a match for Chelsea’s mission.

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Dave Mullen

Head of School
The Nora School
David Mullen, M.Ed., has led The Nora School since 1991, instituting many new and innovative programs. Most recently, The Nora School has created a school-wide mindfulness curriculum to help students more skillfully self-regulate in the face of stress. The Nora School serves students in grades 9-12 who are bright but have not thrived in larger settings.

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Lorrie Ness, PhD

Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Ness Psychological Services
Lorrie Ness is a clinical psychologist in Silver Spring whose practice specializes in providing comprehensive testing and counseling to students and adults facing educational challenges. She received her B.A. in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Tennessee.

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Michael Orleans

Senior Advisor
NFP
Michael Orleans came to NFP | The Meltzer Group in 2005, after working for the Washington Financial Group. He has played an integral part in the growth of the company’s retirement, employee benefits, and insurance divisions. Michael has a CLTC (Certification in Long-Term Care) and holds a FINRA Series 6 – Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Representative license, Series 63 – Uniform Securities Agent State Law license, and Series 65 – NASAA-Investment Advisors Law license, which allows him to act as a Investment Advisor Representative (IAR).

Having a great sense of pride in serving the community, Michael has served on multiple boards in the Washington metropolitan area. In May of 2007, he got involved with CSAAC (Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children), where he served on the Foundation Board from 2008 through 2011.

A third generation Washington D.C. native and graduate of the University of Maryland, Michael resides in Rockville, Maryland with his wife, Linda, and daughter Danielle.

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Chase Phillips

Senior Vice President
Merrill Lynch
Chase Phillips focuses on developing and implementing advanced financial strategies for families, businesses, and individuals, including those with long term disabilities and special needs. Starting with Merrill Lynch in 2008, Chase concentrates on clients’ primary concerns: preservation of capital, tax minimization, and lifetime cash flow needs. To help ensure that customized strategies are developed for his clients, Chase works in conjunction with families’ Estate Attorneys and CPAs to establish multi-generational wealth strategies, frequently in tandem with philanthropic techniques. In addition, Chase's practice has a specific focus on improving the financial well-being of individuals living with special needs regardless of their age or disability. This includes customized financial strategies for families with special needs loved ones, including; Special Needs Trusts, Pooled Special Needs Trusts, Conservatorships, Guardianships, Charitable Trusts, Generational Skipping Trusts and a variety of Family Trusts. In 2017 Chase was recognized by Forbes/Shook as one of "America's Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors"

Chase graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in History. While at Wisconsin, Chase a member of the Men’s rowing team where he was the coxswain of the Men’s Varsity 8. He was also selected to the 2005 and 2006 United States National rowing team where he represented the USA at two World Rowing Championships in Japan and Belgium; bringing home a bronze medal for the USA in 2005. He volunteers at Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities where he sits on the board as chairman. Quality Trust is an independent, non-profit advocacy organization focused on improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities and their families. Chase also serves on the Investment Committee for Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. He resides in Arlington, VA with his wife, Beth Roszkowski, daughter, Grace and son, James.

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Janet Price

Dir, Admissions & Outreach
College Living Experience
Janet Price is the Director of Admissions and Outreach at College Living Experience in Rockville, MD. Janet has nearly 10 years previous experience as an educational advocate, and has co-authored two books, Take Control of Asperger’s Syndrome, winner of the 2010 Legacy Book Award, and Take Control of Dyslexia, as well as numerous articles. She has been a guest lecturer for graduate programs in special education and autism at Towson University and America n University and wrote the course content for an online graduate level class in special education advocacy. She has presented at national conferences on a variety of topics related to special education advocacy and transition. Janet holds a B.A. from The George Washington University.

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Debbie Reber

Author, founder TiLT Parenting
TiLT Parenting
Differently WiredDebbie Reber Reber is a parenting activist, NY Times bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a website, weekly podcast, and social media community for parents like her who are raising differently wired children. The TiLT Parenting Podcast has grown to be a top podcast in iTunes’ Kids and Family category, with more than 500,000 downloads and a slate of guests that includes hi gh-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. Debbie’s newest book is "Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World."

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Rhona Schwartz

Dir, High School Program
TLC: The Katherine Thomas School
As an administrator and a classroom teacher, Ms. Schwartz has more than 30 years of experience working with children and adolescents with learning disabilities. Ms. Schwartz has led the KTS high school program, including developing the curriculum, since its inception in 2004. Throughout her career, Ms. Schwartz has nurtured collaborative relationships with funding sources, institutions of higher education, and other community organizations and agencies to maintain a high quality program. Prior to joining KTS, Ms. Schwartz was for several years an Assistant Division Head and later Director of Tutoring at a private school for special needs students. Ms. Schwartz earned her Master’s degree in Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York.

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Rick Silver

Founder & Director
The THRIVE Center
Dr. Richard Silver is the Founder and Director of THRIVE and has been delivering mental health care for over 35 years. He received both his medical degree and his psychiatric training at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, as well as a masters degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

His current approaches to the delivery of emotional and mental health services have come from a variety of experiences, including his professional work in a wide range of settings; shepherding his daughters (two out of three whom have ADHD) through the mental health and educational systems; and his personal emotional work and development.

Dr. Silver says “Over the years, I have thought carefully about the experience of healing, from our growing initial distress and dysfunction, through emotional and mental transformation, to the point of resolution of our problems. In addition to controlling our psychiatric symptoms, I think that people yearn to know themselves and express themselves on a deep emotional and spiritual level, a critical and necessary part of healing that exists for each one of us. We do not heal by symptom management alone.

“Through my work at THRIVE, I feel like what I want to offer to people is the opportunity to know themselves well, to accept their strengths and limitations, and to push as far as possible to achieve their dreams and goals. I’m not going to guarantee happiness, but if you understand this journey of self exploration, it will lead to a life that is more resilient, fulfilling and satisfying.”

He is a Maryland native and in his spare time hikes, plays guitar and writes songs. He has a wife, three daughters, two dogs, a cat and a rabbit, which explains why he spends so much time at work.

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Katherine Theobald

Director of High School
Commonwealth Academy

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Sarah Wayland, PhD

Special Needs Care Navigator, Parenting Coach, RDI Consultant
Guiding Exceptional Parents
Sarah C. Wayland, Ph.D. is the owner and founder of Guiding Exceptional Parents, LLC. Her work focuses on providing parents with the tools they need to help their children with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, giftedness and other challenges that make it hard to function in school or at home.

She teaches parenting classes as well as classes on parent self-care.

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Rich Weinfeld

Managing Director
Weinfeld Education Group
Richard Weinfeld directs Weinfeld Education Group, LLC, a group of over 25 educational consultants, located in Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. In addition to directing the work of the company, Mr. Weinfeld provides direct special education consultation services to
families of students with special needs. Mr. Weinfeld also provides extensive parent and staff training and consults with schools about appropriate programming for students.

Rich has long been an advocate for quality educational programs for all students. Twenty-six years of his thirty-year career, with Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools, were spent in a variety of leadership roles in special education. Mr. Weinfeld has expertise in working with students with a wide range of disabilities including learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and emotional disabilities. He served as Montgomery County’s first full-time
coordinator of programs for students who are simultaneously gifted and learning disabled.

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Val Wise, PhD

Adjunct Professor
Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Valaida L. Wise (Val) is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. An educator for almost 20 years, Val received a Bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from Syracuse University, an M.A.T. from Trinity College, Washington D.C., and holds a doctorate in Education from George Washington University.
A Brava award winner, Val has lectured nationally and internationally, most recently on the topic of early childhood education at Tanjian University and other provinces in China. She has presented at a variety of conferences including, National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Education Diplomacy, Children’s Trust, etc. Val has written several articles on educational leadership in early childhood as well as Montessori Education. Her article: A Critical Absence in the Field of Educational Administration: Framing the (Missing) Discourse of Leadership in Early Childhood appears in the International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation. She is a trustee on several professional and independent school boards. Val is married with 3 children.

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Joan Wittan

Founder, Independent Educational Consultant
College Consulting Collaborative
Joan Wittan works with students with a wide variety of learning differences and loves the challenge of finding and building on their strengths and maximizing their potential. She has expertise working with twice-exceptional students and a broad and in-depth knowledge of colleges with appropriate learning supports and programs. Joan has developed materials and processes to help students prepare to be independent and successful individuals and find the right post-secondary fit.

Joan has extensive experience with the education community serving on multiple committees through Montgomery County Public Schools, the Board of the GTLD Network, and as a Board member for the Independent Educational Consultants Association. She has both interest and experience in the intersection of education (MCPS) and business through work for the Montgomery County Business Roundtable on Education.

Joan is a founding member of The College Consulting Collaborative which provides individualized planning, preparation, and placement for students with learning differences (offices in the DMV, Charleston SC, and San Francisco CA)

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Weinfeld Education Group

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Registration

08:00 AM 09:00 AM

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Launching at Every Age and Stage: Supporting Optimal Outcomes for a Neurodiverse Community

09:00 AM 10:00 AM

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Registration

08:00 AM 09:00 AM

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Conference Welcome

09:00 AM 09:10 AM

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Keynote: Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World

09:10 AM 10:30 AM

Today one in five children is neurodivergent, or what Debbie calls “differently wired,” yet this ubiquitous population is stuck growing up in a world that don’t embrace their gifts, talents, and the modern-day evolution they represent.

In her keynote address, Debbie will share ten powerful “tilts,” a.k.a. practical ideas to help parents, professionals, and educators shift their thinking and actions in a way that will help them not only feel more confidence and peace in supporting the atypical children in their lives, but meaningful contribute to a new paradigm where differently wired kids are seen and embraced in school and society, ensuring that the future is abnormal in the best possible way.

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1A Readiness for Kindergarten

10:35 AM 11:35 AM

As students move into today’s kindergartens, they face significant academic demands, as well as social and behavioral demands.

This panel of early childhood experts will discuss the indicators of readiness for this first great academic transition and how parents can help their children begin to launch successfully.

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1B Readiness for Middle School

10:35 AM 11:35 AM

Traditional middle school programs present a huge set of demands for students. The executive functioning challenges of dealing with multiple classes and multiple teachers, who have different systems and expectations, present a significant challenge for many students. Middle school is also a time of significant social challenges.

This panel of middle school experts will discuss the ways parents and professionals can support students during this time of transition.

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1C Readiness for High School

10:35 AM 11:35 AM

Typical high school programs place significant pressure on students, who are faced with earning credits toward graduation and with the pressure of getting ready for college and/or the world of work.

This panel of experts will discuss how parents can begin to launch students towards independence during this important period.

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Lunch & Exhibit Hall

11:40 AM 01:10 PM

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2A Launching 2E Students

12:25 PM 01:10 PM

Your child is almost finished with high school and now they are thinking about what is next. The options for twice-exceptional kids can be tough to figure out because their asynchronous development means they have the ability to shine in some areas, while simultaneously struggling to master other skills like executive functioning, reading, and adaptive skills.

In this presentation, you will learn about some of the options for life after high school, how to set your child up for success, and how to support and collaborate with your young adult to help them make sensible choices that will lead to a rich and fulfilling life.

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2B Launching Student with Autism

12:25 PM 01:10 PM

So begins the turbulent ride of one parent’s decision, crafted in despair and desperation, to abandon traditional interventions for her autistic son in favor of a “hands on” approach of repeatedly exposing her son to real-world settings. Autism Uncensored is an unrestricted portal into the mind of someone who had no intention of sacrificing her career or life for Autism, unaware of the many ways it would irreversibly redefine both. As she clarifies at the outset, “this is not the story of a miraculous breakthrough or recovery,” Zack is still very much autistic and always will be. It is instead the true, real-time account of her decision to allow Zack to indulge in the very behaviors that formal therapies sought to extinguish, to disclose Zack’s diagnosis in public settings, and to repeatedly e xpose him to real-world situations and override his tantrums regardless of public ridicule or scorn.

Autism Uncensored goes where no other book dares—revealing the private disgrace and self-blame about having a “defective” child; the near disintegration of marriage; the failure of the traditional behavioral interventions; and the mercenary way in which service providers prey on parents’ desperation for a cure. It is a personal manifesto about how a socially integrated life is attainable regardless of whether a child overcomes the major limitations of Autism, sparking a new conversation which goes beyond simply accepting persons with Autism for who they are, but considers pushing them beyond their comfort zones to learn who they are capable of becoming. An unstoppable ride with jolting twists and turns, Autism Uncensored will leave you exhilarated, informed and still gasping for air.

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2C Launching Student with Mental Health Challenges

12:25 PM 01:10 PM

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3A Launching at Every Age and Stage

01:15 PM 02:15 PM

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3B Diploma vs. Certificate

01:15 PM 02:15 PM

As academic demands have increase in our schools, many parents have been advised to to take their children off the diploma track and have them pursue certificates instead.

This panel of experts will explore the implications of choosing each of these paths, as well as parental rights within this process.

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3C Employment and Independent Living

01:15 PM 02:15 PM

Two of the ultimate goals of special education are to prepare students for employment and independent living. For those students who need support with entering the world of work and in preparing to live on their own, there are agencies and supports that can help make this a reality.

This panel of experts will discuss how parents can successfully launch students who need extra support in these two crucial areas.

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4A Failure to Launch and What to Do About It

02:20 PM 03:20 PM

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4B Readiness for College

02:20 PM 03:20 PM

It’s never too early to begin thinking about college! This panel of experts will share information and strategies so that families can help prepare students for a successful college transition. Participants will learn to identify potential concerns; promote independence; foster necessary academic, social, and emotional skills; and identify the best fit college and supports for their student. With planning and practice, students can become college ready and launch successfully.

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4C Readiness for Financial Independence

02:20 PM 03:20 PM

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Launched! A Panel of Young Adults Discussing What Worked

03:25 PM 04:30 PM

All of the speakers of this year’s Diamonds conference will present information about how parents and professionals can prepare students to launch successfully.

In this culminating panel, hear from the young adults, themselves, about what worked for them, in school and at home, to help them be the successful adults they are today.

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Closing Remarks, Silent Auction, and Raffle Winners

04:30 PM 04:45 PM

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