Hopes & Dreams 2020

Wednesday, February 26

8:00 – 9:00 Registration /
Check In
9:00 – 9:15Welcome
9:15 – 10:30Keynote
10:30 – 10:45Break /
Exhibitor Visit
10:45 – 12:00Breakout
Session 1

12:00 – 1:15Keynote during
lunch (provided)
1:15 – 2:30Breakout
Session 2

2:30 – 2:45Break /
Exhibitor Visit
2:45 – 4:00Breakout
Session 3

Morning Keynote • 9:15 – 10:30am

Kerry Magro, EdD
Defining Special Needs: From Nonverbal to Professional Speaker

A presentation from award-winning national motivational speaker Kerry Magro on how he got to and survived the education experience growing up being on the spectrum and how his experiences, both good and bad, can help students with disabilities from early childhood to the transition into adulthood. Kerry will present on his experiences with therapies focused on his early development, how he founded a disability awareness organization and a non-profit for special needs housing, his work on 3 best-selling books and much more!


Wednesday • Breakout 1 • 10:45 am – 12:00 pm


Project Cope: “What is Psychosis”

Beverly Griffin

It is not uncommon that anything related to mental illness is stigmatized thus leaving families to believe that it is shameful to seek supports and services that will help maintain a life of hopefulness. Fortunately there are now services available such as Project COPE that will teach you to recognize early warning signs, teach you to seek varies service of care as well as give you on going to help families understand why it is important to seek service early to help manage possible challenges related to the onset of psychosis.

Elopement in Children with Autism

Silvia Pereira-Smith, M.D., FAAP

Elopement is an unsafe behavior that is also referred to as wandering, bolting, or fleeing. Previous national studies have shown that one-third to one-half of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit elopement behavior, while a recent study at the Medical University of South Carolina found that over two-thirds of patients with ASD followed by the Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics division had successfully eloped in their lifetime. This workshop will review the results of this local study and discuss resources recommended to target elopement, including the role of professionals in addressing this potentially dangerous behavior.

Homeschooling Your Student with Special Needs

Susan Blackwell, B.S. Ed.

This workshop will give the attendees an understanding of state laws regarding homeschooling, the advantages of teaching students at home, and information about setting goals and objectives. They will learn tips for making a success of their homeschooling journeys, and where to find resources to assist them along the way.

“When the IEP Says No…Options for Dispute Resolution”

Amanda Hess, J.D.

This presentation will cover both informal and formal ideas and options that parents/guardians can pursue in the event that they disagree with a school district proposal or a school district turns down their request during an IEP meeting.

Transition to Adult Medical Home

Tracie Hayward, BA, MA

This workshop will provide information on transition and why it is important.  Participants will be able to discuss barriers and challenges that occur around transitioning to an adult medical home; outline critical steps in preparing for transition; and recognize important strategies to make transition successful.


Lunch Keynote – 12:00 – 1:15pm

Bryann Burgess
Rethinking disabilities and Engaging Families in the Performing Art

A young woman with Down syndrome shares her reflections of her journey in the performing arts thus far, and the importance of including families in the arts.


Wednesday • Breakout 2 • 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm


Our Seat at the Table – A Parent Leadership Training: Part 1

Sally Baker, BS, M.Ed and  Melissa Sanders BS; MBA

Our Parent Leadership Training is a 2.5 hour, interactive, evidence-based curriculum for anyone who is currently serving, or wants to serve, on a decision-making group.  This can include parents, educators, administrators, and community members  Participants will build an understanding about decision-making groups; learn about the principles that guide shared decision-making and the processes groups use; gain strategies to help you confidently and actively participate in a decision-making group and increase the ability of families to advocate for the needs of children and youth with special health care needs while encouraging these families to take on leadership roles.  *you must attend part 1 and part 2 to get a certificate of completion for this training*

Changing Educational Perceptions through Family Photo Stories

Donna Carpenter, Ed.D and Krista-Leigh Olsen, TVI & TA

This workshop will explore the use of family chosen and narrated photo stories to present to school and medical teams. These photo stories change professional perspectives from a deficit model to a strength-based model. Participants will learn how to create a photo story and use it to work within the educational framework. In addition, the information gained from photo stories can be used for educational assessment planning.

It Takes Two To Tango:  Building the Capacities of Both Schools and Families to Work Together for Student Success

Karen Utter, J.D

Using key concepts from current research and family engagement frameworks, Ms. Utter will invite participants to re-envision family engagement as something more than a school event-driven strategy whose success is measured by the number of parents in attendance.  She will discuss several strategies that are essential to developing and maintaining the kind of effective family-school partnerships that lead to improved student outcomes. Special attention will be given to the importance of ensuring that families are ready to partner with schools and that schools are ready to partner with all families, including families of students with disabilities. Finally, Ms. Utter will facilitate a discussion among participants to share our collective knowledge around the special challenges that families of children with disabilities face in partnering with their schools, strategies that have successfully addressed those challenges, and the kinds supports that general education professionals in particular are looking for in order to better serve students with disabilities and their families.

What exactly do you mean by: “A Continuum of Service Delivery Environments in Preschool?”

Jenny May MEd, PhD.

After this workshop, participants will know more about LRE in early childhood.  The definition of what continuum of service delivery environments are and what they are not will be discussed.  Participants will know where to find resources related to Early Childhood / preschool LRE.

Overview of Medicaid and the TEFRA program

Abeliza Rivera, A.A.S.

This workshop will provide an overview of Medicaid and the TEFRA eligibility.


Wednesday • Breakout 3 2:45 pm – 4:00 pm


Our Seat at the Table – A Parent Leadership Training: Part 2

Sally Baker, BS, M.Ed and  Melissa Sanders BS; MBA

Our Parent Leadership Training is a 2.5 hour, interactive, evidence-based curriculum for anyone who is currently serving, or wants to serve, on a decision-making group.  This can include parents, educators, administrators, and community members  Participants will build an understanding about decision-making groups; learn about the principles that guide shared decision-making and the processes groups use; gain strategies to help you confidently and actively participate in a decision-making group and increase the ability of families to advocate for the needs of children and youth with special health care needs while encouraging these families to take on leadership roles.  *you must attend part 1 and part 2 to get a certificate of completion for this training*

Home Visiting: Evidence-based Practice in Early Intervention

Kerri Wikel and Sarah Myers

Home Visiting has been recognized as an evidence-based practice for early intervention providers of all disciplines. This approach engages caregivers and supports them as their child’s teacher, using daily routines to help meet the functional needs of the family. However, many providers continue to use a traditional model that focuses on provider-to-child teaching and centers around play rather than routines. Bright Start Regional Director of Early Intervention Kerri Wikel and SLP Supervisor Sarah Myers will give an overview of Home Visiting. Specific strategies for use of this approach in the natural environment setting will be discussed.

Alternatives to Guardianship and Steps to Independence

Elizabeth McDonald Allen, LMSW

Learn the various options available for individuals with disabilities to be able to continue making their own life choices and how parents can promote and support steps to their youth’s independence.

What is Mental Health First Aid anyway?

Robyn Ellison, M.Ed.

Just as CPR helps you assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. In the Mental Health First Aid course, you learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help.  This course will give you an overview of Mental Health First Aid (training in 8 hours for certification) for those who would like to get certified including the process as well as some key insights into suicide and suicide response.

SSI and SSDI – what are the differences?

Tom Mayne, CWIC

This workshop will discuss the differences between these programs and how they share very little in common!

Learning objectives: (1) individuals will learn the most common differences between these two programs (2) Individuals will learn how both adult dependents and children can become eligible for benefits under the parents work record and (3) individuals will learn about a non-publicized Medicaid program where their adult children can keep their Medicaid benefits regardless of the amount of SSDI benefits they receive under a parents work record.