The Special

Advocacy

Conference

Education

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January 23, 2021

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Welcome to the Conference!  Give yourself a pat on the back.  You’ve set aside a day in January to empower yourself with information and to dig a little deeper into special education.  You won’t regret this commitment!  We’ve got a jam-packed schedule for you and hope that you find each and every workshop helpful, inspiring, and maybe even a little fun!!!   We tried to spread out topics that may interest the same audience to avoid scheduling conflicts, but if you find yourself wanting to attend two workshops at the same time, consider purchasing the “VIP ticket” to gain access to all of the sessions!

Ashley Barlow Co.’s mission is to empower, inspire, and build confidence in IEP team members by providing a framework that joins the legal principles of special education with the interests and values of everyone at the IEP table.




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Event Schedule

Fidelity in Dyslexia Programs: Are They Doing It Right?

Daphne Corder

Meet the Speakers!

9 am

Progress Monitoring: How To Read What You Get From School, Take Data At Home, and Use It for Effective Advocacy

Ashley Barlow

Motivation & ADHD

Tyler Dorsey

The Dilemma of Dyslexia: Navigating Eligibility, Services, and Appropriate Intervention

Carol Dimas

10 am

Take back your voice!  Empowering parents & guardians to speak confidently and effectively to school districts

Lauren Finnegan

Self Care
That Doesn't Suck

Kara Ryska

You Have A Diagnosis. What's Next?

Kayla Steltenkamp

11 am

Eligibility and Child Find: What To Do If The IEP Is Denied

Dayna Friduss

Screening for Dyslexia at Home

Michelle Morgan

1 pm

Preparing for the IEP Meeting

Ray Nelson

Busting the Myths About Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Courtney Hanson

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: Who, What, Where, Why, and How

Sara Platenberg

2 pm

Practical Strategies for Parents, Teachers , Tutors and Advocates that Inspire Student Success

Judith Benson

Understanding Trends In IEP Advocacy at Title 1 Schools and How To Combat Inequities And Increase Parent Access

Krista Barth

Succeeding in College with a Learning Disability: A Student's Guide to Accommodations

Sabrina Axt

3 pm

The ABCs of FBAs and BIPs

Jeff  + Solandy Forte 

Understanding ADHD from the ADHDer's Perspective

Tyler Dorsey

4 pm

The Impact of COVID-19 on Special Education with Two Special Education Attorneys

Sign Up here

Sign up for the VIP pass, which will give you access to all of the conference’s sessions. If you can’t commit an entire Saturday or find yourself wanting to attend two sessions at the same time, this is a fantastic option for you. 

The Importance Of A Parent’s Role As An Advocate

Diana Abril

Event Schedule

ashley barlow.

In working with parents of children on IEPS and as a parent of a child that has a disability myself, I know the importance of advocating with objective information like progress monitoring data. Data is definitely a four-letter word in special education and can intimidate parents. In this session we’ll talk about how to read data that comes from school and the benefits of taking data at home!  



Progress Monitoring: How To Read What You Get From School, Take Data At Home, and Use It for Effective Advocacy
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I  was probably in my early 20s when I first read the Louisa May Alcott quote, “I could have been a great many things,” I thought, “Yes!  That’s me.”  

 I’m a teacher.  I grew up watching my teachers, thinking about how I would do things the same or differently, how I’d decorate my classroom, how I’d manage the behavior of my students.  I played school, organized school supplies in this little basement classroom I’d set up.  I tried to teach my brother hand-writing.  He’s a doctor.   I should have known.  I graduate from college, armed with jumpers and turtlenecks, Diet Coke, a label maker and more enthusiasm than was tolerable.  I dove into pedagogy, researching best practices, writing novel curriculums for three grade levels, and taking on free tutoring clients to try new skills.  While I escaped the bureaucracy of public schools after only three years, I nearly taught every grade between K and 12 in those valuable three years.

 I’m a girl.  I am the most me in chlorinated water.  Give me goggles and a lap lane, and I’ll be quiet for at least an hour.  Saltwater fuels me when accompanied by a surfboard.  I can write a dry, pithy legal brief and sew a king-sized quilt.  I don’t watch TV, but I rarely start my morning sans Today Show.  I love travel adventures but can sit by a pool longer than any friend I have.  I muddle my way through Kentucky Winter by taking at least two hot baths a day, reading, and heading toward warmth any time the kids have a day off school.  Between the ages of about 6 and 9, my favorite shirt said, “Girls can do anything!”  I took that pretty literally and mutter those words nearly every day upon waking.     

 I’m an advocate.  I was fifteen when my wave-runner exploded, leaving me with four broken vertebrae.  I carry that pain, emotional and physical, into every day, learning from it, listening to it, but ultimately choosing joy.    On receiving the diagnosis of Down syndrome moments after my second son was born, I immediately asked what we did next.  I hit the ground running, learning about Down syndrome, listening to the disability community, searching out different perspectives, and doing something.  I speak for my son when he doesn’t have the words.  I do for my son when he can’t, and I empower him when he can.  Mostly I stand back and let him shine, modeling the self-advocacy I learned fifteen years before his birth.  I know injustice, inequity, inequality.  I experience.  I feel it.  I do something about it.

I’m a lawyer.  I left the classroom looking for a learning opportunity.  I went to law school, figuring I’d land in a corporate job where I could use my German.  Three years later, I walked out of law school into an economic recession and dove into building a private practice alongside my dad.  Slowly, I whittled my practice down from a true small down general practice to what I do now.  I work almost exclusively with families that have children with disabilities in special education, family law, and estate planning matters.  

 I’m a mom.  Of all my jobs.  Of all of my interests and hobbies and loves, I know I’m best at mothering.  Being a mom is all I ever wanted to be.  My boys and I swim every second we are able.  We believe baseball is a way of life, and our baseball team is family.  Our dinner table is happiest when we have extra boys – baseball players, swimmers, neighbors.  We golf and fish, because that’s important to our Daddio, but quiet sports are hard.  We travel, mostly to the Florida Keys where we ride bikes, listen to music, go to the park twice a day, and eat good food.  We feel, diving into topics of inequity by reading, watching, doing, and feeling.  

There’s a lot in this heart of mine.  Yes, girls can do anything.  Except change a doctor’s handwriting.



Ever wonder how special education attorneys and advocates argue for inclusion in meetings? This session is for you! We’ll go through the main arguments that I make when I have an inclusion case. This is also a mini version of the Inclusion Workshop that’s available for purchase on my website, so it could give you a sneak peak into that Workshop.  



Inclusion Workshop 
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alexandra rosenblatt.

Panelist
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Alexandra Rosenblatt is an attorney at the Law Offices of Mark B. Martin, P.A. in Baltimore, Maryland.  She represents clients in the areas of special education, school discipline, guardianship, and other education related disputes throughout Maryland.

Alexandra was admitted to the bar in 2009 and practiced immigration and employment law in Connecticut and Maryland.  In 2012, Alexandra’s daughter was born with Down syndrome, which changed the trajectory of her life both on a personal and professional level.  Since then, she has immersed herself in special education and disability law.  She also created a group for Baltimore City parents with children receiving special education services.

Prior to joining the Law Offices of Mark B. Martin, P.A., Ms. Rosenblatt worked at the Public Justice Center as representing workers in class action lawsuits and engaged in legislative advocacy.  Prior to moving to Baltimore, Ms. Rosenblatt practiced employment law in Hartford, Connecticut where she represented employees in high profile employment discrimination and wrongful termination litigation.



carol dimas.

I will walk your audience through the process of when they first either suspect or confirm that their child has dyslexia, how to go about getting help from the school, and a clear understanding of the child's rights under IDEA and ADA. My session will have a focus on three main parts. First, I will explain the characteristics, symptoms, warning signs and what assessments are used to confirm this diagnosis. Next, the focus will be on the process of getting the child identified through case study, evaluation, and eligibility determination. Last, I will focus on the appropriate interventions and how to go about advocating for them. 


The Dilemma of Dyslexia: Navigating Eligibility, Services, and Appropriate Intervention
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Carol Dimas is an Illinois State-Certified Highly Qualified Teacher in Elementary Education and Special Education K-12. She is a Reading Specialist and Learning Behavior Specialist. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and a Masters of Science in Special Education. During her thirty plus years of experience in education, Carol began teaching children with special needs in the public school system. She helped pilot a program that involved a collaboration between the school district and Loyola University Department of Psychiatry to better serve culturally disadvantaged youth in the area of mental health. She was also the chair of the Special Education committee to develop a district-wide Positive Behavior Intervention Program. Carol worked as a reading specialist in both public school districts and private practice. She started a private practice as a specialized tutor supporting students with Specific Learning Disabilities, as well as preparing students for ACT and SAT exams, while also supporting families through the Special Education Process.  
She then focused her efforts on assisting students and families through her firm, Educational Advocacy and Consulting. This successful practice partners with families, parent groups, clinicians, private therapeutic schools and public school districts to serve families and children by advocating for their needs.  

Carol is a member of the Council of Parents, Attorneys and Advocates, the International Dyslexia Association, the International Dyslexia Association, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and is a listed provider in the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids.  



Courtney Hansen.

If you've navigated the special education world for any amount of time, you've likely heard a phrase similar to this: "Bobby's LRE is the Autism Program 30 miles away from his home." Join non-attorney special education advocate, Courtney Hansen, as she explores why this common phrase is not only wrong, but how this misinformation leads to systematic segregation of students with disabilities. Don't miss this session that dispells the myths of LRE, and provides you with tools to change your language and actions leading to a more meaningful education for your student(s). 


Busting the Myths About Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
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Courtney Hansen has a Master's in Education, and taught secondary education before staying home to advocate for her son with Down syndrome. As a military spouse, that moves often, she has also been able to help other families advocate for their child with a disability in Ohio and Washington state. She is a Council of Parents and Attorneys Special Education Advocacy Training (SEAT 1.0) Instructor, and has worked to pass disability rights legislation at the state level. Courtney is a fierce advocate for full inclusion in the Least Restrictive Environment, and specializes in helping students and their families navigate the IEP process to gain access to the general education classroom with appropriate supports. Check out Courtney's blog at www.incusionevolution.com or "Down Syndrome Inclusion Evolution" on Facebook to learn more about inclusion. 



Daphne Corder.

WHAT EVERY PARENT SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DYSLEXIA SERVICES IN SCHOOLS.

This presentation will cover information parents need to know about their child’s dyslexia programming at school. There will be an overview of parent rights regarding the process of identification and services for their children with dyslexia and related disorders. The goal of the workshop is to teach parents the ways in which they can know if their child’s services “are being done right. ” 



How Do I Know They Are Doing It Right?
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Daphne Corder is an Education Advocate who specializes in dyslexia. Her determination to help other parents grew out of her own experience with her daughter, Lauren. Dyslexia is different than other disabilities she has worked with over the years. It is mired in conflict in the way it is diagnosed and treated. Adding to this confusion are the complex state and federal laws that determine how dyslexia is handled in schools.

Daphne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 25 years of experience. Her background includes work in hospital child development centers, group foster homes, counseling, and other outreach services in the field of Social Work. She now helps parents navigate services for their children, attends ARD and 504 meetings, and ultimately works to help parents advocate for themselves.

Daphne lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and 2 daughters. She spends much of her time volunteering with Decoding Dyslexia Texas, and other dyslexia advocacy groups to bring awareness and to help make positive changes for children with dyslexia. Daphne is a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and is certified in Special Education Advocacy through William and Mary Law School’s PELE Clinic. 




Dayna S. Friduss.

Ms. Friduss will briefly cover special education eligibility and how Child Find obligations impact Districts responsibility to conduct timely evaluations. Ms. Friduss will then go onto strategies to use when Districts fail to qualify students for special education and the legal remedies available.



What To Do When They Won’t Qualify Your Child
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Ms. Friduss is a Colorado native who completed two undergraduate degrees at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1994. After obtaining a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Business Administration she moved to Atlanta to be closer to family and because she enjoyed spending time in the South.

For a decade she worked as an insurance claims professional handling premises liability, and professional liability claims, many of which were in litigation in state and federal courts, and as a result she has an extensive background in settlement negotiations, mediation, and litigation if a matter cannot be resolved in any other manner.

Ms. Friduss graduated from Georgia State University Law School, cum laude, in December of 2002 and has been a member of the Georgia Bar since 2003. During her time in law school, she interned for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE), the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and she also interned for the Honorable Robert Benham at the Supreme Court of Georgia.

After law school Ms. Friduss and her husband were blessed with the addition of two beautiful boys to their family, one of whom was diagnosed with autism at twenty-three months of age. As a result of his diagnosis and a refusal to settle for the grave predictions she was given for her son’s future, Ms. Friduss immersed herself in the world of treatment for autism spectrum disorders. She began advocating on behalf of her son within the public school system, and she has worked tirelessly to ensure her son has had every opportunity to be the best that he can be.

Ms. Friduss also continued her insurance defense practice with her husband at the firm of Landrum, Friduss and Ash, LLC until five years ago when she decided it was time to use her vast skills and experience in conflict resolution and litigation to aid the children with disabilities community on a full-time basis, focusing on special education.

Ms. Friduss currently lives in Woodstock with her husband, who is also an attorney, and her two children. She received training in special education law at the Institute of Special Education Advocacy at William and Mary Law School and from the Counsel of Parent, Attorneys and Advocates.



Diana Abril.

This session will discuss what it means to be an advocate and address the importance of a parent’s role as an advocate. We will provide tips to being an effective advocate for your child and discuss ways to improve your advocacy skills.




The Importance Of A Parent’s Role As An Advocate
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I am an executive with 16 years of legal and business experience having worked in the Corporate and M&A department of an AMLAW 200 law firm and as General Counsel of two medium sized companies, one of which was publicly traded.

 In February of 2020, I decided to start my own law firm and founded ABRIL LAW, PLLC. This decision was born out of a desire to start a special education law practice in addition to my corporate and business law work. This is truly a passion project for me, as a disability rights advocate and mother of a child with a disability. I am a Florida Partners in Policymaking graduate and a member of COPAA.




Judith Benson.

Student success is what leads to a productive adult life. Starting early with strategies parents can use will help your child be successful. Teachers can learn new techniques to motivate their students even when they are teaching remotely. Tutoring can be successful with hesitant learners as well as those who want to improve their test scores. What makes a successful advocate? Knowledge! Come and hear about how you can turn things around so the child’s needs are met.





Practical Strategies for Parents, Teachers , Tutors and Advocates that Inspire Student Success
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Judy Benson is committed to student success. It is the family, student and school – the triangle, that fosters the educational success that all strive to achieve. It is to this end that Judy has committed her life. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, a Master’s Degree in Special Education and a Master’s in Business Administration.

As a strong advocate for Special Education students, she taught for many years in Chicago Public Schools. As a Case Manager for Special Education, Judy worked to insure success with all students in the program. Judy is currently able to serve as a Special Education Advocate, Tutor, Test Prep Coordinator and Life Coach to the students and families through Benson Advocates Inc. Our slogan is Together We Achieve Educational Success, in other words, we change lives. 




Kara Ryska.

Most of us know that we should do this thing called “Self Care”, but for most of us, it seems like another thing to do on a long list of items that seem much more urgent and important--especially as we care for children with extraordinary needs. During this workshop, we’ll be talking about how the real self is not about checking items off a checklist but building a caring relationship with ourselves. You’ll walk away with actionable tips and tools and a different outlook on self-care.



Self Care
That Doesn't
Suck
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Kara is a Life Coach who helps moms of children with special needs regain control of their lives. Women come to her feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and anxious. Through their work together moms leave feeling at peace, confident, and capable of navigating any circumstances that come their way.
 
In 2011, she and her husband Dan received life-altering news that their second-oldest son had a massive brain tumor. After major surgery and months of recovery, she now parents a child with multiple special needs along with three other amazing children, ages 13 to 3.
 
Kara has the unique perspective of both coach and mother of a child with special needs and she's able to design a program that takes into account the unique challenges and obstacles that many parents of special needs children face.
 
Kara is accredited through the International Coaches Federation. She’s also an accomplished project manager, sales professional, and business founder.
 
Kara hosts a weekly podcast called The Special Needs Mom Podcast. Through this podcast, she is creating a watering well for moms who often feel alone and in desperate need of support and connection.  
 
Next time you are in San Diego she invites you to come by and share a meal with her crazy, wonderful, and very loud family.




Kayla Steltenkamp.

Participants will learn about the three models that are used by most states: Discrepancy, Response to Intervention, Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses. An overview of eligibility criteria that is needed for an IEP will be discussed as well as options for students who may not qualify. 




You Have A Diagnosis. What's Next?

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Kayla Steltenkamp, Ph.D. is the owner of Mind Over Matter kids LLC. Dr. Steltenkamp has 10 years of experience teaching in the public school system and now works with pre-service and in-service teachers at the university level.

Through Mind Over Matter kids, she helps provide advocacy for all students and has a tutoring center specializing in instruction for students with dyslexia. 




Krista Barth.

Depending on where you live, there are critical factors that you need to be aware of in order to provide high quality and culturally sensitive advocacy for every child on an IEP. In this session, I’ll provide the essential basic background of schooling in our country, the intersection of sociological trends in race and special education, discipline issues, and how parents' own experience with the public school system can shape their responsiveness to their advocacy. This session will be great for parents, advocate, school staff, and community members that advocate for children from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds and those that wish to make a difference but do not know where to start.  






Understanding Trends In IEP Advocacy at Title 1 Schools and How To Combat Inequities And Increase Parent Access
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Krista Barth has been in the field of Special Education and IEP Advocacy for almost 17 years. The first nine years of her career were spent in the classroom in Miami Dade County as a certified special education teacher and Masters Level Educator.

Krista has spent the second half of her career, approaching eight years, providing IEP Advocacy to children with disabilities throughout the state of Florida, as well as in thirteen other U.S. states outside of Florida. Krista Barth holds a Masters In Exceptional Student Education and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Additionally, Krista provides Qualified Representative Services in states that allow such non-attorney representation.





Lauren Finnegan.

I understand how frustrating it can be to feel defeated and that the school is not listening. Join me in learning different strategies to present your child’s case to the school, what modes of communication are most useful and when an advocate can be helpful. We will go over common pitfalls and how to overcome them in everyday situations. My goal is for you to leave this session more confident and be refreshed with the knowledge that you can be heard!





Take back your voice! Empowering parents & guardians to speak confidently and effectively to school districts
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Lauren Finnegan is passionate about assisting others in navigating the education system. She advocates on behalf of parents and special education, special needs and gifted students to ensure educational institutions provide an appropriate and effective education.

Ms. Finnegan grew up on the East Coast and was always naturally drawn to speaking up for those who could not speak for themselves. Devoting much of her volunteerism and early employment opportunities around animal welfare and the environment, she decided to attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where she completed her undergraduate studies in the environmental sciences, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Policy & Planning. Ms. Finnegan continued with her education, receiving her Juris Doctorate degree from Pace Law School in 2002 where she received accolades for her successes in representing domestic violence victims at the Women’s Justice Center. Upon graduation, Ms. Finnegan was in the private practice of law in New York and New Jersey. 
After moving to Pennsylvania and taking time off to raise her young children, Ms. Finnegan personally experienced first-hand the challenges faced when seeking an appropriate education for a child. This is why Brylan Advocates was started and to this day remains to be one of the premier advocacy groups in the region.

With over 20 years of experience, Ms. Finnegan will help you fully understand your rights, as well as stay motivated and driven throughout the entire process.





Michelle Morgan.

This presentation will discuss early signs of dyslexia and how parents can screen for them at home. It will also teach parents how to start a productive conversation with their child’s teacher using evidenced-based information. This will allow parents and teachers to work together, ensuring struggling readers receive effective, early intervention. It will also discuss what types of intervention are effective and what to avoid so parents can feel confident advocating for their child. 

Experience Less Stress and More Success on Your Dyslexia Journey!






Screening for Dyslexia at Home
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I have been working as a Speech-Language Pathologist for 16 years and am Mama to a daughter with dyslexia and dysgraphia. Having a child who needs to be taught reading and writing differently caused me to take a deep dive into the world of dyslexia, dysgraphia, and various types of reading intervention. I successfully worked with the public school system to get my daughter appropriate services- even though her district was immersed in balanced literacy. 

Since beginning my own journey down this road I’ve developed a professional passion for helping other parents as well. I do comprehensive language-literacy evaluations, private 1:1 reading intervention, as well as parent education and advocacy work. I want to share what I’ve learned so your journey can be less stressful and more successful. Join me during this on-line convention and I’ll share my Savvy Parent Dyslexia Screener that will allow you to start a productive conversation with your child’s teacher using evidenced-based information. Join me here or read more on my blog www.DayswithDyslexia.com.





Ray Nelson.

This session will deliver concrete and workable strategies and tactics for improving your IEP meetings. You will leave with several ways to improve your meetings from start to finish. These methods will help you prepare to have your best meeting ever. Downloadable worksheets for your use will be provided. As John Wooden famously stated, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” 






IEP Prep 101: Strategy and Tactics for your Best Meeting Ever!
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I approach advocacy and IEP coaching a little differently. Part of that is my background, which is in sales and finance. I come from a work culture designed to solve problems rather than minimize them. That means I focus more on the child and less on the conflict, which increases my success rate with schools and IEP teams.

By keeping focus on the child, many times I am able to sidestep personality clashes and create a solid plan for my clients. Making education better and more accessible is my goal for every client, every meeting, and every IEP team. As a volunteer advocate for many years, I started my business in 2016 to help more children. My 11 years of experience, both paid and volunteer, has given me a wide exposure to different situations and unique solutions. I will share some of that wisdom with you at the conference. 






Sabrina Axt.

This session will deliver concrete and workable strategies and tactics for improving your IEP meetings. You will leave with several ways to improve your meetings from start to finish. These methods will help you prepare to have your best meeting ever. Downloadable worksheets for your use will be provided. As John Wooden famously stated, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” 






Succeeding in College with a Learning Disability: A Student's Guide to Accommodations
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I have been an attorney for over 14 years practicing in the Bay Area. Initially, my practice focused on personal injury civil litigation matters with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to family-owned businesses. In 2017, I decided to leave my civil litigation practice in order to advocate for my child. I now practice Special Education law exclusively.

 As the mother to a daughter with dyslexia, I understand that navigating the special education process can be stressful and intimidating for parents. Having gone through the IEP process with my own child, I understand the frustration parents often feel, wanting so desperately to get their children the help they need yet not knowing where to begin.k is driven by passion to educate and empower other parents. I work with parents to develop a strategy and plan to get their children the individualized support they need. I know that people seek answers during stressful times, so I focus on making my clients feel understood and arm them with the tools they need to advocate for their children.







Sara Platenberg.

This session will provide you with a broad overview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, FAPE under The Act, and how it applies to qualified persons with a disability. We will look at what it means to be a “Qualified Person” and how to navigate the process of eligibility. Once found eligible, we will explore which types of protections are available under The Act. We will talk about specific disabilities and what types of evidence based interventions, related services, and appropriate accommodations may apply. Finally, we will talk about oversight, what happens after the plan is written, how to ensure compliance, and what steps to take in the event that the plan is not followed.






Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: Who, What, Where, Why, and How 
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Sara Platenberg has a Masters Degree in Education with a focus in Gifted and Talented and Twice Exceptional Populations. She served the public school system in Virginia as a Gifted and Talented Specialist where she focused on Twice Exceptionality and meeting the needs of 2E students while utilizing researched based inclusion strategies. Her years as an educator and experience implementing strategies to meet the needs of students with learning differences, helped support Sara as she began navigating the public school special education system on a personal level. 

■ Her 17 plus years of experience include: Gifted and Talented Educator in Fairfax County; Private tutor in written expression/language and SAT prep, and Educational Advocate. Sara is a member of the Council of Parents, Attorneys, and Advocates, the National Association for Gifted Children, and is a listed provider in the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids. 

■ Sara is also a parent of three young children with various disabilities and health issues. She has successfully built strong relationships with the school system while navigating the special education process as a parent of children with special needs. 

■ Sara’s passion is to support parents through the special education process with a focus on developing appropriate programming and support for all qualified children. 






Solandy Forte & Jeff Forte.

The participants in this session will learn critical components of a comprehensive Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and how the IEP team then develops a function-based BIP and captures the needs through outlining necessary modifications/accommodations, goals and objectives, and the need for consultation by experts.  






The ABCs of FBAs & BIPs 
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Solandy Forte, PhD, LCSW, LBA, BCBA-D, is the Director of Consultation Services and Community Outreach at Milestones Behavioral Services. She is a doctoral level Board Certified Behavior Analyst licensed in Connecticut and Massachusetts and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Dr. Forte provides consultation services to the school programs at Milestones serving individuals with a diverse set of complex learning needs. In addition to providing direct consultation to children within the private school setting she also has provided consultation to multi-disciplinary teams within the public school setting where she assisted with program development initiatives to promote building capacity for educating children with autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders within the least restrictive educational setting. Dr. Forte has experience working with children and young adults with special needs in their homes, schools, and community settings. She is an adjunct professor for the Institute of Autism and Behavioral Studies at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut and the Institute of Behavioral Studies at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.  

Dr. Forte also has experience providing parent training, staff training, social skills training, and in-home behavior analytic services to children living in therapeutic foster homes with a wide range of developmental disabilities, mental health disorders, and autism, and related disorders. She is an active member of organizations advocating for the advancement of the behavior analytic profession. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Behavior Analyst Leadership Council (BALC) and has served on the Executive Council for the Connecticut Association for Behavior Analysts (CTABA). Dr. Forte has presented at regional and national conferences on topics related to staff training, behavioral assessment, cultural competence, behavioral consultation, supervision, and ethics, to name a few. She is an expert in the field who is committed to improving the quality of life of the individuals she serves.  





Jeffrey L. Forte, Esq. is the founding member of Forte Law Group LLC and is one of only very few attorneys in Connecticut that has obtained a Certificate in Special Education Advocacy from the Institute of Special Education Advocacy (ISEA) at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia. Jeff’s legal educational background including his legal internships while in law school contributed significantly to him honing the multifaceted nature of special education law, juvenile justice and child advocacy. Jeff graduated from American University, Washington College of Law where he placed first in his class for trial advocacy and first in his class for best appellate argument at the law school’s mock trial and moot court competitions. While in law school, Jeff also served as Dean’s Fellow for the both Civil & Criminal Mock Trial Programs and was selected to be one of eight student attorneys to serve within the law school’s Third Year Criminal Justice Clinic where he served as a criminal defense attorney for children involved within the juvenile justice system. Jeff also recently started a podcast, Let’sTalkSpedLaw.com, that has a national following in all 50 states and has previously presented at past COPAA conferences.




Tyler Dorsey.

During this session, Tyler will put you in the shoes of a person with ADHD and take you for a ride. She will discuss the struggles people with ADHD face and the journey to overcoming those struggles. You will leave this session with a better understanding of your ADHD child, student, spouse or self!






Understanding ADHD from an ADHDer's Perspective
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I was diagnosed with ADHD in 5th grade and life at home was hard… think WWIII. The years went by and the story never changed. Every year the end of the semester would come and I was shocked that my grades were terrible and I had a million missing assignments. My teachers would help me get my work done so I could just barely pass and move onto the next year to do it all over again. 
 
But when I was failing my first semester of college at Thomas More College, I knew something had to change. I couldn’t avoid what was happening anymore. Dropping out wasn’t going to help because ADHD was impacting all areas of my life, not just school.
 
Motivated by playing on the volleyball team and staying in school, I knew the stakes were high and I couldn’t do it alone. I asked for help from my coach, a couple of professors, and trusted friends and found a way to cut through the noise. Seeing the changes that were possible for myself, I knew I wanted to help others searching for answers to their struggles with ADHD.
The first time I told my story, I spoke to a group of parents at the high school where I was doing an internship in their program for students with ADHD & Learning Disabilities. I remember being so nervous. We expected around 40 parents for my talk, “Understanding Your ADHD Child.”  
 
The night of the event, we had almost 80 people show up. My nerves were kicking as I took the stage. But as I told my story, they held onto every word. Moms & dads (yes… dads!) were tearing up. Through my story, they were able to recognize their kid’s struggles and better understand ADHD. This was the moment I knew this was where I was meant to be.
 
Seeing how I could be a bridge between kiddos with ADHD and their parents was a lightbulb moment for me. I went back to complete my masters in Educational Psychology at the University of Northern Colorado and then became a certified ADHD Life Coach. Over the past 7 years, I’ve worked with so many amazing students, their families and adults, and helped them find strategies that improve their day-to-day routines, work, and relationships. I also continue to share my own story with groups, conferences, and webinars.  







During this session, Tyler will describe the struggle behind motivation and what is really going on in an ADHDer’s brain. The goal is to help provide parents with their child’s prospective and to help parents gain a better understanding of ADHD & motivation. Tyler will use her story to exemplify this and will leave parents with a few tips and tricks to try at home.







Motivation & ADHD: Why it is such a struggle
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