Are you tired of feeling frustrated at the IEP table?!
Are you tired of feeling frustrated at the IEP table?!
scroll on if you're into it.
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 a VIP or Live Pass to gain access to all of the sessions!
What is the SAEC Conference?
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Meet the Experts
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Building a Collaborative IEP Team - Focusing on the TEAM!
When you think “IEP team,” do you think “teamwork?” The question is also preposterous! But it doesn’t have to be. Congress called it an IEP team and required the participation of certain individuals. Certainly they wanted us to act as a real, functional team. We know that when IEP teams actually work as teams, they’re far more effective, which means the student sees far better results. In this sessions you’ll learn strategies to help your team function as a TEAM – even when it is a little sticky.
Ashley Barlow, JD, is the Director of Education at the National Down Syndrome Congress. In her role at NDSC, she coordinates educational programming, which includes conferences, webinars, written resources, and educational outreach with our affiliates.
Ashley’s passion for special education advocacy stems from her experiences as a general education teacher and from advocating for a more inclusive educational placement for her son, Jack, who has Down syndrome. She has attended and presented at many national conferences for special education attorneys and advocates, including the Institute of Special Education (faculty in 2020, 2021). She also holds an Advanced Advocacy Certificate from the Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates. Ashley is also on the State Advisory Board for Exceptional Children in Kentucky.
Ashley also owns a law firm, Meier & Barlow Law Firm, that focuses on special education, as well as an on-line business, Ashley Barlow Co., which was established to empower IEP team members via a podcast, on-line courses, many other resources. Prior to practicing law, Ashley was a teacher in Jefferson County and Cincinnati Public school systems and a professor at her alma mater, Miami University. Ashley attended Salmon P. Chase College of Law.
When not working, Ashley is normally at the pool with her husband and two sons or grabbing a coffee in her 1975 Volkswagon bus.
7 Simple Solutions to Your Sticky IEP Situations
New clients often come to me describing discontentedness with the way their IEP teams are approaching their child’s education. Over the years, I’ve started to see trends in these complaints. Bullying, Smoke and Mirrors, Misunderstanding, Impasse… IYKYK. In this session, we’ll look at 7 of those situations, and I’ll give you specific negotiation strategies to resolve them quickly, efficiently, and with the child at the center.
Behavior Fundamentals: Learn to Acquire a Behavioral Spidey-Sense
Understanding challenging behavior is a critical to figuring out how your going to intervene. It is never an easy task to deal with challenging behavior that can be intrusive, harmful, and hurtful. Learning how to identify the function of behavior is the first step. This learning opportunity will discuss the different functions of behavior and how acquiring this information will lead to identifying interventions that are more likely to be effective.
Dr. Solandy Forte is the Executive Director and Founder of Solstice Behavioral Health & Consulting. She is a licensed clinical social worker and a doctoral-level board certified behavior analyst licensed in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Solandy has over twenty years of experience in the field of autism, receiving her doctoral degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at Endicott College under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Dorsey and Dr. Mary Jane Weiss. She has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Saint Joseph, Endicott College and Southern Connecticut State University. Solandy has served hundreds of children and their families as a clinician, consultant, and advocate nationally and internationally. She has coordinated with multi-disciplinary teams to promote capacity for educating children within the least restrictive educational setting. She has extensive experience in the behavioral health profession and a passion for advancing the quality of treatment available for all children with autism and related comorbid disorders. Solandy is dedicated to working with leaders in the field to diagnose and provide innovative and efficient treatment solutions. She has played an integral role in expanding clinical services to include an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Clinic, parent education program, and lead in capacity development initiatives through school consultation. Solandy serves as the President the Behavior Analyst Leadership Council (BALC) and has been a member of the Executive Council for the Connecticut Association for Behavior Analysts (CTABA) as well as served on various boards related to advancing special education. She has presented at regional and national conferences on topics related to staff training, behavioral assessment, navigating through cultural barriers, behavioral consultation, supervision, and ethics.
A Recipe for Reading - Let's Look at the Science!
In this presentation, participants will learn about the Science of Reading and the important evidence that has been discovered over the past five decades. We will look at the important tenets of a structured literacy approach and how the brain learns to read.
Hanna Stroud is a Literacy Tutor, Consultant and Children's Picture Book Reviewer in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Hanna teaches Growing in Literacy workshops and webinars and is a National Trainer for Reading With TLC. Hanna is passionate about sharing information about the Science of Reading, structured literacy, and using a multisensory approach in all learning spaces.
The Power of
In this course participants will learn about the importance of joint attention. Participants will learn about many specific actionable strategies that they can use to embed work on joint attention in their therapy sessions.
Rosemarie Griffin, MA, CCC/SLP BCBA, is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Product Developer and Host of The Autism Outreach Podcast. She divides her time between a public school and her own private practice. She is passionate about helping individuals with autism find their voice and become more independent communicators. This passion has driven her to create her own business, http://www.abaspeech.org, where she provides ASHA approved courses, therapy materials and free resources for parents and professionals alike.
Seeing Through the Lens of Emotional Dysregulation
Does your child have a hard time controlling their big, intense, deep emotions!? If so, you are not alone! A majority of kids with ADHD and other neurodivergent brains have a hard time regulating emotions. This is an area that effects all areas of life and adults often react to the behavior rather than responding to that struggle. During this presentation we will dive into what emotional dysregulation is and steps to take in order to help your child become more regulated in different environments (home and school). Seeing through a clearer lens will help you become a better responder as your child will more quickly find their calm by discovering the needs of their brain and how it learns best!
Katelyn Mabry is an ADHD life coach, who is also a special educator with her masters in Reading. She is the author of “Hi It’s Me! I have ADHD” and the podcast host of “Journey With Me Through ADHD: A podcast for kids. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and 4 young kids. Her passion is to speak into the hearts and minds of children and families with ADHD so they feel connected, supported and understood!
Strengthening Support for Family Caregivers: Policy Solutions and Resources
There are over 53 million caregivers in the U.S. who provide vital assistance to support the health, well-being, and independence of someone close to them such as a disabled or elderly family member. Family caregivers are vital to the U.S. health care system, yet encounter many mental, physical, and financial challenges as they fulfill their caregiving duties and need to be supported by better laws and policies. This presentation will review the current state of family caregiving in the U.S. and provide an overview of proposed local, state, and national policy solutions. It will also share resources that caregivers can utilize to support their caregiving journey, including a discussion and demonstration of the new myHana™ caregiving platform.
Rachel Starr serves as the Creative Director and Project Manager at myHana™ and is responsible for the brand identity and the project management of the myHana™ platform. Rachel has owned Rachel Rose Coaching for 12 years where she helps small business owners create brand identities, course creation, podcast production, and community building. Rachel is the mother of two teenagers and enjoys spending her free time in the outdoors.
Heather Sachs serves as the myHana Content Director and is responsible for the review, selection, development, and creation of disability-related materials throughout the myHana platform, including curricula, written resources, webinars, and workshops. Heather most recently served as the Policy & Advocacy Director for the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) and is a member of the NDSC Public Policy Council. She has over a decade of experience as an advocate in the disability community on the local, state, and national levels, and is a founding member of the Maryland Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition. She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law and is a member of the D.C. Bar. She lives in the Washington D.C. area with her husband and three children, one of whom has Down syndrome.
I Love My Life
Rachel Mast shares about her life and the many opportunities and experiences, successes and challenges throughout her K-12 education, community, college, and now employment as a young adult. Rachel and Jawanda also discuss some of the policy advocacy work.
Rachel Mast is 23 years old and a 2018 graduate of Olathe South High School and has completed two years of college at the Missouri State University. She also graduated from the Project SEARCH internship program. In both high school and college, Rachel was involved in many activities including student government, volleyball manager, and theatre. She continues to be involved in her local church, a local theatre program, and Improv though the Improvaneers online. She has been in 24 plays. Rachel worked to pass the federal ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act and went on to become the first Kansan to open an account. She a member of the National Down Syndrome Congress Policy and Advocacy Coalition and a past ABLE National Resource Center Advisor. Rachel received the 2019 Laura Lee Self-Advocate Leadership Award for her leadership and advocacy activities. Currently, Rachel works for the University of Kansas Hospital as a patient greeter in the patient transport department.
Inclusion Stories: One Family’s Drastic Decision to Include Their Child With Down Syndrome
Inclusion Stories is a podcast series produce by MCIE that features the stories of families and school districts who are fully committed to inclusive education for all learners. For this presentation, Tim Villegas (Director of Communications for MCIE) will play a pilot episode of Inclusion Stories and afterwards answer questions about what fully inclusive schools really look like and how families can advocate for inclusion for their child.
Tim Villegas is director of communications at MCIE, a nonprofit that envisions a society where neighborhood schools welcome all learners and create the foundation for inclusive communities. He is the founder of Think Inclusive, MCIE's blog and podcast. Throughout his 16-year career as a special education teacher, Tim advocated for the inclusion of students with significant disabilities in general education classrooms and continues his work with MCIE to empower inclusive systems change in schools and districts.
Proactive and Reactive Behavior Strategies
Learn to implement practical strategies that target and reduce challenging behaviors.
Molly Johnson is an autism consultant, working with parents to reduce challenging behaviors and develop new skills. When working with parents, Molly helps families understand the reason for the barrier and how to move beyond that barrier. After years of being an autism teacher, it was clear that parents needed guidance on behaviors and skills at home. Molly now supports parents from all over the world to improve behaviors, skills, and advocacy.
Practical Tips for Implementing Assistive Technology
There are many things to consider when it comes to implementing Assistive Technology. From a charging plan to getting everyone on the same page. This presentation will focus on providing practical tips to help support your child and their use of their AT Tools.
Katie Larew is the founder of Assistive Technology for Dyslexia, LLC. She began working in the field of Special Education in 2007 as a classroom Special Education Teacher. As an Assistive Technology Specialist, Katie has worked with students from elementary, middle, and high school. She holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education as well as additional certifications as an IMSLEC certified Orton-Gillingham Teacher, CERI Certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist and RESNA certified Assistive Technology Professional. Katie serves on the Board of Directors for The International Dyslexia Association, San Diego Branch and is an active member of the International Dyslexia Association, Center for Effective Reading Instruction, and Rehabilitation Engingeering and Assistive Technology Society of North America. Katie works with students, parents, and educators by providing consultations, customized step-by-step virtual training, and professional development. Training topics focus on Assistive Technology tools to support the areas of Reading, Writing, Note-Taking, Organization, and Executive Functions. Katie’s mission is to help spread greater awareness of Assistive Technology to help students build their confidence and independence. Katie is a wife & mom to two under five. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and exploring Southern California.
What Does an
IEP Look Like?
What's really inside an IEP and what should it look like? With all the complexities and challenges involved in special education, it's time we get back to basics. In this live presentation, April Rehrig, founder of Rise Educational Advocacy and Consulting takes you behind the scenes of IEP development. She'll take you through the 8 components, get to the bottom of present levels of academic and functional performance, demystify excusals, give tips and strategies for meeting notices, and review your consent options. Using a strength-based perspective April walks you through the entire process to rock your next IEP.
April discovered her passion as a teen, volunteering in a special education school. Raised in a family of educators, it felt natural to help others. Each role in her career led to April’s expertise in disability advocacy.
First and foremost, April is a teacher. Prior to leading her own class, she was a substitute, private tutor, instructional assistant, camp counselor, and before/after school program teacher.
School psychology was a clear next step. Over the next 20 years, April’s experience and first-hand knowledge led to her transformation into how to Build a Better IEP™️. She went back to school and became a Licensed Educational Psychologist (LEP), Board Certified Educational Advocate (BCEA™), Master IEP Coach®️, and Certified Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Specialist (CASDCS).
April founded Rise Educational Advocacy and Consulting for everyone at the IEP table. Her virtual coursework and toolkits are a must-have for busy parents, teachers, and clinicians on the go. Rise transforms traditional advocacy into a dynamic team-based approach through a strength-based lens that presumes competence.
A native Angelino, Los Angeles has always April’s been home. She and her husband have a blended family, with seven children between them. When she isn’t passionately advocating, you’ll find April binge-watching Netflix or walking her sociable pug.
Supporting Your Students with ADHD
Tyler Dorsey is an ADHDer turned ADHD life coach. She has been the struggling student and will spend this session giving you a peak inside your student with ADHD's brain. You will leave this session with a better understanding of your child's ADHD and tips you can apply at home right away!
Tyler Dorsey is an ADHD student turned ADHD expert who lives in Lexington, Kentucky. She has received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology (Thomas More College), Masters in Educational Psychology (University of Northern Colorado), and became a certified ADHD Life Coach (iACT Center). Diagnosed with ADHD at age 11, Tyler struggled both at home and school, barely squeaking by. Everything came crashing down freshman year of college. At the age of 18, sitting in her freshman psychology class, she first heard the definition of ADHD. This is when her passion for ADHD began. Senior year of college, Tyler flew out to the 2014 ACO conference in Phoenix, Arizona to learn first hand about ADHD coaching. Shortly after, Tyler opened her own coaching business, Focus Forward. In 2018 she quit her full-time job at a local high school to grow her business and remains the owner of Focus Forward. Through coaching and public speaking, Tyler has helped thousands of people with ADHD. She is a gifted speaker who has a passion for using her story to educate parents, students, and teachers on ADHD. Tyler has turned her ADHD into a superpower and is on a mission to help others do the same.
What's After High School: Preparation for Further Education, Employment and Independent Living
Transition planning is federally required for all students that have an IEP, by the time they are 16. What does that mean and should you be thinking about the future for your student earlier than that? In this session we’ll discuss creating a future planning/vision statement and the difference between a diploma and a certificate track. We’ll also cover topics related to further education, employment and independent living.
Angela Tyszka is the owner of MI Student Advocacy Services. She has almost 20 years of experience advocating for students with disabilities, both personally and professionally. As the parent of two children with IEPs, she has devoted much of her time volunteering for various parent organizations. She has been on her local Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) for the past seven years, and chairs a parent resource and support group for her local school district. She is also a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and the Michigan Parent Advocate and Attorney Coalition (MIPACC). She has been a special education panelist for both Michigan Alliance for Families and for U.S. Representative Haley Stevens as well as a presenter at the 2022 Ashley Barlow Co. Special Education & Advocacy Conference.
Say What? Behavior as Communication
Say What? focuses on helping educators learn what influences student behavior and decoding what function that behavior serves. Teachers will learn to develop a behavior hypothesis and determine appropriate "replacement behaviors" that do not limit the child's voice, but instead teach them how to communicate that feeling in a more positive way.
Rebekah Poe is an award-winning special education teacher and national teaching conference presenter. She has over a decade of experience in special education. As an educator, Rebekah believes all behavior is communication and all feelings are valid, and she focuses on providing equitable education and establishing connections to students of all ability levels in an inclusive setting.
School versus Private Evaluations: Things to Consider When Making Your Decision
Having the unique perspective of both a school psychologist and private psychologist, Dr. Brandi will provide information for families to consider in making the decision between a school evaluation and a private evaluation. This presentation will highlight the difference between eligibility for school services and medical diagnoses. Other considerations to be discussed include privacy and confidentiality issues, financial implications, and the role psychological evaluations play in eligibility for school services and accommodations.
Dr. Brandi Tanner has over twenty years of experience working with children and adolescents with learning and behavioral problems. She is both a licensed psychologist and a certified school psychologist. Dr. Brandi earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Masters’ Degree in Special Education from West Virginia University. She entered her working career as a special education teacher. She later returned to school and earned her doctoral degree in School Psychology from the University of South Florida. Dr. Brandi’s doctoral-level education training included experiences in the assessment and treatment of learning and behavioral problems for children and adolescents, systems-level consultation in Response to Intervention (RtI), and treatment integrity in school interventions. Upon completion of her doctoral degree, Dr. Brandi worked as a school psychologist in a metro-Atlanta district for several years. Currently, Dr. Tanner conducts comprehensive psychological and psychoeducational evaluations in her private practice, Lightway Psychological Services. She provides special education advocacy services, consultation, and training through Your IEP Source.
Appropriate Planning for Academic Success
Learn tips on how to prepare for, attend, and follow up after an IEP/ARD or 504 meeting. Also learn how to prepare a Parent Vision Statement to keep you focused so you can successfully advocate for your child during the meeting.
Shemica S. Allen is the owner of Personalized Learning Solutions, LLC, and a former educator with over 15 years of teaching and administration experience working with students with disabilities and their parents/guardians. Shemica received her Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Science in Kinesiology with a specialization in Adapted Physical Activity from Texas Christian University. She is certified to teach Special Education and Physical Education and also received her Principal certification in 2010. Shemica has completed the Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT) through the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). Shemica is now a SEAT 1.0, 2.0 & 3.0 Instructor & Teaching Assistant where she helps train others to advocate for students with disabilities. She also has completed Advanced Advocate Training: Representing Parents in Impartial Hearings through COPAA. Shemica has attended hundreds of ARD/IEP, 504, and Student Support Team (SST) meetings.
We Don’t Talk About Trauma…No, No!
Parenting is a life-changing, turn-your-world-upside-down experience. This sentiment becomes more true when parenting a child with a complex medical condition or disability as caregivers can feel isolated as they navigate a type of parenting filled with experiences parents of “typical children” never encounter: diagnoses, medical emergencies, behaviors, and alienation from family and friends. Yet we don’t talk about these experiences. We post on social media pictures that will reduce fear of differences and stigma in hopes of inclusion and acceptance. We don’t talk about the hard parts, the not picture perfect…the trauma. Is it okay to call parts of parenting your child traumatic? Let’s discuss together what it would look like to actually talk about the trauma of parenting.
Kelly Jones MS, LPCA, graduated with her Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2011 from Northern Kentucky University. She is the mother of three boys (one whom has Down syndrome), and an advocate for children with disabilities and their caregivers. Kelly works with children, adolescents, adults and families using Cognitive Behavioral and Narrative Therapy lenses to promote self-reflection and empower clients to take next steps forward. Kelly is the owner of Blume Counseling and Consulting.
The Ripple Effect - Creating a Wave of Change in Reading Instruction
When it comes to promoting the necessary instructional changes to meet the needs of our students, especially those with dyslexia, we all have a role. Parents, classroom teachers, interventionists, and schools are stepping into the research behind the science of reading, asking questions, and making connections to how our children learn and what needs to shift in our instructional practices. In this session, we will reflect upon the steps to create a wave of change within instructional methods, our schools, and communities.
Casey Harrison, LDT, CSLDS, CALT-QI, is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and Licensed Dyslexia Therapist with over twenty-five years in education, specializing in literacy and dyslexia. She has a private practice, Wimberley Dyslexia & Learning Center, and is the founder of The Dyslexia Classroom®. Casey works with students, parents, and educators by providing dyslexia therapy, consultations, resources, and training. She is dedicated to advocating for dyslexic learners and highlighting the connection between academics and social-emotional wellbeing in relation to reading and advocacy. You can listen to Casey on her podcast Together in Literacy, read published articles, and connect on all social media platforms.
Advocacy Across the Lifespan at School, In the Community, and Beyond
Advocating for your child can be a full-time job, and it sometimes feels quite lonely. And this session, you will hear advocates from all seats at the table – self advocates, parents, teachers, therapist, and policy experts. We will talk about the various stages of advocacy across the lifespan, as well as specific advocacy tips.
Kayla Schadegg is a born-and-raised Kansan with a seven year streak of East coast living alongside her military spouse. A BSE graduate of Emporia State University, Kayla serves as the Director for a children’s fitness center, is a committee member for the Kansas State Department of Health & Environment’s Family Advisory Council, facilitates medical advocacy presentations for Down Syndrome Innovations, and sits on the board for the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas Organization. As the proud mother to a gorgeous little girl with Down syndrome, Kayla knows firsthand the impact of a diagnosis experience on a young family, whether pre- or post-natal. Through her platform, Strong Over Wrong, it is her mission to create a more compassionate and balanced diagnosis experience for families everywhere.
I am an attorney and a mom to two kids with developmental disabilities. I am the new Southwest Regional Director of the Arc of Ohio advocating for people with disabilities and their families.
Jawanda Mast is the National Down Syndrome Congress’ Manager of Grassroots Advocacy. Since her daughter Rachel was born with Down syndrome 23 years ago, she has been involved in the disability community as a parent, volunteer, leader, and advocate. She has a MS degree from the University of Arkansas. Jawanda and Rachel spent eight years advocating for the passage of the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. She has provided testimony on a variety of federal and state policy issues and was recently appointed to the Kansas IDD Waiver Modernization committee. Jawanda is passionate about the meaningful inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities in all aspects of the community. She says her work is a #laborofloveandconviction
I am a special education teacher with over a decade of experience. I am a mom of three, and one of my children has Down Syndrome. I serve as an advocate to a few local families and serve on the board at my local Down Syndrome Association.
So let's get started!
You are on an IEP team.
Your child or student has academic, behavioral, or social/emotional struggles at school, and you need more tools in your toolbox.
You want more information about how to meet your child’s or student’s needs from experts in each field.
You’re frustrated and overwhelmed, and you’re ready to be inspired at the IEP table and beyond!
sign me up