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Morning Sessions (registrants will select ONE workshop to attend)


Building an Inclusive IEP through the Disability Statement and Goal Writing

This presentation provides suggestions and practices that educators can embed in their professional IEP writing and that parents might expect in an IEP. Participants will learn strategies for writing an inclusive IEP using the newly updated IEP form, with a particular focus on the impact of the disability statement, determining goal focus areas, formatting goals, and establishing accommodations and modifications. This presentation also informs educators and parents how current practices can crosswalk between the old and new documents.

MAICEI and Inclusive Higher Education Opportunities in Massachusetts: Everything you need to know! 

Presented by Mary Price, MAICEI State Director

Mary Price will provide an overview of The Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI), an initiative that was started in 2007 and has just celebrated it's 15th year. The state colleges and universities who have MAICEI have students 18+ with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism. This program provides a fully inclusive college experience for students who have the desire to go to college. Information regarding new legislation will be shared, as well as the importance of inclusive postsecondary education for students.

Making Neuropsychological Assessment Work for You 
Presented by Joseph Moldover, PsyD, ABPP

Neuropsychological assessments are commonly provided for students with IDD, yet it can be difficult to extract meaningful, practical recommendations and to translate them into strategies for student support. In this presentation we will discuss the structure of neuropsychological evaluations, common pitfalls, and strategies for utilizing them effectively in the service of meaningful inclusion.

This workshop will be recorded.

The (Arts and) Science(s) of Reading for Individuals with Down Syndrome and other Disabilities 
Presented by David Koppenhaver, Professor Emeritus, Reading Education/Special Education, Appalachian State University

Arguments abound about how children are failing to learn to read, schools are responsible, and the solution is to apply the science of reading. These tired arguments represent partial truths first presented by Rudolf Flesch in Why Johnny Can’t Read (1955). In this session, we first will briefly review the three-part science of reading argument as it applies to individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Next, we will look at informal procedures for assessing literacy in these students. Finally, we will explore practical teaching approaches given the identified needs. The session is appropriate to both families and educators.

This workshop will be recorded.

Updates from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Implementation of the New Massachusetts IEP
Presented by Russell Johnston, PhD, Deputy Commissioner and State Director of Special Education, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has taken many steps to support the needs of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities since the pandemic. Most recently, DESE has rolled out a new IEP form, which schools and districts across the state have begun using this fall or will begin using during the 2024-2025 school year. In this presentation, DESE Deputy Commissioner Russell Johnston will provide updates on the innovative practices being implemented by DESE, in addition to offering a brief overview of the form and how we see it being implemented to better support students with disabilities and their families throughout Massachusetts.


Afternoon Sessions (registrants will select ONE workshop to attend)

Best Practices: Transition Planning
Presented by Jessica Kuss, M.Ed.

This presentation will offer an in-depth overview of the transition process for students ages 14 and up, who receive special education services. Participants will learn about best practices for transition planning, including the value of student participation, legal requirements, and transition planning in the Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Beyond Translation: Collaborating with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families
Presented by Zach Rossetti, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Special Education, Boston University and Oanh Bui, MHA , MA

Cultural competence and family collaboration have been emphasized in teacher preparation programs for decades, yet collaborative partnerships between culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families and school personnel remain elusive. Language access is an important first step that many schools still struggle with, but partnerships require going beyond translation. This presentation for educators in PK-12 settings will share research-based strategies critical to building trust and establishing and maintaining family-professional partnerships. Educators will identify specific strategies and develop individualized action plans for purposeful and proactive change.

Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS): Moving from Power and Control to Collaboration and Problem Solving
Presented by Maile Munson, LICSW, Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) Trainer, Lives in the Balance

This is the innovative, evidence-based, trauma-informed, neurodiversity-affirming model Dr. Ross Greene describes in his influential books The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Lost & Found, and Raising Human Beings. The CPS model has transformed thinking and practices in countless families and across settings around the world and has been associated with dramatic reductions in adult-child conflict, concerning behaviors, disciplinary referrals, and other interventions. The model represents a significant departure from discipline-as-usual — focusing on solving problems rather than on modifying behavior; emphasizing collaborative rather than unilateral solutions; encouraging proactive rather than reactive intervention; de-emphasizing diagnostic categories; and providing practical, research-based tools for assessment and intervention. Workshop participants will leave with an understanding of the underpinnings of the model as well as its practical assessment and intervention tools to be applied in the classroom.

This workshop will be recorded.

If Writing Instruction Tastes Like Broccoli, Don’t Expect Kids to Consume Much
Presented by David Koppenhaver, Professor Emeritus, Reading Education/Special Education, Appalachian State University

Writing is a critical tool of communication, learning, self-advocacy, and independence for students with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Unfortunately, few such students write sufficiently well to meet their daily needs at school and in the community. Traditional methods of instruction (e.g., handwriting practice, grammar exercises, error correction, grading) highlight for students their inadequacies without improving the quality of their writing. In this session we will focus on easily-implemented principles and practices for teaching students how the write better without focusing on the mistakes they make as they learn.

This workshop will be recorded.

Supporting Speech and Language Development in Children with Down Syndrome Using Multiple Modalities
Presented by Abbie King MS CCC-SLP/ATP, Boston Childrens Hospital, Augmentative Communication Program

This presentation will explore multi- modality communication through an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT) lens as it pertains to individuals with Down syndrome across the lifespan. The presentation will include tips and examples on how to effectively implement the various forms of AAC and AT within the classroom, in addition to recommending way to increase collaboration of both between school and home.