2023 School Struggles Summit

The Details — Session Descriptions with Speaker Bios

Specific Learning Disabilities & Academics

Identifying Specific Learning Disabilities

In this workshop, we delve into the topic of identifying specific learning disabilities with our guest, Natasha Gray, M.Ed. Join Penny & Natasha as they explore the importance of understanding the individual needs and skills of each child, both in the classroom and at home. From recognizing unique talents and strengths to utilizing hands-on learning, we uncover the strategies and interventions that can make a real difference in a child’s educational journey. With Natasha’s expertise, we navigate the world of learning disabilities, exploring the early signs, common challenges, and the crucial role of assessments in providing personalized support. Whether you’re a parent or an educator, this session will empower you to reimagine education and cater to the diverse needs and preferences of students. Get ready to gain valuable insights and practical tips for identifying specific learning disabilities.

Natasha C. Gray, M.Ed.

Natasha Gray is an educational consultant with particular experience in Learning Disabilities (LD) specifically in dyslexia. Natasha provides diagnostic assessments and Access Arrangements for many private schools as well as SEN support for both government and private schools in Barbados, Jamaica, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago.

A seasoned and innovative educational professional, Natasha over the past decade has used her skills to offer a path to academic success for more than a thousand children who were formerly unable to read, went undiagnosed, and struggled in school with very little support. Natasha is very passionate about the difficulties and challenges children and adults struggle with, pertaining to reading, spelling and writing.

Helping Students Who Struggle with Reading

Helping struggling readers is all about understanding their needs and providing the right support. Emily Fogg shares some fantastic tools and strategies on how to help students who struggle with reading in this workshop. You’ll learn: the importance of building trusting relationships ; how teachers can identify struggling students and utilize resources within the school system for support; the crucial role of communication between parents and teachers in creating a supportive learning environment; and tools and strategies for tween and teen students with reading difficulties, including decodable readers and inferring activities.It’s time to empower struggling readers and ensure their educational journey is filled with support, understanding, and celebration.

Emily Fogg

Emily Fogg is a teacher turned business owner. She started the award winning Wise Owl Tuition in January 2022, because she knew with her 14 years of teaching experience that there were many students who were being left behind and desperately needed quality learning intervention. Wise Owl Tuition offers range of services to children aged 6 to 16 specialising in supporting neurodiverse learners (ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Autism).

Impact Formula: How to Help Students Struggling in Math and Writing

In this workshop with Cheri Dotterer, OTR/L & Jonily Zupancic you’ll learn their IMPACT formula for helping struggling learners. They emphasize the importance of enthusiasm, open-mindedness, and asking children about their experiences to create a meaningful learning environment. We discuss the difficulties faced by neurodivergent students, particularly in subjects like math and writing, and the need to make learning concrete and provide a clear “why” behind the content. You’ll learn strategies for improving perseverance, emotional regulation, and counting skills in students, along with the importance of consistency. Jonily and Cheri marry what we know about the sensory system and the body with what is known to help with specific learning challenges to provide a formula that will impact struggling students.

Cheri Dotterer, MS, OTR/L

The world-renowned expert in empowering innovative, collaborative interventions, Cheri passionately advocates for overcoming learning challenges. Her cutting-edge neuroscience-based interventions included in The IMPACT Formula are unparalleled in their ability to conquer dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia, and lead to exceptional outcomes. Trust Cheri to empower you to overcome learning obstacles associated with Specific Learning Disabilities and unleash your students’ superpowers! She is the author of Handwriting Brain-Body DisConnect, a contributor to the Handbook of visual-motor skills, Handwriting, and Spelling and Becoming You, and co-author of Math DYS-connected (more info coming later this year). She and her husband of 32 years live in Pennsylvania with their adult son and cat, Mercury. Their daughter is in grad school. Look for Mercury on social media advocating for reading, writing, and math.

Jonily Zupancic

Jonily inspires learning. She is an author, coach and speaker who helps educators and schools identify their focus, improve their thinking and inspire stakeholders so they can become unhackable, produce results, and lead the next generation into an amazing future.

Jonily is the founder of Minds On Math and lead facilitator of the Instructional Coaching Network. Her work has reimaged mindsets of educational leaders based on cognitive science and impacted the engagement and achievement of all students.

Helping Kids with Dysgraphia and Writing Struggles

What exactly is dysgraphia? Is it handwriting challenges, written expression challenges, or both? Jennifer King, Ph.D. joins Penny to discuss what dysgraphia is and how we can help kids and teens struggling with writing struggles, including both handwriting and written expression. You’ll learn signs of writing challenges and what to do if you suspect your child or student has dysgraphia. As well, Jennifer shares a handful of tools and strategies to help those who struggle with writing, including assistive technology.

Jennifer C. King, Ph.D.

Jennifer C. King, Ph.D. is increasing awareness and catalyzing research for people impacted by dysgraphia. She is President and Founder of Dysgraphia Life as well as an expert speaker, research scientist, family member to people with learning disabilities in written expression, and vocal advocate. She founded Dysgraphia Life to raise awareness of dysgraphia while providing information, support, and resources to people with writing difficulties and their loved ones.

Dr. King has co-authored a book on Dysgraphia IEPs along with over twenty scientific publications. She received a PhD in Biology from MIT and a BS from Duke and uses her scientific background to launch initiatives to build research capacity in the dysgraphia community. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator for the “Building Capacity for Patient Centered Outcomes Research in the Dysgraphia Community” project funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Dr. King spent two decades in oncology research and advocacy where she became a sought-after expert appearing in major media outlets, presenting globally, and advising influential organizations. She is now using those skills to improve the lives of people with writing difficulties.

A Roadmap for Effective Studying

The task of “studying” is ambiguous and overwhelming to almost everyone. That’s a key factor in why so many neurodivergent students struggle with studying. In this session, Leslie Josel shares her roadmap for effective studying, offering simple but valuable insights and practical strategies that cater to the unique needs of neurodivergent individuals. You’ll learn the importance of using multiple modalities — seeing, saying, doing, and hearing — to best absorb information, as well as how to implement this approach to studying. Get ready to discover new ways to enhance learning and empower students to take charge of their education with Leslie’s transformative approach to studying.

Leslie Josel

Leslie Josel, an ADHD-academic and parenting coach, founded Order Out of Chaos – a virtual company whose mission is to help parents guide their students to success in learning and in life – when her son was first diagnosed with ADHD.

She is also the creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management®, a planner that helps students develop time management skills, and the author of 3 books including the recently published, “How to Do it Now Because it’s Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done.” Leslie also writes the weekly “Dear ADHD Family Coach” column for ADDitude Magazine. She speaks to audiences all over the world helping them utilize their resources to best navigate the task-driven world in which they live. Last year, Leslie’s line of student organizing products – a collaboration with Samsill Corp – was released.

And for the last four years, Leslie has been named by Global Gurus as one of the top 20 Time Management experts in the world.

Supporting Students with ADHD and/or Autism at School

As educators, parents, and caregivers, it is essential that we understand the unique challenges students with ADHD and/or autism face, and provide them with the tools and support they need to thrive in all aspects of school. Sarah Wayland, Ph.D. emphasizes the importance of asking questions, having conversations, and going beyond mere diagnoses to uncover the specific issues these students encounter. Throughout the workshop, we will explore strategies, insights, and personal anecdotes that shed light on how to effectively support students with ADHD and/or autism. You’ll gain valuable knowledge and practical tips to help create inclusive and supportive learning environments for neurodivergent students.

Sarah Wayland, Ph.D.

Sarah Wayland is the founder of Guiding Exceptional Parents (https://guidingexceptionalparents.com), co-creator of The Behavior Revolution (https://thebehaviorrevolution.com), and co-author of the book, “Is This Autism? A guide for clinicians and everyone else” (https://IsThisAutism.com). A research scientist by training, and mother of two neurodivergent young men, she applies the neuroscience of behavior along with practical lived experience as she provides neurodiversity-affirmative support, education, and community for parents of neurodivergent children.

Differentiating Instruction for All Learners

When we differentiate instruction, we reach and teach all students, even those who learn differently. From considering the role of environment and social factors to creating a culture of acceptance and kindness, Brendan Mahan, M.Ed, MS addresses the importance of effective communication and tailored instruction to empower students in their learning journey. Join us to discover practical ways to support your student(s).

Brendan Mahan, M.Ed., MS

Brendan Mahan, M.Ed., MS., is the host of the ADHD Essentials Podcast, an internationally recognized expert on ADHD/Executive Function, anxiety, and neurodiverse parenting. He is a highly engaging, sought-after speaker, coach, and consultant. A former teacher, mental health counselor, and principal, Brendan helps individuals, families, schools, and businesses manage the challenges of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, anxiety, and neurodiversity through an approach that blends education, collaborative problem-solving, and accountability with compassion, humor, a focus on strengths and growth, and his trademark “Wall of Awful™” model.

Brendan has been featured in the Washington Post, Bustle, LinkedIn, Understood, Tilt Parenting, How to ADHD, ADD Crusher TV, and ADDitude . He has consulted on several books, and is on the organizing committee for the International Conference on ADHD. Contact him at [email protected].

Understanding Your Student’s Asynchronous Brain

In this workshop, we dive deep into the world of executive function challenges with Seth Perler, M.Ed. As a specialist in supporting students who struggle with procrastination, time management, organization, and more, Seth brings a wealth of knowledge to this discussion. We explore the concept of asynchrony, the importance of personalized education, and practical strategies for parents and teachers to support students with executive function challenges. You won’t want to miss the wisdom and insights that Seth shares.

Seth Perler, M.Ed.

Seth wears a lot of hats in the Executive Function, Neurodiversity, ADHD, 2e, and Education worlds; activist, coach, speaker, educator, vlogger, and guy who cares about seeing outside-the-box kids succeed. 

At the heart of it, Seth helps struggling learners navigate a baffling system, so they can launch a successful future. His weekly vlog at SethPerler.com gives game-changing answers in a sea of misguided educational fluff.

The Impact of Social Emotional Wellbeing on Learning & Behavior

Connection Over Correction

We’re taught that correction is the key to behavior management in parenting and in school. But science has shown us that there’s a much better way to guide children and teens to success. In this workshop, Penny is joined by guest Chazz Lewis to discuss the importance of connection over correction in both parenting and education. They emphasize the need to model the skills we want to teach children, rather than resorting to yelling or punishment. Chazz shares examples and strategies for managing schedules and learning and highlights the lifelong process of growth and improvement. They also explore the importance of understanding and addressing the root causes of student behavior, rather than relying on punishment, and how connection plays a powerful role in guiding and reaching others.

Chazz Lewis, aka, Mr. Chazz

His mission is to help adults truly See, Guide and Trust children. He is pushing the needle a little closer toward world peace with his approach. He is a consultant, Parent coach, Conscious Discipline practitioner, Podcaster, and Content Creator. He goes by, “Mr.Chazz” and he even has a song to prove it.

What to Do When Mistakes Overwhelm Neurodivergent Kids

In this workshop, Penny Williams and guest Emily King, Ph.D., discuss how mistakes can overwhelm neurodivergent kids and what strategies can support them. We first emphasize the importance of prioritizing a child’s mental health over academics and schoolwork. Dr. King highlights the importance of normalizing mistakes and providing support, as well as helping children develop systems to prevent recurring mistakes. Strategies such as creating visual reminders, fostering problem-solving skills, and finding a balance between natural consequences and support are discussed. We share personal experiences as well as advice for parents and teachers, encouraging them to assess and alleviate stress levels, promote a growth mindset, and help kids understand the concept of “good enough.” Understanding the unique challenges of perfectionistic children is also discussed. This session provides practical guidance for supporting neurodivergent children and protecting their mental health in the face of mistakes and challenges.

Emily King, Ph.D.

Dr. Emily King is a Child Psychologist and former School Psychologist who has worked with neurodivergent children and teens for the last 20 years. She received her Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is well-versed in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, DIR/Floortime, Conscious Discipline, and Social Thinking methodologies. Dr. King spent the first five years of her career as a School Psychologist in public elementary, middle, and high schools in Houston, Texas before returning home to Raleigh to open her private practice.

Dr. Emily is also the founder of Learn with Dr. Emily™ where she shares online resources related to raising and educating neurodivergent youth. She has been featured on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, has been quoted in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and has written for Parents.com. King specializes in providing therapy and consultation services for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, ADHD, depression, and learning difficulties. Dr. Emily is passionate about empowering parents and teachers to take care of themselves so they can grow into the adult that every neurodivergent child needs in their life. You can learn with Dr. Emily by reading her blog on Substack or listening to her podcast.

How to Help Neurodivergent Learners Feel Confident and Competent

Kids who learn differently often lack confidence and a sense of competence because they struggle to meet expectations. In this workshop, Emily Kircher-Morris discusses the importance of first understanding and normalizing neurodivergence. She highlights the need for different tools, strategies, and accommodations, and emphasizes the importance of meeting children where they are to create opportunities for success and competence. She also discusses the self-determination theory of motivation and the role of self-advocacy. You’ll learn to challenge negative messages and help children understand their strengths and struggles.

Emily Kircher-Morris, M.A., M.Ed., LPC

Emily Kircher-Morris, M.A., M.Ed., LPC, inspired by her own experiences as a neurodivergent person, is dedicated to destigmatizing neurodiversity and supporting neurodivergent people of all ages. She started her career in education and is now in private practice near St. Louis, Missouri as a licensed professional counselor, where she specializes in supporting neurodivergent kids and adults (and their families).

Emily hosts The Neurodiversity Podcast, which explores the psychological, educational, and social needs of neurodivergent people. She is the author of several books related to parenting and educating neurodivergent children and teens. She speaks at statewide, national, and international conferences and frequently provides virtual and in-person professional development to educators, mental health clinicians, and parents worldwide. Many of her presentations and workshops can also be found at the Neurodiversity University online learning platform.

Nurturing Emotional Health and Happiness

As a former school counselor with a wealth of experience, Brittany Cephas, LCPC, NCC.  shares her valuable expertise on fostering open communication, supporting children’s emotional well-being, and creating emotionally safe environments in both the classroom and at home. Throughout this workshop, you will discover practical strategies, personal anecdotes, and the importance of giving children the tools they need to express themselves and thrive. Join us as we explore the crucial role of emotional health in our children’s lives and how we can be their greatest advocates for happiness and growth.

Brittany Cephas, LCPC, NCC

Brittany Cephas is a Licensed Pediatric Psychotherapist and CEO of a private practice located in Columbia, Maryland. Brittany is committed to providing her clients with the best mental health services to help them grow and thrive. At her practice she offers individual therapy to children and adolescents. Brittany has over 15 years of experience in the mental health field. Her approach with her clients is warm, creative, and fun, which are the values that guide the work that she does with her clients. Brittany believes that are clients will experience success in a therapeutic space that offers safety, compassion, and care.

What Really Motivates Kids (Hint: It Isn’t Always Rewards)

Rewards aren’t the only things that motivate kids. In fact, teacher Katie Plunkett reminds us that fostering intrinsic motivation in students is much more powerful. In this workshop, she outlines the three intrinsic drives of autonomy, mastery, and purpose and provides strategies to foster them in the kids in your classrooms or with your child. You’ll learn how to build strong relationships with students, create a safe environment, and set obtainable goals, and why that matters. All of this will lead to more motivated kids and a calmer learning environment.

Katie Plunkett, M.A.T.

As an experienced educator with a M.A. in teaching and dual teaching credentials in Social Sciences and Multiple Subjects, I have had the privilege of working in diverse educational settings. Throughout my career, I have personally experienced the challenges of battling burnout and working in severely underfunded and under-resourced environments. Overcrowded classrooms, challenging student behavior, and lack of support have been obstacles I’ve faced firsthand.

Currently, I am fully dedicated to my role as a full-time classroom teacher, where I strive to make a positive impact on my students’ lives. I believe in the power of social-emotional learning and have witnessed its transformative effects on both students and educators. Drawing from my experiences, I have delivered speeches and trainings on topics such as classroom management, self-care, and social-emotional learning. I firmly believe in the power of community and the importance of teachers supporting one another. Through my work, I aim to foster a sense of camaraderie among educators, recognizing that our greatest resources lie within our collective knowledge and experiences.

Integrating Play in Learning

Play is an essential ingredient in learning and it’s for all ages! In this workshop, occupational therapist Greg Santucci shares the importance of integrating play into the learning process, for the benefit of the students and their teachers. He offers examples of how playfulness can make lessons more engaging and memorable and recommends adding elements of play to homework to ensure understanding, including finding different ways for students to demonstrate their understanding of the learning material. Learn how to incorporate play and a child’s interests into lessons and homework and build guiding  relationships in the process.

Greg Santucci, OTR/L

Greg Santucci is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the Founding Director of Power Play Pediatric Therapy. Greg has been working with children and families for over 20 years, providing OT services in schools, homes and outpatient therapy centers throughout New Jersey. Greg is certified in Sensory Integration and the creator of the Model of Child Engagement, a clinical framework to help professionals and parents focus on a child’s safety needs prior to addressing their regulation and sensory processing skills, with the goal of improving a child’s participation in daily activities.
Greg has been lecturing nationally for over a decade on topics related to sensory processing, child development and behavior, and consults with parents and educators around the world. Greg has dedicated his career to promoting neurodevelopmentally-informed, relationship-based interventions to help parents and teachers support children of all abilities and learning styles.
Greg is the father of two children and is married to a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, so he shares his toys with everyone in his family.

Regulation is the Foundation of Learning

In this workshop, Penny invites Elizabeth Sautter, a speech-language pathologist, to discuss the importance of regulation in learning. Elizabeth shares strategies for setting up classrooms proactively, including low arousal techniques and clear zones for different activities. They emphasize the need for teaching self-regulation skills, creating an exit plan for alternative strategies, and providing a regulation station. Elizabeth also talks about the connection between regulation and brain development, as well as the importance of understanding lagging skills and addressing foundational needs. Insights into supporting regulation for students at school and home are provided, in addition to the benefits of accommodations like taking breaks.

Elizabeth A. Sautter, M.A. CCC

Elizabeth A. Sautter, M.A. CCC-Speech Language Pathologist is an expert on social-emotional learning and executive functioning. She is the author of “Make Social and Emotional Learning Stick! Practical Activities to Help Your Child Manage Emotions, Navigate Social Situations, and Reduce Anxiety.” She is also the co-creator of the Make it Stick Parenting online course and community and other resources to help parents make social-emotional learning simple and make it stick. She is a Zones of Regulation collaborator and trainer.
On a personal note, she has two teen sons, a sister and a cousin with additional needs which makes her work not just a career that she is passionate about but a life endeavor.

School Avoidance & Refusal

The occurrence of school avoidance and refusal is skyrocketing, yet it’s still greatly misunderstood. Drawing from her own experiences and expertise, Dayna Abraham of Calm the Chaos, highlights the importance of connection, understanding, and accommodations in creating a positive and supportive learning environment. Throughout the workshop, Dayna emphasizes the need for a shift in mindset and challenges the traditional notion that school attendance is the only path to success. With practical tips and resources, this session provides a wealth of information for parents and teachers navigating the challenging landscape of school avoidance and refusal.

Dayna Abraham

Dayna Abraham, bestselling author of The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day and Sensory Processing 101, is on a mission to create a more accepting world, one challenging kid at a time. Her latest book, Calm the Chaos: A Failproof Roadmap for Parenting Even the Most Challenging Kids will be released in August.

As a National Board Certified educator, parent of three neurodivergent children, and an ADHD adult herself, Dayna brings a unique and out-of-the-box perspective to parents raising kids in the modern world. She is the founder of the popular parenting website Lemon Lime Adventures, which has accumulated more than forty-one million viewers in less than seven years.

Through her compassionate framework, Calm the Chaos, she has helped millions of desperate parents around the world, find peace and meet their children where they’re at when conventional parenting tools have failed them.

With a weekly reach of more than 1.2 million people on social media, and more than two hundred thousand parents attending her Calm the Chaos free workshop, she has become a proven and trusted leader in the parenting community.

Her work has been showcased in HuffPost, Scary Mommy, BuzzFeed, ADDitude Magazine, and Parents Magazine and Lifehacker. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her three amazing children, her husband, Jason, and two huge Newfoundland puppies, Luna and Koda.

Creating Opportunities for Neurodivergent Kids to Achieve Success

How to Apply a Low-Demand Approach to School (A High-Demand System)

Our traditional education systems are built around a structured framework of rules and demands. But for kids and teens whose nervous systems get triggered by overwhelm and pressure, they can’t succeed in a high-demand environment — it doesn’t feel safe, which limits their physiological availability to learn. In this workshop, Amanda Diekman emphasizes prioritizing children’s mental health and building strong relationships through meeting struggle with asking, “What is too hard in the present moment for this child?”. Get ready to gain valuable insights on how to create a low stress, high support environment that allows children to learn and thrive.

Amanda Diekman

Amanda Diekman is an autistic adult, parent coach, and author in the neurodiversity space. Amanda became a leading voice in the movement for low demand parenting practices, with her book Low Demand Parenting, published July 2023. Amanda runs a successful coaching practice for parents of neurodivergent children including online courses and a vibrant membership community. She lives with her husband and three neurodivergent children in an intentional community in Durham, NC.

What to Do When Smart Kids Struggle in School

In this workshop, Penny is joined by her son, Luke, to discuss What to Do When Smart Kids Struggle in School. Luke shares his personal experiences and insights as someone who has navigated the challenges of being a smart student struggling in school. Luke’s unique perspective and understanding sheds light on the pressures, difficulties, and potential solutions for helping students who face similar struggles. So, if you’re a parent, educator, or anyone interested in supporting smart kids who may be struggling academically, this workshop is for you. Learn how we can create a more inclusive and accommodating learning environment for all students.

Penny Williams with Luke Williams

A parenting coach for neurodiverse families, Penny Williams is the award-winning author of four books on ADHD, including Boy Without Instructions, host of the Beautifully Complex Podcast, host of the annual Neurodiversity Summits, and co-creator of The Behavior Revolution Program, a parent training program designed to change the narrative on behavior and help parents celebrate and support their kids with ADHD or autism through neuroscience-backed insights, hard-won strategies, compassion, and guidance.  Penny empowers parents to help their neurodivergent kids — and families — thrive.

Luke is a neurodivergent young adult exploring what they want to do in life after a traumatic K-12 school experience. 

Stephanie Pitts & Rachel Kapp

Structuring Homework Time for Success

Homework seems to be a battleground for most neurodiverse families and students. But it shouldn’t be and it doesn’t have to be. In this workshop, Penny is joined by educational therapists, Stephanie Pitts, M.Ed, BCET, and Rachel Kapp, M.A., BCET, who share their insights on structuring homework time for success. With their expertise in education and executive functioning, they provide valuable tips and strategies for parents to support their children in managing homework effectively. From creating a peaceful environment to teaching organizational skills, Stephanie and Rachel outline the essential steps to promote a positive homework routine. Learn how to empower your child in their academic journey.

Stephanie Pitts, M.Ed, BCET & Rachel Kapp, M.A., BCET

Rachel grew up in sunny Los Angeles, California. After having a wonderful public school experience in LAUSD —yes, it exists! — Rachel went on to attend UC Berkeley. She studied abroad in Rome, Italy, which allowed her to combine a love of art and travel with nightly gelato. She found educational therapy after teaching preschool for 7 years in Los Angeles and is obsessed with helping struggling learners thrive in school. Rachel loves the path of least resistance and her absolute favorite thing is to get things done quickly (Steph tolerates this passion). When she is not working you’ll find Rachel at spin, baking, or spending time with her husband and son. You can learn more about Rachel’s educational therapy practice at www.kappedtherapy.com.

Game and tech guru, Stephanie Pitts grew up in Los Angeles and attended both public and private schools. Even though she went to USC, Rachel still loves and adores Steph. Steph’s dogs are EVERYTHING and you can follow their adventures at @andytucker_thedoxies on social media. After teaching elementary school, Steph’s executive functioning skills were commandeered by a family with seven children. For 9 years, Steph made things happen for the kids and the family before moving on to educational therapy. She loves traveling, spending time with her dogs, and living by the beach. You can learn more about Stephanie’s educational therapy practice at www.myedtherapist.com

Flexible Structure for Getting Schoolwork Done

Every child is different, especially neurodivergent kids, and finding a structure that works for everyone can be challenging. In this workshop, Penny hosts Diane Dempster, CPC, PCC, MHSA and Elaine Taylor-Klaus, CPCC, MCC to talk about creating a flexible structure for getting schoolwork done. They share their experiences as coaches and parents of complex kids, and discuss the importance of coaching skills and tools in helping kids feel ownership and control in their lives. They also touch on the importance of fostering independence and problem-solving skills by not helping too much. Learn how to focus on the purpose behind the structure you’re creating and how to adapt it to individual needs, rather than just rigidly following a system.

Diane Dempster, CPC, PCC, MHSA & Elaine Taylor-Klaus, CPCC, MCC

Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster co-founded ImpactParents.com in 2011 because traditional parenting advice wasn’t working for their complex kids and they found no training or coaching available designed specifically to support them as parents of complex kids. Now internationally recognized as leading parent educators in the world, they use a coach-approach to help parents reduce the stress of raising children, teens, and young adults with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, LD and more. The creators of Sanity School® behavior training, they’re authors of many books including Parenting ADHD Now: Easy Intervention Strategies to Empower Kids with ADHD and The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety and More.

Systems, Tools & Strategies to Help Students Manage Getting Things Done

In this workshop, we dive deep into the world of managing tasks and staying organized with our guest, Franki Bagdade, M.Ed., LLMSW. Franki shares invaluable insights, systems, tools, and strategies to help students effectively manage getting things done. From offering choices in recording homework to troubleshooting and problem-solving, Franki sheds light on the importance of finding what works best for each individual student. We’ll also explore the challenges faced by students and parents when it comes to homework and discover functional solutions to ensure success. Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, this session is packed with practical tips and techniques to support your journey.

Franki Bagdade, M.Ed, LLMSW

Franki Bagdade owns and operates FAAB Consulting, which offers school and camp consultation as well as training for professionals in education, camping, and mental health fields. In addition, Franki runs a solo private practice as a clinical social worker specializing in ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, Emotional Regulation, Executive Functioning, and Parenting Support

Franki’s passionate about accessible education, camp and mental health services for everyone regardless of disabilities. She provides training, professional development and keynotes for educators, mental health professionals, camp and recreation staff and parents dozens of times a year throughout the United States and Canada. Her first book, “I Love my Kids But I Don’t Always Like Them!” was published in 2021 and has won several awards.

Securing Services & Accommodations for Neurodivergent Kids

In today’s workshop, we’re talking with IEP Master Coach, Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed., about securing services and accommodations for neurodivergent children. Throughout the session, Catherine and Penny dive into the complexities of advocating for and securing the necessary services and accommodations for neurodivergent children in educational settings. They discuss the importance of open communication between parents and teachers, the myths and misconceptions surrounding special education services, and the emotional impact that can come with navigating the special education process.

Catherine offers invaluable advice on utilizing both 504 plans and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), emphasizing the need to prioritize and tailor supports based on the unique needs of each child. She also sheds light on the eligibility process, ensuring appropriate services are secured, and the importance of goal setting to prepare children for future education, employment, and independent living.

But it doesn’t stop there. Catherine goes even deeper, exploring the concept of grief that parents may experience throughout their journey and the importance of reframing conversations to promote collaboration and avoid conflict in IEP meetings. She shares personal anecdotes and lessons learned, encouraging all of us to forge ahead with hope, understanding, and a fresh perspective.

Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed

Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed has been solving Special Education struggles for schools and families for over 25 years. After watching her family navigate the system for her brother with Down syndrome, Catherine was motivated to create change. She earned several certifications in Special Education, spent time in the classroom, and became a positive voice of hope and collaboration for families and teachers in her community.

She is the founder of Master IEP Coach® training programs for parents and teachers, creator of the IEP Development Assessment Wheel™, host of the Special Education Inner Circle podcast, and is currently traveling nationwide working hands-on with teachers and parents to build IEPs that work in the real world. Her unique special education strategies and solutions have been implemented at thousands of IEP tables and she can’t wait to support you in leveling up your leadership on your IEP team.

Crafting a Vision: Supporting Long-Term Goals and Inclusion in Education

In this workshop, occupational therapist Beth Liesenfeld discusses the topic of inclusion in education. She emphasizes the need to bridge the gap between ideal and practical inclusion and helps parents and educators understand the true spirit of inclusion. Beth shares personal experiences and examples to illustrate the challenges and complexities of implementing inclusion in schools. She also highlights the importance of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), vision statements, and creative approaches in advocating for the best support for students with learning differences. We also talk about the value of technology, peer support, and incorporating movement in the classroom in order to create a truly inclusive environment.

Beth Liesenfeld, MOT, OTR/L

Beth Liesenfeld, MOT, OTR/L is an occupational therapist who started to notice differences in quality of IEPs based on pillars of parent advocacy skills. She started The Parent IEP Lab podcast as a way to share “insider” information about the school system and process for parents to advocate with confidence. The IEP Lab provides an online summit, The Ultimate Parent IEP Prep Course, and The Parent Advocacy Club Membership.

How to Talk to Kids so They Feel Seen, Heard and Respected

When kids and teens feel seen, heard, and respected, they are intrinsically motivated and empowered. In this workshop, Debbie Reber emphasizes the need to question traditional parenting and teaching methods and recognize the unique gifts of neurodivergent children. She discusses the negative impact of conforming to societal norms and highlights the importance of recognizing and accepting children for who they are — encouraging adults to reflect on their own biases and projections onto their kids or students. She also discusses the importance of mindful communication and the concept of “companioning” to build autonomy and confidence in children.

Debbie Reber, M.A.

Debbie Reber, MA is a parenting activist, bestselling author, speaker, and the CEO and founder of TiLT Parenting, a resource, top-performing podcast, consultancy, and community with a focus on shifting the paradigm for parents raising and embracing neurodivergent children. The Tilt Parenting Podcast has more than 6 million downloads and a slate of guests that includes high-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. Debbie’s most recent book is Differently Wired: A Parent’s Guide to Raising an Atypical Child with Confidence and Hope. In 2018 she spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, delivering a talk entitled Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired.

Prior to launching Tilt, Debbie spent fifteen years writing inspiring books for women and teens, including Doable, Chill, In Their Shoes, The Real Deal series from Chicken Soup for the Soul, Run for Your Life, and more than a dozen Blue’s Clues books. Before becoming a solopreneur, Debbie worked in TV and video production, producing documentaries for UNICEF, working on Blue’s Clues for Nickelodeon, and developing series for Cartoon Network. She has an MA in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research and a BA in Communications from Penn State. In 2019, her husband, and differently wired teen relocated to Brooklyn, NY after living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands for five years.