New England Early Connections Conference

A family sits in the living room to read a book to their three young girls.
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April 29, 2017 - 8:00am to 3:00pm
Lower School
United States
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472

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More information on Conference's Agenda and Breakout Sessions.


One day to focus on your family

Don't miss your opportunity on Saturday, April 29 to connect with parents of children ages birth to age 7.

AGENDA

Free childcare available - Lunch provided

8:15 – 9:00 AM
Registration and Coffee

9:00 AM
Welcome

9:15 – 10:00 AM
Keynote Address: Trust the Journey
Ed Bosso, Executive Director of Educational Programs and Superintendant

10:00 – 11:30 AM
Morning Sessions (choose one)

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Picking up kids from childcare. LUNCH

12:30 – 1:15 PM
Parent to Parent Group
Grandparent to Grandparent Group
Professional to Professional Group

1:15 – 2:45 PM
Afternoon Sessions (choose one)

2:45 – 3:15 PM
Scavenger hunt, parent networking, visit vendor and state tables

3:15 PM
Conclusion. Pick up kids from childcare.


Breakout Sessions

Morning Breakout Sessions

  • Building Connections and Support for Your Marriage and Family — Teresa Kohlenberg, M.D.
    Dr. Kohlenberg will share experiences and thoughts from her years as a parent of a child with special needs, AND as a doctor working with families with children with special educational and emotional needs.
  • Concept Development — Beverly Temple, TVI, Nancy Wittmershaus, TVI/COMS, and Nancy Moulton, TVI.
    How do children with limited vision and mobility learn about their world, especially when 85% of what children learn is through their vision. The presenters will share specific strategies as well as help parents to think creatively about their children’s specific needs. 
  • Helping Young Children Learn About the Natural World Through Sound — Dennis Gallant, Ph.D.
    Participants will learn about basic concepts, strategies, and resources to help children who are blind or visually impaired get to know the natural world through sound. We listen to specific animal sounds and learn how to use such information to gain a better understanding of the natural environment.
  • Intro to Cortical Visual Impairment — Yvonne Locke, TVI.
    This session is a brief introduction to Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI). It will include an overview of the definition of CVI, the ten characteristics of CVI, vision, and the brain, as well as general accommodation. It is for those who are new to understanding CVI.
  • Mindfulness Parenting: Helpful Strategies and Practice — Jim Luiselli, Ed.D. and Tracy Luiselli, Ed.D.
    This session will provide an overview of mindfulness parenting and how it can be applied to approach stress and conflict. We will spend a few minutes in practice. Resources to support practice will be provided along with an overview of helpful Apps and tools. "Mindful parenting takes to heart the deep truth that we can only give to our children what we have given first and fundamentally to ourselves."
  • Orientation and Mobility: Are You Sure? (for Students with Additional Disabilities) — Lori Spencer, COMS.
    "Orientation" refers to a child’s spatial awareness and where they want to go, whether moving from one room to another or walking about. "Mobility" refers to the child’s safe, efficient, and effective movement from one place to another, such as walking without tripping or falling.
    Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is not just for kiddos who are independently mobile — it is for all of our students. Learn how O&M is relevant for our kids with Cortical Vision Impairment and Multiple Disabilities and how to incorporate those concepts into everyday living. Be prepared to be an artist!
  • Promoting Motor Development in Children with Visual Impairments, Blind or Low Vision — Lauren Lieberman, Ph.D.
    Children with visual impairments and those with additional disabilities often experience delayed development for a variety of reasons. This presentation will give participants resources and strategies to ensure that every child is reaching their full potential.
  • Real Life Stories of Adjusting to Blindness — Stephanie Bissonette, TVI/COMS and Alli Futty, TVI/COMS.
    Parents go through adjustment stages at different paces than each other and at different paces than their child. Two, twenty minute, documentaries will be shown of Vermonters going through their own adjustments, as they describe the seven stages of adjustment. Allie will discuss her experience and how she viewed her parents' adjustment experiences, after being diagnosed with a visual impairment as a teenager. 

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

  • Early Literacy: Specialized Adaptations & Strategies — Deafblind Specialists, IIse Willems and Marguerite Tibaudo.
    The presenters will discuss the importance of early literacy skill development during a child’s early learning years and a variety of ways for children to access literacy across the day. Adaptations, including environmental modifications and book creation will be addressed in addition to specialized educational strategies. This session will be focused on meeting the needs of children who have Cortical Vision Impairment, dual-sensory impairments, and additional specialized needs.
    • This session concludes with an optional Preschool tour.
  • Sibling Panel: "Brothers and Sisters in Their Own Words" — Amy Szarkowski, Ph.D.
    The impact of disability on the family varies from person to person, yet there are common threads that run through many sibling stories. With facilitation by Dr. Amy Szarskoski, a panel of brothers and sisters will share their stories of what it is like growing up with a sibling who has vision loss or deafblindness. Also, the panelists will offer suggestions about how best to talk to your children about disability issues.
  • Transitioning from an IFSP to an IEP: What to look for in preschool — Elizabeth Torrey, CCC-SLP.
    The transition from Early Intervention to Preschool can be a stressful time for parents as they make decisions concerning a school placement for their child. Many variables contribute to the success of an educational setting. This session will provide parents with suggestions of what to consider and questions to ask during a visit to a potential school site.
    • This session concludes with an optional Preschool tour.
  • Intro to Cortical Visual Impairment — Yvonne Locke, TVI.
    This session is a brief introduction to Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI). It will include an overview of the definition of CVI, the ten characteristics of CVI, vision, and the brain, as well as general accommodation. It is for those who are new to understanding CVI.
  • Orientation and Mobility: It's More Than Just a Cane (for Blind or Low Vision Students)— Lori Spencer, COMS.
    "Orientation" refers to a child’s spatial awareness and where they want to go, whether moving from one room to another or walking about. "Mobility" refers to the child’s safe, efficient, and effective movement from one place to another, such as walking without tripping or falling.
    Spatial concepts, environmental awareness, and yes — travel skills are all a part of Orientation and Mobility (O&M). This session is designed to get you thinking O&M throughout your child’s day and incorporating O&M skills into all that you do. And yes, you will be walking with a cane!
  • Promoting Motor Development in Children with Visual Impairments, Blind or Low Vision — Lauren Lieberman, Ph.D.
    Children with visual impairments and those with additional disabilities often experience delayed development for a variety of reasons. This presentation will give participants resources and strategies to ensure that every child is reaching their full potential.
  • Real Life Stories of Adjusting to Blindness — Stephanie Bissonette, TVI/COMS and Alli Futty, TVI/COMS.
    Parents go through adjustment stages at different paces than each other and at different paces than their child. Two, twenty minute, documentaries will be shown of Vermonters going through their own adjustments, as they describe the seven stages of adjustment. Allie will discuss her experience and how she viewed her parents' adjustment experiences, after being diagnosed with a visual impairment as a teenager. 

Keynote Speaker

Ed BossoEd Bosso is the Superintendent at Perkins School for the Blind and oversees all of the educational services, including programs on the Perkins campus and in public schools. Ed lives on campus with his family, including a 2-year-old daughter who attends the Perkins Infant-Toddler Program, 16-year-old daughter who attends Watertown High School and his eldest daughter who is in her second year at the University of Delaware.

Ed has more than 30 years of experience in education as a teacher and leader. As a dad, Ed understands firsthand the challenges and rewards of parenting. As a parent and a professional, Ed has worked tirelessly to advocate for students and families.

Prior to Perkins, he served as vice president of Gallaudet’s National Deaf Education Center. He also served as the director of Delaware’s Statewide Programs for Deaf and Deaf Blind Students as well as principal of the Delaware School for the Deaf. 


General Information

Activities and childcare will be provided for children by councilors who will be assigned according to each child's age, disability, and special considerations. 

Please Call Sharon Stelzer at (617) 972-7696 or email Sharon.Stelzer@Perkins.org and leave a message if there is a last minute change of plans regarding your child's attendance, or if you would prefer to bring your own sitter. 

Questions? Please call your state contact or Vincent Pagano at (617) 972-7432, Perkins School for the Blind, or Vincent.Pagano@Perkins.org.


Parent Responsibilities

  • A written schedule for your child's medications, meals, naps, and any other special instructions.
  • Administration of all your child's medications and management of G-tube feedings.
  • Labeling your child's clothes, toys, and/or special equipment.
  • Any special equipment (stroller, porta-crib, highchair, wheelchair, etc.) and food or feeding equipment which may help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Kitchen areas will be available for you to heat foods. Emergency number on the day of the conference is the Administrator for Emergency Coverage hotline (617) 201-7512.

Taking Care of Our Children…Taking Care of Ourselves

Early Connections Conference logo of three figures holding hands.Each spring for over 30 years, professionals and parents of children with visual impairments have come together for the Early Connections Conference to share, network and learn about the latest strategies and resources to develop the best education for their child.

Event Date: 
April 29, 2017 - 8:00am to 3:00pm
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