Full Schedule

Monday, August 1 

12:00p - 2:00p

Location

Opening Plenary Session

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Ballroom

Re-Connect & Be Inspired Together

Presenters: Meghan Ashburn, Brian Kelmar, Brittney Lee, Jesse Monroe, Kate Oppe, Catherine Rey

In our first session of convention, we’ll hit the ground running by sharing Successes in Advocacy and Listening and RECONNECTing with you!  Hear from advocates in Virginia about their successes in advocating for change, learn how they organized and what support they got along the way. Then tell us what barriers you are facing on the road to “A Life Like Yours”?  What barriers do you or your family face to getting services in Virginia?  We’ll use what we learn from you to 1) update you on progress we are making along the way, and 2) help us shape legislative and programming priorities for the coming year. 

2:00p - 2:30p    Break/Hotel Check In
2:30p - 3:30p    

Location

Breakout Sessions I

A Fresh Look at Inclusion for Nonspeaking Students

Presenter: Meghan Ashburn, Not an Autism Mom LLC

Innovations in brain science and technology are paving a path toward inclusion for ALL students, and this session will be your road map!  We'll start by looking beyond behaviors. We'll explore differences in the central nervous system, the brain/body disconnect, and apraxia. Next, we'll check out how the latest breakthroughs in technology can help us build a school-wide Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) team, and brainstorm creative strategies for educators to integrate AAC into the curriculum. Attendees will leave with a generous list of resources to help them support their nonspeaking students in the general education environment.

Preparing Families To Work With First Responders Before a Behavioral Crisis 

Presenter: Nichole Pangle

Many families struggle with contacting First Responders in the event of a behavioral crisis. The training that law enforcement receives is often contradictory to the necessary de-escalation techniques for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This session will provide participants with the tools to work collaboratively with local first responders on how to best respond to a crisis situation, by giving details on de-escalation techniques, safety plans for other household members, details about the home and support services and more.

Virginia’s Supported Decision-Making Agreement: Creation Through the Use of Discovery Tools

Presenter: Sara Thompson, Supported Decision-Making Community Resource Consultant, Dept. Beh. Health & Developmental Services

Learn about Virginia’s Supported Decision-Making Agreement(SDMA) template and the discovery tools that you can use to help with the creation of your Supported Decision-Making Agreement. See how a self-advocate and Sara Thompson, VA Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services  Community Resource Consultant, use the discovery tools to help identify when the self-advocate wants help, what kind of help they want, and who they want to support them. Then they will use the information they learned to create the self-advocate’s Supported Decision-Making Agreement using the Virginia template.

Re-Connect with your Plan - Special Needs Trust

Presenter: Tia Marsili, Director of Trusts, The Arc of Northern Virginia

The last two years have been unusual and now it is time to reconnect and re-energize with your Futures Plan for your loved one.  Join Tia Marsili and members of her team who will present briefly on Futures Planning, then open the forum to disability-related questions regarding benefits.  Use this session as a way to get outstanding questions answered, learn new things, reconnect and network.  We'll talk about means-tested benefits, legal authority, housing, and more.  And, we'll be prepared to help you plan Next Steps.

2:30p - 3:30p Board & Chapter Meeting - See Registration Desk for Location   
3:45p - 4:45p    

Location

Breakout Sessions II

Building a Better Partnership, What Genetics Can do For You

Presenter: Tahnee Causey, Director, VCU MS in Genetic Counseling Program, Licensed Lead Genetic Counselor, VCU Health and  Assistant Professor, Dept. of Human & Molecular Genetics

This session will review the common reasons for genetics referrals, common genetics principles and testing, and what role genetics providers have in working with families. 

Side by Side: Navigating Life with Siblings with Disabilities

Presenter: Lisa Coates, SOAR365

Siblings spend more time with each other in childhood than with anyone else. More importantly, siblings tend to be in the life of a family member with disabilities longer than anyone else, including parents. The impact of having a sibling with a disability changes over a timespan. This presentation will offer tips to have in your toolbox to help you or a loved one navigate the complexities of growing up with a sibling with a disability. As a sibling of two younger brothers with disabilities and leader in the field of special education, the presenter has both personal and professional experiences to share. 

How to Plan for the Life You Want

Presenter: Beth Kessler, B Kessler Consulting & Special Projects Lead, The Arc of Virginia

Charting the LifeCourse offers us a framework for planning and problem solving in our lives. In times of change or uncertainty, we can use this framework to check in and make sure our decisions are moving us forward. Sometimes it takes planning and intention to avoid ending up where we never wanted to be, and to get where we wanted to go. This session will help you in planning for your life or with your loved one.   

Development = Relationship Building

Presenter: Bryan Harris, Development Director with The Arc of the Piedmont

Relationship building is at the heart of a meaningful development program. Yet, in today’s technological age, many aspects of development take place on digital platforms, making authentic engagement and the building of personal connections is a more challenging enterprise. In-person events are an effective way to engage with donors and create experiences that bring awareness to your cause, inspire a sense of the community, and generate much-needed funds. In this session, an experienced development director will offer a series of successful practices that demonstrate how events can be used to inspire, connect, and help support your program. A recent art-inspired gala event will be used to illustrate the effectiveness of using the arts and other Arc programming to enhance development events and meaningfully center those people who development funds ultimately impact.

5:30p - 10:00p Dinner, Awards, Dance - Ballroom and Terrace

Tuesday, August 2 

8:30a - 11:00a

Location

Keynote Breakfast

Ballroom

Investing in a Future Worth Creating

Patti Scott, Co-Founder, Neighbours Inc. 

Virginia Housing Provider Panel: Susan Henderson, Hope House Foundation; Paula Manion, Donna Budway & Huan Vuong, Our Stomping Grounds; and Monica Karavanic, The Arc of Southside

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Neighbours Inc. is an innovative agency that affords people with disabilities the opportunity to take control of, and direct, their own lives and the resources that support them. Over the past twenty seven years Neighbours has supported people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in moving into their own homes,controlling their own supports and resources, and living full, rich lives as contributors in their local communities.

Hear a panel of Virginia Providers in a discussion about the innovative housing and community living supports in their programs that are helping people live their lives in communities across the Commonwealth.   

11:15a - 12:15p

Location

Breakout Sessions III

Developmental Milestones and Signs When you Should Seek Additional Support

Presenter: Dr. Janice Keener, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Director of Psychological and Assessment Services in Developmental Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters

During this presentation we will review developmental milestones from birth-6 years of age and identify red flags along the way. We will discuss what to do if you have concerns and how to identify resources.

Changes to Virginia’s Crisis Systems 

Presenters: Bill Howard, Director of Crisis Supports and Services, Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services 

There are many changes in the crisis response systems in VA. This session will teach us about how the Crisis System is Transforming, how the new Marcus Alert Enhances Services for people experiencing a crisis related to mental health, substance use, or developmental disability by  creating coordination between 911 and regional crisis call centers for specialized behavioral health response from law enforcement when responding to a behavioral health situation, and how the new Emergency Number 988 and Voluntary Database can empower people and families to know how to safely access help when they need it.  

Consent and Body Rights
Tina Norris and Kendra Wormley, Parent Educational and Advocacy Training Center (PEATC)

Communication and touch should feel ok and healthy for everyone involved. Each person’s body belongs to them. It is important to know that someone needs to ask and get consent from them before touching them – AND – that you need to ask and get consent before touching someone else. This interactive workshop for self-advocates will provide vital information about giving and getting consent.

Making Sense of Sensory Integration

Presenter: Dr. Corey Yates, Occupational Therapist (OTR)

How do we perceive the world around us and how do we use this information to interact with the world, meet our own needs and live our best lives? What does an individual need to succeed when the internal or external environment seems overwhelming? This session will focus on sensory integration and how it relates to our everyday function.  Content includes an overview of sensory integration, related definitions, and potential signs of dysfunction. General recommendations to address sensory needs and improve overall quality of life will be discussed and additional resources will be provided. The content is applicable to individuals across the lifespan and should be considered introductory. This session is intended for a variable audience and is appropriate for caregivers, individuals with disability, educators, and medical professionals.

12:30p - 2:30p

Location

Public Policy Luncheon

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Ballroom

A Focus on the Future

Speakers:  Secretary John Littel, Secretary Aimee Guidera (invited), Commissioner Nelson Smith, Interim Director Cheryl Roberts and DOJ Attorney Kyle Smiddie

Hear from Virginia's Leaders about Public Policy that shapes the Developmental Disability System in the Commonwealth and have an opportunity to ask questions and learn about key issues and initiatives that directly impact our lives. You will also hear from and have a chance to speak directly with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding where things stand with Virginia's Settlement Agreement, why it hasn't ended and what is next for building a robust community system for everyone in Virginia. 

2:45p - 3:45p

Location

Breakout Sessions IV

The Most Effective Strategies for Meaningful Inclusion of K-12 Students Who Need Modified and Adapted Curriculum

Presenters: Doctors. Liz Altieri and Karen Douglas, Professors & Co-Directors of the VA Inclusive Practices Center at Radford University

The Virginia Inclusive Practices Center at Radford University will provide a how-to session for family members and teachers on what works for students, teachers, schools, and families when supporting the successful academic, social and physical inclusion of K-12 learners with moderate and severe disabilities. Participants will interact with and have access to materials, forms, and sample modifications and adaptations.

What’s Up with Medicaid?

Presenters: Ann Bevan. High Needs Support and Nichole Martin, Office of Community Living  VA Dept. of Medical Assistance Services

Medicaid Health Insurance, CCC Plus and the Developmental Disability Medicaid Waivers are a lifeline for many. Changes to Medicaid have been numerous and constant especially since COVID-19.  Get the latest on the Public Health Emergency, Appendix K, Reimbursement Rates, Developmental Disability Medicaid Waiver Waiting List, recent changes and upcoming changes.  Time for Questions and Answers.

Peer Mentoring & Speed Matching “If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before.” ~ J Loren Norris

Presenters: Shay Ruff, Peer Mentor, Johnae Meekins, Mentee

Peer mentoring encompasses a range of activities and interactions between people who share similar experiences living with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Peer mentoring offers a level of acceptance, understanding, and validation not found in many other professional relationships. By sharing their own lived experience and practical guidance, peer mentors help people to develop their own goals, create strategies for self-empowerment, and take concrete steps towards building fulfilling, self-determined lives for themselves. In this session, you will get to know the trained mentors, explore your own personal goals and have the chance to participate in “Speed Matching” --- an activity similar to speed dating --- but for people with disabilities who just want to get to know each other and consider how a mentor can help you achieve your goals and dreams! 

Introduction to the Customized Rate for DD Waivers
Presenters:  Carrie Ottoson, Community Programs Manager and Gina Koke, Customized Rate Consultant, VA Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

Customized Rate is a DD Medicaid Waiver rate approved by a committee of experts for individuals with complex medical and/or behavioral support needs whose needs fall outside the standard reimbursement rate structure. The history of the Customized Rate, eligibility requirements and rate determination will be covered with time for Q&A.  

3:45p - 4:00p Break
4:00p - 5:00p 

Location

Breakout Sessions V

Ins and Outs of IEP Meetings

Presenter: Kathleen Gibson, Early Childhood Specialist, Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center 

This presentation will help prepare parents for what to expect in the IEP meeting and how to have a productive, student-focused meeting. From preplanning before the meeting to working together afterwards, this presentation will build relationships while focusing on the needs of the student.

Accessing the World Virtually with Medicaid Supports (AT, EM, EHBS)

Presenters: Ann Bevan, High Needs Support  and Nichole Martin, Community Living DMAS; Heather Norton, Assistant Commissioner , Dept of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services;Catherine DeSalvo, United Health Care and  Collen West, Aetna.  

COVID-19’s impact has resulted in permanent changes in our society for things like work, school, socializing and connection. For many people with disabilities, this change has opened up access to their communities. Assistive Technology(AT), Environmental Modifications(EM) and Electronic Home-Based Services(EHBS) are Medicaid funded supports that many need to access for virtual supports. This session will provide a brief overview of the application and authorization processes for AT, EM and EHBS. Additionally, The Arc of Virginia put forth legislation in 2021 and 2022 that established a workgroup to develop recommendations for the permanent use of virtual supports and increasing access to AT, EM and EHBS. We will review the progress made and learn next steps in making this change.  

Driving Your Dreams - Starting a Business & Getting a Driver's License

Presenter: Dorothy Clark, Member, Our Voices Self-Advocacy Group; Vera Hansley & Lisa Perry, Dept of Aging & Rehabilitative Services 

We all have dreams for our lives, for our future. There are some dreams that are often viewed as out of reach for people with disabilities -- But we know that a person’s possibilities are unique to them, based on their skills, abilities, interests, support systems and a host of other factors that make us all individuals. This presentation will focus on two big dreams achieved by the presenter who will share how she opened her own business and how she is getting her driver’s license right now. DARS(Dept. of Aging and Rehabilitative Services) will also present to share what they can do to help people in both of these areas.  

How Inclusive Services Help Us to Have A Life Like Yours

Presenters:  Jesse Monroe, Board Member of The Arc of VA, Shay Ruff, Peer Mentor

Are you a DD Waiver Provider (or Potential Provider) who is interested in developing or expanding inclusive Waiver services?  Join The Arc of Virginia and the “A Life Like Yours” Self-Advocacy Alliance, as we discuss the statewide movement to expand inclusive services in Virginia.  Learn about ways that YOU can be an ALLY for Virginians with Developmental Disabilities through the development of services that support us in living A Life Like Yours! 

7:30p - 9:00p A Night of Comedy with Josh Blue - Ballroom 
7:30p - 8:30p Alternate Event - Pool Splash! 

Wednesday, August 3 

9:00a - 10:00a

Location

Breakout Sessions VI

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Learn the Signs. Act Early.

Deana Buck, Early Childhood Consultant and Act Early Ambassador

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program has FREE materials to encourage parents and providers to monitor children’s developmental milestones and to take action when there may be a concern. We'll talk about the key features in the updated developmental milestones and will look at the program’s materials, including the Milestones Tracker app and children’s books.   We’ll also talk about resources to support families in the early intervention and early childhood world.  

Leveraging the Power of Technology for Full Accessibility

Presenter: Gretchen Ward, Powerup Occupational Therapy Consulting

The great digital divide in our society between generations and geographic locations is widened for people with disabilities, especially those with labels of intellectual or developmental disability. Equal access to technology is vital for full inclusion in modern society to power connection, employment, and community engagement. This requires not only physical access to the technology itself, but access to tech literacy education in a way that is meaningful to the individual. This session will explore how specialized technology paired with support of Tech Mentors empowers individuals with disabilities to overcome barriers to inclusion and express their voice and choice.

ThisAbility Yoga
Presenter: Andie Plumley

Stress levels of people in the USA have increased considerably in the past 5 years. Come to this session

to learn how Yoga can help you manage stress and  improve physical health and mental wellbeing.

ThisAbility yoga is adaptive - making the practice of yoga accessible to everyone, no matter their shape, mobility, cognitive functioning, weight, or energy level.  The hour-long session will be interactive, accessible to all participants, and include:

  • Body Awareness

  • Mindful Movement

  • Calming Breath Practices

  • Relaxation Techniques

  • Supported Rest

You will leave with practical tools you can incorporate into your daily life to improve your overall well-being.

In This Together - The Workforce Crisis Impact and What We Can Do
Presenter: Tonya Milling, Executive Director of The Arc of Virginia

We all know that the Workforce Crisis is the worst it has ever been and it is effecting everyone's life.  This conversation will focus on any strategies that providers have found that are working, as well and brainstorming ideas for how we can all work together to seek solutions that go beyond the rates and wages --- Because no one thing is going to solve this. Bring ideas, bring and open mind and join the conversation. 

10:15a - 12:00p Brunch Closing Presentation

Closing Event: Re-Energize & Re-Imagine the DD Coalition 
Presenter: 

In this final discussion, we will review the insights shared by all of YOU from the Opening Plenary --- and consider how to use that information to form an agenda for the future.  We invite all past, current and potential DD Coalition members to join the network of people who make up the ALLY movement -- to build a Stronger Voice Together. We will engage around the hard questions of a large movement that is diverse and broad in scope.