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Session Descriptions

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

Presenter: Sara Thompson, Supported Decision-Making Community Resource Consultant, Dept. of Behavioral Health and 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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

What’s Up with Medicaid?

Presenters: Ann Bevan and Nichole Martin, 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. 

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 programing to enhance development events and meaningfully center those people who development funds ultimately impact.

Preparing for the Future:  Special Needs Trusts 

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

A full picture and unfiltered information is key to

understanding what a special needs trust is, and the benefits of its uses.  Join this educational session so that you can make informed choices when planning for you and your family’s future. 

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.  

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

~Loren Norris

Presenters: TBD

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 mentors and mentees to meet up to see if they match! Getting a mentor can help you achieve your goals and dreams! 

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.  

Virtual Options Open New Access for People with Disabilities

Presenter: TBD

COVID-19’s impact will be felt for years to come, and some impacts have already 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. To ensure equal access for everyone, 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 virtual supports and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by promoting access to assistive technology and environmental modifications. This session will review the progress and explore next steps in making this change.

How YOU Can Help Us, To Have A Life Like Yours with Inclusive Services

Presenters:  TBD

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! 

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.

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.  


Consent and Body Rights
Tina Norris and Kendra Wormley, Parent Education 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.

"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 an 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. 

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

Presenters:  Dr. Liz Altieri and Karen Douglas are Professors and Co-Directors of the Virginia 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.

“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.

Making Sense of Sensory Integration

Presenter: Dr. Corey Yates, OTD, OTR/L, Children’s Hospital of King’s Daughter 

What does an individual need to succeed when the internal or external environment seems overwhelming? Learn what you can do to help someone with sensory processing challenges and help them develop the skills necessary to cope in everyday situations. Sensory Integration is organizing sensory input to respond and interact with the environment. Input from all sensory channels are integrated in the brain and used to create perceptions, thoughts, emotions and physical actions. SI comes from the nervous system and influences learning and behavior. Sensory Modulation is the ability to filter and prioritize environmental stimuli (responsiveness/how sensitive). Sensory Discrimination is the ability to perceive and differentiate input (skill). Join us to learn more. 

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