2017 Information & Resource Conference Workshop Sessions

Saturday, March 11th; 8:30am - 3:30pm
John O'Connell High School
2355 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110


The following workshop sessions will be available for attendees to choose from when filling out the
IRC Attendee Registration form (available February 8th):

Conference Agenda
Attendee Check-in, Breakfast, & Exhibitor Fair
8:30am – 9:45am

Welcome & Keynote
9:45am – 10:45am

Morning Workshops
11:00am – 12:30pm

Lunch & Exhibitor Fair
12:30pm – 2:00pm

Afternoon Workshops
2:00pm – 3:30pm

Conference Ends



Contact us by email or 
phone: 415-920-5040

Morning Workshop Sessions

(A1) Approaching Assistive Technology

Jennifer McDonald-Peltier MS, ATP, AT Specialist, Center for Accessible Technology

Assistive Technology – what is it, how do I think about it, and what do I get for my child? We’ll look at a variety of tools and discuss how to approach Assistive Technology, both as a practical consideration and with regard to IEPs.

(A2) Transition to Adult Services

Representatives from Support for Families, Department of Rehabilitation, The Arc San Francisco, Golden Gate Regional Center, Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco, Jewish Vocational Services, San Francisco Unified School District

Representatives from agencies that provide services to young adults and adults with disabilities will present an overview of their transition programs, including information on eligibility criteria and how to access services for youth ages 14 to 24.

(A3) Bullying: Parents’ Rights and School

Districts’ Responsibilities

Shilpa Ram, Attorney & Brian Lambert, Attorney, Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights

Is your child a target of bullying, harassment or threats? Attorneys from Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will present parents’ rights and school districts’ responsibilities under federal regulations regarding harassment by peers or school staff. The workshop will focus on federal civil rights laws that prohibit harassment against students based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability, and what you can do if your child is being harassed or bullied for any of these reasons.


(A4) My Child is Getting Into Trouble at School

Suge Lee, Supervising Attorney, Disability Rights California

Special Education students often have behaviors that are not appropriately addressed by their IEPs.  This can lead to behavior referrals, suspensions, expulsions, and attendance problems.  At this workshop, we will discuss protections for children with disabilities in discipline processes and provide advice on how to advocate for positive behavior services and supports.


(A5) Digging for Gold! How to Find Hidden Assets to Employment in Children and Youth with Disabilities!

Larry Robbin, Executive Director, Robbin and Associates

This workshop will teach you how to spot hidden assets to employment in children and youth with disabilities so you can have age appropriate conversations about jobs. Children and youth with disabilities often do not see how they fit into the world of work because they lack role models and sometimes focus more on their limitations than their strengths. If you want to help them raise their self-esteem, discover their employability and see themselves as part of the workforce - don't miss this workshop!


(A6) Does My Child Really Need Ritalin? An Integrative Approach to ADHD

Sanford Newmark, MD, Director, Clinical Programs
Head of Pediatric Integrative Neurodevelopmental Program

In this lecture, you will learn the importance of the integrative approach – seeing the child in the context of his or her family, friends, school and community, rather than as a set of symptoms that need to be fixed. Topics will include an overview of the environmental, genetic, and physiological aspects of ADHD. Dr. Newmark will then discuss non-pharmaceutical therapies, including nutrition, food sensitivities, vitamin and mineral supplements, parenting skills, school intervention and other complementary therapies.


(A7) Insurance, Autism & Mental Health:  Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid To Ask

Karen Fessel, Dr. PH, Founder and Executive Director; Patricia Gish, JD, MSW, MP, Appeals Specialist, Mental Health and Autism Insurance Project

The workshop will explain different types of health plans (Medi-Cal, fully funded, self-insured), services that are typically covered and those that are not, how to access services, what to do when services are denied, and how to handle inadequate networks.  We will go over handy tools available on the internet, and what you can expect to pay for out of pocket.  We will do our best to update you on the changing health care landscape.   Bring your questions, we prefer an interactive discussion. 


(A8) How To Find Autism Information That Will Help You

Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Senior Editor, Thinking Persons Guide to Autism

Evaluating autism information is tricky, especially on the Internet. This session will describe how to differentiate between helpful and harmful information, discuss why questionable autism information can be dangerous, and illustrate why perspectives of people on the autism spectrum are crucial to understanding autism.


(A9) Supported Decision Making, an Alternative to Conservatorship

Clarissa  Kripke MD, Director, Developmental Primary Care,  UCSF; Melissa Crisp-Cooper,

If you are a parent or supporter for a person with a disability, you may be worried about who will help if you are no longer able to provide the same level of dedicated support. Supported Health Care Decision-Making empowers adults with disabilities to name supporters to help them make medical decisions so they can be directly involved in their own care. It is based on the understanding that people with disabilities have the same right as everyone else to direct their own lives. Research shows that people with disabilities who have more control over their lives have better life outcomes, including improved health, welfare, and independence.


(A10)  Self-Determination in California: It’s Almost Here!

Sheraden Nicholau, Regional Manager,  CA State Council on Developmental Disabilities; Elizabeth Grigsby,  Consumer Rights Advocate, GGRC; Maria Marquez, CA’s Self-Determination Pilot Project Participant; and Peter Mendoza, Chair, Self-Determination Advisory Committee, GGRC and Director of Advocacy and Special Projects, Marin Center for Independent Living

Self-Determination is almost here in California!  CA’s Self-Determination Program, signed into law in 2013, is an exciting new option for accessing and managing your regional center funded services and supports. Phase one of this program will be available soon. The Self-Determination Program can offer more control and responsibility for your services and supports, and can help you live your life your way! Learn about the Self-Determination Program, how it works, if it may be right for you or your family member-- AND how to get involved in the roll-out.


(A11) Helping with Homework

Joseph Trum, Founder, Common Sense Special Education

Homework can be a frustrating experience for both children and parents. This workshop gives simple, effective answers to common questions surrounding homework:  How can I motivate my child to get homework done? Why does my child do poorly on tests? How do I modify homework assignments for kids with Special Needs?  How can I get the teacher to help?


(A12) Planning for a Child with a Beneficiary Upon Turning Age 18?

Kevin Urbatsch, Attorney, The Urbatsch Law Firm P.C.

There are many transitions that occur when a child with a disability becomes an adult with a disability. This program will discuss many of the important decisions that need to be made. This includes whether a conservatorship should be considered, preparing the child’s estate planning, becoming eligible for public benefits, setting up and using ABLE accounts, handling the many difficult decisions that need to be made, and much more.


(A13) SFUSD’s IEP Survey

Laura Savage, Ombudsman, SFUSD

Have you recently had an IEP meeting for your student/child?  Is an IEP scheduled to happen soon?  In this workshop, Special Education Ombudsperson, Laura Savage, discusses areas covered by the Special Education IEP Survey.  Learn what you should be looking for in your IEP meeting to best work with your child's school to support your child's academic success.


(A14)  In-Home Supportive Services

Pilar Gonzalez, Attorney/ Client’s Rights Advocate,  Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy

This presentation will explain the eligibility criteria for In-Home Support Services (IHSS) and the services available under this program. We will also discuss the self-assessment process and briefly explain how to appeal IHSS decisions.


(A15Special Needs Trusts and the ABLE Accounts – How They Work Together to Provide Quality of Life

Stephen Dale, Attorney, The dale Law Firm, PC

This session will explore both special needs trusts and ABLE Accounts which are two tools for setting aside funds for a person with a disability. The presenter will demonstrate through case studies how these 2 tools can work together to assist in providing quality of life for a person with a disability for their lifetime. He will also provide attendees with checklists to look at issues that need to be considered when using these tools.


Afternoon Workshop Sessions

(B1) Special Needs Financial Planning: Making Plans—What Parents Need to Know - WORKSHOP FULL

Ken Prodger, Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Special Needs Consultant

This workshop will give you a clear understanding of what the special needs planning process is, and how planning now for your child’s financial and legal needs will bring you peace of mind and a sense of empowerment. Ken provides holistic financial advice regarding special needs trusts, life care planning, letters of intent, and obtaining and preserving need-based government benefits. All attendees will leave with practical steps that they can implement immediately to begin planning their child’s future.


(B2) Writing An IEP:  Questions & Answers

Joe Feldman, Founder and Executive Director,

Community Alliance for Special Education (CASE )

This session will provide parents and professionals the opportunity ask one of the leading Bay Area advocates questions about the IEP process and individual situations they are facing in getting appropriate special education services for their children or the children they serve. Eligibility, Independent Assessment, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), psychological counseling, behavioral support services, accommodations, IEP enforcement.


(B3) Understanding Autism, Aggression, and Self-Injury

Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Senior Editor, Thinking Persons Guide to Autism; Clarissa  Kripke MD, Director, Developmental Primary Care, UCSF; Brent White, Adult Program Director, and  Lindsay Anderson, Teacher, Ala Costa Centers

Why do some autistic kids or adults become self-injurious or aggressive? How can parents and caregivers help the people in their care get through meltdowns safely, protect the autistic people themselves as well as family members, and anticipate and avoid future incidents?


(B4) Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rules: What You Need to Know

Sheraden Nicholau, Regional Manager,  CA State Council on Developmental Disabilities;  Self-Advocate TBD, Self-Advocate TBD

HCBS settings rules apply to Medicaid-funded programs that have home and community-based services, including residential services and day program/activities services. California has until March 2019 to ensure its covered services comply with the setting rules. These rules intend to ensure that people utilizing these services have full access to the benefits of community living and are provided additional protections of rights. In this session, we will cover: ‘Need to know’ info about HCBS settings rules and how this affects current housing options and future developments, common concerns about HCBS settings rules and questions about this shift and next steps for families.


(B5) The Assistive Technology Lab: A New Resource at Support for Families

Karen Baca, AT Specialist, Support for Families

This workshop will cover some of the basics of assistive technology:  what is it, who needs it, and how to get it.  It will highlight our newest resource, our Assistive Technology Lab.  Materials and equipment available to families and professionals will be shared, as well as services and how to access them.  A focus of the workshop will be augmentative and alternative communication and how to access our new lending library of PODD books, mid-tech AAC devices, and iPads with communication apps.


(B6) What Happens When You and Your school Just Can’t Agree?  Using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to repair relationships and find student-centered resolutions.

Ricki Jo Scott, Program Administrator for ADR, PD and Compliance, SFUSD; Margaret Farruggio, Special Education Supervisor, SFUSD; Mildred Browne, Ed.D. Educational Consultant, Ascendancy Solutions and Carole Conn, Director of the Public Service Programs, The Bar Association of San Francisco

In collaboration with The Bar Association of San Francisco, SFUSD’s ADR program entails a 2-hour Collaborative Conference to confidentially discuss misunderstandings, disagreements, complaints, etc. This process is voluntary for our families and has been successful this year, beginning in October 2016. The goal is to come to an Agreement by working together to create a positive, peaceable approach to finding student-centered resolutions.  Attend this session to view a role play of what happens at an ADR meeting and learn more about repairing relationships within Special Education Services and your school site.


(B7) Handwriting Help for the Reluctant Writer

Julia Martin, Founder SF Sensory Parent Support Group, SKidSF and Julia Harris OTR/L, OT Studio

Groans, cries, angry outbursts, is this what written homework assignments sound like in your house? If so, then join Julia Harris, OTR/L and Julia Martin, Founder of SIKidSF for a workshop filled with the essential tools, techniques and support to get you and your child over this substantial hurdle. Elementary school students spend half their school day having to complete written tasks yet Dysgraphia is rarely addressed in school settings. All workshop participants will receive a useful packet of information and resources from the presenters to help elementary and middle school aged students overcome their writing issues and succeed academically.


(B8) Oral Health for Special Health Care Needs

Irene Louie, Dental Student, UCSF

Healthy mouth and teeth are an important part of overall health. Learn how to teach your child proper oral hygiene that can help them develop lifelong habits. This workshop will cover the importance of dental health, oral hygiene tips, and finding a dental provider that suits your needs.




(B10) Supporting Inclusion with Effective Family-Educator Partnerships

Leslie Roffman, Educational Consultant

Relationships are the foundation of both quality education and successful inclusion. And yet, when it comes to the crucial relationship of educator and family, so many things get in the way from the bureaucratic processes to our own assumptions. This workshop will explore ways for educators and families to understand each other’s perspectives. The presenter will show how differing views of children can work as an asset rather than an obstacle to partnership and effective planning.  We will use the real-life experiences and questions from participants as well as share frameworks and techniques to ensure that each attendee, whether family member or educator, leave better able to partner to support children.


(B11) Mindfulness & Mind-Body Techniques for Kids & their Families - WORKSHOP FULL

David Becker, MD, MPH, Pediatric Integrative Medicine Physician , UCSF Osher Center

Mindfulness has become a hot topic lately, working its way into school curricula and popular language.  In this workshop, we will talk about what mindfulness is and isn't.  We will also cover other mind-body strategies such as guided imagery, biofeedback and clinical hypnosis.  And we will talk about how to help kids develop self-regulation skills (and how to lead by example).


(B12) Immigrant Rights and Fears of Deportation

Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law/Founder of Immigrant Legal Resource Center

President-elect Trump has threatened to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, build a wall along the southern border, terminate the DACA program for Dreamers, and ban Syrian refugees and Muslims from entering the United States. The workshop will explore whether any of these threats are likely and what communities can do to prepare for stepped up immigration enforcement.


(B13) How Can GGRC Better Serve All Communities?

Lisa Rosene, Director of regional Center Services, GGRC

Brief overview of yearly disparity data, information on the 2 disparity initiatives (Chinese speaking radio outreach and Spanish speaking Community Navigators with Support for Families), and feedback/brainstorming other ideas with audience present.


(B14) The Early Years of Literacy (preK-3rd grade): Insights from Psychology and Brain Research into Challenges Children Face and How to Overcome Them 

Bruce McCandliss. Ph.D., Professor,  Stanford University, Graduate School of Education

This workshop will present an overview and explain key insights from cognitive and brain research on early literacy.  Topics will include typical literacy development, early precursor skills for literacy, reading disability, and intervention efforts. The focus will be on primary challenges children face in mastering early literacy from pre-school through 3rd grade.