KeyNote Speakers : Pre-Conference & Conference

Julia Cook
With over a million books in print, Julia Cook is a former school counselor and teacher who never dreamed she could evolve into an award-winning children's author, parenting expert and inspirational speaker. She now travels the country and abroad encouraging others to follow in her footsteps. "There are so many ideas out there that need to be shared," says Julia who takes top research and creativity translates it into "kid language" that is both entertaining and engaging. Julia has the innate ability to enter the world view of a child through storybooks, giving both children and adults the "what to say" and "how to say it".

She has presented in over 1000 schools nation-wide. Julia has been featured in major markets such as Chicago, Orlando, St. Louis and Atlanta and is now speaking at conferences with authors like Mem Fox and Eric Carle. This former teacher and school counselor chose to "think outside the box" and is now a rising literary star; teaching thousands of people and helping them learn skills that will last them a lifetime!

Keynote: "Unlearning Helpnessess - Motivating the Underachiever"

In Julia's presentation, "Unlearning Helpnessess - Motivating the Underachiever," she shares how underachieving occurs when people have a significant gap between their abilities and what they achieve. In this interactive session, she will discuss the four types of underachievers, talk about the importance of executive function skills, explore the characteristics and causes of underachieving, and present effective solutions that can reverse this problem. "In order to open the doors of "untapped potential," you need to have the right keys."

Peg Dawson
Dr. Peg Dawson worked as a school psychologist for many years before joining her colleague and co-author in establishing the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. By specializing in the assessment of children and adults with learning and attention disorders, she developed an interest in executive skills and how they impact learning. With her colleague and co-author, Dr. Richard Guare, she has written several books for parents, educators and clinicians on executive skills, including Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, Smart but Scattered, Smart but Scattered Teens, and Coaching Students with Executive Skills Weaknesses.

Keynote: Beyond "Lazy and Unmotivated" Why Parents and Teachers Need to Know about Executive Skills

When the conversation turns to executive skills, teachers and parents often say, "We didn't know anything about these when we were growing up-and we turned out just fine." In this keynote, Dr. Dawson confronts that sentiment head on. The co-author of Smart but Scattered and other books on executive skills explains the executive skills framework she's been working with for over 20 years - why it's a better way to describe struggling students than calling them lazy or unmotivated, and why the more parents and teachers understand about these skills, the better they'll be able to help students strengthen these important habits of mind.

Stephen Shore
Diagnosed with "Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies" and "too sick" for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism.

In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure. His most recent book College for Students with Disabilities combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education.

A current board member of Autism Speaks, president emeritus of the Asperger's Association of New England, and advisory board member of the Autism Society, Dr. Shore serves on the boards of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, The US Autism and Asperger Association, the Scientific Counsel of OAR, and other autism related organizations.

Keynote: Life on and Slightly to the Right of the Autism Spectrum: An Inside View Towards Success

Join Stephen in his autobiographical journey from the nonverbal days as he relates his life to the many challenges facing people on the autism spectrum. Some of the areas discussed include classroom accommodation, teaching of musical instruments, as well as issues faced by adults such as relationships, self-advocacy, higher education, and employment. The session ends with a short audience activity demonstrating what it feels like have autism and to struggle through some of the challenges surrounding communication and socialization.

Participants shall be able to...

1. list 2 or more educational strategies enabling the person with autism achieve success in education,
2. experience communication challenges similar to those of individuals with autism, and,
3. describe how what might originally be a challenge could be considered a strength for people with autism.