Developmentally Attuned Education:
Innovative Approaches To Working With Challenged Learners,
Including Students on the Autism Spectrum
Cator Woolford Gardens at the Frazer Center
Groups of 7 or more get 30% off when registering together.
The Atrium at the Cator Woolford Gardens at the Frazer Center
1815 S. Ponce de Leon Ave
Brief Course Description
This conference discusses education as it relates to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with specific focus on the benefits of developmentally appropriate, individualized, relationship based, effective curriculum options. The foundations of learning and the promotion of positive learning will be discussed, as well as the importance of specific individual differences that students may demonstrate.
DeLoache Carnes, MS OTR/L
the Head of School at The Hirsch Academy in Decatur, Georgia. She is RPM
Certified, an Expert DIRFloortime® Provider, and has worked in clinical,
private and public school settings. In 2004, she helped design and create a
DIR® based school for children and adolescents with developmental, sensory and
cognitive differences. Shelley is also an active supporter and ally of the
Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) Atlanta Chapter.
Beth Champ, MS, MBA, LPC
Beth Champ is the Director of the Young Adults in Transition Program at The Community School. Before joining The Community School, Beth was the Associate Director for Career Counseling at Emory University, working primarily with graduate students. Prior to transitioning into counseling, Beth worked as a strategy consultant in the health care field. Beth has an M.S. in Counseling from Georgia State University, as well as an M.S. in Chemistry and an M.B.A. from UCLA. She is licensed as a professional counselor (LPC) in the state of Georgia and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has an Advanced DIR Certificate from the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders and has presented locally and nationally on such topics as sexuality and autism, and higher level thinking in adolescents and young adults.
Sarah Champ, MS
is a Senior Teacher at The Community School. In addition to teaching classes in
core and elective subjects, she also works with staff in the areas of student
assessment and academic goal setting. Sarah has also worked at The Hirsch
Academy, where she worked as their Floortime Specialist. While at Hirsch, Sarah
provided DIR/Floortime intervention and social skills training. She also created a parent education series
addressing Floortime and other topics. She has worked for DeKalb County as an
Interrelated Teacher with students with moderate disabilities. Sarah holds a
B.S. in Theater from Reed College and an M.A. in Education from California
Polytechnic State University. She holds a DIRFloortime Certificate of Proficiency.
Barbara Dunbar, PhD
Dr. Dunbar is a licensed psychologist. She specializes in assessment and treatment of young children with developmental and learning disorders. Her focus is on working with children with autistic spectrum disorders and their families. She worked closely with Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr. Serena Wieder, has a DIR expert certificate, and is a DIR Training Leader.
Dr. Dunbar received a master's degree in special education from Tufts University and a doctorate in psychology from Georgia State University. She has been a preschool teacher and learning disabilities specialist, and continues to consult with preschool and elementary teachers on developmental variations in learning. Dr. Dunbar has worked extensively with infants born at high risk, and for 15 years directed the long term developmental follow up program for Emory's high risk nursery. With Mary Beth Stark, she directed a 3 year pilot program for young children with social and communication disorders and their parents.
Tara Gilbert, BS
Tara is TCS’s School Program Director. In addition to her administrative duties, she also teaches Science, Math, and Affinities classes. Prior to TCS, she taught for 6 years at another DIR school in the Atlanta area, The Hirsch Academy. She has teaching experience in both public and private schools over the past 16 years. She holds a BS from Springfield College and a Montessori Elementary teaching certificate. She is also a private tutor for students ages 5-12 years.
Rae Leeper, MA
Rae Leeper is currently the Educational Supervisor at the Rebecca School, a DIR based program in New York City, where she has worked for the past nine years. Rae received her Master’s Degree from Columbia Teachers College in Special Education. Prior to the Rebecca School, she worked in Early Intervention in homes and centers in Western Massachusetts. Rae is certified as an Advanced DIR® floortime provider and Training Leader through ICDL. She has presented her work in creating thinking based, developmental programs for classrooms and early intervention settings at Pace University, Columbia University, Montclair State University, Los Niños, YAI, and at the ICDL International Conference in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dave Nelson, MS, MBA, LPC
Dave is the Executive Director of The Community School, and a Senior Adviser on Education for ICDL. He is a licensed counselor (LPC) who specializes in working with children, adolescents, adults, and their families with a focus on developing the interactive, emotional, and learning capabilities of all individuals. He also specializes in helping parents understand and address the variety of issues in nurturing the growth of a challenging child.
Based on his experience using Stanley Greenspan’s Developmental, Individual-difference, Relationship-based approach (DIR/Floortime) with his own son who was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder at age three, he changed careers to begin working with children facing developmental and learning challenges. Dave has an M.S. in Counseling and an M.A. in English Literature from Georgia State University, as well as an M.B.A. from Duke University. He is licensed as a professional counselor in the state of Georgia. He has a DIR expert certificate and is a DIR Training Leader.
Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP
Emily Rubin is the director of Communication Crossroads, a private practice in Atlanta, GA. She is a speech-language pathologist specializing in Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and related social learning disabilities. As an adjunct faculty member and lecturer at Yale University, she has served as a member of their Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic. She has also served as an instructor for the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department of Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts where she has developed courses to prepare graduate level students for addressing the needs of children with autism and their families. Her publications have focused on early identification of autism, contemporary intervention models, and programming guidelines for high functioning autism and Asperger's Syndrome. She recently participated as a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's Ad Hoc Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a committee charged with developing guidelines related to the role of speech-language pathologists in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of ASD. She lectures internationally and provides consultation to educational programs serving children and adolescents with autism and related developmental disorders.
Mary Beth Stark, MS, CCC-SLP
Mary Beth Stark is a licensed speech and language pathologist specializing in social communication disorders in children. Major focus has been on working with children with autistic spectrum disorders and their families, utilizing the DIR model. Treatment considers the unique communication patterns of this population, stresses the importance of verbal and nonverbal language skills, and understands the significance of pretend play as it relates to developing language ability. Mary Beth has been a practicing speech and language pathologist for the past twenty-five years, working in private practice, the public schools and home health care, both as a therapist and a consultant. Under the direction of Barbara Dunbar, she taught a three year pilot program for young children with social and communication disorders and their parents. Mary Beth earned her bachelors and masters degree from Bradley University. She has a DIR expert certificate and is a DIR Training Leader.
Gil Tippy, PsyD
Gil is the Clinical Director, and one of the founders, of the Rebecca School in Manhattan. He is the author, with Stanley I. Greenspan, MD of Respecting Autism (Vantage Press, NY 2011.) He is the Directory of Advocacy for ICDL. He has a clinical practice in New York, and in Santa Rosa, CA. He has been a teacher, Psychologist or both for the last 35 years.
9:00 - 9:30 AM Introductory Remarks: Dave Nelson, MS, MBA, LPC, Executive Director, The Community School, Decatur, Georgia
9:30-10:00 AM Keynote Presentation: Gil Tippy, PsyD
How can educators foster growth in essential ways for their students, especially those on the autism spectrum or with related challenges in relating and communicating? As educators, we must articulate a vision for a way of educating that addresses the widest range of possible profiles, and prepares students for the real challenges of living meaningful, fulfilling, independent lives, rich with relationships and productivity.
In this introduction, listeners will hear a brief overview of the DIRFloortime Model, including a discussion of functional emotional capacities and individual sensory-regulatory and information processing differences. The presentation will include discussion about the importance of helping students to see the “big picture”--including developing reading comprehension, engaging in creative problem solving, persevering through difficulty, and building relationships with other learners.
10:00 – 10:40 AM Understanding Learners As Individuals
The Roots of Learning
Speaker: Shelley Carnes, MS, OTR/L, Head of School, The Hirsch Academy, Decatur, Georgia
Summary: Where it all begins: Relating, communicating and
learning are all impacted by each student's unique sensory and motor profile.
Shelley will demonstrate how staff at Hirsch Academy use the knowledge of these
individual differences, as well as presuming competence, as the foundation to
foster interactions, higher level thinking and creativity in the classroom.
Fostering Affinities: Putting Student Interest at the Heart of Learning
Speaker: Rae Leeper, MA, Educational Supervisor, The Rebecca School, New York
Summary: Why is it important to join student's interests? How can we use affinities-based learning to foster growth in the FEDCs? This talk will illustrate how teachers or therapists can capitalize on idiosyncratic interests to foster thinking and peer relationships both in and out of the classroom.
10:40 - 11:00 AM Break
11:00-– 11:40 AM Engagement in Learning: A Critical Aspect of Meaning
Social neuroscience in autism: the importance of ensuring the social world is desirable and predictable
Speaker: Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP, Educational Outreach Specialist, The Marcus Center, Atlanta
Summary: Research in neurodevelopment sheds light on the
social learning differences in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and how
this impacts the development of social competence. This information has critical implications
for how we tailor our educational and therapeutic programs to ensure that we
address the highest priorities, i.e., our desirability and our
A Simple Curriculum to Foster Creativity, Symbolism and Thinking
Speaker: Gil Tippy, PsyD, Clinical Director, The Rebecca School, New York
Summary: This presentation will cover the underlying premise controlling the simple creation and implementation of a curriculum supporting growth from the more concrete levels of early development to the later more abstract levels of development. This jump from the more concrete to the more abstract is the key developmental challenge addressed by developmental models that other modalities do not address. Participants will understand how to create curriculum from virtually any student interest, that supports this important developmental challenge.
11:40-12:30 Panel Discussion
Panel: Barbara Dunbar, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Atlanta; Mary Beth Stark, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech Pathologist, Atlanta; Shelley Carnes, MS, OTR/L, Head of School, The Hirsch Academy, Decatur, Georgia; Rae Leeper, MA, Educational Supervisor, The Rebecca School, New York; Dave Nelson, MS, MBA, LPC, Executive Director, The Community School, Decatur, Georgia; Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP, Educational Outreach Specialist, The Marcus Center, Atlanta; Gil Tippy, PsyD, Clinical Director, The Rebecca School, New York;
12:30-1:15 PM Lunch
1:15 - 1:30 PM Review of Morning and Frame-up for Afternoon
1:30 – 2:10 PM Core
Creating a Community of Readers
Speaker: Rae Leeper, MA, Educational Supervisor, The Rebecca School, New York
Summary: How do you address global comprehension challenges? This talk will use case examples from the Rebecca School to illustrate how we used a fairy tale based reading program to create a community of readers in the classroom. Through this approach students have grown in their ability to read, understand, and relate to both the text and to the world around them.
Speaker: Sarah Champ, MS, Senior Teacher, The Community School, Decatur, Georgia
Summary: An approach to teaching mathematics concepts for students with processing challenges. This talk will profile two students with marked processing difficulties and show how The Community School supports processing difficulties, strengthens a student’s foundational developmental and academic skills, and introduces concepts in an experiential and meaningful way. How do you teach math when someone can not identify numbers or does not have a concept for "more/less"? How do you "teach" the concept of time?
2:10 - 2:30 PM Break
2:30 – 3:10 PM Educating
the Whole Person
The Importance of Independence Work
Speaker: Tara Gilbert, School Program Director, The Community School, Decatur, Georgia
Summary: What is independence work? When does it start? What is its purpose? How does an independence curriculum fit with the transition to young adulthood? A look at how to implement an experiential, independence-oriented curriculum with high school and young adult students.
The Role of Relationships in Education
Speaker: Beth Champ, MS, MBA, LPC, Young Adult Program Director, The Community School
Summary: Why relationships are so important in education and what constitutes a strong educator/student relationship. Why every school should be a therapeutic school and the role of mental health interventions in the classroom; breaking down the educator/counselor dichotomy.
3:10 - 3:50 PM Panel Discussion
Panel: Barbara Dunbar, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Atlanta; Mary Beth Stark, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech Pathologist, Atlanta; Beth Champ, MS, MBA, LPC, Young Adult Program Director, The Community School; Sarah Champ, MS, Senior Teacher, The Community School, Decatur, Georgia; Rae Leeper, MA, Educational Supervisor, The Rebecca School, New York; Dave Nelson, MS, MBA, LPC, Executive Director, The Community School, Decatur, Georgia; Gil Tippy, PsyD, Clinical Director, The Rebecca School, New York;
3:50 - 4:00 PM Wrap Up
Registration Cancellation and Refund Policy: The individual
registration fee for the conference includes a non-refundable processing fee of
$50. All cancellations must be made by
e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org at least 15 days prior to the first day of the
conference to qualify for a full refund (less the $50 processing fee). Cancellations after that period and before
the conference begins are eligible for a 50 percent refund (less the processing
fee). No refunds will be issued once the
conference has begun.