Profectum Educators Conference
Raising the Bar:
Climbing the Developmental Ladder in Uncertain Times
Featuring the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-based Model with the Principles of the Foundational Capacities for Development
November 5, 6, 8 & 15th, 2020
The unique feature of this conference includes tracks tailored for parents, clinicians, and educators who are supporting individuals with special needs during a pandemic.
My name is Anie Knipping, and I’m a social autistic, a layabout with Panic/Anxiety Disorder, and a terminal optimist with clinical depression. My sensory stuff is all over the place, and I’ve got synesthesia, which lets me see sound and taste colour. I love to educate people on all of it, but it’s not always easy to explain without pictures, so I published an illustrated book, ‘Eccentricity’, to do just that.
Susan Smith-Foley, OTD, MPA, OTR/L
Susan Smith-Foley, OTD, MPA, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in family-centered and school-based O.T. / DIR-FCD services. She is passionate about supporting the integration of the DIR-FCD Model into public schools including working with multi-disciplinary teams and primary caregivers. Susan completed a post-professional doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy (OTD) at The University of Kansas Medical Center in December 2018. She is the founder and owner of Avon Occupational Therapy, Inc. located in Avon, NJ. Susan is an Associate Faculty member of Profectum Academy and a member of its International O.T. Working Group.
Courtney Bitting, BCBA
Courtney has been working with individuals with Autism, their families, and their clinical teams for 9 years since receiving her degree in Special Education, Early Intervention with a Specialization in Autism from the University of Pittsburgh. From there, Courtney went on to obtain her Board Certification in Behavior Analysis in 2010, is a Licensed Behavior Analyst in New York State, and has been working in direct support and as a behavioral consultant in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New York. She has worn many hats in her professional work including leading social skills groups, being a transition coordinator, extensive school consulting, program supervisor of a home-based ABA program, and professional development and crisis trainer. Her current role at Imagine Academy focuses on individual program development for each student, behavior management, and staff support and training. All of these roles have helped her grow as a clinician to provide eclectic, collaborative, and individualized supports to the students and families whom she serves.
Karen McDowell is an educator with over 25 years experience working with the adolescent and young adult population. She is an assistant faculty member of Profectum Foundation and strives to implement a comprehensive developmental curriculum into both her classroom environment and therapy work. As a Lead Teacher and Young Adult Program Coordinator at Celebrate the Children school for 13 years, she has contributed to innovative curriculum and strategies with the unique needs of individuals in mind while promoting opportunities for growth and development in both group and individual settings. Karen facilitates a weekly young adult group for several years with intensive focus on social and emotional strengths and challenges. Areas of interest and study include executive functioning, visual spatial processing, emotional regulation, and problem solving and she has provided workshops around the country on these developmental areas. Karen strives to provide programs that entice thinking, collaborative problem solving, effective communication, and positive coping strategies to support success, independence, meaningful and fulfilling experiences, and happiness within the demands of the 21st century.
Lauren Blaszak is one of the Co-Founders and Executive Directors of Celebrate the Children school. Lauren has extensive experience working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disorders for over 14 years. Prior to starting the school in 2004 in collaboration with Monica Osgood, Lauren worked as a behavioral consultant to public school districts in New Jersey and New York. In addition, her experience includes parent support and training, social skills training, supervision of home programs, supervisor of instructional teams and supporting public schools in learning about and integrating DIR® into the mainstream. She also works collaboratively with other organizations and professionals in terms of education and research of Autism and related disorders. Her accomplishments include speaking engagements at national and local conferences, as well as participation in television, radio, and newspaper interviews and publications.Lauren Blaszak is one of the Co-Founders and Executive Directors of Celebrate the Children school. Lauren has extensive experience working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disorders for over 18 20 years. Lauren worked as a behavioral consultant to public school districts in New Jersey and New York. In addition, her experience includes parent support and training, social skills training, supervision of home programs, supervisor of instructional teams and supporting public schools in learning about and integrating DIR® into the mainstream. She also works collaboratively with other organizations and professionals in terms of education and research of Autism and related disorders. Her accomplishments include speaking engagements at national and local conferences, as well as participation in television, radio, and newspaper interviews and publications.
Lisa deFaria, LCSW, BCD
Lisa deFaria is the Director of the Family Center for Developmental Therapies in Monterey, California which offers psychotherapy, DIR Floortime® and related services. Ms. deFaria is also a program consultant to the Monterey County Office of Education and serves as a Child Development Specialist for “First Five, Monterey.” She Joined the DIR® Faculty in 2004 and provides clinical supervision, training and lectures widely on DIR®.
Lynn Abelson, MA, CCC-SLP, OTR/L
Lynn Abelson is a speech-language pathologist and DIR model Program Manager at The Phoenix Center, a private, not for profit school in Nutley, New Jersey. This school serves students ages 5-21 with autism and other developmental disabilities. Lynn leads staff in integrating the DIR model approach into the classroom and community, with a focus on developing innovative programming in vocational training. Lynn also provides private DIR model-based intervention to children and their families, tutors professionals seeking to deepen their understanding of the DIR model, co-chairs the DIR/Floortime model Coalition of New Jersey, and served as a training leader at the ICDL Institute. Additionally, Lynn is an Affiliate Faculty member of the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University and an Adjunct Professor in its Developmental Models of Autism Intervention graduate certificate program. Lynn is DIR model certified in speech-language pathology and occupational therapy and PROMPT® (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) certified. In 2013, Lynn was awarded the Related Service Provider of the Year by NAPSEC (National Association of Private Special Education Centers).
Michele Havens, EdD
Dr. Michele Havens is currently the DIR Consultant to the Imagine Academy, a school for children with ASD, utilizing DIR-Floortime and ABA. Dr. Havens is a full time Professor at Kean University in Union, NJ, and adjunct at Montclair State University, in Montclair, NJ. She works privately as an advocate for families of children with disabilities, and is also a speaker at numerous conferences on special education, Autism and early childhood development. Dr. Havens was previously the teacher/coordinator/parent group facilitator of the Verona Preschool Intervention Program, a preschool disabilities program in Essex County, NJ.
Celebrate the Children’s founder, Monica G. Osgood, is an experienced behavioral consultant and therapist who specializes in using developmental approaches to support children with autism and other differences in relating and communicating. She is also the Founder and Director of the Developmental Center for Children and Families and Executive Director and a founding member of the Profectum Foundation. Monica has worked in homes, therapy centers, and private and public school settings for over 20 years. Some of her experience has included assessment and the development of intervention programs, curriculum and IEP development, and parent and professional training. In 1998, Monica created the first public school program with the Developmental Individual Relationship-based (DIR model) approach as the core philosophy. ?In 2000, she was the first educator to join the Senior Faculty of the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning(ICDL) to provide interdisciplinary training in the DIR Model. During her time with ICDL, Monica served as Faculty for all of their yearly training institutes, spoke at many of their conferences and had the opportunity to work closely and collaborate with Drs. Greenspan and Wieder to further develop the DIR Model in school settings. ?In 2004, she collaborated with Lauren Blaszak to open a state-approved, DIR Model school for children ages 3-21 in Denville, New Jersey, now serving over 70 school districts and 130 families. Additional accomplishments include, many speaking engagements at conferences and participation in television, radio and newspaper interviews across the USA, Wales, Ireland and Amsterdam. Monica has appeared on Welsh Channel 4 and BBC1 documentaries, sharing the DIR model approach with British parents and professionals. Monica and the Celebrate the Children school were featured in a TIME Magazine cover story in May of 2006. ?She serves on the Advisory Board for 3LPlace and the National Advisory Council for The Centers for Exceptional Children?. Monica also serves on the Economic Development Advisory Council and the Sustainable Economic Development Plan Steering Committee for her local Town Council. Finally, she collaborated with twice Grammy nominated children’s artists Dan Myers and Brady Rymer on an album and music video celebrating diversity in children with all abilities released April 2011.
Natalka Kitts, MS, OTR
Natalie Kitts holds a Masters of Science from Kean University, and is a licensed occupational therapist. She has extensive continuing education including advanced training in Sensory Integration Theory and Intervention, and a Professionals Certificate in the DIR Model and Foundational Capacities for Development (FCD). Natalie is passionate about helping children with developmental differences thrive and reach their potential, including supporting her own son overcome many of the challenges of Asperger’s Syndrome. She is strongly committed to supporting and helping families survive the struggles of raising a child who is “differently abled”. Natalie has worked as a pediatric occupational therapist in public school, private practice and early intervention since 2012. Her passion to help children drives her to share her experiences and educate others through workshops and professional presentations. She has previously presented on Dyslexia and Executive Function, Self-Regulation and Executive Function, and The Occupational Therapist’s Role in College Transition Services for Students with ASD. Natalie is the co-owner of Foundations of Executive Functions, which uses a unique program designed for occupational therapists to identify and provide intervention for children and young adults with executive dysfunction. She is hoping to have the curriculum, Foundations4Function, available for publication by the end of 2017. Natalie lives in New Jersey with her husband of 26 years and their 3 children. Her favorite leisure occupations include hiking, biking, kayaking, traveling and sharing life adventures with her family.
Serena Wieder, PhD
Dr. Wieder is the Clinical Director and a founding member of the Profectum Foundation, dedicated to advancing the development and infant mental health of all children, including children, adolescents and adults with autism and special needs through training and educational programs. She also co-founded the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders with the late Stanley Greenspan. Dr. Wieder is a Board Member of Zero to Three and also serves on Advisory Boards to various programs serving infant mental health and other special needs. She established DIR-Israel and provides consultation and training to international and national programs. As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Wieder has pioneered important approaches to diagnosing and treating infants and toddlers with infant mental health and developmental disorders. She co-developed the DIR Model with Stanley Greenspan, edited two diagnostic manuals for infants and young children, and created models for interdisciplinary post-graduate case based training and work with parents. She has co-chaired and organized national and international conferences integrating development, neuroscience and intervention approaches for nearly 20 years. Dr. Wieder also developed approaches to integrate visual-spatial knowledge to advance emotional and cognitive development. Her research interests concern follow up studies of children on the Autism Spectrum who have received DIR comprehensive interventions and the evaluation of training and educational programs. Dr. Wieder co-authored Engaging Autism, The Child With Special Needs and Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health with Stanley Greenspan, M.D. They also co-edited Infants in Multi-Risk Families as well as the ICDL Diagnostic Manual for Infants and Young Children (DMIC) and the original Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (DC 03). Most recently, Dr. Wieder co-authored Visual Spatial Portals to Thinking, Feeling, and Movement with Harry Wachs, O.D. She has published numerous journal and book chapters and presents at multiple conferences nationally and internationally. At this time, Dr. Wieder also has a private practice in NYC for diagnosis, treatment and consultation regarding complex developmental and mental health challenges.
Sherri Cawn, MA, CCC-SLP
Sherri Cawn, MA, CCC-SLP, clinical director of Cawn-Krantz and Associates Developmental Therapies (with locations in Chicago and Northbrook, Il), has over 40 years of clinical pediatric experience specializing in the assessment and treatment of infants, toddlers, and school-age children. She is a leading practitioner of the DIR/Floortime® model in speech and language development and conducts trainings other professionals throughout the US and overseas on the concepts of this model. Sherri is the author of the self study DVD/Manual on the Assessment and Intervention of DIR/Floortime® produced by the American Speech and Hearing Association in 2011 and the self study DVD on the Assessment/Intervention of Developmental Language (2013)., In addition she is a co-author of Language Disorders chapter in the Diagnostic Manual for Infancy and Early Childhood and she is a co-author of the Profectum Parent Toolbox, (March 2016) an online free webcast series for parents and caretakers. Sherri is a senior faculty member of the ICDL DIR FT, the Profectum (DIR/FT) Academy Online Training Program and adjunct faculty at the Erikson Institute. She received her graduate and undergraduate degrees from the University of Illinois.