Profectum and DIR® have a long history of celebrating the individual differences we all bring into the world. Our fall conference continues that mission by reflecting on socio-cultural identity as fundamental to the definition of individual difference.

Profectum and DIR® have a long history of celebrating the individual differences we all bring into the world. Our fall conference continues that mission by reflecting on socio-cultural identity as fundamental to the definition of individual difference.

Profectum and DIR® have a long history of celebrating the individual differences we all bring into the world. Our fall conference continues that mission by reflecting on socio-cultural identity as fundamental to the definition of individual difference.

Friday, November 11, 2022
11:00 am - 5:00 pm EST

Friday, November 11, 2022
11:00 am - 5:00 pm EST

Friday, November 11, 2022
11:00 am - 5:00 pm EST

Featuring Dr. Barbara Stroud, PhD

Featuring Dr. Barbara Stroud, PhD

Featuring Dr. Barbara Stroud, PhD





This will be the best school year EVER!

Using the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-based Model with the principles of the Foundational Capacities for Development (FCD’s) aka “The 5 C’s of Me!,” this conference highlighted how schools, therapy centers, and home programs around the globe utilize the DIR-FCD Model to provide the evidence-based framework for intensive programs for children and adults with autism and related unique needs.

Our conference presenters have been working on the front lines for decades. Educators, Administrators, Clinicians, Parents, and Autistic Advocates shared their experiences, guidance, and practical strategies for supporting healthy development and the critical importance of “balance” in all of our lives! Examples of intensive training and supervision modules for staff with the common goal of helping children strive for their highest potential were illustrated.

Many had fun with us as we visited and learned from progressive, interdisciplinary special needs schools and clinics around the globe. As we move beyond masks, social distancing, and uncertainty, this conference shared lessons learned and a better understanding of what our students, families, and educators need. The past two school years have enabled us all to step back and reevaluate our priorities. Many educators gained a new appreciation for working collaboratively with families during remote instruction. We want to ensure that we leverage our experiences in a way that continually builds upon each school’s individual educational philosophy.


Profectum’s NEW Training Course


Track 1: Professionals Working in Educational Settings

This track is for any professional working in a school, clinic, or home setting. Workshops will illustrate innovative intervention approaches, best practices, and training models in various settings.

Participants will:

  • Gain an understanding of how early intervention programs can empower parents to foster their own child’s development

  • Learn how investing in quality training for staff is a win-win for organizations and families

  • Understand the goals, principles, and strategies of social-emotional curriculums

  • Learn how to engage with parents to make virtual instruction, social groups, or therapy sessions dynamic and meaningful

  • Gain knowledge of how best practices for cultural sensitivity improves program development and intervention outcomes

Track 2: Professionals Working in Adult Programs

This rich conference track will illustrate unique adult programs in three different countries. Pioneers in the field of working with adults with diverse needs will share the components and principles of their virtual and in-person programs. Our panel of autism experts will share their experiences of growing up on the spectrum and how their lessons learned should inform programs for diverse adults today and in the future.

Participants will:

  • Outline the key components, principles, strategies, training and supervision requirements, and culture of successful and empowering programs for adults with unique needs

  • Gain knowledge of how presuming competence and engaging with diverse adults as equals vs. teachers or therapists allows them to rise to the challenge, gain a stronger sense of self, and increase independence

  • Understand that many adults on the spectrum enjoy meeting and socializing with others like themselves online as a means of learning about themselves, gaining social strengths, and developing friendships

  • Value the lessons learned by the experience of growing up with diverse needs and how this should inform adult intervention programs

Track 3: Parents as Experts

Parents, Professionals, and Autism Experts (adults on the spectrum) collaborate on the workshops for this track to provide a better understanding of how to support children and adults with unique needs to reach their potential. Parents and Autism Experts share their lessons learned and strategies for empowering caregivers to feel successful in supporting the development of their own child(ren).

Participants will:

  • Learn strategies for increasing engagement and building meaningful relationships with individuals with diverse needs

  • Explain how creating a culture of equality (including changing expectations) can significantly increase independence

  • Gain an understanding of how to increase a child’s feelings of being an equal member and contributor to the family and the home

  • Describe principles of how to nurture a strong and positive sense of self in all people

  • Understand how adults supporting children’s development can foster feelings of Comfort, Competence, Confidence, Control, and Communication

Track 4: Paraprofessional Registered Developmental Technician (PRDT)

This specialized track introduces paraprofessionals to the best practices and strategies for working with diverse children and adults in home, clinic, school, and adult program settings under the supervision of licensed or certified professionals. Participation in these workshops will gain participants credit towards becoming a Registered Developmental Technician through Profectum. Participants will walk away with knowledge they can apply the next day including learning how to support individual profiles, understanding behaviors, fostering social, emotional, cognitive growth, and independence, working with teams, and ethics for respecting, communicating, and working with families.

Participants will:

  • Outline the PRDT Code of Ethics

  • Gain knowledge of how presuming competence and providing that “just right level of support” allows the child, student, or adult to become less prompt dependent

  • Understand individual sensorimotor, communication, and learning profiles to provide more individualized support

  • Describe strategies for working with more than one child, student, or adult

  • Explain best practices for working as a team with caregivers and other professionals

  • Understand the next steps to become and PRDT

Paraprofessionals who participate in the Profectum Registered Developmental Technician (PRDT) Conference Track will receive a 25% discount off the PRDT certificate course fee and and credits towards completion.

A Profectum Registered Developmental Technician is a paraprofessional who practices under close, ongoing supervision of a DIR® certified professional.


We welcomed parents, caregivers, and professionals including:

Extended Family Members | Educators | Special Educators |  Behavior Analysts | Paraprofessionals | Administrators | Early Interventionists | Occupational Therapists | Occupational Therapy Assistants | Physical Therapists | Speech-language Pathologists | Creative Arts Therapists | School Social Workers, Counselors, and Psychologists | Inclusion Specialists | Psychologists | Social Workers | Marriage and Family Therapists | Physicians | Developmental Optometrists… and more!



Thursday, November 4, 2021 | 11:00 am – 4:30 pm EST

11:00-11:30 am | Welcome and Opening Presentation

The Importance of Quality Training

Amy Keveanos, Monica G. Osgood and Serena Wieder, PhD

11:30 am - 12:30 pm | A Plenary Session that Will Take You Around the Country for a Peek Into Various Model Schools for Children Ages 3 to 21

Places we will visit:

  • Celebrate the Children, NJ – Amy Keveanos and Monica G. Osgood
  • Soaring Eagle Academy, IL – Linda Cervenka and Michele Ricamato
  • Lakewood Early Childhood Center, NJ – Rochel Lazewnik and Chana Osina
  • PLAY Project, MI – Rick Solomon, MD
  • Imagine Academy, NY – Elisa Chrem and Raquel Savdie

Track 1: Professionals Working in Educational Settings

1:00 – 2:30 pm | The PLAY Project Early Intervention Program

Rick Solomon, MD

The PLAY Project is an autism early intervention model that trains professionals to coach parents to help their young child (18m-6y) with an ASD through intensive, play-based intervention. We have trained statewide in the public sector in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Ontario, e.g., Early Intervention, and we have trained hundreds of rehab agencies in the private sector. Our research on PLAY effectiveness and high-fidelity training makes our structured yet flexible program unique among developmental, relationship-based parent-implemented programs.

3:00-4:30 pm | Social-Emotional Learning Curriculums for Special Needs Students

Mady Kaplan, Amy Keveanos, Michele Rehse

Never before has there been a greater need for social-emotional learning (SLE) and wellness in the classroom. In fact, some states are mandating one or more periods of SLE per week in schools. This presentation will explore the many ways that social-emotional learning and curriculums can be integrated into the classroom for both students and staff.

Track 2: Professionals Working in Adult Programs

1:00 – 2:30 pm | Intro to the 5 C’s and the DIR-FCD Adult Program Model

Ryan Gresnik, Olivia Lofgren, Christine Seminaro

This workshop introduces two unique adult programs. Participants will be introduced to the Celebrate the Individual Adult Day program, which is an extension of the Celebrate the Children School in Denville, NJ. Chris Seminaro will share how she supports ASD adults in the field of creative arts. Both programs will illustrate progressive strategies for maximizing independence and emotional well-being. The principles of fostering Comfort, Competence, Confidence, Control, and Communication (The 5 C’s) will be demonstrated through video examples. Speakers will share how when they reevaluated their level of support using the 5 C’s model the diverse adults, they were supporting evolved into more independent, social, communicative, assertive, proud, and happy people. Ultimately the staff and the adults they support engage more as equals allowing the special needs adults to take more initiative and express their authentic selves.

3:00 – 4:30 pm | Online Social Groups for Adults

Maria Aggio, Karen McDowell

This unique workshop will illustrate rich online individual and group intervention sessions with adults with autism and related differences. Video examples of sessions in the US and Argentina will demonstrate how the online dynamic provides a safe and comfortable opportunity for individuals to share ideas, feelings, and problems with others in a way that might be very difficult for them in person. Principles, strategies, goals, and tips for generalization will be included.

Track 3: Parents as Experts

1:00 – 2:30 pm | Introduction to the 5 C’s at Home

Giovana Izzo, Amy Keveanos, Monica Osgood, Abigail Rafkin, CTC Parents

This workshop will illustrate how feelings of Comfort, Competence, Confidence, Control, and Communication allow children and their parents to co-regulate, reduce stress and challenges, and maximize engagement and independence at home. Parents will share how when they reevaluated their interactions with their child using the 5 C’s model, they became more empowered in fostering development, independence, and emotional wellbeing.

3:00 – 4:30 pm | Fostering Independence and Feelings of COMPETENCE in the Home While Improving Engagement with Your Child

Margaret Demsak, Madeleine Welch

This workshop builds off of the previous session and illustrates how professionals coach parents and caregivers using the 5 C’s to build competencies at home. Celebrate the Children’s Home Independence Program (HIP) was developed during COVID to take advantage of the students being home with their caregivers during school hours. The HIP is a structured program that coaches parents virtually to teach their children life skills. The program’s magic is that the families participate in a group, and both caregivers and children are motivated by each other. The framework used in the program focuses more on the principles of the 5 C’s and the scope and sequence of teaching any skill vs. teaching discrete daily living skills. The goal is that the caregiver can generalize what they have learned to apply the framework to any life skill they want to teach their child.

Track 4: Paraprofessional Developmental Registered Technician Course Credit

1:00 – 2:30 pm | Welcome to the PRDT Course: Code of Ethics and Introduction to the 5 C’s

Laura Baldwin, Lissette Gray, Monica Osgood

This workshop will introduce participants to the Profectum Registered Developmental Technician (PRDT) Course. This first session will cover the ethics of working as a PRDT in various settings. These ethics include professionalism on the job, working as a team, confidentiality, boundaries with parents, and much more. This introductory session will also introduce the beginning level principles of supporting special needs individuals by adapting your approach to intervention using the 5 C’s model. Specifically, how paraprofessionals can work with the child’s team to foster feelings of Comfort, Competence, Confidence, Control, and Communication. When the foundations of the 5 C’s are in place, we see more consistent self-regulation, higher self-esteem, increased levels of independence, improved caregiver satisfaction, and a higher incidence of reaching IEP goals.

3:00 – 4:30 pm | The Basic Principles of Supporting Children with Special Needs

Regina Frandano, Lissette Gray, Aretha Hurt, Jennie Trocchio

This workshop will build on the previous session by elaborating on very specific developmental strategies used to foster progress and meet goals. Key developmental strategies will be discussed and illustrated through video examples in different settings. Participants will take away practical strategies.

Friday, November 5, 2021 |  11:00 am – 4:30 pm EST

11:00 - 11:30 am | Welcome and Opening Presentation

DIR® Insurance Coverage: What you should know! 

Positive Development – Natalie Kitts, Mike Suiters

11:30 am - 12:30 pm | A Plenary Session that Will Take You Around the World for A Peek Into Various Model Programs for Individuals Ages 3 through Adulthood

Places we will visit:

  • Home Programs, NJ – Michele Havens

  • Adolescent and Adult Programs, Argentina – Maria Aggio

  • Positive Development, CA, FL, IL, NJ – Jennie Trocchio

  • Limitless Adult Day Program (an expansion of Celebrate the Children School), NJ – Ryan Gresik

Track 1: Professionals Working in Educational Settings

1:00 – 2:30 pm | Thinking Outside the Box in Virtual Instruction

Michele Havens, Amy Keveanos

Virtual instruction has changed the way parents and educators collaborate through a screen to work towards achieving student goals. Now that we’re back in the school building, what happens when those goals are being achieved more successfully in the quiet space of the home? This workshop will illustrate how teachers and parents can work together to transition students successfully back into the classroom and achieve goals at home and at school.

3:00 – 4:30 pm | Best Practices for Cultural Sensitivity in DIR Parent Coaching and Family Support Programs across Home and School Settings

Natalie Kitts, Beth Osten, Susan Smith-Foley

Historically parents have played a significant role in DIR intervention. Access to DIR has evolved across family constellations, as well as across geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural parameters since the model was first developed. Gaps currently exist in meeting the diverse needs of families. This presentation will address best practices for cultural sensitivity when developing and implementing DIR parent coaching and family support programs in the home and at school. Current qualitative and quantitative research will be presented to guide DIR coaching and program implementation.

Track 2: Professionals Working in Adult Programs

1:00 – 2:30 pm | The DIR-FCD™ School Model for Adolescents and Adults

Karen McDowell

This presentation introduces participants to the basics of using the DIR-FCD™ model with adolescents and adults and how fostering the Foundational Capacities for Development (FCD) maximizes independence. Program components and curriculum are designed to support and facilitate social, emotional, educational, and vocational goals as students prepare for success in the 21st-century adult world. Key strategies and principles highlight the importance of facilitating multiple meaningful experiences and exposures that foster executive functioning, core feelings of competence, and effective communication across environments. Targeted goals promote full participation in vocational, social, leisure, and continued educational settings. Goals include the development of positive coping strategies, perseverance, self-advocacy, gaining self-acceptance, increasing awareness and safety, personal goal setting, and the use of technology as a means of organization and communication. Participants will understand the importance of a shift from teacher-directed intervention to a self-directed, strength and passion-based model, how to use assessments to help determine transition roadmaps, and strategies to simultaneously strengthen developmental weaknesses. Video examples will illustrate the DIR-FCD™ model with individuals one-on-one and in group settings.

3:00 – 4:30 pm | Young Adult Panel

Moderator: Monica Osgood, Panelists: Jennifer Ahluwalia, Zachary DeMeo, Joshua Kitts, Anie Knipping, Jonathan Scott, Lenny Tartaglia

This presentation will provide first-hand insights into the experiences of people growing up with ASD. How they were prepared and capacities and skills they wish they had, or wish were stronger, will be revealed. Common developmental themes among this group will be highlighted and suggestions for what we can do now to help adults, and equally as important, what can we do in the early stages of development to foster success for people with ASD in the 21st century!

Track 3: Parents as Experts

1:00 – 2:30 pm | Parent Panel-Lessons Learned and Looking to the Future 

Moderator: Lauren Blaszak, Panelists: Cheri Alexander, Andrea Anderson, Teresa Constantino, Lisa Finkelstein, Giovana Izzo, Abigail Rafkin

Expert parents will share their experiences as case managers for their children throughout the years and how their perspectives and goals evolved over time. They will share lessons learned in a way that informs future intervention programs to meet the real needs of diverse individuals. Whether you are a parent of a young child or an adult with special needs, you will walk away with new insights from this presentation. This session will be informal, with plenty of time for Q & A.

3:00 – 4:30 pm | Young Adult Panel

Moderator: Monica Osgood, Panelists: Jennifer Ahluwalia, Zachary DeMeo, Joshua Kitts, Anie Knipping, Jonathan Scott, Lenny Tartaglia

This workshop needs little introduction if you have been to Profectum conferences in the past. This dynamic group of autistic adults shares candid accounts of their experiences in education, therapies, work, relationships, and more. They are articulate and responsive to participant comments and questions. This panel is always the highlight of our conferences, and parents, professionals, and autism experts all walk away inspired by this session!

Track 4: Paraprofessional Developmental Registered Technician Course Credit

1:00 – 2:30 pm | Individual Differences and Behavior

Lisa Bruno, Nicole Bracero, AJ Hellman, Liza Kali, Cynthia King, Demond Lloyd, Rosemary White

It is critical paraprofessionals have some insight into how individual differences in sensory integration, motor abilities, visual-spatial capacities, comprehension, and communication influence individuals’ ability to function in the classroom or intervention session. Gaining an understanding of individual differences supports the understanding that behavior is communication. The second half of this workshop will build off the understanding of individual differences to how these differences are at the root of undesirable behaviors.

3:00 – 4:30 pm | Working with and Supporting Parents and/or Co-workers and Next Steps

Laura Baldwin, Victoria Sanders, Christine Seminaro

Working in groups and with families can be a new experience for many paraprofessionals. A para’s job is very demanding and often challenging. Therefore, it is easy to approach situations from your own perspective and become overwhelmed with your own experience. Taking time to understand where others are coming from, their past experiences, their diverse home lives, cultures, etc. allows you to do a better job for your team and the children and families you work with. Also, knowing when to take a break or ask for help is essential. This workshop will introduce self-reflective principles and the importance of “understanding others” as part of the job. The session will wrap up with an open discussion about continuing with the PRDT program to obtain formal credentialing.