9:00-10:30 a.m. - “Chasing the Rabbit: A Dad’s Life Raising a Son on the Spectrum”
presented by Derek Volk
Derek Volk’s oldest child—his only son– was two-years-old when his wife suggested, “Something is not quite right with Dylan.” They struggled for the next several years as they were bounced from one “expert” to another, each offering a unique perspective on Dylan’s challenging behaviors. Finally, at eight-years-old, Dylan was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and the Volk family was able to start making sense of Dylan’s differences. Derek will share his experiences raising a son on the Autism Spectrum. Both Dylan and Derek are authors and write about the challenges, triumphs and coping strategies from the early days to the adolescent years to life in the “real world” as a young adult.
10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m. - “Bad Choices Make Good Stories”
presented by Dylan Volk
In his rollercoaster of a life, Dylan “Dielawn” Volk has made some interesting and questionable choices. Dylan will share his life experiences as a man with high-functioning autism. Dielawn will give a unique perspective on life through his funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, and always honest portrayal of the hardships and successes of navigating the obstacles of life from childhood to adulthood as a person on the autism spectrum.
12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch - (lunch is included in registration)
"The Autism Program Partnering Agencies: Services and Unique Programs"
presented by Debra Vines, The Answer, Inc.; Bradford Czochara, Psy.D., Trinity Services; Leigh Grannan, The Autism Clinic at Hope Institute and Patty Boheme, Little Friends
1:00-2:30 p.m. - “Improving Language and Communication Skills for Students with ASD”
presented by Mary Wrobel, MA/SLP
All individuals with ASD struggle with issues of language, communication and social interaction. Language and communication are key to everything: academic success, behavior issues, interacting with others, achieving friendships and relationships, and gaining and maintaining employment. Improving on these skills should be a life-long endeavor and it’s never too early or too late to work on language and communication. This presentation will focus on the many strategies that parents, teachers and therapists can use to work on these important skills. This session will cover skills for young children to adolescents with examples and approaches for all abilities. You will learn specific strategies to help in the classroom and at home.
2:45-4:30 p.m. - “After the Meltdown: Prevention, Intervention and Instructional Consequences”
presented by Kathy Morris
Do you work with children or adolescents with autism who exhibit behaviors that interfere with their ability to effectively and efficiently navigate their environment? They may appear, obnoxious, overreactive, anxious, or unfeeling or withdrawn. They may lose control of their ability to cope or regulate their behavior which can send them spiraling into a meltdown. You may feel helpless, frustrated, and powerless after each meltdown. This session will provide practical strategies you will be able to take back home and to work, and is a fun-packed keynote designed for parents, educators, therapists and all those who are interested in providing supports to children and adolescents with autism, ADHD, behavior disorders or other disabilities.
Kathy Kaluza Morris has been a special educator for 45 years, serving as a speech therapist, self-contained teacher of students with behavior disorders, moderate to severe developmental disabilities as well as a resource teacher and first grade teacher. She served as a diagnostician and supervisor in a district where she opened up the first two LIFE Skills programs in the state of Texas before becoming a consultant for autism, behavior and inclusion at a region service center in Texas. Starting her own business, igivuWings, in 1999 she provides seminars nationally and internationally. She served on the President’s Commission on Special Education, was Teacher of the Year and recently, she and her husband were honored by The Arc of Texas with the Lifetime Achievement Award Serving Persons with Disabilities.
Kathy and her husband, Guy, “walk the walk and talk the talk” since the birth of their twin sons with developmental disabilities, including autism and cerebral palsy.
Derek Volk is the author of the internationally acclaimed Amazon best seller, Chasing the Rabbit: A Dad’s Life Raising a Son on the Spectrum. Derek is a Maine businessman, supporter of Autism awareness, volunteer and philanthropist who, along with his family, was named the 2015 Spurwink “Humanitarian of the Year.” He is the president and owner of Volk Packaging Corporation, a third generation, family owned, corrugated box manufacturer in Biddeford, Maine. His own company currently employs those who are deaf and on the autism spectrum.
A speech communications major at the University of Maine at Orono, Derek has always been comfortable speaking to an audience. From 2012 to 2019, Derek hosted a Saturday morning radio talk show on WLOB 1310AM in Portland, Maine. His shows can be heard online at www.derekvolkshow.com. Derek has been happily married to his high school sweetheart, Amy Volk, for 30 years. Former State Senator Amy Volk served four terms in the Maine Legislature fighting for people with disabilities. Amy and Derek are the proud parents of four children. Their son, Dylan, is 27-years-old and the inspiration behind Chasing the Rabbit. They also have three daughters, Mariah (24), Lilly (20) and Serena (15).
Derek’s book and more information is available at www.chasingtherabbit.org
Dylan Volk is the author of Bad Choices Make Good Stories: My Life with Autism. It is a deep look inside the brain of a young man with high functioning autism. It is also the sequel to the book he co-authored with his father, Chasing the Rabbit: A Dad’s Life Raising a Son on the Spectrum. After years of what his parents called “the diagnosis of the month club,” Dylan was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of eight. Life has always been challenging for Dylan.
When he was little, he struggled with how to learn the rules and follow directions that often did not make sense to him. As he got older, he was challenged, especially socially, by a world that often seemed to go too fast for him to keep up. Even today, Dylan works hard to figure out what he needs to do in order to get through each day as a 27-year-old adult in a very fast-paced society.
Dylan is currently living in Los Angeles pursuing his goal of earning a living making people laugh as well as traveling around the country sharing his story to thousands of people. Dylan hopes the work and presentations about his books are helping families as they navigate through the difficulties of living life on the spectrum. Both books and more information is available at www.volkbooks.com
Mary Wrobel is the author of Taking Care of Myself, a hygiene, health, puberty and personal safety curriculum for students with ASD and related disabilities. Her book won the Autism Society of America Outstanding Literary Work of the Year Award-Educational Division for 2004. Her most recent book, Taking Care of Myself 2 is a guide for teens and young adults with ASD, and covers the topics of hygiene, health, public behavior, relationships, personal safety, and sex and sexual relationships. She has also contributed to two previously published books: Autism 101 Manual and Asperger’s and Girls.
Ms. Wrobel is a teacher and speech-language pathologist who has taught and worked with students with autism and other disabilities for more than 25 years. As a consultant, she trains both parents and teachers in communication and language approaches, behavior strategies, academic/curricular modifications, safety instruction, as well as health, hygiene, puberty and personal safety. Her extensive knowledge of and experience with assistive technology has helped her to create a large library of resources as well as individualized materials, supports strategies and accommodations and for a wide variety of students with disabilities.
Besides presenting nationally at several autism conferences, Ms. Wrobel has also taught university classes, has spoken to several parent organizations, and has offered numerous, varied workshops to many professionals including speech-language pathologists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists and teachers.
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