The 2024 C.W. Austin Learning Disabilities Conference Is Almost Here!

Check out this list of all of our upcoming virtual presentations—completely free to view! Come back March 2nd to watch them all

Adaptive Resources @ Your Library for Students, Parents, and Educators by Brandi Burton and Tara Dearing: This presentation will introduce participants to the broad range of free library services and resources that will directly benefit LD students as well as parents and providers helping them. Decodable texts and materials related to the Science of Reading will in included.

After the Diagnosis: What Children/Students Need to Know by William B. Daigle, Ph.D.: Once the evaluation is complete and the feedback has been presented to parents and teachers, the people who are so often left out of the discussion are the children/students. This presentation will help parents and teachers know how to explain a learning disorder diagnosis to children and will help parents and teachers know how to involve students in understanding accommodations and how to use them effectively.

AI Tools to Support Students with Learning Disabilities by Lewis Poche and Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay: In an era of innovation and inclusivity, discover how AI tools are revolutionizing support for students with learning disabilities. Join us to learn how parents and teachers use Chat-GPT to help all students thrive in their academic journeys. We will discuss AI-powered technologies working to identify learning difficulties on a broader scale, making early diagnosis and intervention more accessible than ever before. Join us to discover how AI can be a powerful ally in fostering a brighter future for every student for educators, parents, and providers.

The Black Experience: ADHD by Alisha Diggs, LPC: Learn about the unique mental health challenges for Black children with ADHD and their parents/advocates affecting mental health and school success. This presentation provides evidenced-based strategies and interventions designed to combat problems and stressors encountered by students as well as Black parents/ advocates looking to help this vulnerable population. In this updated presentation, the presenter will share her updated doctoral research on this topic.

Build Better Interventions Through Empathy by Georgann Mire, President of the Greater Baton Rouge Learning Disabilities Coalition: Pull out your pencil and paper for this interactive demonstration designed to increase empathy for students with learning disabilities. Learn about evidence-based resilience and motivational interventions. Best practice accommodation and advocacy recommendations will be discussed.

Bypassing Phonemic Awareness Difficulties for Children with Persistent Decoding Problems by Jan Norris, Ph.D., LSU Professor Speech-Language Pathology: This session will show how to bypass the phonemic awareness difficulties by using an alphabet that provides readers with a directly pictured association using faces with alphabet letters placed in the mouth to cue speech productions. When the mouth positions (represented by letter shapes such as P positioned as the upper lip) of the faces are imitated by the child, the sound is produced. We will show results from new studies in our lab showing rapid learning for first and third-grade children with persistent decoding deficits that show changes within two weeks (3 to 6 40-minute sessions). Ongoing studies are also showing results for children with speech sound disorders.

Empowering Voices: Self-Identification and Advocacy in Students with Disabilities by Kamryn Gaines B.A. and Imre Emeric Csaszar PhD, LPC-S, NCC of Louisiana State University: Students with disabilities are a population that receive great amounts of stigma. The area of disabilities comes with many misconceptions and individuals often have preconceived notions about certain diagnoses. A barrier that many students with disabilities face is the concept of self-identification. Self-identification for students with disabilities is the process in which they recognize and acknowledge their disabilities. In most cases, students need to elicit some form of self-identification in order to receive proper accommodations in school or the workplace. Self-advocacy and self-identification are lifelong skills that individuals with disabilities need to develop to be successful. Oftentimes, mental health professionals are one of the first individuals that students will reach out to for support. As mental health professionals, it is important to know how to provide a safe space to counsel and guide students with disabilities. This includes understanding concepts such as, what your role is as a mental health professional, how to implement an individualized approach, transition planning, resilience building, community integration, and goal setting. It is important for us to promote collaboration with institutions, educators, faculty members, and employers to create an environment that fosters the growth of these skills.

Examining Mental Health Stigma in the Black Community by LaCrystal McCoy, LPC of Baton Rouge Community College: Mental health professionals can provide support and treatment for problems associated with learning disabilities however, mental health stigma can get in the way. Learn about this issue in the Black community and how to design culturally competent interventions.

Exceptional Lives: Online Parent Engagement Hub for Families of Kids with Disabilities by Christina Kozik, Community Engagement Specialist, and Julie McKinney, MS, Director of Product Content and Health Literacy Specialist: , We know that informed, engaged parents result in better student outcomes. But when a student is identified as needing special education services, the family begins a journey that can be confusing, stressful, and hard to navigate. Teachers, therapists, and related service providers have an opportunity to provide information and resources to families and caregivers on how to navigate the special education system, as well as access other benefits and services. However, it is hard for them to know the best resources to share, and the most common ones are usually too hard for families to understand and use effectively. Exceptional Lives’ newly renovated parent engagement hub is designed to bridge this gap by using a friendly, easy-to-use interface, multimedia resources, and plain language design. Our step-by-step guidance, search-by-zip-code Disability Services Finder, and parent-support blogs, webinars, and podcasts can help students’ families get the resources and support they need.

A Guide to Understanding Evaluations by Traci W. Olivier, PsyD: This presentation will equip parents to understand the basics of psychological/neuropsychological evaluations and how findings may help students access appropriate accommodations and supports at school. A discussion of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Bulletin 1508 guidelines will also be reviewed.

How to Be Angry Better by Dayle Malen, LCSW-BACS, ADHD-CCSP, CCTP, M.Ed. of ReDesigning Lives, PLLC: This workshop teaches the science behind our anger behaviors are created and how we can change them by learning Anger Behavior Management © and the F. I. B. ™ technique. It explains why it is so difficult to think before acting. Learn to live honestly and behave effectively…without regret or guilt.

How to Live with Children on the Spectrum at Home and in the Classroom by Tracey Lyons Tozier, MSS, COPAA Certified Advocate: I will share with attendees some of the things I learned as a parent on my journey with raising children on the spectrum, My daughter was just diagnosed at age 25--will talk about high functioning, high masking autism in girls and women and how the medical/psychology community is just starting to recognize their unique symptoms and challenges, as well as how to treat them. I will present in two parts: One will be the parent perspective, and the other will be the educational perspective. Both teachers and parents will be given resources for treatment referrals and continuing education opportunities about how to most effectivley teach children and adults on the autism spectrum.

How to Stop Suffering from Worry and Anxiety(c) by Dayle Malen, LCSW-BACS, ADHD-CCSP, CCTP, M.Ed. of ReDesigning Lives, PLLC : Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older. In addition, anxiety disorders are among the most common mental, emotional, and behavioral problems to occur during childhood and adolescence, with about 13 of every 100 children and adolescents ages 9 to 17 experiencing some type of anxiety disorder. It is known that heredity, brain chemistry, personality and life experiences play a role in the occurrence of anxiety disorders. No matter the cause, worry and anxiety involve its own language; one that creates a "maze" leading to imagined disaster and catastrophe. This seminar shows how "worry" language develops and techniques that can be used to command your worry and anxiety…and stop the suffering.

The IMPACT Formula: Redesign Writing Instruction to Unleash Untapped Leadership and Foster Self-Regulation by Cheri Dotterer, MS, OTR/L: Unlock students' full potential with our transformative presentation! Learn neuroscience-based techniques to elevate writing skills, collaborative strategies for multi-disciplinary success, and keys to lifelong student independence. This approach can unleash untapped leadership abilities in students with learning disabilities. Don't miss this revolutionary approach.

LD and the SLP: A Peek Inside the Speech Therapy Room for Educators, Social Workers and Families by Keylonda Wheeler, M.S., CCC-SLPThis course is an introduction to the speech therapy menu of services for school-aged children. The course provides an overview of how the skills of a speech-language pathologist would support the efforts of professionals and families advocating for children with learning disabilities. The presenter will discuss the process of how students are identified, the major components of an evaluation, and treatment models. Participants will learn how to promote early intervention and prevention of issues where possible. Participants will also learn about practical tools to facilitate improved communication skills as well as resources for when direct services with a speech-language pathologist are limited or inaccessible.

LD Students in Higher Education by Alisha Diggs, LPC, and LaCrystal McCoy, LPC of Baton Rouge Community College: Learn about college accommodations and ways students with learning disabilities can access them effectively. In addition, presenters will share their experiences while serving as mental health providers to college students and suggest therapeutic interventions to enhance successful transition.

Living in Self Care by Dayle Malen, LCSW-BACS, ADHD-CCSP, CCTP, M.Ed. Organization: ReDesigning Lives, PLLC:  When we think of self-care, we think about taking time out for ourselves. Basically, it suggests we put ourselves on our own calendar for that massage, haircut, exercise class, golf, or lunch with friends. What about the rest of our life? Living in self-care is not carving out some time for ourselves. It’s a way of life. We deserve to learn to include ourselves in our lives. After all, shouldn’t we be as important as everything and everyone else…all the time?

Mental Health Matters - A Closer Look at Emotional Disorders in Individuals with Learning Disabilities by Dr. Shayla Polk, LCSW and Prevention Systems Manager, Governor’s Office of Drug Policy: An in-depth examination of the often overlooked intersection between emotional disorders and learning disabilities. This presentation aims to shed light on the challenges faced by individuals with learning disabilities and the impact of emotional disorders on their mental well-being. By addressing this issue, we aim to improve the overall mental health and well-being of this vulnerable population and raise awareness within the community, schools, and healthcare professionals about the importance of recognizing and addressing emotional disorders in individuals with learning disabilities.

The Next Step Up: College Tips for Students with Learning Disabilities by Debby Jones, M.Ed., LPC-S: This one-hour presentation will discuss the academic accommodation process for colleges and universities and how students with learning disabilities can better navigate this process and become better self-advocates along the way. Participants of this presentation will learn details about sending a student with learning disabilities to college including how and whether to request reasonable accommodations, what to expect from the Disability Services office, likely documentation requirements, how to access college resources and self-advocate, and understanding how college is different from K-12. Information about how to help if a student experiences mental health concerns related to their learning disabilities, social concerns, or transition to college will be included.

Parent's Rights in Special Education by Cynthia Chesterfield - Program Director of Inclusive Education, Families Helping Families of Greater Baton Rouge : This presentation will provide information about parent rights provided by the Federal Education Law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Positive Discipline for Children with AD/HD by Randall L. Lemoine, Ph.D.: Frustrated with all the drama and constant nagging to get your child/student to behave? Wish there was a more positive and lasting method to do discipline? Well, this workshop provides positive, practical strategies to effectively accomplish discipline of children with AD/HD and other neurodevelopmental disorders both at home and school. It will transform the way you think about and do discipline - we are positive!

Powerful Read Alouds: A Structured Literacy Approach by Hailey Hunt, M.Ed., CALT, C-SLDI of Neuhaus Education Center: Research tells us that children of any age benefit from listening to adults read aloud. In fact, listening to reading builds the foundation of a child’s literacy development. However, many educators and caregivers are not aware of the myriad of language skills that can be developed through purposeful read-alouds. In this session, participants will explore ways to integrate the principles of structured literacy into powerful read-alouds that benefit children of all ages.

Prevention: Identifying ACEs and Trauma by Joy Duhon, PLPC, PSIT of I-CARE in East Baton Rouge Parish Schools: “Prevention: Identifying ACEs and Trauma” provides an introduction to Adverse Childhood Experiences to parents, caregivers, and providers. This presentation explores the risk factors associated with ACEs and the protective factors that encourage resilience in children. During the presentation, strategies and communication tips will be shared to support students with learning disabilities. There will also be a discussion about local resources available to support families and providers.

A Roadmap to Prevention: Keeping Adolescents with Learning Disabilities and AD/HD Substance-Free by Dr. Shayla Polk, LCSW and Prevention Systems Manager, Governor’s Office of Drug Policy: The purpose of this presentation is to raise awareness among educators, advocates, parents/legal guardians, caregivers, teachers, foster parents, and those involved in special education and the importance of paying attention to emerging drug trends to prevent abuse.

The Science of Reading in a Virtual School by Dana Van Deuren and Christy O'Toole of Pearson Virtual School: Join us as we explore the ins and outs of the Science of Reading at multiple grade levels in the virtual education setting.

Sleep Problems in Autism and ADHD by Steven Felix MD: This presentation will address the types of sleep problems in Autism, their varied causes, and treatments. This will include behavioral, medical, and pharmacologic treatments.

Spelling Strategies that Work! by Ashlie Ballard (CALT, LDT, SLDS) and Lauren Malone (M.Ed., C-SLCT) of Neuhaus Education Center: Participants will learn spelling strategies that will free up students’ cognitive resources and enable them to become more fluent in written expression.

Teaching Financial Literacy to Children with Disabilities by Tiffany Tuminell of First Horizon Bank: Teaching financial literacy to children provides them necessary knowledge and skills to prepare for the complex financial world they will face as adults and establishes a foundation for sound financial behavior, setting them on a path toward financial security and independence in the future. It is equally important to ensure that children with disabilities have equitable access to financial literacy education by accommodating their unique needs. Such teaching can enable children with disabilities to make informed financial decisions, reduce their reliance on others for financial support, and help them secure long-term financial well-being.

Understanding Auditory Processing Disorders by Katie Cordell, Au.D., CCC-A & Laurin Brian, Au.D., CCC-A of Dynamic Therapy Specialists: This presentation will help parents, teachers, and support professionals understand the nature of auditory processing disorders and their impact on social, communication, and learning outcomes. Dr.’s Cordell and Brian will discuss the importance of direct remediation of Auditory Processing Disorders and provide participants with a variety of strategies to support children at home and in the classroom.

Video Games and the LD Kid by Belynda Gauthier, Past President of CHADD: Video games are a part of our modern world, and many people theorize that they contribute to the high incidence of ADHD diagnoses. Research shows links between ADHD and video games, but the connections aren't all bad. The former CHADD National Board President and her son, who has ADHD and is a gaming enthusiast, will present information on the latest research into these connections, the positives and negatives of gaming on those with ADHD, and the root of the attraction to gaming.

When Medication May be Helpful by Darlyne G. Nemeth, Ph.D., M.P., M.P.A.P., Clinical, Medical, and Neuropsychologist; Cody Capps, B.S., Clinical and Research Assistant; and Andrew Nesbit, M.S., Clinical Ph.D. student at Fielding University of Neuropsychology Clinic of Louisiana: To familiarize the attendees with the various medications used for ADHD management.