We are excited to welcome the following speakers to our 2018 conference:
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Caroline Musselwhite
Emergent Balanced Literacy Overview for Students with Severe Disabilities
Dr. Caroline Musselwhite is an assistive technology specialist with more than 40 years of experience working with children and adolescents with multiple challenges, in a variety of settings, including Head Start, developmental day programs, and the public schools. She has also taught courses at several universities, including West Virginia University, and Western Carolina University. She has also coordinated Communication Circles and Balanced Literacy Club Projects in school districts in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, and Kingston, Ontario.
The prospect of teaching students with significant disabilities to begin to read with comprehension and begin to write generatively can seem overwhelming. This presentation will cover: assessment for students who are difficult to assess, emergent writing (beginning to write with symbols, words, and the alphabet), shared reading, self selected reading, and phonological awareness (understanding spoken language at the word, syllable, and letter level). This will include student samples, videos, and creative use of apps.
Development of Gait
Josh Ahlstrom, CPO/LPO is an ABC Certified and licensed Prosthetist/Orthotist with 20 years of clinical experience. He has spent the last 14 years focused specifically on providing exceptional care for children with a vast array of pathologies and presentations. In 2004, Josh opened a pediatric O&P facility in Indianapolis, which eventually grew to 5 offices providing care across 3 states. Throughout his career he has enjoyed working with numerous children’s hospitals, specialty clinics and physical therapy facilities. Josh has been cited in numerous publications, while also lecturing across the country, and internationally, on a variety of topics related to pediatric orthotics. He was also instrumental in the development of the Indy 2 Stage and Pullover AFOs in the SureStep product lineup. Josh’s current role of Business Development Specialist with Midwest Orthotic Services affords him the opportunity to mentor other offices and practitioners, while also exposing him to a wide range of business models, clinical settings and demographics. He also works as an Education Consultant for SureStep. His passion for learning, problem solving, teaching and developing relationships with others continues to drive him today to pursue better outcomes for the patients, families and referral sources he serves.
Mealtime Skill Building: Basic Feeding 101
Lynnea Baron, OTRL, is a Center Based School Occupational Therapist for Detroit Public Schools Community District. She graduated from Wayne State University. Lynnea works at Moses Field School in Detroit with children ages 3-14 who have a variety of special needs, including children who have difficulty with mealtime skills. Lynnea enjoys eating and wants to share that pleasurable experience with her students.
Pierce Functional Screening
Karen Pierce Tibbs, M.S., OTR/L, is an occupational therapist specializing in chronic pediatric disabilities. Her background includes extensive work in areas of cognitive development, autism, and neurological conditions. She is the author of Comprehensive Active Motor Planning ~ CAMP, a book that provides screening and intervention information on visual- motor skills for children with autism and/or cognitive challenges. Mrs. Tibbs is also the author of Pierce Functional Screening~ PFS, a screening and intervention protocol for chronic neurological conditions. She has developed multi-sensory specialty paper for handwriting and math, and is the creator of the Zap Alive app that provides children an opportunity to experience interactive animation when using flashcards. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Wayne State University, a graduate degree from Central Michigan University, certificates: in Beckman Oral Motor, Rock Tapping, Love and Logic, Assistive Technology Application Certificate Program (ATACP), and Orton Gillingham approach to reading, and training in Cranial Sacral Therapy.
Read It Once Again
Richelle is a teacher of the severely multiply impaired at the Lyle A.Torrant Center in Jackson. She has six years of teaching experience working primarily with Pre-K and early elementary age students. Richelle received her undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University in Psychology/Special Education and holds endorsements in both Emotional and Cognitive Impairments. She is also a MOVE International Trainer.
Friday, November 9, 2018
Ashlee LaTour and Susan Oleson
Watch Me Learn to Communicate: How Communication Skills in Children With Severe Multiple Impairments Can Progress Over Time
Ashlee is currently an SXI teacher in the Northville Public School district. She absolutely has her dream job and has had the pleasure of not only watching her student’s communication evolve over time, but watching her cousin go through the program at her school as well. She truly understands the family perspective as well as the teacher perspective when it comes to the education and communication of a child with severe multiple impairments. The communication piece in the SXI classroom has become her passion and she has had the absolute pleasure of learning from the very best, Susan Oleson. She has watched her transform so many of her students' communication skills and watched their communication evolve over the years. After attending many SXI conferences and talking to so many teachers, many of them felt they get stuck in a certain place when it comes to a students communication level and oftentimes don't know where to go or how to progress to the next level for their students. This is an area that we truly excel at and can't wait to share with the SXI community!
Engaging Parents in the IEP Process
Courtney Kern-Sanders is a Special Needs Teacher working in Detroit Public School Community District. She has worked at Moses Field Center Based School for the last 11 years. She grew up in the city Detroit and attended DPS schools. She dropped out of Northwestern High School in the 11th grade. This was a very difficult time in her life. But with God’s Grace she was able to return and complete her GED. She went on to Henry Ford Community College to receive an Associate’s Degree in Pre-Elementary Ed. After graduating, she got a job at DPS as a paraprofessional Teachers Aid at Moses Field School, where she worked under an amazing teacher for 6 years. This is when she fell in love with students with special needs. She decided to further her education. Wayne State partnered with DPS in a program called Pathway. This program offered financial and educational support for teachers aids in pursuit of a higher level degree. With combined efforts she was able to graduate Cum Laude at Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Ed with an endorsement in Cognitive Impairment in 2011. She went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership K-12 in 2014. She is now working in her Passion and that is her greatest accomplishment.
School Health Services
Sue Putman has a Bachelor's of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) from Oakland University and M. Ed. specializing in school nursing from Cambridge College. She has over 30 years of maternal-child nursing experience including 22 years of experience as a school nurse consultant for students with cognitive and physical impairments. Board member and special education representative Michigan Association of School Nurses (MASN). MASN Region leader for Macomb County. Contributor to the Legal Resource for School Health Services ( and Clinical Guidelines for School Nurses (
Vocational Horticulture and POHI/SXI Students: Yes, We Can!
Michael Craig is a Detroit Public School Special Education Teacher and Horticulture Program Instructor at the Charles Drew Transition Center. In May, 2015, he won the 2015 Educator of the Year award given by the Michigan Lottery’s Excellence in Education Program. Tom Izzo, the Michigan State University Men’s Basketball Coach, presented the Educator of the Year award. Also in May, 2015, Craig was selected as a finalist (one of five out of nearly 500 submissions) for the 2015-16 Michigan Department of Education’s Michigan Teacher of the Year.
The Charles Drew Transition Center, a Detroit Public School, is a unique post-secondary vocational center for the moderate to severely cognitively impaired, visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically impaired, and students with Autism. The Transition Center, which serves special education students ages 18-26, is a one-of-a-kind educational facility where students have access to an age-appropriate learning environment. Staff develop programs teaching vocational work skills leading to the possibility of employment, providing functional independence and full inclusion into community life.
The Drew Horticulture Program is a year-round market garden program existing for the dual purpose of providing educational, vocational and life skills in a horticultural-based setting, while providing fresh produce for students, families, and the local community through food agencies. In the City of Detroit, access to fresh, locally-grown produce is extremely limited. We recognize this need, and are striving to impact our families by providing an on-site school farm stand and other options where low-cost produce can be purchased at low cost on a consistent basis, thus helping to ensure healthier lifestyle choices.