Transition Conference 2015


Statewide Transition Conference for Parents

This full-day statewide Transition conference was specifically planned for families of children with disabilities between the ages of 14 and 22 who are transitioning from school into the adult world. Sign up for our mailing list here to stay updated on events like this one.

PDF versions of workshop presentations and handouts are available for download at the clickable links below each workshop description

Transition Tips



SESSION I – (10: 30 – 11:45 AM)
A-1. Helping Your Child to Lead: Student-Driven Secondary Transition
Presented by: Amanda Green, Educational Specialist, and Martha Daigle, Education Specialist, Dept. of Early and Secondary Education

Research has shown that adults with disabilities are more likely to be successful if they have learned to have a voice in their own future planning. Between ages 14 and 22, students with IEPs can play a key role in their own secondary transition planning. This presentation will offer an overview of the secondary transition process, including the importance of student vision and student self-determination, laws and regulations, the use of the Transition Planning Form (TPF) and IEP, and whole school/community approaches. Special emphasis will be placed on the essential role of families in assisting young people to take a leadership role in transition planning.

A1 Powerpoint A1 Handout A

A1 Handout B A1 Handout C

A1 Handout D A1 Handout E

A1 Handout F A1 Handout G


A-2. Students with ID/DD and Mental Health Concerns
Presented by: Dr. Fay Reich, PsyD

Life transitions are challenging for individuals at any stage of life. This workshop will address mental health issues such as depression and anxiety which may arise for ID/DD students and their families as the students transition to adult services/supports and the next stage of their life. The workshop will also address how to assist students with pre-existing mental health issues to meet the challenges of this major life transition. We will discuss how families can prepare/advocate for the needs of their children during transition.


A-3. Getting To Know You: Transition Assessment as the Key to Planning a Future
Presented by: Jill Curry, Ed.D. CRC Newton School System, and Lisa Fournier, M.Ed., South Coast Educational Collaborative

Transition Assessment is an ongoing process of determining a student’s needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future settings, such as work, home, school, and social environments. This presentation will provide an overview of the transition assessment process and the laws that shape it. Examples of assessment tools will be shared. Strategies will be provided to empower families to work collaboratively with their child’s team throughout the assessment process.

A3 Powerpoint A3 Handout A

  A3 Handout B


A-4. Vocational Rehabilitation Services for Transition-Aged Youth Looking at Employment
Presented by a team of Mass. Rehabilitation Commission Counselors

The panel discussion will focus on best practices for vocational rehabilitation services for students preparing for the transition from high school to adulthood. VR counselors at MRC assist with all aspects of Transition planning and the presentation will highlight some of the most common services available to students, the process of referring students, and examine some of the nuances of working with this population.

A4 Powerpoint


A-5. Let’s Talk About Transition
Presented byKathy Kelly, Northeast Arc

Join us in this interactive workshop and learn how to develop the transition planning form using a student-driven, person-centered process. We will discuss how to connect the Transition Planning Form to the IEP and how to write smart goals that are related to the students post-secondary vision and goals. Participants will learn how to develop the transition plan using a student-driven, person-centered process.

A5 Powerpoint


A-6. Community Supports for Effective Transition Planning: Venturing Outside of the Classroom
Presented by: Kelley Challen, EdM, CAS and Marilyn Weber, NESCA

Learning to navigate one’s own community is essential to independent adult life. Workshop participants will learn how special education law and guidelines support community experiences as part of the special education process, how to effectively transition from classroom-based education to community experiences,  and what community-based opportunities are supportive for students transitioning to independent living, recreation, leisure, employment and postsecondary learning environments. Most importantly, participants will learn how to implement this in an individualized educational program in community environments based on a person-centered transition planning process.

A6 Powerpoint

A6 Handout


A-7. Transition: Planning a life & setting the stage – future growth for your adult on the spectrum
Presented by: Sue Loring, Director of The Autism Support Center of Central Massachusetts, HMEA

The transition to adulthood can be quite a challenge for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families. Come hear some tips that will make that transition a little bit easier and give your child a safety net for the future.

A7 Powerpoint


A-8.  A Road Map to Middle School Transition
Presented by: Rachel Bird, Sonya Austin and Jillian Clark, Lexington School System

The middle school years are an anxious time for parents and students. This session will provide a road map to the middle school transition process to help parents circumvent the roadblocks, detours, and pot-holes encountered on Massachusetts Highway 285 (Chapter 285 of Massachusetts Codes defines 14 as the minimum age for transition services). Discussion will include the four areas necessary throughout the transition process, Education, Community Experience, Employment and Daily Living Skills (as needed),which will lead to reaching one’s destination despite the road that is taken.

A8 Powerpoint


A-9. The IPAD and Technology Playground
Presented by: TechACCESS of Rhode Island

The Playground is a hands-on environment where you can explore tons of exciting opportunities for learning, working, living, and just plain enjoying. IPADS will be available with applications on daily living supports, augmentative communication, reading, writing, blind/low vision access, therapy supports, and much more! AT specialists from TechACCESS of RI will be on hand in the Playground throughout the day as a exhibitor to answer your questions. The Playground will also have a variety of other assistive technologies (from low tech to high tech) for you to explore


SESSION II – (1:15 – 2:30 PM)


B-1. Person-Centered Planning and Transition
Presented by Beth Mount, PhD

Person-Centered Planning is a process that assists people with disabilities and their families to plan for their future. Through structured sessions focusing on the person’s strengths and preferences, possibilities for the future are created. A Person-Centered Plan is an excellent tool to use when students are in the transition process. It can complement and enhance the Transition Planning Form and the IEP.

B1 Handout


B-2. The Role of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Transition Coordinators in Implementing a Smooth Transition into the Adult World
Presented by a Team of DDS Transition Coordinators: Dorrie Freedman, Metro North; Maureen Cavicchio, Plymouth; Judith Fountain, North Central

This team of DDS Transition Coordinators will discuss their role in assisting students and their families through the process of Transition. They will explain the process used to determine adult eligibility for supports and services and give a brief overview of options available either through traditional programs to participant-directed supports.

B2 Powerpoint

B-3. Lets talk about the $$! What can I do today to plan for my future and my child’s future?
Presented by: Cynthia R. Haddad, CFP and Alexandria M. Nadworny, CFP, Shepherd Financial Partners

As the number of individuals Turning 22 increases each year, it is becoming more and more difficult to secure the government funding needed to pay for the supports your child will need for his or her lifetime. Planning for both your own personal needs and your child’s lifetime needs can be overwhelming. Where will the money come from? Presenters will explore various planning considerations and strategies available to creatively finance your child’s future, your own, and your other children. This workshop is based on personal and professional expertise shared from the author of The Special Needs Planning Guide: How to Prepare for Every Stage of Your Childs Life.

B3 Handout


B-4.  Student Involvement in their IEPs and using Multi-Media to Enhance the Process
Presented by: Ilene Asarch, Needham School System

Traditionally, students have not played a leadership role in the transition planning process despite the fact that the process is supposed to be student-centered. Being involved helps students learn to make their own decisions, speak up for themselves and take ownership of their own plans and outcomes. Students at all levels can actively participate in their IEP meetings. Come hear how multi-media can enhance results with the use of power point presentations and videos.


B-5. Is Guardianship the Only Option? A Discussion about Guardianship and the Many Alternatives
Presented by: Hillary J. Dunn, Esq., Disability Law Center

When an individual turns 18 years old, he or she is presumed to have the capacity to make informed decisions, including legal, educational, financial and health care decisions. In some situations, an individual with a disability may need assistance with making informed decisions. It is important to understand the array of available options to assist with decision-making. This session will discuss the legal implications of turning 18, the guardianship standard, the impact of guardianship on self-determination, and several alternatives to guardianship.

B5 Powerpoint B5 Handout A

B5 Handout B B5 Handout C


B-6. Middle School – Transparency in Transition and Beyond: A multi-year, tiered curriculum designed to foster healthy self-awareness and self-advocacy (Students with Autism)
Presented by: Elise Wulff, Inclusion Facilitator, Newton School System

Students in this program participate in a 3-year, tiered curriculum within our home- base classroom. The entire curriculum results in a comprehensive portfolio of what the student has learned both in general and about him/herself individually that serves as the foundation of their transition binder. In addition, the course culminates in students attending, and even presenting, at their IEP meetings as a member of the team. Parents and home support networks are included throughout the process and supported with regular contact offering resources, outside education opportunities, home strategies, etc.

B6 Powerpoint


B-7.  Exploring the World of Work
Presented by Jill Curry, Ed.D. Newton Public Schools

Employment is an important part of life for most people. This session will highlight the importance of helping students identify career goals, the range of experiences that may lead to meaningful employment, and how to work collaboratively on the road to employment. Best practices in employment will be provided as well as strategies families can use to support the career development process.

B7 Powerpoint B7 Handout A

B7 Handout B B7 Handout C


B-8. Friendships through the Transition Years and Beyond
Presented by: Jim Ross and Mary Ann Brennan (Presenters are from Widening the Circle, a partnership between the MA Dept. of Developmental Services and The Arc of Massachusetts)

Friendships between kids with and without disabilities are increasingly common at younger ages. But often during the transition years (a time when friends may be of utmost importance) those friendships begin to evaporate. Presenters will explore why and how individuals with disabilities, their families and other allies should consider relationships in every aspect of the planning process, wherever people live, learn, work and play.

B8 Powerpoint


B-9. The IPAD and Technology Playground
Presented by: TechACCESS of Rhode Island       

The Playground is a hands-on environment where you can explore tons of exciting opportunities for learning, working, living, and just plain enjoying. IPADS will be available with applications on daily living supports, augmentative communication, reading, writing, blind/low vision access, therapy supports, and much more! AT specialists from TechACCESS of RI will be on hand in the Playground throughout the day as an exhibitor to answer your questions. The Playground will also have a variety of other assistive technologies (from low tech to high tech) for you to explore


SESSION III – (2:45 – 4:00 PM)


C-1. S*X & S*XUALITY! Got Questions? Let’s find answers.
Presented by: Ruth Price, MPH, M.Ed. CHES

Struggling to talk about sexuality with your sons and daughters? This engaging workshop will provide parents and guardians with information, strategies, and tips on sexuality, social skills, and behavior to meet the unique needs of youth with disabilities. This workshop will increase comfort, offer useful direction, and practical suggestions that highlights the fact that healthy sexuality is more than just “sex”. The discussion will address important topics of public/private, bodies and emotions, social-boundaries, personal space, intimacy, safety, relationships, and self-advocacy.

C1 Powerpoint


C-2. So We Have the Law: Now What Do We Do? An 18-22 year program
Presented by: Sherry Elander, M.Ed, Westfield Public School, and Jerri Roach, Worcester Public Schools

Transition planning strategies, tips, and ideas will be shared that districts can implement to move 18-22 year olds beyond the traditional school setting. This will be an interactive session that should be of interest to parents, students, school staff and community members alike.

Please join Jerri and Sherry, as they take you on a fun filled adventure through the land of transition. They will provide examples of how transition planning has been implemented within the community and school for a varied student population using person-centered planning.

These ladies share 54+ years of combined experience in the education and rehabilitation sector and believe that when a group comes together for a shared vision, the sky is the limit!


C-3. Understanding the new ABLE Act and Federal and State Government Benefits
Presented by: Theresa M. Varnet, MSW, JD. Fletcher Tilton PC

The ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience) was signed on Dec. 19, 2014. This qualifies an individual with special needs to have assets over $2,000 in an account and not disqualify him/her for Medicaid Based benefits and SSI. Learn the specifics of this legislation at this workshop. In addition, information regarding federal and state benefits will be shared.

As a social worker, an attorney, and the parent of a daughter with IDD, Theresa Varnet has been an advocate for persons with disabilities for over 40 years. She is a long time member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners, NAELA (chair of the Special Needs Law Section), and the local, state and national Arc (past President of the Arc of Massachusetts, Inc.) She contributes extensive work in the area of in-service training with families, special educators, social workers, attorneys and other professionals. She is a frequent speaker for national volunteer and professional groups such as ASNP, NAELA, The Arc, NAMI, NADS among others and presents numerous workshops and seminars on her special needs planning and advocacy.

C3 Powerpoint


C-4. Managing Stress throughout the Transition Process
Presented by: Robin Foley, BA, Seven Hills Foundation

Daily tasks, demands and challenges continually test a parent’s patience, problem-solving skills, and flexibility. Time to recharge and relax is often in short supply as the responsibilities of the transition process consume more of our energy. Come hear words of wisdom from a mom who has been through the process and has guided many other families.


C-5. Supporting Families and Students with Multiple Disabilities Through the Transition Process
Presented by: Lisa Fournier, M.Ed., South Coast Educational Collaborative

Lisa has guided families of students with multiple disabilities through the transition process for a number of years at the South Coast Educational Collaborative. Lisa is a skilled educator who is knowledgeable of best practices in helping students transition smoothly to the adult world.

C5 Powerpoint


C-6. The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative: Post-Secondary College Options
Presented by: Glenn Gabbard, Ed.D, Executive Office of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts   

Opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to attend college are increasing nationwide. Massachusetts’ Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment (ICEI) program has served over 700 students with intellectual disabilities, ages 18-22, since 2007. This state-funded initiative offers academic, career development and social learning opportunities in 14 public two- and four-year colleges across the Commonwealth. The session will provide an overview of the statewide initiative as well an opportunity to explore the Transition Scholars program at Roxbury Community College, offering perspectives from a student; a parent; the college coordinator; and a school district-sponsored educational coach.

C6 Powerpoint


C-7. Is It Time To Think About Housing?
Presented by: Barbara Jackins, Esq and Evelyn Hausslein, M.Ed

Where will your son or daughter be living when their education ends at age 22? What about age 25 or 30? Now, while they are still in school, is the time to lay the groundwork for them to move out of your home. We will offer tips, strategies, and practical information to get you and your child ready. What programs and services exist? What do they cost? Who pays for them? We will cover residential assessments, DDS-funded services, prioritization within DDS, and residential options outside the DDS system.

C7 Powerpoint


C-8. Transition from School to Adult Life: Using the IEP to Create Success.
Presented: Johanne Pino, Mass. Advocates for Children

This workshop will address the transition planning and services required for youth with disabilities ages 14-22. The training will focus on the transition special education services which prepare youth for employment, independent living and further education and will discuss mechanisms to plan for services students may require when they exit special education as well as transition to the adult human service system. Through the use of case examples, parents and professionals will learn strategies that may help students receive important transition services mandated by special education laws. Parents and professionals will also gain an understanding on Chapter 688, the federal law that helps plan for youth with disabilities after they leave school.

C8 Powerpoint


C-9. The IPAD and Technology Playground
Presented by TechACCESS of Rhode Island

The Playground is a hands-on environment where you can explore tons of exciting opportunities for learning, working, living, and just plain enjoying. IPADS will be available with applications on daily living supports, augmentative communication, reading, writing, blind/low vision access, therapy supports, and much more! AT specialists from TechACCESS of RI will be on hand in the Playground throughout the day to answer your questions. We will also have a variety of other assistive technologies (from low tech to high tech) for you to explore.



Conference Supporters and Sponsors

The Arc of Massachusetts
Advocates for Autism in Massachusetts (AFAM)
Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN)
Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC)
Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC)
Mass Rehabilitation Commission (MRC)
Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC)
Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE)
Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC)
Northeast Arc
Brockton Area Arc
Horace Mann Educational Associates (HMEA)
Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
Seven Hills Foundation
Whole foods
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Berkshire County Arc

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