Category Archives: General

Fall 2018 Presentations

**Live Webinar

Creating Authentic Inclusion for Students with Disabilities                                                         with Inclusion Expert & Author: Cheryl M. Jorgensen Ph.D.*

Monday, October 22, 11:30 AM
Darien Library Community Room

Students’ academic achievement, communication skills, social relationships and post-school outcomes are positively correlated to the amount of time spent in a general education classroom. Dr. Jorgensen will explain how to use instructional adaptations and technology to promote students’ active participation in general education instruction in the inclusive classroom including co-taught classes.

She’ll show examples of students in elementary, middle, and high school – all of whom have complex support needs such as intellectual disabilities, ADHD, autism, and multiple disabilities. Q&A session will follow presentation.

Assistive Technology for Reading and Writing

Thursday, November 1st, 12-2 PM
Darien Library Community Room
RSVP: (please put AT in subject)

Darien SEPAC and Darien Library are pleased to present Assistive Technology for Reading and Writing, by NEAT assistive technology specialist, Jamie Martin.  Topics will include:

  • IDEA 2004 / Mandate for IEP teams to consider AT
  • The difference between an AT consultation and an AT evaluation
  • Understanding the low to high tech continuum of AT
  • Demonstrations of specific AT tools for reading and writing

About Jamie Martin

Jamie Martin is an AT Specialist at the New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) Center in Hartford, CT. As a member of the NEAT team, he conducts consultations, evaluations, trainings, and workshops. Previously, he was an independent AT consultant, specializing in finding tech solutions for students and adults with dyslexia. He regularly gives presentations at educational conferences, including ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association) and IDA (International Dyslexia Association). In addition, he is an expert consultant for, a leading website for learning and attention issues.

About NEAT

The New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) Center was developed after Oak Hill, our parent organization, conducted a study to determine the unmet needs of people with disabilities in Connecticut. The overwhelming response was access to assistive technology – how to find it, try it out and purchase it cost-effectively. A pilot program was launched in 1999 to determine the feasibility of the program. Over the next three years, over 6,000 people with disabilities, their families and the professionals who work with them let us know we were most definitely meeting a need. Since NEAT was finally established in 2002, we have been serving tens of thousands of people every year through our Equipment Restoration Center (ERC), resource center, lending library, and assistive technology workshops for the entire community of disability professionals and caregivers, including educators, clinicians, therapists, healthcare professionals, disability advocates, employers and business owners.

Finding the Right Colleges for Students with Learning Differences with Dr. Michelle Berg

New date! Thursday, November 15th, 7:30 PM, Darien Library Community Room

Parents and students: Please join educational advising and placement expert Dr. Michelle Berg, who will discuss what makes a college the ‘right fit’ for a student. Discussion will include full consideration of the academic, social and emotional realms of a student’s life. Dr. Berg will also address some of the essential skills students need when transitioning to college including how to manage anxiety during the application process and beyond. Dr. Berg specializes in working with students who have learning differences.



Your Special Education Rights: What You Need to Know to Advocate for Your Child

Wednesday, May 9th  ,  7: 15 pm

Darien Library Community Room

Please RSVP:

Attorney Jennifer Laviano and special education advocate Julie Swanson will demystify the federal laws that govern the rights of children with disabilities and give you the information you need to help your child succeed in school and beyond. Topics will include: How to craft language in documents…criteria for independent evaluations…and deciphering IEP language. Plus, how the recent Supreme Court decision on Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District affects your child’s educational program.

 Jennifer Laviano and Julie Swanson are co-authors of the new book, Your Special Education Rights. If you would like to purchase a copy and have it signed the night of the event, please click on the link below. Books will not be sold at the event.   Click Here

Important note from the presenters/authors: 

“Our sincere hope is that our candid account does not alienate educators and administrators, but rather raises awareness of how difficult it can be to navigate the special education system.  Our goal is empowerment of parents so that they can work shoulder to shoulder with their school districts on behalf of their child, rather than against them.”

Jennifer Laviano is a special education attorney in private practice in Connecticut. Her firm’s representation of children with special needs encompasses the full spectrum of advocacy under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504, from attendance at IEP team meetings and mediation to litigation in due process hearings and federal court. She is a regular presenter about the special legal rights of children with disabilities and their entitlement to receive a free and appropriate education and to be free from disability-based discrimination.

Julie Swanson is a Connecticut special education advocate whose practice grew out of her efforts to help her son. As an advocate, she helps parents navigate the special education process, including attending IEP and Section 504 meetings. She speaks frequently on special education matters and has a long-standing history of service on special education-related state boards, task forces, and legislative appointments to state councils.

This event is co-sponsored by Darien SEPAC and Darien Library.

Colleges with Support Services Panel

Monday, April 2nd
7:15 PM
Darien Library Community Room
Please RSVP to

Students with IEPs/504s and parents are invited to attend a panel discussion, which will include representatives from colleges offering support services. The panel will share details about available academic, social and living supports. Paul Ribeiro, Director of Guidance, Darien High School, will moderate. Darien SEPAC, DHSPA, Darien Public Schools and Darien Library are sponsoring this evening program. Panelists will include:

College Steps at Norwalk Community College
Tim Pearson
Program Coordinator

Hofstra University
Julie Yindra
Director, Student Access Service

Iona College
Amanda Marino
Assistant Director, College Assistance Program

Landmark College
Max McAuley
Assistant Director of Admissions

Marist College
Susan Jenkins
Learning Specialist/Interim Assistant Director
Krista Ackert
Learning Specialist/Assistant Director
Office of Accommodations and Accessibility

Understanding Support Services at Middlesex Middle School

November 16, 9:30am to 10:30am, MMS Library Media Center


A panel of educators and administrators will:
• provide an overview of SRBI, 504 and special education services
• outline roles and responsibilities of school team and administrators
• explain assessment tools, including AIMSWEB
• describe social/emotional student support
 MMS SRBI Specialists: Michelle Pagliaro and Dan Kensek
MMS School Psychologist: Laurel Crowther
MMS School Counselor: Marc Power
MMS Special Education Department Chair: Mary Scalise
MMS Teachers: Lindsay Wrinn and Deb Westerback
MMS Administrators: Shelley Somers (principal), Andrew Byrne and Garan Mullin (assistant principals)
Program Director for Special Education, Secondary Level: Scott McCarthy
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction: Susie Da Silva
Co-sponsored by MPA, DPS and SEPAC

Understanding ADHD: Best Practices

Thursday, October 26th, from 9:30-11 AM
Please RSVP:

On Thursday, October 26th, from 9:30-11 AM, David Anderson, PhD, senior director of the ADHD and Behavior Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute, will present Understanding ADHD: Best Practices, in the Darien Library Community Room.

Dr. Anderson will outline the signs, symptoms and diagnosis of ADHD. He will address effective behavior strategies at home, plus how to incorporate skill-building and support at school.

Dr. Anderson specializes in evaluating and treating children and adolescents with ADHD and behavior disorders, and he also has broad experience with anxiety and mood disorders. His expertise includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), behavioral parent training, school-based consultation and classroom behavioral support.

The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders.

Darien Library, Darien SEPAC and Darien Public Schools are pleased to co-sponsor this program.

DORS Level-Up Program

Wednesday, October 11, 9:30-11 am
DHS, Room  A106

Leah Pavone from the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) will discuss their services, including the Level Up program for the 16 – 21 year old population. DORS Level Up provides students with the tools, training and resources to work competitively and forge a path to independence. Through this program students who have an IEP or 504 plan can receive vocational services, which may be made available in the school setting, outside of school hours or in the summer months.
This program is sponsored by DHSPA, Darien SEPAC and DPS. 


RSVP today!


An Introduction to the Department of Developmental Services
(DDS) and the Department of Rehabilitation Services
Wednesday, September 27th, 7:15 PM, DHS, Room A 206
Please RSVP:

Darien SEPAC, DHSPA and Darien Public Schools are pleased to sponsor a presentation of the services available for students with disabilities in Connecticut.

Brian Smith, DDS Assistant Regional Director, will provide an overview of DDS programs and services that may be available to your child now, and as they transition to adult life. He will review state and federal benefit programs, Connecticut’s Autism Waiver programs and guardianship.

Leah Pavone from the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) will discuss their services, including the Level Up program for the 16 -21 year old population.

DORS Level Up provides students with the tools, training and resources to work competitively and forge a path to independence. Through this program, students who have an IEP, or 504 plan, can receive vocational services which may be made available in the school setting, outside of school hours or in the summer months.

Links to eligibility criteria are available below.|