Featured Speaker

Dr. Robert Brooks

Robert B. Brooks, PhD

Dr. Robert Brooks is one of today’s leading speakers and authors on the themes of resiliency, motivation, school and work climate, and promoting positive family relationships. During the past 35 years, he has presented both nationally and internationally to thousands of parents, educators, and mental health and business professionals. Dr. Brooks is renowned for the warmth and humor he brings to everyday challenges in the classroom and beyond. His perspective is rooted in a strength-based therapeutic approach that relies on identifying and reinforcing “islands of competence.” In addition, Dr. Brooks focuses on the benefits of expressing gratitude and appreciation. His ultimate goal is to help children and adults adopt a more resilient, optimistic, and productive mindset and lifestyle.

Dr. Brooks is the author or co-author of 17 books, including: Raising Resilient Children; Raising a Self-Disciplined Child; Handbook of Resilience in Children; Understanding and Managing Children’s Classroom Behavior: Creating Sustainable, Resilient Classrooms; and The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.

Dr. Robert Brooks received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Clark University in Massachusetts. He is presently on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and also has a private practice where he works with children, adolescents, adults, and families with special learning and emotional needs. Dr. Brooks has received numerous awards throughout his career, including most recently, the 2018 Mental Health Humanitarian Award from William James College in Newton, MA for his work as a clinician, educator, and author. In 1997, Dr. Brooks completed a videotape and educational guide for PBS entitled “Look What You’ve Done! Stories of Hope and Resilience.” This program focused on the impact of resiliency in children with special needs and their everyday courage. Dr. Brooks continues in his work to stress the importance of discovering each child and adult’s “islands of competence” and to foster new skills by building upon those foundational strengths.

2019 Speakers

Friday Afternoon Breakout Sessions

The Susan Fogelson Ethics Panel

Facilitated by Judith Brennan, MEd, BCET

Educational therapists periodically encounter practice dilemmas that must be handled ethically and effectively. Have you ever struggled to resolve a disagreement with a parent, teacher, or allied professional? Do you find it difficult to manage boundaries when faced with a parent who demands excessive time and drains your emotional energy? What useful information might you learn by analyzing your feelings about that parent? Who can you consult for advice and support? Business practices can also present ethical dilemmas. Is it difficult for you to set fees or discuss fee collection with clients? How do you represent yourself professionally on your business cards, website, or brochures?

A panel of Board Certified Educational Therapists moderated by Judith Brennan will discuss ethical issues that often arise in the practice of educational therapy. The panel will offer anecdotes from private practice and settings such as schools, clinics and learning centers. The presentation will include ample time for questions and discussion of specific case examples from the audience.

Participants will be able to: generate solutions when there are disagreements between educational therapists and other professionals or parents; decide when professional consultation is needed in order to understand and maintain boundaries that promote healthy relationships with difficult parents; and identify areas of business practice that often present us with practical and/or ethical dilemmas.

Judith Brennan practices educational therapy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A former elementary school teacher, she has had a private ET practice for over 20 years, working with students from Kindergarten through high school. She founded and leads an AET Study Group in Ann Arbor. She has been a member of AET’s Board of Directors in various capacities and is currently the association’s Immediate Past President.



Installing a Growth Mindset for College Success: A Unique Approach

Richard Bryck, PhD and Manju Banerjee, PhD

A growth mindset is an important component of college readiness. The belief that, with experience and effort, students can cultivate knowledge, skills, and abilities is necessary for postsecondary success. Learn simple, low-cost tools you can use to help your students develop a growth mindset. Efficacy data from a mindset intervention study with high school students with learning challenges will also be presented.

Participants will be able to: describe the connection between growth mindset and college readiness; apply relevant, and easy to use, strategies for promoting a growth mindset in a variety of settings; and explain ways to implement these strategies with nuerodivergent students.

Richard Bryck is the Dean of Educational Research and Innovation at Landmark College. His work focuses on understanding executive function (EF), primarily the efficacy of interventions and strategies for supporting EF in students. He is a program evaluator on a STEM mentoring project and regularly teaches an online course for educators entitled Student Engagement, Self-Regulation, and Motivation.

Manju Banerjee is Vice President of Educational Research and Innovation at Landmark College, VT. She received her doctoral degree from the Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut, on the application of universal design to high stakes assessment. She has over 30 years of experience in the field of LD, ADHD, and postsecondary disabilities. She is a certified LD diagnostician and researcher with multiple NSF and DOE grants to her credit. She has presented at multiple national and international forums.

Math, Motivation and Mindset

Nancy Knop, PhD, ET/P

Educational Therapists can help students match mindset to brain development for math despite challenging and often confusing math curricula. This workshop will increase participants’ understanding of what elementary and secondary students need to successfully learn math. Strategies to help them will be provided, including informal assessments and resource and reference lists, while also helping educational therapists develop their own strengths in supporting their students in math.

Participants will be able to: describe the cognitive differences between language and math learning; analyze school math curricula relative to client profiles to maximize student support; acquire strategies, resources, and references for math educational therapy; and recognize their own strengths for helping clients meet math challenges.

Nancy Knop, a former middle and high school science teacher, is now an educational therapist working with students in reading, writing, math and organizational skills. She is an experienced speaker to local groups of students, teachers, and parents as well as to professionals at the state and national level. The cognitive science and neuroscience of learning, especially math learning, are topics she shares with a focus on useful knowledge and practical application.

Combining Vygotsky's Ideas and Brain Research to Improve Students' Executive Functions

Ann Gordon, PhD, BCET

There are many books, classes, and workshops available to parents and professionals on strategies intended for use with students identified as having deficits in executive functions, but few of these resources address helping students internalize, or make their own such strategies. As a result, many students may achieve success in school, and yet never actually achieve real autonomy. Vygotsky’s ideas in combination with recent findings in neuroscience offer new hope for these students.

Participants will be able to: describe deficits in executive functions; differentiate between compensating for deficits in EF and improving executive functioning; explain Vygotsky's notion of “Zones of Proximal Development”; demonstrate knowledge about recent neuroscientific discoveries concerning the role of experience in brain development; and identify approaches for parents and professionals to improve EF.

Ann Gordon, a psychotherapist in private practice with offices in Oakland and San Rafael, California, has spent more than 40 years working with children, adults, and families in educational, research, and clinical environments. In Chicago in the 1980s, she founded Educational Services Associates, a group practice in educational therapy. Ann relocated to California in the 1990s, where she conducted classroom-based research, became licensed as a clinical psychologist, and opened her private practice.

Using Technology to Bridge the Gap for Struggling Readers and Writers

Kati McIlroy, OTR/L/ATS

Reading is fundamental to learning, yet many students can’t fully access their grade-level text because they read below grade level due to a reading disability and/or language barrier. Through technologies such as dynamic text leveling, read aloud, reading guides, study tools, annotation, distraction-reducing reading tools, and translation tools, students often get enough support to independently access their curriculum materials. These features are now available to students through Google Chrome and Google Classroom. Participants will be introduced to tools that make learning accessible to all students following the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to address reading and writing needs stemming from a variety of learning challenges.

Participants will be able to: describe how Google for Education is changing accessibility; implement Google learning tools to give all students access to the curriculum; and utilize student-safe data reporting that provides both usage and qualitative data.

Katie McIlroy, an Assistive Technology Specialist and an Occupational Therapist, has worked in school districts for over 15 years in Southern California. She currently works with Don Johnston Incorporated as an educational support specialist. She collaborates with district professionals, educators, and therapists to integrate technologies that help students access curriculum and spread the word about how UDL opens the world to students and creates lifelong learners.

Can We Take Care of Others if We Don’t Take Care of Ourselves?

Robert B. Brooks, PhD

It is not unusual for professionals in education, mental health, and other health-care professions to experience feelings of stress, disillusionment, and even burnout. In recent years the notion of “compassion fatigue” has received increased attention. In this presentation Dr. Brooks will describe a framework and strategies for developing a “stress hardy” mindset and behaviors for promoting our own emotional and physical well-being so that we are better prepared and equipped for meeting the challenges of our work.

Participants will be able to: describe a framework for increasing stress hardiness in ourselves that includes the components of commitment, challenge, and personal control; explain TLC’s (therapeutic lifestyle changes) that we can adopt to deal more effectively with stress and pressure; and discuss the ways in which our attitudes shape whether challenging events are experienced as debilitating or as opportunities for growth.

Dr. Robert Brooks received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Clark University in Massachusetts. He is presently on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has a private practice working with children, adolescents, adults, and families with special learning and emotional needs. He speaks and writes on the themes of resiliency, motivation, school and work climate, and promoting positive family relationships and has presented both nationally and internationally to thousands of parents, educators, and mental health and business professionals. He is the author or co-author of 17 books including: Raising Resilient Children.

Promoting Motivation and Positive Mindsets: The Educational Therapist’s Role

Daniel Franklin, MEd, PhD, BCET

Educational therapists are uniquely suited to promote motivation and a positive mindset in students who have histories of academic failure. This presentation will describe how strong, healthy, interpersonal relationships can motivate all students and how relationships enhance social and emotional development. The latest neuroscience related to motivation and positive mindsets will be offered, and easy-to-use, evidence-based instructional strategies will be provided.

Participants will be able to: describe the mechanisms whereby trauma and shame inhibit social, emotional, and learning development; apply principles of positive collaboration, empathy, and kindness to enhance learning outcomes; and describe evidence-based instructional strategies to promote motivation and positive mindsets.

Daniel Franklin is author of Helping Your Child with Language-Based Learning Disabilities (New Harbinger Publications, 2018) and co-editor of The Los Angeles Psychologist. He has an MA from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a PhD in education from UCLA. Daniel has over 30 years of experience in education as a teacher, administrator, and educational therapist. He is the founder and president of Los Angeles-based Franklin Educational Services.


Saturday Morning Breakout Sessions

The Role of Analytic Reading in an Age of Change

Ann Kaganoff, PhD, BCET, FAET

Analytic reading is an approach to reading instruction in the educational therapy context that is closely linked to principles of executive function. Building upon a constructivist definition of reading, students learn the steps of “deep reading.” With a focus on model passages from sources of expository writing, students are shown how to recognize the common text organization patterns by which writers organize their material. The emphasis is on not only the WHAT of the content, but also the HOW.

Participants will be able to: explain the importance of deep reading to students who are increasingly immersed in digital mediums; provide expanded reading experiences through the use of in-depth analysis— labeling the cognitive operations involved, giving informative feedback, and applying lessons learned to more difficult materials; apply specific guidelines for how to select high quality reading materials that lend themselves to in-depth analysis and expose students to the best of written language; and describe the assumptions we make in our work with students about WHAT, HOW, and WHY we read.

Ann Kaganoff has been in education for over six decades, on the faculty of UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine in clinical practice and teacher training and in private practice as an educational therapist. She has presented workshops for educational therapists, regular education teachers, and special education teachers in reading assessment, reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking. A Past President of AET and former Chair of the Certification Board, Ann is the author of Best Practices in Educational Therapy (Routledge, 2019).

Engaging, Motivating and Empowering Adolescents: Shifting Our Mindsets

Barbara Hoskins, PhD, ET/P

The focus of this seminar will be to strengthen participants’ strategies to engage, motivate and empower adolescents. Specific frameworks will be shared to uncover motivation, deal with resistance, and facilitate the therapeutic process. We will explore ways to gain the trust of adolescents during the intake and assessment process, how to develop differentiated learning profiles and how to advocate for students so that they experience increased success with their parents and schools.

Participants will be able to: identify motivation in adolescents who appear to be unmotivated; use a framework to break through resistance in clients or their parents; develop an approach to make assessment a therapeutic process, use Differentiated Learning Profiles to plan for their clients; and empower clients to use strategies based on their strengths.

Barbara Hoskins is an educational consultant who works with students who are experiencing challenges in the learning process. She is a nationally recognized speaker who conducts workshops for educators across the United States and Canada. She has published in the areas of speech and language, learning disabilities, collaborative consultation, organizational change, and inclusion, and is the author of Developing Inclusive Schools: A Guide, and Framework for Conversations.

Mindset and Efficacy: Fostering Students' Academic Beliefs that Shape Thinking and Learning

Kristin Barbour, EdD, CCC-SLP

Neuroscience indicates that personal beliefs, learning, and achievement are intertwined. Educators play a key role in fostering students’ beliefs that shape thinking and learning. The workshop content will explore two key beliefs—growth mindset and self-efficacy—and the supports and barriers that affect these beliefs. Workshop activities will teach educators how to incorporate growth mindset instructional practices in their work to enhance their students’ ability to achieve academic success and success beyond school.

Participants will be able to: describe how growth mindset and self-efficacy beliefs affect students’ learning goals, effort, and academic achievement; identify the educator supports and barriers for developing students’ growth mindset and self-efficacy belief; and implement five research-based specific growth mindset instructional practices during academic instruction or support for all learners.

Kristin Barbour is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Learning Development, a non-profit educator training organization. Kristin completed her EdD at Johns Hopkins University in the Mind, Brain, and Teaching specialization. Her dissertation focused on developing educational therapists’ knowledge, efficacy beliefs, and instructional practices related to developing a growth mindset in students with learning disabilities. Kristin provides educational workshops on research-based instructional practices to develop students’ thinking and learning abilities.

Brain-based Strategies that Engage Anxious Students: Building Academic Resilience

Debra Hori, MA, ET/P

Using case study examples, this presentation will explore an intervention program that incorporates relationship-centered, brain-based techniques that increase a student's self-regulation and confidence. This approach offers an alternative to behavior-based interventions. These techniques are guided by Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB), a relationship-based, neuro-biological framework, and draw on the work of Dr. Connie Lilas in collaboration with educational therapists at The Center for Connection, a multi-disciplinary IPNB practice in Pasadena, CA, founded by Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.

Participants will be able to: describe bottom up, brain-based techniques for self- regulation; identify the elements of a relational, brain-based approach and a traditional behavioral approach; and explain terms/techniques of "co-regulation," "self- regulation," and "academic titration."

Debra Hori is an educational therapist, part of an interdisciplinary team at The Center for Connection, serving children, families, and adults using an Interpersonal Neurobiology focus. She also has a private practice and is certified as a Martha Beck Life Coach. She has more than 20 years of experience teaching individuals with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and those who are twice exceptional (2e: gifted and learning disabled).


Saturday Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Play-Full Approaches to ADHD Challenges in Children

Diana Kennedy, MA, BCET and Holly Seerley, MA, MFT

Jean Piaget famously said, “Play is the work of childhood.” All children are wired to learn through play, but for those with ADHD, play offers a particularly powerful way to address their neurological challenges, process their complex experiences and explore and accept their unique identities. Techniques to integrate play into the academic, social, and emotional work our students must do to learn, grow, and heal will be shared.

Participants will be able to: explain why play is a powerful tool for building executive functioning skills and addressing other symptoms of ADHD; describe how play helps children process and integrate their often-confusing experiences and complex emotions; and strategically integrate play into their academic, social and emotional work with children.

Diana Kennedy is a Board Certified Educational Therapist in private practice in San Anselmo, California. Her teaching experience spans second grade through high school in rural, urban, and suburban settings and in public and private schools. She works with neurodiverse students, including those with learning disabilities and those who are gifted and talented and twice exceptional. Diana presents to professionals across the country and internationally. She leads the Marin County AET Study Group, has served on the AET Board of Directors, and writes a blog about education at www.MindSparkLearning.com.

Holly Seerley is a licensed California Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in youth and adults with ADHD. She has served on the CHADD and Star Academy boards, volunteered for CHADD since 1999, and led the CHADD parent support group for 15 years. Holly has spoken to numerous groups on ADHD, including LDA, local AET and CHADD groups, and schools.

Which Comes First? The Conundrum of Working with Students with LD and ESL Challenges

Maralyn Soifer, MA, MEd, BCET

This presentation will address educational therapy practices for students with both learning disabilities and English as a second language. The mindset has been to remediate these challenges separately, but best practices are to blend the instruction. While this may sound like a formidable task, this presentation will examine ways to merge instructional strategies for educational therapists to successfully remediate and motivate students who have learning disabilities and English as a second language.

Participants will be able to: identify specific terms used to describe ESL learners; describe strategies to instruct students with both ESL and learning disabilities; and organize and plan for instruction that meets the needs of ESL learners and students with learning disabilities.

Maralyn Soifer is a Board Certified Educational Therapist in private practice in Los Angeles. She has experience in public and independent schools in New York, Texas, and California, teaching special education classes, mentoring teachers, and working as an assistant principal. She holds an MS in special education and an MA in administration and policy studies. She is currently a Director on the AET Board and Chair of the Certification Board.

Tackling Difficult Challenges: Risk, Resiliency and Learned Helplessness

Dorothy Ungerleider, MA, BCET, FAET and Marion Marshall, MS, BCET, FAET

Risk factors, resilience, and learned helplessness are conditions often manifested in those with learning disabilities and other learning challenges. The task for clinicians is to understand the nature and source of the behaviors and to determine the most effective interventions. Resiliency and learned helplessness are processes rather than an innate state. Dorothy and Marion will discuss the research that has identified the strongest protective factors against the stressors leading to learned helplessness. They will share cases, techniques, and strategies from their many years of practice.

Participants will be able to: identify the indicators of learned helplessness; discuss the challenges of reversing that self-concept; state the strongest “protective factors” for those with learning differences; and apply techniques and strategies for addressing these challenges with students.

Dorothy Ungerleider is the founding president of AET and author of three books: Reading, Writing, and Rage, Educational Therapy in Action, and Psychological Perspectives. She has mentored public school teachers in the Schools Attuned program, provided workshops for juvenile court judges to evaluate adjudicated youth, and developed a remedial program for delinquent youth. Dorothy currently works with adult clients through the public library literacy program.

Marion Marshall is a Board Certified Educational Therapist, emeritus Professor of Holy Names University (HNU) in Oakland, CA, and former Director of the HNU Educational Therapy Program. Her multiple prestigious education awards include: Teacher of the Year, Resource Specialist for the State of California, a Fellow of the Association of Educational Therapy, awarded for making “an extraordinary contribution to the field of Educational Therapy” and recently, the Outstanding Faculty Award from HNU.

Words with Spelling Connections Have Meaning Connections: Phonology + Phonics + Morphology + Etymology = Orthography

Nancy Cushen White, EdD, CALT, LDT

Analysis of word structure, including morphology, supports learning to read, spell, and comprehend. Words with spelling connections have meaning connections. Related words are activated in memory when they have meaningful connections and share structural elements at the morpheme level, especially when spelling reveals the connections (define → definition; science → conscience). Explicit instruction in orthography (spelling) that integrates phonology, phonics, morphology, and etymology is also effective for teaching word identification, vocabulary, content knowledge, and reading comprehension.

Participants will be able to: distinguish between and give examples of roots, stems, and base elements; apply knowledge of English morphology to identify and spell unfamiliar words; and use morphophonemics to determine the spelling of the elusive schwa phoneme in multi-syllable words.

Nancy Cushen White is a Clinical Professor in Pediatrics at UCSF. She has taught in general/special education classrooms, provided psycho-educational assessment and literacy intervention, trained pre-/in-service teachers, developed curricula, and been involved in policy. She has received numerous awards, including UC Berkeley Extension 2002 Honored Instructor and International Dyslexia Association 2007 Rawson Lifetime Achievement. She continues to publish, present workshops, and serve on numerous advisory boards.

Come to Life! Preparing Youth with Autism & Learning Differences for Transition

Thomas Iland, BS

Extensive studies have shown that post-secondary outcomes for youth with learning differences, autism in particular, are dire, at best. Many individuals with autism, before and after becoming adults, struggle with Love & Relationships, Independent Living, Further Education, and/or Employment (LIFE). Furthermore, many individuals with autism are disconnected from and even disinterested in what can be done to improve their future and are waiting for life to come to them. The purpose of this presentation is to explain to all, “It’s up to YOU to come to life!”

Participants will be able to: explain the benefits of person-centered planning as it pertains to transition; discuss the process of self-discovery and its significance in post-secondary outcomes; and identify practices that will empower students/clients with intellectual or developmental disabilities to live a life of productivity and purpose.

Thomas Iland is an advocate for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurological or developmental differences. He was diagnosed with ASD at age 13 and has worked hard to achieve many of his goals, including going to college and obtaining full-time employment. After working as a Certified Public Accountant, Thomas decided to pursue his real dream: a full-time professional career talking and teaching about autism. His goal is to present his unique insights about the autism journey with heart, humor and optimism.

Our Clients’ Family Systems: Understanding Our Responses and Reactions

Ann Gordon, PhD, BCET

We do not work in a vacuum with our clients. Instead, the quality of our work is as much related to our reactions to the family of the client as it is to our reactions to the clients themselves. The therapist has a reaction to a parent or guardian, our response to that person in turn affects their interactions with the child, and so on. If we are attuned to what is going on interpersonally, we can be more deliberate about making the best possible choices for our client. This session will explore the ways in which our reactions to clients’ families impinge on our work and ways to deal more effectively with those reactions.

Participants will be able to: identify their own emotional reactions to a client’s family; explain how and why automatic/reflexive emotional reactions to others occur; describe the ways their reactions to family systems affect their work with clients; use their emotional reactions as sources of information for their work with clients and families; and effectively manage frustrations in their relationship with family systems.

Ann Gordon, a psychotherapist in private practice with offices in Oakland and San Rafael, California, has spent more than 40 years working with children, adults, and families in educational, research, and clinical environments. In Chicago in the 1980s, she founded Educational Services Associates, a group practice in educational therapy. Ann relocated to California in the 1990s, where she conducted classroom-based research, became licensed as a clinical psychologist, and opened her private practice.

Kimochis: Creating Connected, Compassionate and Caring Kids

Ellen Pritchard Dodge, MEd, CCC-SLP

Kimochis: KEY.MO.CHEEZ means “feelings” in Japanese. This highly engaging workshop is designed to outline a tangible, effective, and easy to implement social-emotional (SEL) tool called Kimochis, to create emotionally strong, resilient and compassionate kids. The connection between feelings and behavior and how temperament influences social habits will be outlined for clinical implications. The Kimochis Keys to Communication will be highlighted as a positive tool to replace challenging behavior and support both academic and social success.

Participants will be able to: describe the 5 Kimochis Keys to Communication and articulate how these 5 communication tools clinically relate to social and academic behavior; illustrate how feelings fuel behavior and how to teach a positive behavior to replace a challenging behavior; explain a powerful way to collaborate with educators and/or families to create intervention that promotes social-emotional development in all children; and create a plan to easily integrate the tools in this presentation into everyday practice.

Ellen Dodge is a leader in character education and communication skills in the classroom. She has published numerous books and articles in the area of social emotional learning. Ellen has taught in public schools in Northern California where her communication curriculum won a National Character Education award. Since 2008, she has been the educational director and curriculum author for Kimochis®. Ellen served on Parenting Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board in 2013 and was awarded Honors by the California Speech Language and Hearing Association in 2017.

Sunday Morning Workshop

Making the Invisible Visible: A Neuropsychological Process Approach to Educational Therapy

Charles A. Ahern, PhD

We have all observed that students may complete the same tasks in the same fashion with divergent results. One student may learn the material deeply, while another learns it in at best a cursory manner. The dilemma for the Educational Therapist is that the neuropsychological processes that determine the difference in outcomes are not readily apparent. I will present a framework in which careful observation and ongoing dialogue with the student,--based on an understanding of these fundamental principles of learning—to make these invisible processes visible.