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Through the eyes of a parent: Looking at a child with exceptional needs

Teachers see students during school hours. Doctors, therapists and other professionals in the health system meet with families on a periodic basis. But, parents have responsibility for children with exceptional needs every day, 24 hours a day. That responsibility can be gruelling. Kathryn Burke has written about advocating for a child with exceptional needs in her bestselling book, An Accidental Advocate. As a speaker, she draws upon the stories in her book, presenting from the often over looked perspective of the parent doing the best they can for their special needs child. As a former hospital executive and consultant, she speaks with authority about dealing with the highs and lows of interacting with often overburdened education and health systems. She highlights the importance of “the angels” who make a difference, and how teachers and health providers can positively support parents of children with exceptional needs.

Preventing conflict in special education: Boxing gloves not needed

Special education is one of the most conflict ridden areas of the education system. The sources of conflict are varied, but normally relate to struggles to ensure a child receives the services he or she may need, the way in which those services are provided and communication amongst all parties. Conflict can negatively impact education outcomes. Ideally, it is vital for parents, teachers, assistants, school administrators, and the consultants who work in the education system to be united in supporting exceptional learners. It is important that they understand and respect each other. Drawing upon principles of interest based negotiation, Kathryn provides practical and easy to adopt strategies which teachers and parents can use to prevent conflict, maintain effective working relationships and focus on their common interests– to do what is best for the student with exceptional learning needs.

Kinder and Gentler Advocacy

Advocates of all kind live a positive and negative duality — they want to change what they believe to be negative to something more positive. But they live with an occupational hazard, and that is getting sucked into a negative mindset which focuses on deficits and problems. In this presentation, Kathryn Burke challenges advocates of all kind to guard against going over to the “dark side!” She speaks about the importance of modelling advocacy that is strength or asset based, and demonstrating tolerance and kindness.

The ABCs of Learning Disabilities: A misunderstood disability.

Affecting one out of every ten people, it is the most common of all disabilities. It is also one of the most misunderstood. In this presentation, Kathryn Burke reviews of the ABC’s of learning disabilities. She outlines how learning disabilities do not just affect education, but impact health, mental health, justice, social services, and the economy. This knowledge is critical for politicians, industry leaders and practitioners in all those fields.