Transitions 2017: Empowering independent learning

High School to University: options for students with learning differences

Transitions conference

Empowering independent learning

Now in its eighth year, Transitions—held on the campus of Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida—is an annual, one-day conference that convenes top experts who specialize in helping university-bound students with learning differences smoothly transition from high school to higher education. Education professionals, psychologists, counselors, parents and university-bound students will have the opportunity to sit in on presentations that will provide interactive, engaging and informative information with various and productive ways to ensure a successful transition.

A general session keynote address and 18 concurrent breakout sessions with topics on ADHD/ADD, anxiety, academic coaching, executive functioning, autism spectrum disorders, college selection, ADA and other learning differences will have attendees walking away feeling inspired, energized and empowered.

Student Experience

So I’m in college…now what? A day in the life of a college freshman
University-bound students will learn firsthand what they can expect their first year in college. Brief breakout sessions will include transition topics such as housing, advising, learning strategies, etc. Students experience lunch in the dining commons, tour the campus and see a dorm room.

Early-bird registration (extended to Dec. 9)

Purchase your event passes before Dec. 9, 2016, and save $10 per person. Online ticket sales end Jan. 24. Please call + 1 561-237-7705 to purchase tickets after this date. 

  • Early-bird: $50 each
  • Regular registration price: $60 each
  • University-bound students accompanied by an adult: Free
  • Groups of 3 or more: $50 each

Transitions newsletter

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This year’s esteemed lineup of presenters include

Keynote presenter: Ruth Herman Wells, M.S.

Author, speaker and workshop instructor Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. is the director and founder of the Youth Change Professional Development Workshop and is the author of dozens of books, videos and articles on helping challenged students to succeed in school and life. For more than 25 years, Wells and Youth Change Workshops have been among the nation’s leaders providing practical, ready-to-use strategies to help guide secondary students with learning challenges to achieve success in school, life and community. These powerful techniques give educational professionals, psychologists, counselors, parents, tutors, academic coaches and other educators more effective methods to better reach and teach students who have learning differences make a successful transition to college.

Wells is an adjunct professor for two universities, a featured columnist for SEEN Magazine, and her unusual classroom management posters have been heavily featured in the media and can be seen on many North American TV shows and movies including the two Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies.

Breakout session presenters



7:30 a.m. Registration/Continental Breakfast
8:15 a.m.


Lynn University President Kevin M. Ross

Shaun Exsteen, executive director, Institute for Achievement and Learning

8:30–9:45 a.m.

Keynote: Doing the impossible just takes a little bit longer
Presenter: Ruth Herman Wells, M.S.

Ruth Herman Wells, director of Youth Change, takes a look at the ups and downs of the important but challenging job of helping students with learning differences find and stay on the road to success. She takes a hard look at the victories and setbacks that a typical school year brings, and gives a new perspective on the impact they have on students when they are able to help smooth out the bumps in the road—and when the results are not what they had hoped. Incorporating stories and events from actual students and those charged with helping them, this keynote is very personal, sometimes funny and sometimes sad, but ultimately heart-warming and totally inspiring. Attendees will feel more hopeful, renewed and recommitted to giving their all in a job that may just be one of the most important jobs that exists.

10–11:15 a.m.
Breakout sessions I

ADD and ADHD problem-solvers
Presenter: Ruth Herman Wells, M.S.

Learn a surplus of unique, lively, more effective techniques to help students better manage attention deficit disorder and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity. This practical workshop is full of creative, unusual methods that can mine the assets of ADD and ADHD and memorable, easy-to-use, inventive strategies that students can use to better manage the specific deficits associated with ADD and ADHD. Ready-to-use methods will be given for issues like maintaining focus, coping with distractions, managing fidgeting, asking for help, organizing, studying, planning, hearing assignments, completing assignments and submitting assignments. If you work with students who see ADD or ADHD as nothing but a curse, come to this workshop and learn how to convey to them that ADD and ADHDis something that can also bring benefits.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn how external structure can help compensate for the lack of sufficient internal controls
  • Discover specific steps students can use to moderate impulsiveness and improve decision-making
  • Receive updated, new tools to convince students that ADD and ADHD do not have to be roadblocks on their journey to academic success

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, parents


College: Finding a good fit for students who learn differently
Presenters: Judith S. Bass, CEP; Rachel Sobel, Ph.D.

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the wide range of support available on college campuses today and will be presented with ways to evaluate the quality of that support. We will debunk the misconception that colleges with well-known "LD programs" are good for all students who learn differently and explain why the question, "Which colleges are best for students with LD?" is the wrong question to ask. Through small group case studies, participants will learn what to look for in a college to best meet the needs of students who learn differently, based on the specific academic, social, and emotional needs of each student. The presentation will conclude with a 15-minute question and answer period to address any issues not discussed or that need further clarification.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Recognize that many U.S. colleges and universities can support students who learn differently, depending on the specific needs of the student.
  • Examine the important distinctions between services and comprehensive programs on college campuses.
  • Understand the differences in accessing learning support between high school and college.
  • Evaluate the levels of support services at colleges and universities in the U.S.

Suggested audience: Professionals, guidance counselors, parents


Understanding shifting laws in college transition for students with disabilities
Presenter: Elizabeth C. Hamblet, M.S. Ed., M.A.T., LDT-C

When students transition to college, they encounter a disability services model that operates very differently from the one to which they were accustomed in high school. However, research shows that information about the differences is not covered in most special educators’ training, so many students transition to college without knowing what to expect, which can result in their not receiving accommodations or being unprepared to work without certain adjustments. This program discusses the legal foundations for how college disability services work. It provides a detailed comparison of the different mandates delineated in the laws governing disability services at the high school versus college level, and how these dictate what services colleges are and are not required to provide (and why not). It specifically looks at what the college-related laws say about adjustments such as course substitutions, tutoring, exams accommodations, and others.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Understand the differences in the purposes and goals of the prevailing disability laws in the K-12 environment vs. the high school environment
  • Understand how the differences in the purposes and goals of the laws affect the services available at the college level
  • Understand how the laws in place at college define which students are eligible for disability services there
  • Understand what four categories of accommodation colleges are not required to make for students with disabilities and learn specific examples to demonstrate these points

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents


Your Brain Tells the Story: Improving ADHD, Anxiety Through Neurofeedback
Presenter: Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D.

Nationally-recognized Neurologist Dr. Majid Fotuhi, MD, PhD, will present the basics of how your brain works and why when your brain is not working optimally, you can’t function at your best and may experience mental or behavioral health challenges, like ADHD/ADD, anxiety or depression, among others. It really is all about the brain. Dr. Fotuhi will review the latest scientific discoveries regarding the causes of inattention, stress and poor cognition and talk about how the brain can be changed and improved through an effective, long-lasting and drug-free solution called neurofeedback. Neurofeedback has been around for decades, but technological advancements have accessible to children and adults of all ages. Think of it as physical therapy for the brain. This presentation is ideal for students, faculty and parents alike, and all will walk away knowing there is a drug-free way to reduce—and even eliminate—ADHD, anxiety and depression symptoms through a stronger, more efficient brain.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Discover the power and wonder of the human brain. Learn how it functions and how, at any age, the brain can be trained to improve and grow.
  • Learn about the prevalence of brain-based conditions, such as ADD/ADHD, anxiety and depression. Explore how imbalances in the brain can cause these conditions, as well as how they can be treated.
  • Discover the research and efficacy behind neurofeedback — an empowering, noninvasive alternative to medication for treating mental and behavioral health concerns, such as anxiety, ADHD/ADD, depression and more.

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents


How executive functioning coaching prepares students and parents for college
Presenter: Melissa Knight, M.A., BCC, PCC

The building of executive function skills requires time, repetition and accountability. This presentation will help parents learn how to step away, how to allow their child to fail and how to empower rather than enable. Failure improves decision-making skills and empowers the student to try other avenues to become more successful. This seminar will identify which executive function skills adolescents should be developing from freshman through senior year in high school. A guide will be provided with the must have skills parents need to be teaching their children through high school and to assist parents in being actively engaged in this process. Different scenarios will allow participants to use problem-solving strategies in small group settings to be shared with other attendees.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Identify the Executive Functioning (EF) skill sets necessary for a successful transition from high school into college
  • Have a deeper understanding and awareness of the chronological development of EF skills throughout the high school years
  • Have strategies for working with parents of high school students in supporting them to empower not enable their young adults
  • Gain information regarding the value of executive function coaching

Suggested audience: Guidance counselors, parents


Teaching high school, college and career readiness skills
Presenter: Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed.

Why is it that so many of our students with various learning and socialization challenges are not being successful in transitioning from the high school world to the world of the college or university student? Of course, there is no one answer that “fits” all our students. Research supports that many of “our students” are not properly prepared to take on the world after high school. The prerequisite skills needed to ensure college and workplace readiness are not part of the required curriculum being taught in high school. In this presentation, Dr. Eric Nach will discuss some of the key issues of executive functioning dysfunction, college and career readiness, and life skills’ facing students with learning and socialization challenges as they transition to college. Parents, students, educators and other professionals will be provided with real-life solutions to inspire and empower “our students” and parents in this dramatic time of transitioning and beyond.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Identify challenges associated with executive function dysfunction in their transitioning student
  • Employ college readiness skills to empower their transitioning students
  • Determine which life skills deficits exist in their transitioning students and how to incorporate real-life solutions

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents

11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m.
Breakout sessions 2

The amazing power of motivation
Presenter: Ruth Herman Wells, M.S.

This workshop will shake up everything you know about motivating students with learning differences. You will walk out the door at the end of the hour with surprisingly inventive, compelling strategies that motivate, motivate, motivate. In addition, you will also discover the amazing power of motivation to change everything—how once a student is convinced of the incredible, lifelong benefits of a college degree, that motivation has the power to transform everything for the better. Without motivation, students can often believe that managing their learning challenges is hopeless, too difficult, overwhelming or impossible. Once more motivated and able to see that education is as important as the air they breathe, students can finally discover the amazing power they have to accomplish anything they can imagine. This workshop will deliver as many motivational and inspirational methods as can fit into a single hour that will pay off all year long.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn more effective, motivational methods that powerfully convey the incredible benefits that a college diploma delivers
  • Receive techniques for students who think they will be able to get by without a college degree

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents


Breaking bad technology habits*
Presenter: Pam Holifield

This hands-on session will educate those in attendance how to successfully use digital tools. Learn how to navigate the new technology for students with learning differences and the research behind how these tools can help learners of all ages. Examples: using the iPad/tablet as a reader, note taking, organizing/creating to-do lists, creating reminders/tasks and working in groups/collaboration tools.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Understand how digital tools makes an impact on student learning
  • Learn strategies to use digital tools effectively
  • Build relationships with others through 21st century technologies

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents

*This is a hands-on session. Attendees are encouraged to bring their iPad, laptop, etc.


ADA panel
Presenters: Elizabeth C. Hamblet, M.S. Ed., M.A.T., LDT-C; Mark S. Kamleiter, Esq.; Matthew Roche, ADA coordinator, Lynn University; Kimberley Spire-Oh, Esq.

The panel will consist of three attorneys and one learning consultant. Our experts will discuss the following topics:

  • How to develop a comprehensive plan for a successful transition to college and career
  • How professionals can facilitate a students’ role in developing their transitional plan
  • The key differences in high school and college legislation for students with learning disabilities
  • How to research college support programs
  • Understanding the admission process
  • Skills that are highly correlated with college academic success

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents


Applying to college with a learning disability: what to know
Presenter: Sherri Maxman

This session will provide families and professionals with the information and steps they need in order to research and select colleges for students with learning disabilities. The “Top Ten Things to Know About Applying to College with a Learning Disability” presentation includes information on test-optional schools, documentation, high school versus college, knowing what your LD is and what you need in order to be successful academically, disclosing a disability in a college application (or not), accommodations and academic support services, and self-advocacy. The handout with this “Top Ten” list, can be used as a road map for finding the right college and making sure a student has what s/he needs to succeed as s/he ‘transitions’ from high school to college.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn how to identify colleges that will suit a student’s needs
  • Learn how college differs from high school in terms of accommodations and support for LD students
  • Know what to do to set the LD student up for academic success in college

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents


Career Readiness Starts NOW: Key Strategies to Follow During College
Presenter: Lynn Miner-Rosen, M.Ed., BCC, CDCS

 Preparing to get a job after college may not be on your mind yet, but research has shown that students challenged with ADHD and related disorders need to get started much earlier than the spring semester of senior year. This session will provide an overview of 10 steps college students should do NOW that will pay off big LATER. In college, you are encouraged to work hard and learn while at the same time experiencing life. That is all good, but consider the benefits of acquiring skills that will help you get started with your career, even if you aren’t sure what you want to pursue. This presentation includes information and tips about researching career options, communication with professors and the college career office, making connections, networking, internships, informational interviews, keeping your information organized, utilizing LinkedIn, and cleaning up your social media footprint. I’m glad you are here!

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn tips about career readiness that can be achieved during the college years to get a head start towards graduation and a successful job search.
  • Learn strategies to meet the challenges related to ADHD, EF and/or ASD which is important for success after college.
  • Get inside expert, research-based information about career readiness that is not always written or taught in school.

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents


Social and cultural transition for first-year LD students
Presenter: Scott S. Garbini, M.Ed.

This workshop is for parents and individuals working and preparing students with disabilities for the social transition to college. It is designed to promote understanding of the social transitions students need to know to be successful that first year. Topics include: roommate issues, peer and professional conflict resolution, sexual relationships, cultural awareness, diversity and how parents survive the transition. This workshop is great for those seeking guidance on how to transition students socially from secondary education/life to the higher education level, specifically those working with learning disabled students. It is important for both individuals working and preparing students with disabilities, as well as families of college-bound LD students, to be prepared. The primary objective is to provide guidance in understanding the transition to college life.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Have a clearer understanding of an array of social barriers that may present significant challenges to first-year students
  • Begin to understand the importance of social/cultural awareness on a college campus
  • Learn about the types of social support programs that might be available on a college campus for students with learning disabilities

Suggested audience: Educators, guidance counselors, parents




1–2 p.m. Luncheon
2:15–3:30 p.m.
Breakout sessions 3

Playing well with others at college and beyond
Presenter: Caroline Maguire, PCC, MED

To succeed on the college level, students need social skills to “play well with others.” This workshop will introduce participants to the tools needed to support a college-bound student who struggles to manage dynamic social interactions. We’ll identify what key social skills are needed to fit in and succeed at college. Attendees will learn the importance of self-advocacy. We will address why the ability to interpret social cues is important, and how a lack of self-awareness can turn a potential positive interaction into a negative experience very quickly. Through a specific eight-step process that incorporates open-ended questions, reflective listening and prompts of coaching, attendees will learn how to promote positive social behaviors. Attendees will leave knowing just how unique brains can walk on campus with a set of strategies to play with others.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Discuss the social skills necessary to navigate college and link students to the need for underlying executive function skills
  • Demonstrate how to communicate and coach the young person to build those skills using tools as well as coaching techniques such as open questions, reflective listening, praise and prompts
  • Address and explain how social skills are built and augmented

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents


Advocating for an effective transition plan
Presenter: Mark S. Kamleiter, J.D.

This workshop is focused upon the rights of students with disabilities to a meaningful and effective transition plan—important for students who have learning disabilities and/or the typical executive functioning issues of students with ADHD and related disorders. Typically, schools in Florida offer very little training or preparation for students in regular education, but who require accommodations and often specially designed instruction. This workshop will help educational professionals to "think out of the box" and help students work through a transition plan, which will prepare them for post-secondary education or employment, and will help parents and any professionals who need guidance in knowing what they can request in building an effective transitional plan for these students. While we are all team members of Special Education Law and Advocacy, this presentation will be positive and encouraging. We have learned to work in creative partnership with schools in the planning of educational transition plans and we would like to share the possibilities in educational planning.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn basic framework and requirements of education transition plans for children with disabilities
  • Better understand those areas where students with disabilities intending to move on to post-secondary education or an employment in the vocational market need specially designed instruction and accommodations to help them acquire independence
  • Learn how to encourage educational professionals to “think out of the box,” when planning for the transition of young people from secondary to post-secondary education or employment

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors


Parents transition too: changes in parent engagement
Presenter: Charlene Reed

Parents of young adults with complex learning disabilities take on a variety of roles as their sons and daughters navigate paths to adulthood. This session will use parent assessments and 27 years of experience to identify and discuss varying levels of parent engagement as their young adult transitions through comprehensive post-secondary services. Presenters will use examples and experience to identify expected levels and time frames of parent engagement, barriers to effective parent engagement, and tools and strategies that lead to healthy parent engagement as well as greater independence for young adults. The audience will use case studies to work collaboratively to identify strategies that reflect effective parent engagement and lead to increased independence for young adults.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Identify expected levels and time frames of parent engagement after high school for young adults with complex learning profiles and needs
  • Identify for each level of parent engagement effective tools and strategies that would lead to healthy parent engagement and increased independence for young adults
  • Identify, through case studies, strategies and solutions that reflect effective parent engagement and lead to greater levels of independence for young adults with complex learning profiles and needs

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, parents


A conversation about anxiety & the importance of teaching coping skills
Presenter: Angela Stoch-Updike

According to the National College Health Assessment, the survey found that 56.9% of college students have experienced overwhelming anxiety within the past 12 months and 21.9% said it had affected their academic performance. On average 85.6% felt overwhelmed at least once in the past year. There is confusion on what accounts for these high rates among college students. Many therapists suggest social media and a so-called “helicopter-parenting style that doesn’t allow adolescents to experience failure” have contributed to poor coping skills. Ask students and they’ll tell you it’s more than that; raging hormones, drama, superficial friends, college pressure as early as 9th grade and being live 24/7. They feel like they “can’t escape”. This session deals with anxiety among high school and college students, their inability to articulate their feelings to family members or counselors and giving them practical tools they can utilize to shift how they react to stress.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn how to start an honest dialogue between parents and children regarding student’s anxieties
  • Learn what anxiety looks like, how it feels and how students react
  • Learn practical tools for reducing anxiety and stress

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents


10 ways to prepare your child for college
Presenter: Susan Kabot, Ed.D., CCC-SLP

After developing and providing a college support program for students with autism spectrum disorder, it became clear that there are many ways that families can ensure that their student has the skills to be successful on a college campus before s/he actually gets there. Families and high schools provide supports that they are not really conscious of providing. We will share 10 skills that families and schools need to work on in order to prepare their student for a successful college experience. These areas range from independent living to social communication skills and from knowledge of their disability to self-advocacy skills. Real-life stories will be used to show families and schools how they often "miss the boat" when preparing their students to be successful in college. Targets for instruction will be discussed.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn how to prepare students with ASD for living on a college campus through task analysis of skills
  • Gain knowledge of challenges students actually face in managing a university environment
  • Describe the importance of understanding a disability and the importance of self-advocacy skills

Suggested audience: Educators, parents


Same mess, different day: executive function strategies that work
Presenter: Michele Ramsay, Ed.D., Sharona Sommer, CPC

Have your students been coached and trained in effective executive functioning (EF) strategies but day after day there is the same or similar disorganized mess and challenges? In this engaging and interactive workshop, you will learn organizational and EF strategies to add to your students and your real life toolkit. With the proper tools, participants will have a practical plan that can be implemented to promote future success in all areas of one's life. This session will allow for interaction, pairing, reflection, and time for question and answers. Case studies included with opportunities to problem solve and add new solutions to support you or your student(s) immediately.

After attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn new ways to support changes that work to support success with EF skills
  • Learn why students default back to old patterns that don’t work
  • Have tools to take home and use immediately in their practice, program and school/college

Suggested audience: Educators, professionals, guidance counselors, parents

Student experience schedule

8:15 a.m. Welcome/Keynote presentation
9:45 a.m. Students meet in front of the Wold Performing Arts Center under the University Experience sign.
10 a.m. Campus Tour
11:15 a.m.

College 101: Useful advice and tips from a college professor
Presenter: Diane DiCerbo, director of academic advising

Professor Diane DiCerbo will examine the difference between high school and college, how to be an active participant in your education process, and the distinctions between core classes, major classes and electives. She will also discuss the value of time management, the importance of taking advantage of opportunities outside the classroom, getting involved in internships, and the prospect of studying abroad.

12:15 p.m. Lunch
1:20 p.m.

What every college professor wants you to know but doesn’t teach you
Presenter: Catherine Wharton, M.A.

This session will provide students with a glimpse into a college course. This mini-course will focus on strategies for academic success in college.

2 p.m.

Lynn University student panel
Presenter: Lynn University students

The student panel provides an opportunity to hear about collegiate experiences directly from university students. This panel will include several junior and senior students who have experience with transitioning, taking college classes and utilizing support services.

3 p.m.

How to get involved outside the classroom
Location: McCusker Pool Complex

Students will enjoy refreshments poolside with Lynn University student leaders.

Register today

Call +1 561-237-7705 or:

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Employees of various counties in the State of Florida may be eligible to receive eight in-service points for conference participation and completion of follow-up requirements.


Become a part of the growing group of vendors at the Transitions 2017 conference. This is your best opportunity to reach educators, and decision makers across the country. Contact Peggy Peterson at or call +1 561-237-7766.


The Wyndham Boca Raton, which is approximately 1 mile from Lynn University, is the preferred hotel for Transitions 2017.

Make your reservations online or call 877-999-3223 and mention the Transitions 2017 group rate.

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Transitions is presented by the Lynn University Institute for Achievement and Learning, an internationally renowned leader in providing programs to help motivated students with learning differences succeed at the college level.