This page reflects activities from our 2017 Florida Down Syndrome Conference February 10-11, 2017

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This 2-day conference will present state-of-the-art information and best practices concerning children and adults with Down Syndrome, their families, and professionals that serve them.

The pre-conference sessions, reception, and workshops are all designed to meet the needs of family members, educators, advocates, health care providers, and Self Advocates. The conference includes workshops intended to serve every audience. 

The 10th Annual Florida Down Syndrome Conference … with nationally acclaimed speakers and resources!

DSACF 2017 Ambassador, Louis

Join us for another fun and information-filled two days. The 2017 conference kicks off with three in-depth pre-conference session options Friday afternoon. Directly following the preconference sessions, join us for the Friday night reception from 5-8:30 p.m. with honorary guests Dr. Peter Wearden, Department of Cardiovascular Services and Division of Cardiovascular Surgery Chair at Nemours Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Brian Skotko, Board-certified medical geneticist and Co-Director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The L.A. Times, NPR’s “On Point,” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” At the same time, Self Advocates can enjoy the Spring Fling Dance Party. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., attendees can take advantage of an exclusive screening of the thought-provoking and controversial “A World Without Down’s Syndrome?” Saturday is packed with resources and information. The general conference includes national experts in advocacy, education, community living and health issues and a choice of SIXTEEN workshops conducted by experts in every aspect of Down syndrome.  Side by side with the general conference is the Self Advocates Conference for adults with Down syndrome for ages 15 and up.

We would like to thank our Conference Sponsors: 

We would also like to thank our Premier Partner: F.R.I.E.N.D.S.


Friday, February 10 

2:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.


Saturday, February 11 

8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.


Includes Reception on Friday starting at 5 p.m.; Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Workshops on Saturday.


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017 2:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.

1:30 - 2:00 p.m.                  Pre-conference Registration Check-in

2:00 - 5:00 p.m.                 Goals and Dreams for the Future? Turn them into Reality with Independent Living Prep and Person-Centered Planning for the Future; Keeping Children And Adolescents With Down Syndrome Healthy: All The Medical Updates That Parents Need To Know; IEP Basics… Everything you need to know!

5:00 - 8:30 p.m.                  Opening Reception, featuring honorary guests Dr. Peter Wearden and Dr. Brian Skotko

5:00 - 8:30 p.m.                  Spring Fling and Dance Party for Self-Advocates

7:30 - 8:30 p.m.                  Screening of “A World Without Down’s Syndrome?”

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2017 8:00 a.m.—5:30 p.m.

8 – 8:30 a.m.                       REGISTRATION/Check-in and Breakfast

8:25 a.m.                              Prize Giveaway

8:30 a.m.                              Welcome by Janet Caramello and Mary Beth Eliason, DSACF, Dr. Peter Weardon, Nemours Children’s Hospital

8:40 a.m.                              “Inclusion Beyond the Classroom”

9 a.m.                                    “Celebrating Life with Down Syndrome” Dr. Brian Skotko

Brian Skotko, MD, MPP

All people with Down syndrome have talents and treasures to share with their communities. In this presentation, Brian Skotko draws upon success stories in his co-authored national award-winning book, Common Threads: Celebrating Life with Down Syndrome, to enable parents, professionals, and friends to discover the potential of all persons with chromosomal differences

10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.         Workshop Sessions A

11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.        Workshop Sessions B

12:45 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.          LUNCH

Self-Advocate Keynote Speaker Patricia Moody, The Happy Advocate

Patricia Moody, The Happy Advocate

Patricia Moody, The Happy Advocate

Patricia Moody is an advocate for those with developmental disabilities, specifically Down syndrome. Not only is she a nationally acclaimed speaker, but she also has a career in sign language and singing. Patricia has taught sign language to students with developmental disabilities for years. In addition, she donates her lovely singing voice to special events such as the American Cancer Society, Special Olympics, March of Dimes, and Autism Speaks. Patricia’s latest accomplishment was becoming one of the pioneer students in the University of Central Florida’s Inclusive Post-Secondary Education program.

Community Champions Awards Presentation, Jim Payne, Master of Ceremonies

2:45 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.          Workshop Sessions C

3:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.          Workshop Sessions D


Friday, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Attending a Pre-Conference session gives you the chance to spend three hours digging deep into one specific topic. The sessions, presented by nationally known speakers, are structured to include content that is research-based, share best practices, and provide proven “how to” strategies. All sessions will include time for Q & A. Pre-Conference sessions can be added to your conference registration for only $10!

Goals and Dreams for the Future? Turn them into Reality with Independent Living Prep and Person-Centered Planning for the Future

Debbie Revels, Executive Director of Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville; Representative from The Arc Jacksonville Village
What can an adult with Down syndrome do with their life? Anything they want! Person-centered planning will give you tools to identify your self-advocate's strengths and dreams and turn those into achievable life goals. The transition to independence shouldn't start at 18. This presentation will help you prepare your child for adulthood all the way along.
Learn about the state-of-the-art Arc Jacksonville Village and how you can follow their lead in creating a succesful supported living situation for your adult child with Down syndrome.

Keeping Children And Adolescents With Down Syndrome Healthy: All The Medical Updates That Parents Need To Know

Dr. Brian Skotko, M.D., M.P.P., Board-certified medical geneticist and Co-Director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital
In this presentation, Dr. Brian Skotko reviews all of the questions and concerns that parents most often have about their sons and daughters with Down syndrome. He provides the answers and action steps, stemming from the latest clinical research on people with Down syndrome. Based on his clinical experience in the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Skotko makes sure that every parent can anticipate medical conditions so that the potentials of all people with Down syndrome are maximized.

IEP from A to Z… Everything you need to know!   

Lynn Cyr, IEP Advocate, Parent, DSACF Board Member

This workshop is for parents with children in the public school system or looking to enter the public school system with individualized education plans. Learn how IEP components interconnect and get information that will help you produce a comprehensive IEP plan. Attendees will leave informed, confident, and ready to support a child with an IEP.


ABLE Accounts (Achieving a Better Life Experience) and what they mean for your family.
Adult Siblings: Panel discussions, networking opportunities, and cutting edge research on medical decisions, living arrangements, guardianship options, financial questions, and lifestyle choices.
Adult Mental Wellness: The importance of keeping an active mind, information on self-talk, repetitive behaviors, and psychiatric disorders in people with Down syndrome.

DSACF Ambassador 2017, Isaac

Cardiac Issues in Children with Down Syndrome: Panel
Educational Options Panel: Homeschooling, private school, inclusion, special education, and types of scholarships available. Get comprehensive education information specific to each educational option.
Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders in Children with Down Syndrome
Guardianship: What EVERY parent needs to prepare for their child turning 18.
How to Best Support Your Patients with Down Syndrome: for Healthcare Professionals
Independent and Supported Living Options Panel: Group homes, supported living complexes (feat. Debbie Revels from DSA Jacksonville to speak on Jacksonville Ark Village), in-home supports and more.
Nutrition: Eat Right, Future Bright: Tricks for Healthy Habits and a Healthy Weight
Navigating and Organizing Medical Insurance for Families: How not to fall off the cliff when climbing the mountain 
Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Individuals with Down Syndrome: A Comprehensive Approach
Puberty, Sexuality, and Relationships for Teens and Adults.
What Comes After High School? Panel: Employment, college, and other opportunities… identify your son or daughter’s strengths and how they can best utilize them.
Speech: Therapy, language, oral motor, articulation, and everything else you want to know about speech! 
Sibling Issues For Parents… What Your Other Children Are Thinking.

Anyone is welcome to join any workshop—no need to preregister for specific tracks.

Here is the schedule of events: 


1-2:00 p.m. Registration


1.    P1: Goals and Dreams for the Future? Turn them into Reality with Independent Living Prep and Person-Centered Planning for the Future

Keeping Children and Adolescents With Down Syndrome Healthy: All the Medical Updates by Debbie Revels

2.    P2: That Parents Need to Know & the Latest and Greatest Research About Down Syndrome by Dr. Brian Skotko

3.    P3: IEP From A to Z... Everything You Need to Know! by Lynn Cyr

5:30-8:30 p.m. Reception and Spring Fling Dance Party

7:30-8:30 p.m. Screening of "A World Without Down Syndrome" 


8 – 8:30 a.m. Registration

8:40 a.m.9 – 9:50 a.m. Welcome

WORKSHOP A: 10 - 11:15 a.m.

1.     A1: Guardianship Vs. Guardian Advocacy: What are They and Why Are They Critical to Your Family’s Future? by Catherine Davey

2.     A2: School Options, What Works for Your Family?: Parent Panel by Camille Gardner, Janet Caramello, Tris Freid, and Maureen Wright

3.     A3: Cardiac Issues in Children With Down Syndrome by Dr. Peter Wearden and Dr. Tomislav Ivsic

4.     A4: Adult Brothers and Sisters Who Have Siblings With Down Syndrome by Dr. Brian Skotko and Sue Levine

WORKSHOP B: 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

1.     B1: What Is ABLE and What Can It Do for You? by Jenn Sikora

2.     B2: Shake It Off – Effective, Relatable Strategies to Help Improve Behavior at All Ages and Stages by Stacy Taylor

3.     B3: The Parents Role in Surveillance by Dr. Alfonso Mireles

4.     B4: What Your Other Children Without Down Syndrome Are Thinking: Sibling Issues for Parents by Dr. Brian Skotko

LUNCH: 12:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

WORKSHOP C: 3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.

1.     C1: Sexuality and Puberty in Growing Kids With Down Syndrome: Everything You Need to Know but Don’t Want to Ask by Dr. Sheryl Logan and Dr. Sam Smith

2.     C2: What Comes Next? Employment or Higher Education – Considering Options After High School: Parent and Self-Advocate Panel by Camille Gardner, Catherine Davey, Wils Van Bergan, Jim, Sonya, and Kristina Burns, and Ashley Strube

3.     C3: Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Individuals With Down Syndrome: A Comprehensive Approach by Dr. Tarig Ali-Dinar and Dr. Cynthia Chen

4.     C4: Talk, Talk, Talk! Improving the Speech, Language and Articulation in Children and Adults With Down Syndrome by Vincenzo Vurro

WORKSHOP D: 4:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.

1.     D1: Eat Right, Future Bright: Tricks for Healthy Habits and a Healthy Weight by Mandy Layman

2.     D2: Quality Living Options and Person-Centered Opportunities for Adults With Down Syndrome:Parent and Self-Advocate Panel by Debbie Revels, Kathleen Mitchell, Nancy, Mike, and Patricia Moody, and Jim Webb

3.     D3: Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders in Children With Down Syndrome by Dr. Roberto Gomez

4.     D4: The Foundation for FUNctional Fine Motor Skills by Jen Goldman


Friday and Saturday

Don’t miss our Self Advocates Spring Fling! It’s a reception and dance party just for you—from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, February 10. Join us for food, fun, friendship and dancing.  It is a great way to get to know each other before our day of fun and learning on Saturday! Saturday sessions run from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., breakfast, lunch and snacks are included in your registration fee.

Supported by the College of Education and Human Performance at University of Central Florida and for adults with Down syndrome, ages 15 and up, our Self Advocates Conference will feature workshops ranging from advocacy to employment to healthy cooking and dance workouts. It is fun, enriching and empowering — with lots of volunteers to lend support. Care is taken to allow ALL participants to share and shine. Because of our commitment to preparing the best experience for our self-advocates, we are unable to accept onsite registration.

HOTEL OPTIONS (reserve by 1/9/2017)

Hyatt Regency Orlando Int’l Airport

Call 407-825-1234 Ext. 1402, ask for Leisly Navarro and reference the Down Syndrome Room Block 

Single/Double- $239/night


Courtyard Orlando-Lake Nona 5750 T G Lee Blvd, Orlando, FL 32822

Book Online CLICK HERE

King/Queen- $149/night


Based on the generosity of our supporters and sponsors scholarships are available based on need.


  • Documentation of need must be submitted to be considered for a full scholarship including documentation of government program eligibility (TANF, Food Stamps, WIC, or free and reduced lunch verification). Send documentation to for consideration.
  • If you do not receive government assistance but cannot attend without scholarship assistance, please send a letter detailing your circumstance to for consideration.


Know someone in our community who deserves recognition? Anyone can submit nominations! Due by Jan. 25

The following awards will be bestowed at the Community Champions Award Ceremony and Luncheon Saturday February 11.

Jenny Bronstein Citizenship Award (Awarded to an individual with Down syndrome who makes a difference in all of our lives…by virtue of their smile, genuine friendship or zest for life.)

Lynda Pollack, MD, Advocacy Award (Awarded for outstanding advocacy to the benefit of the Down syndrome community.)

Amy Van Bergen Generosity Award (Awarded to an individual or business who has gone above and beyond in serving our community.)

Down Syndrome Community Champion of the Year Award

Cause for nomination (Examples: promoting inclusion in school, work or community of people with disabilities, contributing to more community awareness about the capabilities of people with disabilities; etc) Please identify at least 2 examples that show the nominee’ dedication and going “above and beyond” expectations. Please be specific and add extra pages if needed! (We would rather have too much info than not enough!) 


The 10th Annual Florida Down Syndrome Conference is a wonderful opportunity to offer support to the Down syndrome community as well as an unique chance to reach a captive audience of potential loyal customers. Our partnership with Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action, a national trade organization that exists to support and advance the growth and service capabilities of the local and regional Down syndrome organizations, will bring together leaders from Down syndrome support organizations all across the southeast. Don’t miss this opportunity to reach the influencers of thousands of families throughout the state and beyond!


Submit your artwork to be eligible for a $50 gift card to Target! The deadline is Friday, February 3rd at 5pm. 

Official Rules and Regulations: 

DSACF_Sun_Man ICON.jpg
  • Contest is open to any individual with Down Syndrome of any age.
  • Artwork must be original, or could be an artist rendition of our company logo.
  • Artist retains all copyright information. 
  • By entering the contest, the artist gives DSACF permission to reproduce images of the original art work. 
  • Please make sure to include the artist name, age, and artistic medium in the submission.
  • Art must be submitted as a JPEG image. 
  • 2-D entries only, please.
  • Questions? Email: