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 11th Annual Florida Down Syndrome Conference … with nationally acclaimed speakers and resources!

Kaitlyn Hagood, age 10

Join us for another fun and information-filled two days. The 2018 conference kicks off with two in-depth pre-conference session options Friday afternoon. Directly following the pre-conference sessions, join us for the Friday night reception from 5:30-7:00pm with honorary guest from Nemours Children’s Hospital, and William Mobley, MD, PhD, Executive Director, University of California San Diego Down Syndrome Center for Research. Dr. Mobley’s research focuses on the neurobiology of neurotropic factor actions and signaling and their link to neuronal dysfunction in developmental and age related disorders of the nervous system. His emphasis on the neurobiology of Down Syndrome has brought new insights into the disease, including possible treatments. At the same time, Self Advocates can enjoy the Spring Fling Dance Party. Beginning at 7:00pm, attendees will have a one-of-a-kind experience with our Keynote Self-Advocate, Karen Gaffney for a "Conversation with Karen Gaffney." Saturday is packed with resources and information. The general conference includes national experts in advocacy, education, dual diagnosis, health issues and a choice of SIXTEEN workshops conducted by experts in every aspect of Down syndrome. You will also have the opportunity to sit in on a panel of self-advocates speak about their successes in their college careers and entrepreneurial journeys owning their own businesses.  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: 


Friday, February 16

2:00pm - 8:30pm


Saturday, February 17

8:00am - 5:00pm


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Includes Reception on Friday starting at 5:30pm; Continental Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Workshops on Saturday.


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2017 2pm - 8:30pm

1:30pm – 2:15pm                    Pre-conference Registration and Check In

2:15pm - 5:15pm                     Pre-Conference Sessions including Stacy Taylor, MA, BCBA, Innovative Effective Teach Techniques;                                                                                       Lyn Cyr, Parent Training Coordinator with Parent Support Network, & Amarilis Vega De Jesus, Hispanic  Outreach  Coordinator, a program under Family Network on Disabilities– Everything  you need to know

5:30pm – 7:00pm                   Opening reception and Welcome cocktail hour with honorary guests Randy Hartley, COO for Nemours                                                                                          Children’s Hospital and  Dr. William Mobley

7:00pm - 8:30pm                    "A Conversation with Karen Gaffney"

7:00pm - 8:30pm                     Leadership Meeting for Group and Regional Leaders

5:30pm - 8:30pm                     Spring Fling and Dance Party for Self-Advocates

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2017 8:00am - 5pm

8am - 8:25am                             Registration/Check-in and Continental Breakfast

8:25am                                          PRIZE GIVEAWAY

8:30am                                          Welcome by Dr. Peter Weirdon, Nemours Children’s Hospital and Janet Caramello, Down Syndrome                                                                                              Association of Central Florida

8:40am                                          Julie Kleffel, A Parents Journey

9:00am                                          William Mobley, MD and PhD, Executive Director, University of California San Digeo, Down Syndrome                                                                                          Center for Research and Treatment, Breakthroughs in Down syndrome research


10:15am - 11:15am                      WORKSHOP SESSION A

11:30am - 12:30pm                     WORKSHOP SESSION B

12:30pm - 2:00pm                     LUNCH AND AWARDS
                                                           "Making a Case for Down Syndrome" with Karen Gaffney, Self-Advocate Keynote Speaker
                                                           Community Champions Awards Presentation, Jim Payne, Master of Ceremonies

2:15 - 3:15 p.m.                           WORKSHOP SESSION C

3:30 – 4:25PM                            WORKSHOP SESSION D

4:30 – 5:00PM                            CLOSING SESSION AND PRIZES!


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. 

Innovative Effective Teaching Techniques

Stacy Taylor, MA,BCBA
Learning is not a one size fits all and teaching shouldn't be either. We must meet our children where they are at and find ways to motivate them to be excited about learning. In this conference, participants will learn new ways to help their child learn some familiar skills. When teaching is fun, and we create an engaging, positive experience, our children will want to be there with us and learning will happen. 

IEP From A to Z....Everything You Need to Know!

Lynn Cyr, Parent Training Coordinator with Parent Support Network, a program under Family Network on Disabilities
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.  Learn how to build your IEP binder and key components you will want to include or add to your binder.  Attendees will leave informed, confident and ready to support a child with an IEP.


Alphabet Soup and Down syndrome:  The world of dual diagnosis can be filled with Autism (ASD), ADHD, OCD and other acronyms.  How to look for signs that your child has a dual diagnosis and how to effectively manage it

Bringing Therapy Home: Using Clinical Therapy Techniques in Everyday Lessons

College and University Panel: Self-Advocates and the head of the Inclusive Education Services at UCF share their perspective of college and on campus living

Ear, Nose, and Throat: How Otalryngologic treatement can help your child with communication and learning

Entrepreneur Academy Panel: Find out from Self-Advocate CEO’s how they got started with their business, what they are learning along the way, and what is in store for their future.

Educational Panel: Home schooling, private school, inclusion, special education and types of scholarships available. Get comprehensive education information specific to each educational option from IEP experts that have worked in all counties.

Gastrointestinal Motility Disorder and Food Sensitivies in children with Down Syndrome

Handling the Handoff - Transitioning from pediatric health care to adult health care

Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Individuals With Down syndrome: A comprehensive approach

Parent Panel: If I knew then what I know now.  Mentor parents share their journey with their adult children and what they learned along the way.

Speech: Therapy, language, oral motor, articulation and everything else you want to know about speech!

Self-Care and Relationships: Creating “me” time and “we” time.  Learn how to look after your needs in the world of special needs.

Sensory Integration and Occupational Therapy: Using whole body techniques for success in your child.

Verbal Behavior: Communication is Behavior Tool

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


Friday and Saturday

Don’t miss our Self Advocates Spring Fling! It’s a reception and dance party just for you—from 5:30-8:30pm on Friday, February 16. 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 8:00am - 5:00pm. Continental breakfast, lunch and snacks are included in your registration fee.

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 INFORMATION (Reserve By January 5, 2018)

Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando-Airport

Booking Link:


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.


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: 

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  • 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: