Speaker Highlights

Maryanne Wolf, PhD

Technology and the Reading Brain: How Production and Consumption of Digital Content Impacts How We Read

The origins of reading are shrouded in mystery, but the principles of how the brain learns to read have important lessons for society as we transition to a digital culture. This presentation will describe the reading brain and its development across the lifespan. Emphasized will be extraordinary characteristics of what is called deep reading - particularly empathy and perspective taking and their importance for a humane society. In addition, the principles of the reading brain will be used to describe a more comprehensive conceptualization of dyslexia and its intervention. Finally, a discussion will underscore how the use of technology is changing how we read, what we read, and why we read. The profound implications of these changes for both the next generation and ourselves will be discussed.

Lucy Jo Palladino, PhD

Smartphones, Smart Kids: Activating Attention in the Digital Age

Why do kids pay rapt attention to their smartphones, but not their homework? Why do teens readily initiate Snapchats but not projects? Smartphones capture involuntary attention, while independent schoolwork requires voluntary attention. In this talk, Dr. Palladino will explain how involuntary attention activates “bottom-up” brain pathways that originate in the sensory cortex, while voluntary attention creates and strengthens “top-down” brain pathways from the prefrontal cortex. She will emphasize screen time risk factors for children with various attention challenges and the developmental tasks in executive functioning that children face at specific ages. Dr. Palladino will discuss how voluntary attention builds executive functions, which include decision-making, emotional self-regulation, prioritization, time management, and attention control, and how voluntary attention results in desirable brain development.

Pre-Conference Workshop

Shelley Haven, ATP, RET

Assistive Technology for Reading and Writing: A Practical Guide to Selecting and Implementing Tools for Struggling Students

With technology matched to their personal learning strengths and challenges, struggling students can enjoy improved academic performance, increased independence, and greater self-confidence. Successful outcomes, however, require more than just knowledge about tools. How do you “make it happen”?

This 3-hour workshop will provide education professionals with a practical understanding of how to build comprehensive — and effective — Assistive Technology (AT) solutions for students with reading and writing challenges. Through lecture, demonstrations, and some light hands-on activities, Assistive Technology Consultant Shelley Haven will guide attendees through strategies for selecting, implementing, and supporting technology solutions that “work” (i.e., produce the desired results) for their clients and students, including:

  • Demonstrations of how specific technology features (capabilities) address challenges associated with reading (fluency, comprehension, critical thinking, and taking notes) and with writing (composition, writing mechanics, and producing legible text).
  • Strategies for applying tools to accomplish common academic tasks (e.g., take notes while reading, brainstorm ideas prior to writing, complete a worksheet)
  • Strategies for acquiring, creating, and sharing accessible educational materials for use with these reading and writing tools
  • Protocols for objectively evaluating the effectiveness of technology accommodations for reading and writing.


The Association of Educational Therapists (AET) is the national professional association for educational therapists. AET defines and sets standards for the professional practice of educational therapy. Educational therapists provide a broad range of individualized educational interventions for children and adults with learning disabilities and other learning challenges.

Who Should Attend?

  • Educational Therapists
  • Educators working with PreK-University students in both general and special education
  • Parents
  • Allied Professionals, including Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, Social Workers, Psychologists and Psychiatrists
  • Anyone working with a student with learning differences is welcome to join in our exciting 39th National Conference!

Conference Highlights

  • Network with educational therapists, educators, allied professionals and parents
  • Participate in workshops, poster sessions and panel discussions
  • Browse, shop and learn at exhibitor displays
  • Utilize the live conference app
  • Surf the internet with free wi-fi and a technology bar for IT support
  • Enjoy the inclusive continental breakfasts and lunches
  • Meet new friends during organized social events in the Irvine Area