The Pathfinder Village in Edmeston will host a free full day conference featuring national speakers discussing Down syndrome and other disorders from differing perspectives.

According to a media release, the conference will better inform parents, caregivers and professionals on emerging research and best practices. The release said it will also help foster an understanding of the medical issues and family experiences of celebrating life with Down syndrome. 

The conference is a cooperative venture among its sponsors; the Kennedy-Willis Center at Pathfinder Village, the Mid-South Early Childhood Direction Center, the Southern Tier Special Education Parent Center, and the Family Resource Network of Oneonta. It will be held throughout Pathfinder Village from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Pathfinder Village is an innovative planned community that serves the residential and educational needs of children and adults who have Down syndrome and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1980, Pathfinder offers a variety of individualized educational, residential, vocational programs and family support services, addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities across the lifespan.

The keynote speaker at the conference will be Dr. Brian Skotko. He is a board-certified medical geneticist and co-director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Skotko has dedicated his career toward children with cognitive and development disabilities. In 2001 he co-authored the national award-winning book, “Common Threads: Celebrating Life with Down Syndrome” and, most recently, “Fasten Your Seatbelt: A Crash Course on Down Syndrome for Brothers and Sisters.” He is a graduate of Duke University, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School.

Skotko recently authored major research on how physicians deliver diagnoses of Down syndrome to new and expectant parents. He has been 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." 

Skotko serves on the board of directors for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress and Band of Angels Foundation. He also serves on the Professional Advisory Council to the National Down Syndrome Congress.

Featured experts will include:

* Elizabeth Roberts, PsyD, of the NYU Child Study Center, is a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and a clinical neuropsychologist in both the Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement and Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinical and Research Program. Roberts has gained extensive experience treating those with developmental and acquired neurologic/neuropsychiatric disorders. She also specializes in the treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and families affected by these conditions.

* Lauren Moskovitz is a clinical psychology intern at the NYU Child Study Center, who specializes in treating children with autism spectrum-, anxiety-, and disruptive behavior disorders. A PhD candidate; her research focuses on intervention effectiveness in naturalistic contexts.

* Sue Levine, a certified social worker, is a co-founder of Family Resource Associates, a private, nonprofit agency serving people with disabilities and their families in central New Jersey. She has conducted support programs for parents and siblings of children with differing abilities for the past 30 years. She has coordinated support groups specifically for parents of children with Down syndrome, presented on the needs of siblings, and has written newsletters in support of children who have siblings with disabilities.

* Lawyer Julie Michaels Keegan has devoted her practice to meeting the lifelong needs of children with differing abilities. Having negotiated the special education system for her own family, Keegan understands the challenges parents face when trying to obtain the right educational environment for a child with special needs, the release said. She also knows the importance of future care planning for special children. She is a member of the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys, the Special Education Task Force in Albany, the NYS Bar Association’s Committee on Issues Affecting Persons with Disabilities, and is a former Governing Board member of the Center for Disability Services.

On the day of the conference there will be limited spaces for qualified, on-site child care. People are asked to call the Family Resource Network at 432-0001 for more information.

Registration is limited, so registering early is recommended. To register, visit and click on the “News & Events” page. People will be able to register online under the “Conferences” tab.

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