March, 2014. The Newgrange NVLD (Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities) program once again made its presence known at the spring ASPEN Conference. ASPEN (Asperger Autism Spectrum Education Network) is a nonprofit organization providing education, support, and advocacy to people living with ASD and their families . This year the keynote speakers were the world-renowned animal expert, Dr. Temple Grandin and her mother, Eustacia Cutler. Grandin has written several books on the subject of her life with autism including Thinking in Pictures, which was made into an HBO movie staring Claire Danes. Cutler wrote a book about her experience raising Grandin, A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin’s Mother Tells the Family Story. Newgrange NVLD Program Coordinator, Carol Cooper-Braun and special educator Erin Flynn hosted a booth at the conference to share information about the Newgrange School’s NVLD program with parents, educators, and service providers. Several other Newgrange staff members were in attendance including the Newgrange School’s principal, Bob Hegedus. Eight topics for professional development were offered as part of the afternoon presentations. Topics included “Are You Ready for College,” by Farleigh Dickinson University’s assistive technology expert, Vince Varassi, and “Video Game Playing and the Autistic Spectrum” by Dr. Mark Pesner, director of Therapeutic Options, and “Teen Girls and Young Women with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Special Strengths, Special Challenges, and How We Can Help,” by Dr. Elizabeth Roberts of the NYU Child Study Center. By dividing and conquering, the Newgrange staff managed to have an attendee at every seminar offered. “The ASPEN Conferences always provide us the opportunity to learn from a variety of experts in the field. I’ve been attending the conference for over ten years, and each time I go I learn valuable information that I can take back to Newgrange and utilize to make the NVLD Program even better,” said Cooper-Braun.
Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities