Ross’ Story

Ross, a former student at SCO’s Westbrook Preparatory School, is a motivated and engaging young man who has Asperger syndrome. “I’m actually different from many people with Asperger’s in that I’m a very social guy,” says Ross. “On the other hand, sometimes I am unaware of other people’s feelings. I can be impulsive, and I do get overwhelmed. ”

Ross had difficulty adapting at his previous public school due to these challenges. However, Westbrook’s residential school setting gave Ross the opportunity to work on his social skills and develop strategies to help him avoid feeling overwhelmed.

One key element of life at Westbrook is the internship program. While students find comfort and build confidence living and learning with other teens who have similar challenges, they know that they need to prepare themselves to communicate and work well with all kinds of people. Ross’s first internship was at Sports Authority, and he held another at St. Brigid’s Elementary School Camp where he found talking with children about sports very rewarding.

His interest in sports led Ross to his next internship at WCWP 88.1 FM, the college radio station at CW Post. He ran the audio control sound board at sporting events, made guest appearances on a college sports talk show and researched sports information for use on air. He enjoyed his experience so much that he decided to study communications in college.

4th Annual DSP Conference

View from the Front Lines:

A conference for direct support professionals, human services workers, clinicians and leaders


October 24 -or- 25, 2017  
10 am – 2 pm
The Inn at New Hyde Park – 214 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park  Directions

Attention Direct Service Professionals!!  Join us at this FREE one-day conference to hone your skills and gain new insights into working with individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities.  Choose from a variety of breakout sessions presented by industry experts and attend our keynote session with internationally acclaimed author, Dan O’Connor. A light breakfast and lunch will be served.  Reserve your spot now!


9-10 am:  Registration and Breakfast
10 am: Welcome
10:30 am: Breakout Sessions
11:30 am:  Lunch
12 pm: Keynote Speaker
1:30 pm: Wrap Up

Register Today!

To register, select the day you will attend below and complete the form. You will be asked to rank your preferences for the breakout sessions.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Keynote Speaker: Dan O’Connor

Internationally acclaimed author, trainer, and keynote speaker Dan O’Connor has been leading the communication training industry for more than 20 years. Through his bestselling books Say This — Not That and Energy Vampire Slaying: 101; his #1 rated YouTube channel, Effective Communication Skills with Dan O’Connor; his popular online course; and his breakthrough proprietary tactical communication learning system, Step Out of the Shadows and Speak; Dan has been setting new benchmarks in training, and transforming the lives of millions of people as well as countless organizations all around the world.

Breakout Sessions

1. Finding the Func: A Who Dunnit Breakout Session
Elizabeth Zammillo, MS Ed. & Marisa Nabel, MS
Explore the functions of behavior by following the clues to solve the mystery: All behavior occurs for a reason. Sometimes the reason will be clear and at other times it will not be clear. A person engages in a behavior because it meets a specific need for him or her. This breakout session will focus on exploring the main functions of behavior by engaging in interactive game play. Understanding the WHY of behavior will better enable Direct Service Personnel to provide effective treatment for the individuals they support.

2. How to Speak the 5 Languages of Appreciation and Respect at Work
Dan O’Connor, Communications Expert
Just think what could happen if everyone at work really understood the unique ways we all show and understand signs of gratitude, appreciation, and respect, and took a more proactive, personal approach to nurturing the professional bond that ties us all together.

3. Learn How to Become a Leader in the Inclusion Revolution
Anastasia Somoza, Disability Rights Advocate, The Shield Institute
We all have unique needs and when it comes to being an effective advocate, there is no universal approach. So what can we do? LEARN! To provide the right support we must listen, observe and understand a person’s needs, straight from the source – THE INDIVIDUAL. This workshop will provide tools and insight into how we can best assist those we serve by advocating with and for them, and supporting their own self-advocacy.

4. Art Therapy vs Recreational Art
Shelley Feldman, MA, ATR, L-CAT & Suzanna Shayer, MA, ATR-BC, L-CAT
How to responsibly use art to engage clients in a variety of settings. How can I better engage the individuals I serve using art, and what should I be mindful of when making art with vulnerable populations? Attendees will learn about the history and uses of clinical art therapy with a variety of populations, and engage in an art activity to better understand the practical applications of art therapy. Emphasis will be placed on the difference between clinical art therapy vs art education or arts and crafts, and how staff agency-wide can responsibly use art on an everyday basis.


Download a printable DSP conference flyer.

The Conference is made possible through the generous support of the Taft Foundation.

Center for Family Life Helps Areliz Build a Brighter Future

"I'm doing this to provide for my kids...for everything that they deserve." Learn More

Ross’ Story

Westbrook Preparatory School

“I’m actually different from many people with Asperger’s in that I’m a very social guy” Learn More

Last year,


youth and adults with special needs participated in volunteer projects in their community

We provide


families and individuals with support services and community activities