• 18 May
  • 19 May
  • 20 May

Joshua Cassidy

Joshua Cassidy is a 3x Paralympian, Boston Marathon Winner (in 2012 recording the World’s Fastest Marathon), multiple Canadian Record Holder, and winner of many medals. Joshua was born November 15th, 1984. He came into the world fighting a non-congenital cancer which primarily effects children, Neuroblastoma. The doctors told his parents that their newborn had a narrow chance of survival. Perhaps through a combination of medicine, family prayer, and a will to live, Joshua won miraculously. The damage done to his spinal cord left his legs partially paralyzed. Where many saw obstacles ahead, this young boy saw opportunities. His perspective has allowed him to build a life of success, love, and happiness.

“As a young boy, I always figured out how to adapt to do whatever I wanted. For me, I see the cancer as a blessing, as it gave me the tools needed to overcome obstacles at an early age. At first it was physical obstacles. I don’t see my disability as an obstacle anymore. I conquered that a long time ago. There are always challenges in life. When we learn to see them as opportunities to learn and grow, life becomes much easier, and fun. That’s why I fell in love with sport. Opportunities to voluntarily put myself in front of challenges to grow and become more.”

Joshua grew up as the oldest of 10 kids. While he had support from his family, the responsibility of being the eldest meant no time for special treatment. “I was the oldest who took care of my younger brothers and sisters. They didn’t see me as different. With so many people in the family, we were there for each other but ultimately had to learn how to get what we wanted for ourselves.”

Josh's early love of sport eventually led to athletics. In 2008 he competed in his first Paralympic Games in Beijing, in front of 90,000 spectators. He has hit over 80kms/hour going downhill at the Tyne Tunnel 2K race.

At the London Marathon in 2010, Josh recorded his first ‘big’ win. It marked the first time he beat all of the best in the world. He has been a Canadian Champion 28 times and is also the Canadian Record holder in the 5000m, 10000m, and Marathon. He’s also won medals at World Championships, Commonwealth Games, and ParaPanAm Games.

Josh's ‘successes’ have not come without many ‘failures’. His stories of heartbreak and disappointment resonate, and the reminder of how those instances allow us to grow and rise up to something higher, are most inspiring. After a very difficult beginning to his year in 2012, Josh overcame many obstacles he was facing in all areas of his life, and won the prestigious Boston Marathon with an incredible performance, recording the World's Fastest Marathon time of 1:18:25.

Now a three time Paralympian, winning many races around the world, Joshua is known internationally for his work ethic and fortitude. He has beaten every competitor in the world at least once. He is currently preparing for his fourth Paralympic Games in Tokyo, to pursue one missing medal- Paralympic Gold.
Josh shares everything he has learned and gives the keys to unlocking each and every person's unlimited potential by speaking at schools, businesses, governments, and media.

“Training the body and mind to be in their healthiest and most optimum state isn’t only beneficial to Olympians… it is applicable to every person, of every age, and every occupation.”
“There will always be obstacles in life… always challenges. So it's a matter of how we overcome them. When you can overcome all ‘obstacles’ with such ease… that you don’t notice them as obstacles any longer… only then will they seem to ‘disappear’.”

Through his mindset and incredible accomplishments, he is a true living example of his mottos and creed...

"Anything is possible."

Please contact for Speaking engagements: josh@joshcassidy.com

Check out his website www.joshcassidy.com and follow on Insta and Twitter: @joshcassidy84
#yoocandoanything #motivation #athlete #speaker #paralympian #olympian #health #fitness #wellness #gym #track #road #mentalhealth #strength #speed #racing #race #marathon #bostonmarathon #winning #winner #rolemodel #challenge #inspiration #buddhism #mindfulness #Canadian #love #life #stories #peace #wheelchair #disability #healing #meditation #sport #athletics #artist #create #passion #wheelchairracing #wheelchairs

19 May

Robert Pio Hajjar

Ideal Way
Robert Pio Hajjar was born to be a Champion and is dedicated to his calling. A gifted, charismatic speaker, he makes a difference in the world by celebrating life in a way that motivates others to realize their dreams. His dream is of an inclusive society that recognizes the diverse talents and abilities of all members, and values difference as a resource that enriches the whole. He believes love, encouragement and opportunity bring out the best in an individual, which in turn builds a stronger society and a better world.

Travelling widely, Robert Pio spreads his message of hope and inspiration. He has presented “I Can, YOU Can” to more than 450,000 people in 92 cities throughout North America. Listening to him, you understand the importance of making the most of your life, regardless of obstacles imposed by the misinformed. He inspired the I Can, YOU Can Program that is being rolled out by schools in Southwestern Ontario and is quick to point out, “The cards that were dealt to me in life are not as important as how I play them. I love my life.” He plays his hand like a true champion, raising his voice against the injustice of exclusion, advocating for those who cannot speak for themselves.

There have been many remarkable accomplishments along the way. A competitive swimmer with gold medals 2015 and 2016; qualifier Special Olympics 2017 and 2018; Founder of Ideal Way, a charity to help persons differently abled; keynote speaker/emcee at major Conferences throughout Canada and US; Robert’s first book, “I LOVE MY LIFE”, with foreword by the great Jean Vanier is available. More remarkable than his accomplishments, is the person he is.

Robert loves public speaking and starts all such engagements with dance. Dancing, his great sense of humour and his dynamic personality are part of the infectious energy that make his presentations unforgettable and transformational. He takes his calling seriously and implements God’s plan with joy, laughter and love. His deep commitment keeps him out there, raising awareness and showing that inclusion of the differently abled enriches the human experience for us all.

20 May

Robert Pio Hajjar - bio 2017.pdf Download Link

Brian Skotko MD, MPP

A Board-certified medical geneticist and Director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Skotko has dedicated his professional energies 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. Dr. Skotko is also a leader on clinical and translational research about Down syndrome. 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.” Dr. Skotko serves on the Honorary Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, the Board of Directors for the Band of Angels Foundation, and the Professional Advisory Committee for the National Center for Prenatal and Postnatal Down Syndrome Resources.

19 May

19 May

Brian Chicoine M.D.

Medical Director
Advocate Medical Group Adult Down Syndrome Center
Brian Chicoine M.D., is the co-founder and Medical Director of the Advocate Medical Group Adult Down Syndrome Center in Park Ridge, Illinois. The Center has served over 6000 adolescents and adults with Down syndrome since its inception in 1992. Dr. Chicoine graduated from Loyola University of Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. He completed his Family Medicine residency at Lutheran General Hospital where he is now a faculty member. He has co-authored two books “Mental Wellness of Adults with Down Syndrome,” and “The Guide to Good Health for Teens and Adults with Down Syndrome” published by Woodbine House Publishing The Center is presently expanding its research and education programs with a focus on studying ways to encourage participation of people with Down syndrome in their own health promotion, developing and studying programs to improve social skills, and improving the understanding of healthy aging.

19 May

19 May

Shannon McCrae

Insurance and Investment Advisor
Desjardins Financial Security
Shannon McCrae- Specializes in helping families with young and adult children that have special needs including autism, down syndrome and cerebral palsy. She prides herself on knowing about ODSP and how to minimize penalties and deductions with proper financial planning (life insurance, RDSP, segregated funds). Her involvement with the special needs community has grown substantially over the last several years since her goddaughter Sydney was born with Down syndrome in march of 2011. This has made her increasingly conscious of the special and in depth financial planning needs that some families would have to go through and how she could help make the process easier. She has a network of accountants, lawyers, and other services that can help in setting up wills, tax planning and other financial services that can help a family get ready for stable and secure future.

19 May

Brendon Pooran

Brendon Pooran is the founder of and a principal lawyer at PooranLaw. He is involved in most areas of the firm’s practice and regularly provides advice in the areas of estate planning, disability law and corporate law for not-for-profit and charitable organizations.
In addition to practicing law, Brendon is an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, a Course Director in the Critical Disability Studies program at York University, the Past-President of Community Living York South and a founding director of Partners for Planning. He is also a Senior Lawyer Member on the Ontario Consent and Capacity Board.

19 May

Lesley Barreira

Behaviour Analyst
Neonatal Follow Up Clinic, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Lesley is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who has worked in the fields of children’s mental health and pediatric developmental disabilities for over 10 years. Lesley currently works in the Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Lesley’s clinical interests include: parent-mediated interventions, toilet training, sleep training, and non-compliance.

19 May

19 May

20 May

Rudaina Banihani

Neonatologist and Developmental Pediatrician
Neonatal Follow Up Clinic, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Rudaina Banihani is a Neonatologist and Developmental Pediatrician. She is an Associate Professor with the Department of Pediatrics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and holds as staff position in the Division of Neonatology, providing clinical care in the NICU and Neonatal follow-up clinic at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre. She has had a long-standing interest clinically and academically on the long-term outcomes of children with neurological disorders, preterm infants, and those with congenital anomalies or genetic syndromes. In addition, she has a special interest in promotion and advocacy of the welfare of children with Trisomy 21 and their families.

19 May

20 May

Nadia Hamilton

Founder & President
The idea of MagnusCards began when I was 8 years old and drawing pictures around our home for Troy to follow along with and complete personal tasks, such as brushing his teeth. These storyboards that I created for Troy enabled him to start a task and complete it with little to no assistance.
Magnusmode is more than just a company to me – it is my passion, and my way to help my brother and millions of other people with cognitive special needs facing daily struggles to live inclusively and independently. With limited opportunities for development, especially after high school, I want this population to be able to grow and live independently, which is why I have created MagnusCards. MagnusCards leverages technology to empower and support people with cognitive special needs.

19 May

Karen Drexler

Behaviour Consultant
Karen Drexler is a Behaviour Consultant and a Professor in Early Childhood Education. She has been part of the Halton Sexual Health Network since 2015 presenting the Halton Sexual Confidence (formally Sex Esteem) and Sexual Confidence Train the Trainer to adults 18+ with an Intellectual Disability and community partners.
Karen was the co-creator and facilitator of Relationships and the Teen In Me designed for high school students with an intellectual disability.
Both of these programs highlight and detail what healthy sexuality is, important attributes to consider when teaching and fun, practical resources and activities to assist with teaching.
Karen is also the proud parent of 2 children, her youngest son (20) has Down Syndrome.

19 May


Jessica Vargas

Early Childhood Education Professor
Jessica Vargas is a Professor within both the Bachelor and Diploma programs within Early Childhood Education. She brings well over fourteen-years of experience working within the developmental sector, including working within the behavioural services. She has participated in assisting Behaviour Consultants prepare for workshops pertaining to Sexuality. Additionally, she has worked directly with individuals undergoing developmental challenges understand healthy relationships and sexuality. Her academic background includes a Masters in Adult Education. As such, she is skillful in supporting successful transferring of knowledge and skills among all learning styles.

19 May

Amy Allison

Chief Operating Officer
Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City
Amy has a double bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Brigham Young University and began working in the field of developmental disabilities in 1995. Early in her career, she served in various including
Medicaid Case Manager, Group Home Supervisor, Service Coordination Supervisor, and direct care provider. Working with individuals with disabilities for the last 20 years from infants to senior citizens has given her a great
insight into issues faced across the lifespan.
Amy became the Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Guild in January of 2003. During the past 15 years she has been responsible for overseeing dramatic growth and expansion of the organization which now serves
1,600 members, 22 hospitals, 45 school districts and dozens of service providers. Under Amy’s leadership, DSG was presented with the National Down Syndrome Congress 2007 Parent Group of the Year Award and the 2010
Support Kansas City Best in Non-Profit Leadership Award. Ingram’s Magazine recognized Amy as a Kansas City Top 40 Under Forty winner in 2009 for her passion and dedication to serving individuals with Down syndrome,
their families and the professionals who serve them.

19 May

Leanne Tovey

Leanne lives in Milton with her husband Scott and their children, Aiden and Sydney. Leanne and Scott joined Halton Down Syndrome Association after their beautiful daughter Sydney was born in 2011.As well as being the Chair of HDSA, for the past 4 years Leanne is a teacher, who started her career in Special Education, specifically teaching children with Down syndrome.One of her true passions is to work with students on understanding 'Social Justice'. Her ultimate goal is to spread awareness about Down syndrome and to help educate and shape young minds. Leanne was recognized for her work, in 2014, when she received the "Teaching Matters Award" - placing 4th out of 3,000 nominations across Canada.Leanne believes that to truly make a better future for our children, we must not only be parents and advocates, but Down syndrome Champions!

19 May

Jennifer Crowson

Jennifer lives in Dundas, Ontario with her husband Jonathan and their children – Max, Ruaridh and Owen.By profession, Jennifer is a Social Worker with twenty-four year of Government and academic experience specializing in children’s rights and child welfare. Following Owen’s birth in 2012, Jennifer became a member of the Down Syndrome Association and soon after joined the Board of Directors.For the past five years, has served as the Chair and has been the Chair of the Go21 Hamilton Walk for Down Syndrome for four years.She is committed to improving the lives of all people affected by Down syndrome in her community and beyond by raising awareness, supporting research and programming - all to promote the full inclusion and success of all people with disabilities.

19 May

20 May

Mallory Owen

Occupational Therapist
Neonatal Follow Up Clinic, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Mallory is an Occupational Therapist who has studied infant and child brain development as a researcher, and who is now dedicated to promoting infant and child development as a clinician. Mallory currently works in the Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Mallory’s clinical interests include enabling infants and children to learn, play, and thrive, and promoting parent empowerment and self-efficacy.

20 May

Mallory & Jade Ryan

The Dance Ability Movement
Mallory and Jade are Occupational Therapists (OT’s) and Dance Instructors with a passion for helping dancers to achieve their dreams. Both dancing since pre-school, the sisters have experienced the many benefits of being a dancer. Certified through the Canadian Dance Teacher’s Association and trained in a number of dance styles, Mallory and Jade have competed internationally, created University dance teams, hosted University level dance competitions, and enjoyed fulfilling dance teaching careers. Mallory and Jade have experience in pediatrics as Occupational Therapists and volunteering with individuals with additional needs in the community. In 2010 they piloted their first Dance Ability class, and quickly found their passion for building inclusive dance communities. Together, they co-founded The Dance Ability Movement, which builds capacity and community within dance studios to include people of all abilities. They believe in making dreams come true through inspiring dancers to be the best that they can be!

20 May

Ingrid Muschta

Diversity and Inclusion Specialist
Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN)
As a Diversity & Inclusion Specialist with ODEN, Ingrid works promoting the business case for hiring people with disabilities. An engineer with 20 years of experience in corporate, entrepreneurial, and not-for-profit settings, Ingrid is an experienced trainer, who has effectively delivered content to multicultural and multi-generational audiences locally and internationally.
Ingrid is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities. She has held positions in the Board of Directors for the Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton (DSAH) since 2013 assisting DSAH in reaching some impressive goals. Ingrid’s vision for her son, born with Down syndrome, is clear: that he will grow up in a society where people with disabilities participate in higher education; that he will be engaged in equal and meaningful employment; that he will access and contribute to decision-making processes impacting his life and he will be recognized as vibrant contributor to his community.

20 May

Clare Hitchens & Russell Ferguson

Clare Hitchens is the mother of four children, one of whom (Russell) has Down syndrome. She is transitioning to empty nesting with only one left at home since Russell moved out in the spring. She has discovered there is life after full-time parenting and although she still sees her kids regularly, she now has a social life!

20 May

Dana Anaby

McMaster University
Dr. Dana Anaby is an Associate Professor at McGill University in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy. Dana’s research focuses on the participation of children and youth with physical disabilities with a special focus on the environment and its impact on social participation. Dana is currently leading research projects to develop and test new intervention programs for improving participation of youth with disabilities. She also leads Knowledge Translation initiatives aimed at promoting evidence-driven practices towards a focus on participation in the home, school and community settings.

20 May

Laura Turner

McMaster University
Laura Turner is an occupational therapist and the Associate Director, Student Learning Services at Conestoga College. Laura is passionate about supporting students of all ages who experience barriers to learning and participation.

20 May

Rachel Teplicky

McMaster University
Rachel Teplicky is an occupational therapist who works at CanChild. She is interested in finding ways to help children, youth and families participate in all the things they want to do.

20 May

Sarah Costelloe

Speech-Language Pathology Assistant
Anderson Speech Consultants
Sarah worked as a Speech and Language Therapist in the UK for 18 years before emigrating to Canada and joining Anderson's Speech Consultants in 2016. She has extensive experience of running language and social skills groups for Preschool and school aged children.

20 May

Amanda Cotton

Speech-Language Pathologist
Anderson Speech Consultants
Amanda Cotton is a Speech-Language Pathologist with Anderson Speech Consultants in Burlington, ON. She has worked with clients of all ages supporting functional communication and feeding skills.

20 May

Jan Willem Gorter

McMaster University
Jan Willem Gorter, MD, PhD, FRCP(C) Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. He holds the Scotiabank Chair in Child Health Research.
He is Director of CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research (www.canchild.ca) at McMaster University.
Jan Willem has training in pediatric and adult rehabilitation medicine (physiatry) with a special clinical and research interest in healthcare transition and lifecourse health development.
He leads a teen-transition clinic for teenagers with disabilities and their families at McMaster Children’s Hospital. He is co-chair of the community of practice (CoP) on transition for the Canadian Association of Pediatric Health Centres (CAPHC). He has published extensively including 160 peer-reviewed publications in leading journals and 16 chapters in books, including transition to adulthood (2013), sexual health and relationships (2014) and ethical issues in transition (2016).

20 May

Dr. Anthony Martin

Dr. Martin Sr. is a Doctor of Natural Medicine and who specializes in functional health care and biomarker testing. He has over 40 years experience and treated tens of thousands of men and women from all over the world. He is the author of almost a dozen books, including the best selling Eat Fat Get Lean, Serial Killers: Two Hormones Who Want You Dead, Are You Built For Cancer, and Medical Crisis.

19 May

Sean Wiltshire

Avalon Employment
Sean was born and raised in Newfoundland, but has never really settled down. He is an award-winning diversity expert and international speaker and has been working with businesses, crown corporations, governments, and communities across Canada and South East Asia to help them diversify their workforce and be more innovative.
Professionally, for the last 26 years Sean has been the Chief Executive Officer of Avalon Employment Inc (AEI). - An employment agency for individuals with disabilities.
Sean has also been a member of two Federal Ministerial Advisory Committees; is an Alumnus of The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference (2000), and currently is a board member of the National Board.
Sean has also been a member of the CDSS Board of Directors for the last 7 years.
In 2017 Sean was at the United Nations in Vienna; Austria to accept the “Zero Project Award” as part of the team From York University working on employment and diversity issues in South East Asia.

19 May



Canadian Down Syndrome Society
The VATTA Committee speaks for all Canadians with Down syndrome, especially self-advocates who aren't able to use their voice. VATTA is a national committee made up of members from across Canada. This committee meets to discuss current issues in the Down syndrome community. 

19 May

Michael Leclair

Father of 26 year old daughter with Down syndrome. From Montreal lived for 30 years mostly in Ontario and Nova Scotia. Was a Board Member for the Halton Down Syndrome Association.

20 May

Luciano Contini

Luciano is a strong proponent of the Ontario Human Rights Code in both his personal life and in his 20+ year career as a human resources management and labour relations consultant. He is the married father of two young boys, one of whom has Down syndrome. He has participated in several panels and has spoken regularly on the topics of inclusion and advocacy, including as keynote speaker, in the Down syndrome and community living forums. Luciano has also written articles for newsletters and a national journal on these topics. He has volunteered on various boards of directors for not-for-profit organizations, most recently as Member -at-Large and Vice-President of the Board of Directors for Community Living Ontario. He currently resides with his family in Sudbury, Ontario where he runs a human resources management and labour relations consulting firm for employers.

20 May

Jennifer Hogue

19 May

Canadian Down Syndrome Society

Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton

Halton Down Syndrome Association

Whyte Family



Details Convention & Event Management is pleased to support the Canadian Down Syndrome Conference.

Project 321 Peel Down Syndrome Association


CBN Commercial Solutions




Deloitte Private


All Electricall Inc.


Dufferin Construction


Walker's Chocolates



The Canadian Down Syndrome Society will be on hand selling conference shirts and providing information on the new parent packages.

Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton

DSAH is a not for profit organization that serves families of children and adults with Down syndrome and interested professionals in the Hamilton and surrounding areas. 

Halton Down Syndrome Association

The Halton Down Syndrome Association is a volunteer non-profit organization working to improve the quality of life for people with Down syndrome.

Ideal Way

IDEAL WAY is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of persons with Down syndrome, autism, etc.

Founder, Robert Pio Hajjar travels widely to share his message of hope and inspiration. Robert is a voice for his peers who cannot speak.

Canadian Down Syndrome Society, Self Advocate of the Year and recipient of the Unsung Heroes Award by the City of Toronto presented by the Lt. Gov., David C. Onley, Robert is making a difference in the world.

IDEAL WAY wants everyone to feel IDEAL...Included, Deserving, Equal, Appreciated and Loved.


CanChild is a research and educational centre that provides evidence-based information to improve the lives of children and youth with disabilities and their families.

University of Toronto Press

Woodbine House publications about Down Syndrome for parents, children, caregivers, teachers and therapists. 

Ken's Place Foundation

Ken's Place is a non-profit offering resource to and generating awareness for those aging with Down Syndrome. Kens Place receives all royalties from the book "Hello My Name is Ken" - The Life Story of an Amazing Fella with Downs, written and published by his sister.

Young Living Essential Oils

We have an array of therapeutic grade essential oils, and oil infused products which have been approved by Health Canada for use in various health issues. Our passion is to help all those with DS live a healthy life, naturally! 

Belwood Lodge & Camp

For over 70 years, Belwood Lodge and Camp has been a unique summer camp experience for children, youth, and adults with special needs.

Conference Registration

04:00 PM 07:00 PM

Welcome Reception

07:00 PM 09:00 PM


07:30 AM 10:30 AM

Opening Ceremony & Keynote Address

08:30 AM 10:00 AM Grand Ballroom

What do you want in your life? Where do you want to go? If there was one island you wanted to build a bridge to, what would you hope to find there?

Joshua Cassidy is a 3x Paralympian, Boston Marathon Winner, 28x Canadian Champion, multiple Canadian Record Holder, and winner of many medals in the sport of wheelchair racing. We all have dreams and goals that we believe will lead to greater happiness. There always seem to be barriers that get in the way.

Josh shares inspiring stories, and his methods of achieving success. Among other ingredients, a key component to success is believing in yourself in the face of challenges. Josh's own ‘successes’ have not come without many ‘failures’, and so his stories about overcoming obstacles are the most inspiring.

Josh is a true living example of his motto "Anything is possible". Josh will share the keys to unlocking each and every person's unlimited potential, and ultimately his secret to greater happiness.

Keeping Children and Adolescents with Down Syndrome Healthy: All the Medical Updates That Parents Need to Know

10:30 AM 12:00 PM East Ballroom

In this presentation, Dr. Brian Skotko reviews all of the questions and concerns that parents most often have about their sons and daughters with Down syndrome. He provides the answers and action steps, stemming from the latest clinical research on people with Down syndrome. Based on his clinical experience in the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Skotko makes sure that every parent can anticipate medical conditions so that the potentials of all people with Down syndrome are maximized.


DSHealthCarePresentation for Parents HANDOUT May 2018.pdf Download Link

Promoting Health for and with Adults and Adolescents with Down syndrome

10:30 AM 12:00 PM Centre Ballroom

Living longer and healthier lives is an active process.Adolescents and adults with Down syndrome can and should be encouraged to participate in their own health promotion.This presentation and discussion will focus on health promotion for and with these individuals with Down syndrome including health promotion at home and in the community and health promotion and screening in the health provider’s office.


promoting health handout.pdf Download Link

Daron Hogue - Spirit Unbroken

10:30 AM 12:00 PM West Ballroom

Daron is a 33 year old young man who lives in Williamsford, Ontario with his mom and dad, Patricia and Randy. He has two older brothers and two younger sisters who he shares a lot of love and laughs with. Daron is quite the jokester; a lot of tricks get played on each other!

Daron is an extremely talented artist. He creates his fine-detailed work with pencils, pens, markers, and paint.

Daron loves his Magic cards, comic books, action figures, and his movies, especially superhero action movies and scary movies. Daron was definitely a ninja or a samurai in a past life, and could be often found practicing his fighting moves. Speaking of moves, Daron certainly knows how to dance and bust a move!
However, when Daron started experiencing health issues, he became unable to do the things he loves. At his worst, he lost about 35lbs, he was unable to keep food down, unable to feed himself, unable to walk, he frequently vomited blood, suffering from seizures, effecting his consciousness and ability to communicate, which had already diminished to a whisper. The cause was a mystery, without an accurate diagnosis.

Daron and his family visited countless doctors, hospitals, and specialists for many years trying to find answers, and solutions.
Daron’s loss of his independence was difficult. He was about to live on his own with his best friend Jon, which was no longer possible. The Reach program has given him support and life-long friends who have helped his recovery, giving him motivation to return.

The journey has been long and difficult, but through perseverance, strength, and patience Daron’s health is returning, and he’s taking his life back.

Daron’s family shares the answers they discovered needed to return Daron’s health to him, so others can also have the knowledge and resources to prevent or address any obstacles that may be faced with greater ease.

This is the spirit of building bridges, they are built by the strong and determined so others don’t have to when they need to cross the same choppy waters.


Wills, Henson Trusts & Registered Disability Savings Plans

10:30 AM 12:00 PM South Ballroom

Why are Wills, Trusts & RDSPs important components of the future planning process? We will breakdown what RDSPs do for your family. Discussion will occur around how contributions are made and matched, as well as what the restrictions and advantages are to having these accounts. In addition, we will emphasize the importance of having a Will in a place and highlight the benefits of Henson Trusts.


PooranLaw - Estate Planning (CDSS - May 19, 2018)[15075].pdf Download Link

Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Getting A Job

10:30 AM 12:00 PM Wellington Room

Join Employment expert Sean Wiltshire for an informative and entertaining session on finding your way in the world of work. To help with the journey, Sean has developed a Top 10 List that can support your dream to get a job! As always Sean’s session will include real life examples of overcoming challenges, and accepting others. It’s all about finding your “hidden talent”.

This session is designed for individuals/family members/ professionals who are interested in finding out more about employment options across Canada. Including some ideas about how to market your skills in the workplace, connecting with groups that support your dream to work and how to avoid common pitfalls that affect your employability.


top 10 things to know about work CDSS May 2018- Sean Wiltshire.pdf Download Link


12:00 PM 01:30 PM

Taking Care of your Family: Celebrating the Highs and Surviving the Lows

01:30 PM 03:00 PM East Ballroom

Raising a son or daughter with Down syndrome is a journey full of celebrations–and challenges! Sue Levine, Brian Skotko, and Rick Goldstein recently published three landmark research papers in the American Journal of Medical Genetics. They surveyed more than 3,000 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and people with Down syndrome nationwide, asking them about family life when someone has Down syndrome. How did families respond? And, what does this research mean for you and your family? What strategies can your family use to weather the stormy times and value the shining moments. During this workshop, you will also learn about ways in which family experiences play an important role in informing expectant parents who receive the new prenatal tests for Down syndrome.


Let's Get Real Presentation HANDOUT May 2018.pdf Download Link

Regression in Adolescents and Young Adults with Down syndrome

01:30 PM 03:00 PM Centre Ballroom

There has been a growing number of clinical case reports of regression in adolescents and adults with Down syndrome who have shown unexpected and severe regression in cognitive and adaptive functioning, motor function, communication skills, and behavior. This regression is reported to occur following a period of stable functional skill acquisition in young adolescents or adults as described by their families. While there have been several articles published about regression in adolescents and adults with Down syndrome, there remains a great deal that is unknown. In this presentation, we will refer to this phenomenon as “adult regression syndrome.” Information will be provided from published studies and reports, why autism and Alzheimer’s disease are excluded from consideration (separate entities) will be described, a working definition of adult regression syndrome will be discussed, and clinical features, evaluation, treatment, and prognosis will be described.


Regression handout.pdf Download Link

You Can Run But you Can’t Hide from Toilet training

01:30 PM 03:00 PM West Ballroom

What does it mean to be ‘ready’ for toilet training? How come my child will pee in the toilet but will only make a poo in a diaper? I feel like I’ve been toilet training my child for a long time, but it hasn’t worked yet, what am I supposed to do? These are all great questions, and there isn’t one easy answer for each question but knowing your child and knowing the basics on toilet training and the factors that influence success can be really helpful in planning ahead or crossing the finish line in toilet training. This session will review the research on toilet training methods, factors that may facilitate, impede or contraindicate toilet training, and common training stumbling blocks in children with Down Syndrome. In addition, we will review the Medical conditions that can interfere with toilet training in children with Down Syndrome.


CDSS toilet talk handout L Barreira May 2018.pdf Download Link

MagnusCards: Accessible Tech for independence & inclusion

01:30 PM 03:00 PM South Ballroom

In this session I will be discussing my personal inspiration, my brother Troy, and why I founded Magnusmode, and created MagnusCards for him and others living with a cognitive special need. When Troy graduated high school, there were very few opportunities for continued personal and social development. I want to educate individuals on new ways that we can connect, engage and include people with cognitive special needs at home and in the community. MagnusCards can help people live with greater independence, confidence and inclusion for whichever tasks are most important to their daily routine.

MagnusCards is a free app that provides digital how-to guides (called Card Decks) for activities at home and in the community, such as making breakfast or grocery shopping. Each Card Deck features visual, audio and text instruction for people with cognitive special needs to follow along with, learn life skills and live with greater independence. We have partnered with corporations to develop content, and there is also an option to customize your own Card Deck for your favourite recipe, or a daily routine specific to your household, or your community. I will be walking the delegates through the platform, showing them how they can utilize MagnusCards in their everyday life to help break-down tasks and increase independence.


Sexuality and Me

01:30 PM 03:00 PM Wellington Room

Sexuality and Me.
Understanding Sexuality, what are the important things you need to know.
Sometimes your feelings and thoughts can be confusing and hard to understand. Its really important to understand how you feel, how to react in situations and how to keep yourself safe.
This workshop will explain and support your understanding of your personnel values, your understanding of relationships, consent and sexuality.
This workshop will provide a safe forum for you to ask questions and seek answers.
This workshop will provide you with resources and visuals that will support your learning and understanding of sexuality.


Fostering Independence in Students with Down syndrome

03:30 PM 05:00 PM East Ballroom

Students with Down syndrome are achieving things never thought possible. That being said, we still have
70-80% unemployment in adults and that is do the cycle of prompt, praise and reward dependency that
occurs frequently. This presentation will highlight important ways parents and educators contribute to
learned helplessness and actual disable people with Down syndrome without meaning to.
This presentation will focus on the need for processing time, coping strategies and communication work
arounds that will help individuals with Down syndrome be more independent in multiple settings.


Fostering Independence in Students With Down Syndrome --CDSS Conference.pdf Download Link

Making Sense of Challenging Behavior

03:30 PM 05:00 PM Centre Ballroom

When a child engages in problem behaviour it can be confusing, frustrating, and even scary. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a technology based on the science of behaviour. As a science, its ultimate goals are to understand and improve human behaviour. This perspective can be a very useful way to understand a child’s behaviour. This session will give an overview of the basics of learned behaviour, functions of behaviour, and recognizing why a particular strategy may or may not be the right choice. Additionally, when trying to solve challenging behaviours a big piece of the puzzle that is often overlooked is the well-being of the family as a unit. It’s very easy to for parents (and behaviour analysts) to get intertwined and ultra-focused on the business of solving behaviour problems, but there can be unanticipated costs to family well-being. Some thoughts will be provided on the “problem” with solving behaviour problems.


CDSS ABA resource list LBarreira May 2018.pdf Download Link
CDSS ABA talk handout L Barreira May 2018.pdf Download Link

Parent to Advocate to Down syndrome Champion

03:30 PM 05:00 PM West Ballroom

This session will begin with a short introduction of our personal journeys. It will then speak about how we realized that to make a difference for our children we had to become advocates for them in the school system, the community, etc. Then we will speak about how this passion to make things better for our own children lead us to wanting to make a bigger difference for all children and adults with Down syndrome. This lead us to the work that we both do for the Halton and Hamilton regions. We will then speak about some of our largest successes as organizations - School Education Program, World Down Syndrome School Contest, Support Bursary Programs, Go21 Walks, etc. We will finish with giving resources and contact information to anyone who is interested in running some of these programs in their own communities.


The Nutritional Biomarkers for individuals with Down Syndrome

03:30 PM 05:00 PM South Ballroom

Dr. Martin will discuss common nutritional deficiencies in individuals with Down Syndrome, including being low in Vitamin D, Omega 3’s, Magnesium and Vitamin B12. Hormones, insulin, leaky gut and leaky brain will also be covered. Discussions will include how to correct deficiencies for optimal health and improved cognitive functions.


20 Proven Benefits of DHA- Dr. Martin.pdf Download Link

VATTA - Becoming Your Best Self

03:30 PM 04:30 PM Wellington Room

Voices At The Table for Advocacy (VATTA) is a national committee of self-advocates. VATTA’s mission is to help all Canadians see the ability and advocate for people with Down syndrome! VATTA works closely with CDSS and has completed multiple projects and presentations since the committee was created in 2005. Members of VATTA will be taking the stage to present “Becoming Your Best Self”. Becoming Your Best Self involves an array of topics that VATTA is excited to share with you. Topics will include the importance of inclusion in a community, experiences in post-secondary, cyber bullying, building independence, and experiences in creating and finding healthy relationships! These topics will be discussed by the committee through the use of personal stories, pictures, and tips for self-advocates and parents. There will be a discussion period for questions at the end of the presentation. People with Down syndrome are living meaningful and positive lives and VATTA wants to share those experiences with all of you so you too can See the Ability!


Family night

07:00 PM 09:00 PM Centre Ballroom

CDSS Annual General Meeting

08:00 AM 09:00 AM Centre Ballroom

* For CDSS members only

Get Ready, Get Set.. and they’re off to school

09:15 AM 10:30 AM East Ballroom

Starting school is a big and exciting step for every child. When a child has special needs, the idea of school entry for parents can also be a time of worry, stress, and wondering if your child is ready for this transition into a new environment. This will be a two-part session. First, we will present an overview of what we mean when we talk about “school readiness”; the supports available to your child within the school system; highlights from the research about children with Down Syndrome starting Kindergarten; and things that you can do now to get your child ready for school. Second, we will host a panel discussion to answer questions sent in from families and community members about this special transition in children’s lives. The panel will consist of educators, developmental medicine and allied health professionals, and a parent who has been through all of this before. We will aim to address questions from a variety of areas to facilitate a better overall understanding of what to expect at school and how to prepare for this exciting new chapter.


Employment: The Gold Standard for inclusion

09:15 AM 10:30 AM Centre Ballroom

Power Point presentation and discussion primarily for parents with school aged children, and educators. Focus is on raising expectations that we have for our children, at home and at school, in order to instill work ethic, set up real work experiences, and better the outcomes for attachment to the labour market when they graduate. The purpose of the presentation is to convey to attendees that they should expect that a job will be the natural progression for people who have a disability once they leave the school system. Examples and rationales are provided for setting up after school jobs, co-ops in non-segregated settings, and starting career planning at a young age. Time is provided for Q&A and discussion.


I Don’t live with Mom anymore

09:15 AM 10:30 AM West Ballroom

Russell moved out of his family home in March 2017, and by the time of the conference it will have been just over a year. Russell and Clare will talk about the ways they both have adjusted to the change. He is in a LifeShare program, supported by Christian Horizons, which sees him living in a family home (but not ours!). He is working two jobs, volunteering, doing arts and crafts, and power-lifting. He has a very busy life! This session shows the possibilities for our young people and shows parents that life goes on after they leave home, and that you don't lose the connection with your kids, but your relationship changes.


I Don't Live with Mom Anymore RESOURCE LIST.docx Download Link

Belonging Through Dance

09:15 AM 10:30 AM South Ballroom

It is through participation that we establish ourselves in our community. How do we support opportunities for participation for those with Down Syndrome to become thriving members of their communities?

Occupational Therapists (OTs) help people transform their lives through enabling them to do and be and through the process of becoming. What does it mean to become a dancer, particularly for those with Down Syndrome?

As “Dancing OTs” Mallory and Jade will share their journey building bridges between the dance world and the “Special Needs” community through the creation of The Dance Ability Movement.

Mallory & Jade believe that “Each child is unique, every child deserves equal opportunities, and all children have the ability to dance”. At the start of their OT careers, the sisters were determined to find out why the dance studio environment lacked diversity. Hearing stories of children who dreamed of being ballerinas, but didn’t have the opportunity inspired them to pursue their passion; a beautiful combination of their chosen “helping” profession and their love for dance.

Working in collaboration with families, studios, and community organizations, The Dance Ability Movement strives to build inclusive communities within dance studios, creating a welcoming space where everyone can grow, learn, and share their love of dance, music, and movement! Their evolving model and vision for inclusion will be shared, along with the feedback, research, and stories that have come forth from dancers, families, volunteers, and others involved with their community, as well as similar programs globally will be shared.


Residential Housing : New Approaches and Options

09:15 AM 10:15 AM Wellington Room

This session is devoted to a review of the current options available to parents of children with Down syndrome, with a particular emphasis on housing models being developed in the West Island of Montreal. The session will briefly recap the options and associated frustrations up until now, and then delve into the work and results now being achieved - taking into consideration best practices from other parts of the world.


Residential_Planning_2018 Michael Leclair.pdf Download Link

The ABCs for Transition to Adulthood

10:45 AM 12:00 PM East Ballroom

Children with Down Syndrome grow up and become adults. In their journey towards adulthood people with Down Syndrome experience many transitions in various life domains. Many young people face difficulties for participating in several life areas, and do not catch up with their peers without Down Syndrome. Young people with Down Syndrome also have to take on responsibility for their own health and health care. Leaving the family-centred environment of paediatric care for the individual-centred environment of adult services is a difficult challenge for these young people and their families. Poor transition from paediatric to adult health care has been shown to have a negative impact in chronic health conditions and disabilities, including Down Syndrome with respect to adherence to medical care, health outcomes, and quality of life.

It is therefore of utmost importance to provide support through developmentally appropriate life experiences and regular opportunities. A key element for young people with Down Syndrome is to learn how to self-manage life.
In this presentation /workshop I will provide the participant with current insights into 1) a lifespan health development approach, 2) the processes of clinical transition of adolescents with Dopwns Syndrome, as well as with 3) ‘points of entry’ to improve self-management skills and to improve adult-oriented care.
I hope that this presentation / workshop will contribute to raising Awareness, Building capacity and developing Collaborative partnerships (ABC) between young people with Down Syndrome , families and healthcare providers in both pediatric and adult settings.


Making Participation Happen: The PREP Intervention Approach

10:45 AM 12:00 PM Centre Ballroom

Meaningful participation in everyday activities plays a key role in the health and well-being of children and youth. Research has shown that children and youth with disabilities are often restricted in their participation and that the environment is one of the most important factors contributing to these restrictions. There is need for evidence-based, practical interventions to guide environmentally-focused approaches. To address this need, researchers and occupational therapists at CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research at McMaster University have developed a new therapy approach called “Pathways and Resources for Engagement and Participation” (PREP). PREP is a client-centered, strengths-based intervention that focuses on changing aspects of the environment and/or the task to help people meet their participation goals. In this session, we will present an overview of the PREP intervention and the evidence to support its use. A series of case studies will be presented to show how PREP can be used to achieve individual participation goals, such as being involved in a music program, independently preparing afterschool snacks and volunteering. We will also discuss how PREP can be applied to social goals within a group session, such as going out for lunch with friends. Through these case studies, the steps of PREP will be illustrated and successful intervention strategies for improving participation will be discussed. Finally, we will do a walk-through of the Participation Knowledge Hub on the CanChild website to highlight the many resources that are available to enable participation.


Promoting Speech and Language Through Reading and Conversation

10:45 AM 12:00 PM West Ballroom

The Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton (DSAH) and Anderson Speech Consultants (ASC) have partnered to provide speech, language, literacy, and feeding services in a group setting to all members. The DSAH recognizes the importance of communication skills for the fostering of relationships,and success in academics and employment. The group setting not only provides the practice of specific speech, language, and literacy goals but also creates a supportive environment for enhancing social communication skills. In addition, a feeding group was offered to support parents and infants with strategies to provide safe and pleasurable feeding. The partnership focused on inclusion of all members by offering services to various ages, abilities, and interest groups. The DSAH and ASC are excited to share how the groups came to fruition, how members participated in the selection of the groups, and provide specifics on content and facilitation of the groups.


Losing sleep over your child’s sleep? You are not alone

10:45 AM 12:00 PM South Ballroom

Sleep problems in children are common and even more common in kids with Down Syndrome. Some people may think “Ok, if lots of kids have sleep problems then what’s the big deal?” Well, if you happen to be a parent of a child with sleep problems then you know it IS a really big deal!
Sleep problems can affect the whole family and can be a source of major stress and lost sleep for parents too. Crying, refusing to go to bed or stay in bed, taking a long time to fall asleep, bedtime routines that resemble marathon high stakes negotiations, “bed-hopping”, night wakings, needing a parent to stay in order to fall asleep, sleeping in car seats, strollers, or on couches (basically anywhere but their own bed), and sleeping more during the day and staying awake at night (a.k.a. “the rock star” sleep schedule). These are just a few of the long list of sleep problems but regardless of the form, many Paediatric sleep problems can be improved, if not completely resolved with behavioural strategies. There are some medical conditions that cause sleep disturbances and even some medications that interfere with sleep in children with Down Syndrome, so it is very important to rule these out first. Sleep studies or referral to sleep clinics when should this be done or initiated.

This session will review common Paediatric sleep disturbances, factors that may facilitate, impede or contraindicate behaviour intervention, typical sleep assessment tools, and their limitations, and evidence-based sleep strategies.


CDSS sleep resources L Barreira May 2018.pdf Download Link

To Advocate or Not to Advocate: Who are we helping when we intervene for our childern?

10:45 AM 12:00 PM Wellington Room

Why advocate? Who really benefits from it? What does "inclusion" mean for your child, other children, society? This session explores what is at stake when advocacy comes calling, and addresses some ways to best answer the call. But what if we decide not to advocate? Who really is affected by this decision? The reasons for these decisions, and how they impact on those with disabilities, will be discussed with participants with the goal of increasing awareness of decision outcomes. The speaker will also share his and his family's own journey in advocacy, from early experiences to recent involvement in their son's cases at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.



12:15 PM 01:30 PM

Closing Ceremony and Endnote Address

01:30 PM 03:00 PM Grand Ballroom

I Can, YOU Can!

01:30 PM 03:00 PM Grand Ballroom

“I Can, YOU Can!” With these words, Robert Pio Hajjar, member in the Order of Ontario has transformed lives. In 2006, with only $62.05, he co-founded Ideal Way and inspires and empowers audiences "to realize ability in disability and to empower champions of inclusion and change". Born to be a champion, he makes a difference in the world by celebrating life in a way that motivates others to reach their full potential. He plays his hand like a true champion, raising his voice against the injustice of exclusion, advocating for those who cannot speak for themselves. His dream is of an inclusive society that recognizes the diverse talents and abilities of ALL members, and values difference as a resource that enriches the whole.
I Can, YOU Can” has been has presented to over 450,000 people in more than 90 cities throughout North America. With Fanshawe College, I Can, YOU Can has been developed for Southwestern Ontario schools. “The cards that were dealt to me in life are not as important as how I play them,” he says. “I love my life.”



06:00 PM 11:00 PM Grand Ballroom