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May 14, 2022 In-Person Event Cancelled

We are saddened to announce that, due to low registration numbers, we have come to the difficult decision to cancel the Family Links event scheduled for Saturday, May 14, 2022.

The information and training that we planned to present at the conference is important. The Utah Parent Center and Family Links Planning Committee is committed to bringing that information to you.

Please watch your emails as we scheduled those workshops over the next few months. We are planning to offer each session as a hybrid event, allowing for more individuals to participate. Each session will be recorded and posted on the Family Links page of the Utah Parent Center website.

We have already rescheduled our keynote presentation: Beyond Inclusion: Creating Belonging presented by Dr. Matthew Wappett on Thursday, June 9, 2022 from 12:00-1:00 PM via Zoom.  Register at:

In addition, we are putting together a resource handout from all of the exhibitors who planned on participating at the event. This information will be emailed to you.

Please let us know if you need a copy mailed to you.

In the meantime, we are pleased to announce that all of the session recordings and handouts from the April 2022 Family Links Virtual Conference have been posted and can be viewed at:

Thank you!

Family Links Planning Committee and Utah Parent Center

Now scheduled for Thursday, June 9, 2022 from 12 - 1 PM via Zoom

Beyond Inclusion: Creating Belonging

Presented by Dr. Matthew Wappett, Utah State University Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice (UCEDD)

Inclusion isn’t really what you want. You can be “included” in a classroom and still feel isolated and alone, you can be “included” on a team and still never have an opportunity to play the game; you can be “included” in a community but still be viewed as an outsider.  We all want more than this: we want to contribute and be seen as an integral part of the group.  What you really want is to “belong”.  In this presentation we will explore how we move beyond inclusion towards creating classrooms and communities where people actually belong.

Dr. Matthew Wappett Bio

Dr. Matthew Wappett is the Executive Director of the Utah State University Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice (UCEDD), with an affiliate appointment as a Research Associate Professor in the USU College of Education and Human Services.  He was formerly the Co-Director of the University of Idaho Confucius Institute and had an affiliate faculty appointment as a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.  Dr. Wappett’s background is in special education and disability studies; most of his research has been focused on creating inclusive environments to accommodate the needs of diverse populations. 

Dr. Wappett also conducts research and writes about the effects of laughter in the classroom and genuinely enjoys teaching people how to laugh!  He has been referred to by many as the “Laughter Doctor”!  He has been a featured speaker at state and national conferences and training events.  

Dr. Wappett earned his Ph.D. in Special Education, an M.Ed. in Educational Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.  Dr. Wappett has also attended Clinical Training for Mind Body Medicine through the Harvard Medical School.  He completed his secondary teaching certification while pursuing his Master’s degree at the University of Utah. 

In his spare time, Dr. Wappett coaches youth hockey, competes in powerlifting, and spends as much time as possible outdoors rafting Western rivers.

These events will be rescheduled. Watch for more information coming soon.

When to Push Through, When to Say “No”, and When to Let Go

Katie Greene, Utah Parent Center

Presentation Description

We will work on identifying and prioritizing the needs of others and ourselves; discuss the importance of self-care and identify ways to implement it in daily life.

Meet Presenter: Katie Greene

Image of Katie GreenKatie Greene works at the Utah Parent Center as a Parent Consultant for families with children who are Deaf or hard of hearing almost 4 years now and loves every minute of it. Helping families and advocating for their needs is one of her favorite things to do. Prior to working at the UPC, Katie worked as a health and fitness coach for over 8 years.Her two great passions in life are serving families and helping individuals take control of their health. Katie and her husband have five children, one of whom is profoundly Deaf, and all five are the source of her health problems and personal successes 🙂 Katie lives with five chronic health conditions, which was the motivation for her to become a health and fitness coach. I love being active, reading, watching movies or playing games with my family and traveling.

Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Maren Jacobsen, ABSKids

Presentation Description

In this presentation, we will go over the basics of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This includes how to identify the function of a child’s behavior or what they are looking to accomplish with this behavior. We will introduce some simple data tracking, as well as how to support the child before a behavior occurs. To close, we’ll go over reinforcement and how it works to increase adaptive behaviors.

Meet Presenter: Maren Jacobsen

Maren’s bio is coming soon.

Shattering Shame

Cory Henderson, Certified ADHD Life Coach

Presentation Description

More information coming soon.

Meet Presenter: Cory Henderson

Cory Henderson is a proud mother of five sons and grandmother to sixteen wonderful grandchildren. Family is everything to her and she’ll gladly expound on each individual if given the opportunity.

Cory describes the day she was diagnosed with ADHD as ‘devastating.’  “All I had in my mind were the stereotypical assumptions usually attributed to those stuck with the label and it was discouraging,” she said. With an internal resolve she didn’t realize she possessed, she started on a venture of discovery—one that changed her life in ways she could not have imagined.

Cory became passionate in her studies and is now a Certified ADHD Life Coach. Her greatest desire is to help others better manage their ADHD lives. 

“I believe others can benefit from my knowledge, training and experience. I’d like them to learn to do as I believe I have done—turn discouragement into success. Those who have been given the gift of ADHD are creative, resourceful and whole.”

Emergency Preparedness

Tina Persels and Jodi Hansen

Presentation Description

Being prepared means planning ahead. In this online workshop you will learn about tools to help you and your family be better informed and prepared for emergencies. Information will be given to help you provide a support network by identifying services that might be helpful as you prepare. Since each family has different needs, there will be many options discussed which could help you individually.   This is information gathered for our current needs – there will be time for some of your questions to be answered.

Meet Presenters: Tina and Jodi

Image of Tina Persels and Jodi Hansen

These events will be rescheduled. Watch for more information coming soon!

Parent Resilience: Are you a rock or a rubber band?

Heidi Whittaker, Utah Parent Center

Presentation Description

What does resilience have to do with a rock or a rubber band and parenting?  A LOT!  As parents we want our children with special needs to be better emotionally resilient–to be able to handle life’s ups and downs.  Resilience isn’t inherited, but learned, and knowing resilient skills as parents can help us deal with the challenges of raising children with special needs in a more healthy way!  Come learn scientifically-based techniques that can help you decide which type of resilience is better–a rock or a rubber band!

Meet Presenter: Heidi Whittaker

Image of Heidi Whittaker

Heidi Whittaker is the parent of four children, ages 26-17, all with special needs ranging from Autism, ADHD, Depression, Mood Disorders, Anxiety and OCD.  Heidi began first helping parents with resources and information as the Nebo School District Volunteer “Parent Liaison” in 2006 and was later hired by the Utah Parent Center in 2013 as a Parent Consultant serving parents in an official role for Nebo School District.  Heidi says one of her favorite things about her job with the UPC is being surrounded by colleagues and parents in the same “boat,” who have true “empathy” for how challenging it can be to be “rubber bands” when having children with special needs. Heidi’s secret passion is teaching, as she is a retired teacher, so she loves to attend and teach workshops of any kind. She also loves Stax Potato Chips, Yard Sales, and going to Arches National Park with her family. She’s excited to teach about Resilience as it is essential for all parents, especially those who parent children with special needs.

Ask Anything About Special Education

Utah Parent Center Panel

Presentation Description

Families can bring any questions they might have about the special education process or their experience with it.  Our seasoned statewide Parent Consultants will share their knowledge and expertise to help you along the way.  Join us to learn about possible ways to approach issues and help bring about practical solutions.  


Meet Panelists: UPC Panelists

UPC Circle LogoUPC Education Consultant Panel including:

Esperanza Reyes, UPC Associate Director and Ashlie Baker,  Leslie Hansen and Liliam Llanos.  With over 33 years of combined experience assisting and coaching families across the state of Utah with their student’s IEP and other school services needs.

Benefits of Adaptive Recreation and What's Available at the NAC

National Ability Center

Presentation Description

Learn about the benefits of adaptive sports and recreation and what is available at the National Ability Center, how to register, scholarships available and more.

Meet Presenter: Tracy Meier

National Ability Center LogoPresenter bio coming soon!

Tools for Decision Making

Presented by: Jennie Dopp, Utah Parent Center

Presentation Description

Need to know about the possibilities available for making decisions, supporting decisions, and protecting vulnerable individuals through substituted decisions? Please join this session to discuss and understand the array of tools that can be helpful to anyone who wonders about how reaching adulthood can impact the act of choice-making.

Meet Presenter: UPC Staff

Image of Jennie Dopp

Jennie Dopp is a special projects coordinator for the UPC. As a mother of a 21 year old son with multiple disabilities, Jennie understands the critical need for support services for families. Because of her son’s rare chromosome duplication and the lack of support and resources available to her family, Jennie learned the importance of advocacy work and being a voice for marginalized communities. Jennie holds a degree from Weber State University and has made philanthropy, non-profit work, and being a champion and advocate for those impacted by disabilities her life’s mission. Jennie enjoys vacationing with her husband, Ryan, and her four children, movies, and anything chocolate.

Exhibitor/Resource Fair


  • Advanced Behavior Change
  • Autism Learning Partners
  • Benchmark Human Services
  • Best Buddies International Utah
  • Children’s First Education Fund
  • DDI Vantage Inc
  • Epilepsy Foundation of Utah
  • Harmony Music Therapy
  • Learning Disabilities Association of Utah
  • NAMI Utah
  • National Ability Center
  • Professor Mom
  • RISE Services, Inc.
  • Seedling Behavioral Psychology
  • Special Olympics Utah
  • TURN Community Services
  • Utah Family to Family Network
  • Utah Family Voices
  • Utah Parent Center
  • Utah Assistive Technology Teams and Utah Center for Assistive Technology
  • Utah Independent Living Center