May 2021 SEPAC Meeting

Executive Function:
Supporting our Students’ Skill Building from Childhood Through Adolescence
Presented by Sophie Bellenis, OTD, OTR/L
Friday, May 14th at 10:00 a.m.
Please email for Zoom info.

In this presentation, Dr. Sophie Bellenis will explain executive function as it relates to success with both academics and life skills. By examining executive function through a developmental lens, she will review tips and strategies to help children and adolescents build up skills in the home. Additionally, she will review some of the executive function demands that present during transitional periods of childhood. Finally, Dr. Bellenis will discuss executive function skills that should be targeted before leaving secondary education to help students be successful with their post-secondary plans.


Dr. Sophie Bellenis is a licensed and registered Occupational Therapist in Massachusetts, specializing in educational occupational therapy and functional life skills development. For the past eight years, her work has primarily been split between children and adolescents on the Autism Spectrum in the United States and marginalized children in Tanzania, East Africa.

Dr. Bellenis graduated from the MGH Institute of Health Professions with a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, with a focus on pediatrics and international program evaluation. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association, as well as the World Federation of Occupational Therapists.

Dr. Bellenis has worked for the Northshore Education Consortium and the Salem Public Schools providing occupational therapy services across vastly different educational settings. She also has experience working at the Northeast ARC Spotlight Program using a drama-based method to teach social skills to children, adolescents and young adults with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and related social cognitive challenges.

Internationally, Dr. Bellenis has done extensive work in Tanzania collaborating with fabulous Tanzanian professionals from a few different non-profit organizations. She has spent significant time working with the Tanzanian Children’s Fund, Asali Project and How to Draw a Lion providing educational enrichment and support. She has also spent time working with The Plaster House, a post-surgical, pediatric rehabilitation center, in Ngaramtoni, Tanzania.

Dr. Bellenis currently works as part of NESCA’s transition team and offers educational occupational therapy assessment, consultation and virtual coaching. Additionally, she is the program manager for NESCA’s Real-life Skills Program, providing community- and home-based coaching for functional skill development. She believes that individual sensory needs and visual skills must be taken into account to create comprehensive educational programming.

February Meeting Information

Our February meeting is right around the corner! It is our hope that the content will provide helpful strategies as we all continue to balance the realities of a pandemic with the educational and developmental needs of our students. Please feel free to invite others to join this timely presentation.  (Please email sepac@doversherborn for Zoom link information.)

Parent-Friendly Tips for Managing Behavior in a COVID-19 World
Presented by Lisa Gurdin, MS, BCBA, LABA
Thursday, February 11, 2021
9:00 a.m. (note earlier start time)

Since last March, families have had to deal with so many unexpected challenges due to COVID-19. With children now home for over five months, any demands and unknown situations can cause behavioral outbursts that are disruptive and frustrating. And, with what seems like constantly changing variables related to school reopening, the anxiety and stress for both parents and children only seems to be rising. Given this reality, it is integral that parents have the tools they need to anticipate and plan for transitions, new expectations, and unusual school experiences and social interactions. In this workshop, we will discuss parent-friendly proactive strategies to prevent and manage challenging behaviors and encourage the development of important life skills, such as self-advocacy, independence, and coping skills.  

Ms. Gurdin has been working with students, families, and school-based professionals as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Licensed Applied Behavior Analyst in Massachusetts since 2001. She currently consults with school teams on behavioral interventions and evaluations for students with special needs and provides parent training. Ms. Gurdin is also a Part-Time Lecturer at Northeastern University and the ACE Coordinator for the BCBA Roundtable at EDCO Collaborative. In her role as ACE Coordinator, she coordinates and presents continuing education workshops for local school-based behavior analysts. For several years, Ms. Gurdin worked as the Clinical Coordinator for LABBB Collaborative. In this role, she supervised a team of BCBAs, provided clinical oversight, managed home-based programming, consulted with school teams on complex cases in LABBB member districts, conducted staff trainings, and provided ongoing consultation to classrooms across the collaborative. 

December SEPAC Meeting

Elise Wulff from MGH Aspire will be joining us on December 10th, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss practical strategies to support Executive Functioning in remote and hybrid learning, both household and individual, to help make the best of a challenging situation. 

The transition to remote learning gave many parents and caregivers a new data set on their child’s learning and educational skill set. Executive Functioning (EF) plays a huge role in a student’s ability and success accessing curriculum, whether in the classroom or from home. And, the challenges and complexities of learning in the COVID pandemic require a greater emphasis on supporting organization, initiation and follow-through, self-regulation, and flexibility- all core EF skills. This workshop will give an overview of the core EF concepts, and how to spot them in your child/student(s) specifically during this period of pandemic learning. We will discuss the importance of identifying your child’s EF profile to best match the specific and appropriate strategy to the source of the challenge.

Elise Wulff has more than a decade of experience working with the neurodiverse population, their families, and professionals in both the public and private sectors. With MGH Aspire since 2008, Elise oversees Child and AspireWorks programming and related services. Elise also provides personalized parent coaching, school-based consultation, and professional development. Prior to joining Aspire, Elise worked as an Inclusion Facilitator for a therapeutic intervention program for students with Asperger’s, NVLD, ADHD, and similar profiles. In collaboration with Aspire, Elise co-wrote a multi-year tiered self-awareness curriculum based on Aspire’s model ‘The Science of Me,’ as well as curricula to address enhancing Executive Functioning skills and supporting resistant writers. Elise is recognized for her work supporting school districts to enhance their inclusion practices and foster healthy social-emotional development and self-awareness. She has specific expertise in program design, social-emotional curriculum, tools to build student independence, and strategies for positive behavioral interventions. Elise provides personalized parent coaching, school-based consultation, and professional development for providers. Elise received her undergraduate degree in psychology and theater arts from Emory University and her master’s degree in special education from Lesley University.

Please e-mail to request meeting login information.

Welcome Back to SEPAC

The Dover-Sherborn SEPAC meetings will be remote for the time being. Because of this, please make sure to e-mail us to opt-in to messages that will provide regular updates, including login information for our remote meetings.

Meetings will occur:

  • Friday, November 13, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, January 15, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, March 12 at 10:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, April 8 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, May 14 at 10:00 a.m.
  • June TBD

ADHD: Don’t Skip the Facts

Hosted by Commonwealth Learning Center
Thursday, 3/21/19
220 Reservoir Street
Suite 6
Needham, MA

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can affect individuals of all ages, and today the evaluation of ADHD and executive functioning and is more sophisticated than ever before. This workshop will explain the diagnostic criteria and testing for the three different types of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive, and combination-type. Assessments and behavior rating scales will also be discussed, along with an introduction to pharmacological treatment (both stimulant medications and non-stimulant) and strategies to cope with attention impairment. Admission is free, but space is limited and first come, first served. Light refreshments will be provided. Learn more and RSVP here.

Learning Solutions Summer 2019 Programs

Sponsored by Learning Solutions
49 Walpole Street, Suite 5/6
Norwood, MA

Learning Solutions offers 7 weeks of half-day social skills programming this summer for children ages 4-10 and teens ages 11-18. Activities include interest-based games and/or projects combined with support navigating the social world of expected behaviors. Their supported outings into the local community are designed to engage groups in fun, collaborative problem solving and learning. Learn more and view their summer program brochure here.