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Information, Sponsor and Exhibitor Registration Coming Soon

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Schedule of Events

Breakout Sessions NT

10 A.M.

Exhibitor Hall Opens

Visit with a variety of Exhibitors providing services and resources for people with disabilities and their families.

10:30 A.M.

Kids Activity Area Opens

Kids ages 5-13 are invited to enjoy some creative painting while parents/caregivers attend Breakout Sessions and visit with Resource Providers. Each Child will leave with their very own creation.

11 A.M. - 11:45 A.M.

Breakout Session 1 
Breakout descriptions

Choose to attend a breakout session on:

  • Sexual Health Education and Puberty

  • Accessing Services through My Health My Resources

  • After High School, There's College

  • Meaningful Lives

  • Understanding the ABLE Account: Saving for your child's future (*OFFERED ONLY AS AN AFTERNOON SESSION*)

12:30 P.M. - 1:30 P.M.

Complimentary Lunch & Learn Session
Session descriptions

Enjoy a complimentary lunch while attending a learning session on:

  • Life Planning Nuts and Bolts
    Benefiting families with school-age children

  • Guardianship: Rush to the Courthouse or Last Resort?
    Most useful for families with children over 14

    • A separate session available in Spanish​

  • Self-Determination: The Counterpart of Self-Advocacy
    A panel presentation by members of the Self-Determination Group

2:15 P.M.

Exhibitor Hall Closes


2:15 - 3:00 P.M.

Breakout Session 2

Earlier Sessions Repeated

*Understanding the ABLE Account: Saving for your child's future will not be repeated

Breakout Sessions:


Sexual Health Education and Puberty
Going through puberty can be just as challenging for parents and caregivers as it is for their children. This session will offer information to help parents and youth develop supportive bonds during the physical and emotional changes brought on by puberty. By Dr. Michael J Parker, PhD, Senior Clinical Director; Dr. Laura Golden, PhD; and James Turnage, M.A, LPC-S, My Health My Resources of Tarrant County


Life Planning Nuts and Bolts
Caregivers have many concerns and responsibilities in the care for their loved one.  How does one plan for their finances, daily physical care, emotional support, medical and education needs, housing and transportation needs, or attendants for legal matters?  Learn the many steps in preparing for your child’s future. By TJ Kroehle, Texas Life Planning

Meaningful Lives

We all want a life that is full of opportunities and enjoy a deep level of belonging in the community.  Workshop attendees will learn about transition programs available that increase self-reliance, develop skills, promote belonging, and provide a pathway to live and work independently with very few supports.  By Dianne Hawkins and Andrew Spencer, Fort Worth ISD 

After High School, There's College 

Colleges provide more than just degrees.  Community education and engagement opportunities and academic programs are available to young adults with developmental disabilities.  These programs prepare them for independent living, job training, and critical life skills.  Learn about student accessibility resources and programs available at five college campuses in Tarrant County.  By Tarrant County College

Accessing Services through My Health My Resources (MHMR)

As the State’s Local IDD Authority (LIDDA), MHMR is the first point of contact for families looking for services. Learn about Texas’ interest lists, options and benefits, and the criteria for services. By Stephanie Morris, Parent and Family Advocate, My Health My Resources of Tarrant County.


Understanding the ABLE Account: Saving for Your Child's Future (2:15 PM SESSION ONLY )

An ABLE Account is a tax-advantaged savings account to help individuals with disabilities save money. Learn how Texans with disabilities can to save up to $15,000 per year for disability-related expenses without losing eligibility under SSI, SSDI, Medicaid and other means-tested public benefits.  By Heidi Angel, Kelly Hart 

Complimentary Lunch and Learn Sessions:

Guardianship: Rush to the Courthouse or Last Resort?  Most useful for families with children over 14
An overview of the laws applicable to guardianship in Texas, the evidence and standard of proof needed to obtain a guardianship and the many alternatives to guardianship. By Judge Allen, Tarrant County Probate 2 Court.

A separate Guardianship and Supported Decision Making Agreement session will be delivered in Spanish for ESL families and caregivers. Una sesión separada de Tutela y Acuerdo de Toma de Decisiones Apoyada se entregará en español para familias y cuidadores de ESL. By Lucia Romano, Disability Rights Texas

Life Planning Nuts and Bolts Most useful for families with children under 14
Caregivers have many concerns and responsibilities in the care for their loved one.  How does one plan for their finances, daily physical care, emotional support, medical and education needs, housing and transportation needs, or attendants for legal matters?  Learn the many steps in preparing for your child’s future. By TJ Kroehle, Texas Life Planning

Self-Determination: The Counterpart of Self-Advocacy

Join our panelists for a lively discussion about self-determination.  We will review the five principles of self-determination, why self-determination is important and how to use self-determination to live life as you define it, not the system.  By members of The Self-Determination Group

About Our Presenters:

Check back for updates.

Session Descriptions

Dr. Michael J Parker, PhD

My Health My Resources of Tarrant County

Dr. Michael Parker is Senior Clinical Director of MHMR Tarrant Disability Services and Director of IDD Eligibility.  He chairs the DS Clinical Team and belongs to a variety of agency committees. Dr. Parker is a graduate of Northwestern University, holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Fisk University and obtained his doctorate in School Psychology at Texas Woman’s University. He has 40 years of experience in private practice, community-based settings, such as Child Study Center, and the school districts Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD. His preferred populations included individuals with emotional, intellectual and behavioral issues. Professionally he enjoys consultation, supervision, program development, and public speaking. Dr. Parker is a former adjunct with the University of North Texas. He has been interviewed by CNN, NBC and CBS news as well as quoted extensively in Time Magazine.  He contributed to writing the Texas HHS Commission’s Determination of Intellectual Disability: Best Practice Guidelines. Dr. Parker is a licensed Psychologist, a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, and a certified mediator.

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Thomas P. Kroehle, Jr.

For Families of Special Needs

TJ as he is known, is an independent life planner, who works with families with special needs. He understands the importance of developing a strategic, long-term life plan that takes into consideration their very unique circumstances. TJ helps clients understand their need to develop the appropriate wills and trusts. He helps them see the need for a "Letter of Intent" which defines their special needs person's hopes, dreams and desires through a lifetime strategy. He is knowledgeable in government programs that aid special needs families, and he coaches families in how to obtain government aid, such as SSI. More importantly he helps the family understand how to maintain those government programs throughout their loved one's lifetime. T J frequently speaks to state and local groups such as ARC, Life Path, Down Syndrome Guilds, Autism Societies, Region X and XI, various ISD's and other similar organizations.

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Dr. Laura Golden, OTR, OTD

My Health My Resources of Tarrant County

Dr. Laura Golden, OTR, OTD, is a licensed and registered Occupational Therapist in the state of Texas.  She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. Areas of expertise include intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, feeding impairment, and movement disorders. She has provided clinical therapeutic intervention to individuals from birth to adulthood with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Heidi Angel

Kelly Hart, Attorneys at Law

A former teacher and current attorney, Heidi Angel practices law in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate and Guardianship (including guardianship alternatives) and serves on the board of the Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas. In her spare time she runs, hikes, bikes and generally likes to be outside.

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The Self-Determination Group

(Panel Presentation)

Established in 2014, The Self-Determination Group is run by and for individuals with disabilities (14 & older) with the support of an advisor.  We get together monthly, elect our own officers, and conduct business and exchanges ideas. We are also a member of Texas Advocates.  Group activities focus on empowering individuals with disabilities to live a self-determined life – life as they define it, and advancing the disability rights movement. To learn more, visit

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Judge Brooke Allen

Tarrant County Probate Court #2

Judge Brooke Allen was appointed by the Tarrant County Commissioners to serve as Judge of Probate Court No. 2 in October of 2016, and elected for a full term in 2018.

Judge Allen has presided over hundreds of bench and jury trials in the areas of estates, guardianship, mental health and litigation related to estates and guardianship. Prior to taking the bench, she litigated complex cases through Texas and in Federal court. For her work as an attorney, Judge Allen was voted a "Top Attorney" by Fort Worth Magazine and a "Rising Star" by Texas Lawyer. She was also named "Attorney of the Year" by the Fort Worth Paralegal Association.

In addition to her judicial responsibilities, Allen is an active speaker on guardianships and preventing fraud on our senior citizens. Her staff of 12 often joins her or speaks on her behalf when she is in the courtroom. Together, they have reached thousands of citizens.

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Stephanie Morris

Parent and Family Advocate, My Health My Resources

Stephanie Morris is the Parent & Family Advocate for Disability Services, MHMRTC. She is a parent of a young man with special needs.  She supports families by helping them make decisions and choices regarding services and negotiates families concerns with service providers when requested.  She helps educate families to have a clear understanding of their rights and how services should be provided. Finally, she is parent who can relate and listen to your concerns.

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James Turnage, M.A., LPC-S

Director of Supports Disability and Behavioral Health Services, My Health My Resources

James Turnage, M.A, LPC-S, is Director of Supports with Disability Services and Behavioral Health Services. He is also clinical supervisor for the supported employment program which serves disability and behavioral health programs. He directs a trauma-based services team for individuals who are victims of crime within the Disability Services division of My Health My Resources of Tarrant County. He also provides professional staff developmental trainings in MHMRTC and in the community related to understanding mental health issues in individuals with IDD.


Dianne Hawkins

Director, Special Education Department, Fort Worth ISD

Bio Unavailable

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Andrew Spencer

Fort Worth ISD

Andrew has over 15 years experience in special education and currently serves as the Fort Worth ISD Coordinator of Transition Services. Andrew has worked closely with students and families in Fort Worth with post-secondary planning. 

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Lucia Romano

Disability Rights Texas

Ms. Romano is a 2001 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, with a background in public health, and a 1996 graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ms. Romano’s primary areas of practice includes civil rights cases involving disability-related discrimination in these areas. Prior to joining Disability Rights of Texas in May of 2005 (formerly Advocacy, Inc.), Ms. Romano’s private practice included guardianship ad litem appointments, and she testified before the Texas Legislature in 2003 regarding mental health courts. She also joined the agency’s Katrina Project in October 2005 and began practicing as an agency Staff Attorney in January of 2006. Currently a Senior Attorney at Disability Rights Texas, Ms. Romano is the Managing Attorney for Disability Rights Texas’s Housing, Employment, Accessibility and Transportation Team. In the past, she lead Advocacy, Inc.’s Jail Diversion Project in Harris County. Ms. Romano has practiced in the Federal District Courts for the Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, and in Texas state courts.

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