Tools for Transformation Conference:  

A Comprehensive Two-Day Event

Join the Special Needs Network for a remarkable two-day conference designed to unite professionals and families involved in the developmental disability and autism community. This event promises a blend of professional development, networking, and practical resources tailored to both the experts in the field and the dedicated families navigating the special needs landscape.

Day 1: Professional Day – Friday, April 12, 2024

Location: West Los Angeles College | Fine Arts Auditorium
9000 Overland Ave, Culver City, CA 90230
Free Parking in the South Parking Structure

Time: 7:30 AM – 7:30 PM


7:30AM – 8:30AM: Check-in and Breakfast

8:30AM – 9:30AM: Welcome Remarks + Opening

9:30AM – 11:30AM: Conference Workshops

12:00PM – 1:15PM: Lunch + Keynote Address

1:30PM – 5:30PM: Conference Workshops

5:30PM – 7:30PM: Networking + Happy Hour + Live Music


Professionals Day is crafted for experts in the developmental disability and autism sector, offering a series of insightful presentations, workshops, and networking opportunities. Expect to engage in enriching discussions on culturally competent care, earn Continuing Education Credits, and connect with peers during our Jazz Networking Happy Hour. Featured speakers include Dr. Omekongo Dibinga, Dr. Eraka Bath, and Dr. Jonathan Tarbox, among others, who will provide invaluable insights and strategies for enhancing your practice.

Day 2: Parents Day – Saturday, April 13, 2024

Location: California State University, Dominguez Hills | Innovation & Instruction Building
1000 E Victoria St., Carson, CA 90747

Time: 7:45 AM – 4:00 PM



7:45AM – 8:30AM: Check-In and Continental Breakfast

9:00AM – 10:30AM: Town Hall: Autism, Mental Health, and Policing
The Shooting Death of Ryan Gainer by San Bernardino Sheriffs

10:30AM – 11:45AM: Track A Workshops

11:45AM – 12:00PM: Resource Fair

12:00PM – 1:15PM: Track B Workshops

1:15PM – 1:45PM: Lunch + Resource Fair

1:45PM – 3:00PM: Track C Workshops

3:00PM – 4:00PM: Closing + Raffle, Prizes and Give-Aways


Town Hall: Autism, Mental Health, and Policing
The killing of 15-year-old Ryan Gainer by a San Bernardino sheriff’s deputy on March 9 sent shock waves through the autism and mental health communities. After years of purported law enforcement training on awareness and sensitivity, how could such a tragedy occur?
Our grieving communities deserve answers, accountability and change.


Experts, advocates and community leaders demand change
Safety and accountability in the law enforcement responses to autism and mental health crises: Resources, support and prevention.


Moderated by:

Areva Martin, Esq.
Civil rights attorney and Founder and President, Special Needs Network

Dwayne Cox, II
Loyola Marymount University dual degree graduate, Autism-self advocate and SNN ambassador

Expert Panel in Formation:

Carolina Gonzalez, MS, BCBA
Associate Vice President, Clinical Quality and Outcomes

Cecil Rhambo, Jr.
Law enforcement expert, LAWA chief of police, FMR city management of Compton, and Asst. city manager of Carson

Sheila Sylver
Ryan Grainer’s Aunt

Nancy Bargmann
Director, CA Department of Developmental Services

Dr. Helena Hansen
Chair of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine


The conference offers an engaging program with 12 expert-led workshops designed for immersive learning experiences. Participants can expect hands-on activities that enhance understanding, along with ample networking opportunities. The workshops cover a range of topics, including:

  • Early intervention, best practices and culturally competent interventions in home and school
  • Diagnosing a child with special needs-cultural, language and access issues and choosing the best interventions for your child
  • How to determine if your child’s therapy is anti-biased, anti-racist and meeting his or her unique needs in public, private and non-public school
  • Understanding and treating co-morbid conditions in children with Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression and aggressive Behaviors
  • Developing your advocacy muscles and understanding the complex system of care for intervention and treatment
  • Developing winning IEPs from pre-school to 12th grade, Understanding and maximizing available school-based services
  • Hacks for addressing parent and caregiver burnout and building resilient intimate and familial relationships
  • Navigating regional centers, Private/public health insurance, Social Security and IHSS
  • Career pathways and living independently: Job training programs, Employment on the spectrum and transition planning
  • Higher education and the college years: College applications, ADA resources
    and financial aid
  • The teen years and beyond: Hacks for addressing puberty, Dating and sex on the spectrum
  • Money and finances: Managing self-determination budgets, Special needs trust and homeownership for adults with special needs and their families

Parents Day is dedicated to families, educators, and professionals, offering workshops, discussions, and a resource fair designed to empower and support the special needs community. From learning about advocacy and rights to exploring therapeutic techniques and navigating the complex system of care, this day is packed with resources to support your journey. Engage with expert-led interactive workshops, connect with a supportive community, and gain access to essential services and resources.

Both days of the conference are free of charge, courtesy of the DDS CORE Workforce Development Grant, reinforcing our commitment to the growth and support of the special needs community. Space is limited, so reserve your spot now for an opportunity to grow, network, and contribute to a more inclusive world.

Join us at the Tools for Transformation Conference for a transformative experience designed to foster professional growth, community support, and inclusive practices in the developmental disability and autism field.