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Keynotes to address ‘twice-exceptional children,’ communication skills at October event

Keynote speakers have been announced for the 14th Annual ADHD and Related Concerns Conference Oct. 19-20, to be held at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss. The conference, hosted by Hattiesburg Clinic Connections, will feature Suzanne McKee-Waddell, MS, PhD, CCC-SLP, as Thursday’s keynote speaker and Richard L. Davis, MS, PhD, CCC-SLP, as the keynote speaker on Friday. McKee-Waddell is a literacy, math and gifted studies consultant for multiple school districts throughout Mississippi with more than 30 years of experience in various levels of education, including teaching roles in higher education. Throughout her career, McKee-Waddell has incorporated classroom strategies in content area subjects and holds Mississippi licensure in K-8 Elementary Education, Gifted K-12 and Cooperative Education. She has also served as director of the Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where she oversaw daily operations of the center’s activities. McKee-Waddell is the recipient of various awards and most recently was recognized for her work by the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Community Representative Award in regard to her STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math) community education initiatives. Davis is president and CEO of the Arbor Scientia Group, a global medical communications company headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif. He is also an author, speaker, consultant and executive coach. Davis has developed a number of innovative education programs at Arbor Scientia, including “train-the-trainer” meetings organized as “speaker’s boot camps” with intensive instruction by a team of speaker coaches and highly sought-after programs on principles of adult education; the role of personality profiles in audience psychology and speaker effectiveness; and teaching how to teach. He has coauthored numerous articles in medical literature on many educational topics, including outcomes analyses, speaker presentation skills and how to design medical presentations. His work has most recently been published by Cambridge University Press as a book he coauthored with Stephen Stahl, “Best Practices in Medical Teaching.”


McKee-Waddell will open this year’s conference with a keynote session titled, “The Twice Exceptional (2E) Student: A Hidden Gem,” which will explore who the “twice-exceptional child” is and offer a different perspective when it comes to children with disabilities. “I am excited to offer my input in a cross-collaborative effort and share my educational knowledge on a personal level concerning the needs of children regarding ADHD and the intellectually gifted child,” said McKee-Waddell. “Many people don’t realize that an individual can be intellectually gifted and have learning disabilities. This is a combination we refer to as twice-exceptional, or 2E.” McKee-Waddell said history has shown that some of the world’s greatest minds suffered from disabilities like ADHD and dyslexia. In her message, she plans to tackle negative biases that follow people with learning disabilities and emphasize the need to help these individuals develop and celebrate their talents so they can thrive with their condition. “In 30 years of education in our state, I have witnessed the gifts and talents of our school children daily. We define children by how we manage the negative but overlook and do not sometimes take full advantage of their embedded talents and gifts.” She said she wants her message to provide hope for managing the upside of a child’s mental strengths instead of focusing on the downside, while also accommodating and managing the medical side of the child’s condition. “My advocacy is in the whole child. In other words, ‘being different doesn’t make you bad’.” McKee-Waddell’s keynote session will take place at 8:45 a.m. that Thursday.


On Friday, Davis will deliver a presentation called, “No One Ever Told Me,” in which he will highlight the significance of communication skills in our lives and how important it is to understand what is necessary to be effective in our interactions with others. “We all face important interactions. When these interactions involve our health and well-being or the health and well-being of loved ones, it is imperative that all parties involved receive what they need and how they need it. This unfortunately takes place all to infrequently but we can change that,” said Davis. His goals are to challenge attendees to think differently about how they communicate; explore what happens when communication is done right; and offer useful tools to enhance anyone’s skill level. “This topic is important to me because I’ve witnessed firsthand, in multiple industries and across the globe, the terrible strife it causes in our lives and the significant waste of time, talent and resources it is responsible for,” he said. Davis’ session will kick off at 8:30 a.m. that Friday. “We are delighted about this year’s keynote speakers and what they’re bringing to the table,” said Susan Yarrow, conference director and public relations manager for Hattiesburg Clinic. “Dr. McKee-Waddell and Dr. Davis are both well-established experts in their fields and we are looking forward to having them share their insight and research with us on two very different but very relevant topics.” Other focus topics at this year’s conference include dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, behavioral strategies, the impact of the Digital Age and an update on ADHD medications, among others. For a detailed synopsis of all speakers and topics, download the conference brochure at www.hattiesburgclinic.com/adhd. The ADHD and Related Concerns Conference is an educational resource for school administrators, counselors, psychologists, social workers, speech language pathologists, health care providers, regular educators and special educators. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be available. Parents and caregivers who are impacted by ADHD or similar disorders are also encouraged to attend. To register for the conference, visit www.s-resa.org.

Katie Townsend


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