Skip to content

Annual Conference Attracts Leading Dyslexia, Language Disorder Experts to Mississippi College Campus

Dr. Vennecia Jackson, director of diagnostic services in the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at Scottish Rite for Children, will be the featured speaker during the first day of the 2023 Dyslexia Therapy Conference at MC.

Cognitive Disengagement Syndrome, previously called Sluggish Cognitive Tempo, is an attention syndrome the National Institutes of Health defines as excessive mind-wandering, mental confusion, and slowed behaviors.

Separate from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder inattention, CDS is a little-known neurologic condition not yet recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the “gold standard” for mental health professionals, making it difficult to diagnose and treat properly.

One of the world’s foremost CDS experts will return to the Mississippi College campus along with a host of dyslexia and language disorder experts to participate in the MC Dyslexia Education and Evaluation Center’s fourth joint Dyslexia Therapy Conference with the Mississippi Chapter of the Academic Language Therapy Association. The conference, which carries the theme “Dream, Wish, Create . . . Believe You Can,” is scheduled for Thursday-Friday, Sept. 28-29, in Anderson Hall in the B.C. Rogers Student Center.

Dr. Vennecia Jackson, director of diagnostic services in the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at Scottish Rite for Children, will be the featured speaker on Thursday. She will present “Cognitive Disengagement Syndrome: Unidentified and Misunderstood Yet with Significant Implications for Learning.”

Jackson has practiced with a team of experts as a developmental pediatrician for nearly 30 years. CDS “is not a new condition but one whose time has come for those who have committed to understanding and changing the lives of children who learn differently.”

Jan Hankins, director of the Dyslexia Education and Evaluation Center at MC, said she is excited to welcome Jackson back to the Clinton campus.

“She is a very knowledgeable, caring person,” Hankins said. “Her keynote address will be very informative. Dr. Jackson has also agreed to conduct two question-and-answer breakout sessions concerning Cognitive Disengagement Syndrome.

“I also look forward to seeing the students’ LEGO models and written work. Their parents will also be on stage being interviewed by Mrs. Mindy Boyd.”

Hankins said the purpose of the annual conference is aligned with the Dyslexia Center’s mission.

“Part of the mission of the MC Dyslexia Center is to provide information and resources for parents, therapists, teachers, and other professionals,” she said. “This annual event allows the center to provide that opportunity, but it also allows attendees to visit the Dyslexia Center, to experience MC’s unique campus, and to explore Olde Town Clinton.

“It’s also an opportunity to spotlight Mississippi College and the excellent programs of study offered here, including the M.Ed. in dyslexia therapy.”

The conference is open to all interested individuals, including academic language therapists, educators, administrators, college students, and parents who want to learn best practices when working with students with language-learning differences and other learning disabilities.

Attendees will hear from experts in the field of dyslexia who will discuss the latest research and strategies for implementing that research. Attendees will also have an opportunity to network with one another.

Additional sessions on Thursday will include Tori Williams, “Building Your Future One Brick at a Time;” Kari Grillis East, “The 411 on Dyslexia and Numbers – Basics of Dyscalculia;” Taffie Causey, Kathy Henley, and Teresa Mosley, “The ‘How Much Do You Know’ Show;” Jeff Foster, “Building Handwriting Skills: A Dyslexia Simulation;” and breakout sessions for MC Dyslexia Therapy Program graduates and students by Kay Peterson and Kristen Frierson, “Transition/Maintenance Plans.”

Dr. Harvey Silver, president of Silver Strong and Associates and Thoughtful Education Press, will deliver a two-part keynote address sponsored by the Mississippi chapter of ALTA on Friday: “Reading for Meaning: How to Build Students’ Comprehension, Reasoning, and Problem-Solving Skills.” An experienced educator, presenter, and coach, Silver has conducted thousands of workshops for schools, districts, and state educational organizations throughout the U.S. Along with the late Richard Strong, Silver developed “The Thoughtful Classroom,” a renowned professional development initiative dedicated to “making students as important as standards.”

Additional sessions on Friday will include Sandy Elliott and Teresa Laney, “Update from the Mississippi Department of Education” and Kristen Owens, “Dysgraphia.”

The conference costs $125 for the Thursday sessions, $125 for the Friday sessions, and $225 for both days. Costs include meal tickets for lunch in the MC Cafeteria.

Registration will begin each day at 7:15 a.m., with the program to follow at 8. Continuing education is available. To register, click here. For more information, email Shirley Tipton at

Leave a Comment