Southwest Special Needs & Gifted Learners Homeschool Conference

AFHE is planning an extra special conference geared specifically toward encouraging and equipping parents who are teaching children with special needs and/or who are gifted learners.

Friday, October 6 and
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Grace Chapel
8524 E. Thomas Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

 Registration is now open!

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2017 AFHE Southwest Special Needs & Gifted Learners Homeschool Conference

Additional conference information is being added as we have each area finalized. Check back often!


Register by September 15 and save. Members save $20 off the pre-registration non-member admission rate. Register

Register online by September 15, 2017 to get the best pricing. Seating is limited. Only 600 tickets are available for this conference. Registration will be available at the door if tickets are still available.  The adult admission fee is for an individual adult or a married couple (free spouse admission). Must register both husband and wife if both are planning to attend as space is limited. If your spouse is unable to attend with you, you may not bring a friend in place of your husband/wife. The free spouse admission is only for married couples to encourage them to attend together when possible. You may attend with a friend if they register separately and pay the adult admission price (provided space is available).

MEMBERSHIP – Membership has its benefits! Members save $20 off adult admission. You’ll have the opportunity to add membership to your conference registration if you are not currently a member.



Adult Admission
  • Member benefit: AFHE Members save $20 off the adult admission fee for this conference.


Adult Admission
  • Join AFHE today for just $35 to and get the $39 member rate plus enjoy many member benefits!


Admission for ages 3-19
  • Seating is limited and we encourage you to find childcare, if possible. Youth admission is $10.

Available if tickets remain available after the Sept. 15 pre-registration deadline (or if capacity is reached sooner).


Adult Admission
  • Membership has its benefits! AFHE Members save $20 off the adult admission fee for this conference.


On-Site Adult Admission
  • Join AFHE today for just $35 to get the member rate plus enjoy many benefits or attend as a non-member.


Ages 3-19
  • Seating is limited and we encourage you to find childcare, if possible. On-site youth admission is $15.

Conference Highlights and Information

Schedule overview, hotel information, dessert fellowship, and more!

AFHE has arranged for a discount room rate at two hotels located just 4 miles from Grace Chapel. Book your room no later than September 19 to get the group discount rate.

1415 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe, AZ 85281

Free hot breakfast included. Complimentary airport shuttle to and from the hotel. Mini-fridge in each room. Discount room rate available for October 5, 6, and 7.

  • One king or two queen standard room: $129 plus tax per night
  • Studio with one king and a sleeper sofa: $139 plus tax per night

Online reservations – Hampton Inn
or call 480-941-3441 and ask for the AFHE block

1429 N. Scottsdale Road, Tempe, AZ 85281

Mini-fridge in each room. Discount room rate available for October 6 only.

  • One king or two queen standard room: $109 plus tax per night

Online reservations – Red Lion Inn


This event is run almost entirely by volunteers and we are so grateful for all of the women, men, teens, and grads who serve their fellow homeschool families!

We have a number of volunteer opportunities available. Please complete the volunteer application and our volunteer coordinator will follow up with you to get you scheduled. Those who volunteer 3 or more hours receive free admission. The volunteer application will open soon.

Job descriptions

Direct traffic for conference attendee parking and be the first to welcome attendees when they arrive. (Friday morning parking attendants also needed during exhibitor load-in)
(17 or older)

Check attendees in, hand out name badges and holders, programs, welcome bags, assist with on-site registration for those who did not pre-register

Help ensure the safety of those attending our event and the smooth flow of activities during the conference, addressing any issues or disruptions as needed
(adult men preferred)

Stationed at each door and in the hallways, greeters will welcome attendees and assist them in finding registration, their next workshop, where to purchase recordings, the exhibit hall, restrooms, and more

Assist attendees in finding seats in workshop rooms, take attendance about halfway through, stay attentive to the speaker in case there are any issues (AV, etc.), hold up time cards for the speaker so they know when their time is almost up, politely address any parents with crying/noisy infants/children

The blessing of having this event at a church is that we can bring in our own food and this allows us to offer concessions, lunch on-site, etc. We are looking for a few ladies to help with food service at different times during the conference weekend.

We have a fun opportunity for 4-6 older teens/homeschool grads to assist with exhibitor load-in Friday, exhibit hall runners Friday evening and Saturday, and to assist as needed in other areas

Friday, October 6

Schedule Overview

4:00 PM Registration Opens
4:00 – 7:00 PM Exhibit Hall Open
5:45 – 6:45 PM Workshops
7:00 – 8:15 PM Keynote
8:15 – 9:15 PM Dessert Fellowship

Saturday, October 7

Schedule Overview

8:00 AM Registration Opens
8:30 AM – 1:00 PM Exhibit Hall Open
9:00 – 10:00 AM Workshops & Exhibitor Workshops
10:15 – 11:15 AM Workshops & Exhibitor Workshops
11:00 AM – 1:30 PM Local Service Providers in Courtyard
11:15 AM – 12:45 PM Lunch in Courtyard
12:45 – 1:45 PM Workshops
1:30 – 4:30 PM Exhibit Hall Open
2:00 – 3:00 PM Workshops & Exhibitor Workshops
3:15 – 4:15 PM Workshops & Exhibitor Workshops
4:15 – 4:45 PM Refreshment Break
4:45 – 6:00 PM Keynote and Prize Drawing

AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Homeschool Conference Dessert Fellowship

Friday, October 6, 2017 @ 8:15 PM

Following the Friday evening keynote at the 2017 AFHE Special Needs and Gifted Learners Homeschool Conference, registered attendees, speakers, and exhibitors are invited to join us for refreshments in the courtyard. Included in your conference registration. RSVP required with registration to help us plan for food and beverages.

Pre-Conference Add-on Event
Thursday, October 5, 2017

We have a special opportunity the day before the AFHE Special Needs and Gifted Learners Homeschool Conference. Andrew Pudewa is teaching three workshops for students of various ages/abilities.

  • Reading Level Grades 1-2: 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM
  • Reading Level Grades 3-5: 11:00 Am – 1:00 PM
  • Reading Level Grades 6+: 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Early registration by September 14: $25 per participant
Regular registration after September 14: $30 per participant
Parents may observe at no cost.

VIEW EVENT FLIER for more information


Exhibitors & Local Service Providers

Exhibitors and local service providers offering products, curriculum, resources, and services to families with children who have special needs and/or are gifted learners are invited to complete an application to participate in the 2017 AFHE Special Neeeds & Gifted Learners Homeschool Conference. Please read the Exhibitor Information Packet before completing the appropriate application.

Exhibitor and Local Service Provider Applications

Application for exhibitors with curriculum, products, or resources for those teaching children with special needs and/or gifted learners.

Application for Arizona companies offering services or therapies to support children with special needs or learning challenges.

Workshop Information and Speaker Bios

We've got an outstanding line-up of speakers to encourage and equip you as you homeschool your child with special needs/and or is a gifted learner.


Coming soon!



Available later this summer



Available later this summer

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference - Andrew Pudewa

Institute for Excellence in Writing

Andrew Pudewa is the director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Traveling and speaking around the world, he addresses issues related to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity, insight, practical experience, and humor. His seminars for parents, students, and teachers have helped transform many a reluctant writer and have equipped educators with powerful tools to dramatically improve students’ skills. Andrew is a graduate of the Talent Education Institute in Japan and holds a Certificate of Child Brain Development from the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He and his wonderful, heroic wife, Robin, have homeschooled their seven children and are now proud grandparents of eight, making their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Homeschool Conference - Steve Demme

Building Faith Families
Demme Learning

Steve and his wife Sandra have been married since 1979. They have been blessed with four sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and three special grandchildren. Their fourth son John has Downs Syndrome and lives with them in Lititz, PA. Steve has served in full- or part-time pastoral ministry for many years after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served on the board of Joni and Friends Eastern PA. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the founder of Building Faith Families.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference -

Dianne Craft

Dianne Craft has a master’s degree in special education and is a reading specialist. She has 25 years’ experience teaching bright children who have to work too hard to learn. She has developed the successful “Three-Pronged Approach” to reducing and eliminating learning disabilities: Brain Integration Therapy, Right Brain Teaching Strategies, and Targeted Nutritional Interventions. Parents across the country have seen their children overcome learning struggles using these tools. She has designed the Craft Right Brain Readers for children with dyslexia. As a nutritionist, Dianne specializes in natural treatments for kids with sensory processing dysfunction and focus/attention issues. She is president of the consulting firm Child Diagnostics, Inc. in Denver and is considered the leader in Alternative Teaching Strategies by several teaching universities.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference - Cassie Moore

Dianne Craft

Cassie is a Certified Learning Specialist in Dianne Craft’s learning system. She has her master’s degree in communication and psychology. Cassie’s workshops are filled with practical teaching strategies that parents find easy to implement the next day. She is an expert in showing kids how to use both sides of their brain! As an Educational Consultant working for Child Diagnostics, Inc., she assesses children’s needs and creates a Personalized Learning Plan for these bright, hard-working children who have to work too hard to learn. Cassie is Dianne’s granddaughter, and is a co-creator of the popular Certified Learning Specialist program for parents and teachers who want to become specialized tutors in their own area. She will be teaching with Dianne at this year’s AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Homeschool Conference.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference -

Raising Lifelong Learners

Colleen Kessler is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, and is the founder of the popular blog Raising Lifelong Learners as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. Homeschooling is an adventure she hadn’t planned on, but she has embraced the opportunity to learn alongside her kids every day, and is inspiring other moms and dads to do the same.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference - Dr. Amy Serin

The Serin Center

Dr. Amy Serin is a top neuropsychologist and co-founder of The Serin Center, an applied neuroscience clinic with neuropsychology, developmental pediatrics, therapy, neuromodulation, and learning disability remediation. Since 2007, The Serin Center has served thousands of individuals and families using cutting-edge applications to heal psychological disorders and for performance enhancement. Recently, Dr. Serin invented Buzzies, a non-invasive stress-reducing neuroscience wearable. Dr. Serin is president of the Arizona Neuropsychological Society and has received numerous awards from Arizona State University including Advocate of the Year and Woman of the Year.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference - Faith Berens

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)

Faith Berens holds a master’s degree in reading from Shenandoah University. She has over 15 years teaching experience in both public and private Christian schools, serving as a classroom teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, reading specialist, and educational therapist. Her areas of expertise are early childhood literacy, reading assessment, and the identification and remediation of reading difficulties. Faith joined the HSLDA team of Special Needs Coordinators in 2008 and homeschools her own children, as well as works as a private educational consultant, evaluator, and tutor. Some of her passions include reading for pleasure, singing, traveling, nature/science, leading Bible studies, and teaching reading to primary age children. Faith lives in Stephens City with her husband, Matthew, daughter, Hailey, and son Hayden.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference - Tj Schmidt

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)

Thomas J. (Tj) Schmidt was first taught at home in the second grade by his parents in northern Vermont. For nearly all of the remaining years of his elementary and secondary education Tj was taught at home. For much of that time his family was on foreign mission fields. Tj received his J.D. while studying at home from Oak Brook College of Law and began serving as a Legal Assistant at HSLDA. Now, as an HSLDA Staff Attorney, Tj answers general legal questions and assists members across the country experiencing legal difficulties. Tj and his wife, Susan, have seven children, Josiah, Suzanna, Ella, Makenna, Jonah, Annika, and Ezra. They are teaching all of their children at home.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference - Carol Fitzpatrick

Rainbow Readers

Carol S. Fitzpatrick has a passion for helping struggling readers. When her own children were forced to deal with the frustration and humiliation of dyslexia, she went back to school to learn how to teach them to read. The same methods she used to homeschool both of her sons have worked for many more struggling readers over 25+ years. When she isn’t tutoring, Carol travels throughout the country speaking on successful intervention in reading instruction. She has a master’s degree in education (reading) and is is trained in Orton-Gillingham methods for helping dyslexics, Slingerland, Barton Reading and Spelling, and Lindamond-Bell Phoneme Sequencing (LiPS). She is the author of the book Help, I Can’t Read!

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference - Anne Fister


Anne Fister is a certified Speech/Language Pathologist with twenty years of experience working with children’s communication skills. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from University of South Alabama and her Master’s degree from Florida State University. Living in the Tucson area, she is a homeschool mom of two very active boys and is married to her best friend, Mike. For many years she enjoyed a full-time career in speech therapy but currently considers her primary work to be loving and supporting her family. She has always felt it is a privilege to assist children and their families through direct therapy, consultation, and training. Anne is grateful for the opportunities God has given her to use her skills to support others.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference - Cynthia Macluskie

Autism Society of Greater Phoenix

Cynthia Macluskie has been an active member of the autism community and homeschooling community for fifteen years. She has a boy who, through a variety of methodologies, lost his diagnosis of autism and is a typical 18 year old today. He is gifted and has learning challenges including dyslexia. Cynthia attributes her son’s great outcome to the decision to homeschool. Cynthia sat on a variety of government committees and currently serves on the Governor’s Committee on ASD. Cynthia was one of the seven moms who lobbied successfully for Steven’s Law that requires insurance companies to cover autism in the state of Arizona and received the Autism Service Award for her work on Steven’s Law. She is currently a board member and Vice President of the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix.

2017 AFHE Special Needs & Gifted Learners Conference - Marie Tynan


Marie Tynan was blessed to homeschool her only child all the way from birth through graduation. With her son now away at college, Marie desires to share her passion and encouragement with the next generation of homeschool parents. She resides in Maricopa, Arizona with her hardworking and patient husband of 31 years, with whom she enjoys many outdoor adventures.