Laurel Heights Hospital

Laurel Hights Hospital logo“The Acute Program is specifically designed to provide inpatient psychiatric stabilization and treatment for children and adolescents ages 7 to 17 who present with co-morbid autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders.  The primary objective of treatment is to quickly stabilize the symptoms that led to hospitalization, including severe self-injury, suicidal behavior and/or severe aggression.  Our second objective is to more thoroughly evaluate a broad range of factors that contributed to the current crisis and implement treatment interventions that can translate to the community.”

“Laurel Heights Hospital’s new inpatient acute program is designed to effectively treat the psychiatric crisis of children and adolescents who present with a co-occurring Autism Spectrum Disorder or other neuro-developmental disorders.   Laurel Heights Hospital is located in

Hospice of Chattanooga: End of Life Care & Grief Support

“Call in Hospice of Chattanooga when you or a loved one are faced Hospice of Chattanooga logowith a terminal diagnosis or are struggling to cope with pain.  We will provide a wonderful team of professionals to surround you and your family with care.  Hospice of Chattanooga offers a wide range of services that includes hospice or end-of-life care, plus extensive grief support programs for those coping with the loss of a loved one. We specialize in personalized care that is tailored to each individual patient and family’s unique medical, emotional and spiritual needs. Our talented team of hospice care experts will do for you as we have done for thousands through the last 30 years: we will help you navigate the challenges of managing your care, while working to ease your pain and suffering.”

RIP: Parenting That Works

Regional Intervention Program (RIP)
A FREE Positive Behavior-Management Program for Children ages 2-5
that helps parents improve their parenting skills and learn to better deal with problem behaviors such as:

  •  tantrums
  •  whining
  •  bedtime problems
  •  non-compliance
  •  aggression
    …and more…



Resource Books for Those Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s

Here is a list of books that have helped me as a caregiver for a family member with Alzheimer’s.

While I Still Can by Rick Phelps
The 36 Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins from Johns Hopkins
Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s by Robert N. Butler
Life With Alz by Mildred Kay Thomas
Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers by Frank Broyles
The Hedge People by Louise Carey
Caring for Mother -n A Daughter’s Long Goodbye
When Your Aging Parent Needs Care by Candy Arrington and Kim Atchley
Sunsets by Deborah Howard
The Final Mile by Faye Landrum

Submitted by Vicki Bennett
(Thanks, Vicki, for sharing!)


Tax Breaks for Families with Special Needs

Piggy Bank sitting on top of pile of penniesThere’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and the odds of winning the lottery aren’t exactly in your favor. Tax breaks, though, may be something you can bank on.  Here are some tips for families with members who have special needs. (From Military One-Source)

  1. Make sure you claim all eligible dependents
  2. Explore adoption credit
  3. Try to recoup child and dependent care expenses
  4. Explore the Earned Income Tax Credit
  5. Explore the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled
  6. Find out whether you can claim medical or dental expenses

    Find out more about each option as well as find the IRS Publication where the details are found by going to



“I Want It Now!” How to Challenge a False Sense of Entitlement in Kids

I think that sometimes there is a greater temptation for parents of kids with special needs to fall into this trap even more than parents of typically developing kids.  “He works so hard to do this, that I’ll make it easy on him to do that.” or “She has special needs, so I can’t expect the same thing as I do from my typically developing child (or student)”  Grace and an alternate path to success may need to be applied to achieve similar high expectations, but giving in every time puts the child and the parent (or teacher) at risk in the long run.

“So how do you challenge that false sense of entitlement in kids, and why is it so important to do so? I believe it’s critical to challenge them because once your child grows up and goes out into the real world, he will have to work for what he wants, just like everyone else. So as a parent, it’s important that you teach your child the value of hard work and earning things. He needs to really see that integral connection between making an effort and achieving success. Conversely, when things are handed to your child, the message he’s getting is, “You don’t need to do anything—everything will be given to you in life just because you’re you.”

Read more at : (more…)


What Happens to My Child When Something Happens to Me?


After their presentation, Jeffery Babb and Martin Pierce answered questions posed by families.

Thanks to Attorney Martin Pierce (Martin Pierce Law) and Financial Planner Jeffery Babb (Battleground Financial Advisors) for spending a couple of hours with our families last night sharing the details of a Special Needs or Supplemental Needs Trusts, Guardianship, Conservatorship, and other estate planning topics.  Both men have more than 20 years experience in their fields and willingly share their knowledge.



More Than Love Alone


Many times as caregivers, whether for a parent, spouse, or child, we feel like the sole responsibility lies on our shoulders.  Sometimes it needs to, but sometimes, it doesn’t need to.  Asking for help is part of learning to be an effective caregiver.

“I was ready to accept that I needed help, that asking for help was the most loving thing I could do for my husband and our marriage.”

Reading this couple’s story gives much food for thought. More Than Love Alone


Lip Reading Classes Offered

New lip reading class offered for the first time for the community to attend at Chattanooga State Community College.
David M. Harrison, founder and Director of the  Lip Reading Academy will be offering Lip Reading to non-students at Chattanooga State Community College beginning Monday, February 16, 2015. The class is designed to help the hearing impaired improve their communication skills.

WHAT: Lip reading is an alternative language to enhance communication skills for those who have a hearing loss. The learning experience is easy and fun. Lip Reading can be self-taught in almost any language.

WHEN: The classes will be held four Monday evenings beginning February 16 and 23, March 2 and 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.



Nominate an Advocate for 2015 Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Award

STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) is accepting nominations for the 2015 Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Award. This award is given each year to a person whoSTEP logo has exemplified using information to assist their own child or someone else’s child with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education.

STEP seeks recipients who demonstrate teamwork and collaboration and the zeal to share the information they have learned with others. Nominees may be a parent of a child with a disability, an advocate that works with families, a teacher who has been exemplary in the life of a student with a disability, or a service provider who has bridged the gap for a student or their family to assist in receiving a free appropriate public education.

Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Award Nomination Form[1]  (more…)


Joni & Friends Family Retreat


Emily’s Short Term Missionary (STM) for Joni & Friends Camp 2013 was a physical therapist!

Joni and Friends Family Retreats provide a lifeline to families who want hope and encouragement that will last. You and your family will be blessed, inspired, and make new friendships that will last a lifetime.  At both U.S. and International Family Retreat, special-needs families receive encouragement and care in the comfort of a safe and accessible family camp environment. They enjoy fun and fully-accessible, age-appropriate activities, along with meaningful conversations with families who understand the challenges of life with disability. The success of a Family Retreat depends not only on the leadership and programming, but on the distinctly Christian community which is carefully nurtured in order for families to feel blessed and supported.



Timeline of An Anaphylactic Reaction

For all of the times that I have said “We can’t come your birthday party because there are balloons everywhere” and “Yes, one balloon does matter…”   This is why…because, whether  it is a latex allergy or allergy to something else, we can predict the process of a body’s response to an allergen, but we can’t predict how long or short that process will be. 

“An allergen may be inhaled, swallowed, touched, or injected. Once an allergen is in your body, an allergic reaction may begin within seconds or minutes. Milder allergies may not cause noticeable symptoms for several hours. The most common allergens include foods, medications, insect stings, insect bites, plants, and chemicals.”

For more information on what an allergic reaction can cause, learn more here.



Family Support Funding Still Available

Family Support Program still has funding available in all counties except McMinn. Families can obtain an application at the website  If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks! KristiOrange Grove Centers Logo
Kristi R. Tankersley, LMSW
Orange Grove Center
Asst. Director, Family Support Program     615 Derby Street     Chattanooga, TN 37404
tel:    423-664-5120     fax:   423-664-5122

The Tennessee Family Support Program is a statewide program funded by the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD).  

The program provides limited financial assistance to individuals with severe disabilities who reside in the community.  Funding is available for services and supports that are not otherwise covered by insurance or other resources. These services and supports may include:

  •  Respite, Personal Assistance, Homemaking
  • Adult/child day care
  • Dental Care
  • Therapy
  • Home and Vehicle Modifications (such as wheelchair lifts, ramps)
  • Special Equipment (such as communication devices, assistive technology, independent living aids)
  • Health related supplies
  • Minor home repairs
  • Summer camps/recreational activities



Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Education Travel Fund

TN Council on Developmental DisabilitiesThe purpose of this fund is to:

  • – assist Tennesseans with disabilities and their families to attend meetings, conferences and workshops held around the country and in Tennessee.
  • – assist Tennessee conferences by providing stipends for people with disabilities and their families, and conference presenters

For more information or to download an application form, click here.

Submit the form by mail, email or fax at least 30 days before the event to:

TN Council on Developmental Disabilities
Attn: Alicia Cone
Davy Crockett Tower, First Floor     500 James Robertson Pkwy      Nashville, TN 37243-0228
You can also fax the form to 615-532-6964 or email it to For more information, contact Alicia Cone at 615-253-1105.

Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Education Travel Fund


New Georgia Testing Accommodations Manual

GA Dept of EdThe Accommodations Manual: A guide to Selecting, Administering, and Evaluating the Use of Test Administration Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (updated December 2014) is now available on the Assessment & Accountability website under the link “For Educators”.
In addition, IEP and IEP/504 teams should always consider the purpose of the assessment and consult Georgia’s Student Assessment Handbook, published annually by GaDOE to determine if an accommodation is allowable for the assessment under consideration.
The direct link to the Accommodations Manual (updated December 2014) is

VAP Graduate Reunion & Additional Training Coming Soon!

VAP handsWe have some information for you about our upcoming VAP trainings and networking opportunities for graduates.
Our first session will be on February 18th from 3-5pm CST . Carrie Mason will speak about 504 and discipline, followed by some time to network and brainstorm together.
Next, Tie Hodack and Theresa Nichols from the TN DOE will present on the state’s implementation of RTI and Instructionally-Appropriate IEPs. This session will be on March 18th from 5-8pm CST.
We hope you will be able to join us for these opportunities to reconnect with VAP graduates and refresh your memory on some of the content you learned during the training.
We will be coordinating these sessions both in Nashville and at distance sites across the state. In order to plan accordingly, we ask you to RSVP if you plan on attending these sessions. We will need to know the correct number of participants so we can ensure there is space for everyone who wants to attend.  Please RSVP for each session at the following link:
February 18th: 504 and Discipline, 3-5pm CST,
March 18th: RTI and IEPs, 5-8pm CST,
Also, if you have any specific content areas that you would like to be covered at these trainings, please let me know.
Depending on attendance at these sessions, we may try to schedule additional ongoing training sessions later in the spring.  We will be posting this information, as well as additional information about events and trainings which may be of interest to you on the VAP website: