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Dear Graduating Professional – By Wendy Eyrich

Dear Graduating Professional,

Congratulations on your choice to enter the exceptional education field. What an enormous responsibility you’ve taken upon yourself. My guess is that many of you have been impacted by disability in your life in some way, whether through a family member, friend, etc.

The following is some advice from me, a seasoned parent.

1) Remember that parents know their child best. Most of the time a parent is your best ally. Keep in mind that you’re a team and both have the child’s best interests at heart. Develop a good working relationship with parents when possible and life is easier for everyone.

2) Believe in these children. Often times when your expectations of them are high they’ll rise to the occasion.

3) Remember:

Education is Not One-Size-Fits-All – By: Cynthia Parker

 

Every parent wants what’s best for their child.  We go to great lengths to make sure our kid has access to a great education provided by qualified teachers.  However, because every child is unique, our paths towards this goal may differ.

Our son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and a half.  Around that time, he began speech, occupational, and developmental therapies.  Although he was getting all of these services, his therapists were unable to adequately judge his comprehension levels due to his severe speech delay.  We simply didn’t know what he knew because he couldn’t tell us.

Because of our son’s delays and diagnosis, he was thrust into the public school system much earlier than other children.  At the age of 3, public schools are required to evaluate children with suspected delays and disabilities to ascertain whether these delays/disabilities will have an impact on their education.  If this is true for your child, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is created and your child will begin therapy and/or specialized instruction through the school system if you so choose.  

This was our route and our public school system was in Hamilton County, Tennessee.  We had heard horror stories about

Never Give Up! – By Trish Cox

Are you feeling discouraged by all the things “people” are telling you your child won’t ever do? Indulge me while I share how we went from very defeated place to a very good place and why it is important to share your child’s successes. At my son’s kindergarten readiness meeting in preschool 14 years ago I thought I had the perfect kid but the teacher and director of the school told me that he would not “make it” in any Hamilton County school and that I needed to start looking at “special” school options. After many tears that summer, I decided not to short change him which would mean giving him the chance to fail, or SUCCEED, through his own experiences. That meant that we would head off to a public school kindergarten in the Fall. Fourteen years later, he is a senior with an ACT score of 25 and a 3.77 GPA. He will be in attending MTSU in the fall and majoring in animation. Oh, and did I mention that he will be in the honors college at MTSU? Why do I mention all of this? Not to brag, though I am very proud of him, but to encourage you. By 1st grade I had seen (more…)

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Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency

The Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) operates five integrated and interdependent statutory programs that share a primary goal – to help people with disabilities become fully productive members of society by achieving independence and meaningful employment.  GVRA has highly-skilled, trained teams of professionals, including Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRCs), who offer the following services for Georgia residents:  Counseling and Guidance, Postsecondary Support, Supported Employment, Work Readiness Training, Job Placement Assistance,  Assistive Work Technology, Vocational Training, and On-the-job training.

Please click here for further information.

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HCDE’s 3 Year Plan for System Changes in Exceptional Education

HCDE-blk-and-whiteFor 15 years LifeLine has advocated for systems change on behalf of thousands of Hamilton County students with special needs.  With the formation of the Chattanooga Inclusive Ed Working Group a couple of years ago, we joined many others in documenting the needs of the county and offering solutions to meet those needs.  On Thursday evening, July 19th, 2018, Dr. Cale Horne with Chattanooga Inclusive Ed and Mr. Garfield Adams presented the Group’s 3 year plan for systemic change to the Hamilton County School Board.

A copy of the final draft of the 3 year plan can be found here: HCDE – Three-Year Plan – Final draft for distribution   Our sincere gratitude to all of the individuals, families, and community partners that brought this project to this point.  The board received the presentation and we look forward to continuing the work we have begun.

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New Local Resource for Learning & Attention Issues!

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About four years ago, 15 national level organizations serving families affected by learning disability and related challenges collaborated in an effort to pool their collective knowledge in one website.   They recognized that the 1 in 5 who are affected needed a central location to find resources.  www.Understood.org was born.  As the resource achieved national recognition, families began requesting local groups and resources from Understood.  They also wanted opportunities to connect with other families.  Understood responded by creating an on-the-ground local resource/outreach program of parent mentors.  They were called Parent Fellows.

In March 2018, Lisa Mattheiss, LifeLine’s Executive Director, was appointed Parent Fellow with Understood.org.  She is excited to be able to more specifically meet the needs of students, families, and educators in the metro Chattanooga/Northwest Georgia area through this opportunity.  Through the Parent Fellow position, Lisa will be (more…)

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Looper Speech & Hearing Center

Looper Speech & Hearing Center is a nonprofit organization governed by a local voluntary Board of Directors dedicated to meeting the speech, language and hearing needs of our area’s children and adults.  They offer evaluation, therapy, counseling, and consultation services for the following:

Speech Issues:  articulation, voice disorders, stuttering, aphasia, laryngectomy, tongue-thrust, swallowing issues, dysarthria, cleft palate, delayed speech/language

Hearing Issues: pure tone issues, speech reception threshold, speech discrimination, otoacoustoic emission, otoadmittance (impedance), ABR, central auditory test, hearing screening, auditory training.

Speech pathologists help patients develop, or recover, reliable communication skills so patients can fulfill their educational, vocational, and social roles.

For further information please contact them at:

Looper Speech & Hearing Center

1011 Professional Blvd./Dalton, GA 30720

Phone: 706-226-4623

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Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee

Epilepsy and seizure disorders are defined as neurological disorders marked by sudden, recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, and/or convulsions and are associated with abnormal electrical surges in the brain.

Epilepsy Facts:

  • 1 in 100 people have active epilepsy in the United States
  • There are over 20 types of seizures
  • 1 in 26 people will have epilepsy/seizure disorders at some point in their life
  • Common causes of epilepsy are head injury, infection, fever, brain tumors, and genetics.  However, no cause is identified for 70% of people with epilepsy. (more…)
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Catholic Charities of East Tennessee, Inc. – Pregnancy, Immigration, HIV/AIDS, Counseling

Catholic Charities of East Tennessee, Inc.’s mission statement is “Empowered by the grace of Jesus Christ, Catholic Charities of East Tennessee fosters human dignity of the vulnerable in our region through shelter, counseling, education, advocacy, and reverence for life.”  Some of their services are:

The Pregnancy Center: Along with providing free pregnancy testing, birth options, and  informational & community referrals, they have added the “Earn While You Learn” Program.  Once classes are completed, the parents are given “Baby Bucks” to purchase new baby items such as car seats, cribs, diapers, etc., from their Baby Store.  Eligible ages – birth to 2 years.

The Office of Immigrant Services: Fostering family unity and self-sufficiency of immigrants in our area, this program assists families in navigating the complicated U.S. immigration system & works to connect them with needed resources.  CCETN is the only low-cost provider of immigration legal services accredited by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration Appeals in all of East Tennessee.

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Juice Plus+ Children’s Health Study

As parents, we have our work cut out for us.  It’s hard to get kids to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables when their taste buds are hardwired to prefer donuts, french fries, and pizza.

Juice Plus+ is dedicated to improving the state of children’s health and nutrition around the world.  It is a whole food-based nutritional product that provides nutrition from 17 different fruits, vegetables, and grains–like apples, broccoli, kale, parsley, and beets–in a convenient and inexpensive capsule form.  Juice Plus+ helps you bridge the gap between what your family should eat and what you do eat every day.

Juice plus+ is NOT a vitamin.  It is fruits and vegetables compressed into capsule or gummy forms.  In order to bypass the taste and/or texture of fruits and vegetables, families with special sensory needs have also had much success with these products.  Reduction of inflammation, building a healthy immune system, protecting structural integrity of DNA, and cardiovascular wellness are all additional positive side effects of this product.

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An Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?  According to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD):

“Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are general terms for a group of complex neurodevelopmental disorders. The new diagnostic classification system (DSM-5, May 2013) combines the previous subcategories of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder–not other-wise specified (PDD-NOS) into the one category of ASD.

Autism spectrum disorder is present early in life and is characterized by varying degrees of impairment in:

• Communication/language
• Social abilities
• Restricted/unusual patterns of activities and interests

The characteristics of ASD can be present in different combinations and at different levels of severity. Often specific behaviors vary widely from person to person. ASD occurs in as many as 1 in 59 children, is about 4-5 times more common in boys than in girls, and occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups.” (Autism Spectrum Disorder:  Tips and Resources for Families, TRIAD, 2018).

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Care Source

Care Source is the first non-profit health care plan chosen to serve Georgia Medicaid and Peach Care for Kids members enrolled in Georgia Families and women enrolled in the Planning for healthy Babies program.  Dental and Vision Benefits.  Care Source covers two cleanings and exams per year, and x-rays. Simple tooth removal is included.  Members also get a yearly eye exam and $75 towards glasses or contacts.  Free Job Help: job coaches help with interview practice and resumes, and provide support after you start a new job.  Care Source Job Connect also gives (more…)

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Harvest House Ministry

The Church of Christ that meets at Rossville has a group of dedicated volunteers that goes out 7 days a week to collect truck loads of food donated by local stores, such as Food Lion, BI-LO, Panera Bread, and Sara Lee.  Others may be added in the future.  Every Thursday morning, starting at about 9:30 am.   (more…)

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Kennesaw State University

2-year certificate program designed to offer an inclusive college experiences to students with intellectual disabilities.  Appeals to and attracts high school graduates with limitation in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, whose disability impairs their access to a post-secondary, general education curriculum.  Creates a campus atmosphere of understanding and acceptance for people with disabilities.  Read more… (more…)

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Georgia Student Finance Commission: Loans, Scholarships, Grants

Over the years, GSFC has grown to be the administrator of more than 20 state- and lottery-funded scholarships, grants and service-cancelable loan programs that ensure Georgians have an opportunity to access education beyond high school. In addition, GSFC provides free financial aid consultation to K-12, postsecondary institutions and community organizations across the state to help students and their families prepare to pay for college.

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NAMI Chattanooga: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Someone you love has a mental illness.  Meet NAMI Chattanooga.  We advocate improving and expanding services and facilities.  We find new ways to bring families, friends, consumers and providers closer together by sharing insights and techniues that help us.  We monitor federal, state and local legislation to improve laws and services for the mentally ill.  We advocate for improved treatment rehabilitation services and community support fro persons with mental illness.  We welcome parents, relatives, friends, professionals and consumers to share the challenge of living with mental illness.   (more…)

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