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 my son do so many things that he wasn’t supposed to do and year after year he amazes me with the things he does. There have been many tears over the years, many sleepless nights. His journey has been an uphill one and he has more than earned every achievement but he continually put one foot in front of the other and that led him to where he is today….following his dream to work in the gaming industry. My son has Asperger’s so he is on the higher functioning part of the spectrum but even if your child is on some other part of the spectrum do not think that this lesson in believing in our kids doesn’t apply to your child. Through my years of advocating for our kids I have seen kids do some pretty amazing things. Set your expectations high, support your kids and BELIEVE in them. At the times when you get discouraged, find someone who has enough hope for the both of you, or a success story they can share until you can get back to a place of hope. Another important thing that I want to share with you is that you need to share your child’s success stories in this forum. I can’t tell you how much peace it gave me when someone shared that their child had achieved the status of being completely potty trained… 8. My son was 7 and still struggling to make it through the night and I was sure we were the only ones with that struggle. Others also shared their journey once that one mom posted about their success and some of their kiddos were past 10 when they reached that plateau and believe it or not, that gave me hope that he would be where he needed to be by college! We need to realize that we are not alone in our struggles and even the smallest thing will encourage more people than you know. It is not rare for our kids to take longer to get to a destination but often times that destination is not out of their reach. My son’s Godmother read “The Little Engine that Could” to him over and over when he was young and she continually reminds him of that engine year after year. Now go read that book to your child and then share something on this page that will encourage someone….it could be the thing that they need to hang on to today!

PS: My son, Caelan, is featured in this article. He is the one with the blue paint on his face and the one standing by the President of MTSU holding a book. Five years ago when we started looking at colleges we weren’t completely sure how realistic that would be but we kept plugging along as if it was totally in the realm of possibilities. Did I say I am proud of him?

MTSU toasts Trustee, Presidential Scholarship recipients at ‘Blue Carpet Celebration’

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.

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.


New Local Resource for Learning & Attention Issues!

Logo_Understood_1080 (1)

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. 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  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…)


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


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…)

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.



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.