2013 News Archive


25 Great Toys For Kids Who Don't Play With Toys

Does your child play with toys?  If so, this article isn't for you. You should probably Google "hottest toys of 2012."

- Is your child scared of blinking, beeping toys?
- Is your child unable to understand the rules of
  most games?
- Does your child lack interest in typical toys?
- Is your child delayed when it comes to basic play

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then click here to keep reading.


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New E-book: A Special Needs Toy Guide


Click here to read more on the below topics:

- 5 Toys That Can Help With Social Development
- 5 Toys to Promote Problem Solving for a Child
  With Special Needs
- 6 Toys & Play Products To Help Develop Gross
  Motor Skills
- 8 Toys That Can Help A Child With Emotional
- 8 Tips for Special Needs Holiday Toy Shopping
- 8 Great Toys That Help With Cognitive
- 9 Toys That Can Help Children who have Special
  Needs with Independent,
  Parallel and Cooperative Play
- 10 Toys And Household Items To Help Develop   
  Fine Motor Skills
- 10 Great Balance Toys For A Child With Special
- 10 Tips for Selecting Toys for Your Speech
  Delayed Child
- 10 Sensory Chew Toys For Children With Autism &
  Other Special Needs
- 15 Great Online Toy Stores for Children with
  Special Needs
- 21 Great Fidgets For Your Child With Special
- Toys and Tips for Blending Nature and Play for
  Children with Special Needs


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Tips For The Holiday

You may recall childhood holidays as a joyful time when everyone sat around and ate and talked for hours. But for a child with sensory issues, holidays can be a real problem. The change in routine and the unfamiliar sights, sounds, foods, and people can be extremely stressful. Here are ways you can help your child enjoy the holidays.



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Voices4Hope is a place for teenagers and young adults with mental health conditions to find resources and stigma busting information that can help them lead happy and independent lives. This website was created and is maintained by four young adults with mental health conditions at the Transitions Research and Training Center (RTC). Voices4Hope has launched three webpages on eating disorders, young adult parenting, and bullying. Offers young adults information about conditions or circumstances that can affect them, recovery stories to read, and resources to help them make the best of their lives. 



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STEP, Inc. to Host an Applebee’s Flapjack Fundraiser Breakfast

STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) has teamed up with Applebee’s in Greeneville to host a “Flapjack Fundraiser Breakfast” on Saturday, December 14, 2013 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.  Event is open to the public.  Breakfast will include all you can eat flapjacks served with sausage and a beverage.  Tickets are $6.00 each and can be purchased in advance by calling 423-639-0125 ext. 12 or visiting the office at 712 Professional Plaza, Greeneville Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Tickets will also be available at the door.  Eat in or take out. 

For 24 years STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) has provided FREE information, advocacy training, and support services to parents of children (birth through age 22) that are eligible to receive special education services across Tennessee under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  STEP’s home office is located here in Greeneville with offices in Middle and West Tennessee.   

If you are unable to attend this event, and would like to make a donation you can do so through the STEP website (www.tnstep.org) by PayPal or credit card or via mail.  Make checks payable to STEP, Inc. at 712 Professional Plaza, Greeneville, TN 37745.  Your tax-deductible donation will be used for programs and services that assist children with disabilities and their families.  We appreciate you support. 

Click here for flyer

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Longtime Special Education Resource to Be Reborn as Part of New Center

By Christina Samuels on November 27, 2013 2:46 PM

Resources created by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities—widely known by the acronym NICHCY, a holdover from the name it had over 30 years ago—will remain available online, though the center closed down after its last grant from the Department of Education's office of special education programs ended in September.

The center, once known as the National Information Center for Handicapped Children and Youth, had for decades provided direct resources to parents through mail and a telephone hotline. Though the center moved more and more of its information online, the stream of contacts from the public continued, at a rate of 90 to 300 calls a month, said Elaine Mulligan, who was NICHCY's director. Much of that was due to the center's long history, she said. While other federally-funded resources would change names or contact information, NICHCY remained. Read more


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Caregiver Assessment

The Arc is seeking caregiver views of the health status of the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) they support. If you or someone you know is a professional, paid, unpaid or family member caregiver of someone with I/DD, we invite you to take a short, confidential online assessment to help us collect valuable information about caregiver views of the health status of people with I/DD.

Click here to take the survey

If you have any questions about this survey, please contact Jennifer Sladen at sladen@thearc.org.

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Increases in ADHD Diagnoses and Rx Treatments

CDC News Room

ADHD is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood and often persists into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention and/or controlling impulsive behaviors. Effective treatments for ADHD include medication, mental health treatment, or a combination of the two.  When children diagnosed with ADHD receive proper treatment, they have the best chance of thriving at home, doing well at school, and making and keeping friends.

Read More

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Military Families of Children with Special Needs

Video for Military Families of Children with Special Needs

Wrightslaw has created a video for military families who either have children with special needs, people who work with military families, and non-military families who find themselves having to move to another school district.  Learn more about what your child is entitled to and the differences between the DOD Instructions and IDEA 2004.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulrzR4o02Vc&feature=youtu.be 

IDEA Requirements When Military Children Move 

OSEP guidance to school districts to ensure that military children receive required special education and related services: 

1. Highly mobile children should have timely and expedited evaluations and eligibility determinations.

2. Comparable services include services during the summer, such as Extended School Year (ESY) services.



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Stand Up to Your Food Allergy

Mommy, I’m itchy.  Daddy, my mouth feels funny! If these ringing complaints sound familiar, your child may be allergic to something they’ve eaten. Food and skin allergies in kids have been on the rise during the past few decades. While most allergens will simply cause uncomfortable symptoms like hives, eczema, and itchiness in the mouth or throat, allergens like shellfish and peanuts can put your child at risk for anaphylaxis.

Help your child identify and remember which “bad guy” foods to stay away from by coloring in one of these characters. Submit your coloring to our gallery and enter to win a Whole Foods gift card!

Entries must be received by 11:59 PM PST on December 13, 2013.


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Autism Society of Middle Tennessee has Rebranded

We Have Rebranded!

We are now Autism Tennessee (formerly the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee). The mission has not changed, we just have a brand new look!

Check out our new website; it's amazing! 

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Ice! featuring Frosty the Snowman - December 15

Make reservations for Ice! featuring Frosty the Snowman at Gaylord Opryland on Sunday, December 15 for children with Autism and their families and get special Autism Tennessee pricing that's half off regular admission!  The doors will open for our families at 9:30 am, 30 minutes prior to the general public.  Call 615-385-2077, ext. 3 to reserve and pay for your spot.

Click here for more information. 

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Making Life Easier: Holidays-Strategies for Success

Source: Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children - November 21, 2013

The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) has recently added a new tip sheet in its Making Life Easier series, entitled Making Life Easier: Holidays-Strategies for Success (November 2013). This series of tip sheets is designed specifically for parents and caregivers. It contains valuable information on how to make often challenging events easier to navigate, and even enjoyable, for both caregivers and children.

Click here for tip sheet. 

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National Family Caregivers Month

In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, STEP, Inc. would like to salutes family caregivers for their important role and for improving the health care and lives of everyone around them.  THANK YOU! 

Presidential Proclamation - 2013 National Family Caregivers Month

Across our country, more than 60 million Americans take up the selfless and unheralded work of delivering care to seniors or people with disabilities or illnesses. The role they play in our healthcare system is one we must recognize and support.   Read More

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NAMI Introduces High School Program

NAMI Ending the Silence is an in-school presentation about mental health designed for high school students. Students can learn about mental illness directly from family members and individuals living with mental illness themselves. This is a 50 minute presentation designed for high school students and led by a team of trained presenters including a young adult living in recovery from mental illness.

Click here for more about this program. For an interesting blog from one young adult presenter, click here.

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17 "Mom Approved" Gifts for Kids with Special Needs

Two key factors to look for in selecting gifts

I look for two key things when buying gifts for my son who has Cerebral Palsy.  My main focus is finding something that he will successfully be able to use.  The secondary focus is to choose a game or activity that promotes inclusion and social interaction with his sister and his peers.  Read more.

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STEP's 2013 Transition Institute Videos Now Available for Viewing

The Transition Institute was designed for individuals with disabilities and their families who are in the process of preparing for transition and professionals involved in the transition planning process. Participants learned about issues such as the following: Your rights & role in transitioning from High School; How to develop an appropriate Transition Plan; Employment; Independent Living; Keys to navigating the adult service delivery system including Social Security, Vocational Rehabilitation, Medicaid Waiver, and many others. 

Be sure and watch the following videos to help answer your transition questions.  

STEP 2013 Transition Institute: Post-Secondary Options

  • The Arc Tennessee presents Post-Secondary Training Options presented by Loria Richardson.  What's Next? Options for Training and College after High School. 

STEP 2013 Transition Institute: TennCare Eligibility Basics

  • Nikki Viverette, Client Advocate with Tennessee Justice Center talks about “What You Need to Know about TennCare.” 

STEP 2013 Transition Institute: Unraveling the Mystery of Conservatorships and Special Needs Trusts

  • Attorney Cindy Gardner “Unravels the Mystery of Conservatorships and Trusts.” 

STEP 2013 Transition Institute Success Story

  • Kevin Burke shares his “Success Story.”

STEP 2013 Transition Institute: Agency Information Panel

  • Agency Information Panel facilitated by Gina Lynette helps get your questions answered about “What to Expect with Transitioning.” 

STEP 2013 Transition Institute: The Transition from School to Work

  • Tennessee Department of Rehabilitation Services Regional Supervisor, Diedra Sawyer, tells “This is What You Need to Know about Vocational Rehabilitation Services.”

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Giving Tuesday: When Tennesseans Give Back

When Tennesseans Give Back

This year families, businesses, community members, students, retailers and more will all come together to join in the celebration dedicated to giving-- for #GivingTuesday - a movement to celebrate giving and encourage more, better and smarter giving during the Holiday Season.   

#GivingTuesday is “an opening day to the giving season”, so this is a perfect time to give to STEP, Inc. – Tennessee’s Parent Training and Information Center. 

For 24 years STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) has provided FREE information, advocacy training, and support services to parents of children (birth through age 22) that are eligible to receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  

#Giving Tuesday is about ordinary people coming together doing extraordinary things “to brighten the future of children with disabilities”.

We invite you to be part of this celebration by choosing a Tuesday to give to STEP:

Tuesday, November 26th
Tuesday, December 3rd

Donations can be made online through our secure PayPal link using any major credit card or your individual PayPal Account. 

Checks/money orders can be mailed to:  STEP, Inc., 712 Professional Plaza Drive, Greeneville, TN 37745

Suggested Donations representing the services provided to families this year by STEP

$ 29.00

Representing the 291 Individual meetings attended with families this year.

$ 52.00

Representing the 5,212 parents and family members who received training this year.


Representing the 160,011 contacts with parents by phone, email, and letters


Representing the 216,448 pieces of information distributed this year.

Your gift will enable STEP staff to provide services to more families, to create additional materials and trainings, improve outreach through technology, cover the needs in urban and rural areas in our state, and much more!

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Rule Change for Initial Evaluation Takes Effect January 29, 2014

Initial Evaluation Timeline Change:
The rule change concerning the time frame for completion of an initial evaluation will take effect Jan. 29, 2014. Therefore, on and after Jan. 29, 2014, pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §300.301(c), an initial evaluation for determination of eligibility for special education must be conducted within sixty (60) “calendar days” of the local education agency’s receipt of informed parental consent and, pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §300.323(c), an initial meeting to develop an IEP must be conducted within thirty (30) “calendar days” of the determination of eligibility. All evaluations in progress due to informed consent being received prior to Jan. 29, 2014 must continue to adhere to current Tennessee Rule & Regulation 0520-01-09-.10 which provides that an initial evaluation must be conducted and an initial educational placement must be made within forty (40) “school days” of the local education agency’s receipt of informed parental consent for an initial until eligibility is determined and, if the child is eligible, a placement is made.   

For additional information, please contact Nathan.Travis@tn.gov.

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13 Holiday Survival Tips For Your Child With Special Needs

While most children live for the holiday season, it can be an extremely stressful time of year for children with autism and other forms of learning disability. The disruption to their routine, unfamiliar sights and smells, the house full of noise and people – it can all prove too much. Holidays are all about the family, but it can be hard keeping everyone happy.   Read More 

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Five tips for a special needs friendly Thanksgiving

The holidays can cause problems for children with special needs. There are noises, smells and people who are not familiar to them. Their routines change and that can be upsetting. Use these five tips to plan a happy Thanksgiving for the whole family.

Click here to read more

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10 Toys Great for Kids with Special Needs

Fun stuff that will help kids with Down syndrome, autism, juvenile arthritis, cerebral palsy, and sensory integration impairment.  

Click here to read more:

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Toys R Us unveils the 2013 Toys R Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids

Toys R Us unveils the 2013 Toys R Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids!

View the guide here

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Important Survey on Disability Employment

National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is writing today to ask that you please participate in and distribute to your networks an important survey on disability and employment. The survey takes about 10 minutes, and everyone who completes it has the option to be entered for a chance to win $500. 

 Take the survey. 

The survey questions are well designed and have the power to shape debate about disability policy. Power and control of policies can be ours for the taking, but we need a very large sample size and strong participation from the grassroots disability community to ensure that the results are valid.  

The results of this poll will be shared with the White House, all 50 Governors, top media, disability groups, and more! 

Anything that you can do to engage a broad range of stakeholders to fill out the survey would be greatly appreciated. Please share the survey with your Twitter, Facebook and email followers.  

The results of each individual will be confidential, but the overall results will be made public.  

For further information, please contact Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi at jlm@laszlostrategies.com or 202-365-0787.

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“Making Life Easier” Tip Sheets Help Parents of Young Children Manage Daily Activities

For parents of young children, with and without disabilities, bedtime and naptime can be difficult to manage, and resulting sleep problems often impact learning and behavior. The “Making Life Easier” series provides practical tools parents and caregivers can use to help daily activities – things like bedtime, naptime, and running errands – go more smoothly. Produced by the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention (TACSEI), this series of tip sheets contain useful information that can make it easier to navigate challenging events and enjoy daily routines with young children.

Learn more about these tools or visit PACER.org/ec for more early childhood resources.

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Disney Parks Modifying Disability Access Service Card Program

Disney Parks is modifying the current Guest Assistance Card program, which provides access to attractions for guests with disabilities, so it can continue to serve the guests who truly need it. The new program is designed to provide the special experience guests have come to expect from Disney. It will also help control abuse that was, unfortunately, widespread and growing at an alarming rate.  If your vacation includes Disney, please read this and read this before you plan.


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Strengths and Social Connections of Siblings with and without Developmental Disabilities

We are inviting siblings (ages 18-30) across the state to participate in a short survey focused on the social connections and strengths of their brothers/sisters with intellectual disabilities or autism.

Our goal is to learn more about these special sibling relationships and expand what we know about the strengths of young people with developmental disabilities.

If you choose to participate, you can complete our online survey at a time and location most convenient to you. It should take you less than 20 minutes to complete.

A full description of the study and a link to the survey can found here.

We will randomly select 20 siblings to receive a $25 gift card from among the completed surveys.

The survey asks about:

  • Background information about you and your brother/sister
  • Activities you and your brother/sister do together
  • Your views about your brother’s/sister’s strengths
  • Your expectations for your brother’s/sister’s future plans

You can skip any questions you prefer not to answer. You can also change your mind about participating after reading the survey.

Compensation:  Enter a drawing to win 1 of 20 $25 gift certificates.

Visit Requirements:  None, an online survey

Contact Information:  Mary Beth Carlton (615) 343-1438 or via email at mary.e.carlton@vanderbilt.edu

Principal Investigator: Erik Carter, Ph.D.
Other researchers: Mary Beth Carlton
Lynnette Henderson, PhD
IDDRC Research Recruitment Coordinator
UCEDD Associate Director of Community Services

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
235 One Magnolia Circle
PMB 40
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 936-0448
Fax: 615-322-8236

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STEP's Executive Director Writes Article for State Publication

Karen Harrison, Executive Director of STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) wrote an article “Switched at Birth: A Transition Success Story” for “Breaking Ground” a publication published by the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.  Please click on the link below and read this inspiring story while gaining a few insights about supporting the loved ones in your life. 


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25 Awesome Halloween Costumes Designed for Children with Special Needs

Halloween is just a few weeks away. The stores are packed with costume ideas, but what if your child has a special need? Creative parents with special needs children are creating amazing costumes so their child can also celebrate in the Halloween festivities.

From ice cream trucks to giraffes, parents are making the costumes work with their children and all I can say is WOW. 

Click here to read more:

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Tips for a Sensory Smart Halloween


Halloween can be a source of great fun for kids, yet challenging for others. When your child isn't into shrills and chills, Halloween can be a rough holiday. Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder can struggle with all the sights and sounds that Halloween brings. This year you may be able to have a sensory smart Halloween with just a little planning ahead.


Click here to

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Halloween Safety for Kids with LDs - Keep Your LD Child Safe This Halloween

Halloween safety is a must for all children. Children with learning disabilities (LDs)may need additional help with learning Halloween safety strategies. They'll also need reminders to follow them. These tips will help you and your child have a safer Halloween! Click here to read more:  

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Spider Web Gross Motor Activity

Finding fun spooky games to play that won't scare the pants of little guys is not always a simple task . This game is simple, spooky but not at all frightening.

Click here to read more:

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STEP Fall E-news: Back to School Edition

STEP E-News Back to School Edition 2013 FINAL 9-26-13.pdf   

We are pleased to announce the STEP Fall E-news edition is ready for your reading pleasure! We hope you enjoy this issue.

Please feel free to forward on to your friends and encourage them to visit the STEP website at www.tnstep.org and sign up to receive future electronic newsletters, e-news briefs, and information about events and upcoming workshops.

Special points of interest:

  • TN Rule Changes: What is changing and when
  • New Assessments: What that means for students with disabilities
  • Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI): Myths and Facts
  • STEP Training Map
  • Our Website: Finding what you need
  • Our New Staff and Board Members
  • Training Opportunities
  • Occupational Diploma News


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When Love Is Not Enough - Parent Seminar

Friday, October 18, 2013 8:00am-4:00pm

Advanced Parents Stepping Up

"When Love Is Not Enough"  

Presented by: Nancy Thomas

This seminar is for parents and those working with children suffering with Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Understanding this disorder and the parenting that is required, is vital in order to provide the unique balance of nurturing and structure that these children must have to heal. This seminar gives you the opportunity to see and hear examples of methods that heal. This has helped many parents to avoid becoming cold 'enforcers‘ and to become warm 'empowerers‘!

This seminar will include:
> Understanding Attachment Disorder 
> Information about the brain and how it heals 
> How to parent a wounded heart 
> Techniques for bonding 
> How to turn it around when you’re being driven over the edge 
> Establishing a plan for your child’s future 
> Lots of questions and answers

For more information on this event,  View Flyer Here.

Other Resources of Interest:

Turning Point Camp
-a place for hurting families to find hope and healing.: http://turningpointcamp.com/

Attachment.org - Families By Design:

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Tips and Strategies for Protecting Students with Disabilities from Bullies

While any student can be the target of bullying, a student with a disability is particularly vulnerable.  Exceptional children may be targeted because they may exhibit anxiety or do not recognize or respond to appropriate social cues, which may cause them to be singled out. Consequently, bullying behavior, whether direct or indirect, is problematic for exceptional students who may already be experiencing academic difficulties. Children with learning and emotional disabilities are not only at greater risk of being victimized, but may also bully other children because of their deficiencies or impulses. 
Click here to read more:


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Autism Society East Tennessee Annual Fall Education Conference

Practical Strategies for Social Skills & Organizational Success for Those with ASD from Elementary through Adulthood”

Saturday, October 12, 2013
8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Bearden High School
8352 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919

Conference features three (3) complete training tracks.  First training track is an in-depth training highlighting Model Me Kids® social skills; second training track contains organizational success strategies & tools for all ages; and the third track is specifically for teens & young adults.

New this year is a lunch session called “Table Talk”. Grab lunch and join a table discussion on your “burning issue”! Topics for all ages; something for everyone!!

To Register:

Visit www.asaetc.org and use PayPal, or fill out form below & mail with payment to: P.O. Box 30015, Knoxville, TN  37930

Registration Deadline: Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 or when full.

More info on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ASAETC/

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Creative Expressions XIX - Nashville

Co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and the Nashville Mayor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities, this free annual exhibit features works of art by artists with a wide range of abilities/disabilities and ages. Art is displayed at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Tennessee Performing Arts Center (Nashville, TN) October 2013 to January 2014. See http://tinyurl.com/vkc-artshow  for details.

Artists will be recognized at the 32nd Annual Awards Celebration of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Thursday, October 17, at 5:30 p.m. at the downtown Farmer’s Market, 900 Rosa Parks Blvd. The public is welcome.

Vanderbilt University Campus - 110 Magnolia Circle, Nashville, TN 
Lobby 2nd Floor Vanderbilt Kennedy Center/One Magnolia Circle Bldg. - 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday 

Tennessee Performing Arts Center Lobby | 505 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN | Call (615) 782-4000 for hours

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10 Things Every Special Needs Mom Can Do to Feel Happier

What exactly is happiness? The answer isn't a simple cut and dry definition.  I think of it as a state of mind. One that exists along a spectrum from feeling blue, to elated with neutral somewhere in the middle.  Most people move along the happiness spectrum from day to day, hour to hour or even moment to moment depending on the situation and circumstances.  Special needs Mom's tend to have overly full plates and the combination of exhaustion, challenging situations, and constant stress can leave our mood falling more toward the neutral or unhappy end of the spectrum.


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Starbucks to Offer Accessible Gift Cards

In response to a customer request, coffee-giant Starbucks says it will make a Braille gift card available year-round.

For more information: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2013/10/04/starbucks-gift-cards/18777/


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The Pampered Chef® has joined STEP, Inc. for a Fabulous Fundraising Opportunity

STEP, Inc. is hosting a Pampered Chef® On-line Fundraiser October 4 - 29, 2013 

It's a simple way to get the hottest Pampered Chef® products that make cooking and entertaining easy and fun - all while supporting a great cause!

Just visit www.pamperedchef.biz/LisaGosnell, click on “Shop Online” and type in “STEP” as the host, find the products you want and place your order.   It’s that simple!
STEP will raise funds two ways:
..  Donation of up to 15% of the fundraiser's total sales
..  $3 contribution for each catalog show or on-line show booked from this fundraiser 

Be sure to place your order by Tuesday, October 29, 2013.  

Click here for October Guest Special.

Please feel free to forward this on to your friends and encourage them to place an order today!
Remember...the holiday season is fast approaching, and what better way to get in the spirit than with festive food and giving GIFTS they’ll just LOVE to receive.
Thank you for supporting STEP, Inc.   Now Let the Shopping Begin!

Come by and check out the The Pampered Chef® product display at STEP, Inc., 712 Professional Plaza in Greeneville, Monday through Thursday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (October 4th - 29th).
For more information on this fundraiser contact Lisa at 423-639-0125, ext. 12 or 423-426-2467.

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Autism Friendly Halloween

It's that time of year again. This article offers some great advice for getting everyone ready for a safe and fun Halloween. Please feel free to share with your connections, friends and family. Find the entire article here.


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Got ADHD? Get Aware! ADHD Awareness Month Is Here!

Got ADHD? Get Aware! ADHD Awareness Month Is Here! Individually, those in the ADHD community can advocate for themselves and bring awareness to the ADHD condition. Collectively, we can have a much greater impact. In this show, host and attention coach Jeff Copper interviews Michele Novotni, who penned the original senate resolution bringing about ADHD Awareness Day and is now the head of the ADHD Coalition in charge of ADHD Awareness Month in October. They discuss what the Coalition has coming up and how to help this important initiative. They share available resources and the steps individuals can take to reach out to others with ADHD.  For more information click here.

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What's Affected by a Government Shutdown?

Here is an overview of some of the government services and operations that will be impacted until Congress passes a budget to fund them again. 

Read More


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October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month

1 in 10 People Have Symptoms of Dyslexia.  Know the Warning Signs and Next Steps.

Read more

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Join the movement!

The End of Bullying Begins with Me: that’s the message during PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Month in October. It’s a time when communities can unite nationwide to raise awareness of bullying prevention through events, activities, outreach, and education. Resources from PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center make it easy to take action.

PACER created the campaign in 2006 with a one-week event which has now evolved into a month-long effort that encourages everyone to take an active role in the bullying prevention movement.

We have a variety of resources you can use during October — and throughout the year — to engage, educate, and inspire others to join the movement and prevent bullying where you live. Check out all of the different events and activities and make plans to get involved. Remember, the End of Bullying Begins With You!

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Down Syndrome Awareness Month 2013

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month! We invite you to check out some of the great ways to get involved and raise awareness.

Read more

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October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month

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October National Dwarfism Awareness Month

People with dwarfism can be found in all areas of society. We are social workers, teachers, doctors, students, engineers, musicians, parents, and business owners. In recognizing Dwarfism Awareness Month, we hope to celebrate who we are as a community while creating a level playing field to pursue educational, employment and social opportunities on common ground with everyone else.

 Read more

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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Because We Are EQUAL to the Task 

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. The theme for 2013 is "Because We Are EQUAL to the Task."

Read more

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DLAC Special Education Advocacy IEP Implementation is New Area of Work for FY 2014

Beginning October 1, DLAC will offer individual advocacy assistance to help families ensure correct implementation of their student's IEP. The decision follows overwhelming input from across the state from parents, service providers and other stakeholders, expressing the need for this type of advocacy in schools. 

"It is imperative that Individualized Education Plans (IEP) are correctly implemented in order for our clients to be safe and successful in the learning environment," states Lisa Primm, DLAC's Executive Director. "The IEP is a tool which sets the stage for both current educational opportunities and future employment success. For TN students with disabilities the IEP is a crucial part of learning, and this year DLAC has chosen to make this one of our agency priorities."

Among the issues DLAC will be addressing as part of this objective are ensuring: 

  • Supports and services are in place as listed on IEP
  • Timely implementation after development
  • Advancement toward student's IEP goals

DLAC will work with partner agencies to fill gaps and increase capacity for those clients who have an IEP in place but have concerns regarding the implementation of that plan. "It is our desire to address this problem for individual clients while also identifying and addressing systemic issues in specific school systems," adds Primm. 

Additional changes in special education services include helping families receive appropriate Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP). The scope of these cases will be broader than those currently opened to address restraint & isolation. This shift represents a proactive approach to attempt to prevent situations from escalating to the level where restraint & isolation may be used by the schools. 

As a result of this shift, DLAC will not be providing direct individual advocacy to resolve bullying in schools or transition planning, though information and referral will still be provided during the intake process. Transition to life after high school is an area on which DLAC will be working alongside community partners to address systemically. 

DLAC IEP Implementation Flyer



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It's LD Awareness Month!

As children’s first formal learning experience, preschool is an exciting time. But it’s also when signs of struggle with learning and attention can first become apparent. This can be as stressful for parents and educators as it is for kids—caregivers faced with a child’s learning and attention issues often report feeling isolated, confused and unsure of where to turn.

That’s where we come in. October is LD Awareness Month, and we’re working to build public knowledge of learning and attention issues. We want to make sure that parents and educators of young children are attuned to signs of struggle that could be early signs of LD, and know exactly how to take action if they notice these red flags. And perhaps most importantly, we want parents and other caregivers who are dealing with a child’s learning and attention issues to know that they are not alone—support and resources are out there.

Make sure you visit LD.org and follow NCLD on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the full slate of resources and activities we have planned to support you and help raise awareness about LD this month.

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Interpreter & Translator Training - Intensive Legal Interpretation Technique

Interpreter & Translator Training
Summer & Fall Workshops  

September 28 - 29, 2013

TFLI is offering several workshops this summer and fall that provide introductory and advanced training for interpreters and translators of all languages. Interpreters and translators of all levels of experience will benefit from our workshops, which include overviews of professional ethics and standards of practice as well as ethical dilemmas. Our instructors are knowledgeable and experienced interpreters who lead students through practice exercises that help develop professional skills. TFLI has been training interpreters and translators for over 15 years – we are the best at helping people advance their careers!

Click here for workshops listing.  Visit www.tfli.org to learn more and register online.

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Release of Priority Category 3 Individuals from the Waiting List

Effective October 1, 2013, the Vocational Rehabilitation Program will be releasing individuals from the waiting list who are currently in Priority Category 3 (PC3).

For more information, click here.


For a map and a listing of local Vocational Rehabilitation Centers (VR), please visit this link:


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Be Smart About Safety - September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month and Smart911.com has worked with your local public safety agency to develop preparedness materials to help you reach out to your community to educate them on safety, preparedness, planning ahead, and creating a Smart911 Safety Profile

You can view and share our The Ultimate Preparedness Guide here: https://www.smart911.com/preparedness.php 

Preparedness Flyer

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Providing Services to Children Who Are Highly Mobile

Click here for a letter concerning providing services to children who are highly mobile, including military-connected children, migrant children, children in foster care and children who are homeless. These children experience incredible challenges and it is important to ensure that they receive timely and effective services as they transition from school to school.

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Social Thinking Across the Home and School Day

Save the Date for the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee’s Fall Conference!  

Date:  Saturday, September 21, 2013

Location:  Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN

We are excited to have Renee Attaway, M.S., CCC-SLP as our speaker this year on the topic "Understanding Social Thinking Across the Home and School Day: The ILAUGH Model of Social Cognition" as authored by Michelle Garcia-Winner. 

This conference is perfect for parents and professionals! 

Click here for more detailed information.

Registration will open online by August 1, 2013. CEUs will be offered.

Mark your calendars - We hope to see you there!

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Youth Leadership Opportunity - Apply by 9/27/13 for the National Youth Action Council on Transition (Youth ACT)

Call for Applications for Youth Action Council on Transition

Seeking Youth Leaders & Adult Partners for this national training and youth leadership & advocacy opportunity. 

Are you a youth, age 12-25, who wants to develop leadership and advocacy skills and become a leader in your community who improves opportunities and services for all youth?

Are you a professional or organization who wants to increase youth voice, leadership, and youth-adult partnerships within your organization and community?

If so, apply for the Youth Action Council on Transition (Youth ACT)!

The Youth Action Council on Transition (Youth ACT) is a national project to get more youth involved as leaders and partners with adults and youth-serving organizations to improve youth transition outcomes. NCWD/Youth will select four teams consisting of two emerging youth leaders (youth, ages 12-25, who have disabilities or are allies of the disability community), one adult partner, and a sponsoring organization to participate in this four-year initiative.  Each team will:

  • Attend the annual national training conference in Washington, D.C.
  • Receive training in youth leadership and advocacy skills; youth-adult partnership strategies; youth transition policies; and issues affecting youth with disabilities.
  • Create a local plan for how the team will work together year-round.
  • Form and facilitate their own local youth peer group that will meet regularly to discuss youth transition issues and engage in leadership and advocacy activities.
  • Participate in monthly national conference calls and quarterly webinars or video conferences with all the Youth ACT teams.
  • Partner with NCWD/Youth to create national youth-driven materials and tools on youth leadership and transition topics and to develop a youth-driven national change agenda.

There’s no cost to participate and each Youth ACT team will receive a small stipend of $3,000 to use for team expenses. Youth ACT is led by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) at the Institute for Educational Leadership with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). 

The application deadline is September 27, 2013 (Deadline Extension just announced this week). Learn more about this opportunity and download the application online at:  http://www.ncwd-youth.info/youth-act.

Questions? Contact NCWD/Youth at  farrj@iel.org  or ph. (202) 822-8405 Ext. 145

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STEP, Inc. Requesting Donations for Fundraising Event

STEP, Inc. will hold its Annual Fall Community Awareness event with a yard sale and baked goods on Friday, October 4, 2013 and Saturday, October 5, 2013 at the Greeneville Office from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm each day. 

Our goal this year is to raise $1,000.00 to be used to improve education or children and youth with disabilities. 

If you have gently used and cleaned clothing or other items (house hold items, glassware, collectibles, kitchen items, small furniture, toys, etc.) to donate for this sale, you can deliver them to 712 Professional Plaza Drive in Greeneville Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or call 423-639-0125 or toll free at 1-800-280-7837 and our staff will make every effort to pick up donated items. 

Do you bake....donations of home-baked pies, cakes, brownies, cupcakes and cookies will also be accepted.

If you can't come the event, feel free to send a donation through the STEP website by PayPal or credit card at www.tnstep.org or mail a check made payable to:

STEP, Inc.
712 Professional Plaza
Greeneville, TN 37745

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Kroger Community Rewards and STEP

YOU can help STEP, Inc. just by doing something you normally do anyway!  By swiping your Kroger Plus Card, you can help Kroger make a donation to STEP with almost every transaction.
Kroger is committed to helping our communities grow and prosper. Year after year, local non-profit organizations have the opportunity to earn funds through Kroger’s Community Rewards Program®, simply by using your Kroger Plus Card.

Kroger stores in Knoxville, Crossville, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Maryville, Farragut, Harriman are now participating in the Kroger Community Rewards Program.

All you have to do is register your Kroger Plus Card for the program and then use your card every time you shop.

Registering is easy!

  • Log onto: www.krogercommunityrewards.com
  • Have your Kroger Plus card handy and register your card with STEP, Inc. after you sign up.
  • If you don’t have a Kroger Plus card, they are available at the customer service desk at any Kroger.
  • Click on Sign In or Create an Account
  • Sign up for a Kroger Rewards Account by:
    • Entering zip code
    • Click on favorite store (participating stores in: Knoxville, Crossville, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Maryville, Farragut, Harriman)
    • Enter your email address
    • Create a password
    • Agree to the terms and conditions
  • You will receive an email to “Activate” your account, just follow the instructions within the email.
  • Click on My Account
    • Type in your email address and password to proceed to the next step.
  • Click on Edit Kroger Community Rewards information
    • Input your Kroger Plus card number
    • Update or confirm information
  • Enter 43667 or type in: Support & Training for Exceptional Parents, Inc. and select our organization from the list and click Confirm.
  • To verify you are enrolled correctly with STEP, Inc., you will see Support & Training for Exceptional Parents, Inc. on the right side of your information page.
  • REMEMBER, your purchases will not count until after you register your Kroger Plus card.
  • Just swipe your registered Kroger Plus card or use the phone that is related to your registered Kroger Plus card when shopping for each purchase to count toward STEP’s fundraising total.
  • If you need help, call our toll free number at 1-800-280-7837, the STEP staff can help you set up your account.

That's it - it's that easy

Every time you shop for groceries at Kroger and swipe your rewards card, STEP, Inc. automatically starts earning a rebate.

Your participation in this fundraising program with Kroger helps STEP's mission is to empower parents through information, training and support to become effective partners with professionals in planning appropriate educational programs for their children.  Who knew that helping to make a difference could be so easy!

Shop - Swipe - Earn!

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The Volunteer Advocacy Project

A training program for individuals who are willing to become advocates for families.

The Volunteer Advocacy Project is a training program for individuals who are willing to become advocates for families as they navigate their way through the world of special education.

Training Will Cover:

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • State law
  • No Child Left Behind
  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act


  • Willing to attend all weekly sessions
  • Willing to shadow an advocate at a special education meeting
  • Willing to advocate for four families of children with disabilities


Near Vanderbilt University in Nashville & by Video Conference in Johnson City, Crossville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson, Mountain City, Cookeville, and Lewisburg

2013 Session Dates:

September 9, 16, 23 & 30

October 7, 14, 21 & 28

November 4, 11, 18 & 25

All sessions are held on Monday mornings 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (CST)

Fee: $30 for materials


To request an application contact: Lynise.parisien@vanderbilt.edu or at (615) 414-4579

Sponsored by: Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Susan Gray School, The Arc Davidson County, The Arc Mid-South, West TN Healthcare, UT Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities, Lifeline, & STEP, Inc.

Volunteer Advocacy Project flyer

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Health Fair & Family Fun Day

Hosted by Sensory World Memphis & Extended Family, Inc.

Date:  Saturday, September 7, 2013

Time:  8am - 12 noon

Location:   Bert Ferguson Community Center
                    8505 Trinity Road, Memphis

Free health screening: skin cancer, HIV, vision, dental; free food & drinks, activities for kids, music, games, face painting, and Blood Drive. 

Sensory World will also host its 1st Annual 5-K Autism-Awareness Walk/Run (registration fee to participate).  Race will begin at 8:30 am.

For more information call 901-258-7650 or 901-338-0519 or via email Sensoryworld2013@gmail.com

Sensory World Memphis will provide sensory relief to Autistic children and adults far beyond the classroom. Our goal is to provide a comfortable judge free, hands on shopping environment for people with Autism. The prevalence of autism has risen to 1 in every 88 births in the United States and almost 1 in 54 boys. The spotlight shown on autism as a result of the prevalence increase opens opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve these families facing a lifetime of supports for their children. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today. We want to bring all the necessities needed for daily life with disabilities to one location, in addition to providing free sensory stimulation. We also plan to provide jobs for people with Autism. Children and adults with disabilities need a place to call their own safe haven, and though we have not broken ground yet on a permanent location we are in the fundraiser process. 

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Mid South Convoy of Hope – The Big Day!

Date:    September 7, 2013

Time:    Beginning at 9:00 am

Location:   Memphis Convention Center
                255 North Main Street
                Memphis, TN 38103

The Mid South Convoy of Hope will partner with over 200 area churches, service agencies, businesses and medical service providers to extend a helping hand to an estimated 10,000 guests of honor including struggling families, single moms, the underprivileged, and unemployed.  An outreach and ministry to all who come! Free meal, medical and dental screening, a job fair and resume writing assistance, fee entertainment, a free “kid’s carnival” and Youth Zone, prayer with trained volunteers and free groceries.

For more information call 901-491-9045 or via email:  midsouthconvoyofhope@comcast.net

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Shelby County Schools Receive Guidance on What Counts As Therapy Time

As the school year is beginning in Shelby County, families are having initials interactions with personnel from the newly unified school system, Shelby County Schools. STEP staff is working hard to ensure that families have accurate and timely information so that children and youth with disabilities are receiving needed services without interruption.

If your child receives Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy as a related service in their Individualized Education Program (IEP), please read the information below about how therapy services must be delivered.

Latest News on Occupational and Physical Therapy Services

STEP was recently informed that Shelby County Schools Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy providers were provided information in an email that the amount of related service time in the IEP represented ALL of the following:

"time spent with the student, and on behalf of the student, represents the amount of time of the therapy service to be provided. This includes providing student intervention or supports, staff or parent training, modifications, consultation with the regular education teacher, collaborations with the special education teacher or other team members, designing and planning, and ongoing assessment that require the skills of a therapist.”

That information is not accurate.

STEP contacted Mr. Bill Wilson, Assistant General Counsel for Special Education with the Tennessee Department of Education for clarification on this issue.

Mr. Wilson provided the following guidance to Shelby County Schools:

“Children with disabilities should receive the total number of minutes of related services as prescribed in the IEP.  If an IEP prescribes 30 minutes of occupational therapy, that means 30 minutes of actual therapy service, not expending a portion of the prescribed time setting up equipment, meeting with staff, etc., thereby reducing the time prescribed by the IEP team to benefit the child.”

Mr. Wilson reported: “We are advised that steps are being taken to correct the practice.”

What this mean for your child?

Your child should be receiving the direct therapy services agreed to in their Individualized Education Plan. If there is a need for the therapist to consult with the teacher, the IEP team should discuss that need and include additional consultation time in the IEP to address that need.

Where can you get more information?

There will be an opportunity to directly ask the Director of Shelby County Schools, Dr. Toarmina, what steps have been taken to correct the practice and address other concerns at an upcoming meeting.

SEPTA (Special Education Parent Teacher Association) meeting

Date:                Thursday, September 5, 2013
Time:                6:30 pm
Location:          East Win Christian Church 
4350 Hacks Cross Road, Memphis

If you prefer to contact Dr. Toarmina sooner regarding this issue or other concerns, her email address is toarminap@scsk12.org

STEP Is Available to Provide Information, Training, and Support

The West TN STEP staff will be happy to provide you with assistance in navigating special education services. Many workshops and training events are available as well.

STEP West TN Staff:

Derek Flake, West TN Regional Coordinator, derek.flake@tnstep.org

Martha Lopez, Bilingual Family Education Specialist, martha.lopez@tnstep.org

Memphis Office: 2157 Madison Ave. Ste. 204, Memphis
Phone: 901/726-4334

Workshop and Training Opportunities: http://www.tnstep.org/events/

STEP's mission is to empower parents through information, training, and support to become effective partners with professionals in planning appropriate educational programs for their children with disabilities.

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Shelby County Community meetings with School Superintendent and Cabinet


Superintendent Dorsey Hopson and his Cabinet have agreed to meet with teachers, other school personnel, parents, students and community members to address concerns.  

There will be two meetings:  

The first meeting will take place Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 5 p.m. at the East High School Auditorium, 3206 Poplar Ave.   

The second meeting will take place Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 5 p.m. at the Gray’s Creek Administration Building, 2800 Gray's Creek Drive – (off Stage Road, East of Houston Levee) 

Some of the issues expected to be addressed are: 

  • Teachers’ Salaries/Step increases
  • Insurance
  • Disparity in pay for ESPs
  • Teacher evaluations
  • Excessing

You will also be allowed to ask questions and express any other concerns!

Please spread the word to all school staff, parents, students and community members!

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Six things you might not know about IEPs

from: NICHCY 

It's time to start a new school year, and that means familiarizing yourself with the IEPs of your students with disabilities. For most teachers, that means checking out each student's learning goals for the year and, if appropriate, the accommodations the student needs in the classroom. But there's so much more to the IEP! Here are six aspects of the IEP as prescribed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all of them intended to support your students' learning: Click here to read more:


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Movie presentation of "The United States of Autism"

The United States of Autism Official Trailer

Official Trailer


Movie presentation of

The United States of Autism

Follow one man's 11,000 mile, 40 day journey across the American landscape to visit twenty families and individuals affected by autism while searching for answers for his own son. With interviews from around the nation that include the widest spectrum of backgrounds - each conducted in the participants' original language - the film weaves a broad and compelling tapestry across the spectrum of American life in all its faiths, disparities, colors, and cultures. What he learns along the way will change not only his life, but the lives of those he meets, forever. It's a story about the best days that still lie ahead for our nation, the families, and the people who give America its heart.

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New Read Speaker feature available on the NICHCY website


NICHY is very pleased to offer you a wealth of information on disabilities! We serve the nation as a central source of information on disabilities in infants, toddlers, children, and youth. Here, you’ll also find easy-to-read information on IDEA, the law authorizing early intervention services and special education. Our State Organizations Search will help you connect with the disability agencies and organizations in your state, and our National Organizations Gateway offers hundreds of nonprofit groups that specialize in specific disabilities, family supports, research, and more. Read and freely share our articles and publications, or listen to them using our new ReadSpeaker feature!


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Call for Input on Improving Mental Health Care


In an open letter to the Mental Health Community, finance leaders ask how Medicare and Medicaid changes can break down barriers and improve care. Noting that high-quality treatment can be successful but remains underutilized, Senators Baucus and Hatch asked three key questions:

1.    What administrative and legislative barriers prevent Medicare and Medicaid recipients from obtaining the mental and behavioral health care they need?

2.    What are the key policies that have led to improved outcomes for beneficiaries in programs that have tried integrated care models?

3.    How can Medicare and Medicaid be cost-effectively reformed to improve access to and quality of care for people with mental and behavioral health needs?

Please submit responses by September 30, 2013 to MentalHealth@finance.senate.gov.

Read More

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Shelby County Community meetings with School Superintendent and Cabinet


Superintendent Dorsey Hopson and his Cabinet have agreed to meet with teachers, other school personnel, parents, students and community members to address concerns.  

There will be two meetings:  

The first meeting will take place Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 5 p.m. at the East High School Auditorium, 3206 Poplar Ave.   

The second meeting will take place Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 5 p.m. at the Gray’s Creek Administration Building, 2800 Gray's Creek Drive – (off Stage Road, East of Houston Levee) 

Some of the issues expected to be addressed are: 

  • Teachers’ Salaries/Step increases
  • Insurance
  • Disparity in pay for ESPs
  • Teacher evaluations
  • Excessing

You will also be allowed to ask questions and express any other concerns!

Please spread the word to all school staff, parents, students and community members!

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TAMHO Symposium - Responding to the Behavioral Health Needs of Children and Families in Tennessee


Date:          August 28, 2013

Location:    Hotel Preston
                 733 Briley Parkway
Nashville, TN


Best Practice Guidelines: Trauma-Informed Care Overview | "Behavioral Health Guidelines for Children and Adolescents from Birth to 17 Years of Age," has been revised from the 2008 version. Join as TDMHSAS shares information from one of the newly published categories: Trauma-Informed Care. 

Trauma-Informed Learning Collaborative | The Centers of Excellence for Children in State Custody have worked with organizations to disseminate Trauma-Informed Evidence Based Practices across the state of Tennessee.  This session will highlight that process and provide case studies on how Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency (ARC) have been implemented within agencies to help children and families.    

Showcase: Child & Adolescent Evidence-Based Practices | Three TAMHO member agencies-Centerstone, Frontier Health and Helen Ross McNabb-will present their best practices in addressing the behavioral health needs of children, youth and their families. Centerstone will focus on their intensive In-home Services, Frontier Health will focus on their School-Based Behavioral Health program and Helen Ross McNabb will focus on their Co-Occurring Prevention and Treatment continuum which ranges from community-based outpatient to high intensity residential treatment.

Human Trafficking in Tennessee | This session will include an overview of how Tennessee is responding to the issue of Human Trafficking, including recent legislation enacted during the last legislative session. A panel discussion will include representatives from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Magdalene House, the Sexual Assault Center and others who will share insights into best practices in identifying and responding to the needs of those who have been impacted by trafficking. 

 Click to see flyer.

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Voice Your Thoughts About Community Health in Shelby County

We are in the final week of data collection via the online Community Health Opinion Survey for the Shelby County Community Health Assessment; the online survey is scheduled to close on Sunday August 31st .

If you have not already done so, please take a few moments to complete the online survey and share the link and flyer with your friends, family, and neighbors! Data collected from this survey will help to plan and direct community health services, policies, and programs throughout the county.  We will continue data collection with our shorter, in-person survey throughout Shelby County for approximately 3 more weeks.

You may complete the survey at the following link:


Voice Your Thoughts about Community Health_Final.pdf

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10 Things You Need to Know for Back-to-School from Disability.Gov

  • Reduced-Price/Free Breakfast or Lunch
  • National Dissemination Center for Children with - Disabilities (NICHCY) Fact Sheets
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Power Up! Apps for Kids with Special Needs and Learning Differences
  • Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM )
  • Teaching Resources
  • Physical Education
  • Reading Help
  • Accessible Libraries
  • www.Disability.Gov

Click here to read more.


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Response to Intervention and Instruction (RTI2)

Response to Intervention and Instruction (RTI2) is being rolled out across Tennessee. What do you need to know and how can you get information? 

Click here to read more. 

DCE/DOE RTI Training Flyer

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What Is Dysgraphia?

Children and adults who struggle with handwriting, spelling and expressing ideas on paper could be facing obstacles related to dysgraphia. To help you understand the disorder—signs and symptoms, how it’s identified and what can be done to help—we’ve compiled several articles devoted to the topic. Having the “write stuff” may just be possible after all!  

Read more here


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Kroger Community Rewards and STEP


Don't Forget...You can help STEP, Inc. just by doing something you normally do anyway!  By swiping your Kroger Plus Card, you can help Kroger make a donation to STEP with almost every transaction.
Kroger is committed to helping our communities grow and prosper. Year after year, local non-profit organizations have the opportunity to earn funds through Kroger’s Community Rewards Program®, simply by using your Kroger Plus Card.

All you have to do is register your Kroger Plus Card for the program and then use your card every time you shop.  

Registering is easy!

  • Log onto: www.krogercommunityrewards.com
  • Click on DELTA section for Tennessee (Memphis, Jackson, and Paris).
    • If you are a new online customer, click Enroll.
    • Click “Get started. Sign up today!” at the bottom right and follow the prompts.
    • Once you've set up your online account, go to www.krogercommunityrewards.com.
  • Click Already Enrolled?” Sign In.
  • Scroll to Kroger Plus Card and enter your Kroger Plus Card number.
  • Scroll to Community Rewards and click Community Rewards Program Information.
  • Under "Find Your Organization", enter 81534 (Support & Training for Exceptional Parents – STEP), which is the NPO number for STEP, Inc.
  • Select Support & Training for Exception Parents - STEP from list and click Confirm.
  • If you need help, call our toll free number at 1-800-280-7837, the STEP staff can help you set up your account.

That's it - it's that easy! 

Every time you shop for groceries at Kroger and swipe your rewards card, STEP, Inc. automatically starts earning a rebate.

Your participation in this fundraising program with Kroger helps STEP's mission is to empower parents through information, training and support to become effective partners with professionals in planning appropriate educational programs for their children.  Who knew that helping to make a difference could be so easy!  

Shop - Swipe - Earn!

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“Good Guardians make Good Guardianships” – Conservatorship Association of Tennessee (CAT) Annual Training Conference

Date:  August 15, 2013

Location:  Holiday Inn - Elm Hill Pike Nashville

Time:  8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Topics to be discussed: 

  • Changes in Tennessee Conservatorship Law
  • Ethics of Guardianship

Keynote Speaker: 

  • Andrew Sandler, Ph.D. -  “Abe’s Garden” Evidence Based Care for People with Alzheimer’s

This training conference is approved for 6 hours CLE (2.75 Dual and 3.25 Gen) or 6 hours CEU.

Click for conference details and conference registration form

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Do You Have a Child with Feeding Issues Ages 3 to 18 in Shelby County?

Your input is needed in research to improve services!

You are being invited to take part in a research study about community-based services for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who also express a feeding disorder. You have been invited to take part because you have a child with IDD, a feeding disorder and you are the primary parent or caregiver of this child.

The person in charge of this study is Laurel Welborne, a graduate student at the University of Memphis in the Clinical Nutrition Department. She is being guided in this research by Dr. Terra Smith. There may be other people on the research team assisting at different times throughout the study. 

The purpose of this study is to parents or caregivers of children with IDD who also express feeding problems. In completing this study, we hope to understand what problems parents face in feeding their child. The research will discover if there are readily available community-based services that can provide information for them on how to address their child's feeding problems, and if so, where these services have been found. If services are difficult to locate or nonexistent, then this research may conclude that more community-based services for children with IDD and feeding disorders need to be developed within the Memphis area.

If you are:  

.. A parent or caregiver of a child with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

.. The child is between the ages of 3 and 18

.. The child is having mealtime problems with feeding  

And you are interested in participating in this survey, please follow the link below. The survey is 100% anonymous; no personal identifying information will be collected.


If you have any questions about the research that you would like answer prior to taking the survey please contact me at:

e-mail: lwlborne@memphis.edu

Cell: (720) 206-4722 

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Be Smart About Your Teen's Safety

You do everything you can to protect your children. Now Smart911 can protect them even when you aren’t there. Create a Safety Profile at www.smart911.com to provide 9-1-1 with information they need to help any member of your family in an emergency. If your teen goes missing, your Safety Profile will provide an up to date photo and description to first responders immediately, saving valuable seconds and even minutes.

PDF Flyer

Back to School Teen Safety Checklist


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Be Smart About Your Child's Safety

You do everything you can to protect your children. Now Smart911 can protect them even when you aren’t there. Create a Safety Profile at www.smart911.com to provide 9-1-1 with information they need to help any member of your family in an emergency. If your child goes missing, your Safety Profile will provide an up to date photo and description to first responders immediately, saving valuable seconds and even minutes.

PDF Flyer

Back to School Safety Checklist


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Executive Dysfunction and Trouble Making Friends: What's the Connection?

Each person’s executive function (EF) “profile” is unique, complex and wields great influence in daily life. If your child with LD or ADHD acts up more than most kids, executive dysfunction may be to blame. A new school year can trigger tantrums, freak-outs and meltdowns in a child whose EF is out of whack. Before you call 911, read on to get the 411 on kids’ executive dysfunction, problem behavior and practical solutions.  Read more


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Your Dyscalculia Guide

Is your child struggling with basic math facts, or do you struggle to manage your finances or figure out the tip at a restaurant? If so, a learning disability called dyscalculia may be to blame. Dyscalculia is a much more recent discovery than, say, dyslexia, but it’s every bit as real. Because dyscalculia isn’t recognized or understood as well as some other types of LD, it’s critical to have a basic understanding of the disorder and how it’s treated. If you and/or your child simply aren’t math-minded, the following articles offer help and hope.  Read more…


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Back-to-School Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs

A new school year means a new grade, new teachers, new goals, and maybe even a new school! In order to help you and your child with special needs be as successful as you can be, Reading Rockets has put together a list of eight helpful back-to-school tips that we hope will make the transition into a new school year a little easier for you and your child.

Click here to read more:


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5 Ways to Improve Working Memory and Math Skills

Lots of great games, apps, and exercises can help your child to improve  working memory and math skills at the same time. Games such as Professor Layton and the Curious Village, apps like Scratch and digital training programs like Cogmed improve working memory by exercising the brain and literally altering its structure in the areas that manage memory. This type of working memory training can then lead to improvements in mathematical capacities. According to psychologist and researcher Tracy Alloway, visual-spatial working memory "acts like a mental blackboard," working to support number representation, such as place value and alignment in columns. 

Click here to read more: 


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National Autism Society has developed a safety toolkit

The National Autism Society has developed a toolkit for safety for individuals with Autism who may wonder off.  This toolkit is the most comprehensive set of supports for families I've seen.  It even includes sample social stories that can be used to educate someone with Autism on staying inside and safe.  The toolkit is free and downloadable in pdf format.   

National Autism Society Big Red Safety Toolkit


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101 Noteworthy Sites on Asperger’s and the Autism Spectrum

The term “autism spectrum disorder” (ASD) covers a broad range of complicated conditions that typically include difficulty with communication and socialization, learning and developmental deficits, and obsession with a narrow range of subjects. Asperger’s Syndrome, named after Hans Asperger, who originally studied and cataloged the symptoms of the syndrome in 1944, used to be considered a separate but related condition, and was recently removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) and is now diagnosed as a particular range on the autism spectrum. Rett’s Syndrome, while etiologically unrelated, is often confused for an autism spectrum disorder, and the two are sometimes discussed in the same forums.

The complexity and shifting definitions of the term autism spectrum disorder and other related conditions makes this an important subject for anyone working with students or clients with these diagnoses. These sites are broadly categorized in no set order, and they offer information, from scientific data to personal anecdotes, that makes it easier to understand autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, and other relevant disorders.

Read More…

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AfterStars AfterSchool Care Offered in Knox County

A New Option for Children with a Disability

AfterStars AfterSchool Care is a new after-school program for children with a disability ages 6-14.

It is offered Monday through Friday from 3:00-5:45pm at West Park Baptist Church, located at 8833 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville.

Limited space is available for the 2013-2014 school year. Come to our Open House on Friday, August 9, 2013, from 3:00-6:30pm.

Our Daily Schedule

  • snack (provided - please contact the director for special dietary needs)
  • social time
  • music
  • homework/IEP support
  • motor activities
  • break-out sessions
  • a Bible class
  • free time

Program Requirements

  • Children with an intellectual or developmental disability or autism
  • Ages 6-14 years
  • Toilet trained
  • Ambulatory
  • No significant act of violence toward self or others


  • Online registration begins August 4 - $225 due at registration
  • Download forms packet (available at www.westparkbaptist.org)
  • Bring required and completed forms with you the first day of AfterStars AfterSchool Care
  • $150 early registration discount if registering by August 16

For more information contact:

West Park Baptist Church at (865) 690-0031 or via email at HisAbilities@westparkbaptist.org

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PACER Center to Hold National Symposium About Children and Young Adults with Mental Health and Learning Disabilities

Date:  August 6, 2013

The PACER Center will be holding its eighth annual national symposium for general education teachers, administrators, and parents interested in understanding more about mental health and learning disabilities in children and young adults. The symposium is designed to enhance awareness and identify strategies for responding to mental health and learning disabilities in children and young adults from the perspective of teachers and parents.

Registration is available online.

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Knoxville Tennessee Back To School Disability Event


Central Baptist Church Fountain City and Local Artist Derrick Freeman will be hosting a Back to School Disability Event on August 3rd 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If you would like to be a vendor and share formation that would benefit our community come and share what you know. We will provide 1 table and 2 chairs and lunch will be provided. Deadline to secure you spot is June 30, 2013. We look forward to seeing you there. The church is located at 5364 North Broadway Knoxville, TN 37918.  For more information contact:

Angela Freeman Hunter

(865) 973-7297

Wanda Wilson

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Autism Speaks Housing and Residential Supports Survey

Important opportunity for people with autism aged 14 and up – and their caregivers!  Take the Autism Speaks Housing and Residential Supports Survey to share your needs and hopes for the future! Complete it for a chance to win a FREE iPad! http://www.autismspeaks.org/housing-survey

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Autism Society of East Tennessee is Moving

IMPORTANT NOTICE-- ASA-ETC is moving our office!!! We will be moving on Friday, August 9th to our new office location at: 123 Center Park Drive, Ste. 211, Knoxville, TN  37922. Office will be closed on Friday, August 9th. (Phones will not record messages that day, so please call again, or send email to: info@asaetc.org .) Thanks and see you soon!

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Promoting Employment - Discovering Your Potential: Using Discovery to Identify Your Employment Goals Webinar

Registration is required to join this event. If you have not registered, please do so now. 
Click here to Register.

Date:  Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Time:  3:00 pm (ET)

Program:  LEAD 

Duration:  1 hour 30 minutes 


This webinar will provide information on how to use Discovery – an alternative assessment tool proven to identify the strengths of job seekers with and without disabilities – to discover your personal employment goals. Participants will gain an understanding of components of Discovery, how to use these components individually or in preparation for Group Discovery, and the potential outcomes.

Target Audience: Individuals with Disabilities, Workforce Development Professionals and related stakeholders

Please note: All LEAD Center webinars are captioned and presentation materials are sent to participants in advance of the webinar. For any other reasonable accommodation requests, please contact Brittany Taylor at btaylor@ndi-inc.org.


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Ticket to Work: Advancing Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Ticket to Work: Advancing Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

By Guest Blogger Bob Williams, Associate Commissioner, Social Security’s Office of Employment Support Programs

July 26th marks the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark civil rights legislation guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications.

Read More about the Ticket to Work Program

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Great Article to Share with Parents & Caregivers

20 things all parents of special needs kids should read and try to incorporate in their lives....

Read the entire list here. 


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From Early Childhood to High School & Beyond: Educating Students with ASD

For the first time, this year’s annual workshop includes all ages—from toddlers, preschool and pre- K, to elementary, middle, and high school students to college students. We will begin our workshop with a keynote speech from one of the world’s leading experts in early identification of autism and then head into concurrent sessions that are relevant to daily classroom teachers and staff. This annual workshop not only provides the latest research in ASD but also targets practical and specific teaching tools to take into your classroom. 

Our main speaker will be Ami Klin, Ph.D., professor and the Chief of Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Emory University’s School of Medicine and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar at Emory University. He is also the director of the Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and the former director of Yale University’s Autism program. Dr. Klin’s main research focuses on the social aspects of both the mind and brain and developmental aspects of autism throughout one’s life. He has co-edited several textbooks including Asperger Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders in Infants and Toddlers (Guilford Press) and Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Third Edition (Wiley), and he has also co-edited several issues of professional journals on autism. 

What:   Emory Autism Center Monarch Program 
            Annual School Inclusion Workshop 
            From Early Childhood to High School & Beyond: Educating Students with ASD  

Date:    July 25 & 26, 2013  

Location:         Atlanta Marriott Century Center 
                        2000 Century Boulevard NE 
                        Atlanta, GA 30345 

Detailed information on speakers and credits are in our brochure. 

Registration fees are as follows: $140.00 per person until June 1, 2013. $160.00 per person after June 1, 2013. (Payments must be postmarked by June 1st in order to qualify for the early registration fee).  We can accept payments by checks or credit cards. 

If you have specific questions, they can be addressed to either Sheila Wagner or Katie Rogers. (sheila.wagner@emory.edu or kkroger@emory.edu are their respective e-mail addresses or can be reached at 404-727-8350).

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Autism Community Workshop - Daily Routines

FREE training for caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ages 2-5)


8:30am -9:00 am    Coffee/ Sign In

9:00am - Noon        Workshop

Location:  University Center/ 3rd floor, The University of Memphis, Zach Curlin & Walker Avenue

RSVP:  LebMemASDworkshops@gmail.com or call (901) 678-1160

Note:  Childcare not provided

ASD Summer Workshop Schedule Flyer

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25th Annual "It's a Back to School Family Affair Event"

Families attending this event will be greeted and privileged to receive a host of medical screenings, services and information provided by qualified medical professionals and students from organizations and institutions.   In addition to these screenings and services, the following free immunizations will be offered to students 18yrs of age and younger (including entering college freshmen): *** Shot records are required in order to receive any immunizations***. Free Preschool Physical Exams will also be offered.

This event brings a most valuable service to the residents of the Mid-South. The event will be held on Saturday July 20, 2013 at the Student Alumni Center, 800 Madison Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103 between the hours 10am – 2pm. One of our focuses is on the school aged children, by making sure they receive their free shots and exams, so that they may enter school healthy and with updated records. However, there will be services offered for all age groups, and let us not forget about the FREE BACKPACKS and SCHOOL SUPPLIES that will be given to the first 1000 student participants (parent or Guardian must be present to receive giveaways). There will also be a host of door prizes and FREE lunch for all participating students (18yrs old and younger).

 For more information click here.

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Next STEP Lunchtime Leaders Webinar Scheduled

We are pleased to announce the next webinar in the STEPLunchtime Leaders series: "Understanding the Role of Vocational Rehabilitation in Transition from School to Work". It will be held on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 from 12:30 – 1:30 Eastern Time (11:30 – 12:30 Central).

Space is limited.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

This session is intended to enhance the participants' understanding of the role of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) in the Transition from School to Work (TSW) process, and encourage collaboration with VR to plan and prepare for employment related transition goals of eligible students with disabilities.


Presenters: The featured presenter will be Becky Allen, M.Ed., CVE. Becky joined the Disability Law and Advocacy Center (DLAC) in April 2010 as the Access and Client Assistance Program (CAP) Advocate for East Tennessee. She earned a Master of Education in Rehabilitation Counseling/Vocational Evaluation from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Becky has 20 years of experience as a vocational evaluator and psychometrist and worked primarily with students with disabilities in a secondary school setting. In her current role as a CAP Advocate, Becky assists applicants and clients of Vocational Rehabilitation in East Tennessee. Additional transition strategies and resources will be presented by STEP staff.


After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Register Today!




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Interpreter & Translator Training - Spanish Legal Interpretation Technique

Interpreter & Translator Training
Summer & Fall Workshops  

July 13 - August 3 (Saturdays)

TFLI is offering several workshops this summer and fall that provide introductory and advanced training for interpreters and translators of all languages. Interpreters and translators of all levels of experience will benefit from our workshops, which include overviews of professional ethics and standards of practice as well as ethical dilemmas. Our instructors are knowledgeable and experienced interpreters who lead students through practice exercises that help develop professional skills. TFLI has been training interpreters and translators for over 15 years – we are the best at helping people advance their careers!

Click here for workshops listing.  Visit www.tfli.org to learn more and register online.

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Interpreter & Translator Training - Spanish Medical Interprtation

Interpreter & Translator Training
Summer & Fall Workshops  

July 13 - 14, 2013

TFLI is offering several workshops this summer and fall that provide introductory and advanced training for interpreters and translators of all languages. Interpreters and translators of all levels of experience will benefit from our workshops, which include overviews of professional ethics and standards of practice as well as ethical dilemmas. Our instructors are knowledgeable and experienced interpreters who lead students through practice exercises that help develop professional skills. TFLI has been training interpreters and translators for over 15 years – we are the best at helping people advance their careers!

Click here for workshops listing.  Visit www.tfli.org to learn more and register online.

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"Due Process/Dispute Resolution" FREE Webinar

Friday, July 12, 2013
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. EDT

All students have general protections under the law, and these protections are known as due process. Many people use the term due process to describe dispute resolution. This webinar will cover due process, mediation, and complaints.  

This webinar is free and open to the public. Registration is limited; please register online (see below). Please note that if there are fewer than three registrations by Thursday, July 11, 2013, the webinar may be cancelled. Presented by Jill Summerlot, IN*SOURCE Regional Program Specialist.

For more information, please contact Jill Summerlot at (765) 267-2042 or at jsummerlot@insource.org.

Sign Up For This Webinar Now!


Provided by:


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What to do in an Emergency?

Many parts of our country over the past several years have experienced devastating hurricanes, tornados, flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters. We have all been made aware of those caused by humans as well.  Childhealthonline.org offers a FREE pdf file that gives general guidelines that can be put into place.

Click here to download.

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FREE Webinar: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Benefits and Services to Private School Students and Teachers

On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, at 12:00 p.m. (EDT) the Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE) will host a webinar on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and equitable services to private school students and teachers.  This webinar is one in a series of technical assistance webinars ONPE is conducting as part of the Department’s Equitable Services Implementation Plan (ESIP). The webinar will address the obligations of state and local educational agencies (SEAs/LEAs) in providing for the equitable participation of private school students and teachers in those programs requiring their participation. Topics addressed will include: ESEA programs requiring the equitable participation of private school students and teachers; the requirements of LEAs to conduct timely and meaningful consultation about these programs and the participation of private school students and teachers; expenditures for equitable services; the delivery of equitable services; and allowable program activities. Presenters will address practices for effective implementation of equitable services for private school students and teachers. Time for questions from webinar participants will also be included.

Date:             July 10, 2013 (Wednesday)

Time:             12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (EDT)

Presenters:    Maureen Dowling, Director, ONPE

                      Amy Huber, Education Program Specialist, ONPE 

Webinar Participation and Registration

Participants will need a computer with internet access to participate. The audio portion of the webinar will be broadcast through computer speakers.    

Participants must register for the webinar in order to participate.  Please be sure to complete the online registration form as soon as possible to ensure that you are successfully registered for the event.  This webinar will be recorded.  

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Institute on Disability Seeks Artists for 2014 Calendar


Are you an artist looking for an opportunity to get your work noticed? Do you know someone who is an artist and might be interested in such an opportunity?

Every year since 2000, the Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire has produced a calendar that features 13 original works of art. These highly anticipated calendars are distributed each year to hundreds of people around the world who are connected to the IOD's mission of promoting full access, equal opportunities, and participation for all. The IOD is currently inviting artists to submit artwork to be considered for its 2014 Calendar.  Read more

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STEP Staff Offer Condolences and Support for Family

STEP staff sends our deepest condolences to Maria Zaragoza and Miguel Flores in the loss of their son Abram, killed in a crash. There are not adequate words to express our sympathy.

During this time of loss we offer our support to the family. Along with coping with the loss of a child, the family is facing enormous challenges as Maria recovers from a four-hour surgery due to injuries sustained in the crash. It is likely she will not be able to walk for several months. Caring for Maria and their younger son, Noe, will require Miguel's full time attention.

If you want to help the Flores family in any way, donations can be made at:

Play Ball Children's Therapy Center
125 Island Drive
Hendersonville, TN 37075

Friends have also set up a donation account at First Tennessee Bank.

More information can be found at the following NBC News links: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/52370624/


Please join STEP in assisting the Flores family during this time of loss and healing.

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Fireworks & Your Special Needs Child

We've put together some tips to help prepare children with specials needs for celebrating and enjoying the 4th of July. You find some great ideas to get ready for a fun day for everyone. It also includes a free coloring page for download. Please feel free to share.

Read the article here


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Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Offers Braille Instruction Information to Families

STEP has received multiple calls from families regarding their requests for Braille instruction being denied by their district. This memo from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is a powerful tool that families can use at their IEP meetings where there is discussion of learning Braille for a student who is blind or visually impaired, including those students whose prognosis is for vision loss that will occur in future years.

Download the Braille Instruction Memo here.

We hope this information will be helpful in clarifying the application of the IDEA requirements regarding Braille instruction for children who are blind or visually impaired.

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National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness month! It's time to come together and increase awareness of mental illness and mental health promotion while embracing the diversity of your community. Choose personal and/or community steps and pledge to raise awareness about the importance of mental health in your own life and in your community.

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Financial Planning for Loved Ones with Special Needs

What happens when you are no longer able to care for the dependent with special needs? Who will be there to take over? In a situation with someone that has special needs, you need to make sure that the child or dependent will continue to receive the best care in the event something happens and you are unable to provide that care. There are a few legal options that can help.  

The Arc Mid-South is hosting a Special Needs Financial Planning Workshop.  The workshop will be held June 29th from 10:00 AM until 12:00 noon at the Cordova Library, located at 8457 Trinity Road.

The workshop will feature speakers from MidSouth Financial Group, Kathleen Gomes, Probate Judge, and Beth Bradley, a partner with the law firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson.  The cost to attend is $25 per person, and a flyer containing the workshop topics is enclosed for your convenience. 

Please contact Sandra Hawkins at (901) 327-2473 for more information, or to register.  The registration deadline is June 17th.   We look forward to providing you with the resources that will assist you in achieving your financial goals.

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Interpreter & Translator Training - TN State Court Interpreter Ethics & Skill Building

Interpreter & Translator Training
Summer & Fall Workshops  

June 29-30, 2013

TFLI is offering several workshops this summer and fall that provide introductory and advanced training for interpreters and translators of all languages. Interpreters and translators of all levels of experience will benefit from our workshops, which include overviews of professional ethics and standards of practice as well as ethical dilemmas. Our instructors are knowledgeable and experienced interpreters who lead students through practice exercises that help develop professional skills. TFLI has been training interpreters and translators for over 15 years – we are the best at helping people advance their careers!

 Click here for workshops listing.  Visit www.tfli.org to learn more and register online.

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NICHCY's website can talk!

You read it correctly, our website can talk! But why would anyone be interested in a website that can speak to them? We have a few good reasons, some practical and other silly. Many Americans struggle with text and literacy, so this feature can significantly improve accessibility for that audience. There is also a rapidly growing number of folks who access the web using mobile devices, and being able to have the web content read helps folks avoid having to struggle to read the tiny print on a mobile device. And quite frankly, the feature is just plain cool. 

NICHCY's latest blog is all about ReadSpeaker®, the new feature on our site that reads and highlights the website content!

 Below is an excerpt:

Here, at NICHCY, we try to be keep our website user friendly and accessible. Our website is easy to navigate, compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, written in plain language, and translated into Spanish. As much as those things contribute to our ability to provide information to a vast audience, there are still many web users who struggle with text. According to a 2013 study, 21% of Americans read below a 5th-grade level. So, in an effort to better serve the user who struggles with text for whatever reason, we have added a new feature--ReadSpeaker®!


Check out the blog at http://nichcy.org/nichcys-website-can-talk and visit our other NICHCY blogs at http://nichcy.org/blog!


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Video Available in Spanish on Assistive Technology

The Family Center on Technology and Disability has released its first Spanish language video in the series AT in Action.  Meet Marta, the mother of Isabel, a young girl with fine motor and learning disabilities. The video introduces viewers to assistive technology and takes them through an IEP meeting during which AT is considered. The video is captioned in both Spanish and English and is "described" as well.  


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Ace Every Exam: ADHD Study Tips for Math, Essay, and Multiple-Choice Tests

ADHD students dread the pressure and information overload of final exams. Use these specific tips to prepare wisely for and ace all of your multiple-choice, math, and essay tests at school.

Michael Sandler

Read more


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Helping Visual, Auditory, and Tactile ADHD Learners

Know your child’s learning style? Help your ADHD student achieve school success by focusing on study methods that play to his visual, auditory, or tactile ways of learning.

by ADDitude Editors

Read More


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Tennessee Works Community Conversation

The Tennessee Works team and Jackson Planning Committee would like to invite you to a Community Conversation focused on increasing employment for youth with disabilities in Jackson, TN.  This event will be held at the Star Center in Jackson, TN on Tuesday, June 25th (6:00-8:00pm).   We’re bringing together community members from all walks of life to contribute their ideas and experiences.  The evening will be a unique opportunity to brainstorm creative solutions that will improve competitive work opportunities and ultimately, lead to a stronger Jackson, TN. 

The format will be very casual, and you’ll meet other great people in our community!  There’s no cost, nothing to bring, and no commitment after the event.  Come join us for some coffee, conversation, and delicious desserts! 

The registration link is provided below.  Please extend this invitation to anyone you think would be valuable to our conversation.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Please register for the community conversation at:  jacksoncommunityconversation.splashthat.com

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Updates to the APA in DSM-V – What do the changes mean to families living with Autism?

Video: The American Psychiatric Association board of trustees met Dec. 1, 2012 to approve changes to diagnostic criteria for autism that eliminate the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and change the criteria for diagnosis - learn why accurate diagnosis matters and what these changes may mean for your family in this presentation from the Fall 2012 ARI Conference by Pamela Compart, M.D. 

If you have a child with autism you have likely heard of the DSM-IV.  The DSM-IV stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). It is published by the American Psychiatric Association and it’s the primary manual used by clinicians to provide a formal diagnosis of autism and related disorders. The manual outlines the specific criteria that must be met to receive a diagnosis, as well as the corresponding label and numerical code that is sometimes used by insurance companies to identify the diagnosis. The main purpose is to provide standard guidelines for clinicians to use for the diagnosis of different psychological disorders and conditions.   Read More

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Tips on Work Experiences and Internships for Youth

Attention teens with disabilities!  Do you want to build work experience while learning about careers you're interested in?  Expand and explore your professional network?  Earn money or school credit while you work? If so, Participating in Internships and Work-Based Experiences is a tip sheet that can help.  To learn more, visit



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Asking for an Independent Educational Evaluation

If your child is in the Special Education system and has an IEP, you know how difficult it can be to get the right services and goals.

During the summer, learn how to become a better advocate for your child by watching the excellent videos on a new website. Click here to watch their video for parents who want the school to pay for an Independent Educational Evaluation (an I.E.E.).  



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Five Ways to Prepare for an Allergy Emergency

Being prepared for an allergy emergency will help you, your child, and other caregivers respond in the event of a serious reaction.  



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StopBullying.gov's "Infographic"

StopBullying.gov is pleased to unveil its very first infographic, with research and statistics on what bullying is and how to prevent it. The infographic illustrates the many forms of bullying, the prevalence of bullying and the impact of bullying on youth.  It is part of a comprehensive Bullying Prevention Training Module, a resource designed to empower community leaders and help them organize bullying prevention efforts in their neighborhoods, schools and beyond.



Bullying Prevention Training Module: 



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Interpreter & Translator Training - Translation Technique

Interpreter & Translator Training
Summer & Fall Workshops

June 22-23, 2013  

TFLI is offering several workshops this summer and fall that provide introductory and advanced training for interpreters and translators of all languages. Interpreters and translators of all levels of experience will benefit from our workshops, which include overviews of professional ethics and standards of practice as well as ethical dilemmas. Our instructors are knowledgeable and experienced interpreters who lead students through practice exercises that help develop professional skills. TFLI has been training interpreters and translators for over 15 years – we are the best at helping people advance their careers!

 Click here for workshops listing.  Visit www.tfli.org to learn more and register online.

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Mom’s Retreat – An Event for Moms of Special Needs Children

Every day moms of children with special needs lay down their lives to care for their child which often times leaves them exhausted and discouraged. Our By the Brook Retreat is designed to bring hope and encouragement to these amazing moms. By the Brook is a weekend of pampering, inspiration and hope and provides moms who have a child with special needs an opportunity to get to be with other moms who "get it".

By the Brook Retreat 2013 Brochure


For more information visit our website at www.risingaboveministries.org.

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Finding Practical Solutions for Our Immigrant Community

Addressing Health & Behavioral Health. 

Conference Objectives:  Discuss evolving trends in the primary ethnic and national groups migrating to Nashville over the past 25 years.

• Identify health concerns specific to Latino children.

• Identify ways to incorporate more culturally sensitive behaviors into your practice.

• Learn about the barriers that limit refugees and immigrant’s access to healthcare.

• Describe different types of immigration psychological evolutions.

• Learn practical techniques for working with interpreters. 

Date:                June 21
Location:          Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee Conference Center
                        293 Plus Park Blvd, Suite 201, Nashville, TN 37217 

For more information call 615-269-5355. 

Click here for speaker’s information and registration form. 

Registration Fee:    On or Before June 17 = $65
After June 17 = $75

There are no refunds, but substitutes are allowed.  Space is limited.

Registration includes CEUs and Lunch

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Using Secondary Interventions to Set the Foundation for Effective Intensive Intervention Webinar

Join our Upcoming Webinar on Thursday to learn more about Secondary Interventions 

Free Webinar! 

Using Secondary Interventions to Set the Foundation for Effective Intensive Intervention

Thursday June 20th, 3-4 pm ET

Are you interested in learning more about secondary or Tier II interventions? Do you want to learn more about how secondary or Tier II interventions provide a foundation for intensive interventions using the data-based individualization (DBI) process? In this webinar, Laura Magnuson, a technical assistance provider for NCII, will provide an overview of the rationale and purpose for secondary interventions as the foundation for DBI, an approach to intensive intervention, and as a part of a larger multi-tiered system of support, such as RTI or PBIS. This webinar will include recommended activities that school-based staff may find particularly useful.

On the day of the webinar, you will need access to the internet and a phone line.  A link will be posted on the NCII homepage for you to join.  This is a free event and pre-registration is not required. If you are unable to attend, the webinar will be archived on our website 

About NCII 

NCII is a national technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Our mission is to build district and school capacity to support implementation of data-based individualization in reading, mathematics, and behavior for students with severe and persistent learning and/or behavioral needs. Learn more about the National Center on Intensive Intervention at www.IntensiveIntervention.org or email NCII@air.org

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Diagnosis and Treatment of TS from a Latino Perspective Webinar

Date:    Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Time:   7:30 PM - 8:30 PM EDT

Space is limited.  Reserve your Webinar seat now at:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/902478840

This presentation will include a discussion of the diagnosis and treatment of TS in children and adolescents.  Both behavioral and pharmacological approaches will be examined.  There will also be a consideration of the unique aspects of mental health understanding and treatment within Latino culture.

Dr. Richard Zakreski earned his PhD in clinical child psychology from the University of Virginia in 1982.  He maintains an independent practice, specializing in the treatment of children, adolescents and college-age adults, in Shrewsbury and Freehold, NJ.  Dr. Zakreski specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental and neurochemical disorders, including ADHD, TS, Anxiety/OCD and Asperger Syndrome.

Laura Zakreski is a rising second year PsyD student in the Clinical Psychology program at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. She is working on a dual concentration in Children and Families of Adversity and Resiliency and in Latino Mental Health. Before beginning her graduate studies, she worked for three years as a bilingual Mental Health Specialist at the Child Therapeutic Day School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), working with many diverse children and families and interpreting family therapy sessions in Spanish. As an undergraduate, Laura double majored in Psychology and Spanish at Fairfield University and wrote her thesis about the prevalence of psychological disorders in the Latino community in the United States.

Professional Development credits will be offered upon verifying attendance of the webinar and completion of the exit survey. We will mail them to you the week after the webinar.

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

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Top 10 Myths About Learning Disabilities—Busted!

By Andrew Lee, NCLD Editorial Team
The National Center for Learning Disabilities Inc.

A few months ago, we surveyed 1,980 adults nationwide about their perceptions of learning disabilities (LD). Although many of the people surveyed were knowledgeable about LD, we still found some serious misconceptions. For example, one in five wrongly believed that LD is caused by a poor diet.

With beliefs like this floating around, we feel like it’s time to present the top 10 myths about LD and debunk them. So here they are:


Myth #1: Individuals with learning disabilities have low intelligence.

False. There is no correlation between LD and low IQ. In fact, by definition, people with LD have average or above average intelligence. Indeed, the list of accomplished individuals with LD includes Whoopi Goldberg, Anderson Cooper, Richard Branson and Tommy Hilfiger, among others. 

Read more…

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Aspire Public Schools Community Fair

Date:        Saturday, June 15, 2013
Time:        Noon - 3:00 p.m.
Location:  Hanley Elementary, Memphis

This event will have community providers in health, education, and family support.  Enjoy snacks, games and give-a-ways. 

For more information contact Aspire Public Schools at (901) 205-9443 or via email at:  memphis@aspirepublicschools.org

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Autism Community Workshop - Addressing Challenging Behaviors

FREE training for caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ages 2-5)


8:30am -9:00 am    Coffee/ Sign In

9:00am - Noon        Workshop

Location:  University Center/ 3rd floor, The University of Memphis, Zach Curlin & Walker Avenue

RSVP:  LebMemASDworkshops@gmail.com or call (901) 678-1160

Note:  Childcare not provided

ASD Summer Workshop Schedule Flyer

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Nearly 1 In 3 With Autism Have ADHD Too, Study Finds

Almost one-third of children with autism also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and symptoms appear to be more severe in kids affected by both conditions, new research suggests.  The findings come from a long-term study of 162 children who were tracked starting when they were still infants or toddlers. By the time the kids reached ages 4 through 8, researchers found that 63 had autism. Of those with the developmental disorder, parent reports indicated that 18 of the children - or about 29 percent - also had clinically significant symptoms of ADHD.


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Summer learning and fun on a shoestring

Many parents worry that the summer break from school will mean weeks of lost opportunities to learn.  Worse yet, they fear that their child may actually lose skills that they have worked so hard to develop.   Some parents will enroll their child in some sort of academic program, which may or may not be disguised as a "camp."  Other parents would like to do this, but lack the financial resources to make it happen.  The quick tip for this last group of parents is to ask about financial assistance or scholarships that might make a big difference. 



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The Access Pass - Free, Lifetime Admission to National Parks & Other Recreation Sites for People with Disabilities

The Access Pass is a free, lifetime entry pass for U.S. citizens and residents who have a permanent disability to visit more than 2,000 federal park and recreation sites. Many sites also give the pass holder a discount on related fees (camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours). Learn more about the requirements and how to get your pass. Click here for the overview of the Access Pass.  You can also download this PDF file lists federal recreation sites around the country where you can get a pass. 

Visit Recreation.gov for information about parks, forests, campgrounds and other recreational areas near you.

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8 Great Summer Activities For Kids With Special Needs

Summer fever has set in, why wait till the official start of the season for the kids to enjoy all its pleasures? Not only are these activities fun, they can be therapeutic for kids with special needs.


Click here to



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Summer learning and fun on a shoestring

Summer is a great time for rest and rejuvenation after a long school year, but after a short time the kiddos are bored and parents have to get creative. Learning opportunities are all around, if you know where to look.

Our friends at Exceptional Children's Assistance Center (ECAC) have written a blog full of creative ideas and suggestions on how to locate and create summer learning experiences on a budget. 

Below is an excerpt: 

Many parents worry that the summer break from school will mean weeks of lost opportunities to learn.  Worse yet, they fear that their child may actually lose skills that they have worked so hard to develop.   Some parents will enroll their child in some sort of academic program, which may or may not be disguised as a "camp."  Other parents would like to do this, but lack the financial resources to make it happen.  The quick tip for this last group of parents is to ask about financial assistance or scholarships that might make a big difference. 

ECAC is a Regional Parent Technical Assistance Center and the Parent Training and Information Center in North Carolina serving families of children with disabilities, their teachers, and other professionals.

Check out the blog at http://nichcy.org/summer-learning-and-fun and visit our other NICHCY blogs at http://nichcy.org/blog!

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Derek Flake to be Guest Speaker on "Mental Health Matters" TV Show

Derek Flake, Family and Youth Education Specialist with STEP, Inc., will be the guest speaker, June 11 at 9:00 a.m., on a community service TV show that will air live in West Tennessee on Comcast Channel 31 and UStream.  The show is hosted by Dr. Warren Harper and is entitled “Mental Health Matters”.  Derek will be discussing STEP (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) and the services they provide to parents.  Be sure to tune in.

Derek is a native Memphian who graduated from Whitehaven High School class of 1992 and is married with three daughters. He continued his post-secondary studies in Organizational Leadership at Union University. Derek has spent most of his adult life working in the Pharmaceuticals industry as well as the hospital direct and indirect patient care environments. Derek and his youngest daughter both have mild von Willibrands which is a bleeding disorder. Derek has been a volunteer for several years working with the local and state Hemophilia chapters. His passion of helping bring awareness and empowerment to families was nurtured due to personal experience of having a child with multiple health concerns. He has spent over ten years volunteering and working in schools, foster care institutions, and with juveniles incarcerated in low to high security facilities that also have disabilities.

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Adolescent Literacy Institute: Transitioning to College / Work

Date:  Saturday, June 8, 2013
Location:  MTSU, College of Education, Room 160

Sponsored by the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia

For students diagnosed with “Specific Learning Disability” in Reading, including Dyslexia 

Students in grades 7-12 and their parents will learn:  

  • How a student’s rights differ in high school vs. college and work
  • How students can advocate for themselves
  • Assistive technology options to assist with accessing information and producing work  

Session speakers include Chester Goad, Director of Disability Services at TTU, Wendy Bergman, Coordinator of Adaptive Technology Center at MTSU, Keith Duke, Employment Counselor, and Jamie Tomlin, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, from TN Division of Rehabilitation Services.

Conference bags and door prizes!!

Registration fee: $25 per person ($50 maximum per family).   Click here for registration form.   For more information visit:  www.mtsu.edu/dyslexia or call (615) 494-8880.

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STEP Exceeds Fundraising Goal

STEP’s Annual Community Awareness Yard and Bake Sale held in Greeneville on May 31 and June 1 was a great success!  

Our goal was to raise $1,000 and we raised $1,245.57! 

There are so many people who had a role in the success of this event and we would like to say a special thank you to the following people: 

Those who donated items:

Ann Curl
Bernadette Gray
Carol Barnett-Lewis
Susan and Dan Speraw
Sadia Barrow
John Glowicki
Karen Harrison (items and baked goods)
Donna Jennings (items and baked goods)
Cody Jennings (best brownies in the universe)!
Dorothy and Junior Ashby (items and baked goods)
Lisa Gosnell and her mother Jeanette Morelock (both items and baked goods)

To those who volunteered their precious time:

Donna Jennings
Lisa Gosnell
Jeanette Morelock
Dorothy Ashby
Fuzzy Jennings
Melissa Keeler
Karen Harrison

We were able to assist many families who have children with disabilities and tell folks in our community what we do, as well as raise money.

STEP is planning to do another event in the fall.  If you would like to donate items for our next fundraiser, please call STEP at (423) 639-0125 or (800) 280-7837 to make arrangements for drop-off or pick up. 

We appreciate your SUPPORT!

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K-12 Record Retention Strategies: What to Keep, What to Shred

Time(s): 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM ET

Schools must maintain records appropriately in order to minimize liability and comply with numerous federal and state laws and guidelines. What student records must your school save and for how long? What are the specific requirements and retention strategies that you must follow? Join us for a live, 60-minute webinar where you and your staff will learn: 

**   Specific K-12 student record retention requirements under law

**   FERPA and other privacy considerations you need to know

**   Academic, disciplinary & medical records: What to save, what to dump

**   Self-audit procedures: Effective solutions to minimize liability

**   Real life examples: Critical mistakes & improper destruction of records 

Live Q&A Session: Have your specific questions answered by our expert presenter. 

Your expert presenter:  Michael Sermersheim served as in-house legal counsel at The University of Akron in Ohio for over 30 years. In 1996, he provided the vision for and then implemented web-based delivery of legal and other information to the campus community, including employee training, university rules and legal compliance.

Mr. Sermersheim is a frequent public speaker both locally and nationally having spoken on a broad range of legal compliance subjects, including Fundamental Responsibilities for Attorneys in Electronic Discovery, Record Retention and Destruction Considerations for Counsel and Senior Management, selected risk management matters, computer access, forms of     harassment, policy formation and implementation and employment issues.

Additionally, he has published several works that are of significant interest to senior managers.  Michael is the Chief Records Information Officer at Vestige, Ltd. in Medina, Ohio. In this capacity, he provides management consulting to      educational institutions, government and businesses regarding the business and need for information privacy, information security, management of information and a broad array of compliance matters for businesses today.

Mr. Sermersheim is also a part-time faculty member at the graduate school of Cleveland State University.  

*K-12 Record Retention Strategies: What to Keep, What to Shred*

*Live, 60-minute Webinar*

*Thursday, June 6, 2013 from 1:00 - 2:00 pm ET* 

Register now for this exciting event by clicking the following link or calling 1-800-964-6033. 


If registering by telephone, please use your priority code: 7088.

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Hot Times, Summer (with Young Children) in the City

Over the past few months, we've had the chance to talk with a number of kindergarten teachers about what it means for a child to be kindergarten-ready. Many of their answers were striking: kindergarten-ready children are excited to come to school, they are eager to hear what their teachers and classmates have to say, they love books and are eager for story-time, and they "use their words" to solve problems!

But there's one particular comment that has stayed with us. One teacher told us that on the first day of kindergarten she likes to ask how many of the children have seen the Mississippi River. She finds that the show of hands that follows tells her who is likely to be "kindergarten-ready."

How so? Certainly, there's no magic connection between visiting the Mississippi and being ready for school. But there is a strong connection between the range of experiences young children have and their readiness when they reach kindergarten.

Science tells us that children learn in an environment of relationships, and everything that happens to a young child, both good and bad, contributes to their early brain development and, in time, to their readiness to thrive when they reach kindergarten. In this spirit, when parents help their children learn about the world, they are expanding their horizons and, in the process, are increasing their curiosity, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and even strengthening their developing vocabularies. All of these are vital kindergarten-readiness skills.

In this sense, visiting the Mississippi is a sign of a family that has introduced a young child to their world, helping to foster their exploration and curiosity, while spending quality-time with family and friends. 

 Summer is a great time for adventures with young children and this issue of Research to Policy offers a "Best of" list activities in and around Memphis that are fun for families and developmentally-enriching for young children.

Let us know what's missing from our list, and enjoy!

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The Best Way to Help Doctors Understand Learning Disabilities (LD)

Explore the LD Navigator:

A Free, Comprehensive Resource Guide About Learning Disabilities for Pediatric Healthcare Professionals

From classroom observation to individual student interactions, as an educator, you are often on the frontlines of alerting parents to a child’s potential learning disability (LD). Parents, then, often turn to pediatric healthcare professionals, who have long lacked an easily accessible, reliable and up-to-date resource about LD and related issues.

That’s why the National Center for Learning Disabilities, in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, has developed the LD Navigator—a free, comprehensive resource guide for pediatric healthcare professionals.

From identification to diagnosis to discussion with parents, the LD Navigator’s evidence-based tools and information will guide pediatric healthcare professionals step by step.

Help ensure that your students’ medical providers (doctors, nurses and others) have the information they need about LD. Share the LD Navigator with them, and encourage your students’ parents to do so as well.

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Meeting the Reading Needs of Today's Students

Assessment, Mobile Technology & More

Do you know anyone who struggles with reading? Would you like to learn about different strategies and resources to assist them? 

Please join us for an informative training to learn more about the following :  

  • Assessment process to gain a better understanding of reading difficulties
  • Helpful strategies for developing reading and comprehension skills
  • Technology available to use in the classroom to support the development of students’ reading skills
  • Accessing community resources that provide services and support for individuals experiencing learning differences


  • Will Beyer, LPE, ADHD/LD Clinic
  • Dr. Amy Dietrich
  • Dr. Renee Murley
  • Natalie Udovich, STAR Center
  • Megan Hart, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder

Audience: For educators, service providers, and family members in the West Tennessee area

Fee: Free

Where: STAR Center, 1119 Old Humboldt Road, Jackson, TN

Continuing Education Credits: Certificate for continuing education provided at the end of training

Registration: Pre-registration is requested at: www.kc.vanderbilt.edu/registration

Contact:           Judy Duke at (731) 668-3888 or judy.duke@starcenter.tn.org 

                        Megan Hart at (615) 875-5082 or megan.hart@vanderbilt.edu 

Reading Community Training (Jackson)

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"Skills for Effective Parent Advocacy" Webinar

Do you wish you felt more confident in advocating for your special needs child at school or with the many agencies parents have to navigate?  With this presentation, you will learn what advocacy means and 6 skills that will enhance your ability to be a better advocate for your child.  Presented by Cathy Boswell, IN*SOURCE Regional Program Specialist.

Date:    June 5, 2013
Time:  10:00 a.m. EDT/9:00 a.m. CDT
Contact:  Cathy Boswell at (219) 552-1992
Notes:  Open to the public.
FREE - IN*SOURCE trainings are provided at no charge.

Sign Up For This Class Now!

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Governor Haslam signs Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship legislation

Students and graduates with intellectual disabilities enrolled in Next Steps at Vanderbilt played an active role in the successful passage of Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship legislation. The legislation expands the Tennessee Lottery Scholarship to include students entering eligible postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Tennessee. Advocating prominently for STEP UP were the Tennessee Alliance for Postsecondary Education and TennesseeWorks, a project funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Both groups have provided education and information about the importance of postsecondary education for students looking for future employment.

In addition to efforts by disability organizations like The Arc Tennessee and the Tennessee Disability Coalition, Next Steps at Vanderbilt students wrote to and met with their legislators, and testified in front of the House Education committee to share how participation in a postsecondary education program has improved their quality of life and job prospects.

“Going to college taught me how to be more independent,” said Next Steps graduate (2013) Will McMillan. “I now want to live on my own and college helped make that possible. I’m more social now because I know a lot of different people. I really liked my classes and learned different things. I’ve learned so much about myself that I didn’t already know: like the challenges I’ll face. By being in college, I got to have internships. I’ve worked with the sports and athletics and two different libraries. All of my internships I liked and I now know what I want from a job.”

Starting in the 2013-2014 academic year, STEP UP scholarship recipients will receive $4,000 per year for a maximum of two years. To be eligible, a student must be a Tennessee resident, graduate high school in his or her own Individual Education Program, and be admitted to and enroll in an eligible postsecondary institution no later than 16 months after graduation.

Eligible Tennessee postsecondary education programs are located at Vanderbilt University (Next Steps at Vanderbilt), University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT Future), University of Memphis (TigerLIFE )-and starting in January-at David Lipscomb University (IDEAL). These programs open exciting doors for students who traditionally have had to sit back and watch as siblings and friends go on to college to explore interests, make friends, and gain the skills and knowledge they need to secure meaningful employment.

Graduates of these programs have secured paid employment at or above minimum wage or internships that will lead to paid employment.

Governor Haslam signed the bill into law on Tuesday, June 4, 2013. Next Steps student Haley Kellar was in attendance at the signing. UT Memphis TigerLIFE student Samuel Bryant was also in attendance. Representative Bob Ramsey and Senator Doug Overbey co-sponsored the STEP UP legislation.

“The importance of the STEP UP legislation is that it puts Tennessee students with intellectual disabilities on a par with their neighbors and colleagues,” said Cynthia Cyrus, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. “The academic experience, job readiness, and social skills that are integral to the Next Steps program (and its sister programs at Knoxville, Memphis and Lipscomb) make a profound difference in the life of the participants. Funding from the Lottery scholarships will broaden access to these programs for those Tennessee individuals who stand to benefit the most.” 

Shared from http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/site/newsandevents/news/page.aspx?id=3990

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Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale Survey

If you are the parent of a child, adolescent, or adult with high-functioning autism (HFA) or (DSM-IV) Asperger Syndrome (AS), a professional who supports a learner with HFA/AS, or a person on the spectrum, please follow this link to help Brenda Smith Myles and her colleagues update the ASDS: https://survey.illinoisstate.edu/coe/teachered/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=78KI973M.

Also, please follow the link and complete a brief survey and ask others to do the same. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks. 

If you have questions, please contact Stacey Jones Bock at sjbock@ilstu.edu

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Finney Named The Arc’s Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

We are pleased to announce that Scott Finney of The Arc of TN and long-time board member of STEP, Inc. was awarded Arc’s “Roger Blue Lifetime Achievement Award” during the awards banquet in Nashville on May 31, 2013.  This award is in memory of the former Arc of Tennessee Executive Director, Roger Blue.  The recipient of this award shares Roger’s philosophy of respect, dignity and the freedom of choice of people with intellectual and development disabilities, and has a history of caring for and supporting people with disabilities and their families.  This is The Arc’s highest award.  Congratulations to Scott Finney. 

Congratulations and comments can be sent to Scott Finney at sfinney@thearctn.org

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Debbie Vitale Named The Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year

The Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year Award is a memorial award giving to a parent, an advocate, a teacher or a service provider who has exemplified using information to assist their own child or someone else’s child with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education. This person has demonstrated teamwork and collaboration and the zeal to share the information they have learned with others. 

This award was presented to Debbie Vitale of Memphis at The ARC Awards Banquet on May 31, 2013.  Debbie is the founding and current President of the Shelby County Regional Special Education PTA (also known as SEPTA), the first special education PTA of its kind in Tennessee which chartered in April, 2012.  Prior to the creation of SEPTA, Debbie served as a LEND trainee at the UT Boling Center for Neurodevelopment Disabilities a program which focuses on honing the skills of students/providers-to-be from various disciplines with respect to their advocacy work in the community serving children with different neurodevelopmental disabilities. 

Before moving to Memphis, Debbie served as a Social Worker in Ohio.  She worked for 15 years with children and families in different community-based programs including being the founding program director of an inner city counseling program and serving as the Director of a Runaway and Homeless youth shelter.  She worked as an in-home family therapist assisting families with reunification as well as serving as the program manager for an Intensive Outpatient program with dually diagnosed adolescents. She has also taught at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Debbie’s drive for working with Special needs families come from both her social work background and the desire to make sure that everyone feels included and like a valued member of the community as well as her own experience as a parent of a child with special needs.

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Mind Matters: A Children’s Mental Health Summit

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month 

Join Just Care Family Network as we end our month-long celebration with Mind Matters: A Children’s Mental Health Summit

This forum is designed to promote greater awareness of the issues facing children with mental health challenges among local mental health providers, community agencies, community resources, legislators, educators, and most importantly the youth and family members who are the experts in determining the needs of their family. 

Breakout Sessions Include:

  •  identifying signs and symptoms of mental illness
  •  transition planning/preparing for college
  •  ministering mental wellness in the pews
  •  wiping out stigma in schools
  •  educating, advocating, & empowering families

When: Friday, May 31, 2013 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where: The cutting-edge, newly constructed Salvation Army Kroc Center
            800 E Pkwy S, Memphis, TN 38104
RSVP:  Contact Jerica.Phillips@shelbycountytn.gov or call (901) 222-4503

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What & How of Sensory Processing Disorder Webinar

Presented by Madonna Nash, OTR/L

Time(s): 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM CT

Madonna is a Neuro-Developmental Treatment Occupational Therapy instructor and has been teaching and practicing for over 30 years. She has taught many Neuro-Developmental Therapy courses, Sensory Integration/Nuero-Developmental Therapy courses and baby treatment courses throughout the United States. Madonna is a co-owner of City Kids, Inc located in Chicago, IL.

Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition that exists when sensory signals cannot organize into appropriate responses resulting in a range of difficulties accepting, processing and responding to the five senses- taste, touch, sight, and smell. This webinar will assist therapists and caregivers in understanding the importance of assessing and assisting children with Sensory Processing Disorders to execute daily life skills and participate in specific environments.

1.0 Atypical Development CEUs 


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“Implementing the Common Core State Standards for Students with Learning Disabilities” FREE Webinar

Date:   May 23, 2013 at 3 p.m. ET

Presented by:   Louisa Moats, Ed.D, Margaret McLaughlin, Ph.D., and George Batsche, Ed.D.


The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative provides an opportunity to improve access to rigorous academic content for students with disabilities. However, the challenges lie in ensuring that students with disabilities will have the supports, services, accommodations, and modifications they need to realize the same educational benefit that all other students receive. In this webinar, Drs. Moats, McLaughlin, and Batsche explore the opportunities and challenges of implementing the CCSS with students with learning disabilities. They will also present practical strategies for establishing systems to support the work of administrators and teachers for successful CCSS implementation.


PLEASE NOTE: This Webinar is FREE

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Family Discipline Trainee LEND Program Seeking Applicants

The University of Tennessee Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities (BCDD) is seeking applicants for a Family Discipline Trainee in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND)  program for Fall, 2013.  The LEND program is funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), a part of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Each year the BCDD program faculty recruits and selects emerging leaders from multiple universities and disciplines throughout the country. 

The qualified applicant will be a parent or family member of a person with a developmental disability and will participate in didactic and clinical experiences, volunteer/community opportunities, and potentially a research project.   A time commitment of about 15 hours per week for eight months, beginning in September, 2013, and finishing at the end of April, 2014, is required.  Hours will be fulfilled on site at the Boling Center, in community, and in the home setting.  A Bachelor’s degree, or equivalent experience, is required.   

Please submit a current resume and a cover letter indicating your reason for applying to Jenness Roth, Family Faculty Coordinator, at jroth11@uthsc.edu or to 711 Jefferson Ave., Memphis, TN  38105.  If you have any questions, please call Jenness at 901-448-3737.

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Ask the Experts about Procrastination, Productivity and Persistence

FREE ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) Teleseminar

Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Time: 9:00 to 10:00 pm ET
Instructors: Dr Ari Tuckman and Tara McGillicuddy

Get YOUR questions about Procrastination, Productivity, Persistence answered by 2 leading Adult ADD / ADHD Experts. Dr. Ari Tuckman and Tara McGillicuddy will be answering YOUR question during this 1-hour FREE Teleseminar.

Click here to register.

Listen over the telephone or internet! 

You will be able to listen to a free replay until 5/28/2013.

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Autism Community Workshop - Communication 101

FREE training for caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ages 2-5)


8:30am -9:00 am    Coffee/ Sign In

9:00am - Noon        Workshop

Location:  University Center/ 3rd floor, The University of Memphis, Zach Curlin & Walker Avenue

RSVP:  LebMemASDworkshops@gmail.com or call (901) 678-1160

Note:  Childcare not provided

ASD Summer Workshop Schedule Flyer

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Mental Health & Wellness Fair & Town Hall - Building Healthy Minds: It Takes A Village

In celebration of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Just Care Family Network & Memphis City Schools present Building Healthy Minds: It Takes A Village, a mental health fair and town hall on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at Colonial Middle School from 11am-3pm.  

We hope your organization will join us in spreading awareness and combatting the stigma surrounding mental illness.

JCFN Mental Health Fair Flyer

JCFN Health Fair Vendors Form

For more information contact: Jerica Phillips, Social Marketing Coordinator, Just Care Family Network at 901-222-4503 or Anitra Shelton Quinn, Ph.D. Supervising Psychologist, Exceptional Children & Health Services at 901-416-1331.

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Overcoming Challenges and Optimizing Outcomes After Traumatic Brain Injury

The Traumatic Brain Injury Services at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis presents the Annual Brain Injury Education Conference "Overcoming Challenges and Optimizing Outcomes after Traumatic Brain Injury"

Date:  Friday, May 17, 2013
Time: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Location:  Bellevue Baptist Church, 200 Appling Road, Cordova, TN

A continuing education conference with topics that focus on key components of the care of the person with TBI from Trauma ICS to acute rehab and beyond.

Registration required through the Traumatic Brain Injury Services at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis 901.545.7100.

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Service Providers Meeting

Sponsored by the Crime Victims Center.

Where:  The Benjamin L. Hooks Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue, Meeting Room A

When:  Thursday, May 16, 2013

Time:  1:00 pm

Who:   Derek Flake, Family and Youth Education Specialist,
           STEP, Inc

Topic:  Services STEP, Inc. provides and post-secondary transition for children with special needs.

For more information contact Cheryl Wright at the Crime Victims Center 901-222-3950.

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Application Deadline May 15 for NFB STEM-X

Attention All High School Students:

Are you looking for something to spice up your summer plans? If so, NFB STEM-X, the latest National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) program, is just what you’ve been waiting for! This inquiry-based science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program will provide participants with learning opportunities in STEM disciplines ranging from engineering and robotics to the science of cooking.

If you have attended or heard about previous NCBYS programs, like NFB Youth Slam or NFB Project Innovation, you are familiar with the exciting opportunities such programs provide. So, follow the link below and apply today! And don’t forget to tell your friends to do the same! Applications close at 11:59 p.m. on May 15, 2013.


Blind students currently in grades 8-12


A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn new and exciting information in STEM, and experience a small taste of life on a college campus while meeting new friends


Towson University, Towson, Maryland (just north of Baltimore)


July 29 to August 3, 2013



To learn more, or to apply, please visit www.blindscience.org/STEMX.

Questions about the program can be directed to Natalie Shaheen at nshaheen@nfb.org.

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May 15 is International MPS Awareness Day!

Today we:

  • Remember all the children and adults who suffer from MPS and related diseases.
  • Think about the children we have lost.
  • Think about the doctors and scientists who are dedicated to finding a cure for MPS and related diseases.
  • Appreciate each other and are thankful for the strength and support we both give and receive. 

We honor Dr. Emil Kakkis, who developed Aldurazyme®, the enzyme replacement therapy for MPS I, and whose company, Ultragenyx today announced a Phase 1/2 study of UX003 for MPS VII. Read the full press release. Read the Q&A with Dr. Emil Kakkis.

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Vulnerable Populations Symposium

The Shelby County Health Department’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program is hosting a Vulnerable Populations Symposium on Tuesday, May 14 at the Memphis Botanic Gardens. 

This event is meant to bring together both organizations that serve Vulnerable Populations (deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, mobility issues, mental/physical disabilities, children, etc) and those living with or caring for citizens with special/specific needs. 

Everyone is invited to attend. We encourage you to share the flyer with staff, colleagues, friends, family and neighbors. You can register online at www.shelbycountytn.gov/PHEPP

Information flyer:  Vulnerable Populations Symposium.pdf

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Sesión de Preguntas y Respuestas sobre la Implementación del IEP

El Grupo de Apoyo para Familias Hispanas con Niños con Discapacidades invita a padres de niños con cualquier tipo de discapacidad física o intelectual a una sesión de preguntas y respuestas sobre inquietudes relacionadas al IEP y su implementación. 

También se contestarán preguntas relacionadas al autismo.

Se proveerá un refrigerio liviano para todos los asistentes.  

Los niños son bienvenidos.

Elespacio es limitado.

Para reservar su cupo, favor de llamar y dejar mensaje con:  Luisa Ramirez de Lynch  (901) 448-8391. 

Harwood meeting 5-10-13.pdf

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National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is a key strategy of the Caring for Every Child's Mental Health Campaign, which is part of the Public Awareness and Support Strategic Initiative by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In 2013, Awareness Day will be held on Thursday, May 9.

The effort seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children's mental health and that positive mental health is essential to a child's healthy development from birth. Last year, the national theme focused on building resilience in young children dealing with trauma.

Communities around the country participated by holding their own Awareness Day events, focusing either on the national theme, or adapting the theme to the populations they serve.

Click here to download the 2012 Short Report: "Promoting Recovery and Resilience for Children and Youth Involved in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems." (PDF - 2.4 MB)

Click here to learn about the Benefits of Collaborating on Awareness Day Year-Round.

Check back often for details about how you can get involved in Awareness Day!

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Next Steps at Vanderbilt is accepting applications for Fall 2013-deadline to apply May 31, 2013

Are you (or do you know) a student with an intellectual disability between the ages of 18 and 26 who would benefit from attending Next Steps at Vanderbilt? The application deadline for the 2-year college certification program on Vanderbilt's campus has been extended to May 31, 2013.

What is the goal of the Next Steps at Vanderbilt Program?

The goal of the program is to broaden the career options and opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities in inclusive, age-appropriate settings on a college campus, which lays a path for the students to have the outcomes we all value -- a career, close relationships, and enjoyment.

Who can attend Next Steps at Vanderbilt?

Young adults seeking admission should be between 18 and 26 years old, have completed their high school studies, and have a strong desire to go to college to learn skills that will enable them to live more independently. They need to have families who support this goal.

Is financial assistance available?

The majority of students pay for tuition with the help of their families. For those who may need financial assistance, there are exciting new developments for eligible families.

1. Next Steps at Vanderbilt is a federally approved Comprehensive Transition Program. This status enables eligible students to apply for Federal Financial Aid. The Federal Student Aid website has added a page explaining financial aid for students with ID. For more information, visit: http://studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility/intellectual-disabilities

2. Legislation sponsored by Senator Doug Overbey is giving eligible students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to receive a Tennessee Lottery Scholarship. The bill is scheduled to be signed on June 4, 2013. This will create the Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship to provide accessible funding for high school students with intellectual or developmental disabilities who have college aspirations. Currently, Next Steps is one of only three qualifying programs. There are some stipulations. For example, students must have been out of high school for not more than 16 months and the scholarships are only available for entering students.

3. Some families have successfully reached out to local agencies and civic groups for scholarships.

4. Vocational Rehabilitation Departments in many areas of the country are supporting postsecondary education programs with funding.

For more information on Next Steps at Vanderbilt, visit: kc.vanderbilt.edu/nextsteps

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Belk to Offer Free Mammograms Across the Great State of Tennessee

The BelkGives on the Go Mobile Mammography Center, a 39-foot-long, state-of-the-art screening center on wheels, is now touring the great state of Tennessee to offer free, convenient mammogram screenings. The mobile center will visit Greeneville & Morristown in May and Johnson City & Kingsport in June and the free appointments may be scheduled now.  Women age 40 and over with no breast concerns, who have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months and who have a primary care physician that the results may be sent to are eligible by calling 855-655-BMMC (2662) to schedule an appointment.  The van hours are 9:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. in each city, by appointment. The dates and locations are:   

Thur., May 9, Belk Foothills Mall, 173 Foothills Mall Drive, Maryville

Sat., May 11, Belk, Belk Plaza, 1516 Decatur Pike, Athens

Tue. & Wed, May 14-15, Belk Greeneville Commons, 1367 Tusculum Blvd., Greeneville

Fri. & Sat., May 17-18, Belk College Square Mall, 2550 E. Morris Blvd., Morristown

Tue. & Wed., June 18 & 19, Belk, The Mall at Johnson City, 2011 N Roan St, Johnson City

Fri. & Sat., June 21 & 22, Belk Fort Henry Mall, 2101 Fort Henry Dr., Kingsport 

All screening exams are performed by Charlotte Radiology’s licensed, female mammography-certified technologists.  A board-certified radiologist, specialized in breast imaging will interpret the mammogram. Confidential results will be sent to the patient and her primary care physician. 

Belk, the nation’s largest privately operated department store, launched BelkGives on the Go Mobile Mammography in partnership with Charlotte Radiology. This mobile mammography center will bring convenient, digital screening and awareness to all Belk markets with the journey beginning in 113 stores throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee through January 2014. 

"Having the BelkGives on the Go Mobile Mammography Center travel to the cities where our associates and customers live and work underscores what we've being saying for a long time – awareness and early detection saves lives," said Jessica Graham, Belk's vice president of communications and community relations. "We're excited to take Belk's fight against breast cancer on the road." 

Belk’s $6 million investment in this program marks the retailer’s deep commitment to women’s health issues and breast cancer education and is the company’s single largest charitable contribution to date. Belk is the only retailer of its kind to form a partnership alongside community and health organizations by extending breast cancer screening and increasing breast cancer awareness through its own operation. 

For more information, call 855-655-BMMC (2662) or go to www.belk.com/pink.

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10 Tech Tools for Teaching Common Core

Here's a FREE eBook containing the top 10 tech tools to teach the Common Core standards.

With tools for ELA and Math, this eBook is great for all teachers! Inside you will find tools for all grade levels.

Grab your FREE copy now!


Bonus - We've included FREE access to 2 bonus webinars presented by Catlin Tucker. ($54 value)

1. Common Core: Integrating Web 2.0 Technology to Teach ELA Standards

This webinar shows you exactly how to help your students develop digital writing, research and communication skills necessary beyond high school.

2. Common Core: Integrating Web 2.0 Technology to Teach Math Standards

This webinar demonstrates the opportunity for educators to take examples from life to motivate problem solving and critical thinking.

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Participants Needed for New Study of the Health of People with Down Syndrome

If you are an adult with Down syndrome and at least 18 years old, or a close relative, friend or caregiver your help is needed in a research study.

You may help in this research study to learn about the health of adults with Down syndrome. Both the adult with Down syndrome and the relative, friend or caregiver will receive a $10 gift card for answering questions. You will receive a gift card from Wal-Mart or Target.

We will meet at a local medical clinic or local library.  The meeting takes between 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Contact:  Rebecca Graves, University of Tennessee Health Science Center Student

Email: RGraves@southalabama.edu

Phone: 251-490-1528

Details are attached.  Please share with those who would be interested.

Recruitment Flyer - Down Syndrome Research Study.pdf

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New Website and Tips on Autism for Early Care and Education Providers

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new Website on Autism Awareness and Acceptance in Early Childhood Education, which includes fact sheets, videos, tips, and links to state-specific resources. One of the resources includes a series of Tips for Early Care and Education Providers: Simple Concepts to Embed in Everyday Routines (2013) offered by autism intervention researchers around the country and compiled by ACF and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

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May is National Foster Care Month...You Can Change a Lifetime!

Each May, National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to shine a light on the experiences of the more than 380,000 children and youth under 18 in the foster care system. The campaign raises awareness about the urgent needs of these young people and encourages citizens from every walk of life to get involved – as foster or adoptive parents, volunteers, mentors, employers or in other ways. 

With the help of dedicated people, many formerly abused or neglected children and teens will either reunite safely with their parents, be cared for by relatives or be adopted by loving families. Many children would not have to enter foster care at all if more states provided support and services to help families cope with crises early on. 

Thanks to the many advocates, child welfare professionals, elected officials and support groups around the country, the total number of children in foster care has decreased over recent years.  But more help is needed.  

Every year, approximately 26,200 young people leave the foster care system without lifelong families – most at age 18. On their own, these young adults must navigate a weakened economy offering fewer jobs and less support for vital services such as housing. They need – and deserve – caring adults who love and support them. 

We call on all Americans to join us in helping to change a lifetime of a child or youth in foster care. No matter who you are or how much time you have to give, you can help create permanent, lifelong connections for these children and youth.  

All children — including the more than 380,000 American children and youth under 18 in foster care -deserve a safe, happy life. Young people in foster care especially need nurturing adults on their side because their own families are in crisis and unable to care for them. 

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May is National Physical Fitness and Sports month!

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports month! There are many ways to achieve physical fitness that are fun and involve the whole family. It's not so important what you do--it's more important to find ways to get in shape that are fun and that you and your family will actually do.  

"In the end, as First Lady, this isn't just a policy issue for me. This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and physical activity."-First Lady Michelle Obama

Click here for the Let's Move Website:

Creating a healthier lifestyle can seem challenging at first. Where should you start? The Presidential Lifestyle Award (PALA) program provides a way to get moving, and get eating more healthy foods, one step at a time. There are different programs for adults and children, with similar goals for each.

Kids and teens (6-17 years):   Click here for more info.

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Resource for Parents of Nonverbal Children

Eyedentity Label is an easy application temporary tattoo that is custom made to protect children, the mentally impaired, senior citizens or anyone who may require assistance with recall on emergency data.  Healthcare workers have also found Eyedentity Label to be especially helpful for the Alzheimer's community, non-speaking Autism children and for individuals with serious food allergies. 


Consider Eyedentity Label for: Busy Airport Travel• Trips To Crowded Theme Parks• Trips To The Mall, Sporting Events, Or The Zoo• School Trips Involving Many Children• Vacation Travel • When English is a Second Language


Extreme medical needs:  Food Allergies, such as wheat, nuts and dairy• Medical Allergies, such as Penicillin and Sulfa drugs• Seizure sufferers or epileptics requiring medication• Individuals requiring use of an Epipen• Non-speaking diabetics prone to low blood sugar and insulin shock• When English is a Second Language


Can be worn under clothing and placed out of plain sight if ordered with a name• Easy to apply• Waterproof• Long lasting - up to 7 days• Easy to remove• Not harmful to the skin


Visit their website for more information:  http://www.eyedentitylabel.com/

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Diving Into the School Year: Administrative Delays in Services: Update

Recently, an article was published on administrative delays in services. Shortly after research for that article was completed, the Office for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued a letter answering questions on a similar issue.  This particular letter answered the question of whether schools are allowed to create policies that delay the start of related services past the beginning of the school year.  

OSERS answered by stating that "on a case-by-case basis, the IEP Team may determine that the individual needs of the child require that the start date of a related services should occur the first week of school or after the beginning of a school year.  Therefore, a policy that mandates that related services for all children with disabilities will begin at a specific time after the beginning of the school year (e.g., the third week of the school year) would not be consistent with the IDEA."

More information available through this article written by Jen Runge.  Administrative Delay Article

Click here  for the OSERS policy letter.   

In terms of subscribing for e-updates, people can request information by either visiting the archives section on our website (bottom right corner): 


or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Matt-Cohen-Associates/288530631191274

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Congratulations to Scott Finney!

We are pleased to let you know that Scott Finney of the Arc of TN and long-time board member of STEP has been chosen to serve on the Advisory Group of the National Council of Self-Advocates of The Arc (NCSA). In this role, Scott will be representing the self-advocates from Tennessee on The Arc’s National Council of Self-Advocates.  Scott will join 13 members on the Advisory Group who will eShare their talents and opinions with The Arc on a local, state and national level, create opportunities for leadership roles in their communities and generate awareness of the abilities and rights of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Way to go Scott!

Congratulations and comments can be sent to Scott Finney at sfinney@thearctn.org 

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PE, Extracurricular Athletics, and Students with Disabilities

On January 25, 2013, OCR issued guidance clarifying school districts' existing legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities. The Dear Colleague letter provides examples of the types of reasonable modifications that schools may be required to make to existing policies, practices, or procedures and can be located at  http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201301-504.html


The OCR guidance builds on a resource document that OSEP issued in 2011. The document, Creating Equitable Opportunities for Children and Youth with Disabilities to Access Physical Education and Extracurricular Athletics, provides information on improving opportunities for children and youth with disabilities to access PE and athletics; refers the reader to sources of additional information regarding the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in PE and athletic extracurricular activities; and can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/equal-pe.pdf.


Together, these documents share information with states and schools to develop and implement equal access to PE and extracurricular athletic activities for all children and youth with disabilities.

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STEP Spring Newsletter

The STEP Ahead Spring Edition Newsletter has been released! If you have provided STEP with either a current mailing address or email address, you will be receiving a copy of the STEP Ahead Newsletter shortly. Your can also read it here.

STEP Newsletter Spring 2013 E-version.pdf

If you have not subscribed to our email list, please consider subscribing today. This will ensure that you recieve the latest notices, information, and announcements. Subscribe Today! http://www.tnstep.org/


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Shelby County Regional Special Education PTA - March General Membership Meeting

Open to the public. March 26, 2013 7:00 PM. Doors open at 6:30 for Meet and Greet, Avon Lenox High School, 310 N. Avon Rd., Memphis, TN 38117. Parking in the lot at the north end of the building or the street. Please enter through the front doors of the school. Presenting: Best Buddies, Melissa Todd and Kristin Barek. Best Buddies is a non-profit organization that exists to address these needs and end the social isolation of people with IDD. The Best Buddies office in Memphis, will reach area youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are often isolated, lonely, and unable to develop critical social skills. Best Buddies Memphis is in the beginning phases of starting programs in middle schools, high schools and colleges. Also presenting, Chris Myers, parent of son, Taylor, who has autism. Mr. Myers will be presenting information and some preliminary results from a recently completed, state-wide study with the University of Memphis and SRVS on assessing needs for children to adults. The study also includes information on an innovative, clearinghouse concept called LifePlan. Mr. Myers has spent many years as a strong advocate in our community including holding a variety of Board leadership positions and is the author of the book, Taylor's Way about his relationship with Taylor. For more information about Shelby County Regional Special Education PTA, visit www.shelbycountysepta.org 

Shelby Co Regional SPED PTA March_Events2013.pdf

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SEPTA will be Hosting a Parent Coffee Group

Parent Coffee Group, March 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM, Dink's, 890 West Poplar Ave, Collierville, TN 38017. We are excited to be starting an informal group for parents. We plan to meet on a regular basis to provide support, share experiences/resources and just simply "connect" with other like-minded parents/caregivers in the community.

For more information about Shelby County Regional Special Education PTA, visit www.shelbycountysepta.org

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STEP's Lunchtime Leader's Webinar on Bullying Prevention

11:30 AM -- 12:30 PM CT    12:30 PM -- 1:30 PM ET

We are excited to have Julie Hertzog, Director of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center, and Jody Manning , PTI Coordinator with PACER Center, present  bullying information, resources and supports in our upcoming Lunchtime Leaders Webinar in March!

PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center unites, engages and educates communities nationwide to address bullying through creative, relevant and interactive resources. PACER’s bullying prevention resources are designed to benefit all students, including students with disabilities.

Please Register Here Now to Reserve Your Seat at the Webinar! 

Help spread the word about this wonderful training opportunity to your friends, family members, and colleagues. Let’s learn together how to address the issue of bullying!

About our Speakers:

Julie Hertzog has been with PACER Center for 13 years where she serves as the Director of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center. Julie leads the development of the training materials for bullying prevention, coordinates awareness raising initiatives and provides advocacy for students in bullying situations. Julie is the parent of three school-aged children, including her 16-year-old son, David, who was born with Down syndrome and significant health issues.

Jody Manning has been with by PACER Center for 9 years where she serves as the Parent Training and Information Center Coordinator. She presents workshops to parents and professionals on a variety of topics, coordinates a number of projects, and works individually with parents of children with special needs to help them understand how to advocate on behalf of their children. Jody has a background in nursing and psychology.  She is the proud parent of a son with special needs who is currently a college student.

PACER offers digital-based resources for parents, schools, teens and youth, including:

PACER.org/Bullying: This is the portal page for parents and educators to access bullying resources, which include educational toolkits, awareness toolkits, contest ideas, promotional products and more.

PACERTeensAgainstBullying: Created by and for teens, this website is a place for middle and high school students to find ways to address bullying, to take action, to be heard, and to own an important social cause.

 PACERKidsAgainstBullying: A creative, innovative and educational website designed for elementary school students to learn about bullying prevention, engage in activities and be inspired to take action.


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Next Steps at Vanderbilt Open House

The next Next Steps at Vanderbilt Open House will be held Friday, March 15th from 2:00-3:30 p.m. Click here to register. Meet current Next Steps at Vanderbilt students and staff and learn about classes, internships, social opportunities, and more. Tour the Next Steps at Vanderbilt offices, student apartment, and The Commons Center.

Next Steps at Vanderbilt is a 2-year non-degree college program for 18- to 26-year-old students with intellectual disabilities. Program goals and activities promote the idea that higher education can be an opportunity for all students to gain greater self-awareness, and that it can provide access to social networks, employment, and independence. In addition to the academic program, students have access to the Student Life Center, recreation and exercise activities, sporting and entertainment events, and student clubs and organizations.

For information on the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program, including admissions criteria, visit nextsteps.vanderbilt.edu.

Fall 2013 Next Steps at Vanderbilt Admissions Application Deadline Extended to March 30, 2013.

Next Steps at Vanderbilt.pdf

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TASA Survey of Self-Advocates

Calling All Self-Advocates!

We need your input. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey that will provide very helpful information for a new project called Tennessee Allies in Self-Advocacy (TASA).

Tennessee Allies in Self-Advocacy (TASA) is a statewide group of individuals with disabilities and agency representatives working together to make it easier for individuals with disabilities to get the resources and support they need to become self-advocates. We want to know what people, like you, need and want TASA to do to support more individuals with disabilities in becoming self-advocates.

If you are unable to take the survey via computer, please call The Arc Tennessee at 1-800-835-7077 or 615-248-5878 and ask for Lori Israel. She can facilitate the survey over the phone.

We look forward to receiving your responses to the survey. Your feedback will make a big difference in the future work of TASA.

Tennessee Allies in Self-Advocacy (TASA)

You may open the survey in your web browser by clicking this link: TASA Survey

If the link above does not work, try copying the link below into your web browser: https://redcap.vanderbilt.edu/surveys/?s=5bAqvk

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Metro Nashville Public Schools and STEP, Inc. Invite You to Attend Our Upcoming Transition Institute & Information Fair

If you are a student with a disability in middle or high school
and you want to know as much as you can to have a successful life after high school,  information about getting a job, going to college, living on your own, and how to speak up for yourself– you won’t want to miss this FREE event at Antioch High School in Antioch, TN on Saturday, March 9.

If you are the parent or family member of a middle or high school student with a disability and you want to know as much as you can to help them be successful and have a full life after high school, register today!      

If you are a teacher and provide information and services to families and students who are 14 or older, this is the event to attend to fill your toolbox with great ideas on helping your students plan for their future after high school!

Agencies that provide services to youth and young adults with disabilities are invited to set up an Information Booth. Go to the Registration Page for details.There is plenty of space for exhibitors and vendors!

County: Davidson
Location: Antioch High, 1900 Hobson Pike
Time(s): 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM

See the attached flyer and make plans to attend this FREE event. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Many statewide and local agencies will have information booths set up throughout the day and be available to answer your questions.

Please register today or call 1-800-280-7837, and bring someone with you!

View Flyer Here.   Printable Registration Form          

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Tennessee Students With Intellectual Disabilities Talk About Life at College

In the new video I'm Thinking College, Even With My Disability, students with intellectual disabilities enrolled in a postsecondary education program in Tennessee talk about their experiences at college and highlight the need for more such programs.

This is a wonderful free resource to share with students, families, teachers, guidance counselors, and anyone who supports postsecondary education efforts for students with intellectual disabilities. Postsecondary education gives students an opportunity to explore interests, make friends, and gain the skills and knowledge they need to secure meaningful employment and become more independent.

The video was developed by the Tennessee Alliance for Postsecondary Opportunities for Students With Intellectual Disabilities and produced by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

Tennessee currently has three (3) programs on college/university campuses:
Next Steps at Vanderbilt University (Nashville)
TigerLIFE (Memphis)
University of Tennessee FUTURE Postsecondary Education Program (Knoxville)

For more information, visit: Tennessee Alliance for Postsecondary Opportunities for Students With Intellectual Disabilities

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ESEA Flexibility

The U.S. Department of Education has invited each State educational agency (SEA) to request flexibility regarding specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive State-developed plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction.

Check out what your state is doing here.

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"Feasting with Food Allergies" Helpful Websites

Check out these helpful websites just added to our links page under the Disability Specific category, for those dealing with food allergies. Thank you to Lisa Dupree for sharing these!

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Living Without Magazine

The Allergy Menu  (requires joining fee)

About.com for Food Allergies

Cook It Allergy-Free

Food Allergy Kitchen

Allergy Kids

How to Survive with Multiple Food Allergies & Eventually Thrive from Food Allergy.org


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NICHCY's Updated List for Camps & Summer Opportunities

NICHCY’s quick links to camps and summer opportunities has been updated. Some of the listings identify camps available to all children, while some are especially for children who have disabilities. Click here for more information.

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Disability Community Saddened by the Loss of Nancy Diehl

We are deeply saddened to announce the death of our friend and disability leader, Nancy Diehl, who passed away Jan. 31, 2013. 

Nancy Diehl was a nationally recognized leader who advocated strongly for the rights of persons with disabilities.   She was well-known and sought after as a powerful force effecting awareness and change in the disability community.

As both a parent and professional, she has an impressive resume of achievements.  This includes, joining founder Carol Westlake, directing a statewide disability organization, Tennessee's only Parent Training and Information Center.   She developed and produced training and curriculum for 12 legal rights and topical workshops and published a 350 page parent training manual in print and CD on legal rights. 

Certified as a TN Supreme Court Rule 31 Family Mediator, she served as a mediator for the TN Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Nashville.  She was responsible for coordinating and conducting legal meditations between aggrieved parties to assist them in reaching mediated settlements attempting to avoid going to trial.

Fluent in both American Sign Language & Signed English, Nancy also worked as an Interpreter for the Deaf. 

Early in her career, she served as Advocacy Coordinator for Tennessee’s protection and advocacy organization, supervising advocacy services for eleven counties in Upper East TN.   She was a guest teacher and speaker at many Colleges and Universities across the state of Tennessee as well as at National Disability Conferences.  She was also tapped to provide extensive disability training to Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, South Pacific.

With a lifetime of community service, Nancy served on a variety of boards and commissions.

She was appointed by Governor Alexander to serve on the Developmental Disabilities Council, served on the State Rehabilitation Council, the Admissions review board for Greene Valley Developmental Center, the Regional Advisory Board-Division of Mental Retardation, and a disability advisory board for Senator Bill Frist.   She also served as Vice-President of the Autism Society of America, TN State Chapter, and on the Board of Directors of the Autism Society of America-East TN.   Nancy was elected to serve as President for the Association for Children with Disabilities and Vice-President of the Genessee County Arc.    Her strong parent advocacy skills also led her to be appointed as  the Parent Advocate for Alexander Central School.

A graduate Tusculum College with a  M.A.Ed, she also attended Walters State Community College, East TN State University,  and Genessee Community College, Batavia, NY .

One of Nancy’s proudest moments was when she was invited to speak with President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore at the White House as the only parent representative in a small contingent of disability leaders.   She has also testified before the Senate on the reauthorization of the IDEA, and was present at the White House for the signing of the IDEA reauthorization in 1997.

Nancy was the recipient of the Earl A. House Award from Tusculum College, and a SALT by the world-renowned Highland Center.

Well-known and loved, her history included many opportunities to collaborate with and advise national, state and local leaders in the field of disability and her legacy for the improvement of persons with disabilities will continue to touch lives and make a difference on a local and national level, as she was committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Her example set in everyday life was truly inspirational and a testament to her admiring strength and heart for family, friends, students and those experiencing disabilities. I am honored to have known such a compassionate and tenacious person.  She was a true champion.

Condolences can be sent to Andy Diehl, 4425 Westlawn Dr. A301, Nashville TN 37209.

Memorial contributions may be made in her name to:
National Autism Association, 20 Alice Agnew Drive, Attleboro Falls, MA 02763

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STEP is Now Accepting Nominations for The Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year

Each year STEP honors the memory of Wayne Parker who was a zealous advocate for the rights of children and families. He worked tirelessly to ensure that families had the information they needed to speak up and advocate for the needs of their children with disabilities. Wayne was also a strong advocate for encouraging young people with disabilities to advocate for the life they wanted. Wayne was well respected by parents and professionals. Wayne was always quick to praise members of school teams when they went above and beyond in their advocacy efforts for students.

If you know of a parent, student, or professional who has demonstrated the powerful outcomes that are possible by applying your rights in an assertive and positive manner, this is your opportunity to submit their story for recognition. Please provide a brief story, highlighting their advocacy efforts and results, along with the nominee's name and contact information. Nominations can be sent to information@tnstep.org or by fax to 423.636.8217

Nominations are received throughout the year. A recipient is chosen by end of February each year. Presentation is made at TN Disability Mega conference Awards Banquet in early June.

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U.S. Department of Education Clarifies Schools' Obligation to Provide Equal Opportunity to Students with Disabilities to Participate in Extracurricular Athletics

Today, the Department's Office for Civil Rights issued guidance clarifying school districts' existing legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities. In addition to explaining those legal obligations, the guidance urges school districts to work with community organizations to increase athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, such as opportunities outside of the existing extracurricular athletic program. Read More...

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TN Disability Pathfinder's Latest Statewide Support Group List

Tennessee Disability Pathfinder is pleased to announce that their Statewide Support Group List has recently been updated!  For your convenience, a copy is attached, and it is available online, as well:
Go to Statewide Support Group Online Here.

View pdf here.   

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ASA-ETC's 2013 Spring Conference Coming Soon!

MAR 9, 2013 – ASA-ETC’s 2nd Annual Education Conference in Tri Cities will be held from 8am to 4pm at Munsey United Methodist Church, 201 East Market Street, Johnson City, TN 37601. This all day autism-specific conference features workshops including: “ABA and ASD: What Happened, What is Happening, & What Needs to Happen”, “Building Skills, Strengths & Interests thru Performing Arts”, “Flexible Thinking: Social Communication from an NT’s Perspective”, “Simple Sensory Strategies for Home & School”, “I Can Do It Myself: Using Visual Strategies for Independence”, and “Enhancing Social Understanding using Social Stories”. For information on conference sponsorship or nonprofit exhibitor space, contact Autism Society of East TN at: info@asaetc.org or (865) 247-5082 as soon as possible. For more information and to register, fill out and send in the registration form with payment, go to our website to pay on-line: www.asaetc.org  or check details out on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/ASAETC/  … JOIN US!!

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Check Out Get Ready to Read! Literacy Checklists

Create a great literacy-friendly environment for young readers in your home, classroom, or family child care center. These checklists are filled with free or low-cost ways to enrich learning. Check it out here!

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Survey about Tennessee's Employment of People with Disabilities

STEP is working as a collaborative partner with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD) on a project called Tennessee Works Partnership. Our goal is to help raise expectations and improve employment outcomes for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In our collaborative role we are distributing this survey to family members, students, and professionals who have accessed STEP services in the past to provide you an opportunity to provide input regarding employment of Tennessean's with disabilities. This is entirely voluntary. It is open to anyone who wants to participate. Please feel free to share it with others who may be interested.

The assessment’s focus is on the impact that state policies and practices have on the ability of individuals with IDD to exit school and obtain an individual job in the community.  There is no limit to the number of Tennesseans who can respond to the survey. You can choose whether or not to give your name. Please complete by January 31, 2013.  

 Here is the link to a web-based survey. 

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Volunteer Advocacy Project Now Accepting Applications

Applications are now being accepted for the Volunteer Advocacy Project, a 12-week program to train volunteer advocates to provide instrumental and effective support to parents of children with disabilities. In this training, participants will learn more about special education law and advocacy strategies. This training is beneficial for parents and family member of children with special needs along with community members that assist families with special education services in the school system. The spring semester begins in January 21st, 2013 and applications are due January 15th, 2013.
For more information on the program, registration, and to download an application packet, visit: http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/site/newsandevents/calendar/page.aspx?id=3633  
Fliers and the application are attached for your information. Please call the Lynise Parisien with any questions at: (615) 414-4579, or email us at lynise.parisien@vanderbilt.edu  
VAP Spring Flyer.pdf               NashSpringApp2012.pdf

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TNVA Webinar Q & A's Now Available

Questions that were submitted for the TNVA Webinar are now posted in our Archived Webinars section on our website. If you missed this webinar and would like to listen to it or to view the Q & A's from the webinar, click here.

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NCLD's 50 Questions About LD EBook Now Available

The National Center for Learning Disabilities has posted their new e-book on learning disabilities on their website. NCLD shares, "We asked some of the top LD experts in the United States to answer 50 of your frequently asked questions. You’ll find their responses in our new e-book, '50 Questions About LD.'  

Topics in our new e-book include:

  • How to deal with the “LD” label
  • RTI and working with your child’s school
  • The emotional impact of learning disabilities at school and home
  • Preparing teens for college and work
  • Related issues like AD/HD and giftedness
Download “50 Questions About LD” today to find answers to common questions about LD from real parents, like you."

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How Do I Know My Child Is Making Progress?

Parents can answer that question by looking at a variety of data, including information from special education and general education sources and information from outside the school. Read more on the Alliance ACTion Information Sheet here.

Alliance ACTion -How Will I Know If My Child is Making Progress Fact Sheet.pdf

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SEPTA January Meeting

Shelby County Regional Special Education PTA is having their January Meeting on January 17, 2013.  The topic for Shelby County Regional SEPTA's January Meeting will be  "Days on the Hill" including "Disability Days on the Hill" as well as TN PTA's "Students Storm the Hill." 

The speaker will be Dotty Carter, Marketing and Development Manager and Sandra Hawkins, Community Advocate with The ARC Mid-south. Disability Days on the Hill is Wednesday, January 30, 2013, at Legislative Plaza, Nashville, TN. Doors Open at 6:30 PM for meet and greet and the meeting will begin at 7:00 PM.

Bartlett Elementary School
Parking available in the Faculty Parking off of Elmo Road
3932 Billy Maher Road
Bartlett, TN 38135

For more information on Shelby County Regional Special Education PTA, visit www.shelbycountysepta.org

View flyer here.

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Johnson County Links

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