Exceptional Times is a monthly electronic newsletter produced by
 Families Helping Families of Jefferson and 
Louisiana Parent Training & Information Center
a project of FHF of Jefferson.

Exceptional Times 
August 2016

Are You Ready For a New School Year?

By:  Mary Jacob

Can you believe it's already August?  It seems like the last school year just ended and now the new one is ready to begin.  Are you ready for a new school year?  Is your child(ren) ready for the next school year?  Before you go into panic mode - take a deep breath and remind yourself you're a parent and you can handle this! 

Preparing for the new school year for a child with a disability is very similar to preparing for a child without a disability.  You will need to get school supplies, which usually means endless number of colors, glue, pencils, pens, notebooks, folders and more.  You might also need to get uniforms, shoes and backpacks.  In the perfect world you would then be able to send little Sally off to school and sit back and relax.  However, when you have a child with a disability - rarely, if ever, is it that easy.

If your child has a specific medical condition, you will need to make sure the teachers are prepared.  If your child has behavior health concerns, you'll need to be able to communicate this to the teachers.  If your child has food allergies, this will need to be conveyed.  Even if you have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), Individualized Health Plan (IHP) or a 504 Plan - it's critical that the teacher has all the documents and understand your child.  There is no such thing to send little Sally off to school and sit back and relax.  Your immediate thought will be - Do they know how to suction her?  Do they know she is a runner if she gets scared?  Are they going to remember about her nut allergy?  Do they know she will throw things if she gets really mad?  Do they know how to soothe her if she gets overwhelmed?  These are all valid concerns. 

When my children were in school I'd make sure ALL teachers had copies of their IEP on the first day.  This would mean I'd reach out to the teachers before school officially started.  I'd make sure they knew who my daughters were and had all the critical information they needed to be ready on day one of the new school year.  This is also the perfect time to make sure if your child uses special transportation, that it is already arranged.  You can expect and should expect this to begin on day one.  Often we hear parents tell us their child misses anywhere from a day or two to a week or two of school while transportation is being arranged.  This is unacceptable!  Your child should be attending school on the same days all other students are attending school. 

If you have IEP concerns or it's time for your annual IEP meeting, you need to make sure these meeting occur as soon as possible. 

Is your child attending a new school?  Kids with disabilities don't always easily transition to new settings.  Therefore, if your child has not visited the new school yet, this should be an immediate priority.  Drive by the school a few times and reinforce this is where she'll be going to school.  Stop by the school and do a walk through so your child can become familiar with the buildings and office staff.  If at all possible, stop by for a quick hello to the teachers and therapist.  Keep in mind, most teachers return to school just a few days before the students and their time is very limited because of the number of new school year meetings they are required to attend. 

Families Helping Families of Jefferson has developed a few products that will help you prepare for the new school year. 

All About Me is a great product to introduce your child to their new teacher(s) and other school staff.

E-Learning Mini Modules are 5 short training modules on:  
  • What is Least Restricted Environment?
  • The Basics of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • What to Do When the School Calls for You to Pick Up Your Child?
  • How to Prepare for Your IEP Meeting?
  • What Transportation Services are Available for My Child with a Disability?
FHF is very active on social media.  We continuously list upcoming trainings, events and informative articles.  You can stay up to date by following us and liking us on Facebook and Twitter.  Additionally, FHF gives parents and others the opportunity to interact with each other through LaDisability Talk. This is a special Facebook page that allows you to post questions, other informative items, post upcoming events and share topics of interests to other parents of children with disabilities.  Others will respond, offer advice and suggestions and become a peer supporter. 

Remember, FHF is here to help you advocate for your child(ren) by offering continuous training opportunities, peer to peer support and research and information.  


Upcoming Trainings 

- FHF August Workshops -

Healthy Summer Days -  This series is for youth with disabilities between the ages of 16-26 and their parents, PCA's, guardians, and family are welcome to attend. We hope to encourage you to have a fun and healthy summer. 
Summer can be a time of lots of fun but we tend to lose track of our normal routines, which includes our eating habits. That is why we have teamed up with The LSU AgCenter to provide a free series of 6 lessons about having a healthy lifestyle. The lessons will be on healthy eating habits, easy recipes, and food management.   

Time:            3:00 pm - 4:00 pm 
Location:      East Bank Regional Library
4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, LA 70001 
Presenter:     Karen Walker-Jones, Area Agent, Nutrition LSU AgCenter
Healthy Summer Days: Make 1/2 Your Grains Whole Grains - Tuesday, August 2, 2016    Click here for more information!
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736 

Healthy Summer Days: Physical Activity- Tuesday, August 9, 2016 
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736 

Healthy Summer Days: Vary Your Protein - Tuesday, August 16 2016      
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-7736 

Navigating the Internet Safely - Tuesday, August 9, 2016, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm, East Bank Regional Library, 4747 West Napoleon Ave., Metairie, La 70001: Nowadays, everyone is connected using the internet whether it is through your smart phone, laptop, desktop, or tablets. Even though there is plenty of good information out there, if you're not careful, it could lead you down a dangerous path. Some of the most predominate dangers are cyber bullying, predators, and identity theft. Through this training, we hope to promote good online habits and teach youth with disabilities about the potential dangers that are out there. This training is designed especially for youth with disabilities between the ages of 16-26. We hope to see you there and encourage you to bring your devices.  Click here for more information!
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736

Transition from High School to Employment and Adulthood for Individuals with Disabilities: What lies ahead? - Friday, August 12, 2016, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm, Jefferson Parish Deparment of Workforce Connection, 1900 Lafayette Street, Suite 1, Gretna, La 70053: This two-hour session will provide:
  • An overview of transition from school to the community,
  • Available supports, opportunities and services,
  • Local and national examples of successful transitions,
  • Working with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS), the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPS) to obtain meaningful WORK,
  • Funding and agency "rules"/policies,
  • How to select a service provider, what services to expect and how employment services are delivered,
  • Impact of earnings on SSI, SSDI and other federal benefits,
  • Information to help negotiate state and local agencies that will provide these services
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736

- FHF August Webinars - 

Preparing for Your Health Care During an Emergency - Wednesday, August 3, 2016, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Karen Scallan will discuss what you need to know regarding accessing your Medicaid services in an emergency, even when out of state due to a large scale evacuation and how to create a portable care notebook or record that that will help you access medical care more quickly and appropriately when evacuated.

Get the School Year Off to a Good Start: IEP Rights and Strategies - Friday, August 5, 2016, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: An overview of the rights and protections mandated for special needs children by IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the value of record keeping, the requirements of the assessment process, timelines and other legal components of an IEP, including goals and objectives. Communication techniques are interspersed throughout the webinar.
All Hazards Emergency Preparedness for Individuals with Special Needs and Disabilities and their Families - Friday, August 5, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Family Support Coordination/Professional Session.  This discussion is specifically designed around professionals serving families of children and youth with disabilities and special health care needs.  Family Support Coordinators, Support Coordination Professionals, Peer Support Providers, Family Support providers should all plan to attend.  Join presenter Karen Scallan for an in depth discussion on preparing for all hazards in Louisiana. It's not just about hurricanes!  Do you know what to do if there is a chemical release?  Chemical explosion?  Nuclear power plant warnings?  Are you asking the right questions during your family-provider meetings to ensure families are as prepared as they can be for a wide variety of emergencies?

Get the School Year Off to a Good Start: IEP Rights and Strategies - Monday, August 10, 2016, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm: An overview of the rights and protections mandated for special needs children by IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the value of record keeping, the requirements of the assessment process, timelines and other legal components of an IEP, including goals and objectives. Communication techniques are interspersed throughout the webinar.

"Staying Cool During a Meltdown" - Thursday, August 11, 2016, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: When Kids have an emotional melt down, it is a cry for help. In this session parents will be given strategies for managing and preventing meltdowns. With the strategies given we can be prepared for when they explode, and rock our world.

Using ABA to Teach Individuals With Autism - Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 10:30 am - 11:30 am: This lecture will provide an overview of Applied Behavior Analysis and its effective use for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. An overview of the symptoms of ASD will be provided and then a brief discussion of the key components of an effective ABA program.

Your Child has received a Medical Diagnosis, Now What? - Tuesday, August 17, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: Parents often have many questions as to why their child struggles in school and are unaware that they could request testing, or that their child might have a learning disability and be eligible for special education services.  Schools are required to identify and evaluate all children who may have disabilities under the Child Find mandate. Participants will learn more about The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act which includes the Child Find mandate and covers every child from birth through age 21. 

Treatment of Social Cognition Deficits in Individuals with Autism - Thursday, August 18, 2016, 10:30 am - 11:30 am: This lecture will provide an overview of social cognition and the deficits observed in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. A brief exposure to the treatment of social cognition deficits in individuals with autism will be provided.

The Transition Process: From Early Steps to Special Education - Thursday, August 18, 2016, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Families of children enrolled in Early Steps will increase their understanding of the transition process from Birth to Three services and will gain knowledge of the key components of special education services under IDEA.  Participants will learn about their role as an equal partner of the IEP Team and ways that they can effectively advocate for their children and communicate with schools.

Which Plan is for Your Child: IEP or 504? - Friday, August 26, 2016, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm: Learn what a 504 plan is, how to request it, and the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP (Individualized Education Program). This training will explain how to become eligible for a 504 plan, how this plan can be used, what is included, parent and student rights, and the options available if a disagreement arises.

A Pathway to Action: Executive Functioning Tips & Tricks - Tuesday, August 30, 2016, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: This lecture will provide an overview of executive function deficits and how those deficits might present themselves in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. A brief exposure to the treatment of executive function deficits in individuals with autism will be provided.

View our full calendar of events here. 

FHF e-Learning Mini Modules

e-Learning Mini Modules are formatted for all devices so even if you are at a ball game, dance practice or waiting for your dinner to arrive in a restaurant, you can log onto our website and watch one of our e-Learning Mini Modules in approximately 10 minutes.  That's right - you only need about 10 minutes!  The following e-Learning Mini Modules are currently available:
  • What do you do when the school calls to pick up your child?  
  • What transportation services are available to my child with a disability?
  • How can I prepare for my child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting?
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Basics
  • What is Least Restricted Environment (LRE)?
We hope these are useful to you and happy to be able to add additional ways for families to learn relevant information they need in order to get their child the most appropriate education they deserve.   Click here to go to our website and learn more about the e-Learning  Modules!

Trainings & Webinars provided by others

2nd Symposium: Usher Syndrome in Louisiana, Saturday, August 6, 2016, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development & Lifelong Learning, University of Louisiana, Lafayette: Learn more about what it means to have Usher Syndrome, what is being done in Louisiana and how patients, families and doctors can work together to help those losing their sight.  Click here for more information

Deaf Education Alliance Summit 2016 Better Together-Students Improve When We Improve, August 26 - 27, 2016, LSU Health Sciences Center, 411 South Prieur, New Orleans, LA 70112: Keynote Friday: 'Early childhood Bilingualism with DHH students and the impact on student outcomes' - Rachel Coleman.  Keynote Saturday: 'When Deaf Children Thrive' - Paula Rodriguez.  Click here for more information

Links You Want To Check Out

If you've ever done an internet search on a topic, you know first-hand how difficult it is to sort through the thousands of links that come up with the search. Below is a list of some of our favorite links for the month that others have shared with us. We hope you find them as informative as we did.

42 Simple Ways to Raise an Empathetic Kid: Empathy is the ability to identify with and feel for another person. It's the powerful quality that halts violent and cruel behavior and urges us to treat others kindly. Empathy emerges naturally and quite early, which means our children are born with a huge built-in advantage for success and happiness. But although children are born with the capacity for empathy, it must be nurtured and takes commitment and relentless, deliberate action every day and can't be left to chance.

Get Ready for Kindergarten! Being ready for kindergarten means that a child with special needs is able to attend to and learn the information being presented in the academic setting and is emotionally able to interact appropriately with the teacher and fellow students. This article asks (and answers) 2 questions: What are some of the skills expected of a child entering kindergarten? And what are some things that families can do to prepare their child for kindergarten?

Step-by-Step Guide for Implementing Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities: This guide from the Georgia Department of Education Special Education Services and Supports chronicles the progress and inclusion of one first-grade student, providing a step-by-step guide for others to replicate. 

Surrogate Parents & Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Under IDEA:What protections exist for youth who are experiencing homelessness? This document from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) provides very important information on the laws protecting homeless youth.

10 Tips for Voters with Disabilities:  Before you vote in the next election, know the voting process in your State. The following tips from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission examine the options available to help voters with disabilities vote privately and independently.

What's So Important about updating the Present Levels?  Until the Present Levels in your child's IEP are up to date, you will never be able to get the program, placement, or education your child needs. In Present Levels: The Foundation of the IEP, learn why parent input is so important during the IEP Team's assessment of your child's present levels of performance. 

There is No Limit to the Number of IEP Meetings: The law says the IEP needs to be reviewed at least annually, and more often if necessary. The IEP Team can convene, and agree to re-convene after receiving new testing results. There is no limit to the number of IEP meetings that may be needed to create an IEP that meets your child's needs. 

You Can Request an IEP Review Meeting at any time: Because I signed the IEP earlier, I was told that I cannot ask that the IEP be changed now, Is this true? You can ask that the IEP be changed at any time. The fact that you consented to the IEP does not mean you are stuck with it - or that it is appropriate for an entire year. 

How to Teach Vowel Sounds - Vowels are typically the first sounds that emerge from our precious little ones and most often not a concern. But what happens when your child doesn't follow this developmental sequence?

Language Arts: Daily Grammer (K-12) - Daily Grammar consists of 440 lessons and 88 quizzes.  These lessons cover the eight parts of speech, the parts of the sentence, and the mechanics of grammar. You can use this archive to study Daily Grammar at your own pace.

39 Theme Parks with Special Needs Access Passes - An increasing number of theme parks have recently changed their policies for guests with disabilities, cancelling the access passes that allow guests with disabilities to bypass queues for rides. Additionally, several large theme parks do not publicly post their policies on access passes. Here's a list of 39 theme parks to consider for your next vacation.

Every summer, students lose access to the healthy meals they rely on during the school year. That is why USDA is working to get the word out to schools, libraries, community organizations, and parks and recreation departments across the nation to participate in summer meal programs. 

Autism Can Be an Asset In the Workplace, Employers and Workers Find - As the population of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder keeps growing, so does the number of people with that diagnosis who aren't finding employment.

For 30 years, she's been the 'Lobby Boss" at Oxford McDonald'sWe all like to hear positive stories of transitioning from school into work for our population with disabilities. Here is a story of Sandy Burns, a 48 year old woman with Down syndrome who has been successful of transitioning into the adult world right out of high school and maintaining that same job at McDonalds for 30 years. 

Drive of Your Life is a self-determination and youth leadership development tool made by the Indiana Youth Institute. This a fun online career exploration game that targets middle and high school students that are trying to figure what they want to do after high school. It helps students with career and course planning through learning about themselves, finding careers that match their style and planning to make it possible.

Catholic schools to take more disabled studentsThe archbishop, Gregory Aymond apologized to the families of children with disabilities for the lack of special education options. Soon, the New Orleans area Roman Catholic Schools will be accepting more students with disabilities. Starting this coming fall, several of the school will start specialized programs to expand the services that they are able to offer to children with learning disabilities. The following year they will pilot programs for students with more significant disabilities.

Extensive Lending Library

Families Helping Families has an extensive lending library. Books, dvds and more are here, free of charge, for families and professionals to check out. You are welcome to come and browse our library during office hours, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. If you cannot make it into our office, you can see a complete list of our inventory and any item can be mailed to you. Just click here to see a complete list of items in our lending library. 

Before you buy it - check to see if we have it!
Changing Lives. Every Day. 
Success Story of the Month

Every day we hear wonderful things about the work we do for individuals in the community. One of the things that keep us going daily are the success stories we hear.

Tyrell, a young adult who has autism, and his mother Sabrina Parker have been faithfully attending our Healthy Summer Days workshops that have been set up especially for our youth with disabilities. The Healthy Summer Days workshops is a series of six weeks presented by the LSU AgCenter that focuses on healthy eating and trying new recipes.


This section will give you information on events FHF will be attending, waiver waiting list info, other community events you  might be interested in attending and anything else that doesn't fit in one of the above sections.

Bart Thibodeaux, LPSS Director of Special Education, has invited parents to a session with Dr. Jim Ball, on Wednesday, August 3rd from 1:00 - 3:00pm at the LEDA Center, 211 E. Devalcourt Street, Lafayette - Dr. Jim Ball, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D), has been working in the private sector field of autism for 25+  years.  In a variety of settings, he has provided educational, employment, and residential services to children and adults affected with autism. Space is limited. Call  Autism Society Acadiana office at 337-235-4425 to RSVP.

LA Green Corps is recruiting for our next Youth Construction+Conservation Job Training program, scheduled to start on Monday, August 15th.   In order to meet eligibility requirements an individual must be between the ages of 18-25, not currently enrolled in high school, and able to commit to a full-day Monday-Friday schedule.  

Statewide ESSA Meetings Announced -  Superintendent White will host a series of statewide meetings this summer to discuss creating educational opportunities for students through the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). All district and school leaders, teachers, and parents are encouraged to attend these meetings and share their feedback with the Department.   Click here for dates and locations 

The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities provides supports and services through a variety of locations throughout the state to support the dignity, quality of life and security in the everyday lives of people with developemental disabilities and their families, acting as the Single Point of Entry.

Waiver Registry Dates - As of June 29, 2016 the following dates have been reached on the waiver registry, a.k.a. the waiting list. 
New Opportunities Waiver (NOW) - 8/18/2004
Children's Choice Waiver - 6/20/2006
Supports Waiver - 12/31/2014
Not sure where you are on the registry? Call 1.800.364.7828
SPOKES (Support for Parents Of Kids with Epilepsy and Seizures) is a support group and activity program for parents of children with epilepsy. Here parents can connect and find common ground on the successes and challenges they face in raising a child with seizures. Healthcare professionals are also encouraged to attend. This program is only available in Louisiana. For more information about our monthly support groups throughout the state, please visit our website www.epilepsylouisiana.org  or call our office 225.298.5499 and ask to be added to the SPOKES email list. Epilepsy and Seizures 24/7 Help line: 1.800.332.1000
LaCAN is a statewide grassroots network of individuals, families and advocates who have worked together since 1988 advocating for a service system that supports individuals with disabilities to live in their own homes rather than having to be segregated from their communities in a facility to receive support.  Specifically, they have advocated for implementation of Louisiana's Community and Family Support System Plan.  To join or learn more about LaCAN, click here.

LaTEACH (Louisiana Together Educating ALL Children) is a statewide grassroots advocacy network created for the purpose of effecting systems change.  LaTEACH promotes appropriate, inclusive education for all students. LaTEACH works to make parents, educators, the general public, and state leadership informed and supportive of research-based and effective practices used appropriately for each student.  To join or learn more about LaTEACH,  click here.


Families Helping Families of Jefferson is once again participating in Auctions in August.  We received a lot of wonderful items to put in the auction.  FHF will receive 100% profit from all items donated to FHF.  For a complete list of items you can go to Auctions in August site.  All items are also available for viewing in local Gulf Coast Bank and Trust branches.  

Some of the items available are:  K2 Cooler, Saint's Football Tickets, Jewelry, Full Length Mink Coat, Membership to New Orleans Museum of Arts, Membership to Longue Vue Gardens, Tickets to Audubon Institute, Tickets to Children's Museum, Gift Certificate for a Photo Session, Gift Certificate to Bayou Daiquiri's, Wine and Wine Glass Gift Set, Mother Gift Set Baskets, Grandmother Gift Set Baskets, Baby Boy Gift Basket, Baby Girl Gift Basket, Outdoor Gift Basket, Fleur De Lis Gift Baskets, Art and much more.  

2nd Annual
5k & 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk/Roll Against Bullying 

Saturday, October 1, 2016 
Lafreniere Park - Meadow Area
3000 Downs Blvd. 
Metairie, LA 70003

Registration Now Open!!
Registration Fee: $25 - under 18 and $35 - 18 +
Register before 9/12/16 and receive $10 discount and guaranteed T-shirt

Use FHF at checkout to get an Early Registration (before 9/12/16 discount of $10

Live Music    Great Food     Beer     Kid Activities    Awards

Prizes for Fundraising Teams
Prizes for Fundraising Individuals
Prizes for Schools with 50 or More Participants

New Location: 
Lafreniere Park 

Be a Superhero Against Bullying!

Honorary Co-Chairs

Newell Norman, Sheriff
Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office

Isaac Joseph, Superintendent
Jefferson Parish Public
School System


Brave Sponsorship Level

United Sponsorship Level

Equality Sponsorship Level 

Metairie Bank
Karl Benson - Sunbelt Conference
Gulf Coast Bank
J. Everett Eaves
Performance Rehabilitation Services LLC

Friend Sponsorship Level
Kipper Communications
The Jefferson Chamber of Commerce
Eagle Capital Management

Sponsorship opportunities are now available. 

If you'd like to be a vendor at this event, 
please contact Mary Jacob at 504-888-9111.

For additional race information, please click here
FHF Team

Click here for a list of Staff or Board Members

Families Helping Families of Jefferson is your one stop shop for disability information. We are the only family resource center for individuals with all disabilities, all ages and their families in Jefferson Parish. We offer services across the lifespan.

 Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center (LaPTIC) is a program  of Families Helping Families of Jefferson and a grant from the US Department of Education; Office of Special Education (OSEP) as Louisiana's official and only statewide federally funded Parent Training   and Information Center. 
The Mission of Families Helping Families is to educate and 
connect children and adults with disabilities and their families to resources, services & supports to attend school, work and thrive 
in their communities

FHF of Jefferson 
201 Evans Road, Bldg. 1, Suite 100
Harahan, LA  70123
800.766.7736 (toll free)