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 
December 2016
Teach Me and 
Include Me!
By:  Mary Jacob
By now everyone that spends 5 minutes a day on social media has probably seen the awful video of the little boy waiting his turn to say his few lines at his schools' Thanksgiving performance, only to have the microphone snatched right away from him at the exact moment he was to perform.  It was like a belly punch and would bring tears to grown men - well except the ones in the audience who proceeded to laugh at the child.  We will probably hear we only saw a smidgen of a much longer video where the child did "unthinkable" things to deserve this action.  Nevertheless, this child and his family were humiliated.  This adult in charge acted completely inappropriately. 
I wish I could say this was an isolated situation.  Unfortunately, we see scenes like this repeated every year at Thanksgiving performances, Christmas performances, End of Year performances, Class performances for fairs, PTA meetings and other events.  For far too long we've seen kids with disabilities treated like second class citizens when it comes to public performances or activities.  We've seen schools that don't have ramps so children in wheelchairs can be meaningfully included.  We've seen schools where kids with cognitive disabilities aren't even invited to participate.  We've seen schools that exclude kids in special education from field trips, class performances, field days and graduation events. 
If you or your child is anticipating participating in an upcoming school event, please be proactive.  First, verify your child's participation.  If everyone else in his/her grade level is participating and your child isn't, ask why.   Second, find out what your child is expected to do.  Help prepare your child for his/her role.  Teach them about patience and waiting their turn.  Help them understand the process.  Third, make sure you communicate with the teacher or program director to ensure there won't be any unexpected surprises.  Let them know from the beginning you expect your child to participate to his or her fullest capabilities.  This might mean costumes, singing, talking, dancing, etc.  Finally, let them know how excited you are to see your child on stage and assure them if there is any last minute melt downs or problems that might arise, you are just a few steps away.  Just because your child has a disability doesn't give the school the right to exclude your child.  Excluding a child solely based on his/her disability is discrimination and illegal. 
Remember, an ounce of prevention can be very productive!   I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!
Check out these other great articles we've provided for you this month: 

Upcoming Trainings 

- FHF December Workshops -

Cooking Matters -  Come join us for a FREE Six-week cooking course!  Monday, November 7 - December 12, 2016 - All classes are scheduled on Monday and are from 5:00 - 7:00 pm, Elmwood Fitness Center Auditorium, 1200 S. Clearview Pkwy., Elmwood, LA 70123: Nutrition is for Everyone partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank & nonprofit organizations across Louisiana to bring nutrition and cooking education to people with disabilities and their support people.   
To enroll or find out more information about the classes, please call Raquel Castaneda, 504-888-9111, Ext. 217.

What is Special Education?   Where to begin  -  Friday, December 2, 2016, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm, East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, LA 70001:  One of the last things that most parents want to hear is that their child has a disability and requires special education services. As difficult as it may seem, try not to feel panicked. Although there is a lot to learn you can begin with a basic understanding of the process and continue to learn as you go.   Click here for more information!
To register, please call: 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736 

- FHF December Webinars

Parents as Partners in the IEP Process - Thursday, December 1, 2016, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm:  Parents are important members of the IEP team. They can and want to be effective partners with other members of the team in developing and delivering special education programs for their student with disabilities. However, they often lack information. This webinar will help parents understand their role, rights and responsibilities in the IEP process. Parents will also learn how to effectively prepare for, participate in, and follow-up on IEP meetings held on behalf of their student.

"Crisis in Play" - Thursday, December 1, 2016, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm:  It is about how children are being over scheduled and not given the free time they need to just play. They are in school with no free time and even recess is going away! Our children need to play, that's how they learn critical skills that they take with them into adulthood. Skills like empathy, communication, critical thinking, being creative. Play is so very important for children. As parents we can allow open ended play, setting aside unstructured time to allow them to be a kid and just PLAY! 

Section 504 - Wednesday, December 7, 2016, 10:30 am - 11:30 am: Participants will gain an understanding and functional knowledge of parents rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and how it can assist children with disabilities in the educational environment. Participants will review the history behind Section 504, learn the requirements of writing a 504 Accommodation Plan, and learn the differences between an IEP and a 504 Accommodation Plan.

Supports, Modifications, and Accommodations for Students - Thursday, December 8, 2016, 10:00 am - 11:00 am:  For many students with disabilities and for many without the key to success in the classroom lies in having appropriate adaptations, accommodations, and modifications made to the instruction and other classroom activities.  Join us as we explore and discuss various options and examples of support available to help your child become successful.

Health Care Rights for Transitioning Youth in Healthy Louisiana Plans (Louisiana Medicaid) - Thursday, December 8, 2016, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Know your rights and be empowered! This webinar will explore health care rights of youth in transition ages 14-21 who receive health care through one of the 5 Healthy Louisiana Plans (formerly known as Bayou Health).  Knowing what services you are entitled to helps you advocate for better care and work more closely with doctors to receive the services you need. Who should attend?
YOUTH! and their parents, foster parents, DCFS workers, juvenile justice employees working with youth, support coordinators, case managers, disability advocates, health care advocates, social workers, provider agencies.

"Coping with the Holiday Blues" - Friday, December 9, 2016, 10:00 am - 11:00 am: This session will provide an overview of how to deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and other mental health problems during the holiday season. The presenter will provide attendees with practical information about strategies for recognizing and addressing symptoms of the holiday blues. These resources may assist attendees in managing mental health and depression during the holiday season.

Steps to Success: IDEA Part C to B - Tuesday, Decemer 13, 2016, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm: This training is designed to help parents of young children make a smooth transition from IFSP (Part C of IDEA) services to IEP (Part B of IDEA) services. Learn when the transition process should begin, what the difference in services will be, as well as the difference in qualification criteria

Supporting Persons with Disabilities through the Holidays - Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Many times extended families get together, and yet cousins or friends may not really understand the individual with the disability. It might be helpful for parents or the person with the disability to send out a quick update to family members prior to an event. In this session we will provide tips to prepare in advance of the holiday traditions to make this event a joyful one.

Extended School Year Services: Summer IEP - Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: This training provides an overview of the ESYP process for children with disabilities. Some questions (and answers) that will be discussed include: What is ESY, how does a child qualify, and what are the options?

Health Care Rights for Transitioning Youth in Healthy Louisiana Plans (Louisiana Medicaid): Know your rights and be empowered! - Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm: This webinar will explore health care rights of youth in transition ages 14-21 who receive health care through one of the 5 Healthy Louisiana Plans (formerly known as Bayou Health).  Knowing what services you are entitled to helps you advocate for better care and work more closely with doctors to receive the services you need. Who should attend?
YOUTH! and their parents, foster parents, DCFS workers, juvenile justice employees working with youth, support coordinators, case managers, disability advocates, health care advocates, social workers, provider agencies.

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

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence-Informed Family Supportive Services, Friday, December 9, 2016, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm - The Psychiatry Department at LSU Health Sciences Center is hosting a free online Webinar on Autism Spectrum.
To register and view more information on the prepared agenda, click here!

Deaf Education Alliance Summit 2017: Better Together - Students Improve When We Improve, January 27-28, 2017, LSU Health Sciences Center, 411 South Prieur, New Orleans, LA 70112 - Keynote Friday, "Early Childhood Bilingualism with Deaf & Hard of Hearing Students & Impact on Student Outcomes" - Rachel Coleman; Keynote Saturday, "When Deaf Kids Thrive" - Paula Rodriquez.  For more information and to register go to www.deaffocus.org  

Hot Topics

FAQ on Early Childhood Privacy and Confidentiality: From OSEP comes this October 2016 guidance document in the form of an FAQ, to help early childhood programs under IDEA understand the confidentiality requirements under IDEA and address privacy and confidentiality concerns. 

Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline:  This 32-page guidance letter from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice is robust with information about how schools can meet their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Includes an overview of racial disparities in school discipline, describes both Departments' investigations and enforcement actions, and ends with an appendix of recommendations for school districts, administrators, teachers, and staff.      English      Spanish

2014 School Discipline Guidance Package: The multi-part School Discipline Guidance Package 2014 was released by the Departments of Education and Justice in 2014. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in English  is now available in several other languages.          
                         English          Spanish          Laotian          Vietnamese
Online Public Schools, including online charter schools, must provide special education services: Over the last decade, the number of online schools has grown quickly.  Many kids now attend school remotely.  In fact, online public schools are now in more than 25 states and serve more than 275,000 students.  In this letter, US ED clarified that online public schools must provide special education services.

Kids in Special Education have a right to behavioral supports: It's a myth that special education doesn't include help for behavior issues.  US ED reminded schools that they  must provide behavioral supports, such as a behavior intervention plan, to kids who need them. 

Schools have to evaluate kids with ADHD for the services they  needRecently, US ED looked into complaints from parents of kids with ADHD.  It found that many  kids with ADHD weren't being evaluated for services by schools.   Nor were they receiving services.  In this letter, which focuses on Section 504, the Office of Civil Rights of US ED reminded schools that they must evaluate kids with ADHD for the services they  need.
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.

Mental Health Conditions - A mental illness is a condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone's ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.

Tips for Coping - Stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression.

Healthcarecoach.com - Non-profit group of health law specialists sponsored "self help" site to provide facts and tips on everything from health insurance to patient care.

A Family Care Notebook is an organizing tool used by families to help track and organize important information about a child's care. Care Notebooks are very personal and should be customized to reflect your child's medical history and current information.

How Pokemon Go Is Creating Barriers for Gamers with Disabilities - Not everyone can fully take part in the cultural phenomenon. 

Common Myths and Misconceptions about Learning and Attention Issues - Not everyone has a solid understanding of learning and attention issues. Here are some of the most common myths people harbor. 

Got transition is a website designed to help youth and their families or caregivers find all kinds of information about transition. The website provides tools to ease the process as well to help develop these skills. The website also has candid comments from other young adults and experts in order to provide a more real experience. 
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.

My Grandaughter's Transition to High School: Shanida Mathieu, Information and Training Specialist with Families Helping Families of Jefferson, sat down with Ms. Etrice Turnage for a   Q & A regarding the supports and services she received from our organization.

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.

The Samaritan Multi-Services Centered on Living Foundation & Association, Inc. (SMCL) Christmas Season, 9th Annual "Field of Hope" Adaptive & Paralympic Sports Experience, December 9 - 11, 2016, Joe W. Brown Recreation Center, 5601 Read Blvd., New Orleans, La 70127: Join us in a Season of Giving to the ongoing success of Adaptive and Paralympic Sports and Therapeutic Recreation for the disabled communtiy and disadvantaged families as well.

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 November 30, 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

LaCAN (Louisiana Council's Advocacy Network).  LaCAN will now keep you informed about opportunities to advocate for systems change in home and community-based services, employment, and education.   Click here to join!
Save the Date for the upcoming 2017 Legislative Roundtable events:
Region 1 & 10 - Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 9 to 11 amFirst Baptist Church, 5290 Canal Blvd., New Orleans, LA  70124.  For additional information, call Daniell at 504.491.6604 or 504.943.0343 or email [email protected]
Region 2 - Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 9 am to 12 noon, Location TBA. For additional information, call Ashley at 225.715.5740 or 225.216.7474 or email [email protected] 
Region 3 - TBA For additional information, call Julie at 985.447.4461 or 985.438.1179 or email [email protected] 
Region 4 - Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 9:30 am - 12 noon,  Location TBA. For additional information, call Mauricia at 337.984.3458 or email [email protected]
Region 5 - Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 9:00 - 11:30 am, SOWELA Community College Arts & Humanities Building, 3820 Sen J Bennett Johnston Ave, Lake Charles, LA  70615  For additional information, call Mylinda at 337.436.2570 or email [email protected] 
Region 6 - Tuesday, February 21, 2017  For additional information, call Kristen or Melissa at 318.641.7373 or email [email protected] or [email protected] 
Region 7 - Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 9:30 am to 12 noon, Bossier Instructional Center, 2719 Airline Drive, Bossier City, LA  71111.  For additional information call Duane at 318.688.4830 or 318.226.4541 or email [email protected] 
Region 8 - Friday, February 24, 2017 - 9:30 am to 12 noon.  Location TBA. For additional information, call Stacey at 318.361.0487 or email [email protected] 
Region 9 - TBA  For additional information, call Katie or Karen at 985.507.8540 or 985.264.1186 or email [email protected] or [email protected] 

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.

Families Helping Families of Jefferson is proud to celebrate our 25th year providing support to families throughout the State of Louisiana! 
 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)