Monday, December 12, 2016

Autism Tracking Device Bill

Legislation that would provide tracking devices and resources to help kids with autism and other developmental disabilities at risk of wandering is one step closer to becoming federal law. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 346 to 66 last Thursday to pass the measure known as Kevin and Avonte’s Law. The bill would expand an existing program that helps people with Alzheimer’s disease who are prone to bolting to include children with developmental disabilities too. Research shows that about half of kids on the spectrum have wandered away from a safe place, and advocates point to more than 100 deaths stemming from wandering incidents since 2011 involving children with autism or Down syndrome.  Check out this link to learn more: New Legislation

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advocacy at the Capitol

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities is once again sponsoring Advocacy Days at the State Capitol building in Atlanta.  There will be an opportunity for you to voice your support for inclusive post-secondary education (January 18), advocate for additional funding for services for people with developmental disabilities (February 1 and 8), and give support for improved employment opportunities (February 23).  Visit the GCDD website for more information and to register to attend one of these Advocacy Days: GCDD Advocacy Days

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Butterfly Dreams Farm Winter Festival

Butterfly Dreams Farm invites the community to come to the annual Winter Festival and Horse Show on Sunday, December 4, from 12 - 4 pm.  Come visit the farm and play games, make crafts, have snacks, bid on silent auction items, and watch as the students in Butterfly Dreams therapeutic riding program demonstrate their skills!  The judges include members of UGA's equestrian team.  Visit and learn more about Butterfly Dreams Farm (2981 Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville)!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sleep Strategies for Teens with ASD

Autism Speaks has developed a booklet on sleep strategies for families of teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). "Many people with ASD have trouble with sleep throughout their life. This can be stressful for them and for their families. The major sleep problems are trouble falling asleep and waking often at night. These problems are often related, so creating habits that help someone fall asleep more easily may also help them stay asleep during the night."  You can find a copy of the booklet here: Sleep & Teens with ASD

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Athens Area ADHD Support Group

Athens Area ADHD Support Group

“Gadgets and Tech That Help Me with My ADHD

Tuesday, Nov 15 2016
7 - 8:30 pm EST
1800 Hog Mountain Road Building 1000, Suite 101 Watkinsville, Ga 30677

We're still looking for committee members who would be willing to help us make an impact in the community by taking part in running this support group. Some but not all of the things we need help with are as follows. You don't need to already know how to do any of them. Just be willing to learn.
  • Creating Email's Just Like This One
  • Managing Our Facebook Page
  • Answering Questions from Interested People about the Support Group
  • Putting Up Flyers or Posters
  • Calling Schools and Educators
  • Calling Medical Providers
  • Researching Content for Our Meetings
  • Changing Content on Our Website (Coming Soon)
Please email to RSVP for the meeting on Nov. 15, and/or if you're interested in making lifelong friends and helping our community better understand what ADHD is - and how we can help each other embrace its' unique opportunities and challenges. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"Katie Beckett" workshop to be rescheduled

"Katie Beckett" Workshop UPDATE - To Be Rescheduled

Ms. Dobbs is dealing with a family illness and will not be available on November 10 - but we will definitely re-schedule her as soon as possible!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

"Katie Beckett" Workshop UPDATE - To Be Rescheduled

Ms. Dobbs is dealing with family illness and will not be available on November 10 - but we will definitely re-schedule her as soon as possible!  

Children with disabilities, who may not normally qualify for Medicaid because their parent's income or resources exceed the eligibility requirements, may still be able to receive Medicaid through the "Katie Beckett" program.  This waiver gives children with disabilities under age 18 access to Medicaid if they meet certain eligibility criteria.  Want to learn more?  Consultant Debbie Dobbs has years of experience guiding parents through the application process for Katie Beckett, and she will be leading a workshop for us!  Plan to attend on Thursday, November 10, at 6:30 pm at Oconee Veterans Park (3500A Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville).  Register today to reserve your seat:   Questions?  Email

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, when advocacy groups around the country promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.  One of the biggest events in Georgia is the Buddy Walk, which will be held at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta on Sunday, October 16!  The day-long celebration will include food trucks, games, bounce houses, and performances, culminating in a 1/4 walk around the park!  Events begin at 1 pm, and the walk will be at 4 pm!  For details, visit this link:

Friday, October 7, 2016

October Parent Workshops

There are two free parent workshops coming up this month!

On Thursday, October 13, at 6:30 pm, in recognition of Special Needs Law Month, there will be a workshop on planning for the future for your loved one with disabilities.  The workshop "4 Essential Documents: Why a Will is Not Enough"  will be led by Watkinsville attorney Dennise Grayson, who specializes in elder and special needs law; she will share valuable information to guide families as they look to the future.  We will meet at the ESP Watkinsville campus, 189 VFW Drive - register at this link:
On Monday, October 17, Dr. Cindy Suveg from the Psychology Department at the University of Georgia will lead a discussion on recognizing and addressing signs of anxiety and stress in children, specifically students with learning differences.  We will meet at the Oconee Veterans Park community room (3500A Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville) at 6:30 pm; a question and answer session will follow.  In "Anxiety and Stress: Guidance for Parents", Dr. Suveg will share ways to identify signs of stress, coping strategies, and ideas for successfully navigating this issue.  Please register at this link:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Safety Training for Families

The Autism Society of Georgia, along with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, GA, is offering a free training for families of people with autism and other disabilities.  On October 17, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm, families can attend a training conducted by two law enforcement professionals who are also parents of someone with autism; parents can learn how to prepare their loved one for an encounter with a first responder, the hazards to be considered for people with autism who elope, and safety programs and tracking supplies that are available through public safety departments.  Sounds like a great opportunity, worth the drive to Forsyth!  Check out the flyer here: GPSTC Family Training  or you can register at this link:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fall Academy: The ABC's of Behavior

Oconee County Schools, Special Student Services is hosting a Fall Parent Academy on Saturday, September 24, at Oconee Elementary (2230 Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville). Parenting may be the most important job we’ll ever have – but it’s not easy! And if your child struggles with learning differences, the stress level can go even higher.  What are some strategies to make life smoother for families dealing with challenging behavior?  Lisa King, behavior consultant & special education teacher (check out “Boss Parent”, will share information on behavior basics, as well as practical strategies, to guide parents to learn to understand what’s behind your child’s behavior, and use your precious energy to better connect with your kids!  The workshop is from 9 am - 12 pm - coffee and snacks provided, but no childcare.  Please register at the link below by Friday, September 23!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


A cooking class is being offered for kids with autism and other developmental disabilities by Superkidz, Inc.. The class will meet on Tuesdays, beginning September 13, from 5:00 - 6:30 pm at Hebron Christian Church (2461 Hebron Church Road).  The fee for the 12 week class is $120.  For more information about Superkidz, Inc., or to register for this class, visit

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

After School Programs @ ESP

Extra Special People (ESP) in Watkinsville offers after school activities each semester; classes meet for 12 weeks, and will begin the week after Labor Day (September 6).  The calendar below shows the days, times, and activities that are offered through this program, called ESP 360; there's a great variety of activities to choose, from outdoor exploration to arts and music - you're sure to find something that your child will love!  ESP serves individuals with developmental disabilities from all over northeast Georgia.  Registration is open now! For more information on class descriptions, costs, or to register, visit this link:

Monday, August 22, 2016

"The Importance of Belonging"

The Georgia Advocacy Office is sponsoring a seminar in September that I highly recommend; the speaker is Dr. David Pitonyak, who will be presenting on "The Importance of Belonging".  People with challenging behaviors can experience limited opportunities for meaningful connections in their communities; Dr. Pitonyak's speaks about the importance of connections, and the vital role they play in the emotional and physical health of people who experience disability.   He explores the idea of moving beyond interventions, to a system that emphasizes freely chosen relationships.  There will be a seminar in Athens on September 28, and one in Augusta on September 29; there is a discounted registration fee for families of people with disabilities - click here for more information and to register!  David Pitonyak Seminar

Friday, August 12, 2016

Comic That "Redesigns" the Autism Spectrum

The idea of autism being a linear thing is so inaccurate; people who live with autism really can't be categorized or stereotyped.  Artist Rebecca Burgess addresses this in comic form, giving a fuller description of what autism is like.  Check out this link to "The Mighty", and the article on Understanding the Spectrum; if you know someone who has recently received an autism diagnosis, or maybe a family member who is struggling to understand, this is a cool way to share information with them!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Athens Area ADHD Support

The Athens Area ADHD support group hosts a summer conference call series - "No Excuses, Just Call In!"  The next conference call will be on Tuesday, August 16, at 8:00 pm, and the conversation will be around "Why being late seems to be part of who you are...and what to do about it".  Call in to (515) 604-9000, and use the access code 619382 to join the conversation!  Rules for the calls and meeting...
  • Please keep it positive! We're happy to hear that an idea didn't work for you but we're here to talk about what did work.
  • Remember we're just peers not counselors and we're here to share our experiences with each other. 
Be sure to check out this group for future meeting dates! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Learn more about ABA and Autism

Applied Behavioral Consulting is offering a parent workshop on Sunday, August 13, for parents of children with an autism diagnosis.  Two board certified behavior analysts will answer questions and suggest strategies to teach your child new skills, and decrease challenging behaviors.  The workshop is from 2:30 to 4:30, at the Georgia Center conference center on the campus of the University of Georgia, 1197 S. Lumpkin Street; cost is $10 per person or $15 per family. Seating is limited, so email Jonas Jenkins at to guarantee your spot!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Parenting Coach!

Welcome back to a new school year!  These first few days of school are a flurry of coordinating schedules, filling out paperwork, and adjusting to new teachers; it can be stressful for anyone! is an excellent resource for articles and tips to help you navigate both school and family life for your child with learning differences.  The "Parenting Coach" tool allows you to search for answers to specific questions you may have; be sure to visit this link to learn more!  Parenting Coach

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Emory Autism Center Summer Conference

The Emory Autism Center is offering a conference this summer for teachers and family members of individuals with autism.  The theme of this year's conference is "Educational and Behavioral Strategies for the Classroom".  The conference will be held on Thursday and Friday, July 21 and 22nd, 2016 at the Infinite Energy Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, GARegistration fees are $160.00 per person. There is also a group rate of $140.00 each (for groups of 5 or more). This rate is valid until July 1st, 2016. After July 1 the fees are $175.00 per person and $160.00 each (for groups of 5 or more).  Educators, Behavior Specialists, Psychologists, Family Members, and individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are encouraged to attend.  You can find more information on the conference and the registration contact information from the conference brochure here:  Emory Autism Conference.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Summer Social Skills

In addition to the collaboration between Yoga Sprouts and Holistic Therapies that was posted earlier, Michelle Herron has planned a series of weekly classes this summer, for children who struggle with social interactions or self-regulation.  Children with autism or a related disability will meet together with a therapist in a group setting, to play games, maintain conversations, and build friendships. Ages 5-7 will meet on Mondays, and ages 8-10 will meet on Thursdays, from 3:30 - 5:00 beginning June 2, at the office at 2340 Prince Avenue, Suite B, Athens.  For more information on cost, and to register, visit

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ride for Dreams!

The 3rd Annual Ride for Dreams event is happening this Saturday, MAY 7th!  All proceeds benefit Butterfly Dreams Farm, providing therapeutic riding and hippotherapy to children with disabilities.


Cycle World of Athens
4225 Atlanta Hwy, Bogart, GA 30606

Motorcycle registration begins at 9 AM
Activities begin at 11:00 AM, including:

"Kick Stands Up" (Motorcyclists leave for their ride) at 11 AM

*$25 per motorcycle rider, $5 per motorcycle passenger

Athens Area ADHD Support Group

The Athens Area ADHD Support Group will meet on Tuesday, May 10, at 7 pm, at the Jennings Mill Golf Clubhouse (1150 Chambers Court,  Watkinsville - near the Epps Bridge/Oconee Connector area).  The topic for this meeting is time management, so please come and learn some new tips, or share any ideas that have worked for you.  This is the last meeting of this school year, so be sure to attend!  RSVP at the link below by Monday May 9!

Athens Area ADHD Support Group

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Summer Yoga and Social Skills

Come join yoga instructor Rachel Greb, and behavioral therapist Michelle Herron, for two fun weekends this summer!  Students age 6 and up, with autism or a related disability, can learn how to self-regulate behavior through yoga, as well as working on social skills like conversation and turn-taking.  The workshops will be on Saturday June 4, and Saturday August 6, from 1:00 - 3:00, at 675 Pulaski Street, Athens.  To register, visit http:/./

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Educator with Asperger's offers advice

John Miller is a teacher in Florida who was diagnosed with Asperger's as an adult; he has written a book and several articles on his experiences growing up being "different".  He now has a graduate degree and is an educator of students with autism, and speaks to groups all over the country; he shares some of his insights in a recent Washington Post article.  You can read it here.  It's fascinating to read his perspective on educating students who learn differently!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Get Georgia Reading!

This summer, Georgia families have FREE access to over 10,000 digital books!  The partnership between Get Georgia Reading and myON will allow students to explores dozens of categories and genres through August 31, through the myOn mobile app.  Take advantage of this opportunity to build your child's reading skills, at any reading level! Visit to learn more, and start reading together!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Automatic for Autism at Cine'

In celebration of April being National Autism Awareness Month, plan to attend a free movie screening at Cine'!  The theater is located at 234 West Hancock Avenue, Athens; the event will feature a screening of the movie "Autism in Love",  a feature-length documentary from PBS' Independent Lens series.  The movie will be followed by a discussion panel, and donations will be taken to support the Applied Behavioral Analysis Clinic at the University of Georgia.  Join us on April 19 at 5:30 pm!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Workshop for Parents of Teens

Do you have questions about helping your teen through adolescence - and maybe a few questions on how to stay sane yourself? "Growing Healthy Habits:  Supporting Healthy Adolescent Development in Youth with Disabilities" will be the topic of Oconee County Schools' Spring Parent Academy, just for parents of students with special needs.  Cyndi White from Family Counseling Service will share ideas for preparing for adolescence, setting boundaries, healthy body image, safety, and more - in a relaxed & humorous way!  Saturday, April 16, from 9 am - 1 pm, at Oconee County Middle School's Media Center.  Lunch provided but no childcare.  Please register no later than Wednesday April 13 by email:  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Myles-a-Part Summer Scholarships

The Myles-a-Part Summer Scholarship program is offering support to families facing autism.  There are scholarships available to assist with summer activities!  The deadline for application is March 31. To learn more about Myles-a-Part, visit  To apply for a summer scholarship. click HERE.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Parent Workshop: Planning for the Future

Making a plan for your child's future can seem like an overwhelming task - but if your child has special needs, it's even more important!  Some decisions need to be made:  Should I consider legal guardianship for my young adult with significant disabilities?  Who will care for my child if something happens to me?  Where do I begin to plan for my child's financial future?  Next Monday, March 21, at 6:30 pm at Oconee Veterans Park, Oconee County Schools' Special Student Services is offering a parent workshop to help families gather information to make these important decisions. Judge David Anglin from Oconee County Probate Court, and local attorney Dennise Grayson will share information and expertise on guardianship, wills, and trusts - to give parents the tools they need as they make choices for their families.  Register by email ( or phone (706-759-5130 ext. 1210).

Monday, March 7, 2016

iCan Shine Bike Camp

The Rockdale County Autism Support Group will be hosting an iCan Shine Bike Camp again this year, teaching individuals with special needs how to ride a two-wheeled bicycleiCan Shine is an international charitable nonprofit organization that collaborates with local organizations and individuals to conduct over 100 five-day iCan Bike programs in 32 States and 4 Provinces in Canada, serving nearly 3,000 people with disabilities each year. Here's the flyer, with more information and how to register: iCan Shine Bike Camp
Here's a news items from WSB-TV about iCan Shine Bike Camp!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Georgia Autism Conference

The Center of Leadership in Disability (CLD) at Georgia State University is hosting the 2016 Autism Conference & Exposition of Georgia, April 14-15th in at the Wyndham Peachtree Hotel and Conference Center, in Peachtree City, Georgia. The purpose of the conference is to translate research into sustainable community practices that contribute to independent, self-determined, inclusive, and productive lives for people with disabilities and their families. Conference sessions and exhibitors will provide the latest information to support happy and successful lives for individuals and family members living with autism. One of the keynote speakers is Dr. Leslie Rubin, one of Georgia's foremost experts on autism!  There are opportunities for financial support to attend the conference; visit this link to learn more:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Visit an Extra Special Bunny

On Sunday, March 6, The Mall of Georgia is offering a special visit with the Easter Bunny for kiddos with special needs.  From 9:30 - 11:00 am, children and their families can enjoy a photo session with Caring Bunny; extra care will be taken to support the sensory, physical and other developmental needs of children so that they can enjoy this wonderful holiday tradition.  The event is free, but you do need to register - visit this link:   The Mall of Georgia is located at 3333 Buford Drive, Buford, GA 30519.

Monday, February 29, 2016

ESP Summer Camp!

Start checking your calendars for this summer - because ESP Summer Camp sign up begins tomorrow, March 1! ESP (Extra Special People) offers four weeks of day camp at the ESP campus in Watkinsville, two weeks of daily field trips, and two weeks of residential camp at Camp Twin Lakes in Winder; the day camp is for all ages, and the field trip weeks and residential camp weeks are divided by age group (up to age 15, and 16 & up).  Camp registration will be open from March 1 - April 13, so begin planning now and visit the ESP website for more information, and for links to camp registration!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Tips for Traveling

When planning a trip, there are so many details to keep track of...and when traveling with a person who has a disability, there are even more! is the U.S. federal government website for information on disability programs and services nationwide; their February newsletter contains great information on travel, including air travel, public transportation, rail travel, preparing for winter weather while on your trip, and much more!  Visit this link to read more tips for travel: Travel Tips  To learn move about, click here.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Northeast Georgia disAbility Conference and Expo

The Northeast Georgia disAbility Conference and Expo will be on Saturday, February 20, from 9 am to 2 pm at Piedmont College - Athens!  This free event is sponsored by the Northeast Georgia Transition Team (NEGATT), a coalition of 13 local school districts and community partners, who provide resources and information to support families of children with learning difference or disabilities.  Plan to take advantage of this opportunity to attend learning sessions and exhibits, to gather more tools to help you support your student!  Information on conference learning sessions can be found here: Conference Session Guide  Registration for this event is free!  Please register at this link:  Conference Registration

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Big Hearts!

The most heartwarming night of the year is coming up soon!  ESP (Extra Special People) presents Big Hearts - Be Loved, An Extra Special Fairytale, on Saturday, February 13, at 4:00 pm at the Classic Center Theater in Athens! Each year, ESP brings together community members and the children and families it serves for a special evening of celebration, where people with developmental disabilities can shine on stage, leaving their disabilities in the wings.  There are still a few tickets remaining, so plan to attend this amazing evening of music and fun!  Visit here for more information:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Advocacy Training

All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) is an advocacy group, based in Atlanta, that provides information and training statewide to help families support their children with disabilities. While there are "on-site" workshops, they also have a series of webinars - online training that parents can participate in from home.  For example, here is the information on a webinar that's coming up next week:

WEBINAR - Advocating at School
February 9, 2016 @ 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM
Hear from the experts on how to most effectively advocate at school for your children. Gwinnett Parent Mentor Jackie McNair and Partner Yvette Pollard will provide tips, ideas and strategies for being more effective at school. Register Now

For a calendar of workshops, or more information on AADD, visit

Monday, January 25, 2016

Destination Dawgs!

The University of Georgia magazine ugazine just published an article about the planned new program for students with intellectual disabilities - the program is scheduled to begin in Spring 2017! Read more about this exciting new prospect here:   

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

IEP Preparation Workshop

Oconee County Schools is hosting a workshop for parents, to help you prepare for your student's annual IEP review.  "Peace, Love, Harmony...and the IEP!" is designed to give parents helpful ideas for planning and contributing to a productive IEP meeting; learn tips for conflict resolution, organizing your paperwork, reflective listening and other communication strategies.  This and other free parent trainings are provided by Parent to Parent of Georgia (  Join us on Monday, January 25, at 6:30 pm in the community meeting room at Oconee Veterans Park (3500A Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville).  For more info or to register, email

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


ESP (Extra Special People) is hosting a 5K to raise funds for summer camps and after school programs for kids with disabilities.  The ML5K will be held on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 18, at Dudley Park in Athens.  Registration begins at 1:00 pm; the Dream Dash, a short run/walk in which children are invited to participate, begins at 2:15; and the 5K begins at 3:00.  To register, click HERE.  For more information, see

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!

As school starts back, I wanted to share an article from The Mighty, a website for families experiencing life with disabilities.  This is a great time to stop, re-evaluate, and make a plan for the year!  Check out what other parents are doing:  New Year's Resolutions