Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Really Short Gift Guide!

This recent article is from Jane Grillo, the parent mentor in White County...sharing!
Every year many parents struggle with the questions from families and friends about gift giving for their special needs child. Especially if you have many children in the house. No one should be left out and yet, you know that it is almost more disappointing if the special needs child ends up with a bunch of weird gifts that are just not compatible with his/her ability level or… worse… interest. My son literally rolls his eyes with the babyish gifts often sent his way.
I know the gift givers mean well. So, every year I have developed a (really short) resource list to help folks do a better job of shopping for special kids - think of it as diversity shopping training!  Note: this is not an advertisement, but information provided as a resource for you!
Fatbrain Toys   I like this one because it is well organized and gives you quick info so you can decide pretty quickly how far down the page you want to search.
Ah, Pinterest, how I love thee… How can I even count the multitudes of ideas you have given me for FREE!
Toys R Us has been doing a buying guide for years. They announced that they are filing for bankruptcy this year, but the stores are still open.  So… here it is.  I have been impressed with how well this is done. Hopefully it will stick around. What I like best is it is opportunity to empower friends and relatives with a more “inclusive” shopping experience for special needs kids.  Meaning, that they can buy stuff for your “special needs” child in the same store they buy toys and games for their own kids.
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Resource for Planning for the Future

As parents plan for post-high school life for their children who experience disability, gathering useful information and resources becomes more and more important!  The Pacer Center on Transition and Employment has lots of family-friendly information about planning for independent living, for people with disabilities and their families.  You'll find resources on ABLE accounts, developing skills for independence and supported decision making! Check out their latest newsletter here:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Conference on Positive Behavior Supports

The Georgia Association for Positive Behavior Support will hold its 10th Annual Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 28 & 29, at Infinite Energy Center in Duluth.  That's only about an hour's drive, and there will be tons of information and opportunities to learn.  The GAPBS Conference is tailored for teachers, administrators, and parents - there is even an entire conference "track" of learning sessions designed especially for parents.  Visit this link for more information or to register:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Resource for Weighted Blankets

weighted blanket can literally be a lifesaving device for entire families where someone is not sleeping or suffering from some form of sensory processing disorderWeighted blankets can help with improving sleep, and can also be used on the couch or in the car as a calming tool and for improving focus. Sharing the Weight is a non-profit that provides weighted blankets to children with disabilities free of charge!  Check out their website here:

Monday, October 30, 2017

T21: Down Syndrome Support

T21 is a group of families who have a child with Down syndrome, who meet to share stories and support each other.  The next group event will be a potluck dinner on Monday, November 13, at 6:00 pm at Faith Presbyterian Church (2191 Mars Hill Road, Watkinsville).  Plan to attend and bring a side dish to share!  RSVP:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Resources for Children and Trauma

Here are some articles with free information and resources to support families and children as they recover from trauma:

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
Click the “Resources” tab near the top right to find links to many free resources for families in English and Spanish, including: age-related reactions to a traumatic event; grief resources; tips for military families; children's books related to hurricanes, earthquakes, and the death of a parent; and resources on sibling death, medical trauma/hospital stay, abuse (various types), terrorism, and natural disasters.
Ippen, C. G. & Kronenberg, M. for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
"This story helps young children and their families begin to talk about feelings and worries they may have after a hurricane hits their neighborhood. Trinka and Sam are mice, and when it begins to rain and get windy, [it reminds] them of the hurricane that came before.…There is a guide for parents in the back of the book, offering ways that they can use the story to help their children." Also available in Spanish here: Trinka y Juan en un Día de Mucho Viento y Lluvia (pdf)
National Association of School Psychologists
This article has tips for families, teachers, and schools to help children cope with natural disasters, including issues related to specific types (hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, wildfire) and developmental stages (preschool, elementary, adolescent) and to relocation issues.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Destination Dawgs Information Meeting!

Destination Dawgs is the University of Georgia's inclusive post-secondary education program, for students with intellectual disabilities between the ages of 18 and 25 who have the desire to attend UGA!  The 5 semester program is designed to give students the opportunity to acquire skills in self-determination, independent living, and career development. Students attend classes with peer support, and participate fully in campus life!  An information meeting is planned for Wednesday, October 25, at 2:30 pm; there is no cost to attend this meeting, but registration is required, and there is limited seating - so visit this link for details!

To learn more about Destination Dawgs, visit their website at

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

College Prep for Students with Learning Differences

North Oconee High School is hosting a parent information session especially for parents of students with learning differences.  Parents of juniors and seniors who plan to apply to college through the standard admissions process, but want to know how to get the academic supports they need to be successful, should plan to attend!  Gerri Wolfe, from UGA's Regent's Center for Learning Disorders, will give a presentation on the process of acquiring support and accommodations for students with disabilities at the collegiate level.  She will also give guidance on what families can be doing NOW to prepare their student for this transition!  This presentation is open to both high schools. Join us on Thursday, October 12, at 6:00 pm in the NOHS Fine Arts Auditorium!  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Oconee Special Olympics

Oconee Special Olympics is an accredited agency of Special Olympics Georgia, offering the opportunity for students with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports at the local, area, and state level!  We kicked off our year with a parent meeting last night, and student athletes will begin training soon for basketball and bowling at Area Games in November!  Information on Oconee Special Olympics can be found HERE.
More information on Special Olympics Georgia can be found at their website HERE .

"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
Special Olympics Athlete's Oath

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Quiet Mornings" at Tellus Science Museum

The Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville is an amazing, hands-on science museum in Cartersville, Georgia.  This weekend, August 26 & 27, they will host "Quiet Mornings", an environment with less crowding and less sensory stimulation - perfect for our students with sensory challenges.  To ensure that numbers remain low, you must register for this event by calling (770) 606-5700.  Visit the Tellus website for more information on the museum, and for directions!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

New Parent Workshop Calendar

Check out the calendar of upcoming Oconee Parent Workshops for the 2017-2018 school year!  You'll find it under "Resources", on the right side of this page.  Topics include an overview of Special Olympics, making the transition to college for students with learning differences, sibling relationships, organizing your student's IEP paperwork, and more!  Registration will be sent out separately for each event, but make note now of the ones you plan to attend!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Butterfly Dreams Farm 5K

Butterfly Dreams Farm in Watkinsville offers equine-assisted therapy; riders work together with horses and therapists to achieve their goals!  The Butterfly Dreams 5K is an important fundraiser for this amazing organization; the race will be Saturday, September 2, at 8 am, beginning at Briarwood Baptist Church on Highway 53.   For more information, visit Butterfly Dreams 5K

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ease the Back to School Transition is a great website with lots of articles and information for families of students with learning or attention issues.  In honor of the first day of school (!), here's an article with tips to ease that transition from summertime to school! Click here: Back to School

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Self-Employment Workshop

Sharing... this upcoming workshop from AADD is about self-employment for people with disabilities:


Georgia Microboards Association and Synergies Work, Inc.are excited to invite you to our first gathering on self employment and economic independence. You'll explore and learn about self employment for your loved one or your client/student with a disability.
You are invited to join us for a day of learning and sharing. Be around others who share your desires and concerns. Learn how you can build a sustainable and meaningful employment by giving purpose to your passion and talent. We have an impressive line up of speakers to guide you on your journey to success. Feel free to share this event with others who might benefit from being at the event or connecting with the community of entrepreneurs. 
Event Date/ Time: Friday, August 11, 2017, from 10:30 am - 3:30 pm 
Event Venue: Family Support Center, AADD, All About Developmental Disabilities
125 Clairemont Avenue, Suite 300, Decatur, GA 30030

Kindly register below to reserve your seat as we have limited space.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Destination Dawgs @ UGA

The University of Georgia's Destination Dawgs program just completed their first semester! Destination Dawgs is UGA's inclusive post secondary education program, for students age 18 - 25 with intellectual disabilities; these students have a personal desire, and support from family, to attend college and gain skills for self-determination, independent living, and career development. Destination Dawgs is currently accepting applications for students to begin in January 2018 - check out the website for more information on applying to this awesome program! The application deadline is May 15!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

GVRA Meeting in Athens

On Wednesday, May 17, the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) will hold a public meeting in Athens, to receive public input on proposed changes to vocational rehabilitation policies. The public meeting will be held from 11 am - 1 pm at the Department of Labor office, at 150 Evelyn Neely Drive, Athens.  There will be seven other meetings around the state, to enable GVRA to receive input from across Georgia.  You can read the proposed changes and make comments online here: 

Vocational Rehabilitation services are vital to our high school aged students with disabilities; the evaluations and services help them prepare for life after high school.  Take advantage of the opportunity to voice your opinion!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New AD/HD Fact Sheet & Resource Guide

The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR), a website dedicated to providing expertise and resources to families of children with disabilities, has developed a new fact sheet with information on AD/HD, with resources for both families and teachers. Take a look at this new resource HERE - you can print and share with others as well!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

ESP Spring Recital

If you'd like to learn more about ESP (Extra Special People), then plan to attend the Spring Recital on Sunday, April 30!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Advocacy Training Part 2

Georgia Hands and Voices is offering part 2 of their free parent training, to provide educational advocacy skills to parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing, or have other disabilities. Advocacy, Support and Training (ASTra) Part 2 will be on Saturday, April 22, from 10 am - 2 pm at the Watkinsville campus of Extra Special People (ESP), 189 VFW Drive, Watkinsville. While supplies last, attendees will receive a free copy of "Educational Advocacy: The Hands and Voices Guidebook"!  Childcare is available as well to those who register.  Reserve your place & register for this wonderful workshop by contacting Deshonda Washington at or 470-991-9165 before April 17.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sifting Through Your Parental Rights

Oconee Schools, Special Education and Parent to Parent of Georgia will present "Sifting Through Your Parental Rights" on Monday, April 17, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at the Oconee Veterans Park community room (3500A Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville).  This workshop will provide parents of students with disabilities an overview of their rights under IDEA, including confidentiality, consent, prior notice, free and appropriate public education (FAPE), and dispute resolution methods. To register, please visit this link:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Georgia Hands & Voices Advocacy Training

Georgia Hands and Voices is offering a free parent training, to provide educational advocacy and support to parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.  There will be two Saturday sessions - the first will be held on Saturday, March 25, from 10 am - 2 pm at the Watkinsville campus of Extra Special People (ESP), 198 VFW Drive. This wonderful training will give parents the tools they need to be effective advocates for their students!  While supplies last, attendees will receive a free copy of "Educational Advocacy: The Hands and Voices Guidebook"! Contact Deshonda Washington at or 470-991-9165 to register, before March 20.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dream Bigger, Aim Higher! Parent Workshop

Parent to Parent of Georgia and Oconee County Schools are offering a workshop for parents of students with disabilities: "Dream Bigger, Aim Higher!" Parents will learn strategies for developing their own advocacy skills, to better support their child - as well as ways to encourage the development of self-advocacy skills in their children!  This training will be held Saturday, March 18, from 9 am - 1 pm in the counseling center at North Oconee High School (1081 Rocky Branch Road, Bogart).  This will be a "brown bag" day, so please bring your own lunch; drinks will be provided.  To register, visit this link:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Extra Special People Summer Registration!

Registration is now open for summer camp at Extra Special People in Watkinsville!  Registration will be open from March 1 - March 31; there are six weeks of day camp, and two weeks of overnight camp, for a summer full of fun!  For summer 2017, ESP campers will explore a theme of  "ESP: Tribal Summer".  To learn more about ESP Summer 2017, visit and click on "Camp"!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Spectrum Summer Camp Registration

Registration for Spectrum Autism Support summer camps is now open!  Spectrum summer camps are designed around a weekly theme, and campers work on specific social skills each week. Summer camp is held in Lawrenceville; camps fill up fast, so don't wait to register!  Check out the schedule here!   Spectrum Summer Camps 2017

To learn more about the programs and resources available through Spectrum, visit

Monday, February 20, 2017

New Social Skills Groups

Michelle Carney Herron and Meg Abbott at Holistic Therapies & Consulting are planning to facilitate a social skills group starting March 14. "We have a few more slots open and are looking for clients around 6-10 years old to join us. This group is open to any child needing to work on social skills and behavioral issues, including children diagnosed with ASD, ADHD, PDD, or social anxiety. The group will meet on Tuesdays at 4:30 pm over the course of 8 weeks. Parents interested can email"

There are also plans to begin a group especially for boys, for elementary, middle, and high school age groups.  Two information sessions  are planned in February, to share the vision of what they'd like to offer, such as healthy masculinity, strong sense of self, interpersonal skills, communication, etc.  They are looking for feedback from parents and boys on what you would like.  Information sessions are February 20 @ 5:00 pm, and February 25 @ 1:00 pm, both meetings at Thrive Integrative Medicine, 2080 Prince Avenue, Athens (706-850-2000).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Financial Planning & Special Needs: Mapping Your Route

Making decisions for the future for your child with special needs can seem like an overwhelming task; begin by creating a plan! Oconee County Schools, Special Student Services will host a free parent workshop on Saturday, February 25, from 9 am - 12 pm, titled "Financial Planning and Special Needs: Mapping Your Route".  Donald McCarty, CFP and Chartered Special Needs Consultant, will give parents an overview of important things to consider when making a financial plan, pitfalls to avoid, and effective strategies for designing a secure financial future for your child.  The workshop will be held in the community meeting room at Oconee Veterans Park, 3500A Hog Mountain Road; coffee and light breakfast provided. Register at this link! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

College Board Testing Accommodations - NEW

College Board Exams, which include SAT, PSAT, Advanced Placement Exams, has streamlined the process for requesting testing accommodations this year.  Students who have testing accommodations as part of their IEP may now more easily request that they receive those same accommodations with College Board tests!  However, a request for accommodations must still be made (having an IEP doesn't automatically give you accommodations, they must still be approved). The approval process can take up to seven weeks, so plan ahead and work with your student's case manager or guidance counselor.  For more information, visit the College Board website:

Monday, January 30, 2017

Butterfly Dreams Family Festival & Show

On Sunday, February 19, from 12 - 4, Butterfly Dreams Farm will host a Family Festival and Horse Show, at 2981 Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville.  There will be games and fun for all - including Chicken Bingo!  BDF riders will show off their skills starting at 1:00, and the UGA Equestrian Team will be there!  Plan to attend and learn more about the therapeutic riding program at Butterfly Dreams!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Workshop: Applying for "Katie Beckett" Medicaid

A new learning opportunity for parents is coming up! Applying for "Katie Beckett" Medicaid has been scheduled for Thursday, February 9, at 6:30 pm in the community room at Oconee Veterans Park (rescheduled from last November). KB Medicaid is a program through which children under age 18 with significant disabilities, whose family income is above Medicaid limits, may still be able to receive vital benefits. Debbie Dobbs, an education and healthcare consultant with years of experience helping parents apply for this program, will lead parents through the application requirements.  Learn more about the "Katie Beckett" waiver at to see if this free workshop will be helpful to your family!  If you plan to attend, please register at this link:

Monday, January 9, 2017

Workshop: Keys to Help Your Teen Get A First Job

Oconee County Schools is hosting a free workshop for parents of students with disabilities on Monday, January 23, at 6:30 pm. Presented by Parent to Parent of Georgia, "Keys to Help Your Teen Get a First Job" will give parents valuable information on the employer's perspective in hiring people with disabilities, how to address workplace accommodations, and practical tips to help teens get that first job.  Join us in the community meeting room at Oconee Veterans Park, 3500A Hog Mountain Road, Watkinsville.

Registration is free - reserve your seat today at this link:

Questions?  Contact or call Parent to Parent of Georgia at 1-800-229-2038.