Happy Children

Families to celebrate launch of Special Ed in Fall 2020

Jillian Rainingbird and Roxanne Shaffe share their vision for a Special Ed PTA to bring together families of students with disabilities across the Kansas City metro. Click here to learn more about this exciting initiative.

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Families across nation share struggles of living while black with autism during racial unrest

Protests following George Floyd's murder have added more stress for black families raising sons with autism.

The Transition Academy hosted a national dialogue on June 9th to bring awareness and support to families during this highly volatile time. Attendees joined the discussion from across the country including: Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Chicago, Florida, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

The 10 a.m. session featured parents, special education experts and a white autistic advocate with lessons on how to be a white ally. The 6 p.m. session also featured a black austistic male self-advocate who trains police officers on how to interact with people with autism. This session concluded with a parent support group meeting and a request for black families to stay connected. Look for information on mobilizing and amplifing black families impacted by autism.

Carpenter at Work

Life after high school

Simple guide to developing transition roadmap that works for you

Jaclyn Kotowski, Special Education Teacher and Transition Specialist at Guadalupe Centers Charter School, shared post-secondary success strategies on the June 2nd edition of "Tuesday Talks" for students with disabilities.

Attendees reviewed her website of 8 domains of transition she completed as part of her coursework at KU’s Master’s in Transition Degree program.

Feel free to scroll and enjoy some of the highlights from the 10 a.m. session:

11:16     Community resource directory

13:05     Checklist of organizations and services they provide (i.e. adult services, legal, medical)

19:35     Three phases of career development are awareness, exploration and preparation

26:53     Transition should be driving the IEP process for high school students

30:10     Opportunities for low-, moderate- and high-functioning students

37:58     How IEPs/504s work in college

Here are key takeaways from the 6 p.m. session:

9:51        Timeline for general transition activities

10:40     How students should prepare for transition - from early childhood to high school

17:19     College and career competency wheel

29:10     Missouri Transition Liaisons serve as resources for teachers and grew from 2 to 12

40:13     Quality Indicator of Exemplary Transition Programs measures whether schools are just checking the box for compliance or are committed to quality transition

Resource List

Jaclyn’s portfolio is full of transition resources including:

Business Organization

Tapping Into DMH Resources

The May 19th 6 p.m. session featured Angela Gomez of KC Regional Office who explained how the Department of Mental Health’s eligibility and intake process works. Here are key takeaways on how to tap into Missouri Department of Mental Health for resources:

4:12        KC Regional Office Staff returns calls on intake line 816.889.3452 within 24 hours               

5:40        How eligibility is determined

6:10        Why diagnosis alone doesn’t mean eligibility

9:10        Statewide information coordination system for those who don’t have Medicaid and aren’t active

on a waitlist or receiving autism services.

19:59     Benefits planning helps individuals to land job and earn income without losing Medicaid and

other benefits

22:23     Advice to individuals and families experiencing anxiety thinking about career planning after

pandemic ends.

29:12     Mom asks about cuts to SSI, Medicaid and other benefits for her two adult children with autism.

35:45     UMKC Propel asks for advice for ways families to get classroom assistance for students.

39:18     Importance of sharing goals and challenges with KCRO Support Coordination Team so they can

open doors of opportunities.

This week’s resource list includes:

  • Benefits 101 and more info from the Missouri Division of Developmental Disabilities

  • Co-Vid Speak - Video conference app for persons who can’t speak

  • Show Me KC School’s “Exploring School Choice Options” workshop on May 20th

School Children

KCPS Pilot Puts Inclusion In Action

The May 19th “Tuesday Talks” landed on the last day of school for KCPS and showcased the district’s innovative K-2 Inclusion Pilot during the morning session. Feel free to scroll and enjoy some of the highlights from the 10 a.m. session with Dr. JaKyta Lawrie and teachers from James, King and Melcher elementary schools:

6:10        Special education students learn in the classroom alongside their general education peers instead of being pulled out.

9:38        Data shows growth for both special education and general education students.

11:43     Why COVID-19 didn’t disrupt learning for students in the program.

13:12     Teachers share experiences of being co-teaching pairs.

21:52     Video features dad explaining impact on his son with autism.

27:02     Pilot was developed by KCPS and based on evidence-based practices.

28:40     Ratio of general education/special education students participating in the pilot program.

30:23     How students can enroll in the program.

32:43     Four types of co-teaching models used  

Here's this week's resource list which includes info on: Department of Mental Health's benefits info, videoconference app for people who can't speak, Show Me KC Schools school choice workshop,

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Former KCPS Student Johnny Gordon who successfully managed Asperger’s Syndrome and earned his Bachelor’s degree in studio art from Old Dominion University.

Feel free to scroll and enjoy some of the highlights from the 

6 p.m. session with his dad Rick:

12:22     Johnny shares how his African-Centered education at KCPS impacted him.

14:35     Johnny recalls his struggle to adjust to college.

18:47     Johnny shares how he advocates for himself with an invisible disability

23:15     Rick shares his first instinct was to protect Johnny from society’s judgment when he was first diagnosed.

24:59     Dad shares what it was like to parent his son during his college years.

30:12     Johnny showcases his art work

37:15     UMKC Propel student asks Johnny about persons who impacted him the most.

41:46     KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell offered to help Johnny land post-secondary opportunities.

43:41     Johnny offers words of encouragement to other students with disabilities.

Here's this week's resource list.

This week’s “Tuesday Talks” featured Former KCPS Student Johnny Gordon who successfully managed Asperger’s Syndrome and earned his Bachelor’s degree in studio art from Old Dominion University. Here's this week's resource list.

Feel free to scroll and enjoy some of the highlights from the 10 a.m. session with his mom Jennifer:

16:24     Johnny’s reaction to being diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 18 during his senior year of high


27:27     Jennifer shares factors they had to consider for his college search.

31:54     Johnny admits to being hesitant to reaching out to on-campus supports and accommodations.

35:56     Johnny shares how he navigated his social life and romance during college.

44:57     Participant asks if being diagnosed earlier would have made a difference.

53:40     Johnny gives advice to aspiring college students with disabilities.

UMKC Propel shares lessons learned

Students, parents and staff of UMKC's Propel program joined us to share the difference this college experience is making in the lives of these diverse learners. Click here for the 10 a.m. session and here for the 6 p.m. session. Also, check out this week's resource list.

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Sexuality and People With Disabilities Part 1

Dr. Darrel Lang led families on a lively discussion on April 21st about the importance of communicating with children with disabilities about sex. Here's a recap of the 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. sessions. Check out this week's resource list.

Smiling Teenage Boy

Sexuality and Youth With Disabilities    Part 2

Parents asked Disability Sexpert Dr. Darrel Lang a wide range of questions about talking to their children about sex including: masturbation, safety and how to tell someone you like them. Here's the 10 a.m. session and 6 p.m. session. Also check out this week's resource list.