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October 2018

Message from the Special Services Director –
Dr. Shannon Hitch

Welcome to October! It is hard to believe that we have our first month of the school year in the books. This is a month full of opportunities for connection. First, our first Special Needs Group PTA meeting is scheduled for October 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the district office. I will be there to meet you as well as our four Associate Directors:

  • Paul Vine (Juanita Learning Community)
  • Jan Bakken (Redmond Learning Community)
  • Debbie Wagner (Lake Washington Learning Community)
  • Stacy McGrath (Eastlake Learning Community)

We will be sharing our beliefs and vision for the coming school year, discussing opportunities for parent involvement and answering any questions you may have. I have been lucky to meet with some of the parents within our Special Needs Group PTA and have been impressed by their dedication, knowledge and collaboration. I’m excited for our work together this year.
Childcare will be provided, and we look forward to meeting you.

The month of October is also when we celebrate Disability Awareness. Signed into law in 1990, the American with Disabilities Act focuses on protecting the rights of those with disabilities. It is critical that we continue to expand opportunities and increase awareness and acceptance of all people. Our Special Needs PTA group has brought in Kacey McCallister to speak at many of our schools to celebrate this month. Kacey is a double amputee who inspires others with his stories of overcoming obstacles and incredible accomplishments. Kacey shares, 

“I can do hard things has been a way of life for me. I mean, who would imagine that a guy without legs could complete a 50 mile hike, make it to State Championship Wrestling, or become an Eagle Scout? My mom told me soon after the accident that if I wanted to do something all I had to do was figure out a way to make it happen….Throughout my life there have been few if any challenges that I have not been able to succeed in accomplishing. Trials make us stronger. They raise us up to a higher plain. If we are never pushed and challenged we can never obtain our full potential. For me it was losing my legs. For you, it may be school, work, parenting, or just dealing with the complexities of day-to-day life. Regardless of what your challenge is…You too can find a way to RISE UP!”

So while this month is noted for Disability Awareness, let us remember to celebrate all of our student’s strengths and abilities. They are inspiring!

Hope to see you soon,


Resources for Parents of Students with Disabilities:
If you haven’t already, please take a moment to take a look at the Special Needs Resource Flier, created by the Lake Washington PTSA (LWPTSA) Council Special Needs Group/Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) and the Special Services Department, available here. You can also pick up a hard copy at your child’s school, and/or from your child’s 504 or Special Education Case Manager at your annual review meeting.
The Arc of King County - Healthy Relationships Program Accepting Participants for Fall:

The Arc’s Healthy Relationships Program is open to community members this fall in Seattle and Federal Way in partnership with local Parks and Rec programs. 

In Seattle, weekly classes will be held Monday nights from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the Laurelhurst Community Center for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities age 18-24. Classes run from September 24-December 3. Those older will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For registration information, contact Jill Ellison at and indicate you want to participate in The Arc’s Healthy Relationships program.

In Federal Way, weekly classes will be held Wednesday afternoons from 3:00-4:30 p.m. at the Federal Way Community Center for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities ages 14-18. Classes run from September 19 -November 21. For registration information, contact Kevin Hutchinson at

The Healthy Relationships Program helped individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities learn interpersonal skills to promote their safety and ability to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with friends, family, coworkers and their community. Through games, art and conversation, students practice skills in a safe and fun setting with their peers. Lessons include:

  • Recognizing different kinds of relationships (e.g. family, friends, coworkers, romantic partners)
  • Assertiveness
  • Consent
  • Social Media Safety
  • Appropriate Public Behavior
  • Recognizing unhealthy relationships and reporting abuse
  • And much much more!

Parents/Caregivers can meet the instructors and preview materials at any time. Additionally, the first class is designed for family involvement with the opportunity to ask questions and express potential concerns about this complex topic. Additionally, conversations started in class can be continued at home with daily “Letter to Trusted Adults” sent home after each session that summarizes each class and outlines strategies to continue the discussion at home. 

The benefits of the Healthy Relationships program go beyond friendly and romantic relationships; they improve self-esteem and empower students to engage with their communities!

For additional questions, contact our Healthy Relationships team at or 206-829-7059.

The Arc of King County: IEP Parent Partner Program – Accepting Applications Now!
Do you have experience navigating the special education system, either as a parent, educator, interpreter or student? Would you like to support other families navigating the Special Education system? If so, we’ve got a great program for you! 

The Arc of King County’s IEP Parent Partner Program trains volunteers to provide support to other families navigating the system. They are offering a 15-hour volunteer training this fall. In this training, you will learn about Special Education laws, using assessments and evaluations for data-informed decision making, navigating complex situations such as behavior supports and communication and conflict resolution skills. Trained volunteers commit to providing one-on-one support to at least one family over the course of the school year. Volunteers do not provide legal advice and are not professional advocates. Rather, they help families understand their education documentation, develop strategies for family advocacy and provide emotional support at 1-2 school meetings.
The volunteer training is free! Previous volunteers report they learned skills to better support their own child within the Special Education system, as well as felt empowered to support other families.
We are offering this training in English and in Spanish. 
The application is available online and via paper, click here for access to the IEP Parent Partner Job Description and to get your application started.
Contact Rachel Nemhauser ( or Patricia Gonzalez ( for questions or to request an application.
Washington State Fragile X & Down Syndrome Conference 2018
Learn about behaviors and helpful interventions for children and adults living with Fragile X and Down syndrome!

NFXF Washington State Chapter and South Sound Up with Downs can't keep quiet about this amazing opportunity to hear Dr. Riley present on topics relating to Fragile X and Down Syndrome from her field of expertise in child psychology and developmental disabilities.

What: Fragile X Down Syndrome Conference
Date: October 27, 2018
Time: 8:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.
Location: Capital Event Center – ESD 113
                  6005 Tyee DR SW
                  Tumwater, WA 98512
Keynote Speaker: Karen Ripley
See Attached Flyer: View the flyer.
Link to Register: Register Here!
Featured Article!
This past spring, Gerber announced a very special child to be their Spokesbaby! In Gerber’s 91-year history, 18-month old Lucas Warren became the first child with Down syndrome to be awarded the esteemed title of “Spokesbaby of the Year!” Gerber selected Lucas from amongst 140,000 entries and felt that Lucas was the perfect fit for their longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby. To read the whole story and see the video, click here.
October is National Disability Awareness Month!
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month! The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. 

Held annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy. For specific ideas about how you can support National Disability Employment Awareness Month, visit  
PTSA SNG Meetings and Child Care Support
Our monthly PTSA SNG meeting (see schedule below) is a great time to network with other parents, learn more about resources in our community and learn more about strategies and supports for students with disabilities. We are now offering student care during these meetings to assist you in being able to access this wonderful opportunity to meet with parents. Please RSVP each month by emailing For our October meeting, please RSVP by/before October 9th. In your email, please include the age of your child, so we can ensure we have enough staff to cover all the students. The Special Services Director and Associate Directors participate in a meet and greet before each meeting at 6:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing you all there.
Upcoming LWPTSA Council Special Needs Group Meetings:
Date: 10/16/2018
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Location: LWSD Resource Center – Board Room (1st Floor)
                 16250 NE 74th St
                 Redmond, WA 98052
Topic: Join the LWPTSA SNG and the Special Services Department as we kick off the beginning of the 2018-19 school year! The Special Services Department will be presenting updates and exciting work that will be continued into the school year. You won’t want to miss it!
Save the Date: Mark your calendar for the 2018-19 PTSA Special Needs Group Meetings:
  • 10/16/2018
  • 11/20/2018
  • No Meeting in December
  • 1/15/2019
  • 2/26/2019
  • 3/19/2019
  • 4/16/2019
  • 5/21/2019
  • No Meeting in June