New Innovative Early Language and Literacy Program in South Carolina

NOTE: May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

Family Connection of South Carolina

By Amy Holbert, chief executive officer of Family Connection of South Carolina


Family Connection of South Carolina is pleased to join the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the American Speech Language and Hearing Association in celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month.

Family Connection of South Carolina is excited to announce a new communication tool launched earlier this month in the spirit of this year’s theme, “Communication at Work!”

Family Connection of South Carolina—in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education—launched a family-centered, early language and literacy communication service for parents of preschoolers.

“Text2Read” (T2R) is a free mobile-based program offering practical information about child development and low-cost language and literacy activities for young children. The service is a confidential, easy-to-use resource for parents to help prepare their child for kindergarten and to become ready to read.

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Linda Gilkerson and Pamela Epley

Promoting Children’s Mental Health Awareness

Linda Gilkerson and Pamela Epley

Linda Gilkerson and Pamela Epley

Linda Gilkerson, Ph.D., LSW, is a professor at Erikson Institute where she directs the graduate training programs in infancy and infant mental health.

Pamela Epley, Ph.D., is an associate clinical professor and director of special education at Erikson Institute.


ED: We are celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in May. Could you tell us what efforts you have been involved in to improve the quality of early childhood programs and services to better address young children’s mental health?

Infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) is synonymous with healthy social-emotional (SE) development and robust early learning, including the ability to regulate and express emotions; form close personal relationships; and explore the environment and learn in the context of family, community, and culture. Over the past years, we have worked with Illinois’ Early Intervention (EI) system to increase its focus on children’s SE development. We’ve done this by promoting relationship-based services, more systematic screening of SE development, and the addition of SE Consultants.

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October and Disability Awareness — 2019

ICYMI "In Case You Missed It!"

Throughout October, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services highlighted aspects of disability awareness for national disability employment, dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADHD and Down syndrome.

Check out the stories below.

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Words of Advice from a Triple Threat

NOTE: October is Learning Disabilities/ADHD/Dyslexia Awareness Month

Alyssia Jackson

This blog is written by Alyssia Jackson, a member of the Young Adult Leadership Council of the National Center for Learning Disabilities


One of the scariest experiences in life is finding a job after college. Sometimes it felt like the more I applied, the more I got rejected. I struggled with finding the right job. You see, I am a woman of color with a learning disability and society also sees me as presenting with a physical disability.

I grappled with whether I should identify myself as having a disability on applications. I did not know if checking that box would cost me an interview, and many times, it felt like it did. Once during an in-person interview, I remember being asked if I had “gotten into a car accident recently”. At that time, I explained my learning disability, and the response was “does that mean you can’t read?”

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My Ever-Evolving Journey: Mom, Advocate, Board of Education Member

Note: October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Dria, Mom and Sister

by Dria Law, Moorestown, N.J.


I am the mom of two teenaged girls, one of whom has a disability.

My youngest daughter, Julianna, or Juls for short, was born with Down syndrome, and like many parents of a child with a disability, I found myself thrust into a whole new world. This world revolved around early intervention services, medical appointments, and learning as much as I possibly could about Down syndrome. I was discovering early-on that not only would I need to be Jul’s parent, but also her advocate.

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Exploring Career Opportunities in Alaska

Note: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Logo - Alaska Department of Vocational Rehabilitation


This spring, 65 students with disabilities from southeast Alaska participated in the Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation’s (DVR’s) Explore program.

The Explore program is a hands-on career exploration opportunity in the high-demand fields of construction, power technology and healthcare.

Explore is part of Alaska DVR’s Pre-Employment Transition Services that promotes career paths in high-demand, high-wage occupations through postsecondary vocational training for students with disabilities. This program is made possible through a partnership with the University of Alaska Southeast School of Career Education.

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Vocational Rehabilitation for Individuals with Disabilities from High School and College Youth to Adults

The Maine Department of Labor’s Bureau of Rehabilitation Services works to bring about full access to employment, independence and community integration for people with disabilities.

Working with its partners in the Maine Department of Labor’s CareerCenter and the rehabilitation community, the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services works with persons with disabilities through the divisions of vocational rehabilitation, blind and visually impaired, and deaf, hard of hearing and late deafened.

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I Can Do Anything: Learning Job Basics and Preparing for the Future

NOTE: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Theo Brooks

By Theo Brooks


When I lost my job in the food industry, I didn’t know what to do. Without my job, I was feeling defeated. I was frustrated that the job I enjoyed and looked forward to was gone.

I stopped by INCLUDEnyc, which my mom found, that helps young people with disabilities like me and their families. One of their youth educators spoke to me and gave me an assessment. From that point, I started to feel more optimistic that I had opportunities.

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Blue, Purple and Green: How I Color Coded my Child Into Middle School

Note: October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Zoe – my color coded sixth grader with mosaic Down syndrome

Zoe – my color coded sixth grader with mosaic Down syndrome

By Suzanne Wingard, Director of Training, Family Connection of SC


Color has always been a part of organization in my life – from taking notes in school to sorting training handouts at work. It has visually simplified even the most complex tasks mainly because I am a visual learner. Luckily, so is my daughter.

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Creating Access to Successful Employment

Note: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Logo: Project CASE

Manufacturing, healthcare and information technology are three promising career pathways for Kentuckians seeking training and employment in in-demand jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and have opportunities for advancement.

Project CASE was created to increase the numbers of individuals with disabilities training and working in these fields by finding and/or developing flexible and innovative training and postsecondary approaches to skill attainment.

Project CASE’s six Career Pathway Coordinators help increase the capacity of Kentucky’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Office for the Blind in reaching employers who can provide work experiences such as job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships and, ultimately, job placement in these pathways.

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