We Can Do Virtually Anything

Courtney Hansen

NOTE: October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

A guest blog by Courtney Hansen, Special Education Advocate

Courtney is a non-attorney special education advocate. She advocates at the local, state, and national level for disability rights, and blogs about it at www.inclusionevolution.com


I first shared our family’s story on this blog two years ago. A lot has changed since then, although many things remain the same.

My now 8-year-old twin boys, one who has Down syndrome and the other typically developing, are still included in the same general education class. They still love playing sports together, and our family still leans on our “village” of teachers, therapists, and friends to move forward. Still, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has set us on a trajectory of change and uncertainty that often feels unsustainable.

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Laying Educational Foundations

NOTE: October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Rebecca Newlon

Rebecca Newlon

By Chris and Rebecca Newlon

When Rebecca, my daughter who has Down syndrome, began kindergarten, I never dreamed that the day-to-day hammering out of details with her general education teacher would lay the foundation we would continue to utilize to this day now that Rebecca is a junior in high school.

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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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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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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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Ruby’s Story: Inclusion, Self-Advocacy, and a Future that Could Include College

Note:  October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Ruby stands on stage with a microphone waving to the crowd during NW Buddy Fest 2018

Ruby stands on stage with a microphone waving to the crowd during NW Buddy Fest 2018

By Maria Rangel, Ruby’s mother


My daughter Ruby and I share a love for taking pictures on our phones and capturing memories. We have hundreds of photos of things we did this summer.

One morning as she was getting ready to go to her first day of eighth grade, she asked me to print some pictures on her phone, I said “no, later when you come back from school.”

She then insisted.

“Now for school. Share,” she said.

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Oh, the Places You Will Go!

NOTE:  October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month and Learning Disabilities/ADHD/Dyslexia Month

Emma & Dan’s Story

Emma Frome and Daniel Jarvis-Holland attending their first advocacy rally as small children

Emma Frome and Daniel Jarvis-Holland attending their first advocacy rally as small children

Emma Frome and Daniel Jarvis-Holland attended their first advocacy rally with us as small children 19 years ago in Salem, Oregon as we protested cuts to early intervention.

As our children have grown up together, we’ve worked with many others to create a powerful social change organization and to raise our children to be kind and inclusive human beings.

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October and Disability Awareness

ICYMI "In Case You Missed It!"

In addition to announcing OSEP’s new director, Laurie VanderPloeg, and interviewing Caryl Jaques at Little One’s University preschool, this October, we 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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It Takes a Village

NOTE: October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Courtney Hansen holding her two boys on their front porch.

Courtney with her twin sons on their first day of kindergarten in a new state. The boys play t-ball together, love Super Why, biking to the park, and are in the same kindergarten class.

A guest blog by Courtney Hansen. Courtney is a non-attorney special education advocate. She advocates at the local, state, and national level for disability rights, and blogs about it at www.inclusionevolution.com


My son with Down syndrome and his typically-developing twin brother just started kindergarten. The military also just moved us across country this past summer.

There’s been a lot of change this year, and I was often overwhelmed by the idea of my first-born twins starting “real” school in a new state. I cried like a baby their first day of school, but they just marched off to school like they owned the place. I was amazed, but realized that it was the result of years of preparation and help from so many different people. Having a son with a disability has shown me the value of “the village.”

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Our Highs are Higher

Carrie Woodcock and her family posing in front of a lovely rural stream

Carrie Woodcock and family

Carrie Woodcock is director of the Maine Parent Federation and a parent of 10-year-old Sami who has Down syndrome.


This summer, I attended a conference alongside doctors, nurses, physician assistants, therapists and other medical professionals, all of whom work with children with special healthcare needs and disabilities. I was there to represent parent voices as the director of the Maine Parent Federation, an OSEP-funded Parent Information Center. I am a big supporter of, and was very excited for, the keynote presenter that day, Dr. Brian Skotko.

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Carrie Woodcock and daughter, Sami.
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Director of the Maine Parent Federation and a parent of 10-year-old Sami who has Down syndrome.