Each Spring TCS hosts Bridging the Gap, a workshop that brings in professionals to share their expertise on autism-related subjects with TCS families and the outside community. This year our event was just before Spring Break. It was an engaging and fascinating day that brought parents and caregivers, community members, and mental health professionals together to learn and grow.
TCS’s own Senior Transition Counselor, Kim Evans, kicked off our morning with a primer on transition services at TCS. Evans explained to attendees why some of our participants struggle to make transitions, what internship or job support can look like for different participants, how the transition team approaches college support, and what it looks like to support participants in learning independent living skills. Evans gave a myriad of examples in her presentation. One of the unanticipated benefits of sharing these experiences was that a number of attendees, who were not otherwise connected to TCS, were given the opportunity to learn about some of the unique services we provide here.
Following Kim Evans was Sucheta Kamath, an executive functioning expert who has been featured on Ted Talks. Kamath gave an incredibly fun and engaging presentation that included personal stories that really resonated with the audience, and a lot of practical tips for parents and families. One of the take-home points was to ask your kids what they think you are thinking rather than just telling them, because that engages a completely different part of the brain. She also encourages parents to take the personal investment out of situations in dealing with their child’s executive functioning abilities, to act more as a mentor and less as a parent in those “teaching moments.”
Veronica Rohlrack, Deputy Director of All About Developmental Dissabilities (AADD), joined us for an engaging and informative talk about Medicaid and other matters. Rohlrack gave us a wealth of great tips about Medicaid, Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income, and the various waivers offered in Georgia. For many of us, state waivers can feel overwhelming and confusing. However, her explanations and examples were accessible, clear, and concise. For anyone who wasn’t able to attend or has lingering questions, AADD offers a one-hour consultation to guide you through the application process for $55.
Carolyn Phillips and Danny Housley from Tools for Life – Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program, housed by Ga Tech, spoke about the importance of assistive technology and shared a few of the thousands of devices they have for loan at the Tools for Life lending library. It was amazing to learn about the role that these devices and apps can play in our lives to help with communication, personal organization, regulation, and everyday functioning.
The program concluded with a workshop led by Kristen Lewis who has been a part of Bridging the Gap from the beginning. Lewis is an attorney who specializes in Special Needs Law and Trusts, and she did a fantastic job explaining the differences between 1st and 3rd party trusts, letting parents know about misinformation that they might find, and emphasizing the importance of a good lawyer and a good trustee.
All of us on the Family Services Team are thrilled to share in the success of this year’s Bridging the Gap. It was a great opportunity for TCS families to learn more about topics relevant to their lives, and it was a fantastic way to bring new people into the larger TCS community. I am honored to have taken part in it!