The cover features a photo of the family of Morgan Vice (far right), who has Autism. She is
surrounded by her parents, Tammy and Rudy, as well as her sister Allison and maternal
grandparents, Winston and Emma Burkett. According to Tammy it takes a committed family
pulling together, “Autism is a team sport, and there’s no room
for bench warmers.”
The photo comes from the recently released book From Heartache to Hope: middle
tennessee families living with autism. Through touching words and amazing photography the book tells the stories of everyday families touched by Autism. It was produced by writer Leisa A.
Hammett, who has a daughter with Autism, and photographer Rebekah Pope (www.rebekapope.com). To learn more: www.fromheartachetohope.org.
Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.
– Martina Navratilova
Congress acknowledged that society’s accumulated myths and fears about disability and
disease are as handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment. –
William J. Brennan, Jr.
Table of Contents:
Preserving Services Today and Tomorrow – Page 2
Family-to-Family Outreach Conference – Page 4
Autism Society of Mid-South Tennessee – Page 6
Building Capacity through the Coalition Small Grants Program – Page 8
News & Issues
Dominos Fall: The Governor’s Race – Page 10
Family Support Program Dodges Elimination – Page 10
Benefits to Work: Live and In-Person – Page 13
Inside the General Assembly – Page 14
Floyd Stewart’s “Mission” Honored in D.C. – Page 15
Disability Days on the Hill – 16
About The Coalition Quarterly
The Coalition Quarterly is published by the Tennessee Disability Coalition and may be reprinted with permission from the Coalition. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Coalition and its Members. The Coalition is headquartered at: 955 Woodland Street, Nashville, TN 37206. Phone: (615) 383-9442.
InFormation: Preserving Services Today and Tomorrow
Over the past four decades Tennessee has established public-private and state-local partnerships to implement essential “infrastructure” services for Tennesseans with disabilities –
basic public supports developed in our child welfare, education, health, human services, mental health and disability services systems. These services and supports are interrelated, so weakening public structure resources in one system erodes the strength of the foundation for all the systems.
State budget cuts for the current fiscal year (2009-2010) have already begun to erode the foundation of our disability systems. State appropriations for Division of Intellectual Disabilities Services were reduced by 53% - more than 38 million dollars. The Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities sustained 13% cuts, and other programs took similar cuts. The state budget presented for the next fiscal year is even more difficult, cutting into core services and supports that provide ways for vulnerable Tennesseans to remain in their homes, achieve success in school and in life, and contribute to the well-being of their communities.
It is raining! Elected leaders in Tennessee have wisely established substantial Rainy Day and TennCare Reserve Funds. It is hard to imagine a more valuable use of these dollars than ensuring we maintain basic services and supports to provide people with opportunities to thrive and become productive citizens.
These services and supports enable children with disabilities to remain with their families, succeed in school and become part of Tennessee’s economic engine of the future. They do this
by improving health and education opportunities and helping to reduce child abuse and involvement with child welfare systems. Services and supports help adults with disabilities stay healthy, get and keep jobs, live independently and function effectively in their communities.
Eroding the foundation of partnerships supporting families, adults and children with disabilities will not only result in their loss of essential services and supports today, it will further contribute to overall economic distress in the state with the loss of jobs for the hundreds, if not thousands, of people employed to provide these necessary services down the road.
The core infrastructure for children, families and vulnerable Tennesseans, including those with disabilities, has been built slowly over the last 40 years. We must ensure it survives to maintain
essential services and supports and provide a foundation for a brighter, more prosperous future for the state. Once crumbled, rebuilding could take another generation at even greater fiscal cost to the state.
There are not just personal, but social consequences to abolishing services. There will be more adults with disabilities homeless or in hospitals and institutions. More children with disabilities will fail in school, have mental health and substance abuse problems, and come into the child welfare and state custody systems. We can and we must maintain the services and supports necessary to ensure a brighter future for all Tennesseans.
Children’s Corner: Family-to-Family Conference
Family Voices of Tennessee and Project BRAIN, programs of the Tennessee Disability Coalition, partner to host a family conference providing information on an array of topics impacting children with special health care needs and/or disabilities.
Date: March 27, 8 am to 2 pm
Location: Tennessee School for the Blind
115 Stewarts Ferry Pike, Nashville
Topics Include: 504 health plans, challenging behaviors, HIPAA and health care rights, TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), transitioning to adult health services, and autism.
; Conference Sessions are Free
; Vendors will be on site throughout the day to share their resources with families
; Family organizations will be present to offer supports and additional information
; Confirmed speakers: SCARAB Behavioral Health Services and STEP (Support Training
for Exceptional Parents)
; Scholarships may be available for lunch, travel or childcare
; Box lunches will be $10.00
For more information: contact Family Voices of Tennessee at 1 (888) 643-7811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Voices of Tennessee
thF2F Conference Registration – March 27
Phone: ____________________________ Email: ______________________________
Have a family member with a disability: ____ yes ____ no
; I would like ____ standard Box Lunch(es) and/or ___ Vegetarian Lunch(es) at $10 per
lunch. Enclosed is payment of $________.
; I do NOT need a box lunch.
; Yes, I need an accommodation (please specify). ____________________________
; No, I do not need an accommodation.
; Yes, I would like a scholarship for Lunch.
; Yes, I would like a scholarship for Childcare.
; Yes, I would like a scholarship for Travel.
Mail registration forms and check (if applicable) to: Family Voices Conference, 955 Woodland Street, Nashville, TN 37206.
Member Feature: Autism Society of Mid-South Tennessee
The first year - we got started with three mothers who thought a group like ours was needed in this area. The thing that surprised us is the dedication to helping our children and families shown by so many of the professionals in this Memphis. Many medical and educational professionals have expressed to us that they are glad we are here and they are here to help us, help our families!
Our chapter received official recognition from the Autism Society of America in November 2008. Autism Society of America MidSouth (ASAMS) has board members from the University of Memphis Special Education Department, LeBonheur, The Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities, Harwood Center, and, of course, parents of children with Autism.
Mission and Goals
Our mission is to provide the resources and support to improve the lives of people living with Autism and their families. One or our most pressing goals is improving Autism Awareness throughout West Tennessee. On that front, we developed a mini-seminar titled First Clues that
focuses on educating preschool and daycare personnel.
The First Clues explains the early signs of autism and available resources as well as how to gently and appropriately convey concerns to parents. The information was presented to about 75 early education professionals last year.
Our First Official Year – 2009
; In January, presented an ABA workshop for parents
; In March, presented a workshop geared for parents of older children entitled: Growing Up &
; In May, hosted a STEP Basic Rights workshop in Spanish & English
; Responded to more than 160 requests for information by phone or email
; Provided programming for kids that included a Magic Show, Game Days, Art Days, Junior
Jazzercise, Story Days and the Corn Maze Trick or Treat
; Facilitated support meetings for parents throughout the year
Looking Ahead stApril is Autism Awareness Month. Our events for 2010 will include an Art Show and the 1 thannual "Opening Eyes to Autism" 5-K with the Harwood Center. The race will be held April 9
at 7pm (Central) in downtown Memphis at the Gibson Guitar Factory with an after party at Alfred's on Beale.
For More Information
If you suspect your child may be at risk for an Autism Spectrum Disorder, let us help direct you to a qualified and competent clinical diagnostician in the Mid-South area. Visit ASAMS on the web at www.autismsocietymidsouth.org. Write to email@example.com or
call (901) 542-2767.
Know The Signs: Early Identification Can Change Lives
1. Lack of or delay in spoken language
2. Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects) 3. Little or no eye contact
4. Lack of interest in peer relationships
5. Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
6. Persistent fixation on parts of objects
Accurate diagnosis is an essential to accessing the supports and services your child may need
Coalition Project: Building Capacity Through the Coalition Small Grants Program
The Tennessee Disability Coalition’s Small Grants Program began in the fall of 2008 with grants
to a half-dozen recipients. Since that time, there have been two additional grant competitions that have funded an additional six projects. The next competition is slated for Spring 2010. Refer to Small Grants Schedule below for information on specific timeframes.
The Small Grants Committee, comprised of Coalition member agency representatives and ably led by Errol Elshtain of the Council on Developmental Disabilities, oversees the Small Grants Program. Committee members evaluate proposals based on a point system outlined in the application, determine what projects will be funded, and review and approve required reports.
In keeping with the mission of the Coalition to help build a society that includes and values people with disabilities, the purpose of the grants is to build capacity in the disability community to serve individuals with disabilities and their families. There is a two-step application process:
1. Submission of a brief Letter of Interest with budget outline
2. Submission of a full proposal, if requested, using a provided application
The Coalition announces its request for Letters of Interest for the Small Grants Program on a semi-annual basis in the Spring and Fall, with up to five (5) grants for up to $10,000 awarded in May and November each year. The request is disseminated broadly and also available on the Coalition’s website, www.tndisability.org. IRS-designated tax-exempt organizations-501(c)(3)
and governmental entities are eligible to apply. Private foundations and agency members of the Coalition Grant Committee are not eligible to apply.
Funds are awarded in two installments: half of the award after a contract is signed, with the second half to be made upon receipt and approval of the five-month Summary of Activities report. All grantees are required to submit:
; A five-month progress report
; A final report, including a final budget report, within six weeks following the end of the project term.
Fall 2009 Awardees
Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) – Nashville Chapter – The project will support
the purchase of a new projector, replacement lamp, screen and surge protector for the Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART)/caption writer to provide needed communication support to Hard of Hearing individuals in the Middle Tennessee area. The HLAA will identify two community venues to provide specific information about hearing loss and communication needs and provide a free, one-time CART/captioned event.
Kids in Action in Murfreesboro – Through the project, five to seven organizations will be
identified that will work with Kids in Action to match individuals with disabilities transitioning from, or recently transitioned from, high school with the organizations for a one-year internship. The organizations include the public school system, city and county government, and possibly the federal government. It is anticipated that these individuals will acquire the skills, competency, and confidence necessary to be successful in the position for which they will eventually be hired.
Two major products are envisioned. The first is a handbook of how to implement the program in other school districts, government organizations, or public/private businesses, along with sample job descriptions, success stories, and the realities of implementing such a program. The second product is a handbook for candidates and their families that will explain the program and its long-term benefits.
League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Ear Foundation in Nashville – The project
involves a rebranding of the League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/EAR Foundation (LDHH/EF). The League and the EAR Foundation merged in September 2008. The goal of the rebranding is to provide a new and completely unified home from which to embrace the D/deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing communities. The objective is to help rebrand the fully merged agencies through one shared name, logo, and mission statement to accurately reflect the services provided and to alleviate confusion from persons seeking services related to deafness and hearing loss.
Other grantees have received funding to:
; develop a stakeholder database to improve communications and services to families ; develop a curriculum for a Caregiver Support Network
; develop a seamless transition project for students with significant disabilities who are moving from school to work
; replicate an assistive technology outreach program in two rural Tennessee counties ; develop a prefabricated ramp program that engages vocational students, self-employed people with disabilities, and those in need of ramps
; compile stories of artists with a mental illness into a book “Transforming Lives through Art” designed to reach the public and dispel stigma against persons with mental illness ; restock and repair a Hearing Aid Loaner Bank for children ages 0 to 3 in sixteen East Tennessee counties
; reach out to the 150,000 medically fragile Tennesseans at risk of losing health coverage due to the re-verification process for those in the SSI/Daniels class of TennCare ; expand the parent training and mentoring components of an outreach program Spring
March 1 Grant Announcement
March 20 Letters of interest due
April 1 Request for full proposals sent
April 30 Full proposals due
May 30 Winners notified
August 15 Final 12-month reports due
Sept. 1 Grant Announcement
Sept. 20 Letters of interest due
October 1 Request for full proposals sent
October 31 Full proposals due
Nov.30 Winners notified
Feb. 15 Final 12-month reports due
In the News: Dominos Fall in the Governor’s Race
Last fall there were nine major party candidates for Governor in 2010. Today, there are seven following the withdrawal of Ward Cammack, the first Democrat to enter the race, and State Senator Roy Herron whose withdrawal was something of a surprise.
ndHerron was considered a top Democrat candidate by many, but announced on December 2 ththat he would forgo the Governor’s race to run for John Tanner’s 8 district Congressional seat.
That announcement followed quickly upon Tanner’s decision to not run for reelection.
The remaining candidates are:
; Bill Gibbons – Republican, www.gibbons2010.com
; Bill Haslam – Republican, www.billhaslam.com
; Jim Kyle – Democrat, www.jimkyle2010.com
; Kim McMillan – Democrat, www.kimmcmillan.com
; Mike McWherter – Democrat, www.mikemcwherter.com
; Ron Ramsey – Republican, www.teamronramsey.com
; Zack Wamp – Republican, www.zachwamp.com
In the News: Family Support Program Dodges Elimination
Tennessee’s Family Support program, created by law in 1992, was slated to be eliminated on June th30 of this year. It is the only existing program that aids families of individuals of any age, with any type of significant disability. Family Support is a highly successful, cost-effective program that has a big impact on families and communities.
As the Coalition Quarterly goes to press, we have just learned that the General Assembly leadership has prevailed upon the Governor to save the Family Support Program. The Governor has proposed in his 2010-2011 budget to fund Family Support for the next two years using money from the rainy day fund. While this is not a permanent fix for Family Support, it does assure that the program will continue as Tennessee works with the rest of the nation on economic recovery.
Why It is Important to Families
Family support means different things to different families, but one critical element is clear. Family Support helps families take care of their own. The most unique feature of the program is that services are:
; Family driven – Each family leads the decision-making process concerning the type and
amount of support they receive
; Easy to use – Families are not overwhelmed by paperwork and red tape
; Flexible – Families can choose supports and services based on their individual needs
In addition to the provision of family-directed services, Family Support provides links to services of all types, assists in information and referral, support coordination, and outreach.