April 2021
A note from Joanna, State Director of The Arc Rhode Island
Spring has sprung! We hope you are enjoying the lovely weather and staying safe as always! As things start getting back to normal, we wanted to share with you some excellent resources. PAUSE Rhode Island, along with a unified partnership of Rhode Island mental health experts, is here so you can pause, simply breathe, pick up the pieces, heal and move forward. PAUSE Rhode Island is a program that provides free community outreach and support services for Rhode Islanders experiencing mental health concerns due to COVID-19. If you or someone you care about needs assistance or information on how to deal with COVID-19 related stress and anxiety, please call one of their 24/7 hotlines: For anyone 18 & over - Call 401-414-5465. For anyone under 18 - Call the kids link 855-543-5465. Times can be challenging right now with all the uncertainty and getting back to your normal schedule. If you are having trouble navigating resources currently, please feel free to reach out to us.
April was a very busy month for us here at The Arc Rhode Island. We started the month off with our first-ever 401Gives fundraising campaign, we are more than happy and thankful with the outcome of the fundraiser and the wonderful people that donated and continue to support our mission of advocating for adults and children with disabilities. Our Special Education Advocates have been working with families all month and we have witnessed multiple success stories relating to providing quality outcomes for students and families with disabilities in the education system. The Disability Policy Seminar was held this month from April 19-22nd. Our Rhode Island State Team was able to arrange a virtual hill visit with Senator Jack Reed and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse about Special Education concerns. Vanessa Lachapelle and Denise Hagopian led our conversation, speaking about their personal experiences with special education in the Rhode Island school system. Both Senators noted how proud and brave both advocates were to share their stories. Adding that their voices and testimony help all of us better understand what works and what doesn't work with our current education system. We continue to intently focus our efforts of bringing the voice of individuals with disabilities and their families to the front and center of the world stage. As we all move forward to create a collective “better normal” we realize the need for deeper intentional connections through gathering, sharing, empathizing, and mobilizing our way to creating, and understanding what matters most. Putting our energy into a world that works for all. Being mindful of Inclusion and person-centeredness in the way we think, do, and practice living our day-to-day lives until it becomes second nature…A way to move about our world boldly, proudly, and without fear of being considered less than or left behind. Our time is here to rise up and be heard!

Join the movement! Be heard! Change Lives!
Spotlight On:
Chat Saturdays
Chat Saturdays was the very first circle that was started as part of Circles of Connections. This circle is led by a stellar team of group leaders Deanne Gagne and Tanya Blicker.

Both ladies bring a sense of welcoming, fun, and empowerment to the circle every Saturday. The group has hosted movie nights and is planning social distanced events in the community for their members to enjoy in the near future.
Click on the video below to learn more about our Chat Saturday Group!

We currently serve 40+ individuals and family members in six weekly circles, and new applications are being accepted. Anyone can join to make new friends, share your interests and life experiences. It is a great place to connect with others as we all navigate our new world.
Just click here and submit your application for FREE Membership

Our current Circles groups are: 

  • Chat Saturdays- A social group talking about what’s on their minds.
  • Building Healthy Relationships- Learning how to navigate the world of dating and making friends.
  • The Other Side of Grief- Talking about loss and how to take good care of ourselves.
  • Land That Job! It is not your typical job training group but for the motivated job seeker to learn what they want from a career, what "career" means to them, Joins at our weekly Land That Job circle!
  • Rainbow Group- Sharing life experiences as people with disabilities who identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Special Education Advocacy- Families sharing stories and learning how to navigate the education system and better advocate for their child attending K-12 school systems
  • Adult Family Circle - for siblings, moms, dads, guardians to share their approaches, concerns, and family tips while supporting their adult child. 

Please don’t put it off!
Join one of the CIRCLES OF CONNECTIONS groups today!
A virtual seminar
April 19-April 22
The Arc Rhode Island in collaboration with the Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council coordinated a state team comprised of professionals, family members, individuals with disabilities, and community partners to attend the 2021 Disability Policy Seminar.
Participants gained knowledge, heard about others' experiences advocating for themselves or family members about topics that are important to them.
The highlight for most of the participants were the virtual Hill Visits with our elected officials. Participants advocated for increased funding of IDEA, the need for increased wages for direct support professionals, support of the jobs act for the employment of people with disabilities, and police training in trauma-informed approaches.
"Vanessa was able to meet with Senator Whitehouse and Senator Reed and talk about her experience while being in the public school system and how being in The Wolf School has helped her due to all of the supports that they offer. She was amazing and both Senators commented at the end of the meeting how great she did and how they were impressed with her. We are truly blessed to be a part of an amazing group of people who help children and adults with disabilities." - Maureen Lachapelle, Vanessa's mother
The Disability Policy Seminar offers the opportunity for passionate advocates, self-advocates, experts, and professionals in the field to come together and learn about key issues that affect them most. After two days of training and learning, attendees head to Capitol Hill for a day of meetings with their Members of Congress. Hosted by: The Arc, Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), United Cerebral Palsy (UCP)National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), and Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE)
Mark your calendars for the 2022 Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC on March 28-30, 2022.
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month and it couldn’t come at a more important time. 

The number of foster individuals and families in the state of Rhode Island has been steadily declining while the amount of children in need of a foster household continues to grow. Once children are back in school and resume a more “typical” post-Covid life, we expect an influx of individuals in need of foster placement.

If you have ever considered becoming a foster parent or are interested in learning more about the opportunity, please reach out to Brendan Carty at Groden Center Treatment Foster Care at  bcarty@grodencenter.org or 401.274.6310 X1229.
Also, we are hosting a Virtual Information Session on Thursday, May 13 th from 6:30-7:30pm. To rsvp, please email: fostercarevirtualevent@grodencenter.org 

Rhode Island’s children need you and you can make a difference that will last a lifetime!
Upcoming Events at The Groden Network
April 15 - July 4

Journey through a wonderland of illuminated larger-than-life lanterns inspired by our wild world. From dazzling and interactive displays to delicious Asian-inspired cuisine, this enchanting multicultural experience is sure to delight all ages!
Tickets are sold ONLINE ONLY. This extraordinary zoo-wide walk-through event is held Wednesday – Sunday evenings from 5:30 until 10:00 pm. The last admission is at 9:00 pm.
The show which is produced by Hanart Culture will feature over 50 spectacular glowing lantern displays, kids interactive lantern area, savory Asian-inspired cuisine and drinks, hand-crafted keepsakes, and more! Don’t miss out! Buy tickets online today!
Seeking Therapeutic Assistance?

Services and Specialties Include:
  • Grief and Trauma

  • Relationship Issues

  • Stress Reduction

  • Self-Harming Behaviors

  • Substance Abuse

  • Mood Disorders

  • Group, Family, and Couples Therapy​

  • Childhood and Adolescent Issues

  • Behavior and Anger Management

  • Anxiety, Panic, and Phobias
Phone: (401) 556-4445
Cox empowers customers with disabilities to control TV video guide with their eyes
Cox has unveiled a new feature that empowers people with disabilities to control their TV with their eyes. The Accessible Web Remote for Contour gives those who have lost fine motor skills – whether from degenerative conditions or paralysis – the ability to browse the video guide with a glance.
New England Tech’s SAMI offers free machinist training in Warwick
The Shipbuilding and Advanced Manufacturing Institute at the New England Institute of Technology campus in Warwick is offering a machinist training program to fill local manufacturing positions.
Applicants – who are being accepting on a rolling-admissions basis – should be at least 18 years old and a Rhode Island resident.

The 300-hour program is delivered at no cost.
The machinist training curriculum focuses on manual machine processes, SAMI said in a news release, with select participants in the program exposed to computerized numerical control operations that sync with their skills and abilities. Other aspects of the program include blueprint reading, computer-aided design and remedial math. Participants also earn OSHA-10 certification from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

Orientation includes a tour of SAMI’s state-of-the-art labs and instructors’ demonstrations of simple machine tool tasks, according to the institute, with questions taken.

SAMI, founded in 2013, was funded by grants provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Governor’s Workforce Board of Rhode Island, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, the Rhode Island Foundation and the Champlin Foundation.
More information is available at 401-739-5000, ext. 3660, or ext. 3539, or by emailing info@samiri.org.
Tax Day for individuals extended to May 17: Treasury, IRS Extends Filing and Payment Deadline
WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021.
The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days.
"This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Even with the new deadline, we urge taxpayers to consider filing as soon as possible, especially those who are owed refunds. Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds, and it can help some taxpayers more quickly receive any remaining stimulus payments they may be entitled to."
Recent Article by Gina Macris, Olmstead Updates Newsletter
Stepping into Advocacy- Creating Future Leaders
I read this article the other day that moved me to my soul.
A teacher asked her students to complete this fill-in-the-blank statement -
“I wish my teacher knew…”
I read the article and thought how inspiring this teacher’s assignment is. She discovered a way for her to connect to her students on a very deep personal level. Human to human, teacher to student. Giving them an opportunity to say what not be normally said.
I then thought “What if we started a letter-writing campaign for students?” What letters might we read? How would this shape the advocacy we do for and with kids. This simple act would be a great way to help kids’ voices be heard and give them an opportunity to express feelings, sentiments, challenges, and real-life experiences. Stepping into advocacy comes to mind. Helping kids know their voices count; Creating bonds and increasing empathy.

Please ask your child to complete this statement
“ I wish my teacher knew…”
Mail, scan , text snap a picture and send it to us

We thank you for your letters in advance!
Individuals with Disabilities & Family Members...
 Interdisciplinary Technical Assistance Center (ITAC) on Autism and Developmental Disabilities at AUCD published a great article:

The COVID-19 pandemic has induced stress in everyone this year, but for those marginalized by disabilities, and especially those already dealing with social inequity and poverty, the pandemic has dealt additional blows.

"As disabled people and scholars ourselves, we noticed that the disability community, including disabled people with multiple marginalized identities, were being uniquely impacted by the pandemic, and that their stories were often being pushed to the side," Lund said. "We wanted to document what our communities are experiencing."

Forber-Pratt co-authored the research with Emily M. Lund, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology, and Counseling at the University of Alabama; Catherine Wilson, a board-certified rehabilitation psychologist; and Linda R. Mona, who is with the VA Long Beach Healthcare System.
"Our research examines the physical, mental, social, and economic implications of the pandemic on people with disabilities and provides solutions for the disabled community, as well as for psychologists working with these clients, during this time," said Forber-Pratt.

People with disabilities account for more than 25 percent of American adults, making them one of the largest marginalized groups in the United States. Yet research shows they are routinely left out of conversations about social policy having to do with….
Bonnie Ertelt is an editor in the Division of Communications, Vanderbilt University.
Rhode Island Department of Health COVID-19 Resources
Hotline (401) 222-8022 or 211 after hours;
Email RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov
Parents and Guardians of Children in School...

  • Always follow up with the school via email in regards to your child’s progress, implementation of new programs, IEP/504, and keep track of all services. The worst mistake you can make is to let the school run the program and not to follow up. All follow up should be in writing.

  • 3School-based testing identifies strengths and weaknesses. The testing is not in-depth, cannot diagnose, and misses a lot. Diagnosis happens in private testing with medical doctors. Schools cannot pinpoint the “why” behind the weakness.

Interesting articles:

Research increasingly reveals a strong relationship — and reciprocal risk factors — between ADHD and PTSD. What explains this mutual comorbidity? PTSD is associated with dysfunction in areas of the brain implicated in fear extinction learning. New studies reveal that individuals with ADHD have similarly deficient fear circuitry, which could begin to explain the disorders’ link.
If you need assistance with understanding the special education process call our Educational Advocacy Program at 401-363-9899 or shoot us an email at scocchi@thearc.org
Let's Talk About
Summer Services
What are ESY Services?

Extended school year (ESY) services are special education and related services provided to students with disabilities beyond the regular 180-day school year. Under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school districts must provide ESY services if the student requires services in order to receive a free appropriate public education. The most common reason why a student receives ESY services is that the student will regress or lose progress in critical life skills during time off from school. 
Individualized ESY services are provided at no charge to parents. How the services are delivered is a team decision, and can range from 1:1 instruction at home, to participation in a summer program run by the school district, to continuing participation in related services like occupational or speech therapy.
ESY services are not summer school, credit recovery, or enrichment programs.
Who is eligible for ESY?

The IEP team (which includes the parent) decides whether a student requires ESY services by meeting to review the student's progress toward IEP goals. Eligibility is determined when a student needs extra reinforcement of skills to prevent the loss of important learning/skills ("regression"), or when a student is at significantly higher risk for difficulty with regaining ("recouping") skills lost over time than other students.
If the loss of skills and extra time needed to regain them is likely to create a significant barrier to progress toward goals and to learning a student is considered suitable for ESY.
What are the standards for ESY eligibility?

Although there are no federal regulations on ESY eligibility, some standards have been set by case law. These include:

  • Regression/Recoupment
  • Degree of Progress Toward IEP Goals
  • Nature and/or Severity of Disability
  • Emerging Skills/Breakthrough Opportunities
  • Issues for Students Needing Behavior Support
  • Least Restrictive Environment
  • The decision must be based on the data collected by the IEP team and should include predictive (what is likely to happen in the future) data as well as retrospective data (what has happened in the past)
  • A student who has received ESY in the previous year is not automatically entitled to those services the following year.
If you think your child might need ESY, you should discuss eligibility criteria with your child's IEP team at your next meeting.
The sooner ESY is discussed, the better, as data needs to be collected, and resolving disagreements takes time.
Educational Advocacy Briefs:
The Educational Advocacy Department has been very busy the last few weeks, from Eligibility Meetings to being part of IEP teams. Our clients have ranged from five years old to transitioning from high school to CCRI! It has been very gratifying to be part of the process and see students and parents advocating for themselves to get what they need from the schools. Some school departments are much more willing to come to the table and collaborate on accommodations and supports needed for the child to be successful, others have been a bit more challenging, but we continue to assist families in getting IEP/504 accommodations in place so all children will thrive. I am thrilled to be a part of this amazing team! It takes a village and we certainly know how to come together to get things done. Kudos!
One of our amazing Educational Advocates
Now more than ever, it is very important to find & protect your peace of mind. We will be sharing monthly tips & strategies to help you improve mindfulness & wellbeing.
6 tips for Reconnecting with Friends you haven’t seen during the pandemic

Some of us are starting to venture out and socialize again. Most people I talk to say “I’m not sure how to connect with other people, it’s been over a year since I’ve seen some of my friends.”
By nature, we as human beings are social creatures. Spending over a year confined to our homes has left a social void that we will all have to jump across. Here are some tips to help you successfully get to the other side!
1. Take Stock
Take some time to figure out if the friendships you want to re-establish. Are they worthy of your time and energy? Ask yourself “Did our friendship add value to my life?” “Were they healthy ones?” Spend time taking stock before rushing back in.
2. Chill out
Try to meet the person where they are at. We have all had different experiences during the pandemic. Some people have had great loss while have not been affected much. We need to remind ourselves to keep our expectations low and take the pressure off.
3. Gauge comfort level
Try to figure out what each of you is comfortable with. Make a plan that is OK with both of you. Large crowds or noisy environments might trigger unwanted stress. Seeing how familiar places have changed can also bring on unexpected emotions. Be prepared to alter and change plans at the moment.
4. Be present
This is what a shared friendship is all about. Take turns talking and listening. Be vulnerable with you’re feelings and emotions. Try to suspend judgment of each other and challenge each other to do so.
5. Remember your quarantine crew
Some of us had a small close circle of friends we kept in touch with. As we expand our social networks again try not to leave these friends behind. Make time to continue your connections and shared life experience.
6. Reconnect with the community
Get out and about at your own pace. Feel comfortable venturing out. Remember there is a feeling of safety in numbers…so pick up the phone and make plans with a dear friend and venture out into the world again!

Adapted from an article By Dana McMahan

Thank You To the Moran-Ventre Charitable Foundation
for their generous support of Circles of Connections.
The Moran-Ventre Charitable Foundation http://www.johnemoran.org
The John E. Moran Foundation was established with the sole purpose to benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.