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August Newsletter

Back to School Edition!

What does The Center for Exceptional Families Do?

Knowledgeable Parent Mentors

Our mentors are parents of children with disabilities. They have life and work experiences plus training that make them uniquely qualified to help parents and schools work together to improve outcomes for children with disabilities.


We provide information for caregivers of children with disabilities like resources, presentations, workshops, and other materials. We also connect with schools and other community organizations.

Family Fun

TCFEF is proud to present Sensory Cinema in Jonesboro, which allows caregivers, and children and adults with disabilities to watch movies in a sensory friendly environment. We hope to expand this program to more cities.

Visit our Website

From the Director's desk

School across the state have begun. School buses have joined the traffic flow on our state highways and open houses are being held. What an exciting time for families! The family routine must shift now to accommodate homework sessions, after school therapy appointments, extracurricular activities, and earlier bedtimes. Now is a great time to organize your IEP binder, too. Go through it and get reacquainted with the documents, file away what you won’t need this school year, and jot down your thoughts on what you’d like to see your student accomplish. Stay focused, stay positive, stay calm, and call TCFEF if you have any concerns at all! We are ready to help you work with your student's school district and make this the best year yet! 

-Shelby Knight


A routine is important for school, however don't let the stress of missing that routine ruin everyone's day! Many children, with and without disabilities, can benefit from routine but flexibility is important to learn also. Take a deep breath, be calm and patient, things will fall into place. If praying helps you, say a little prayer.

If you are looking for more ideas, the Parenting Special Needs E-Magazine is great! Click Here

-Loreena Hegenbart

North Central Parent Mentor

Now that school is around the corner, getting back to a good sleep schedule is vital!

Here are some "Tips to Help your Child with Special Needs Fall Asleep" by Emma Sterland: Consistency is key, start earlier, social story, gradual changes, smells like Mom Special teddy, gradual out, hold off the lavender, keep it boring, no vanishing acts, etc.

To read the full article, Click Here

-Karen Lutrick

SW & Central Parent Mentor

Parents, remember the importance of getting into the back to school habits early so your child will be ready to go when school starts such as:

  • Going to bed on time, having a nighttime routine, bathing and bedtime reading.
  • Adjusting to the new breakfast and lunch schedule, not eating at will, and reducing snacks during the day.
  • Laying out the right clothes and packing backpacks the night before
  • Reviewing drop off and pick up plans

Let the new year begin!!!!!!!!!!

For an example of visuals for teaching good habits, Click Here

-Teresa Hendrix

NE & Delta Parent Mentor

There are things you can do as a parent to get prepared for the school year. Find a organization system for your child's school and medical paperwork. Learn all you can about your rights and the rights of your child if they have a 504 or an IEP! Check out The Center for Exceptional Families' presentation and note guides on our website!

Click Here

-Michele Lappin

Media/Technology Coordinator

Staff Bios

Tips for Teachers!

If you're a teacher, it can be stressful and exciting to get ready for a new school year. Reflect on years past to help prepare you if you're a seasoned teacher. Work together with a mentor teacher if you're a new teacher. And, don't forget TCFEF is here for you and appreciates you! We support your work as a vital member of the IEP and 504 process! Click below to read some more tips from teachers about preparing for the new school year!

Click Here

TCFEF Board Member Spotlight!

Mary Helen Cox

Mary Helen graduated from Arkansas State University in 2007 with a degree in early childhood education with an emphasis in special education and with a masters in educational theory and practice in 2011.

Her youngest child, Jonah, was born with a disability including autism. Since Jonah’s birth, Mary Helen has learned first-hand the importance of advocacy in the life of a child with a disability and has dedicated her time to both of her children as well as helping other families who are new to the disability world.

Board Member Bios

TCFEF in the Community!

Teresa Hendrix and other TCFEF staff attended the SEAS Arkansas Educational Conference in Hot Springs for teachers, administrators, and professionals in the special education field.

They set up an exhibit, met with numerous public schools professionals and organizations, and hosted two break out sessions about TCFEF!

Learn More...

Loreena Hegenbart set up an exhibit and represented TCFEF at the Stone County Health and Education Fair in Mountain View!

There were free school supplies, information, fun activities, and cartoon characters like Woody, Minions, and Paw Patrol!

Learn More...

Karen Lutrick set up an exhibit and represented TCFEF at the CureDuchenne State Conference in Little Rock!

CureDuchenne is an interactive educational outreach program that provides information, resources, and best practices for managing Duchenne and improving quality of life.

Learn More...

If you have a health fair, open house, or educational event you would like TCFEF to attend, email:

This summer, Sensory Cinema was in full swing at The Malco Town Cinema in Jonesboro for the viewing of Minions! Many different families showed up for the show and some even came in character! Thank you to Miracle Kids for being our current sponsor for Sensory Cinema. To learn more

Click Here

News and Events

To keep up with TCFEF events, visit our calendar!

Click Here

If you would like to sign your child up for social programs or volunteer to expand programs in your city, learn more about Arkansas Community Connections!

Click Here

To find out about events in Arkansas happening in your local area, check out They also have a free guide, accommodations list, newsletter, free things to do, etc. Perfect for a Staycation or anytime!

Click Here

The Center for Exceptional Families would like to extend a big thanks to Ag for Autism for their donation! They have been a loyal supporter to our organization over the years and the work we do to help families of kids with disabilities and adults with disabilities find resources and work together with schools to improve their lives!

To Learn more about AG for Autism,

Click Here

Backpack Connection Series

The Backpack Connection Series was created by The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) by the Federal Office of Special Programs (OSEP) to provide a way for teachers and parents/caregivers to work together to help young children develop social emotional skills and reduce challenging behavior.

This series was developed in collaboration with Pyramid Plus: The Colorado Center for Social Emotional Competence and Inclusion, Bal Swan Children's Center in Broomfield, Colorado, and The University of South Florida.

OSEP encourages reproduction and sharing of these printables. TCFEF will only be sharing the series as resource for parents in our newsletters. If you are a school staff member and your district is interested using these as part of an education program, Click Here for more information.

How to Help your Child have a Successful Bedtime

English PDF

Spanish PDF

Visual Supports for Routines and Transitionss (English)

How to Help your Child have a Successful Morning

English PDF

Spanish PDF

Visual Supports for Routines and Transitions (Spanish)

How to Use Social Stories to Teach your Child New Skills and Expectations

English PDF

Spanish PDF

Going to School Social Story (English)

Going to School Social Story (Spanish)

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