A note from Joanna, State Director of The Arc Rhode Island
Here we are at the end of February and moving towards Spring, and I can't wait!
Just one year ago, The Arc Rhode Island gathered with parents, professionals, and Legislators for a rally at Warwick Library to discuss Special Education Reform preparing to testify at the Statehouse for the crucial need for education improvement to assist families navigating special education services for their child. We were fortunate to have parents deliver that testimony to the Health, Education, and Welfare Committee one day before the statehouse shut down because of the pandemic! This year, we are back now, with even a stronger group of parents, 100+ strong demanding special education reform. This session, RI Legislators have carried our cry for reform and are DOING something to help families! Representative Lauren Carson (Newport) and Representative Terri Cortvriend (Middletown) are leading the wave of change with Representatives Amore, Speakman, Caldwell, Casimiro, Fenton-Fung, Kislak, Craven, and Fogarty sponsoring our Special Education Ombudsman bill. To see the bill in full click here.
Our office is also busy providing our individuals and families all the education, future planning, running programs, and assisting families in finding the supports and services they need to lead a full life. Ken Renaud, our Assistant Director, facilitates Person-Centered Plans that focus on what is positive and possible for a person living with disabilities. Discovering their individual strengths, new interests, and making sure they have the opportunities to join others in the community, finding friends, and, yes, even LOVE❤️, during this Valentine's month! Let us know how we can help your or your family members to stay connected. Spring is around the corner; it is a new start with new possibilities for us all - Happy Spring!
When asked "What makes you smile?" group member Stephanie responded,
"Seeing all of you smile in my zoom circle."
-Stephanie Cerep

The Arc Rhode Island CIRCLES OF CONNECTIONS: We currently serve 30+ individuals and family members in six weekly circles, and 2021 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!
Meet Darlene: Building Healthy Relationships Group Leader
The Rhode Island Facilitator Forum Brings Back:
Positive and Possible!

On January 29th over 30 people gathered to reignite the Rhode Island Facilitator Forum. The forum was founded with the intention to help gather people to have meaningful conversations and engage in planning that matters. The FF, as it is affectionately called, has not met in over 12 years. A group of past members and new professionals who are dedicating themselves to the Developmental Disabilities field were invited into a Founders group conversation to reconnect, make new friendships and alliances, and forge a new future of possibilities for the beloved forum. This community of practice is dedicated to leading the way for inclusive futures for all. To this end, the members practice person-centered thinking and planning conversation hosting skill sets and facilitation techniques.
If you are interested in joining the forum please contact
Ken Renaud at renaud@thearc.org
This beautiful drawing is by Kim Pinksaw and captured the essence of excitement at the January forum. It is a work in creation as the forum moves boldly in the future.
Legislators are LISTENING and are taking action to help Special Education Families!

03/08/21 4:00pm - 03/08/21 6:00pm

Learn about the proposed legislation from the bill sponsors and supporters of a Special Education Ombudsman Office and other education bills
I'll be there!
I can't make it

 Are you ready to equip yourself with the tools to advocate for disability rights in 2021?
Every year individuals, families, and professionals gather at the Disability Policy Seminar.  This year will be virtual due to COVID-19. You you can still expect the same great expertise and timely information that make it a can't-miss event, plus virtual Hill visits!
This year's policy landscape provides uniquely new opportunities to advance the programs and supports that make community life possible for people with disabilities. With a new Administration, a new Congress, and renewed calls for equity and progress amidst a continuing pandemic, your advocacy has never been more important.
With the convenience of your computer, it's never been easier to attend. Register to join us today!
Do you know of someone who could benefit from a free webinar in Spanish about how to get started with future planning?
The Arc’s Center for Future Planning is hosting a new future planning 101 webinar for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families whose preferred language is Spanish.
 Please share this widely with families in your community!
The webinar, “La Planificación Futura: Es Posible y Necesario,” will be offered twice. Register below:
Participants will learn:
  • What future planning is and why it’s so important for people with disabilities and their caregivers
  • How to start future planning discussions
  • What steps a family should take to create their future plan
  • Where to find resources that can help facilitate discussions and guide planning
You can find more information here in Spanish about this webinar and other future planning resources.
FREE family workshops about employment in the community for youth with developmental disabilities
MARCH 9, 16, 23 & 30, 2021
3:30-5:00 PM

Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) is designed for families, their young adults (age 14 - 21) with developmental disabilities, and the professionals who support them.
For questions related to FEAT, contact:
Claire Rosenbaum, crosenbaum@ric.edu
Iraida Diaz Williams (Bilingual English/Spanish), iwilliams@ric.edu
FEAT is presented by family support staff of the Sherlock Center on Disabilities. All are family members of people with disabilities and have years of experience in supporting individuals and families in their transition from school to employment. There is no cost to attend!
FEAT is sponsored by the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College. 
Individuals with Disabilities & Family Members...

The Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities is a virtual center with the goal of identifying and reducing healthcare inequities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by improving access to anti-discrimination protocols. The center develops resources for healthcare professionals to increase understanding of the civil rights and support needs of Americans with disabilities as they access healthcare. Their vision includes engaging people with disabilities and their families to learn more about advocacy related to healthcare discrimination. Visit

https://www.ucucedd.org/center-for-dignity-in-healthcare-for-people-with-disabilities/ for more information.

There are many resources on The Arc of United States website. Learn about our national policy initiatives and sign up to be notified of upcoming webinars: https://thearc.org/
Rhode Island Department of Health COVID-19 Resources
Hotline (401) 222-8022 or 211 after hours;
Email RIDOH.COVID19Questions@health.ri.gov
Website https://health.ri.gov/covid/
Parents and Guardians of Children in School...

Learning More About Disability

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have some significant similarities.
In a 2014 review of studies looking at the co-occurrence of ADHD and ASD, researchers found that between 30 to 50 percent of people with ASD also have symptoms of ADHD. Researchers don't fully understand the cause for either condition or why they occur together so frequently. 
Are You Prepared for your Annual IEP Review?
It's the Annual IEP review or summer services season and we want to be sure you are prepared for your meeting. Here are some tips for parents

✔️ You may ask for a draft IEP and/or updated evaluations in advance of the meeting.

✔️ If you have any questions for any staff members providing supports or services to your child request that they are in attendance at the meeting.

✔️ Write down your child's academic, social, emotional, behavioral, and daily living strengths and weaknesses.

✔️ What supplementary aids and services/modifications/assistive technology will your child need to be successful in the Least Restrictive Environment?

✔️ Have your child's goals and objectives been met? If so, have they been modified? If not, why not? Are they unrealistic?

✔️ Is your child's proposed program in the Least Restrictive Environment?

✔️ Did your child have a difficult time recouping skills during COVID, school closures or other vacation periods? If so, what are the goals to recoup those skills lost? Are there any other relevant factors to warrant an extended school year program? Think about concentrating on the areas most impacted: math, reading, social skills, etc.

✔️ If your child is 14 or older, share your goals and ideas for his/her future and what activities could assist in attaining those goals. Write down your child's interests. Start to request a person-centered plan for your child's future goals.

✔️ If your child is in his/her senior year of high school, is he/she ready to graduate? Special needs students are entitled to receive a free and appropriate education until age 21. Therefore, if your child has not met graduation requirements and/or has not received appropriate transition planning, or you feel they are not ready to move on to career or further education, you can request a Person-Centered Plan be developed.

✔️ Write down any questions, concerns, or suggestions you have.

✔️ Bring the most recent IEP with you to the meeting with your notes on what should be added to the current IEP to prepare your child for independent living, further education or career training.

✔️ If you suggest a plan or do not agree with the IEP or 504 or they are unsure whether your requests for services are valid and warranted: Speak to an Educational Advocate, Call RIPIN, Call the RIDE Hotline or call The Arc Rhode Island or:
Join our weekly Circles of Connections Special Education Zoom calls
and get advice from our Education Advocates
and your fellow parents of children with disabilities!

An Educational Advocacy Success:

"Thank you for helping us get a 504 Plan for my daughter. I just cannot believe how difficult it was to get the school to listen to me before you came with us to a meeting. Without your help, I doubt I would have been given the 504 Plan so my daughter can succeed in middle school." - Laurie W.

Community Life: A Right and a Necessity During COVID-19
A self-directed and independent life is the right of every person. But for too many people with disabilities, this choice is stolen from them—leaving them warehoused and isolated from their families and communities in institutions and nursing homes. Not only do these crowded congregate settings deprive people of the right to direct their own lives, they also put people at much greater risk of contracting COVID-19, making funding for home and community-based services more urgent than ever before.

The solution? Medicaid-funded home and community-based services (HCBS). HCBS enable people to access the supports they need for things like eating, dressing, personal hygiene, employment supports, and managing health care or finances.

Many states' Medicaid programs have long waiting lists for HCBS, and people with disabilities and their families wait years, even a decade or more, for the services to thrive. Learn more about why waiting lists are so long and how we can fulfill the promise of community for ALL. 
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.
Defining Wellness
The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.

There are two important aspects to this definition.
First, wellness is a practice. It is often times for many of us not passive or static state but rather an “active pursuit” that is associated with intentions, choices and actions. We are mindful of the present moment as we work toward an optimal state of health and wellbeing.

Wellness is linked to holistic health—that is, it extends beyond physical health and incorporates many different dimensions that should work in harmony. Wellness is an individual pursuit—we have self-responsibility for our own choices, behaviors and lifestyles—but it is also significantly influenced by the physical, social and cultural environments in which we live.

Wellness is often confused with terms such as health, wellbeing and happiness. While there are common elements among them, wellness is distinguished by not referring to a static state of being (i.e., being happy, in good health, or a state of wellbeing). Rather, wellness is associated with an active process of being aware and making choices that lead toward an outcome of optimal holistic health and wellbeing.
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