May 4, 2017

As I watched the movie Hidden Figures, I was once again struck by the depth of discrimination facing African-Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. So what does this movie have to do with disability? The most obvious connection is the experience of segregation and disenfranchisement.
People with physical disabilities found themselves in hospitals while those with intellectual/developmental disabilities found themselves in state institutions.  Despite different building titles these facilities kept both groups of people "safe" and prevented their inclusion in society. Parents were told to forget about their kids, but many refused that instruction and stayed connected. To paraphrase Tom Corcoran, a South Shore PR professional and friend from that era, "society wants to hide people who are different, cover them with a rug." This reality was very much alive circa 1970s and 1980s.   
Bottom line: prejudice and discrimination - whether unintended or explicit - have not disappeared. We see it in all communities as people with disabilities, poor or affluent, face low expectations and limited options. "Hidden figures" in any context do not advance growth among people or society.
Together we can improve our outcomes and strategies. Read more... 
Leo V. Sarkissian
Executive Director    
SUPPORTbrokers of The Arc of Massachusetts Receives Grant! 
The Dana Home Foundation has awarded
SUPPORTbrokers  a grant to fund Supporting Seniors with Autism in Lexington. Through this grant,  SUPPORTbrokers will begin a year-long pilot study looking at the lives of ten individuals with autism or similar profiles over the age of 50 living in the town of Lexington. A Person-Centered Plan will be conducted for each individual and life plans will be developed for their futures. By doing this, we will gather summary information on supports and services for elders in Lexington. This could lead to developing potential recommendations for how Lexington's infrastructure of supports and services for elders and people with special needs might be utilized, adapted, or expanded to serve seniors with autism. Our intent is to develop a model that other towns could follow, in discovering the unmet needs of a specific population, mapping existing resources in the community and identifying barriers to services being provided.
The Dana Home Foundation is dedicated to providing the care, comfort and wellbeing of senior citizens, with a special emphasis on serving, directly or indirectly, the needs of those who reside in or have connections to the Town of Lexington.

SUPPORTbroker Pat Pakos will be coordinating this project .

"It is with extreme pleasure that we accept this grant from the Dana Home Foundation in Lexington. We look forward to a year of discovery, friendship, and collaboration as we work with individuals, families, friends, collaborators, and community organizations to enhance the lives of those we serve." - Pat Pakos

For more information contact Kerry

First Circles: The Power of Community in Your Hands

June 1, 2017 7:00 - 8:00 PM
Imagine a mobile app that makes it easier to support those with special needs and their families - an app that creates a virtual support network ready to assist anyone who needs extra help from time to time. This app is First Circles.
First Circles creates a unique, on-demand network or "circle" ready to support any person with special needs. It is a free download in the Apple and Google app stores. A user simply creates a circle and then invites trusted family members, friends, or caregivers to join it. When help is needed, a member sends a help request to their circle. Other members of their circle receive the request and then volunteer to help. Users can also post messages, reminders and locations or upload photos and files. Users can create as many circles and invite as many members as they need. First Circles has unlimited flexibility. 
Presented By:
Michael Pepe is a distinguished business executive with a background in media, information technology, and business services. In addition to serving as the CEO of Acacia Road Ventures, he is an associate of the  Harvard University Psychology Department and a member of Professor Ellen Langer's Mindfulness Research Lab.  

At Harvard, Michael is conducting a study on police officer well being, correlating stress with policing activity, and investigating the impact of mindfulness instruction on sports performance.
Financial assistance is available. Contact Kerry
Did you miss a webinar ?

 It is not too late! You can view the recorded webinar using The Arc's on demand feature.  To view click here and select "view session recordings."
WHAT'S TRENDINGwhatstrending
Exceptional Lives Launches New Directory
Exceptional Lives recently launched its free, user-friendly
Disability Resource Directory - a searchable online database of disability programs and providers in Massachusetts.  It's designed for parents and caregivers of children or adults with developmental disabilities and professional care providers that serve them. The database  contains more than 1,200 resources in 54 service categories in areas such as  Therapy (including speech, PT, OT, and ABA providers) and p arent and caregiver support.
You can do quick and easy searches by zip code, age, disability, and service type. And you can see if a service is covered by MassHealth.
For more info, visit or contact Jay O'Brien at or 844-354-1212.
Future Planning For Adults 
with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Boston University is doing a research study to develop a new program to
increase siblings' involvement in future planning for their brother/sister with
autism spectrum disorder. They are looking for siblings, service providers, and
adults with autism for this study. If you participate, you will either participate
in a focus group or a one - on - one interview. For more information click here .
Spectrum For Hope
The Spectrum For Hope is a new non profit organization that supports families that have multiple children with special needs. Families who have more than one child with disabilities have unique challenges. Spectrum For Hope is currently offering the opportunity for families to apply for funding through their first grant cycle.  Learn more about the grant .

Finally ABLE to Save: A New Savings Tool for People with Disabilities
The  ABLE  Account is available in several states currently and is due to be offered in Massachusetts next month. Learn more about ABLE accounts and whether it is right for you or your family member with a disability.
To learn about the basics of the ABLE account, click here to read ABLE Accounts: Ten Things You Need to Know. 
Click here for a chart, provided by the National Down Syndrome Society comparing elements of all of the currently operable ABLE programs in the U.S., along with their contact information.   
Stay tuned to Shepherd Financial Services' blog; over the next few weeks they will feature wealth accumulation planning strategies including: 
  • When the child turns 18, transferring money to an ABLE account can help avoid the spend-down process - reducing savings beneath the $2,000 threshold.
  • Gainfully employed persons with a disability may open an account to save their own money.
  • An ABLE account may be used to address the issue of staying below $2000 in a Representative Payee Account.
  • There are potential planning strategies around allowing distributions for housing related expenses. Currently, special needs trusts do not permit distributions for housing; only supplemental expenses.
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