Having trouble viewing this email? Click here for a web version.

Community integration for all people with developmental disabilities

HCDDS_Full Logo_PNG.png
Reflections 2021.png

October 2021

In This Issue

  • Early Intervention Program Updates
  • Grief Support Services
  • Strategic Plan
  • Common Threads
  • A Career Dedicated to Students
  • Choking Prevention
  • Celebrating Employment Success
  • Ohio ISP U
  • Upcoming Events

Constant Contact removed the ability to add anchor links to our emails.

From the Superintendent

We’re currently working with Lighthouse Youth & Family Services (LYFS) to transition the service coordination component of Early Intervention (EI) from LYFS to Hamilton County DD Services by the end of the year.

Currently, HCDDS staff provide a variety of Early Intervention services for children and families, while Lighthouse staff provide service coordination. Under this model, we have delivered quality supports to children and families for many years. Ohio’s EI system has undergone changes in the past several years and additional developments are on the way that align the program more closely to Ohio Department of DD oversight and initiatives. Therefore, we believe it is in the best interest of HCDDS, LYFS, and the families we support to move both programs under the management of our organization.

Lighthouse Youth & Family Services is a strong partner and because of our close collaboration, we anticipate no disruption to services. Service coordinators currently working for Lighthouse will be able to transition to HCDDS under our hiring process, if they choose, and children and families will continue to be able to access needed services without interruption.

Additionally, our long-time partnership with LYFS will continue in the future as we build on our work together in other areas to best serve our community. We will continue to provide updates as we move through this process.


Leia Snyder

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which aims to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. The theme for NDEAM 2021, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

NDEAM led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy and celebrates its 76th anniversary this year! Hamilton County DD Services celebrated NDEAM by sharing local employment success stories, some of which are featured below. See all the 2021 success stories on our website.


Hayden Schunk works at TopGolf in West Chester, where he’s been for three years. He wanted a job at an entertainment venue and worked with LADD to make that happen.

Hayden loves the atmosphere and helping customers as they arrive at the venue. “I work with a great team and the benefits are great because I feel that I can work and play at the same time,” he says. “I’m also getting pretty good at driving a golf ball!”


Tim Albert has worked at Cincinnati Children’s for more than 20 years. He began as an operating room tech and is now a histology tech in the Division of Pathology, where he has been for 14 years.

In this job, Tim scans and organizes the biopsy slides for filing, puts away supplies for the laboratory, and completes other duties. “I like working in the medical field because I have been involved with doctors my whole life,” he says.


Maya Walton works at the Forest Park Kroger, where she’s been for almost seven years. She is a bagging and lot associate and also helps stock shelves. She always has a positive outlook and is a favorite among her co-workers.

“I look forward to continuing to provide great customer service in my community,” Maya says.


Nathan Michelson has been a full-time employee at Fifth Third Bank for 16 Years. He recently changed positions and has adjusted well to his new tasks.

"I'm happy to be a part of my new team at Fifth Third and love being able to go to work every day," he said. "I feel like I fit in well with my new co-workers." 

Strategic Plan - Next Steps

Thank you to everyone who participated in our strategic planning survey or one of our virtual café conversations. Our strategic planning team is in the process of reviewing all the feedback we received to identify common themes and potential focus areas over the next three years.

Throughout the next month, we will collaborate with our staff and stakeholders to create a draft strategic plan that will be presented to the board and the public for review in December. Our new three-year strategic plan will launch January 2022.

Your Shot - CC.png

This video features people with disabilities, families, and caregivers talking about why they chose to get vaccinated. "COVID vaccines are working and are giving people freedom to have fun again." 


Have more questions? See these plain language documents: Additional Dose for COVID-19 and COVID Monoclonal Antibody Therapy.

Many local pharmacies and health departments now offer the COVID-19 vaccine. Find locations and hours here.

Stay Safe From Choking

The Ohio Department of DD notes that eating the wrong diet texture and lack of needed supports are the leading cause of choking-related incidents. Choking incidents can be prevented by:

  • Providing the right food consistency
  • Wait for the person to finish one bite before offering another bite
  • Provide physical support as needed to ensure someone is sitting upright while eating

If someone's face is turning red, lips are turning blue and they have the inability to talk or make much sound, they may be choking. Call 911 and follow first aid training.

Learn more here about choking prevention and what to do if someone you support is choking.

Ohio ISP Update

Each county in Ohio will be transitioning to the Ohio Individual Service Plan (OISP). This new template will ensure each person served by a county board will have a plan completed by a service and support administrator (SSA) using the same format.

The Ohio Department of DD is in the process of developing the application that will support the OISP. The PDF/paper version is available for review.

Our SSAs are currently completing online training and are beginning to use the PDF version of the new Ohio Individual Service Plan in meetings.

You can learn more about the Ohio Individual Service Plan here. If you still want to learn more, Ohio DODD Director Jeff Davis talks about the Ohio ISP in this recent podcast.

Helping Students Thrive for 35 years

Former Transition Supervisor Lisa Grady retired from HCDDS last month

As a young adult, Lisa Grady thought she’d be a lawyer or psychologist. She was working as a waitress during college when a co-worker asked for a favor. Could she babysit their daughter, Danielle, who was deaf, used limited sign language, and had multiple disabilities.

“I said yes, knowing no sign language and very little about the young lady and her specialized needs,” Grady said. She kept signing “go” and “horse” but Grady couldn’t understand. These miscommunications made Danielle frustrated and anxious.

“It left me curious about how to work with students with special needs,” Grady said. “I wanted to enable them to live their lives with a greater sense of calm and understanding. I also wanted to find a way to help parents, like her mother, who often would break down in tears about the stress of raising her daughter.”

Lisa Grady - for Reflections October.png

That one night led her down the path of special education and a 35-year career of helping students and families. Grady recently retired from Hamilton County DD Services, where she was Transition Supervisor for the past six years. She began her career as an instructor at St. Joseph Home in 1986 and then briefly worked with adults at Franks, an adult work and activity center then owned by HCDDS. Grady spent much of her career in the classroom at Margaret B. Rost and Bobbie B. Fairfax schools, as well as Miamitown Elementary.

“Lisa is the paragon of what an educator should be. She is the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to educating children with disabilities, especially regarding transition planning,” said Matt Briner, director of Integrated Services for HCDDS, who worked with Grady for close to 15 years.

“By being so prepared and committed, all of her students were able to learn, grow and prosper. Lisa also worked very hard to build relationships with the families, which have continued long after the children have graduated.”

As she reflects on her career working with children who have disabilities, Grady is grateful for her colleagues with whom she created fun and inspiring activities, and tried new ways to solve problems. She also appreciates how they supported each other through challenges and successes. But one student and family left a particular impact on her. The young woman had a serious medical issue that left her with multiple disabilities. Grady had just lost her mother and said, “it took a great deal emotionally, spiritually, and professionally to rise to the challenge.”

Each time she worked with the young woman and her father, Grady tried to help her move a bit more freely and find the best outcomes for her situation. “It was one of the greatest joys of my life to bring a smile and laugh to her face,” she said.

“Laughter goes a long way in this field and job. I feel that fostering positivity through your enthusiasm and dedication is a powerful way to motivate and remain motivated in your work.”

Congratulations, Lisa, on your well-deserved retirement! We will miss you.

Guide to Nursing Services

If you need help navigating nursing services, a new statewide publication could help. Published by the Ohio Nursing Collaborative with input from families, the Guide to Nursing Services in Ohio is now available online.

This resource is for people, families and caregivers who need nursing support at home. You will find explanations of complex terms and systems, what you need to know about different ways to get and pay for nursing services, and clickable resources with more details.

Grief Support Services

Hamilton County DD Services partners with Fernside Center for Grieving Children. They provide grief support for children and adults in collaboration with schools and other social service agencies in order to ensure grief support for everyone in our community.

If someone has experienced a loss and would like grief support please reach out to HCDDS Advocacy Coordinator Amber Cowart who will coordinate a grief support group with Fernside. All services at

Fernside also welcome the Direct Support Professional or a family member to join the person if they would like that support. All services are free.

Inclusive Housing Resources Art Show

Thank you to everyone who participated in the "What Home is..." art show sponsored by Inclusive Housing Resources (IHR), Partnerships for Housing and Housing Network of Hamilton County.

The opening reception was Oct. 21. Prizes awarded included a trip to Kings Island trip, restaurant gift cards, and movie streaming gift cards.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the contest!

Home Art Show

AlertMedia Emergency Notification System

AlertMedia emergency notification system will soon replace the current CommunitySafe system the agency has had in place since 2009. The new system allows for more robust notifications. Notifications can be sent via text, phone call, mobile device alerts and desktop computer alerts. More information about the new system for our school families will be announced soon.

Common Threads Network: Annual State Updates

Join Common Threads Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Nov. 8 for a virtual information session with leadership from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD).

Learn how families are engaged and empowered to shape outcomes in their lives and the service system through family outreach and education. Get updates about waiver funding, and hear outcomes of the effort to unify, simplify and strengthen the Individual Service Plan (ISP) across Ohio.

If you have questions you’d like answered during the session, you can include those with your registration. This session is free for families and open to those in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties. See attached flyer for more information and register via Eventbrite. Questions? Reach out to Lynne Calloway via email.


Have you seen the inaugural issue of My Life? Our new quarterly magazine aims to empower people with independent life skills, share success stories, and promote opportunities for advocacy and making connections.

You can find a free copy at local library branches, our offices, and other places in the community! If you want a copy, have story ideas or want to get involved, send an email to magazine@hamiltondds.org.

HCDDS Communications Survey

We want to learn how different audiences and stakeholders receive information about Hamilton County DD Services, determine which outlets are most effective, and highlight areas where we can improve. Please take a few minutes to fill out this six-question survey and share your thoughts. Your feedback is appreciated!

The deadline to take this survey is Dec. 29, 2021. 

Upcoming Events

Always check the event website for the latest information. Find more events on the HCDDS website.

  • DSAGC Early Matters Playgroup. 9:30-11 a.m. (ages 0-2) or 3:30-5 p.m. (ages 3-5) Wednesdays October through December. Parents can socialize while children interact and play. Register here


  • Zoom Connection Hour2-3 p.m. Tuesdays or 5-6 p.m. Wednesdays on Zoom. For adults we serve who are looking to be social and meet others. Learn more

  • Neighbors in Action (NIA). 5-6 p.m. first and third Thursdays. Learn about advocacy and topics such as voting, transportation, technology and more. Details here.

  • Family Cooking with Chef Miles. 4:30-5:15 p.m. third Thursdays, October through December on Zoom. Learn about kitchen tools and more while working on fine motor skills. Click here

  • ASGC Teen Time Hangouts. 5:30-7 p.m. Fridays on Zoom. Trivia, bingo and games of all sorts can be found. Email for information.

  • Virtual Game Night. 5 p.m. second Saturdays in 2021. Inclusive games for everyone to enjoy. Click here for details.

  • DDBP Outreach Autism 101. 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 online. Learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder, including common behaviors & characteristics. Click here

  • Special Needs Family Night. 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29. An open-house event where families can meet and mingle in a fun and relaxed environment. Details here

  • Ohio County Boards Virtual Transition Networking Session. 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Nov. 2. Stakeholders from across the region gather together to learn about best practices and to network. Register here. 

  • Internet Safety Webinar. 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3 & 10. Teens and adults are welcome to join this two-part internet safety training webinar. Learn more.

  • Visionaries + Voices: Artist in Residence Opening Reception. 5-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5 in Northside. This show explores the ways shedding occurs in nature and the ways we all let go in order to move forward. Learn more

  • Ohio Sibs Conference. Saturday, Nov. 6. Details have been announced so register now for the Ohio Sibs Conference. Register here.

  • Common Threads Network Annual DODD Update. 10 a.m. to noon, Monday, Nov. 8 online. Register and tell us what questions you'd like to have answered during the session. Get details here.

  • Changing Lives: Essential Skills of a DSP. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8 online. This class teaches and reinforces the skills of great DSPs. Learn more here.  

  • Connecting the Dots with Sean Bostic. 5-6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8 on Zoom. Join Sean Bostic, our Family Engagement Coordinator, to have your questions answered as you navigate life. Click here

  • Caring for Children & Youth with DD (5-week course). 5:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays, Nov. 8-Dec. 6. All sessions are virtual except for Nov. 29. Register here. 

  • Mandatory Orientation & Annual Renewal Training. 10-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9 at LADD. For people who provide services to individuals with DD who must obtain certification from DODD. Learn more.

  • HCDDS Board Meeting. 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 1520 Madison Road. Contact Kim Sexton for details.

  • CPR & First Aid. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10 at LADD. Participants will get a card stating the successful completion of curriculum in CPR and/or First Aid valid for two years through the American Red Cross. Click here.

  • Veteran's Day Holiday. Thursday, Nov. 11. All HCDDS offices are closed.

  • Toilet Training Class for Caregivers. 9 a.m. to noon. Thursday, Nov. 11 & 18 on Zoom. Parents/caregivers learn about toilet training their child with a DD. Details here

  • Partnerships & Interventions to Improve Outcomes for Children of Addicted Parents. 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12 on Zoom. Current research and early childhood strategies to build academic success. Register here

  • Rise & Shine-DSAGC New Family Welcome Breakfast. 9:30-11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 13 at DSAGC. Join us for brunch at the DSAGC to welcome and celebrate all of our newest families! Click here for details. 

  • Noble Barber & Beauty Hair Cuts. 1-6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15 at Noble Barber & Beauty. Haircuts for children 2-12 yrs. with any developmental, physical or intellectual disability. Book appointments here

  • In-Person Memory Café. 2-3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15 in Green Township. Please register as a couple or group with your email by clicking here

  • OCALICONLINE 2021. Tuesday, Nov. 16 to Friday, Nov. 19 online. OCALICON is the autism and disabilities conference where people come together to learn, network, and share research, best practices, and resources. Learn more here

  • Crawl, Walk & Roll into Fall-A Gross Motor Mini-Series. 5:30-6 p.m. pre-crawlers & 6:15-6:45 p.m. crawlers/walkers, Tuesday, Nov. 16 & 23. Participants will work with certified physical and occupational therapists from the new Associates in Pediatric Therapy center in Northern Kentucky. Register here

  • Mandatory Orientation & Annual Renewal Training. 8:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20 at LADD. For people who provide services to individuals with DD who must obtain certification from DODD. Register here.

  • CPR & First Aid. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, Nov. 22 at LADD. Participants will get a card stating the successful completion of curriculum in CPR and/or First Aid valid for two years through the American Red Cross. Learn more.

  • Thanksgiving Holiday. Thursday-Friday, Nov. 25-26. All HCDDS offices are closed.


  • Visionaries + Voices: Holly Dazed. 5-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 in Northside. Snag some bargains, enter a raffle and view a charming curated holiday exhibition. Click here.


We're proud to have more than 7,600 fans on social media.

If you haven't yet, please connect with us on one of the social networks below!

Facebook  Instagram  Twitter  YouTube  LinkedIn