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Down Syndrome Autism Connection 

The Down Syndrome-Autism Connection convene its regular chat the last Tuesday of every months. The next virtual meeting will be Tuesday, May 26 at 8pm.   

The DSAC invites all families affected by Down syndrome and autism, including families who recently got an autism diagnosis, to join them. Monthly chats are held the 2nd Monday of every month from 8:30 - 10pm. To be added to the invitation list, please contact Jeanne Doherty at jdoherty@mdsc.org. 
Ds & Mental Health Support Group


Does your teen or adult loved one with Down syndrome also have a mental health diagnosis such as Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder? Often these illnesses bring on a change in daily living skills, mood, or interest in activities once enjoyed. Seeing these changes and regression in your loved one can be very difficult. 

Join our next Down Syndrome & Mental Health Support Group on Thursday, May 7 at 7pm for our virtual meeting by Zoom. 

The MDSC offers every-other-month meetings for family members who have a loved one with Down syndrome and a mental health diagnosis. Meetings are facilitated by Mary-Frances Garber, a licensed genetic counselor providing supportive genetic counseling in her private practice, Listening, Reflecting, Healing in Needham. She has been a consultant with the MDSC for the past 6 years providing insight and support to many families.

Please note that individualized psychiatric treatment will not be provided at this meeting. This meeting is meant to serve as a venue for families with loved ones with Down syndrome and mental health concerns so that they may obtain mutual support with professional supervision.

For more information about this group and/or joining the next meeting, contact Colleen at cendres@mdsc.org.
Do you or someone you know use Lyft to access essential services? 

The MDSC is excited to partner with NDSS to offer $25 Lyft codes to support families in accessing essential services (groceries, pharmacy, medical appts, work). 

Please have anyone who could benefit from this reach out to Jacquie Sherman to receive a $25 code, good through May 31, 2020.
Shopping Amazon? Support People with Down syndrome! 

So many of us are ordering supplies and necessities for our new home-based lifestyles. 

When you do your Amazon.com shopping, why not support your loved ones with Down syndrome at the same time? 

Just go directly to this link or to smile.amazon.com and select the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress as your charity of choice. 

When you do so, a percentage of your purchases will support MDSC programs and services. 


As the Covid-19 outbreak evolves throughout the country and here in Massachusetts, MDSC continues to advocate on national and statewide public policy efforts to protect our loves ones with Down syndrome & other disabilities from being disproportionately or unfairly impacted. Below are the various ways just in the past week we are taking action on your behalf.

MDSC Supports CARES Act Revision Letter
The economic stimulus payments authorized by the CARES Act did not include individual payments or dependent credits for dependents over the age of 16. This excludes many people with disabilities who are claimed as dependents, but are over the age of 16. In response, MDSC has signed onto a letter in support of a bill introduced by Congressman Angie Craig and Senator Tina Smith to revise the CARES Act to include adult and young adult dependents. 

The letter, organized by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, asks leadership to include it in the next COVID package. See the full letter here 

MDSC Supports Hospital Visitation Rights 
The current COVID-19 crisis has resulted in dramatic changes to hospital and healthcare office policies and protocols. To help curb the spread of COVID-19, hospitals and healthcare offices have dramatically restricted the presence of visitors. While safety concerns are paramount, these policies pose serious challenges to individuals with disabilities who rely on in-person supports both in and out of the hospital. As a result, MDSC has signed onto two separate petitions asking state and national leadership to ensure that hospital and other healthcare provider visitor policies include reasonable modifications for people with disabilities who need the physical presence of a support person in order to ensure equal access to health care. 
MDSC Requests State Provide Early Intervention Extension for 3-year-olds 
MDSC has signed onto a petition from Mass Advocates for Children requesting that our state leaders issue an emergency executive order or other immediate mechanism to authorize Early Intervention programs to continue providing services to all children deemed potentially eligible for special education services who turn three and are unable to transition to the school district due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Approximately 1900 young children with disabilities have been receiving services through Early Intervention (EI) but are turning age three and facing abrupt, and in some cases dangerous, disruption of essential services. These children are unable to effectively transition from the Department of Public Health (DPH) Early Intervention programs to school-based special education programs due to school closures. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, many low-income parents -- disproportionately parents of color -- are struggling as they face job loss, food insecurity, COVID-19 exposure and illness, and other stressors, all while attempting to care for their children at home. The situation is particularly challenging for families of children with disabilities turning three who are experiencing the major disruption and abrupt cessation of the services they need to move through their daily lives. The petition includes the request that the order remain in effect until such time as schools re-open and children effectively transition to school-based special education services.

Family Support Programming

MDSC's Parents First Call Program, is a national model for serving and supporting parents of children with Down syndrome, including new & expectant parents. Parents First Call provides opportunities to connect with others who have had the same experience to listen, share, answer questions, and provide valuable information.

Our family support team is now actively supporting families virtually and has many online support groups now forming. Please contact Sarah at familysupport@mdsc.org to learn more about any of the gatherings below and to let us know how we can help.

Sign Language Workshop 
For Families of Infants and Toddlers
Saturday, May 9
10:30am to Noon
Zoom Meeting
Join us for a baby sign language workshop for new parents, w ith  Lane Rebelo, LCSW, the author of the bestselling Baby Sign Language Made Easy: 101 Signs to Start Communicating with Your Child Now and The Complete Guide to Baby Sign Language: 200+ Signs for You and Baby to Learn Together. This workshop will provide an introduction to using American Sign Language vocabulary in order to facilitate communication with your little one. You'll learn when and how to start, what signs to start with, and strategies for incorporating sign language into your daily routine. We'll have fun learning how to add signs to songs you and your baby already know and love to sing! This workshop is geared for parents of infants and toddlers.
Email  Sarah Cullen for more information

8-12 Group Family Connections 

Saturday, May 9
Saturday, June 13
2-3:30pm
Zoom Meeting
For parents and their 8-12 year old child with Down syndrome to meet new friends and see old friends 
Email Sarah Cullen for more information

Single Moms
Wednesday, May 13
2-3:30pm
Zoom Meeting
Email  Sarah Cullen  for more information

8-12 Group Yoga

Thursday, May 14
4-4:45pm
Zoom Meeting
With Danielle Thompson
Email Sarah Cullen for more information

Art with Katy Newman for 4-12 Year Olds

Saturday May 16
Two sessions for families with children 4-12 years old
10-11am
2-3pm
Zoom Meeting
Email Sarah Cullen or Katy Newman for more information 

4-7 Group Family Connections
 
June 6
2-3:30pm
For parents and their 4-7 year old child with Down syndrome to meet new friends and see old friends
Zoom Meeting
Email  Sarah Cullen for more information

New Family Social

June 6
10:30-Noon
Zoom Meeting
For families of children with Down syndrome three years old (up to 4th birthdays) and younger, as well as expectant families.
Email Sarah Cullen for more information
Teen & Adult Programming

Our MDSC team has been working on ways we can continue to connect teens, adults and their families through our Advocates in Motion and Self Advocate Advisory Council programs. 

Newsletter for Teen & Adults
MDSC's weekly  Newsletter for Teens & Adults includes fun ideas and activities while you stay safe at home, including  favorite ways to stay active, entertainment ideas, and the parent corner.  Check out the latest newsletter and send us your videos, photos and stories, so we can include them in an upcoming edition!

May Self Advocate Advisory Council (SAAC) Social
Saturday, May 9
1pm
Zoom Meeting
Adults, ages 20 and up, are invited to join us for a virtual dance class with our dear friend Kelley St. Hilaire of Kadanse Ballroom & Latin Dance Studio!
To learn more about SAAC and receive invitations to our quarterly socials for adults, ages 20 and up, contact Kristen

IMPACT:Ability 
Saturday, May 16 
Two sessions
11am - for youth ages 13-20*
12pm - for adults ages 20 and up*
Zoom Meeting
We are excited to offer a free online workshop with our friends from IMPACT:Ability! In this class you will learn skills to help manage your stress and strong emotions, how to communicate with others in a healthy way, and how to set and respect healthy boundaries. This class will use video, role play, and discussion to help teach these skills in the most interactive way possible through a virtual format.  Space is limited! Please email Colleen to reserve a spot! 
*Age breakdown is tentative and will be finalized closer to the workshop date.

Advocates in Motion 
On Sunday, AIM held its May Hangout on Zoom! In June, our 13-22 year old self advocates will gather again for another special virtual event. Stay tuned for more information.  To learn more about getting involved in AIM, our program for teens and young adults ages 13-22 and parents,  contact Colleen .
Education Programming

MDSC 36th Annual Virtual Conference
Trailblazers: Paving the Way to a Bright Future Through Innovative Research


Each spring, over 600 people with Down syndrome, their family members, health care professionals and educators from across New England attend our Annual Conference on Down syndrome. Though we are not able to gather in person this year, we join together virtually to hear the latest research findings and timely information from national and local experts on a range of topics related to Down syndrome. 

Gathering virtually, we will delve deep into the promising developments in Down syndrome research and the exciting potential it has for the future. Our presentations will highlight innovative clinical trials and explore studies underway nationwide that have promise to make a difference in people's lives. We will cover the latest research on nutrition and physical fitness, education, clinical care, technology, behavior, and Alzheimer's disease, to name a few. We will also offer other timely presentations pertinent to this season we are in, such as supporting your student at home, technology tips, and building skills of independence while homeschooling. Additionally, you will be able to join live, interactive virtual workshops to personally connect with and learn from others with similar experiences.

Stay tuned for more information and how to register.

Education Resources & Tools 
We have gathered a wealth of education resources and tools that are vetted and being constantly updated. This includes resources, curriculum materials, subscriptions, virtual tours, field trips, social stories, practical tips for caregivers and legal matters.  See the complete list here. 

16th Annual Educators Forum
Save the Date for the 16th Annual Educator's Forum on Oct. 29. The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress recognizes that supporting students with complex learning profiles requires training and professional support for teachers and administrators. Each year, the conference is designed to provide general and special educators, administrators, paraprofessionals, support professionals, and parents with practical workshops that will support them as they work hard each day to meet the educational needs of students.
With  Needs  Skyrocketing, MDSC CARES Steps Up to Provide Support


Now, more than ever, MDSC is committed to our families and individuals most in need.  For the past 36 years, MDSC and our families have been paving the way to a brighter future for our loved ones with Down syndrome. 

Today, in these uncertain times, we have received more requests than ever for support from our community, and we are stepping up to provide the critical assistance that can make a difference in as many lives as possible. 

Please help by contributing to our MDSC CARES Program , an expansion of Parents First Call, which supports families when their children are hospitalized for extended periods or experiencing critical health challenges or other extenuating circumstances. C onsider making a donation during these turbulent times to provide care packages and other supports for families and their children so they can feel the support and love from our community.



BY MAKING A CONTRIBUTION TO MDSC CARES, YOU WILL HELP KEEP MDSC'S FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES STRONG. 

Thanks to MDSC CARES corporate and foundation sponsors
NDSS Logo
Special thanks to the   Dunkin' Joy In Childhood Foundation,, Matt Durkin of the  Durkin Foundation,  Lyft   and  NDSS  for their generous support of MDSC CARES programs and our families in need during these uncertain time. 

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