Transitions: Ages & Stages

The topic for our 2013 Family Conference is one that poses a lot of questions – we want to help you find answers!

Transition is difficult for everyone. Change can be hard. As a parent, you want to know you are making the best choices for your child and ensuring that all of the transitions in his or her life are as smooth as possible. There are so many things to think about, especially when you have a child with a disability: Is this the best education for my child? How do we set appropriate goals for him? Will she find employment when she graduates? How do we support him in independent living? Luckily there are a tremendous amount of resources for individuals with disabilities and their parents, caretakers and educators. In preparing for the upcoming DSAGSL family conference, Transitions: Ages & Stages, on March 2, I have learned about all of the resources available to make transition easier. There are a wide array of amazing organizations in the greater St. Louis area that offer support throughout an individual’s life, from early childhood development to career training and independent living. There are also wonderful books and online resources that offer best practices, tips, and tools.

One such book is The Down Syndrome Transition Handbook by Jo Ann Simons. Jo Ann Simons, M.S.W. is well known in the area of intellectual disability and her commitment has enriched the lives of countless individuals. She is currently the President/CEO of The Cardinal Cushing Centers, Inc. and sits on the Boards of the National Down Syndrome Society and of LIFE, Inc. The Down Syndrome Transition Handbook helps parents prepare their child for independent adult life. It’s full of practical tips and step-by-step instructions to help families envision their child’s future, develop a transition plan, and implement it. There’s also a wealth of information about adults in their twenties or thirties living at home who are still struggling with finding a job, locating housing, or establishing a meaningful life in their community, and who could achieve more independence with the right guidance and supports. The DSAGSL is thrilled that we can bring Jo Ann to town next week for our annual family conference and we are sure that both her keynote presentation and her workshop will offer inspiration and valuable tools for participants.

In addition to Jo Ann, national speaker Stacy Taylor, MA, B.C.B.A will be providing tools for early childhood learning and practitioner/parent collaboration to maximize your child’s progress. Local experts Evonne Weinhaus, LCSW, LPC, Joann Noll, M.Ed., Peggy Cassani, M.A. Ed., and April Regester, PhD, M.A. will also be conducting interactive workshops and keynote presentations on topics from using the Match and Move Method to peer supports and maximizing your child’s independence. For more information about our speakers visit the DSAGSL website.

In raising my brother, Andrew, who turns 27 next week (Happy Birthday Drew!) and has Down syndrome, my parents explored so many options, had so many questions and were always reaching out to others for support and advice about important transitional issues. My family was lucky enough to connect with many of the valuable resources our region has to offer and, as a result, Andrew has a very active social and professional life. The DSAGSL wants to ensure that all of our members are connected as well, and our family conference, Transitions: Ages & Stages on March 2, is just one of many ways we hope to support you!

As Jo Ann Simons states,

“The weather is a great metaphor for life, especially the many transitions for individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the professionals who support them. Sometimes the weather is good, sometimes it is bad, and while there isn’t much we can do about the weather there is much we can learn from some people who found that while transitions might bring some rain, there are often rainbows. And these rainbows last.”

We look forward to seeing you on March 2 at our 2013 Family Conference!

Click here to register for our conference and get early bird pricing before 2/25

Erin Suelmann
DSAGSL Director of Programs and Services