Friday, September 9, 2016

Families with Special Needs Invited to Resource Fair

Parents and caregivers of children, teens, and adults with special needs are invited to connect with local support resources at the Special Needs Resource Fair on Sunday, September 18 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Cumming Library. The event is free and no advance registration is required.

Several groups dedicated to helping those with special needs will be available to share information with parents and caregivers, including Forsyth Autism and Special Needs Support Group, Forsyth County Schools, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Special Needs Awareness of Public Safety (S.N.A.P.S.) Program, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, and Special Olympics.

The library offers large type books, ADA computer
workstations, and several assistive devices to help patrons
with physical disabilities or other special needs
access information and pleasure reading materials.
While caregivers are learning about resources available to address special needs, their children are welcome to participate in a sensory storytime and other creative activities led by library staff.

“As parent of a child with special needs, it seems like we usually discover resources through referrals and word-of-mouth. This Resource Fair is designed to connect individuals with special needs and their families or caregivers with multiple resources all at once,” says Jennifer Forbes, Information Services Supervisor at the Cumming Library.

Forsyth Autism and Special Needs Support Group was founded by Sharon Howell, a mother of teenage twins with Autism, and Mary Kathryn McDonald, a speech-language pathologist. The purpose of the group is to connect parents, grandparents, and caregivers of individuals with special needs to each other to share ideas and support one another by sharing information.

In an emergency situation like a fire or an accident, it is common for individuals with special needs to feel uncomfortable and to resist being spoken to or touched by first responders and public safety personnel. The S.N.A.P.S. program led by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office provides opportunities for individuals with special needs to interact with uniformed public safety personnel in a casual environment. Participants can talk with officers and first responders, role-play emergency scenarios, or just watch until they feel more comfortable.

Volunteers from Special Olympics Forsyth County will present information on upcoming sporting events and how athletes of all ages with special needs can get involved. In addition to local, regional, and state sporting competitions, Special Olympics also hosts outings that allow participants to socialize and meet new friends.

Representatives from Region One of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities will distribute information about mental health care, crisis intervention and stabilization, peer support, supported employment, occupational, physical, and speech therapies, respite services, specialized medical equipment and supplies, and transportation services.

Staff from the Special Education department at Forsyth County Schools will share information about programs available within the school system to support students with special needs.

“Debbie Dobbs, a special needs advocate, will also be available at the event to talk with parents of children with medical conditions or learning differences about the ways an advocate can help families navigate healthcare and educational programs,” says Forbes.

Dr. Christina Brinker from Red Cedar Chiropractic will also speak with Resource Fair participants about the ways chiropractic care can address chronic illnesses and conditions.

Library staff will showcase a range of services to assist patrons with disabilities or other special needs, such as large print books, audiobooks, and a Mailbox Books service for homebound patrons. There are ADA-compliant computer stations in each branch, along with other devices for patrons with visual impairments.

“If someone needs a specific accommodation, we invite that patron to contact us and we will make every effort possible to accommodate that need,” explains Forbes.

For more information, please visit www.forsythpl.org.

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