July 2018

Congratulations to Sara Saak!

Congratulations to Sara Saak of Mt. Carmel for her third place award in the  Summer Internship Research Day poster competition  – and a big thank you to Dr.Michael Norman who served as her mentor project and Maria Blanco who was a judge for the contest.


Registration Open for CONNECTIONS 2018

Registration is now open for the third annual CONNECTIONS 2018 Conference to be held Friday and Saturday, September 14 – 15 at the Human Development Center (411 South Prieur St, NOLA). Register at Eventbrite “CONNECTIONS 2018 Conference”. This two-day interprofessional conference is for families, professionals, and advocates who support individuals with deafness, blindness, and deafblindness. There is no charge for the conference which includes Parking, Continental Breakfast & Lunch both days, and an Evening Reception with Vendor Exhibits on Friday. CEUs will be available. CONNECTIONS 2018 is being sponsored by the Louisiana Deafblind Project, Louisiana Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program (EHDI), and the Collaborative for Students with Unique Communication Needs. Featured topics include Mild Hearing Loss, Theory of Mind, Pro-Tactile Communication, Genetics, Orientation & Mobility, Genetics, Caretaking, Ethics, and Technology Update. Additional information is available in the CONNECTIONS 2018 Conference FAQ. A limited number of $50.00 stipends for Childcare/Transportation costs are available to Parents of Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing/Blind. Please contact Margaret Berry for details at Margaret.Berry@la.gov or 504-439-1901. For any Accommodations Requests, Dietary Restrictions, or questions, please email ladbp@lsuhsc.edu.

Bring On the Sunshine! Shining Light on ASD and Essential Supports

LASARD: Louisiana Autism Spectrum and Related DisabilitiesEssential Support Strategies to Success

Everyone utilizes essential support strategies throughout their day. Which essential supports have you used in the last 24 hours? Visual Supports (maps, signs, recipes)? Priming (agendas, reminders, notices)? Form of communication (text messages, emails)? Accommodations/modifications (glasses, watches, highlighters)? Reinforcement (paycheck, awards, bonuses)? As you can see, we use these essential supports several times throughout the day without even thinking about it. Join us in learning how these everyday supports can be used in classrooms and at home to support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to be successful and avoid frustration. We will also share a checklist you can utilize to examine best practices, including essential support strategies, for individuals with ASD.

This webinar is geared toward educators that may be new to teaching students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), family members seeking more information about essential support strategies, or seasoned educators looking to refine their skills.

LASARD Webinars are offered live online via Adobe Connect. These one hour sessions are free and open to anyone interested. 

CEUs are provided to those who are online for the entire hour.

HDC CAC Members Elect Chairperson and Vice Chairperson

CAC members elected Shannon D’Aquila (left) as Chairperson and Patsy White (right) as Vice Chairperson at the meeting on March 9th, 2018. The two will serve in their leadership roles for three-year terms.


Shannon D’Aquila, CAC Chairperson

Shannon is the mother of two young ladies: Colleen age 11 and Kathleen age 10. Her youngest daughter, Kathleen, was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two. Since that time, she has advocated for both her daughter and other children with special needs, particularly Autism, with the school system, legislation, insurance companies, Jefferson Parish Human Services Authorities, medical professionals, and therapy providers. She has been family participant in HDC’s LASARD project, a speaker at the LASARD conference in 2012, and a LEND family mentor for the past two years. Second only to having all of her daughter’s needs met, she is most passionate about families of children with disabilities both being empowered to advocate for themselves and their loved ones and having knowledge on how to receive appropriate services.


Patsy White, CAC Vice Chairperson

Patsy and her husband of 38 years, Jeffrey, have five children and seven grandchildren. Her 20-year-old son, Michael, has Prader-Willi Syndrome and her 17 year-old-son, Jeffrey, is on the Autism Spectrum.  Over the years, she has worked to educate herself about advocacy in the disability community. She has completed the Partners in Policymaking and the LEND programs, as well as the Prader-Willi Syndrome WYATT Advocates for Education program. She is active with the Regional Advisory Council for Region 3, St Charles Council on Aging, St. Charles Parish Early Childhood Development Policy Council, LASARD, PAIMI Council, Board of Directors of the Advocacy Center, PWSA(USA) Louisiana, and PWSA(USA) Advocacy Committee. She has also served on the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, as well as the Louisiana Department of Education Special Education Advisory Panel. Her philosophy is not to change her child to fit the world, but to change the world to fit her child.