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HDC Featured News

Does Your Classroom Have “Good Bones?”

A Classroom with Good Bones

“This classroom has good bones!” So what does good bones mean, exactly? In real estate, a house with good bones means it has a floor plan that is well thought out and meets the needs of the people who occupy it. Just like houses, all classrooms, general and special education, can have good bones. This can be accomplished by creating a classroom layout that is visually clear and by incorporating basic, essential visual supports that help students with ASD navigate their environment, get and stay organized and participate more fully and independently in activities throughout their day. In this webinar we will explore different ways to structure your classroom environment, share visual supports that will benefit every student in your classroom and provide you with a tool you can use to evaluate your own environment.

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.

WHEN: Thursday, August 16, 2018, 2:30–3:30 PM

WHERE: Live online via Adobe Connect


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.

WHEN: Friday, September 14, 2018, 8:00 to Saturday, September 15, 2018, 4:00 PM

Click Here for More Information

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HDC Employee Spotlight: McKenzie Esta

McKenzie Esta and her dog Finn
McKenzie Esta and her dog Finn

Hi there, my name is McKenzie Esta, and I am a Transition Specialist for the PAY Check Program at HDC. My husband and I have two cats and a dog. I am obsessed with my fur children. For fun I enjoy running at my local parks and participating in 5K races in the area. My goal is to one day work up to a half marathon.  I got my undergrad degree in Criminal Justice and later returned to school for a graduate degree in Human Services Counseling. After school I moved from Atlanta, Georgia, to Metairie, Louisiana, and began working in Supported Employment. When I came to HDC in 2016, I began working in Employment Initiatives for the PAY Check Program. My goal is to facilitate smooth transitions into competitive employment for youth. HDC is a great fit for me because of its mission and the values of those that work here. I feel encouraged being surrounded by others who believe in employment for all. I am so proud to be in a position that allows me to witness the changes in students’ lives. Seeing them feel pride and understand what they are capable of is so rewarding. I am grateful to be here working with and learning from this team of people!

HDC News

CESP Scholarships Available



Establish yourself as a Certified Employment Support  Professional! There are a small number of scholarships available from the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council (LA DDC) to take the CESP during the next testing window of October 1-7, and applications will be accepted beginning on Aug 27.  If you are interested in the scholarship, contact Laura Stazio at lstazi@lsuhsc.edu before August 27. For more information about the CESP, see the benefits of certification on the APSE website.

Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council Logo

Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council Logo

Updated LSU HDC Supported Employment Training Calendar

Louisiana APSE logoHDC Employment Initiatives have recently updated the Supported Employment Training Calendar for 2018, which includes both the 40 Hour Core Training Certificate and Continuing Education for LRS and Medicaid Employment Providers. Trainings are cosponsored by the Louisiana Association of Persons Supporting Employment First (LA APSE).

See the LSU HDC Employment Initiatives Website to register, for additional training classes and more information.
40 Hour Supported Employment CORE Training Certificate
for LRS and Medicaid Employment Providers
  • Baton Rouge – Sept 18-20, 2018
  • New Orleans – October 30, 31 & Nov 1, 2018
  • Shreveport – Jan 15-17, 2019

4,500 Children Removed From Child Care Waiting List

 The Louisiana Department of Education today started the process of serving 4,500 children in child care programs, removing their names from the waiting list for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which provides financial assistance to low-income families while parents are working or attending school. The action comes after Congress appropriated additional one-time child care funds to Louisiana.

Read more here:

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.


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.

HDC Events

SAVE THE DATES September 14 & 15 for Connections 2018

The third annual Connections 2018 Conference will be held Friday and Saturday, September 14 – 15 at the Human Development Center (411 South Prieur St, NOLA). It is being sponsored by the Louisiana Deafblind Project, Louisiana Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EDHI) Program, and the Collaborative for Students with Unique Communication Needs. Featured topics include Mild Hearing Loss, Theory of Mind, Pro-Tactile Communication, and Communication Matrix. Registration Information will be forthcoming, please email ladbp@lsuhsc.edu for more information.

Save the Dates September 14 & 15 for Connections 2018 Flyer

WHEN: Friday, September 14, 2018, 8:00 to Saturday, September 15, 2018, 5:00 PM

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