May 2019

Message from the Special Services Director – Dr. Shannon Hitch

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month.  I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to highlight our speech-language pathologists (SLPs) within Lake Washington and offer some insight into the role of an SLP.  I hope in the coming months to share with parents the different staff that work within Special Services and how they positively impact student learning.

To become an SLP, therapists are required to earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in speech language pathology.  In addition, they must complete a clinical fellowship and pass comprehensive examinations for certification and licensure.  SLPs within the school setting, evaluate and treat students with communication disorders.  They may support children in a variety of areas including:

  • Articulation (speech sounds)
  • Expressive Language (communication either by voice, gesture or symbols)
  • Receptive Language (how a student receives and understands communication)
  • Social Communication or Pragmatic Language (use of language in social contexts and within social norms)
  • Voice (sounds produced for communication including tone, pitch, volume and quality)
  • Fluency (speaking in a fluid, flowing way)
  • Oral-Motor (using jaw, lip, tongue movements for speech)
  • Emergent and Early Literacy (recognizing language in print)
  • Augmentative/Alternative Communication - AAC (variety of methods of communication to supplement, improve or replace speech)

SLPs are critical members of our building teams.  They offer insight, knowledge and expertise that are critical to improving student outcomes.  SLPs may provide direct services to students that qualify for special education or they may provide indirect services by working with a student’s teacher and IEP team – enabling them to support the student across settings.  Speech and language pathologists can also support parents, teaching them how to support their student at home with homework or by training them on how to support AAC.

Communication is at the foundation of student learning.  It is a necessary pre-requisite for helping students become readers and writers.  It is also a critical building block in developing relationships with others, handling emotions and advocacy.  For these reasons and many more, I am immensely thankful for our district SLPs. 

In the spirit of gratefulness, I want to say thank you to all our amazing special educators.  It is the time of year when we recognize our teachers, therapists, psychologists, and nurses for the hard work and dedication they offer our students. If you can, I’d encourage you to take a moment to say thank you to your child’s IEP team members.  They do such important work in seen and unseen ways to care for your child.  I am grateful for their professionalism, thoughtful caring, and unwavering dedication.

Thank you~

Support for Families

If you are looking for support, further knowledge on how to help your student, or are new to the special services programs and want to learn more about what to expect at all ages, we have got an incredible resource for you. Informing Families, Building Trust is full of invaluable information that will lay out how to navigate through multiple systems, provide helpful resources for grandparents or siblings of children with special needs, as well as sharing some emergency preparedness tips. This website is definitely one to explore! 

ABLE Savings Plan

The Washington state ABLE savings account allows people with disabilities to save tax-free for living expenses without jeopardizing eligibility for federal aid programs. "This is a groundbreaking program," says the mother of one participant. 

Read the full article!

New Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens

WA Dept of Social & Health Services

On April 1, Seattle Children's launched Washington’s Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens, a free telephone-based referral service to connect families with evidence-supported outpatient mental health services in the community. This state-sponsored service is funded by Washington Health Care Authority and operated by Seattle Children’s.

The Washington Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens:

  • Is a community resource that serves children and teens age 17 and younger from across Washington State. Children do not need to be Seattle Children’s patients to use this service.
  • Is staffed by a team at Seattle Children’s who connects families with resources that meet the unique needs of the child or teen, including mental health treatment, geographic location, family availability and insurance information.
  • Works closely with the existing Partnership Access Line. Both providers and patients or families can call the Mental Health Referral Service line.

More Information

Contact DDA for questions or feedback.

Community Summit 2019: Enriching Lives

DSHS Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) is pleased to announce registration is now open for Community Summit 2019: Enriching Lives!  
June 11 - 13, 2019
Wenatchee Convention Center, Wenatchee         

Community Summit

The Community Summit 2019 brings together individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as self-advocates, families, educators, community leaders, non-profit agencies, and government organizers. The purpose of the summit is to discuss building inclusive communities where all individuals are valued for their unique contributions. 

Engaging keynote speakers, informational sessions, workshops, discussion panels and fun social events make attending this much-anticipated conference a rewarding experience. We invite you to immerse yourself in three days of learning, collaborating and connecting for personal and professional growth.

Watch the welcome video from Evelyn Perez, DDA Assistant Secretary. 
Registration and More Information

Contact DDA for questions or feedback.

DDA and How to Sign Up

DDA (Developmental Disabilities Administration) serves eligible individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). The goal of DDA is to support individuals with IDD to have a positive life in the community. If you are interested in learning if you or someone you know qualifies for DDA and would like to find out more information on how to sign up for it, please take a few moments to review this flyer.

Upcoming Events at The Arc

Free parent workshops, summer activities for young adults, and much more!  See below for an overview of upcoming events hosted by The Arc.  

“Silver Tsunami” Monthly Meet Up – For aging parents of adult children with intellectual and developmental disabilities to share in conversation, support, and understanding.

  • First Tuesday of every month – May 7th, June 4th, July 3rd, August 6th, 9am-11am @ Crossroads Mall – 15600 NE 8th Street, Bellevue, WA 98008 (Look for The Arc Sign)

Workshop: College Considerations for People with Disabilities 

  • Thursday, May 9, 1:00-8:30pm @ Angle Lake Family Resource Center – 4040 South 188th Street, SeaTac, WA 98188
  • Topics include how to search for a college, reasonable accommodations, scholarships and ways to pay.

Workshop: The Housing Models and How to Fund Them 

  • Tuesday, May 14, 7pm-8:30pm @ Highland Community Center – 14224 Bel-Red Rd., Bellevue, WA 98007
  • Topics include Adult Family Homes, Shared Living, Supported Living, Section 8, Housing Authorities, HASP, and DDA.

Workshop: “Silver Tsunami” 2-Part Future Planning Workshop for Aging Parents              

  • Saturday, May 25 and June 1, 10am-11:30am @ Ryther - 2400 NE 95th Street, Seattle, WA 98115
  • Planning for your loved one’s future can be stressful, scary, and sometimes upsetting.  Join us in exploring grief support, planning for the future, and ways to plug into community with others.

Mapping Homelessness Focus Group for People with Disabilities

  • Wednesday, May 22, 3pm-5pm @ The Arc of King County – 233 6th Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109
  • We want to hear from people with disabilities who are currently or were recently homeless to learn where they spend their time, where they feel safe, where they get support, and more.  Food and drinks will be provided.  Free UBER rides available. Contact for more information.

Thriving on Two Spectrums – A bi-monthly support event for trans/gender-diverse youth with developmental disabilities and their families.  

  • Now meeting the 4th Sunday in May, July, September, and November of 2019 from 2-4pm.
  • RSVP to obtain location details to or 1-855-4GENDER

Emergency Responder Training: Supporting People with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

  • Saturday, June 8th, 10am-12pm @ Ryther – 2400 NE 95th Street, Seattle, WA 98115
  • Formulated and led by people with disabilities this training includes skills to recognize autism and other developmental disabilities and effective communication strategies for positive interactions and outcomes.

Now Enrolling for our Healthy Relationships Summer Groups (FREE) for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  For more information or to register contact or 206-829-7059. Please note that while The Arc makes every effort to accommodate participant’s support needs, we cannot provide personal care or behavior support during class.  Sessions will be staffed at a 5:1 ratio.

Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Club:
Ages: 18-30
Dates: August 7, 14, 21, 28
Time: 1pm-2:30pm
Location: The Arc of King County, 233 6th Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109

LGBTQ* Summer Social Group (with games, art, activities, snacks, and more)
Ages: 18-24
Dates: July 3, 10, 17, 24
Time: 4:45-6:00pm
Location: Highland Community Center – 14224 Bel-Red Rd., Bellevue, WA 98007

Art Club (including cartooning, sculpting, painting, and an art show!)
Ages: 18-24
Dates: July 2, 9, 16, 23
Time: 1pm-2:30pm
Location: The Arc of King County, 233 6th Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109

Game Club (including Sorry, Chess, Monopoly, and Video Games!)
Ages: 18-30
Dates: July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20
Time: 1pm=2:30pm
Location: The Arc of King County, 233 6th Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109

Featured Articles!

Teen and her service dog star in “The Wizard of Oz”

Erin Bischoff was 3-years old when she had her first surgery to treat osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder known as brittle bone disease. Instead of calling the scars, that Erin subsequently received from her surgeries growing up, “scars” her mother called them “lines of courage.” As a 17-years old now, Erin has had at least 103 bone fractures and 10 surgeries.

Erin recently played the lead role of Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” at her high school in New Jersey. Although Erin wasn’t expecting the starring role, her courage instilled from her mother, led her and her service dog, Gage, who played Toto, to the stage. 

Erin shared, “My main thing is I really want them just to see me as anyone else who’s on the stage. And that overall, disability should be embraced.” Read the full article and watch the video.

6-year old blind piano prodigy goes viral
Avett Ray Maness, 6-years old, was born with optic nerve fibroplasia. He is significantly visually impaired, walks with a cane, and he reads braille. Avett Ray also taught himself to play piano by ear and is a “musical prodigy!”

At just 11-months old, Avett Ray was playing the melody to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Since then, Avett Ray has added a piano teacher, several songs by famous musicians to his repertoire, and has played several performances for large events; one of which included playing in front of 900 people for the faculty and staff of Centerville, Ohio schools.

Read the inspiring story of Avett Ray and to see some clips of his amazing piano prodigy skills.

Resources for Parents of Students with Disabilities

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to take a look at the Special Needs Resource Flier, created by the Lake Washington PTSA (LWPTSA) Council Special Needs Group/Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) and the Special Services Department. You can also pick up a hard copy at your child’s school, and/or from your child’s 504 or Special Education Case Manager at your annual review meeting.

Special Services Newsletter – Available in Multiple Languages!

If you, or someone you know, would like to read our Special Services Newsletter in a different language, this is now possible! 

  • Access all of our newsletters here 
  • Select the month and year that you would like to read (Ex: December 2018, November 2018, etc.)
  • In the top left-hand corner of the web page, there is a small globe icon/drop down
  • Click on the drop down and select the language that you would like to have the newsletter translated to

Happy Reading!

PTSA SNG Meetings and Child Care Support

Our monthly PTSA SNG meeting (see schedule below) is a great time to network with other parents, learn more about resources in our community, and learn more about strategies and supports for students with disabilities. We are now offering student care during these meetings, to assist you in being able to access this wonderful opportunity to meet with parents.

Please RSVP each month, by emailing For our May meeting, please RSVP by/before May 14. In your email, please include the age of your child, so we can ensure we have enough staff to cover all the students. The Special Services Director and Associate Directors, participate in a meet and greet before each meeting at 6:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Upcoming LWPTSA Council Special Needs Group Meetings: 

Date: 5/21/2019 (Last meeting of the 2018-2019 school year!)
Time: 6:30-8:30pm
Location:   LWSD Resource Center – Board Room (1st Floor)
                 16250 NE 74th St
                 Redmond, WA 98052
Topic: Come learn what tools are readily available to all students to help with reading and writing literacy

Save the Date. Mark your calendar for the 2018-2019 PTSA Special Needs Group Meetings:

  • No Meeting in June