UNLEASHING THE MAGIC WITHIN Michael L’Amoreaux
PHOTO BY MICHELLE HERDLICK
OUR NEW ICF FEATURES:
· All female residents, ages 18 & up
· 6 individual rooms
· Located in a residential neighborhood within walking distance to parks, shopping, and church
· Large ADA bathrooms
· Washer and dryer on main level for independence
· Van on-site for transportation
· 24-hour nursing available, with staff trained in DD-specific, person-centered planning
WHAT IS AN INTERMEDIATE CARE FACILITY (ICF)?
GentleBrook offers seven locations in Hartville and West Lafayette. Adult residents living in our ICFs receive these benefits:
· 24-hour supervision and on-site nursing care
· Active treatment
· Therapeutic services
· Life skills mentoring & support
· Social & recreational activities
· Transportation to & from work and activities
· Respite services
Contact us! We’re committed to being a helpful resource for individuals and families who want more information about the advantages of an Intermediate Care Facility.
4 August 2023 CONNECTING PEOPLE + COMMUNITY GentleBrook Office 880 Sunnyside SW, Hartville, Ohio 44632 330-877-7700 | gentlebrook.org Follow us on social media
NEW ROOMSICF: AVAILABLE
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS:
AUGUST ISSUE PREVIEW
(12) Just Saying Thank You
(16) Important Community Connections
(24) Cover Story > Michael L’Amoreaux
(32) Reston Price
(35) Parent Prospective > Sean Broom
(39) Professional Prospective > Rich Corns
(40) John Maley
(44) Community Impact > Ryan Heckert
(49) ABCs of IEPs > Rebecca McClary
(50) Austin Raber
(52) Sponsor Spotlight > GentleBrook
(55) Beauty Belongs To Everyone > Lyla Davis
(58) Last Look
Rick Miller (330) 283-8462
Scan the QR Code to Like, Subscribe or Nominate:
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 5
Reston Price & Miss Liz Lyla Davis
6 August 2023 COMPASSION • FUN • CHALLENGE • INDEPENDENCE Compassionate and energizing adult day services and residential care for developmentally delayed adults. · Individually customized day programs · Life skills practice · Provided transportation · Wheelchair van access · Tutoring for school work · Consistency: very low staff turnover (330) 758-8418 6963 Promway Ave. NW | North Canton, OH 44720 Scan and visit our new website: OUTINGS: parks, zoos, museums, shopping, movies and more cool places like the chocolate factory, coffee shops and the airplane museum! NOW HIRING! Will train Full benefits Highly competitive pay Flexible schedule Compassionate Care Givers
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 7 Sharing Solutions IDD Support Group for Families, Caregivers & Professionals Contact us TODAY to RSVP for the next meeting and receive email reminders! firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Us On Facebook! MARK YOUR CALENDARS Before arriving check the Sharing Solutions Facebook page for cancellations. NO MEETING IN JULY CALL TODAY: (330) 426-7885 Carve Your Own Path, Inc. | 840 Rothrock Rd, Suite 203, Copley, OH 44321 | Caregiver Stress CARE FOR YOURSELF TO BETTER CARE FOR YOUR LOVED ONE · Prioritize caring for your basic health and wellness needs · Find a supportive person or group · Make time for things you enjoy · Reach out to professional services to learn stress management and other coping skills Save the Date: Carving the Future Fundraiser Friday, November 3, 2023 Sponsorship Opportunities Available We are now accepting students on both Jon Peterson and Autism Scholarships. · K-12 students welcome! · Contact us now for more info and to register Provider
Every Ability is Celebrated High-quality, research-based instruction with a vocational skill focus specialized for K-12 students with disabilities. Call us: (234) 678-9622 email@example.com www.redlineadvocacy.com We moved! 1011 Gorge Blvd, Akron, OH 44310 SCAN CALL
This section is here to give our readers easier access when searching for a trusted Community partner to use. Get to know the businesses who make this magazine possible. Please support them in return and thank them if you get the chance!
Applied Behavioral Connections
ACCESSIBILITY & SAFETY MODIFICATIONS
JTEK Solutions Group, LLC
ACT PREP & TUTORING
Bright Minds Learning Academy
4900 Frank Rd. NW, North Canton, OH 44720
ADULT DAY SUPPORT
Next to Kin Supportive Services , LLC
Premier Approach, LLC
ADULT VOCATIONAL SERVICES CLW
ALL ABOUT LOCAL
BeLOCAL - Stark County
DogWatch of Northeast Ohio
BZTAT Studios, LLC
The Wow Crowd (330) 445-4482
Autism Society of Greater Akron (330) 940-1441
Paragon Accounting and Business Services, Inc. (330) 575-2291
First Christian Church (330) 456-2600
The Chapel Green
Amy Troyer (330) 315-5501
The Wow Crowd (330) 445-4482
Bala Management, LLC (330) 758-8418
COUNTY DISABILITIES BOARD
Stark Board of Developmental Disabilities
Lisa Parramore (330) 479-3934
Summit DD (330) 634-8877
DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY CARE
Easterseals Northern Ohio
Conor McGarvey (234) 417-0250
The Workshops, Inc
Rachel Doty (330) 497-3399
REM Ohio, Inc
Jo Spargo (330) 644-9730
Melissa Hadnett (234) 714-9815
Red Line Advocacy (234) 678-9622
The Guildersleeve School (330) 571-8878
Express Employment Professionals (330) 239-8709
Shelley Sprang (330) 935-2300
Skylight Financial Group
Kathryn Bryan (216) 592-7319
Travis DeZordo, Modern Woodmen Of America (330) 704-6211
FRESH MEAT & SEAFOOD
Fat Daddy Meats (330) 904-0288
8 August 2023
FURNITURE - AMISH
Dutch Craft Furniture (330) 893-4041
Campbell Landscaping (330) 933-9091
HEALTHY MEAL PLANNING/DELIVERY
Compassion Delivered (330) 575-0996
HOME CARE SERVICES
SafeInHome - Ohio (740) 207-5800
HOUSE OF WORSHIP
Harvestime Temple (330) 877-6544
Henry Heating Cooling & Plumbing (330) 364-5571
INDEPENDENT PRIVATE SCHOOL
Wings of Change Therapy Inc
Michael Asente (234) 334-0044
American Family - Richard Corns
Haley Seifert (234) 714-2300
A & J Arrangements and Design LLC (440) 668-6388
Kona Ice of Central Canton (330) 398-0120
JOB PLACEMENT SERVICES
Creative Rehab (330) 806-0497
Independent Employment Services
Malcolm Porter (330) 388-5778
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Carve Your Own Path, Inc. (330) 426-7885
NON EMERGENCY TRANSPORTATION
Your Guardian Angels (234) 571-0975
Francie Kell (330) 877-7700
Teammates Center (234) 571-5876
GiGi’s Playhouse Canton
Megan Vance (330) 493-9114
The Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Ohio (216) 447-8763
Henry Heating Cooling & Plumbing (330) 364-5571
Special Needs Ohio Podcast
Rob Gorski (234) 817-5851
PONDS, FOUNTAINS, AND WATER FEATURES
Pond Wiser Inc (330) 833-3764
POOL WATER DELIVERY
Strouble Water Hauling (330) 877-6795
The Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children
Gina Bannevich (330) 493-4400
eXp Realty : The Amy Wengerd Group
Amy Wengerd (330) 681-6090
RESTORATION & CLEANING
Brahlers Cleaning & Restoration
Stacy Ignacio (330) 834-0008
SCHOOLS - PRIVATE SCHOOLS
Julie Billiart Schools (216) 691-8916
Night to Shine (330) 456-4797 x104
SUPPORT GROUP Sharing Solutions
Clearview Developmental Services
Dean Miller (330) 224-4403
Akron Zoo (330) 375-2550
DISCLAIMER: This publication is owned by The N2 Company and is not affiliated with or sponsored by any club, developer, or homeowners association. Articles and advertisements in this publication and opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the views of N2 but remain solely those of the author(s) or advertiser(s). The paid advertisements contained within this magazine are not endorsed or recommended by N2.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 9
Delivering Neighborhood Connections © 2023 The N2 Company, Inc.
10 August 2023
Creative Learning Workshop
WHO’S READY TO WORK?
CLW provides opportunities to build skills and make money. Whether you want to work towards community employment or are happy being in a more supportive environment, CLW is the place to be. We provide training using the I CAN WORK curriculum. We also offer a safe and comfortable space for those who are interested in socializing and making friends through relationship building, activities and outings. Follow us on Facebook and TikTok!
SPECIAL NEEDS, SPECIAL SPACES
Design with a focus on functional, accessible spaces that meet your family’s needs and express your individuality.
comfort, calm and focus, a sensory room can be an oasis with: · sensory walls & toys · mood lighting · music & sound · tactile panels · neat & accessible storage
Call today to set up your FREE Initial Design Consultation: (440) 668-6388 firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us • Secure Document Destruction • Individual, Bulk, and Master Repackaging • Light Assembly • Cycle Testing • Sorting and Inspection • Quality Control
Call: Jennie Msangi (330) 546-0057 For More Information Locations in Canton and Akron: 4465 Louisville St NE Canton, Ohio 44705 111 N. Broadway St. Akron, Ohio 44304 www.theclw.com Facebook The Creative Learning Workshop
current furnishings, we create living spaces that incorporate style and safety, function and fashion.
JUST. SAYING. THANK YOU.
(Supports: Carve Your Own Path)
These local businesses are supporting our community in a big way!
(Supports: GiGi’s Playhouse)
(Supports: Sharing Solutions)
BETH STROUBLE www.stroubletrucking.com
(Supports: GiGi’s Playhouse)
(Supports: First Christian Church)
AKRON & CANTON SPECIAL NEEDS LIVING
The businesses shown on this page are those committing financial support to local community resources that couldn’t afford to advertise in Akron & Canton Special Needs Living magazine on their own.
Feel free to repay the generosity these local business owners are showing by giving them a Like and Follow on Social Media, a Review on Google or Facebook or if you have a need that can be met by one of these businesses, give them a call. I’m sure they will be thrilled to serve you!
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 13 330-966-7226 | www.brightmindsla.com | email@example.com 5368 Fulton Dr. NW, Canton, OH 44646 SERVICES • ACT/SAT Prep • Math Enrichment • Creative Writing • Comprehensive Reading • Complete Homework Support • Pre School Learning (ages 3-5) • Spanish Tutoring • Science • Sharpen Study Skills Now offering classes in Akron, Ohio, also! MENTION THIS AD TO RECIEVE $20 OFF MAXIMIZE SUMMERTIME Catch Up, Keep Up, Get Ahead with We Offer: Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) Offering Homework Help Everyday! Securities and advisor y ser vices o ered through MWA Financial Ser vices Inc., a wholly owned subsidiar y of Modern Woodmen of America. Member: FINRA, SIPC. I can help you plan for life Let's talk Modern Woodmen of America Travis J. Dezordo, FIC Canal Fulton, OH 44614 B 330-277-2949, C 330-704-6211 firstname.lastname@example.org reps.modernwoodmen.org/tdezordo Enjoy the rewards of a life well-lived. Planning for a comfor table retirement doesn’t have to be over whelming. Discover the peace of mind that comes from retirement planning with a local Modern Woodmen representative. And enjoy the sense of purpose that comes from giving back to your community. You got this Because you have us
COMMUNITY RESOURCES & CONNECTIONS
Need to know who to connect with to ask a question? This is where you find out who you need to know!
AKRON BLIND CENTER
The Akron Blind Center Inc. is a membership-based nonprofit organization incorporated in 1948 to serve the blind and lowvision communities. They also provide resources, programs, services and classes for Summit and surrounding counties.
AKRON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Akron Children’s Hospital has been caring for children since 1890, and its pediatric specialties are ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report. With two hospital campuses, four health centers, and 50+ primary and specialty care locations throughout Ohio, they’re making it easier for today’s busy families to find the high-quality care they need.
ARC OF OHIO
The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.
AUTISM SOCIETY OF GREATER AKRON
The Autism Society is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots autism organization committed to improving the lives of those affected by autism. The Greater Akron affiliate was founded in 1987 by parent volunteers of children with autism.
BUREAU OF SERVICES FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED (BSVI)
Website: www.ood.ohio.gov/individuals-with-disabilities/ services/services-for-the-visually-impaired
MEDINA, PORTAGE, AND SUMMIT COUNTIES
CARROLL AND STARK COUNTIES
BSVI assists eligible people, beginning at age 14, with low vision and blindness by providing direct, personalized
services to assist them in finding and retaining meaningful work and personal independence. Basic services include personal and work adjustment training, vocational training, mental and physical restoration, and placement assistance.
16 August 2023 COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
Serving four counties and covering 1.5 million people in Ohio, the United Way 2-1-1 Help Center provides free and confidential 24-hour access to a compassionate professional who will review your options for help, develop a plan and act as your advocate if you are faced with barriers to service. Simply dial 2-1-1 or chat with us for assistance. Se habla Espanol.
Compassion Delivered provides medically tailored nutritional meals to people coping with chronic, lifethreatening illnesses and diseases.
DOWN SYNDROME ASSOCIATION OF NORTHEAST OHIO
The Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Ohio is a nonprofit that provides support, education, advocacy, and resources for individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community.
GREENLEAF FAMILY CENTER (DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING SERVICES)
Greenleaf is a nonprofit organization that strengthens families in our community through counseling, education and support. By offering a variety of programs and services, we are here to help families with the many challenges of daily living and personal crises.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 17
GET TO KNOW ALL WE HAVE TO OFFER! ENGAGE, EDUCATE, EMPOWER! Get connected TODAY! (234) 714-9815 www.jasonsplace.org email@example.com @ Jason's Place Inc Actually, I CAN.
HELP ME GROW
Website: https://odh.ohio.gov/know-our-programs/ help-me-grow/help-me-grow
Help Me Grow is Ohio’s evidence-based parent support program that encourages early prenatal and well-baby care, as well as parenting education to promote the comprehensive health and development of children. Help Me Grow System includes Central Intake, Help Me Grow Home Visiting, and Help Me Grow Early Intervention.
OHIO’S PARENT MENTOR PROJECT
It is the mission of the Ohio Parent Mentors to provide the necessary support and resources to families of children with disabilities and the professionals that serve them by connecting families, schools, and the community to the benefit of students with disabilities.
OHIO COALITION FOR THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
The OCECD is a statewide nonprofit organization that serves families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities in Ohio, educators, and agencies who provide services to them.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAID
The ODM provides health care coverage to more than three million Ohioans through a network of more than 165,000 providers. Learn more about Ohio’s largest state agency and the ways in which they continue to improve wellness and health outcomes for the individuals and families served at our website.
OHIO DEPT OF JOB AND FAMILY SERVICES
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is responsible for managing many vital programs that directly affect the lives of Ohioans.
OHIO DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council is a planning and advocacy body committed to community inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. It is the mission of the ODDC to create change that improves independence, productivity, and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities and their families in community life.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR OHIOANS WITH DISABILITIES
This state agency works to empower Ohioans with disabilities through employment, disability determinations, and independence. Amoung the many services provided, OOD is responsible for establishing and maintaining partnerships with employers.
PEOPLE FIRST OF OHIO
People First of Ohio is a statewide organization that works with state legislators and builds relationships with other advocacy groups and state agencies. These relationships promote better interaction among people who make decisions in the communities and the state.
PHILOMATHEON SOCIETY OF THE BLIND
This organization is a gathering of blind and visually impaired people, along with sighted family and friends, with a mission and goal to help the blind and visually impaired in the community to help themselves to remain or to become able to live independently and an active member of their community.
18 August 2023
PORTAGE COUNTY BOARD OF DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
Phone: (330) 297-6209
The Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities exists to connect individuals and families with the services they need for health, safety, education and a high quality of life.
RED TREEHOUSE — RONALD MCDONALD FAMILY
Supporting the well-being of families and children with challenges, disabilities, and health care needs. Finding tools, organizations, and events in the community to meet the needs of families.
A community of parents/guardians of individuals from transition to adult age with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, professionals who serve the IDD community, caregivers, and policymakers. The focus is to provide information, support, and assistance to all. Everyone is encouraged to play an active role in sharing their resources, knowledge, and experiences.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION — CANTON
The Social Security Administration assigns Social Security numbers and administers the Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance programs. They also administer the Supplemental Security Income program for the aged, blind and disabled.
STARK COUNTY BOARD OF DD
Stark DD connects individuals and families with the services persons with developmental disabilities need for health, safety, education and quality of life.
SUMMIT COUNTY DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES BOARD
Summit DD offers early intervention programs for infants and toddlers with developmental delays, as well as transition services for students with developmental disabilities to vocational, habilitation and retirement programs for adults.
TRIAD DEAF SERVICES
TRIAD Deaf Services Inc is an agency providing services to the deaf community in Stark, Carroll, and Tuscarawas Counties. They provide support services, interpreting, leadership, deaf advocacy and education.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 19
Have a suggestion for an important connection that could be added to this page? Email your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
20 August 2023 @thefrogshopofficialpage Scan to shop online: · local delivery · shipping throughout the US · curbside pickup Cut out & bring in: $5 off $25 purchase or $10 off $45 purchase We carry DIY pond products and more: · Fish Sh!t fertilizer for plants and vegetables · Green Clean algaecide · bacteria and enzyme packets · water conditioner · three types of fish food · lots of unique frog gifts & keepsakes! www.thefrogshop.net • 330-833-FROG Frogs, Fun and Healthy Ponds 437 Applegrove St. NW • North Canton, OH 44720 Summer Hours: Thursday and Friday 10 am – 5 pm Or call to schedule a shopping appointment. Beyesly’s Restaurant 533 N. Main St. North Canton, OH 44720 Monday to Saturday 8 am – 2 pm Northside Marketplace 21 Furnace St. Akron, OH 44308 Tuesday to Saturday 11 am - 7 pm • Sunday 11 am - 3 pm Visit all of our 3 locations! Goodin Store Only
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 21
MEET THE MAGAZINE TEAM
22 August 2023
SHELLEY HARKNESS Scheduling Assistant
SARAH SMITH Writer
RICK MILLER Owner
REGINA BELL Client Manager
MIKE STURDIVANT Content Director
MICHELLE HERDLICK Photographer
MELISSA KLATT Writer
JULIAN CURET Photographer
DEBORAH RILEY Writer
DAVE KELLER Client Services
ANDREA HURR Writer
J. Albert Studios
Joe Albert is an expert photographer with a studio located in the heart of Downtown Canton. He has mastered the art of seeing the world through a photographer’s eye which as he states means “to look for the beauty in everything.” Joe has loved getting to know his clients over the years and takes pride to have those same individuals continue to come to him for the most memorable milestones in their lives, their senior portraits, engagement photos, their wedding, and ultimately their children and family pictures. Joe loves nothing more than a good whiskey and cigar and never leaves home without his camera!
Sean and his wife Jodi Broom have been married for 34 years and have three sons with Autism. Max, age 32, Cameron, age 28, and Tristan, age 23. Sean has been a Corporate Recruiter for 33 years and has been involved in coaching in Canton Challenger Baseball and Stark Public Special Olympics basketball and softball as well as baseball at GlenOak HS in Canton.
RBDLLP & Associates
Rich has been an insurance agent for 8 years and has been with American Family Insurance for 4 years. In 2022 Rich founded RBDLLP & Associates which is an insurance agency based on being family and community focused. Rich has a true passion for helping people and a strong desire to impact our local community in the Akron/Canton area. His footprint expands through a vibrant network of talented individuals and clients who find RBDLLP & Associates insightful and impactful. Rich and his team thrive on being the agency that people turn to for advice and comfort.
Chief Operations Officer At The Workshops, Inc.
Ryan Heckert is The Chief Operations Officer at The Workshops Inc. (Twi).
Ryan has worked in the Intellectual and Developmental Disability field since 1998. He has held positions as a DSP, as well as an SSA for the Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Ryan attended Malone University where he received an Undergraduate Degree in Social Work & a Graduate Degree in Organizational Leadership. In addition to his position at Twi Ryan is also the current Board President for BrewPastors.
Parent Mentor Solutions
As a special needs mom, Rebecca seeks opportunities to connect with other parents on similar journeys. Her journey started nine years ago, when her daughter was born prematurely. She is a parent advocate, specializing in guiding parents through the challenges of IEPs, 504s, and school accommodations for children with disabilities. Rebecca jokes that she uses her Communication Degree, from Kent State University, as a navigation tool through thousands of medical appointments, therapies, and school meetings. She resides in Stark County, Ohio with her husband, two children, and three dogs. She loves Jesus, reading, boating, and spending time with family and friends. Also notable, she hates winter.
MEET OUR CONTRIBUTORS
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 23
SEAN BROOM Parent
UNLEASHING THE MAGIC WITHIN
BY MELISSA KLATT PHOTOS BY MICHELLE HERDLICK
NO MATTER WHAT SOMEONE SAYS, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO. DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU OTHERWISE.
In the enchanting realm of Green High School, a vibrant Junior named Michael L’Amoreaux brings a touch of magic to his peers and teachers alike. Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the tender age of four, Michael has defied expectations and embarked on a remarkable journey filled with laughter, friendship, and endless possibilities. With the support of his loving parents, Neal and Kelly, early intervention therapies, and an unyielding spirit, Michael has not only honed his social skills but also become a respected Life Rank Scout under the guidance of his dad, Neal, who proudly serves as the scoutmaster of their troop. But wait, there’s more! Michael’s love for adventure and imagination extends beyond scouting; he also enjoys participating in Dungeons and Dragons campaigns with his group of friends at school.
CONQUERING THE SOCIAL FRONTIER
Thanks to the early intervention therapies he received, Michael has become wellacclimated in communicating with his peers at Green High School. Despite his ASD diagnosis, he has managed to navigate social interactions with grace, leaving those around him in awe.
“Over the years since his diagnosis, he has received various methods of early intervention techniques and therapies, which have helped him greatly in navigating interpersonal relationships. Today, Michael says that people often don’t know that he has an ASD diagnosis until he
tells them. Clearly, the early intervention was the key to his success!” praises Mom, Kelly.
Michael’s ability to make friends and form meaningful connections is a testament to his determination and the unwavering support of his parents. His infectious laughter and warm personality make him a cherished member of the school community. He never fails to brighten someone’s day as he believes a positive attitude will make any situation better!
A SCOUT’S HONOR, A FATHER’S PRIDE
In the world of scouting, Michael’s journey is not only exceptional but also a family affair. His father, Neal of Canton, Ohio, is an Eagle Scout and currently holds the esteemed position of scoutmaster for their troop. With such a role model by his side, Michael has embraced the scouting ethos wholeheartedly. As a Life Rank Scout, he embodies the principles of trustworthiness, loyalty, and helpfulness. His fellow scouts look up to him as a beacon of inspiration, and his dedication to scouting has earned him the respect and admiration of both his peers and leaders. He’s gearing up to work on his Eagle project this summer. Earning the Eagle Scout status is a recognition of the highest honor!
WHEN THE DRAGONS COME TO LIFE
But there’s more to Michael’s adventures than just scouting. When he’s not blazing trails through the wilderness, he immerses himself in a world of fantasy and wonder through the game of Dungeons and
Dragons. Michael and his group of friends have honed their storytelling skills and strategic prowess as they embark on thrilling quests and encounter mystical creatures. Whether they’re rescuing princesses from towering castles or slaying fearsome dragons, Michael’s imagination and passion for the game truly shine. The camaraderie and shared excitement within the group create bonds that go beyond the realm of the game, strengthening their friendships and fostering a sense of belonging.
HIS FUTURE IS FULL OF PROMISE
Looking ahead, Michael’s dreams extend far beyond the walls of Green High School. With a heart brimming with compassion and a deep understanding of the human experience, he aspires to pursue grief counseling at the University of Akron after high school. Inspired by his own journey and the challenges he has overcome, Michael hopes to provide guidance and support to others, helping them find their own paths to happiness and fulfillment.
No matter what someone says, you can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. -Michael L’Amoreaux
Michael L’Amoreaux is proof that magic exists within each of us. His journey from an ASD diagnosis to becoming a cherished and beloved member of his school community showcases the power of early intervention and the unwavering support of family and friends. As a Life Rank Scout, he embodies the values of scouting, guided by the supportive hand of his father, Neal, who serves as the scoutmaster. And when he’s not blazing trails or helping others, Michael delves into the enchanting world of Dungeons and Dragons, where his imagination soars and friendships deepen.
With his boundless enthusiasm, genuine kindness, and aspirations to make a difference in the lives of others, Michael is a beacon of inspiration for all who cross his path. As he continues to weave his own unique story, we eagerly await the extraordinary adventures that lie ahead for this incredible young man.
The WOW Crowd
Wide Open World
Creating Real Opportunities for Individuals With Disabilities
Individuals have access to fun and interactive daily and weekly trips!
Local: Bowling, Breakfast out and about, Pumpkin Patch, Vineyards, Zoo, Plays, Fairs, Etc.
In State: Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Mentor on the Lake, Geneva on the Lake, Columbus- Zoo, German Town, Eaton, Sandusky - Cedar Point, Kalahari, CincinnatiKings Island, Zoo, Etc.
Out of State: Pa- Hershey PA, Buffalo NY, Orlando Fl- Disney, Etc.
Out of Country: Cruise Time - Mexico, Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Disney Cruise And Much, Much More!
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 29
We’d love to hear from you. Call us at 330-445-4482 or Visit us at: www.thewowcrowd.com We work with families and Service and Support Administrators (SSA) to pair adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with a dedicated provider who will provide a friendly and stable environment for your loved ones. Additionally, we work with families who have children transitioning to adulthood to have continued support. Who We Provide Services To: Individuals • Families • Young Adults
Shared Living Network What We Do We're here for you. We will assist with licensing the family member to provide support. CALL US TODAY! 330-445-4482 www.sharedlivingnetwork.com
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 31 THANK YOU For Coming to Nathaniel's HopeMake 'm Smile Ohio! Come Back Next Year! Nathaniel's Hope - Make 'm Smile is always the 2nd Saturday of July each year. (330) 877-6544 136 E Maple St. P.O. Box 26, Hartville, Ohio 44632 www.harvestimeonline.org Harvestimetemple78@gmail.com Harvestime Apostolic Temple It would be our privilege to have you and your family come and be a part of our family here at Harvestime Apostolic Temple. Sunday 10:00 am | Sunday 6:30 pm | Wednesday 7:00 pm
The Journey & Legacy of Reston Price
In loving memory
11/14/2016 - 5/9/2023
BY ANDREA HURR
PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY RESTON’S FAMILY
Defying the odds before he was even born, the doctors (looking at ultrasounds and prenatal test results) recommended to Rachel and Ryan Price to think about terminating their pregnancy. Refusing to even think like that, they were blessed with Reston on November 14, 2016 at 38 weeks. However, they received more bleak news when the doctors then said they didn’t believe he would live longer than 3 hours. Pretty much all the outcomes that were predicted by medical staff about Reston, would be proven wrong. He went on to outlive that initial prediction of 3 hours! They said he would require the use of a wheelchair, but he was able to walk and run around! They said he would have to be on oxygen forever because his numbers were regularly in the 80’s and not the 90’s like most people, but he was able to breathe without oxygen tubes! He was diagnosed with autism in 2019 and was non-verbal, but was able to communicate in his own way and regularly “get his way” with teachers and nurses, pretty much everyone! He just had a magical way about him. He was a true fighter but sadly his fight ended suddenly on May 9, 2023.
Rachel and Ryan knew they would be having some challenges with their son as prenatal testing told them that Reston had pulmonary stenosis, a club foot, and extra fluid from the back of his head to his face. He was intensely monitored after delivery and had doctor’s appointments every day for the first 3 years of his life. Reston had 2 open heart surgeries for pulmonary stenosis and went on to have 28 more procedures throughout his life for different ailments. He was able to live with a pretty substantial degree of scoliosis, 113 degrees actually which made his spine look like an S. In 2017, he was diagnosed with Noonan Syndrome (PTN11), which is a very rare genetic disorder. Cardiac abnormalities can be found in over 80% of patients with Noonan syndrome and pulmonary valve stenosis is the
most frequently observed one. Scoliosis and clubfoot is also present in 10-15% of patients with Noonan. None of this mattered to Rachel and Ryan though as they had the child they always wanted. He was their world. Despite all the doctor’s appointments, procedures, challenges, and medicines Reston was on (had to take 9 different meds twice a day just to live), the Prices motto was “Just have fun!” Rachel says to never give up no matter how tough the situation gets. “Always celebrate the small achievements; it will give you the motivation to keep working towards the bigger goals”. The Prices would have dance parties every day because Reston loved to dance. Not dwelling on what Reston couldn’t do allowed them to enjoy what he could. Having a good quality of life was important to them and allowed Reston to thrive in his own way. Reston was attending the Golden Key Academy where he was learning so much. Teacher Miss Liz and Nurse Amy were two of Reston’s favorites and he knew which buttons to push to get his way. Although he could be ornery, rowdy, and feisty he was always smiling and fighting through whatever challenge presented itself. He was also
32 August 2023
starting out in T-ball and really enjoying that.
In Early May of this year, Reston had 6 procedures scheduled including a tonsillectomy and another surgery for his clubfoot. Sadly, on May 8th he was getting a new cast for his foot and when they removed the original cast a blood clot that had formed unknowingly in his leg was released and traveled through his body causing his sudden death on May 9th. This heartbreaking ending is not the way the Prices want Reston to be remembered though. They want everyone to remember his smile and
how he lit up a room the minute he got in it. Remember his fighting spirit even when he was going through the worst. Remember how much he loved his teachers, nurses, and Grandparents, especially Mamaw, Robbie Lesher who Reston admired. Remember how much he enjoyed dancing and listening to music and loved being in hot tubs. Reston was Rachel and Ryan’s world and we at Special Needs Living magazine are so honored that we were able to learn about Reston and honor him in our magazine. We want to extend our sincerest condolences to everyone who loves Reston Price.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 33 —AUTHOR UNKNOWN
34 August 2023 Special Needs Ohio wants to be part of your village. So welcome to the family . . . we look forward to connecting. SUBSCRIBE Visit listen.specialneedsohio.com for more info. New Episodes Every Friday! It’s Free | It’s Fun | It’s Family What You Can Expect: Tons of valuable information about people, places, agencies, and organizations that exist to support our families. What You’ll Find on Our Podcast: Interviews that educate, inspire, and provide hope, direction, and a connection to a fantastic community you might not even know is all around you. TUNE IN SHARE Job Development Job Coaching Community Based Assessments Career Exploration Follow Along Services Travel Training Ohio Employment First Program ENRICHING LIVES THROUGH EMPLOYMENT Contact us TODAY to learn more: 330-388-5778 independentemploy.com email@example.com
A FATHER’S PERSPECTIVE RAISING 3 SPECIAL NEEDS SONS
BY SEAN BROOM
Special Needs … 32 years ago, those two words never entered my mind, now, they never leave. In 1992 my wife and I were expecting our first child and all I could think about was what sport was he going to play and whether he go pro in baseball or basketball. I was like any other expectant father, and still am like any other father, however now I know how lucky I am to be the parent of a special needs child / adult, as I have three sons with autism, Max, Cameron, and Tristan.
When our oldest son, Max was diagnosed with “special needs”, it hit me like a ton of bricks. No one in my immediate family had special needs, what do you do? Who do you rely on? Who do you talk to? Trust? Get counsel from? There’s no Dr. Spock book on how to raise a special needs child. It’s scary … But like any challenges in life, you can either take the challenge head-on, accept fate and move forward positively or you can run away from the issues at hand. Fortunately for me, I have a very strong wife (Jodi Broom) and we took the challenge head-on.
Thirty-two years and three sons with special needs later, I can write forever about what it’s like to be the father of a special needs child. From infancy through school age to adulthood. It’s been a roller-coaster affair. High’s lows, ups and downs, but don’t all parents go through that? I have learned that trial and error, asking questions, never accepting, “NO” and having a great support system starting with my wife was the key to our son’s successful development.
Now that Jodi and I are in our mid 50’s and our sons are now adults we are entering truly the scariest of times. What will happen to our sons when we are gone? We have made it through adolescence, grade school, junior high, high school, and now into adulthood. You thought all of that was scary? Try planning for them without you. But you have to do it. Like all the other challenges we have faced, you have to plan and prepare and I am so lucky I have Jodi around to see this through.
From this dad’s perspective, I am truly the luckiest dad in the world. I have raised three sons with special needs that have brought me so much joy and happiness. They have truly made me a better person. It’s been a unique journey, hopefully, I will get to espouse more about our adventures, trials, and tribulations in later articles but from my perspective, a dad’s perspective, even though “special needs” was never planned for, I am truly happy with the way ours and our son’s lives have played out.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 35
PARENT PERSPECTIVE > SEAN
Suppor�ng Individuals With Down Syndrome, Their Families And The Community Scan to create a "My GiGi's" account online to register for events and see what events match your interests! (330) 493-9114 firstname.lastname@example.org gigisplayhouse.org/canton 4061 Bradley Circle NW, Canton, Ohio 44718 Programming is always FREE! Special thanks to Strouble Water Hauling & Paragon Accounting and Business Services for supporting GiGi's Playhouse and for sponsoring this ad!
38 August 2023 Creative Rehab is CARF accredited and partners with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), a state agency, to help individuals with disabilities get and keep jobs in the community. Creative Rehab 330-806-0497 | www.creativerehab.info Cleaning | One Time Cleaning | Emergency Cleaning | Covid or Other Illness Cleaning Other Indoor Cleaning | And More! 330-834-0008 1929 9th Street SW Massillon, Ohio 44647 email@example.com Let Us Do All Your Spring Cleaning! Spring Is Around The Corner.
Your Mobility (Devices)
BY RICHARD CORNS, RBDLLP & ASSOCIATES LLC
When many people think of things that are insurable, they immediately think of items such as automobiles, houses, life, or business insurance; however, often, many everyday things can be insured in some capacity. In our agency here at RBDLLP & Associates LLC, our mindset takes on a much different approach that offers solutions on many items that, to many, are uninsurable. With American Family Insurance powering our product options, we are fortunate to be able to offer options that many don’t believe to be available. One product that we can offer to our clients is coverage
on personal mobility devices (PMD) directly, like an auto insurance policy and coverage that extends from a home, renters, or condo policy known as equipment breakdown coverage.
When it comes to PMD, there are coverages that protect these very expensive devices against many issues that users might need help with. For example, an insurance policy would extend coverage to bodily injury, property damage, medical payments, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, comprehensive, and collision. These coverages protect users in many ways, including the provision of financial protection from potential damage caused by our insured, coverage for damage that results from a potential collision, coverage against theft and or other comprehensive claims, along with medical payments to our insured.
At RBDLLP & Associates LLC, our PMD clients can also elect for coverage from our home products, known as equipment breakdown coverage. This
coverage will cover these PMDs from mechanical breakdown, electrical breakdown, and power surge. If the personal mobility devices experience a mechanical concern, electrical concern or power surge issue that causes our clients’ devices to no longer work appropriately, our policy will offer some coverage to them. This coverage extends to motorized chairs in the home that are utilized for stair assist.
These devices can be very expensive to replace, and many times the reasons for replacement would fall underneath our policy guideline coverages. Coverage for these devices is very easy to obtain and requires very limited information from our end. With the premiums being very affordable, we advise all parties who might have a PMD in their home to explore these coverages. The process of getting a quote can take about five to ten minutes from a licensed staff member at an agency that can provide you and your loved ones with a quote that could put peace of mind in place for everyone.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 39
You can protect yourself and your personal mobility devices PROFESSIONAL PERSPECTIVE
A Superhero In Training!
Introducing you to john Maley
BY ANDREA HURR PHOTOS BY JULIAN CURET
The youngest of 3, John Maley III (6) is an animalloving bundle of fun. Although he is mostly nonverbal with Down Syndrome, John loves going to school and meeting new friends. He has a contagious smile and outgoing personality that keeps everyone on their toes. The Maleys have their share of obstacles raising a special needs son, but they keep a positive attitude and state “Every obstacle that we have overcome has been a truly exciting celebration that only other families with special needs
can understand. We are grateful to build strength, character, and patience in the midst of it all.”
John loves being a part of social events and interacting with peers and people in the community rate towards the top of his list. The Maleys enjoy attending inclusive events as “people with special needs should feel included and accepted,” says mom Jennifer. Although John is currently not participating in sports, he will be participating in this year’s Special Olympics at his school in May. What fun that will be.
“Every obstacle that we have overcome has been a truly exciting celebration that only other families with special needs can understand. We are grateful to build strength, character, and patience in the midst of it all.”
40 August 2023
As far as John’s future aspirations go, he wants to be a superhero such as The Hulk or Spider-Man and really enjoys watching professional wrestlers in WWE and practicing his best moves on his big sisters Angelica (17) and Kayla (10). He loves pizza, Rap, and Rock & Roll music, and SpongeBob and Bluey rate among his favorites. John is also a huge animal lover. He has 3 pugs and a Himalayan cat that bring him lots of joy.
The assistance of communication devices is used to improve John’s ability to communicate and starting 1st grade in the fall will only help him
even more. Jennifer wants everyone to know that “Ability does not equal value, you matter!!” Letting John know how special he is is important to the Maleys as they wouldn’t change him for the world! “We believe God has blessed us with an amazing son.” Amazing indeed! This young man will move mountains.
Lastly, Jennifer says that being a part of a community of other families who share the same struggles and obstacles is super helpful as they can all share their information and resources which reassures them that they are not alone. Don’t be afraid to get involved.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 41
The assistance of communication devices is used to improve John’s ability to communicate and starting 1st grade in the fall will only help him even more.
The Guildersleeve School of Performing Arts: a Private School with a Public Purpose At the Guildersleeve School, we pride ourselves in establishing goals that nurture students, family and community alike and that produce a healthy and productive result for all three. Inquire about our upcoming Enrollment Open House Events at (330) 510-1371. 1011 Gorge Blvd, Akron, OH 44203
Question & Answer Session with Ryan Heckert
Q. Where do you work currently?
A. I work for The Workshops Inc. (TWi)
Q. What is your job title here?
A. Chief Executive Officer
Q. How long have you been employed in your current job?
A. I was hired on August 14th, 2015.
Q. How long have you been employed in this industry?
A. I have worked in the field since 1998.
Q. What were your previous jobs in the industry?
A. From 1998 until 2003 I worked as a DSP (direct support professional) for a local agency provider. After graduating from Malone University, I began working as an SSA (Service and Support Administrator) for Stark DD in 2004. I worked there in various roles until coming to TWi in 2015.
Q. What do your day-to-day job responsibilities include?
A. Overall, oversight of the organization and implementation of our mission which is to nurture skills that foster independence and empower all to live their best lives.
Q. What is the inspiration behind why you work in this field?
A. From an early age I have been interested in leveling the playing field for those who may not get the same opportunities or experiences in life. With the right support, I believe anyone can accomplish anything. I enjoy being a part of those supports that help folks get from where they are to where they want to be. This inspires me daily to continue chipping away at items, ideas, and boundaries that limit the folks TWi supports.
Q. What part of your job are you most passionate about?
A. I deeply value the personal connections I get to make here. Building relationships with coworkers, individuals served, parents, family members, TWi board members, fellow providers and other stake holders is at the top of my list.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who is new to your field?
A. To a new professional in this field, I would suggest remaining aware you are a guest in the life of those you work with and support. There are few things
more important than remaining sensitive and mindful of where each individual is and how different their experiences in life may be from your own. Regardless of the capacity of your involvement, your presence around their table is unique and a privilege.
Q. What is your favorite success story you have seen?
A. There are many success stories I have been able to watch and experience. One recent story comes to mind and is not elaborate but simply about an individual doing what he loves and doing it well! He just needed an opportunity! A friend of mine enjoys music and DJ’ing. He was able to DJ a party we had at our TWI-West location, and I loved watching him in his element. He was full of energy and kept the party going all evening. I believe he felt accomplished and confident in himself and that is a big win! He’ll be back for our fall party in August and I’m certain he’ll have the party hopping!
Q. If you could go back and talk to yourself at the beginning of your career, what advice would you give yourself?
A. It can be very easy to believe you know what may be best for someone else. Early on I found myself in this place. I remember being a young and inexperienced SSA. I
44 August 2023
Chief Executive Officer at The Workshops Inc.
COMMUNITY IMPACT Q&A > RYAN HECKERT
was part of a group that went into Applecreek Developmental Center during its closure. We took a team of professionals and worked on getting folks out of Applecreek and into the community here in Stark. Looking back, I wish I would have been more focused on the person and less on trying to make things fit into a system.
Q. Do you feel like you’re making a difference in your job and why?
A. Each day I am able to be a part of delivering service and support to around 400 adults in Stark County and get to work on a team of close to 100 to make it all happen. Every single day, we make a difference. Sometimes, perhaps most times, the difference is small. Bringing or sharing in someone’s joy, being a part of someone reaching a goal they set for themselves or helping folks maintain are incredibly significant.
Q. Where do you see your industry going moving forward?
A. I believe the most challenging (and rewarding) job in this field is being a direct support professional (DSP). The expectation is substantial and the average wage across Ohio doesn’t align with the amount of responsibility. Thankfully, significant movement towards leveling this out is happening and the industry is moving toward putting a greater value on frontline staff.
Q. What has been the biggest factor in your career success?
A. At no point have I been the smartest person in a room. I have zero reservations about being on a team or leading a team where other people are stronger, smarter, faster, and more equipped than I am. I believe acknowledging and supporting other people’s strengths have helped me find success so far. There isn’t one moment or accomplishment, instead lots of wins for teams I’ve been a part.
Q. What is your favorite non-profit organization or volunteer opportunity?
A. I have a special place in my heart for GiGi’s Playhouse Canton. My two youngest daughters are both 7 years old and one of the greatest sources of joy in my life. They receive lots of opportunities at Gigi’s and my wife and I have found a wonderful community there. The organization has a presence across the country but feels small and cozy here in Stark County. They provide all sorts of services and supports to the disability community. Programs are free and provided by volunteers.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 45
We seek to provide every child with autism an individualized program that employs the research-based methodologies of Applied Behavior Analysis. Building Skills. Fostering Relationships. Changing Lives. AUTISM SCHOLARSHIP, MAJOR INSURANCES, AND OHIO MEDICAID PLANS ACCEPTED! AutismNowacceptingScholarship applicationsfor the2023-2024 schoolyear! 330-309-3133 www.appliedbehavioralconnections.com firstname.lastname@example.org Call TODAY to lean more! NEW SERVICES: Speech, Occupational, Physical & Music Therapies!
YGA Transportation is the leading medical transportation throughout Summit, Stark, Medina, Mahoning, Portage, Cuyahoga County. YGA Transportation services include: • Wheelchair • Recreational • Dialysis Transport •
and so much MORE!
Community Integration Day Program
The Community Integration Day Program offers a variety of activities designed to promote socialization and integration among individuals of all ages and abilities. The program provides structured activities, educational classes, socialization events, and recreational outings that are designed to facilitate the development of relationships, communication, and understanding. Participants are encouraged to explore their interests, express themselves, and learn new skills while engaging in meaningful activities with peers and staff. There is an emphasis on individualized and group learning experiences, building self-esteem, and developing meaningful relationships. The program is designed to help individuals become more independent, self-sufficient, and integrated into their community. It offers a safe and supportive environment where everyone can be successful. We offer HomeCare/HPC and MANY other services. Call Us Today for More Information!
NEXT TO KIN SUPPORTIVE SERVICES
ADULT DAY SUPPORT
Next to Kin offers hands-on employ-ability skills training that addresses personal care, self-determination, job readiness, recreation & leisure activities.
HOME CARE AND PERSONAL CARE
Next to Kin will assist individuals with their daily living activities in the individual's home. Duties performed at a place or residence may include housekeeping (laundry, dishes, meal prep, etc.). We can also assist with appointment making, nutrition, and personal care.
Respite is for individuals who are unable to care for themselves for a short-term basis, because of the absence or need for relief of those persons who normally provide care.
Next to Kin offers Adult Foster to individuals who are not capable of living alone. We provide a quality and private home setting.
Next to Kin provides support that promotes getting out and being involved in his/her community
FOR A LOVED ONE CAN BE EXHAUSTING. LET US HELP! GET IN TOUCH | Lucshunda Blackwell, CEO | 924 E Tallmadge Ave, Akron, OH 44310 | email@example.com 95 Hanna Parkway Suite D3, Akron Ohio 44319 • 234-571-0975 • https://ygatransportation.com
Psychiatric Transport • Long-distance Transport • Grocery Shopping • Doctor's Appointments
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 47 EMPOWERING ALL TO SOAR TWi is a regional disability service provider with several locations throughout Northeast Ohio. Our mission: We nurture skills that foster independence and empower all to live their best lives. TWi People Programs · HPC Services: help participants manage day-to-day care and to participate in their communities. · Day Services: provide pre-employment and vocational habilitation opportunities as well as recreational and leisure activities. · Transportation Services: help participants maintain independence and stay connected within the community. · Employment Services: assess each individual to discover and build on strengths and connect them with the right opportunities. Scan to learn more 330-479-3958 Information@choosetwi.com www.choosetwi.com @TheWorkshopsInc
TEAMMATES CENTER LLC
Monday- Money & ME (Self advocacy)
Tuesday- Talking & Technology Skills
Wednesday- What's Happening & Workout Skils
Thursday- Cooking (tasty) & Safety Skills
Friday- Funday Activities
Teammates Center offers Transportation for individuals in many cities who attend Teammates.
Teammates Center helps individuals focus on job skills by doing mock interviews, practice job applications, community based volunteer sites, to help improve the skills of your teammate to increase their chances of getting a job of their choice.
Adult Day Services (ADS)
Teammates Center Provides Adult Day Services for your Teammate improve their independence.
Teammates Center offers activities to bowling alleys, putt putt courses, the zoo, pumpkin patches, art museums, swimming pools, and many other activities chose by individuals who attend Teammates Center.
Vocational Habilitation (VOC-HAB)
Teammates Center Provides Vocational Habilitation Services for your Teammate to better their job skills
Volunteer Job Activities
Teammates Center has many non-paid volunteer job opportunities for individuals who attend Teammates. The VOC-HAB program focus' on individuals who are close to getting jobs and helps improve their skill set by volunteering at sites for an extended period of time to help improve their work stamina.
323 S Main St, Munroe Falls, Suite 1 Ohio 44262
(234) 571-5876 • http://Teammatescenter.org
VOC-HAB Recorded Data
Teammates Center keeps records/data of each individual to track the improvement in areas such as quality of work, stamina, communication. We individualize our support to meet the need of the person served. Our goal is to increase the independence of the people coming to Teammates so they can gain competitive employment.
See Continuing Ed. Activities Section of website for more information.
48 August 2023
ABCs of IEPs FRESH BEGINNINGS
I am just as shocked as you, but yes, it is back to school soon! In this submission, I want to share some tips and advice to make the start of the new school year a fresh beginning rather than a stressful transition. So, as you breathe in the scent of new crayons, take time to breathe in a fresh start.
BY REBECCA MCCLARY, PARENT MENTOR
TIP #1 - ASK FOR A PRIVATE TOUR
This is a specific tip I recommend to parents of kids who are starting at a new school building or who get overwhelmed with crowded open houses. Think of what will make this time as comfortable as possible for your child. Would they be better off wearing headphones to block out new or loud noises? Maybe a visual aide with pictures of their teachers/aides, classroom, gym, and lunch room will be most helpful. Some of our kiddos thrive on knowing “what is next.” Asking for a schedule and practicing their daily transitions could provide a sense of calm.
TIP #2 - TRACK PATTERNS
Grab yourself a notebook. Take a few minutes to create a quick chart. Include a row for each day (for the first two weeks of the school year), and a row for notes. Keep track of any issues, or concerns that you notice. Watch for behaviors, concerns your child is sharing, tiredness, anxiety, or even stress. After two weeks, look for any patterns and try your best to determine what may be triggering these challenges for your child. If you notice anything, it’s best to contact your IEP team as soon as possible. Tracking patterns can help your child thrive during this transition time.
TIP #3 - REQUEST AN IEP MEETING
One of the most common misconceptions of parents is that school staff are the only ones able to schedule a meeting. This is a myth. Parents, you can request meetings too! I should know … we had 14 IEP meetings last year for my daughter (yes, all were necessary). We discussed updating goals, new accommodations, or even new goals once a goal was achieved. Even if you think it is little, don’t hesitate to ask for an IEP meeting. Remember, you are part of your child’s IEP team.
I hope these tips will help make the beginning of the school year feel like a fresh start. I know it can be stressful, but you are strong! You are your child’s #1 advocate. Listen and be proactive. Let this be the fresh beginning yet!
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 49
EDUCATIONAL PERSPECTIVE > ABCS OF IEPS
MEET AUSTIN RABER
Thriving with simple pleasures and a business of his own…
BY MELISSA KLATT
PHOTO BY JULIAN CURET
Meet Austin Raber, a remarkable 20-year-old, class of 2022 graduate from Marlington High School, whose journey is an inspiring tale of perseverance and finding joy in life’s simple pleasures. Adopted from an orphanage in Russia at just seven months old, Austin now resides on a picturesque beef and grain farm with his loving parents and three of his four older brothers. Despite being on the autism spectrum and having a cognitive disability, Austin has discovered his passions and talents, forging a path that showcases his incredible spirit and resilience.
AN UNUSUAL, HEARTWARMING COMFORT THAT LED TO A BUSINESS OF HIS OWN
Austin’s love for the feel of trash bags may seem unusual to some, but it has become a unique source of comfort for him. This fascination has led to an extraordinary relationship with the Kimble company, where Austin has developed a special bond with several of the employees there. In fact, he named his 4-H steer this past year Kimble!
MOM SHARES AN INCREDIBLE STORY ABOUT THE IMPACT KIMBLE HAS HAD ON AUSTIN’S LIFE: The Kimble Company of Dover was kind enough to purchase his steer, and with money that Austin has
50 August 2023
Austin Raber’s journey is a testament to the power of determination, love, and acceptance.
saved from selling his market steers while being in 4-H, he has recently remodeled our old milk house and turned it into his “dream” recycle center and office! For the last several years, Austin has passed out his business cards to friends and posted pictures on Facebook. Furthermore, Austin has channeled his enthusiasm for recycling into a thriving business of his own. When he is not managing his recycling venture, he actively assists his father on the family farm. Additionally, Austin proudly holds a part-time position at Duma Meats, where he continues to develop his social skills and contribute to the community.
PREDICTIONS ABOUT AUSTIN’S FUTURE CAME TRUE
Support and encouragement from family are vital in any individual’s
journey, and Austin’s mom is fortunate to have a sister-in-law, Maureen Radalia, who has been an incredible source of comfort and assurance to both her and Austin’s dad. Maureen’s background of thirty-five years in Special Education and reassurance has helped alleviate their worries and fears about Austin’s future. She shared with them that Austin’s life would be filled with beauty, fulfillment, and endless opportunities for growth and happiness.
“When my husband and I first understood that Austin’s cognitive disability was going to play just as prominent a role in his life as his autism, we were overwhelmed,” shares mom, Julia Raber.
“Nevertheless, Maureen shared with us that Austin would continue to blossom into a well-adjusted, happy, resourceful, kind, and productive young man. I remember listening to her words of wisdom and believing in her insights, and Austin has become the young adult whom she described that evening nearly eight years ago.”
We have all heard the adage: “It takes a village to raise a child”. Well, special thanks are extended to all the empathetic and loving family members, teachers, friends, medical professionals, and individuals whom they’ve met on this journey who have all helped to shape Austin into the kind and loving young man he is today.
Austin’s family is a large pillar in the success of the vision Maureen shared that day, and he embraces the love he shares for all his family members! Austin admires his brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins… the list goes on! In fact, his favorite time of year is Memorial Day weekend, when he gets to spend time with everyone at the Radalia Family Reunion each year at his uncle’s farm.
EMBRACING HIS UNIQUE GIFTS
Austin’s story teaches us valuable lessons about embracing diversity and celebrating the unique gifts that each individual possesses. Despite facing challenges associated with autism and his cognitive disability, Austin has not allowed them to limit him. His unwavering spirit, combined
with the unwavering support of his family and community, has enabled him to carve out his own path and discover his true potential.
Austin Raber’s journey is a testament to the power of determination, love, and acceptance. From his adoption as a young child to his current ventures on the farm, in recycling, and at Duma Meats, Austin exemplifies the joy and fulfillment that can be found in pursuing one’s passions and embracing life’s adventures. His story reminds us all that everyone, regardless of their differences, has the potential to lead a beautiful, fulfilling life when surrounded by support, understanding, and opportunities to thrive. Austin’s journey is an inspiration, urging us to foster an inclusive society where everyone can shine brightly and contribute their unique talents for the betterment of all.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 51
GENTLEBROOK Connecting People & Community
BY SARAH SMITH
GentleBrook is a nonprofit entity dedicated to delivering a range of programs and services to benefit people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, seniors, and the broader community within Stark, Coshocton, and Holmes Counties. The organization was founded in 1974 by Glen and Lois Yoder, along with a caring and compassionate group of church and community leaders, to provide a home for individuals with developmental disabilities. The first facility, Hartville Homes, now called Hartville Meadows, opened in 1982 as a 32-bed residential home. GentleBrook focuses on potential and not limitations to help its clients and residents live a fulfilling life that is rich with opportunities.
While the current reach of GentleBrook has greatly expanded since the inception of the business, each new venture has remained true to the original vision of the founders.
“GentleBrook believes in connecting people and community through services and businesses,” said Francie Kell, Director of Marketing and Communication. “We serve and support older adults and individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities with services and supports that include residential options, adult day programs, and vocational training. We believe all human life is a sacred gift and most fulfilled in community with others.”
GentleBrook fosters independence for individuals with intellectual and/or
developmental disabilities by offering education opportunities through support services and residential services, including intermediate care facilities (ICF) in Hartville and West Lafayette in Coshocton County. The HomeStead, an assisted living and memory care facility located in Hartville opened in 2017. In July of 2022, GentleBrook took over as the developmental disability service provider for Holmes County. The organization’s services are personcentered, not prescriptive.
“We are definitely unique in that we not only provide I/DD services, but we also provide senior services, as well as two businesses that are open to the community, our greenhouse and our sportsplex,” Francie added. When
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT > GENTLEBROOK
asked why he likes working at the greenhouse, Christian, one of GentleBrook’s clients, stated, “I love it! I like to make money and I like the cats.”
There are many support services at the Hartville location. Adult day services include the GentleBrook Greenhouse and Farm where vocational skills are developed as participants tend to small animals and vegetables, plants, herbs, and flowers. Vocational habilitation and communityintegrated groups work at the Hartville Hardware store, in housekeeping, and at the Hartville Thrift Shoppe. GentleBrook’s Hartville location provides non-medical transportation. This summer, GentleBrook opened a brand new six bed ICF. “One size does not fit all. A range of needs exists, and we are pleased to now offer a range of options to meet those needs with the opening of this ICF,” said GentleBrook’s CEO, Norm Wengerd.
GentleBrook’s West Lafayette campus has six intermediate care facilities. Each one provides a homelike atmosphere, social and recreational activities, 24hour supervision and on-site nursing services, individual work training support, and therapeutic services.
In Holmesville in Holmes County, GentleBrook offers adult day services.
GentleBrook provides residential options for seniors looking to age in place. The Homestead is an assisted living and memory care facility. The Villas is GentleBrook’s newest
addition. The independent senior condominium community for people ages 55+ is located off Woodland St. SW in Hartville and building sites are available for purchase.
GentleBrook serves the community through two businesses in Hartville. The SportsPlex is an indoor sports recreation center with a full basketball court and a 7,500 sq. ft. turfed multisport training facility for individual and team use. The GentleBrook Greenhouse and Farm has a wide selection of beautiful bedding plants, hanging baskets, house plants, and succulents. It is open to the public from spring through fall.
“Our people are our greatest asset,” Francie stated. “The rewards of working in this field are not easily found in other labor sectors. The individuals we serve become our family, and we become their family. The ability to have such a profound impact on someone’s life is hard to put into words, but if you ask anyone on our team, they will tell you just how much they pour their hearts into their work because of it. We have been blessed with a core team of folks – from frontline workers to our management team – who continue to go above and beyond to ensure our residents receive the best care possible.”
GentleBrook is located at 880 Sunnyside St. SW in Hartville. More information can be found at www.gentlebrook.org or by calling 330-877-7700.
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 53
Looking For Fun & Exciting Ways To Spend Your
We o er a variety of community activities, all of which are chosen by participants of the program. At Premier Approach you’ll enjoy a fun, friendly & relaxed atmosphere. Get out and enjoy the things you already love, while also exploring other new and exciting opportunities.
Come visit our Award Winning Showroom at 950 S. Main St. - North Canton | 330.526.6009 Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM Evenings & Weekends by appointment Medicaid Waiver Providers • www.jtekgroup.com • See our latest projects @jtekgroup OUR SERVICES Stairlifts – Straight and Curved Barrier Free Showers Ceiling Track Lift Systems Wheelchair Platform Lifts Walk-in Tubs & Transition Tubs Ramps (for sale or rent) Grab Bars & Handrails Pool Lifts Accessible Remodeling & Additions Interior Design for Mobility Consulting Services BRING DESIGN & STYLE TO YOUR HOME ACCESS PROJECT Experts in Accessible Remodeling and Mobility Equipment since 2011
Day? PREMIER APPROACH IS THE PLACE FOR YOU! CALL TO SCHEDULE A TOUR! 330-312-6909 | firstname.lastname@example.org 2056 Wales Rd NE | Massillon, OH 44646
SERVICES PROVIDED: · Adult Day Support · Vocational Habilitation · Non-Medical Transportation
Beauty Belongs to Everyone
Davis simply through images
PICTURES SAY THOUSANDS OF WORDS … ABOUT LYLA DAVIS
Ships and Delivers Frozen Wholesale Meats to You. We are a small locally run business and we work with local farmers to bring you the best.
We offer a variety of different bundle options. 12-month freshness guarantee. Individually wrapped USDA choice meat, vacuum sealed and packed with dry ice.
We are a small business. We are located in Massillon, Ohio. Our Storefront is open every day 8am-8pm. We offer free local delivery and Have sales representatives out every day.
We sell Frozen Wholesale Meats. We offer a variety of different bundle options. 12-month freshness guarantee. Individually wrapped USDA choice meat, vacuum sealed and packed with dry ice. Once sent out they will be received in (2) days. Please Visit Our Website For More Information:
NW, Massillon, OH 44647 330-809-0322 7 days a week 8AM - 8PM fatdaddymeats.com
Fat Daddy Meats FREE LOCAL DELIVERY! Wholesale Chicken, Steak, Shrimp,
20 Ribeyes for $40.00
Akron & Canton Special Needs Living 57
AUGUST ISSUE LAST LOOK
58 August 2023
Hand Selected By
Content Director Mike Sturdivant.
GentleBrook (Page 52)
John Maley (Page 40)
Austin Raber (Page 50)
Reston Price (Page 32)
Lyla Davis (Page 55)
Michael L’Amoreaux (Page24)
Therapeutic Day Center Combining Academics & Therapies for a Collaborative Approach, Ages 5 to 21. Changing The World, One Child At A Time 2023-2024 NOW ENROLLING! Autism Scholarship Providers 234-334-0044 • email@example.com www.wingsofchangetherapyinc.com Meet Waﬄes the Therapy Dog! OUR TEAM INCLUDES: – General Education Teachers (NEW!) – Intervention Specialists – Occupational Therapists – Physical Therapist – Speech & Language Pathologists – Teaching Assistants NEW LOCATION, EXPANDED SERVICES! We’ve moved and more than DOUBLED our size! 1909 3rd St. Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221 Contact us for a tour of the new facility and for info on enrollment!
Make a Difference in Your Community Right Now
REM Ohio is Hiring!
It may be summer, but we’re not taking a break from hiring in your community. If you or someone you know wants to make a difference in the lives of others, to grow within your career and to work in a supportive environment, check us out.
REM Ohio is looking for caring people to support the needs of individuals with disabilities as a direct support professional, program supervisor, day program caregiver and more.
Full-Time and Part-Time Positions Available, All Shifts:
· Paid training
· Paid time off for full-time employees
· Paid holidays for part-time and full-time staff
· Medical/dental/vision coverage for full-time employees
Apply online today
· Now offering Dayforce Wallet: work today, pay available tomorrow!
9151 Currency St. Irving, TX 75063
A Social Publication for the Residents of Akron & Canton