Education

Conversations about inclusion often talk about race and diversity, but one topic that people often leave off the table is ability. In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Michelle Sie Whitten, the President and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and her daughter, Sophia Whitten, who has Down Syndrome, joined Parenting Impossible to discuss the meaning of true inclusion for people with Down Syndrome and other disabilities in society, research, education, and more.  As the topic of diversity becomes more widespread, people with disabilities tend to be “featured” for their disabilities rather than being included as whole, unique…
In a time of confusion and fear, Parenting Impossible guest Laura Whitaker says that she is leading her business with courageous and thoughtful decision making rather than being reactive to the constant changes that are occurring. Laura is the Executive Director of Extra Special People (ESP) in Athens, Georgia, an organization that provides summer camp, resources, support, and services for families of kids with disabilities. She started in this role when she was 19 years old, and she says that while some people may choose their job, this job chose her.  COVID-19 has made her organization’s traditional methods of operation…
We are pleased to announce that both Special Needs Companies founder Annette Hines and her husband, expert attorney Mark Worthington, have been recognized by Super Lawyers as Top Rated Estate Planning & Probate Attorneys in Framingham, MA. 2020 marks the 7th year in a row that Annette has been honored with this elite recognition and the 13th consecutive year of recognition for Mark.   Each year, Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process, including peer nominations, evaluations, and independent research, to create a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a…
After six years of proposals, feedback and edits, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) finalized the Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts regulations on Oct. 1, 2020. While some of the regulations were expected or familiar, others were a bit of a surprise. In this episode of Parenting Impossible, Host Annette Hines talks with her favorite podcast guest, her husband Mark Worthington, about this finalized document and the implications it could have for people with disabilities and their families across the country.    ABLE Accounts were created to help people with disabilities and their families save and pay for disability-related…
In this episode of our Parenting Impossible podcast, Annette interviews “warrior woman,” Nina Bakoyiannis, to discuss the interwoven framework of disability discrimination in our society that exists both interpersonally and institutionally.  Under her pen name “Despina Bakos,” Nina created a blog where she talks more generally about her experiences growing up with a physical disability and the issue of ableism in our society. She also works with a grassroots disability rights organization in New York called ADAPT that is currently working on Medicaid reform and advocates for funding and community understanding of home care services. In her professional life, she…
The death of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has brought a new push for disability rights. In this episode of Parenting Impossible, Host Annette Hines talks to Alison Barkoff, Director of Advocacy at the Center for Public Representation in Washington D.C. They discuss the impact of Justice Ginsburg‘s death on the disability community‘s fight for civil rights and why litigation to combat institutional bias is essential for the wellbeing of people with disabilities.  Alison came to this profession based on personal experience and connection to the disability community through her brother Evan who has Down Syndrome.…
In this episode of Parenting Impossible, Host Annette Hines talks about bringing behavioral analysis training home with her guest, Jessica Guzman. Jessica previously worked as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, or BCBA, in Austin, Texas, to help families navigate challenging behavior for their young children with special needs. She also has a master’s in education. Recently, she created her own company, “Little Wildlings Ltd. Co. ” where she is a behavior consultant who helps kids from 18 months to 6 years old with behavioral issues.  Annette and Jessica first connected on LinkedIn when Annette saw a message Jessica had posted…
In this special episode of Parenting Impossible, Host Annette Hines welcomes back some of her early podcast guests, Hillary Dunn Stanisz, Cheryl Ryan Chan, and Dave Greenwood, to celebrate the podcast’s first anniversary and open the door to the future of conversations about special needs. This episode is also significant because Annette lights a candle for her daughter, Elizabeth, in honor of Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week.  Annette launched Parenting Impossible – The Special Needs Survival Podcast out of the desire to connect with the special needs community and create a one-stop-shop for conversations, information, and resources that she could…
In a recent Circle of Care Facebook Live session, special guest and disability advocate Cheryl Ryan Chan suggested that the pandemic has become the “great equalizer” in the disability world.    During COVID-19, ALL of us have experienced the effects of quarantine on some level. For some of us, we are experiencing a life of isolation, loss of freedom, anxiety, fear, sadness, loneliness, etc all at the same time. While many people are going through this for the first time, members of the special needs community have been experiencing this life much, much longer. They are living in this state…
In this episode of Parenting Impossible, host Annette Hines talks to sleep consultant Melissa Doman. For more than ten years, Melissa has worked with special needs families who are fed up with sleepless nights and are ready to find solutions despite being told there’s nothing that can be done about their child’s sleep problems.   Annette and Melissa begin their discussion with an explanation of “sleep training” and how it can benefit special needs children in particular. Melissa breaks down the importance of using techniques —  other than medication —  to build new sleep routines and habits. They also touch…