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Carol Broadbent, parent of twin four-year-old girls

Lori Hoffman, grandmother to a boy with learning problems

Karen Goodwin, mother of a son with learning difficulties

Stephanie Vrsnik, Community and Development Director, Nevada PEP

Robin Kincaid, Training Director, Nevada PEP

BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- Parenting ordinary children can be tough enough but special needs children are something else. Teachers and schools often cannot find exactly what they need. Programs like Nevada PEP can often help.

It’s a statewide parent-training organization, PEP Training Director Robin Kincaid says. Most of all, PEP helps families find ways to communicate and collaborate with schools.

Children with special needs or disabilities do create problems that need individual solutions. Carol Broadbent’s twins, for example, suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. That has left them with significant developmental delays and behavioral problems. “Every day’s battle with stuff,” Broadbent said.

Just getting them into school was problematic and they felt abandoned once Nevada Early Intervention finished providing the initial help. Broadbent and her husband just read a lot but felt they were “just kind of stuck.” The girls’ aggressive behavior made it difficult to find a pre-school that would take them. By the same token, the pre-K school program has helped them. It is a special education class of eight students with a teacher and two aides.

“They’ll always struggle. I know that,” says Broadbent. But, she added, she was happy PEP was able to help her.

Lori Hoffman’s grandson was born with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, a condition, which required he be born at 35 weeks because of tumors on his kidneys. Numerous surgeries followed to reduce an abnormally large tongue, correct growth abnormalities and deal with intestinal problems. He struggled in school and was finally diagnosed as having a “written expression disorder,” said Hoffman.

“He would just sit there and not do his work. You could ask him and he could tell you everything but he would not write at all, he just wouldn’t do it,” she said. After three years of struggling with this problem, counselors from PEP were able to work with Hoffman to get her son an iPad. Using that at summer school has allowed him to catch up with grade level work.

The first place to begin is the the “individual education program” or IEP. That program is individualized to the special education needs of each child, said Stephanie Vrsnik, Community and Development Director of Nevada PEP.  All special education students must have an IEP, she added. Nevada PEP offers parents clinics and special training in what they need to know to make sure their IEP is working.



WATCH this TED TALK by Aimee, Print Flyer for Jason's Deli then Go Eat & Support!!


Nevada PEP E-Post
Sent Date: March 13, 2013

Nevada PEP Partners with Jason's Deli Entire Month of April

Print Flyer & Present Upon Arrival

Cozy Webinars for the Fall - Presented by Nevada PEP
Stay warm this Winter and get the information you need from the comfort of your home. Click the links below to get a description and register for the upcoming webinars.

Understanding ADHD for Parents - Date: Tuesday 26 March 2013 - Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Civil Rights Agreement Reached with South Carolina Technical College System on Accessibility of Websites to People with Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the South Carolina Technical College System (SCTCS), the state's largest higher education system, that will ensure that the websites of SCTCS and its 16-member colleges are accessible to persons with disabilities.

Continue . . .

Valuable Tips for Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible.
The following is a tech-tips video discussing low-tech handwriting tools . . .

A great app for children ages 4 through 8, Aesop's Wheel of Fables teaches the moral lessons of 20 fables through the quick spin of a wheel. If grandparents live out of town, they can pre-record the fables in their voice on the child's device for listening at a later date.
Learn More . . .

An NIMH-funded study published online in Lancet reveals that the five most common disorders—autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and major depression—all share similar genetic components.
Science Update . . .

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Financing Reform and Innovations has developed a new Information Resource Center to provide people in the behavioral health care field important information about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can improve access to behavioral healthcare services. The Information Resource Center can answer many of the specific questions about how the ACA will affect various aspects of the behavioral health care community, as well as provide updates on the status of the ACA’s implementation.
Press Release . . .

NIMH Director Thomas Insel describes how different perspectives separate the communities interested in autism, and suggests the common ground that would provide an avenue to move forward.
SEE HERE . . .

This brochure, now available in Spanish, helps parents and teachers recognize common reactions children of different age groups experience after a disaster or traumatic event. It offers tips for how to respond in a helpful way and when to seek support.
SEE HERE . . .

Beyond Detention, a new Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention publication series, details the findings of the Northwestern Juvenile Project (NJP), the first large-scale, longitudinal study of drug, alcohol, and psychiatric disorders in a diverse sample of juvenile detainees. The first bulletin provides an overview of the project. Topics covered in future Beyond Detention series bulletins will include suicidal thoughts and behaviors among juvenile detainees, posttraumatic stress disorder and trauma within this population, functional impairment after detention, and barriers to mental health services.

Can Exercise Improve IQ In People With Down Syndrome?
IUsing a method called “assisted cycle therapy,” researchers at Arizona State University say they’re seeing improvement in those with Down syndrome. The approach involves rigorous exercise sessions on a specialized stationary bicycle, with a coach encouraging and monitoring the individual with Down syndrome throughout.

Click HERE for more details . . .

Disability, Literacy Groups Unite On Common Reading Goal
The push to have all children reading on grade level by third grade must include students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, say two advocacy groups who have bonded over this common goal.

Continue . . .

Nevada PEP Joins Nevada's Big Give

Nevada PEP's Social Networks

Statewide Central Office Satellite Office
Toll-Free 800-216-5188 2101 South Jones Blvd, Suite 120 4600 Kietzke Lane, Suite I-202 Las Vegas, NV 89146 Reno, NV 89502 Phone: 702-388-8899 Phone: 775-448-9950
  Fax: 702-388-2966 Fax: 775-448-9603

Problematic School Absenteeism and Selective Mutism

Christopher A. Kearney

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

     Problematic school absenteeism includes school-aged youths who display complete absences from school, skipped classes, tardiness, morning misbehaviors in an attempt to miss school, and/or substantial distress at school that precipitates pleas for future nonattendance. A recent national study revealed that the rate of chronic absenteeism (i.e., missing 10+% of the school year) among American youth may be 10-15%. Chronic absenteeism is higher among low-income students and school dropout rates are highest among Hispanics.

     Some youth are referred to treatment specifically because of absentee problems but such problems can also be an integral part of broader anxiety, mood, or disruptive behavior disorders. Key concomitants of problematic school absenteeism include substance abuse, violence, suicide attempt, risky sexual behavior, pregnancy, delinquency-related behaviors, injury, illness, and school dropout. Longitudinal studies reveal severe consequences of problematic school absenteeism into adulthood, including economic deprivation and psychiatric, social, marital, and occupational problems.

    Treatments for problematic absenteeism involve Tier 1 (preventative), Tier 2 (early intervention), and Tier 3 (complex intervention) approaches. Tier 1 interventions involve school-wide efforts to maintain attendance as well as regular monitoring to identify students with emerging attendance problems. Tier 1 interventions are broad-based in nature and include strategies to improve school climate and safety as well as student health and social-emotional development. Tier 2 interventions include (1) cognitive-behavioral procedures to address anxiety- and non-anxiety-based cases of absenteeism, and (2) those implemented more systemically to boost student engagement and to provide peer and teacher mentoring. Tier 3 interventions include expanded Tier 2 interventions, alternative educational programs, and legal strategies.

     Selective mutism is a persistent and debilitating condition in which a child fails to speak in public situations where speaking is expected. Selective mutism affects 0.2-2.0% of children, with girls slightly more affected than boys. The disorder commonly begins during preschool years but treatment is often delayed by parents or others who believe the problem is temporary. Selective mutism may have a chronic course for some children and can produce significant problems with respect to peer rejection, incomplete verbal academic tasks or standardized tests, or inadequate language or social skills.

     A primary goal of treatment for selective mutism is to increase the audibility and frequency of speech, especially in public situations such as school. The most common and empirically supported treatment components for selective mutism are behavioral in nature. These components include exposure-based practices that are integrated with stimulus fading, self-modeling, and shaping and prompting. Supplementary procedures include negative reinforcement/escape, social skills and language training, family therapy, and anxiety management techniques. Parent-based contingency management procedures are also important to facilitate a child’s more audible and frequent speech and reduce nonverbal compensatory behaviors. These treatment components are typically used in conjunction with one another in various settings and with various people such as parents, school officials, and peers.

Department of Psychology

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

4505 Maryland Parkway

Las Vegas, NV 89154-5030

Office Telephone: 702-895-3305

Office Fax: 702-895-0195




Friday, January 25, 2013



Recent Disability Updates

Note: If you received this email as a forward but would like to be added to the White House Disability Group email distribution list, please visit our website at and fill out the "contact us" form in the disabilities section, or you can email us at and provide your full name, city, state, and organization.

Recent disability announcements include the acknowledgement of Americans with disabilities in the President's inaugural address, the introduction of audio descriptions for public tours, the release of new guidance from the Department of Education on the obligation of schools to provide opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in extracurricular athletics, and that announcement of a new strategic plan regarding Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 

In addition, the Department of Justice has charged five individuals with 196 indictments, including the violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, for targeting individuals with disabilities in a Social Security fraud scheme. The Justice Department also recently filed comprehensive agreement resolving litigation concerning conditions of care at the former Arlington Developmental Center. Lastly, the Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced that Bloomington, Minnesota-based U.S. Bank National Association will pay $12,000 to a loan applicant with disabilities under a Conciliation Agreement. Read more about all of these stories below.

Inaugural Address by President Barack Obama

"We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  (Applause.)  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn."

Read the full inaugural address at the following link:

White House Announces Audio Descriptions for Public Tours

President Obama and the First Lady have long been committed to ensuring that the White House is truly the People’s House, and that Americans with disabilities are fully integrated into our society.  Continuing on that commitment, the White House Visitor’s Office is pleased to announce the availability of an audio description for those taking a White House tour. This will give blind and visually impaired Americans and persons with other print disabilities the opportunity to listen to an audio described tour as they visit the historic, public rooms of the White House.

Read more about the audio descriptions at the following link:

U.S. Department of Education Clarifies Schools' Obligation to Provide Equal Opportunity to Students with Disabilities to Participate in Extracurricular Athletics

The Department's Office for Civil Rights issued guidance clarifying school districts' existing legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities. In addition to explaining those legal obligations, the guidance urges school districts to work with community organizations to increase athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, such as opportunities outside of the existing extracurricular athletic program.

Read more about this story at the following link:

Strategic Plan for Improving Management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Announced

The new strategic plan provides a more comprehensive and structured approach to further improve agencies’ management of the requirements of Section 508.  This approach includes actions agencies need to take to (1) increase transparency, (2) strengthen accountability, and (3) improve collaboration regarding accessible EIT.  

Read the memorandum on the strategic plan at the following link:

Federal Charges Allege Captors Held Adults with Disabilities in Subhuman Conditions to Carry Out Social Security Fraud

Linda Weston, her daughter and three co-defendants are charged in a 196-count indictment, unsealed today, with racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, hate crimes, sex trafficking, kidnapping, forced human labor, theft, fraud, and other violent crimes. The indictment alleges that Weston and her associates carried out a racketeering enterprise that targeted victims with mental disabilities and as part of a scheme to steal disability payments from the victims and the Social Security system.

Read more about this story at the following link:

Justice Department Obtains Comprehensive Agreement to Resolve Long Standing Litigation Regarding the Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities

The Justice Department announced that it recently filed in federal court a comprehensive agreement that will resolve long running litigation with the state of Tennessee originally concerning conditions of care at the former Arlington Developmental Center (ADC).  

Read more at the following link:

HUD, US Bank Settle Disability Discrimination Claim

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that Bloomington, Minnesota-based U.S. Bank National Association will pay $12,000 to a loan applicant with disabilities under a Conciliation Agreement settling allegations that the bank required him to provide unnecessary documentation to establish he would continue receiving disability income for three years before they would approve his mortgage loan.

Read more about at the following link: 

Stay Connected











We are proud of Robin Renshaw, transition specialist at Nevada PEP, for receiving the
Personal Advocate award from the Nevada Disability and Advocacy Center.


My name is Michele Santee. I am the Intakes Specialist here at Nevada PEP. I wanted to share my families experiences with the Holiday Season. I have a 9 year old son named Ashton who has Autism. When the Holiday’s come around we experience a lot more stress than usual, as I am sure most of our PEP families do!


During this time of year we have to find more untraditional ways to celebrate. Family gatherings are certainly hard on our kids. I remember one year we were invited to a Christmas dinner at a very close friends’ home. There was a table displayed beautifully with food, snacks, and desserts. There was a turkey in the center of the table. My son ran right over to that turkey and ripped the leg off and began his Christmas feast! I could feel all the eyes in the room on me. Of course, my son doesn’t notice and continues to devour his stolen turkey leg with the biggest smile on his face – I can still vividly remember that moment.  I laugh about this now, but I remember the feeling I had at that moment. I felt like I ruined everyone’s Christmas dinner and I was uncomfortable for the remainder of the time we spent there. Family gatherings are also tough for our kids that are not comfortable with large groups, loud music, and lots of commotion. My son in particular can only handle very short burst of excitement before the inevitable meltdown begins. Over the years we have learned through my son’s body language when enough is enough! Because of this we have been able to successfully enjoy gatherings in very small doses. One quote that reminds me of my son and something I try to remember during this stressful time is “less is more” .


There is so much more to the Holiday season than gatherings. What about the change in weather? Our kids, especially our sensory sensitive kids, have a hard time with changing their wardrobe and understanding when it’s sunny it doesn’t mean it’s warm out. We had taken a road trip to the East Coast to visit with my extended family and my son had never experienced snow or the frigid cold weather. He grew up most his life in San Diego and Las Vegas. One morning while we were there I was fixing the kids breakfast and my son was just fine running around the house, as usual. When I went to call the kids for breakfast, I find the front door was wide open. I immediately run outside, no shoes, and in my pajamas. I found a fresh set of footsteps leading to the backyard. There he was curled up in the snow not sure what to do, in his birthday suit!  My son is notorious for wearing birthday suit while in the home. But he has learned, snow is very cold. Still to this day when we talk about snow he immediately tells me “snow cold”.


Christmas morning in my house is probably much different than most traditional Christmas mornings. My daughter, Amelia, loves unwrapping gifts. My son on the other hand sees a wrapped gift as a box with a bunch of Christmas pictures all over it. He doesn’t enjoy the element of surprise. Surprises upset my son because he likes everything to be predictable. So, under our tree Christmas morning we have half our gifts all wrapped and the other half unwrapped. It helps keep my son engaged with the family while he checks out all his new toys and while we unwrap our gifts. It works for us and makes the morning more predictable and enjoyable for our son.


What I am trying to say is, the Holiday Season can be very stressful on our families. In particular on our children with special needs. You need to find ways to make the Holiday’s fun, fulfilling, enjoyable for your family. Sometimes this means celebrating a little different and there is nothing wrong with being different. My family enjoys our new unique traditions it makes our family special to us. Holidays can be hard with all the change, excitement, and seasonal stress on top of all your regular stress. You have to try and laugh through the trying times and surround yourself with people that understand your family and that can laugh along with you. I wish all of our PEP families a wonderful, safe, and different Holiday Season! Cheers!