VKC at 2016 Tennessee Disability MegaConference

VKC at 2016 Tennessee Disability MegaConference

By: Courrtney Taylor

The 14th annual Tennessee Disability MegaConference focused its sessions this year on the theme of "Collective Action for Strong Communities!" A number of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) faculty, staff, and trainees were present to contribute their thoughts and actions through the delivery of presentations, conference planning, and volunteering.

A highlight of the two-day conference is always the awards banquet, and Elise McMillan, co-director of the VKC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD), and Bud Sugg, a Next Steps at Vanderbilt graduate, were eager and enthusiastic hosts for the ceremony.

The CapABILITY Career Expo, co-sponsored by the VKC administered TennesseeWorks Partnership, was a huge success. Jobseekers with disabilities were invited to network with employers who were present to share career information and to recruit viable candidates.

Detailed information on Vanderbilt Kennedy Center representation at Tennessee Disability MegaConference is included below.*

*VKC-affiliated presenters are bolded.


Parents and Professionals as Special Education Advocates

  • Kelli A. Sanderson
  • Samantha Goldman
  • Maria P. Mello

Realizing the challenges parents face in advocating for their children with disabilities, The Volunteer Advocacy Project (VAP) trains interested individuals to become special education advocates so they can provide instrumental and effective support to families of children with disabilities in Tennessee. Since its inception in fall of 2008, The VAP has trained more than 250 advocates across Tennessee.

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder and Co-Occurring Mental Health Concerns

  • Neill Broderick
  • Katherine Gotham
  • Sarah Bauman

Current literature indicates that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is often accompanied by symptoms that warrant separate psychiatric disorder diagnoses. Individuals with ASD of all ages can experience mental health challenges beyond the core characteristics of ASD. This presentation provided an introduction to the mental health concerns that commonly co-occur with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), prevalence rates, and symptomatology of note; how characteristics of ASD increase one's vulnerability to mental health concerns and factors that influence co-morbidity and symptoms associated with various comorbid diagnoses.

What's Up Doc? Ways to Engage More Effectively with Your Health Care Provider

  • Janet Shouse
  • Tom Cheetham
  • Elise McMillan
  • Joanie Crowley
  • Will McMillan

Have you as an individual with a disability been disappointed by the care you've received from medical providers? Have you as a family member or direct support professional had concerns about whether a doctor or nurse understands an individual's disability? This interactive session demonstrated ways to engage more effectively with medical providers and strengthen that relationship to improve care. Participants learned how to communicate more effectively with health care providers, to select tools from the IDD Toolkit to encourage understanding by the health care provider of the physical and behavioral health conditions that are more prevalent among those with specific developmental disabilities, and to use the Emotional and Behavioral Concerns Checklist for Caregivers to explore the possible causes of challenging behavior in greater depth.

The Power of a College Education: Personal Perspectives from Students with Disabilities

  • Tammy Day

Graduates and current college students from our state's inclusive higher education programs (Vanderbilt, UT, Lipscomb, Union, and University of Memphis) shared highlights of their college experiences, how their time was well spent, and about the important outcomes they are experiencing.

We Are the World: Serving Diverse Populations

  • Alexander Santana

Is your organization ready to serve an increasingly diverse population? As the demographics of our state change, it's important for agencies to be prepared to serve individuals from diverse backgrounds in a culturally competent manner. Tennessee Disability Pathfinder of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center shared helpful insights into key components of developing a multicultural program.

Truth About the CHOICES Program

  • Lorrinda Mabry

The CHOICES program was developed in 2010 to help the aged and people with physical disabilities to live in the community. Some people still believe some myths like TennCare would take their homes first before they get the help they need and deserve. This session explained how the CHOICES program works.

>Discovering Community Resources: Tennessee Disability Pathfinder

  • Tracy Beard
  • Kimmie Jones

Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, a statewide clearinghouse of disability-related resources and multilingual helpline, has redesigned its website to make it easier for users to access information. This session updated participants on the newest means for obtaining helpful resources through the use of social media and various tools on Pathfinder's website.

Engaging with the Community: What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

  • Lynnette Henderson

Tennessee now has two years of participation in NCI (2013-14) and (2014-15), representing over 800 randomly selected Tennesseans served by TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD). The Arc TN People Talking to People interviewed these people using the Adult Consumer Survey. Information on their Housing, Employment, Transportation, Recreation, Volunteering, Self-Advocacy, Relationships, and Spirituality was presented, comparing and looking across the two years for trends.

Breaking News: Three Federal Grants Expand College Opportunities in TN

  • Tammy Day
  • Mallory Whitmore
  • Maurice Williams

The U.S. Dept. of Education awarded three Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities Grants to Tennessee universities. Lipscomb, Memphis, and Vanderbilt Universities have each been awarded a 5-year expansion grant. This session was devoted to descriptions of how funds will be used to expand the college opportunities on their campuses and across Tennessee with the support of the TN PSE Alliance.

The Tennessee Disability MegaConference is an annual two-day event that brings a wealth of resources for Tennesseans with disabilities together under one roof. Organized by The Arc Tennessee with support from a number of community partners, sessions are held throughout the two days and are designed to inform and inspire not only people with disabilities, but also their families and professionals.

For more information about the annual Conference, visit www.tndisabilitymegaconference.org/

Last Updated: 5/24/2016 1:36:33 PM

Go to the news and video index