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I have spoken often of the MCDD’s commitment to working in partnership with parents and family members. We have a number of committed parents and family members on our Community Advisory Council, and we are developing a number of partnerships with parent and family groups around the state this year.
One of these partnerships involves contracting with a parent to coordinate what we call the Disability Perspective Experience (DPE). The focus of this experience is to offer MCDD trainees from The Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, and other institutions of higher education a chance to hear important disability perspectives. This year, the experience will involve a number of parents/family members meeting with the trainees in three panel discussions on topics important to the family members. These topics may include what it’s like to get an initial diagnosis, what daily life is like in terms of complexity and accessing the community, and how the current set of services and supports benefits or fails them. Ultimately, the goals are that the trainees are exposed to the knowledge of the family experience, and that they integrate this family perspective into their personal and professional lives and roles through reflection and discussion.
The MCDD contracted with Pathfinders for Autism to facilitate a number of regional forums with parents of transition-age youth with autism spectrum disorder to discuss local resources, barriers, and needs. Additionally, we will be working with the Kinera Foundation to do important work on the Eastern Shore to identify ways to develop local service hubs that bring a more comprehensive, integrated, and family-friendly set of services to the region. We are also looking forward to collaborating with Parents’ Place of Maryland on a number of efforts to take advantage of its substantial state-wide reach.
We celebrate and honor the opportunity to work with, and learn from, these important parent and family members this year.
-Christopher Smith, Ph.D.
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