Parenting While Rising to Child Developmental Challenges Archive

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Upcoming Events

This free, 5-episode virtual conversation series offers a warm and inviting opportunity to connect with other parents and families of children with differences in or challenges to their development. Through conversations with parents of children with developmental differences, challenges, or disabilities, we explore the unique and common experiences of loving and raising children whose developmental process and journey is delayed or atypical. We discuss the challenges and joys of family life with children with a wide array of ways of being in the world. We cover topics near and dear to the hearts and experiences of families as we all learn from each other about how to best support and advocate for our children, the whole family, and our communities.

All are welcome to join and engage in these powerful conversations!

Photo of Jayne Singer

This series is moderated by Jayne Singer, PhD, IECMHC-E®, Director of Developmental and Relational Health at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center.

Fall 2023

The series ran for five Mondays from October 12 through December 13, 2023. All episodes were one hour, with live Spanish translation and closed captioning available.

Episode 1: Health Care for Children Who Are Differently Abled

Thursday, October 12, 2023, 12 – 1 PM ET / 9 – 10 AM PT

Families of children with developmental differences find themselves interacting with many providers and programs in healthcare and education systems.  Families know their child better than anyone else who comes into contact with their child. During this virtual conversation, we will explore families’ experiences interacting with professionals and their institutions and what they would like providers to understand about how to connect, respect, and honor families in the process of working towards a collaborative partnership. We will be joined by Dr. Mai Pham, mother, and healthcare champion for individuals with disabilities, and President and CEO of the Institute for Exceptional Care in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Mai Pham

Mother, healthcare champion for individuals with disabilities, and President and CEO of the Institute for Exceptional Care in Washington, D.C.

Hoangmai (Mai) H. Pham is the President of the Institute for Exceptional Care, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming healthcare for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dr. Pham is a general internist and national health policy leader. She was Vice President at Anthem, responsible for value-based care initiatives.

Prior to Anthem, Dr. Pham served as Chief Innovation Officer at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, where she was a founding official and the architect of foundational programs on accountable care organizations and primary care. Dr. Pham has published extensively on provider payment policy and its intersection with health disparities, quality performance, provider behavior, and market trends.

She serves on the board of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, and numerous advisory bodies including the National Academy of Medicine, the National Advisory Council for the Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Maryland Primary Care Program.

Dr. Pham is most proud of mothering two sons, one of whom is autistic. Her clinical experience is grounded in primary care for underserved populations. She earned her A.B. from Harvard University, her M.D. from Temple University, and her M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University where she was also a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar.

Episode 2: My Whole Child
Monday, October 23, 2023,  3–4 PM ET / 12–1 PM PT

Families of children with developmental disabilities often find that professionals focusing on their child’s challenges may not seek out and celebrate the “whole” of their child. Families know that their child’s challenges do not define everything about their child. During this virtual conversation, we will learn with families about how they appreciate their children’s strengths and how they help family members, educators, healthcare professionals, and others see them too. We will be joined by Voyo Djordjic, father and advocate for individuals who are differently abled, who you might know from his powerful story on PBS’s Stories from the Stage.

Voya Djordjic

Father, President of Sigma Pros, LLC, and advocate for individuals who are differently abled

Voya Djordjic was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1972. He and his wife Daniela arrived in Boston as part of the refugee resettlement program in 1998.

He is President of Sigma Pros, LLC, an innovative company specializing in high-quality renovations providing services to real estate owners and managers from New York to Boston.

He is the father of a 23-year-old son, Jovan, who is quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent from an early age. He provides around-the-clock care for his son at his home with the help of five registered nurses. Jovan was home-schooled, and he communicates via eye gaze using a Tobii communication device.

Episode 3: What You Always Wanted to Know about Special Olympics and Didn’t Know to Ask
Monday, November 6, 2023,  3–4 PM ET / 12–1 PM PT

Special Olympics is renowned for its celebration and elevation of people who are differently abled. What is less known are the many ways in which the organization reaches into communities to support early intervention as well as health care. Come learn more! We will be joined by Jennifer Hansen, mother, and Young Athletes Senior Manager at Special Olympics.

Jennifer Hansen

Mother, Young Athletes Senior Manager at Special Olympics

Jennifer Hansen, Senior Manager of Young Athletes at Special Olympics international has been working in the field of service to individuals with intellectual disabilities for over 20 years. She majored in social work at Western Michigan University and immediately took a job after college as a case manager and has not stopped since. 

In 2012 Jennifer joined Special Olympics Minnesota to support their new initiative, Young Athletes, which is Special Olympics early childhood program that provides programming to children 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. After a life changing trip abroad to Kazakhstan, touring the country and speaking on inclusion, Jennifer sought out a position at Special Olympics International (SOI).  During her tenure at SOI Jennifer has worked to understand and create inclusive spaces for children and their families across the globe.  Her work is not only informed by her professional experience but as a mother to three boys (15,13,7). 

At 10 her eldest child was identified as having learning challenges and she was then thrust into the world that so many of the families she supports know well, the world of special education. In the 5 years since her son has made strides and experienced setbacks. What Jennifer has gained from her time in the special education world has deepened her understanding for those families she has been supporting these many years. She has also identified her own learning differences and the joy that thinking differently can bring! 

Episode 4: Hope versus Denial
Monday, December 4, 2023,  3–4 PM ET / 12–1 PM PT

Families have long-term hopes, dreams, and visions for their children who deserve tender care. During this virtual conversation, we will learn with families about how they envision, anticipate, and prepare for their child’s future, and what families would like the helping professions to know about their journey. Family child-rearing values vary greatly across cultural practices. There are also cultural variations in understanding developmental challenges and disabilities. Families know their own cultural values better than anyone else who comes into contact with their child and always have valuable lessons for professionals and the systems of care they work in. We will be joined by Roxanne Hoke-Chandler, mother and powerful change agent in her community.

Roxanne Hoke-Chandler

Mother, Early Childhood Systems Coordinator for Family Engagement and Training at the Department of Public Health, in the Bureau of Family Health in Nutrition in the Division of Pregnancy, Infancy and Early Childhood.

Roxanne is a Boston native, and she was educated in the Boston public school system. She continued her education at Lesley University and earned her MS in Management. 

In 1998, Roxanne’s career in Human Resources shifted when she welcomed her child with special needs into her life. Early on she saw the need for services for families similar to hers, and she started speaking for the Department of Public Health under the name of The Joy of Faith…Free, Advocacy, Information Training and Other Help.

She later joined the Massachusetts Parent Information Resource Center, a project funded by No Child Left Behind to give parents, schools, and organizations working with families the training, information, and technical assistance they need to help children succeed in school. Roxanne also worked for RTSC The Recruitment, Training and Support Center for Special Education Surrogate Parents where her passion for working in support of young people who have experienced trauma grew.

Roxanne’s current position is Early Childhood Systems Coordinator for Family Engagement and Training at the Department of Public Health, in the Bureau of Family Health in Nutrition in the Division of Pregnancy, Infancy, and Early Childhood.

She speaks at forums on childcare, literacy, healthcare disparities, and parents’ rights for children with special needs. Her passion is working with populations that are marginalized and under resourced; including supporting new and expectant families when they get a diagnosis that they were not expecting.

Roxanne’s greatest passion, however, is being a mother to her two daughters Faith and Ebony Joy.

Episode 5: Disability, Culture, and Equity
Monday, December 5, 2022, 3–4:30 PM ET / 12–1:30 PM PT

Advocacy for the inclusion of students with disabilities in community and educational contexts is a social justice issue – and central to any healthy democracy. We will be joined by Janet Sauer, who will draw on her own experiences as a parent, as a teacher of young children, and adolescents, and in her work with educators whom she prepares for inclusive education. She is also the author of the book, Affirming Disability: Strengths-based Portraits of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families’ Experiences Navigating Special Education Systems.

Janet Sauer

Mother, Author, and Professor at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Lesley University

Janet Sauer draws on her own experiences teaching young children, adolescents, and adults in multiple contexts to prepare educators for inclusive education. Her scholarship is based in the interdisciplinary field of Disability Studies and focuses on family engagement. She believes advocacy for the inclusion of students with disabilities in community and educational contexts is a social justice issue and is necessary for a healthy democracy. 

Dr. Sauer is passionate about equity and inclusion and seeks allyship across marginalized communities to advance educational opportunities.  She works with and on behalf of families of children with disabilities to build supportive communities of care.

Dr. Sauer has a B.A. from Emerson College, an M.Ed. from Ohio University, and an Ed.D. from the University of Northern Iowa.
Fall 2022

The series ran from Monday, September 26, through Monday, December 19, 2022, from 3 to 4:30 PM ET / 12 to 1:30 PM PT. All episodes were one hour followed by a 30-minute Q&A session with our panelists. All episodes had live Spanish translation and closed captioning available.

Episode 1: The Whole Child
Monday, September 26, 2022, 3–4:30 PM ET / 12–1:30 PM PT

Families of children with developmental differences often find that professionals focusing on their child’s challenges may not seek out and celebrate the “whole” of their child. Families know that their child’s challenges do not define everything about their child. During this conversation, we learn with families about how they appreciate their children’s strengths and how they help family members, educators, healthcare professionals, and others see them too.

Episode 2: The Day We Found Out
Monday, October 24, 2022, 3–4:30 PM ET / 12–1:30 PM PT

Families know that their child’s diagnosis does not define who their child is, but some worry other people might think it does. During this conversation, we learn with families about how they experienced their child’s diagnostic evaluation and the impact that experience has had on the functioning of the whole family.

Episode 3: Getting What You and Your Child Need from the Professionals
Monday, November 7, 2022, 3–4:30 PM ET / 12–1:30 PM PT

Families know their children better than anyone else. During this conversation, we learn with families about their experiences with providers and programs, and what they would like providers to understand about how to communicate and simply be with families in order to build a collaborative partnership.

Episode 4: What Developmental Differences Mean Where I Come From
Monday, November 21, 2022, 3–4:30 PM ET / 12–1:30 PM PT

Families know their own cultural values better than anyone else. They know how children with developmental differences are understood and cared for in their cultures. During this conversation, we learn with families about the ways their cultures influence their understanding of their child’s developmental differences and the ways they support their child’s development.

Episode 5: Siblings of Children with Developmental Differences
Monday, December 5, 2022, 3–4:30 PM ET / 12–1:30 PM PT

Raising a child with developmental differences affects the whole family, including siblings. Siblings know and experience the child with developmental differences in unique ways. Yet they too have their own distinct needs for their relationships within the family and with others. During this conversation, we learn with families about their experiences of raising siblings of children with developmental differences. We also hear from siblings about their unique perspectives.

Episode 6: The Long View: What Will Happen To My Child When…?
Monday, December 19, 2022, 3–4:30 PM ET / 12–1:30 PM PT

Anticipation of their child’s future is uniquely challenging for families of children with developmental differences and disabilities. Families have long-term hopes, dreams, and visions for their child who they know may need lifelong tender care. During this conversation, we learn with families about how they envision and prepare for their child’s future, and what families would like the helping professions to know about their journey.



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