The mission of the Special Needs Advocacy and Parent Support Group (SNAPS) is to provide basic and current information about available resources, to share experiences and knowledge, and to offer support to parents of children with special needs, ranging from Autism Spectrum Disorder and Downs Syndrome, to Learning Disabled and the Gifted.
The Special Needs Advocacy and Parent Support Group (SNAPS) was founded by Melanie Hartzell and Kathleen Watkins in September, 2007. Melanie, who is the mother of a child with autism, is the “authorized organizational representative” of the group.
Although intended for parents in the Central Dauphin School District area (which is very large geographically) the group is open to anyone who is interested and seeking support from this type of group. The school district is helpful in that it allows the group to meet in one of the district’s elementary schools, but the support group is not operated nor funded by the district.
Parents have expressed their struggles in how to obtain services for particular needs, such as how to obtain services for a child with ASD but not diagnosed with MR, which is more beneficial CHIPS or ACCESS, how to obtain respite services, how to find a qualified person to provide respite services, or simply where do you start to obtain help? The parent support group is focused on providing information to parents and encouraging parents to share with other parents.
The Special Needs Advocacy and Parent Support Group currently arranges for speakers from various resources to talk about their services, to explain the process for determining eligibility for obtaining their services and to explain cost of services, if any. It is the intention of the support group to make such information available, but not to arrange for, or provide, such services. Babysitting is arranged in another room, should a parent choose or need to bring their child/ren with them, and light refreshments are served. Speakers have been very interesting, informative, empathetic, and especially willing to share their contact information for additional assistance when needed. The 2007-2008 agenda is shown below, and we are currently working on the agenda for 2008-2009.
October, 2007 Kathy Gingerich, ARC Parent Advocate
and Roxanne Daniel, UCP Advocate
December, 2007 No meeting due to holiday
January, 2008 Theresa Crimmel, Elks Services
February, 2008 none
April, 2008 Special Kids Network
May, 2008 Parent to Parent
June, 2008 to be announced
SNAPS is pleased to announce that it has recently been approved for a grant from the Department of Public Welfare. This grant money will be utilized to fund meeting expenses and to establish a website. The website will provide information and serve as a forum for parents to communicate and network with each other. The website is expected to be up and running soon, and a link will be provided here. We are very excited about this project, as it will provide a much needed tool for communication among parents in the community, and it will provide a plethora of information regarding special needs and autism spectrum disorder. Thank you to the Bureau of Autism Services, DPW for this opportunity.