Opening Doors Special Needs Conference underway; Helping parents advocate for their kids

Local News
Families who have members with special needs can get some help at Bonsack Baptist Church this weekend.  The “Opening Doors” Special Needs Conference is underway.
The conference is bringing many of the Valley’s resources under one roof.  Parents say learning everything that can help their special needs child thrive is important.
Amy Eason’s 18 year old daughter Logan has autism.  She was diagnosed at 10.  Eason says raising an autistic child is like putting together a puzzle.
“As a parents with a special needs child, you’re just in un chartered territory.  Even those there’s been specials needs kids forever, it’s just when it happens to you its just a whole new world.”
Eason says you’re constantly trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t when it come to helping your child.  She says resources are scare and are constantly changing.
“It’s 24/7 forever and that’s why we constantly have to be on the edge of our seats  looking for the next help, the next aid, the next thing that we might be able to do to help.”
Eason’s constant desire to help her daughter lead her and many other parents to the “Opening Doors” Special Needs Conference.   It’s a 3 day event.  On Thursday, parents learned ways to advocate for their children in the school system.
On Saturday, the conference will be hosting 18 different break out session. Many different subjects, like Medicaid waivers to employment options, will be discussed.  It’s just one way families can get all of their resources in one room. 

“One thing I hear regularly from parents is that you have this here and this here, the school here, the residential here, the waivers here, where is the point of entry? Where do you find all of that information,” said Ann McGee Green, the conference coordinator. 
Green says there’ll be almost 30 different agencies available that uniquely cater to special needs children and their families.
“They can come talk with representatives from those agencies, pick up brochures, get contacts,” said Green. 
It’s the information and contacts Eason will get at the conference that she says will hopefully help her daughter out in the world.  
The Opening Doors Conference is being held at Bonsack Baptist Church.   The address is 4845 Cloverdale Road in Roanoke.  The conference continues Friday from 1 p.m. to 7p.m., and on Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.   People can register online. 
On Saturday, there will be a special screening of “Life Animated” at 4 p.m.

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