Posted by: servicecoordination | May 29, 2014

Tackling TSC with Special Olympics


Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post blog from Sharon Lackey, the mother of a Special Olympics Athlete

Originally posted on The World of Special Olympics:

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post blog from Sharon Lackey, the mother of a Special Olympics Athlete 

By Sharon Lackey

We found out that we were having a baby on our 9 year anniversary.  We were in disbelief because we didn’t think it would ever happen.  I had a normal pregnancy and Whitney was born a healthy baby girl.  Two months later our world was rocked to its core when Whitney began having seizures and was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).  We had never heard of this rare disease, and the outlook the doctors gave us at the time was that she would probably never walk or talk.

Imagine now, 17 years later, our intense excitement that Whitney will be competing at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games representing Team Tennessee!

Whitney’s road to the USA Games has had its fair share of challenges, for both Whitney…

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Posted by: servicecoordination | May 16, 2014

A Story From Disability Blog

REBLOGGED from Disability Blog

By Guest Blogger Stephanie Torreno, Author of Keeping My Balance: A Memoir of Disability and Determination

I never thought I would need to become an advocate for my mother. All of her life Mom fought for me, her younger daughter with cerebral palsy (CP). From learning to type with my thumb to receiving years and years of physical and speech therapy, I always knew my parents wanted the best for me to help me achieve my potential. When my father died after I graduated high school, Mom became my chief advocate and supporter.

Twenty years later, everything changed following my mother’s stroke. My continuing sense of responsibility to help Mom and to become more independent intensified as her sudden needs reversed our roles. I needed to take care of myself every way I knew how or could figure out. In addition, I had to assist Mom with tasks that she once accomplished easily, but now required my guidance and her intense concentration.

Mom’s weakening condition forced my sister and me to place her in a nursing home a year and a half after her stroke. I assumed the most difficult part of my new life would involve learning how to live independently with the assistance of caregivers. Living alone and making my own decisions soon became easier. My weekly visits with Mom, however, showed me I had the ongoing challenge of making sure she received good care.

As Mom’s abilities continued to decline, I learned to speak up for what she needed. Although I have never allowed my disability to hinder what I want to do, my CP placed me at a disadvantage in advocating for my mother. My inability to drive prevented me from visiting as often or unexpectedly as I would have liked. Nursing home staff failed to listen to my impaired speech, or dismissed my concerns if they bothered to take the time to understand me. Emails to administrators went unanswered or their replies explained policies and procedures that I didn’t see happening. If Mom’s care seemed inadequate when I visited her, I wondered about the quality of care during the many hours I wasn’t with her.

Several months ago, I attended my first care plan meeting in which only one staff member showed up. The woman came unprepared and discussed private concerns with the office door open and, afterward, in the middle of a busy hallway. At a requested second meeting, my sister and I voiced serious complaints and I became emotional describing the care, or the lack of it, I witnessed during my visits. Mom never had fresh water to drink when I arrived. Her face would often have food on it and her hair appeared uncombed. Hours passed before staff took her to the restroom. Pressing the call button for help meant waiting 10 or more minutes until one of the aides came to assist Mom.

One day, I found my panic-stricken mother left alone in the dining room with only a housekeeper cleaning up after lunch. The housekeeper didn’t seem to notice that an aide hadn’t come to take Mom back to her room. Most of these problems stemmed from the lack of staff scheduled to work on the weekends. I learned that additional staff  was called in to work after state inspectors made a surprise visit on Super Bowl Sunday.

A few days after the meeting, my sister told me the staff didn’t understand my speech and wanted to know how to better accommodate my needs. This lack of understanding seemed difficult to believe, since many residents have slurred or impaired speech. I felt that they didn’t want to hear or understand what I had to say.

Sitting in on the monthly Family Council Meetings gave me a sense of support and the realization that I wasn’t alone in my complaints. Daughters of other residents listened to my concerns and informed me of other quality of care issues that needed addressing.  After one of Mom’s falls, a few of the women told me that they checked on her whenever they visited their mothers.

As adults with disabilities age, more self-advocates like me will find themselves acting on behalf of elderly parents. Speaking up for others, especially loved ones, differs from promoting one’s personal rights and abilities. Advocating for an aging parent requires new knowledge and greater understanding of an individual’s changing needs. Like many sons and daughters with disabilities who live with their parents until they cannot, I feel I am the best advocate for my mother. Although disabilities may make this role reversal more challenging, who better to protect and comfort our parents than those to whom they gave so much?

Recently, my sister and I toured another long-term care facility and thought about moving Mom. While obtaining better care remains a priority, I know the unfamiliarity of a new facility may cause my mother to further decline in health, adding to her current anxiety. We made the decision not to move her, at least for now. I will not stop, however, seeking the quality of care she deserves. Her support in guiding me to become my own best advocate taught me to rely on my abilities and to always seek the best of possibilities.

Stephanie Torreno graduated from Houston Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and technical writing. Her work has included numerous online articles exploring education, special education, mental health topics, and supported employment issues. Ms. Torreno published her memoir, Keeping My Balance: A Memoir of Disability and Determinationlast year. Her website is

Posted by: servicecoordination | May 6, 2014

A Powerful Prescription

Originally posted on The World of Special Olympics:


By Darcie Mersereau
Vice President of Health Programs, Special Olympics International

As we age, there comes a point at which many of us introduce prescription organizer trays into our lives. Those trays, into which we count pill after pill, help us keep track of all the prescriptions our doctors give us to treat our myriad health problems. We are grateful for them, because there are many diseases that could kill us if not for these medicines. For many of us, however, using these trays brings a sense of defeat, an acknowledgement that our bodies have somehow failed us. Yet we follow our doctors’ orders, filling those trays week after week, because we want to stay healthy as long as possible and we want to live free of pain, distress, discomfort and limitation.

It is ironic, therefore, that so many of us avoid something that could lessen our reliance on drugs…

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Posted by: servicecoordination | April 30, 2014

It was a Walk in the Park

Originally posted on Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog:


Today was the first Saturday that we’ve had nice weather…about 65 degrees with a nice, light wind blowing. The sky is sunny with intermittent clouds so that the sun is not streaming directly down. The perfect day! The kind of day that kind of makes you want to clean. (KIND of…as much enthusiasm I can muster.) With the windows finally thrown open, nice, crisp wisps of air fill the house, cleansing it from the stale air that has remained all winter. Until this exchange of air happened, it had never occurred to me how stale I HAD been. Stuck in a rut. Rushing in the morning to work. Home from work tired. Dinner repetitive. Laundry never ending. No wonder my enthusiasm waned.
But today was a different story. Marie and I took the dog for a walk to the park. A walk with a lively step and an appreciation for…

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Posted by: servicecoordination | April 30, 2014

My Son is a Rock Star

Originally posted on The World of Special Olympics:

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post from Astrid Moritz, the mother of a Special Olympics athlete. 

astrid a mother's storyI’m Astrid Moritz, Sebastian Palmeri’s mother and I feel like a rock star’s mother. My son is born a real winner and this has only happened since we joined Special Olympics. Before he was just the disabled son of a German woman – now he is the guy who wins a lot of medals. He is the one whose photo can be seen in newspapers. Now people are saying “I saw him on TV”…” Look, that’s Sebastian”… “I know him!”…

This is our story.

When Sebastian finished high school, during which we were assisted by psychologists, neuro-psychiatrists and public health carers, we found ourselves alone and isolated after graduation. As his parents we were now the only people responsible for Sebastian. I had to organize his life, he was a young…

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Originally posted on BEST BUDDIES BLOG:

Los Angeles, April 27, 2014 – Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars were in attendance at the Audi: Best BuddiesBowling for Buddies event at LuckyStrike Lanes at L.A. Live on April 27, which was presented by Audi.

This charity event, designed to raise awareness about Best Buddies International, a nonprofit that provides opportunities for friendship, employment and leadership development skills to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), brought out a bevy of the organization’s notable supporters and participants, many of whom brought along their families.

Bowling for Buddies Committee Members Maureen McCormick, Nancy O’Dell and Lauren Potter joined Jamie Brewer, Adam Gaynor from Matchbox 20, Cheryl Hines, Nick and Joe Jonas, HollyRobinson Peete, Maria Shriver, Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo and Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih, as well as their families, for an afternoon of bowling and bonding with…

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Posted by: servicecoordination | October 25, 2013

Q&A With Dan Keplinger

From The Frederick News Post


Dan Keplinger is a Maryland-based artist who developed cerebral palsy in his infancy and paints using a brush attached to his head. He holds two degrees from Towson University and was the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary “King Gimp.” On Wednesday, he’ll make an appearance at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, where he’ll give a live painting demonstration and participate in a question-and-answer session. In person, he communicates through a translator, and he uses assistive technology to text and email.

The Frederick News-Post caught up with him last week via email.

Have your physical challenges influenced your perspective as an artist? If so, how?

My disability is why I am an artist; it is how I communicate with the world without having a translator. I started painting portraits, because everyone was amazed at how well I could capture emotions. I think this is because being disabled, I needed to learn how to read people from an early age. It is hard to trust people, if you cannot figure them out. In my later work, I started to morph my body and chair together, because most of society sees my disability before me as a person. More importantly, the new work is also about obstacles in my life. I think everyone has obstacles in life and needs to learn how let the small ones go and just overcome the big ones.

How does painting empower you?

Art gives me an outlet to express the emotion I have inside of me. Sometimes there are no words to express how I feel, and if I did, these emotions might be too much for people to handle. If you look at my work throughout the years, one could see the ups and downs in my life.

When did you start painting? How did you discover that it was a passion for you?

I always liked and did art, but in high school at the age of 16, my teacher started to give me the tools to have art say what I wanted it to. My art says what I would be saying with words. It also speaks the feelings that are inside of me. Those feelings would make people close to me scared and worried about me. Maybe I want people to see these feelings so they know everything is not happy in my world. Translating myself onto canvas became my language, something I needed to exist.

Who are your favorite artists and why?

The two artists that I look to are Chuck Close and Philip Guston. I look at Close because of the style he works in. A lot of his work is huge and made up of smaller shapes. … (Y)ou cannot see the whole picture until you are halfway across the room. Just as my pieces, you do not get the impact of my work until you see them from afar. But up close, you can see each mark I make.

I like Phillip Guston’s work, because he developed his iconography to talk about the world around. The symbols might represent him, or something in his life. Just as I have (come) up with symbols to represent objects in my own life.

Which of your paintings are you most proud of and why?

“Self I.” I did this painting in high school. I think it shows both sides of me. … I always say this would be my flag when I take over the world.

Why did you decide to participate in “King Gimp”? How has your life changed since the documentary?

I just did it to break stereotypes of disabilities in films and in life in general. The producers and I really did not know what directions the story would take, but I just kept breaking down barriers. … Although people still stare at me, some people still just see my disabilities and others see the accomplishments that I have done with my life.

How often do you participate in events like the one planned for the Weinberg Center? What do you hope attendees take away?

I do these types of engagements as often as I can. I would like to make a career out of these events but might average seven to nine a year. I see these events as a way to educate the public about the disabled community, but not hitting them over the head with it. I think there are a few different messages from my gig. Most importantly, I would like people to realize that everyone has something to contribute to society. Even though most of these deeds go unnoticed, they do have an impact.

What: King for a Day, a free event, will feature a painting demonstration by Dan Keplinger. He will also answer audience questions. The documentary “King Gimp” will be playing during the event. After the demonstration, the group Service Coordination Inc. will recognize Maryland businesses who support individuals with disabilities.

When: 3 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 30

Where: Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick


Posted by: servicecoordination | September 4, 2013

National Disability Employment Awareness Month


Live Art Exhibit by Dan Keplinger, Jr., Silent Auction and Recognition Reception

 Dan Keplinger, Jr.









Dan Keplinger, Jr., as featured in the Academy Award winning documentary, King Gimp.

 Service Coordination, Inc. will host a one-of-a-kind event, King For A Day, on October 30, 2013 at The Weinberg Center in Frederick, MD. This event will feature a live painting demonstration by artist Dan Keplinger, Jr., subject of the Academy Award winning documentary, King Gimp. Following the painting demonstration, Service Coordination will host a welcoming reception that recognizes Maryland employers who support individuals with disabilities, in celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Concluding the event will be a special presentation by Dan Keplinger, Jr. about his work as a professional artist with a disability, including a Question & Answer session with audience members. Filmmakers from the University of Maryland Video Press will be filming the day’s activities for an upcoming documentary.












Free Event

October 30, 2013

3 pm- 8:30 pm

Weinberg Center For The Arts

20 W, Patrick St., Frederick, MD 21701

































Regular updates about this event will be posted on the Service Coordination blog, on twitter at and on facebook. For more information, visit Service Coordination online at, or call 301-663-8044.

Posted by: servicecoordination | July 30, 2013

Slice of Life

From The Frederick News Post, 7/30/13

SLICE OF LIFE: Doug Silvern, Service Coordinator


Doug Silvern started his job in 2005 and hasn’t worked a day since.

At least it seems that way at times.

“The things we do for people and the relationships we build, I would volunteer to do this kind of work. It didn’t feel like I was laboring at all,” Silvern said. “The work that we do is just delightful.”

Silvern works at the nonprofit Service Coordination Inc., the largest resource coordination agency in Maryland, serving more than 13,700 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by linking them with government or private programs to improve their lives.

Amy Buhrman, a supervising service coordinator, said Frederick has 20 service coordinators.

She has worked with Silvern for a year and a half, but knew him previously through their past work.

“He’s an amazing person and one of the most positive people I’ve ever met,” Buhrman said. “He has a passion for people and the community.”

Silvern was attracted to the job after his 30-year career as a special education teacher and administrator in Montgomery County Schools because he wanted to help his students into their adulthood, he said.

He has had some of the same clients for all eight of his years at the agency, coming to know them on a deeper level.

“We laugh. We talk. We have a bond. It’s very important,” he said. “Because then the walls come down, they talk. They tell you what their dreams are, what their goals are.”

He beams when he talks about the successes of some clients. Such as the man who moved out of his parents’ home in his 20s and now lives with his fiancee in downtown Frederick while working a full-time job and volunteering in several service organizations.

Recently, Silvern helped a woman who was providing in-home care for both her grown son, Silvern’s client, and her ailing mother. Silvern connected the family with a caregiver for the son, and “you could just see the stress lifting,” he said.

“We get a lot of reward when families are given the gift of support,” he said.

The job has helped him in several ways, Silvern said, including his increased involvement in civic organizations through the connections he makes.

He is active in Frederick Challenger Civitan, F.R.I.E.N.D.S., Frederick County Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee, Frederick Running Festival and Patty Pollatos Fund.

The groups help him build a connection to the community where he has lived for more than 30 years, but for decades had to commute out of each morning, Silvern said.

“At first, I didn’t really know where I live,” the Middletown resident said. “Now, I love where I live. I just love it.”

And that’s what feeds his drive to give back, he said.

Know of a person who would make a good Slice? If so, please send your suggestions or call us at 301-662-1178 and ask for a city editor.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines

Posted by: servicecoordination | July 25, 2013

23rd Anniversary of The ADA

(Atlanta, GA – July 9, 2013) – Celebrations of the July 26, 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by President George H. Bush will take place across the nation during the week of July 22-28, 2013.

The ADA and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA and ADAAA also assure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities for access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications.

To celebrate this milestone, the Southeast ADA Center, a member of the ADA National Network and a project of the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, has created an ADA Anniversary Tool Kit for use by the public and the media through the ADA Anniversary website ( The Tool Kit contains:

  • background and history on the ADA;
  • information about the Supreme Court’s July 1999 Olmstead Decision prohibiting the unnecessary institutionalization of persons with disabilities;
  • disability statistics; and
  • other resources on the ADA.

“Since 1991, the 10 Regional ADA Centers in the ADA National Network have worked to change the landscape for individuals with disabilities by providing free, confidential and accurate information, resources and training to businesses, employers and state and local governments on their responsibilities under the ADA, “ said Pamela Williamson, Director of the Southeast ADA Center. “We also provide free and confidential answers to questions asked by people with disabilities, their families and other advocates. Recently these have included calls from veterans living in the 8-state Southeast Region, home to the highest number of military bases in the United States.

“Because of the outreach, training and technical assistance the Network has done to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA, people with disabilities now have access to buildings, programs, and opportunities for competitive employment. And their opportunities for full participation in community life are increasing every day.”

The ADA National Network’s 10 Regional ADA Centers receive hundreds of calls on their toll free number: 1-800-949-4232 (voice/tty) that connects callers to the ADA Center serving their region. The ADA National Network is the “go to” resource for information, guidance and training on the ADA and its implementation — call toll free 1-800-949-4232 (voice/tty) or visit their website at

About the ADA National Network

The ADA National Network is the “go to” resource for information, guidance and training on the ADA and its implementation. The Network consists of ten regional centers located throughout the United States that provide services and assistance tailored to meet the needs of local businesses, government and individuals. The ADA National Network is not an enforcement or regulatory agency—but rather a helpful resource. Contact the ADA National Network with questions on the Americans with Disabilities Act or to find a Regional ADA National Network Center near you by calling 1-800-949-4232 (voice/tty). All calls are confidential. Visit the ADA National Network website for links to extensive ADA information and training opportunities (

About the Southeast ADA Center

The Southeast ADA Center is a grant project of the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University. The Center answers questions, provides training and materials about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Center serves an eight-state geographic region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. As part of the ADA National Network sponsored by grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the Southeast ADA Center is one of 10 regional centers offering training and technical assistance to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA, including information about the rights of people with disabilities and the responsibilities of businesses as well as state and helpful resource. For more information, visit the Southeast ADA Center website (


Southeast ADA Center
404-541-9001 (voice/tty)

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