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Special needs, education career fair Saturday
by Mary Cosgrove
mcosgrove@neighbornewspapers.com
February 25, 2014 12:24 PM | 2235 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the first time, students with special needs — along with parents and teachers — can attend an education, resource and college fair to learn not only how to navigate through primary and secondary education, but also look to the horizon and see what opportunities lie beyond graduation.

In the past, the DeKalb County Council of PTAs and the DeKalb County School District have organized two separate events. The first was a special education resource fair. This is for families with special-needs students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, providing support for the families in planning for the student’s education.

This may be a family with an autistic child or a foster parent whose child suffers from emotional issues.

“It’s to try to help families whose kids have disabilities get through the school system,” said Kirk Lunde, chairman of the special needs committee of the council.

The second event was a transition fair, based on a federal mandate, which requires special-needs students to begin planning for their future at age 16.

The events took place on alternating years, but Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., both will be rolled into one event at Tucker High School.

Resource booths will be available for students to explore post-secondary education options, as well as career paths.

“We specifically invite the office of disabilities for each institution — somebody who can speak of inclusive programs or disability services available at different colleges,” Lunde said of post-secondary education options.

Breakout sessions such as person-centered planning, transitioning beyond high school, navigating Social Security and Medicaid benefits and more will be available.

It is anticipated that 60 vendors will participate, with an overall attendance of 400.

Tucker’s culinary arts program will prepare a continental breakfast and lunch.

Lunde said the event is open to everyone, even those outside of the school district.

He said he hopes there is a high level of teacher participation.

Even though the government identifies specific disabilities, there are those that fall under learning disabilities that are not recognized, such as ADHD, language processing disorders, traumatic brain injuries and even breathing difficulties.

“There are lots of things that don’t qualify as special education, but cause the students to struggle in school,” he said.

So even if a teacher is not a special education teacher, they can benefit from learning about the variety of learning disabilities.

“All teachers will teach the students with these issues at some point or other,” he said. “This information is good for all the teachers.”

The event is free, but Lunde asks those who plan to attend to register beforehand so there is enough food and materials for everyone.

Registration can be completed by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/sW2F82TX.
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