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Trust Your Gut – Month of the Military Child Series

Published on
March 29, 2021

Sometimes we just don’t know. We look at our child with such love and remind them for the one hundredth time to “sit back down and finish their broccoli.” Or there are other times when we hear them reading and notice that they keep skipping over or mispronounce words that they should know. 

There are little moments when you wonder as a parent whether that mistake is just that, a mistake, or if there’s something going on. Most of our families who are enrolled in the EFMP already know what is going on with their child because they have moved past this process of “checking their gut” against reality.

They have been to the meetings. They have filled out the paperwork. They have had their child tested and know that their struggles with reading are related to a dyslexia diagnosis or their inability to sit still is related to their ADHD. There is some freedom in knowing exactly what is going on with your child because you can at that point give them the tools they need to be successful. 

But our survey tells us that many military families still have an uneasy feeling in their gut; because many are pre-or mid diagnosis. And in a highly mobile and dynamic lifestyle it can be hard to separate fact from feeling. For April’s Month of the Military Child, Partners in PROMISE will feature an educational series entitled “Trust Your Gut.” The series, informed by the knowledge gaps observed from our survey, will feature experts in various subject areas ranging from ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety and depression to early childhood development.

Because the experts are all virtual now anyway we thought we’d bring them right to your laptop no appointment required! 

The webinar series will air on Facebook every Tuesday in April and will be shared on our website the following week for those who miss the live sessions. 

Parents: Let’s celebrate our children this April, the Month of the Military Child, by learning how to separate fact from feeling so you can Trust Your Gut! 

Our Experts

Navigating a New Diagnosis During a Transition – Parent Turned Expert Advocate

Sara Jo Orr

Sara Jo Orr married her high school sweetheart Justin 16 years ago right after he entered the military. She has lived in five states and two countries since being connected to the military. Sara Jo has two children that are now 11 and 12 years old, the latter was diagnosed with dyslexia, frontal lobe executive functioning disorder and general anxiety disorder four years ago when their journey down the special education path began. Sara Jo hopes to help pave the way for new parents that are just starting their journey with special education and to make it a little easier.

Mental Health/Anxiety

Dr. Ingrid Herrera Yee

Dr. Herrera-Yee is a clinical psychologist who received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and was a Clinical Fellow at Harvard University. Now an Army Reserve spouse, she was named the 2014 AFI National Guard Spouse of the Year. She has worked tirelessly in the field of psychology for over a decade as a clinician, researcher, advocate, educator, policy wonk, writer and speaker. Dr. Herrera-Yee has been a special contributor to NBC News, Military Times, Air Force Times, Military Spouse Magazine and SpouseBuzz among others.

Identifying ADHD

Dr. Jeffrey S. Katz

Dr. Katz is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Dr. Katz specializes in the evaluation and treatment of children, adolescents and adults with an emphasis on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder as well as other behavioral and learning issues. In addition, Dr. Katz frequently attends school meetings, bringing his knowledge of ADHD, learning disabilities, and school-based interventions, together with his knowledge of educational regulations, to ensure that students receive the support they need. Dr. Katz is frequently asked to speak to groups of parents and professionals, sharing his knowledge of ADHD, interventions and current issues.

Dr. Katz has many years of involvement with CHADD (CHADD.org), which is a partner organization with Partner’s In Promise. Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the nation’s largest organization devoted to ADHD, with a nationwide network of affiliates. CHADD also receives funding from the Center for Disease Control to support the National Resource Center for ADHD. The NRC provides evidence-based information about all aspects of ADHD, and health information specialists are available to answer questions from the public. Dr. Katz is presently on the Board of Directors for CHADD, is the Co-Chair of CHADD’s Public Policy Committee, and he serves on the Professional Advisory Board.

Early Identification Tips from a Special Education Teacher

Shannon Rouff

Shannon Rouff has over 18 years of experience in the field of special education. She started her career as a special education teacher and then moved to the district level as a compliance coordinator. Prior to joining TeleTeachers, Shannon was the Director of Exceptional Student Services for a large school district in Yuma, Arizona. Yuma has a very large Marine Corps Air Station and an Army Proving Ground, so she had the opportunity to work closely with the EFMP and School Liaison leaders on base to ensure our military students, receiving special education services, could transition in and out of our district as seamlessly as possible. As the director, Shannon was responsible for recruiting, hiring, and supervising a team of over 40 professionals, including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and school psychologists. Shannon also has experience working with teletherapy companies as the special education director. She lives in a more rural area of Arizona and was having difficulty finding high quality special education and related service providers. She sought out and partnered with teletherapy providers to ensure the needs of her students were met. In doing so, her district was the first district in Arizona to include teletherapy in their model of special education service delivery. In addition, she is also a part-time faculty member with Northern Arizona University. In this role, Shannon will have the opportunity to mentor student teachers who are pursuing Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees in special education. Although Shannon moved from a teacher to a district leader, her passion for teaching and students never waivered. Students continue to be her inspiration, which is why she still wakes up early to teach students (virtually) who live thousands of miles away.

Autism Awareness

Rosemarie Griffin

Rosemarie Griffin is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Product Developer. She divides her time between a public school and her own private practice- ABA SPEECH. She is passionate about helping individuals with autism find their voice and become more independent communicators. This passion has driven her to create her own business , ABA SPEECH, where she provides ASHA approved courses, therapy materials and free resources for parents and professionals alike.

Jaclynn Bosley

Jaclynn Bosley is the Owner and Executive Clinical Director of the Thrive Early Learning Center. Jaclynn has twenty years experience teaching children on the autism spectrum across all ages and skill levels. Jaclynn is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Certified Ohio Behavior Analyst, and licensed Principal with the state of Ohio. Jaclynn holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education (John Carroll University 2003), a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership (John Carroll University 2007) and obtained her post-graduate certification in Applied Behavior Analysis from Penn State University (2010). Jaclynn’s career experiences have included positions as a private home behavioral therapist (2000-2003), Coordinating Teacher and Educational Coordinator at the Lerner School at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism (2003-2009), public education experience as a Special Education Supervisor for Riverside Local Schools (2009-2012), and most recently Educational & Behavioral Consultant and Director of Program Development for KidsLink, a non-public, private separate facility serving children with autism (2012-2019). Jaclynn has utilized her expertise in the area of autism and special education to partner with districts and families on educating them of the importance of intensive intervention.

Is Your Child Ready for Reading?

Melinda Giordano

As a professional educator, Melinda has been teaching for over 20 years in both public, private, and DOD settings. Understanding that being a strong reader is at the foundation of education, teaching reading has been the focal point of her career and in homeschooling her own four children. Earning a B.S. in Psychology, M.S.T. in Elementary Education, and a graduate certificate in Literacy Instruction, Melinda has been committed to improvement as a professional while being an Army spouse for the last 22 years. She can relate to the struggles we face as military families, especially in the unique educational paths of our children. With a passion for travel, you will always find Melinda with bags packed for the next trip on the horizon.

Early Intervention

Jill Chimka

Jill Chimka, Regional Director of Early Intervention Services. Jill holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from Texas Christian University, a Master of Education degree in communication disorders from the University of Virginia and a Certificate in Early Intervention from Georgetown University. She is a licensed and certified speech language pathologist and has been with Easter Seals since 2002.

Demystifying Dyslexia

Laura Ross Stephenson

Laura Ross Stephenson is the mother of a teenage son on the spectrum. And she’s also an educator. Her teaching career spans 20 years, 9 licenses, and 6 states. Her career in education began as an elementary classroom teacher then moved into the role of reading specialist/ dyslexia interventionist in Title 1 schools. Laura’s commitment to education, specifically meeting the needs of students with learning differences, is not only a professional but a personal calling. As an EFMP family, she knows all too well the challenges surrounding the identification and subsequent support services process. Laura has worked with military families of all sister services, assisting them with special education advocacy, providing educational interventions, and offering parent classes and support all while her husband continued to serve and while raising a family. While her husband currently serves in Afghanistan, she volunteers tutoring services for dyslexic children and offers parent/advocacy support at our current duty station. Laura has also recently begun the process of completing my postgraduate Educational Diagnostician Certification to be better equipped to meet the needs of the Army community.

Planning Your EFMP PCS

Natasha Harth

Maria Rock Photography

Natasha Harth is the VP of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships at PCSgrades. In her role, she collaborates with the DoD and other support organizations to support the mission of making military relocations better for service members and their families. She is a founding member and research analyst for the USMC PCS advisory council with Headquarters Marine Corps and US Transportation Command. Harth is also a sought-after public speaker, published author, and contributor to multiple online publications.

Harth obtained her MA in Public Leadership through the University of San Francisco as a Newmark Fellow. The Virginia native has relocated coast to coast, as well as a brief stint in Okinawa, Japan to accompany her active-duty Marine. Through her travels, she learned first-hand the challenges that career-seeking military spouses and transitioning service members face, but always found a way to turn these challenges into opportunities.

As a true servant-leader, Harth’s volunteer history is vast, to include involvement from the individual unit level on through serving in advisory roles on a global scale. Her specific focus and passion lies in financial readiness and economic security. She advocates for access to financial education, quality jobs, and removing the stigma of pursuing trade-skilled labor as a career option.

Recognizing her lifetime of service to others, Natasha was named the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year; elevating her role to serve on behalf of US military families across the globe. Her personal and professional activities have received national attention on Good Morning America and numerous other national publications.

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