Spotlight on the Family – My Story of Mercy

This month’s Family Spotlight features a speech written by Salve Regina student Andy Cirioli on the impact that his brother Carlo has had on his life.

I would like to thank Amy and the Mercy Center for inviting me here to share my story of Mercy. I believe the stories, which have been and will continue to be shared during this Jubilee Year of Mercy are extremely important. Mercy is a personal experience, and my story is one which many of you probably do not know.


30th Anniversary Celebration

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 30th Anniversary Celebration on September 24th in Hamden. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and have the chance to introduce ourselves and this wonderful organization to new ones.


Back to School Tips for Special Education Parents

Some would say it’s the most wonderful time of the year—back to school! For parents of children with special needs, back to school means the start of a new year of IEP advocacy, as well as beginning communication with new teachers and other school professionals. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:


PATH 30th Anniversary Celebration!


Join us for our PATH 30th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, September 24, 2016 from 12pm-4pm at

Hamden Town Center Park
2761 Dixwell Avenue
Hamden, CT

We will have games, vendor tables, food trucks, and more!


Connecticut Has a New Source of Funding for Supports for People with I/DD


  • Is your loved one among the thousands of people with I/DD who are languishing on the DDS residential waiting and planning lists with no hope and no plan for receiving services?
  • Are you looking for supports to build a full life and a better future in the community for your loved one with I/DD?


The Affordable Care Act created an optional state plan called Community First Choice (CFC) which will allow eligible individuals to access Personal Attendant Care (PCA) and other services and supports through self-direction.

Unlike DDS services and supports which can be denied based on available funding, CFC is an entitlement program for any Medicaid member who meets the “Institutional Level of Care” criteria. This includes all individuals who qualify for DDS services and supports.

Having said that, this program will not be the answer for all DDS families. In order to qualify for CFC you must be willing to self-direct services. This means you will need to hire and manage staff and you will not be able to receive residential supports through a community provider.


Why Oral Health is Important for Children with Special Needs & How to Access It



Parents of children with special needs may have so many doctors’ appointments that it can be easy to forget about preventive and wellness care. It can be especially difficult to focus on dental care. However, oral health is as important as physical health and, if untreated, oral health problems can result in serious complications.


Tips to Prevent Bullying

It’s unfortunate that we hear about bullying so frequently in the media today. For parents who have children with special needs, it’s even more troubling when our kids are subjected to bullying; we may not be aware of these horrible actions until our child begins exhibiting the symptoms of bullying, which may include increased anxiety, anger, depression, and not eating or sleeping—just to name a few. Bullies often target people who are perceived to be different from others. The difference does not have to be obvious. While children with autism or kids who use wheelchairs may have more noticeable differences from others, children who have less distinguishable differences—such as a child who has a peanut or milk allergy—may also be bullied. Kids who have “theory of mind” challenges are particularly vulnerable to bullying. This arises because the child has difficulty understanding the bully’s intentions. Furthermore, autistic children have difficulty reading body language and picking up on social cues, which also increases their vulnerability.


Summer Camps

Summer is right around the corner and we’ve gathered a few summer camps that have been sent to us offering programs for kids with special needs. Please feel free to email us at if you’d like to add a camp to this list.


Transitions—Growing Up and Away

Besides starting out a new school year, for many families this fall will be a time to get ready to launch a son or daughter into the next phase of life after high school. Think with your teen what they want to accomplish. The excitement and uncertainty your child may be feeling about these next steps may be mirrored in your own feelings of pride, concern, and maybe even relief. Growth and change affect everyone!

Listen to your son’s or daughter’s hopes and ambitions.



You Are Not Alone: For Parents When They Learn That Their Child Has a Disability

If you have recently learned that your child has a developmental delay or a disability (which may or may not be completely defined), this message may be for you. It is written from the personal perspective of a parent who has shared this experience and all that goes with it.

When parents learn about any difficulty or problem in their child’s development, this information comes as a tremendous blow. The day my child was diagnosed as having a disability, I was devastated—and so confused that I recall little else about those first days other than the heartbreak. Another parent described this event as a “black sack” being pulled down over her head, blocking her ability to hear, see, and think in normal ways. Another parent described the trauma as “having a knife stuck” in her heart. Perhaps these descriptions seem a bit dramatic, yet it has been my experience that they may not sufficiently describe the many emotions that flood parents’ minds and hearts when they receive any bad news about their child.


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