Belinda and Drake

Since my son started going to the Clarksville school system, TNSTEP has helped me in knowing the right procedures to advocate for him according to the law and apply his rights properly, to be effective in the IEP meetings, working with the system and school staff that works with my son.

TNSTEP has been a blessing in our lives. Otherwise, I do not know what I would have done to know how to advocate for my son’s rights. Thank you TNSTEP!

Desde que mi hijo empezó en el sistema escolar de Clarksville, TNSTEP me ha ayudado a seguir los procedimientos correspondientes en base a la ley y derechos para mi hijo a llevar a cabo para seguir las reuniones de íep y poder tener éxito en el sistema escolar en conjunto con el equipo de maestros que trabajan con mi niño. TNSTEP ha sido una bendición para nuestras vidas sin ustedes no se como hubiera hecho para abogar por los derechos en educación para mi niño, muchas gracias TNSTEP.

Donna and Cody

I learned about TNSTEP 27 years ago when my son Cody was one year. TNSTEP provided me with the Six-hour Basic Rights workshops on VHS. Karen provided me with two purple books about special education laws and other information and answered the questions I had about the VHS training. I attended my first TNSTEP live presentation of the Six-hour Basic Right workshop when he was age 2 which was being held at the hospital where he was enrolled in the infant-toddler program.

As a parent not knowing where to turn for information, after I found the TNSTEP program, I was like a sponge soaking up all the information available. One of the most important things I learned from TNSTEP’s workshop is that by having high expectations and being fully included in the areas of education and program services, he could have fun across his life span while learning skills that would help prepare him for life after graduation.

As you can see from the pictures he had fun while working at sorting balls at age two, later becoming a tool that would lead to sorting shoes in his adult life. He also enjoys volunteering and helping with fundraisers for charities of his choice. The Jennings family loves TNSTEP!

Gina and Bernie

I went to my first TNSTEP Basic Rights Workshop 18 years ago. It was the same day as the meeting to transition Berns from TEIS to the local school system. I didn’t know much about special education, but I knew I needed help navigating the system for my kiddo.

I left that evening with my Blue Parent Manual and the knowledge that my role in Bernie’s educational planning was considered just as important as anyone else sitting around that IEP Team table.

Bernie’s grown a whole lot in those 18 years and we’ve learned a bunch together along the way. At each decision point, we’ve turned to our Parent Center for information, training, and support.

We sure do love TNSTEP!

Joanne and Jacob

I first heard about TNSTEP when my son, Jacob, was 2 and we were preparing to transition from early intervention to the school system. I felt unprepared to be Jacob’s advocate when a friend suggested I attend a TNSTEP basic training. At that first meeting, I learned so much about Jacob’s rights to free appropriate public education and my role as his parent. After that first training, I made sure I attended as many trainings as TNSTEP offered in my area. I always walked away with new insight on how to better partner with Jacob’s IEP team.

I remember one particular training that was held at a local library. I heard parents discussing their child’s educational programs and their children’s abilities. I realized that my son’s abilities were very different from the others in the room. I asked the facilitator if the school could deny services because a child was very involved with his/her disability. The facilitator assured me that the school could not deny my son services or FAPE because of his disability. Being armed with that information, gave me a newfound courage to be an even better advocate for Jacob.

Jacob is now 20 and we are looking at what his future will look like after school. I’m working closely with his teachers and the IEP team. TNSTEP trainings are still an important part of my learning so that I can continue to be Jacob’s advocate.

Luis and William

When our twins were born on November 10, 2006, we were full of joy, happiness, sorrow, anxiety, loss, and worry.  You see, one of our twins, William, was born with Down syndrome, and his sister, Hannah, was born as a typical baby without any issues.  We experienced a range of emotions that day but mostly due to the anxiety of not understanding William’s disability or what it meant for us as parents and to our family.  As months and then years progressed, we learned more and more and found help through a variety of means and organizations.  One of those organizations was TNSTEP.  As William came closer to the age of moving from TEIS into a public school setting, our anxiety, and nervousness increased with each approaching day.  We began to look for organizations that could help us understand the process and attended a transition workshop sponsored by TNSTEP.  We did not know what to expect from the workshop nor had any idea about William’s rights as a child with a disability.  The instructor explained the process, and laws, and eased some of our anxiety for us.  As parents of a child with a disability, we often become vocal advocates of what is best for our child once they enter school.  TNSTEP helped and prepared us to take on this role – a role that must be learned.  We are grateful for TNSTEP and all it has done to make us a better advocate for William.  Thanks!

Robyn and James

Foundations Early Intervention recommended the TNSTEP Basic Rights and IEP workshops to me when James was two years old.  I attended both sessions before my first IEP meeting with the public preschool.  I have always been thankful for those classes – I was prepared from the beginning with a sound understanding of Special Education- the process and my role and responsibilities as a member of the IEP team.  Together, the local school system and I have worked to provide James with a rigorous and successful education from pre-school through the 8th grade.   High school, here we come!

Sadia and Binta

Most family members like myself did not know what to do or say when it came to decision-making on our children’s individual school meetings called IEP, which is very important for families to know.

I used to be very frustrated about things that were happening to my daughter and did not know then where to go for help.  Some of the issues were:

  • My special needs daughter never was included in field trips because she was the only one in a wheelchair in her class, and therefore, there was not a bus with a ramp available just for her.
  • She was ignored back then during class activities because she cannot see, talk, or do anything for herself.
  • I was called from home or work each time she had a seizure, even though seizures were part of her disability.

All this has changed since I met TNSTEP.

I found out about TNSTEP through talking to various people at work and hospitals about my frustration.  I was at my house when one of the people I met called me and gave me a TNSTEP’s number to call.  Since my first call to TNSTEP, my life got better because I have been attending their meetings, training, and have ongoing support from them.

When I attend TNSTEP meetings, I meet a lot of other family members with the same or similar issues.  I have lots of support from TNSTEP, including their training and workshops, which are very helpful because it has made me stronger and able to be a better advocate for my daughter when it comes to her education and decision-making.

Tammie and Jeremie

As a caregiver of seven children with different disabilities in our home not knowing where to turn for information, I found the TNSTEP program website. I was like a sponge soaking up all the information that was available. The most important thing I learned from TNSTEP’s workshop is having high expectations and being fully knowledgeable in the areas of education and program services, and that you can advocate for my child and someone else’s child. Our Story – In August 2017, our daughter Ashley Ryan, who has 7 children aged 2 to 11 years old, went through a difficult moment in her life. Her youngest, then 2-year-old Jeremie or Big Man (as we called him) was blind, had cerebral palsy and scoliosis, and was fed using a feeding tube. He needed a lot of care so we decided to help. Their family moved in with us and our daughters Tia and Ta’mara. A few months into the move, Ashley experienced a severe nervous breakdown. Upon seeking help, she was diagnosed with manic depression, bipolar disorder, and a learning disability. She stayed in several mental facilities to get better. While she was away, the rest of the family provided shelter for her children. It was at this time that we noticed the kids were not able to grasp basic instructions such as how to tie their shoes, do basic mathematics, and read and comprehend. When we had them tested, they were diagnosed with a learning disability, developmental delay, and other mental disorders.