Season 9

Parents Know Best
Parents and educators know that children with Special Needs have gifts and talents and it’s just a matter of unleashing their full potential and making sure that parents and teachers have the right information, tools, and support to help the children flourish.On this brand new episode of Family Comes First, “Parents Know Best” we meet with Christian and Terrie Killoran. Christian and Terrie have a son, Aiden who has Down syndrome. On the show, they will share with us the story of their son, Aiden and their battle with the school district to allow Aiden to continue his education at the school that would be the normal path for him.

Aiden had been attending elementary school and his parents were planning on sending him to middle school in the same district however, that school does not have a program for children with special needs and will not accept him. This means that Aiden will have to attend a school in a neighboring community, one separate from his classmates and siblings. The larger issue they discuss is his future success within his community. As parents, they want Aiden to flourish in his community by getting a job once he graduates, developing relationships with people in his community and being successful as a contributing member of the community. They fear if he attends school outside of his community he will not have these opportunities.

During this show, we also skype with Sara Hart Weir, the Executive Director at the National Down Syndrome Society. Sara explains, “…people with Down Syndrome can live long healthy lives when they are given the extra support when they’re able to go to an inclusive school , like what we’re pushing for Aiden, they’re able to work in the community, go to post-secondary education and pursue their own hopes, dreams and aspirations, just like everyone else.”

Elizabeth Einhart, a special education teacher with a masters in special education joins us to give the educators perspective, having the knowledge of what is necessary to educate children with special needs. Elizabeth clarifies how in an integrated class setting, individualized education plan’s (IEP’s) helps provide some additional support to bridge the education of a student with special needs to the general curriculum. She also expresses how the whole point of having an integrated classroom setting is to expose the children to real life experiences and teach them about compassion and kindness.

Adrienne Arkontaky, a special needs attorney with the Cuddy Law Firm provides further insights and clarification on these issues discussed during the show. Adrienne explains, “The responsibility of the school district is to provide a free appropriate public education at no cost to the families and what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act says is that the school districts must provide an education in the lease restrictive environment and to the greatest extent possible in a community school.”

Every child is unique. Parents need to be engaged and proactive to ensure their child with special needs is afforded every opportunity to realize their full potential.

Heroes of 9/11 – Responders
As we approach the 15th anniversary of 9/11, co-hosts, Vincent J. Russo and Victoria Roberts Drogin were privileged to honor those first responders who fought to save the lives of so many.

On this show, Heroes of 9/11, we are joined by first responder, Tim Brown. Tim is a firefighter who responded to the call on September 11, 2001 and rushed immediately into ground zero. Tim gives us a first-hand look into the events of the day. We promise you will not want to touch that remote or get up from the couch as Tim shares with you his story of the day we lost – 343 New York City firefighters, 37 port authority officers and 23 New York City police officers. All Heroes.

Saving Lives
Sadly, each day, 22 men, women and children die waiting to receive a lifesaving organ transplant. Fortunately, over 650,000 lives have been saved since 1988 because of donors, many of them not biologically related to the recipient. On this brand new episode of Family Comes First™, “Saving Lives” we meet with Cindy Somma, who decided to give the gift of life to a relative and ended up saving the life of another. Join us as Cindy shares with us her thought process when choosing to donate her kidney and how she unexpectedly ended up saving the life of a stranger.

Also joining us on this brand new episode of Family Comes First™ is Gillian Cohen, a young woman who was given the gift of life through a liver transplant when she was just 7 years old. She shares how this experience has inspired her to be an advocate with LiveOnNY to promote organ donation.

We also welcome Karen Cummings from LiveOnNY to share how someone can register to become a donor and how important it is to educate the community on organ donation so they too, can save lives. Karen explains, “…one person can actually save up to 8 lives through organ donation because you can donate both kidneys, both lungs, your liver, pancreas, your heart. One person can donate up to 8 organs via transplants and enhance up to 50 lives through tissue implants.” She hopes to carry out LiveOnNY’s mission to create a culture of donation. They hope one day, it will not be unusual to discuss organ donation and there will be less of a stigma about doing so.