, Corbin, KY

Local News

July 22, 2013

First-ever SEKY autism conference held in Corbin


By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer

What options do families and caregivers of persons afflicted with autism have? Where can they get help, answers and solutions? And what can they do to pass that information on to others?

Those were some of the topics discussed during an autism conference and workshop, held Friday at the Corbin Center. Sponsored by the Corbin-based non-profit organization Autism Spectrum Solutions of Kentucky, the three-hour session featured three speakers who brought their knowledge and expertise on autism-related issues to the table.

Some 35-40 persons were on hand at the session. Whitney Durham, the organization’s President and CEO, said the autism conference and related workshop was the first to ever be held in southeastern Kentucky.

Durham also told the audience she understands first-hand the issues facing many of them.

“My son is six and has autism. He was diagnosed when he was two years old. You start researching and find ways to help your child. It seems like it’s an uphill battle if you’re a parent of an autistic child. Maybe I’m chosen to do this, but I want to help others,” she said at the start of the workshop.

Larry Taylor, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Autism Training Center (KATC) spoke first. Speaking about behavior and communication with autistic children, he told those attending how they can understand to contribute constructively to their student’s individual education program, how to recognize that knowledge and preparation can minimize conflicts, and learn how important communication skills for people with autism can be.

“Here’s what we know. Early intervention is the key to learning for an autistic child. Communication is vital to improving the quality of life for individuals with autism. When child-specific supports are in place, individuals achieve. All the programs need to be very specific, and individualized. And, collaborative relationships enhance services,” he stated.

Taylor, who has over 23 years of experience in education and holds two degrees from Cumberland College (now the University of the Cumberlands) in Williamsburg, noted that autism is a spectrum disorder, referring to the wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of disability or impairment that persons with autism can have.

“When you’re talking about your own child, it’s hard to be objective. … We’ve learned a whole lot how to address challenging behavior, and how adults need to learn about it too. …We know more about how to educate individuals with autism than any other time in history. We have a moral obligation,” he said.

Taylor added that Cumberland River Comprehensive Care will sponsor a forum in Corbin on September 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on information and communication for parents and caregivers of an autistic child. He encouraged those attending at the conference to attend next month’s forum.

Before ending his presentation, he asked the audience to check the KATC website at, other related websites, and information provided at the conference for more ways to stay connected.

KATC is the state’s leading resource on Autism Spectrum Disorders, and is located on the University of Louisville campus.

After a brief break for a light snack and refreshments, the audience heard from Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White, Jr., who told them, “I think we’re here because we love our kids. I really appreciate that people are here on a Friday night to advocate for change.”

He was followed by Sarah Johnson, an Advocate with the independent state agency Protection and Advocacy in Frankfort. Telling the audience, “We advocate for the rights of all persons with disabilities,” Johnson discussed legal rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.

The act is known as IDEA 04, which is a reauthorization of the original IDEA act, and guarantees all students between 3-21 years of age the right to a free, appropriate public education designed to meet each student’s individual needs.

She brought up the six principals of IDEA that guarantee the rights of children with disabilities and their families. “One is free appropriate public education, the second is an appropriate evaluation, and number three is an individualized education program. The fourth is least restrictive environment, the fifth parent and student participation in decision making, and the sixth one are procedural safeguards.”

In addition, Johnson discussed in more detail the Individualized Education Program, or IEP, a written document that specifically tells what special education services will be provided, and how they’ll be provided. Also brought up was the Independent Educational Evaluation, or IEE — defined by the website as “an evaluation of a child for the purposes of determining a special education program that is performed by personnel outside the school system.”

“Both parents and schools have a role,” she reminded those at the workshop.

Lexington attorney Robert McClelland later spoke to the group about estate trust planning, guardianship planning and special needs trusts. He explained that for parents of autistic children, estate planning matters are extremely complicated. To simplify the problem, third party trusts can be created, and need to be done before the parent or parents die.

McClelland — recognized in Kentucky for his expertise in elder law, which includes legal issues and topics facing older adults and their families — also discussed the benefits from Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

At the conference and workshop, Durham noted once her organization is prepared to financially help families and individuals affected by autism, they would post on their website that family grant applications would be accepted. She added who gets the applications would be determined by votes from the organization’s board of directors. If the family becomes eligible, they could receive treatments for AIT (Auditory Integration Training), hyperbaric oxygen, biomedicine, lab testing, equine therapy, chiropractic care, and from a doctor specializing in autism.

“Our goal is to help with treatments, information, hope and encouragement. I hope people leave here not feeling alone, but inspired and enriched,” she said.

Text Only
Local News
  • 0722 Mike Corey & David Thompson FOR WEB.jpg David Thompson to run again

    The mayor’s race in Barbourville will have a familiar name on the November ballot.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Restaurants not paying new tax

    Monday’s meeting of the London Tourism and Convention Commission revealed that some restaurants within the city aren’t paying the new restaurant tax.

    July 22, 2014

  • 0722 Corbin Police officers FOR WEB.jpg Police dismissals averted, for now

    The fates of four Corbin Police officers’ jobs have been spared for the time being.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dirk Shelton funeral arrangements set

    The funeral arrangements for Staff Sergeant Dirk Shelton have been released.

    July 22, 2014

  • Attorney, judge file motions to withdraw from case

    Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble and Judge Paul Winchester filed motions to remove themselves from a solicitation to commit murder case Monday.

    July 22, 2014

  • 0721 CORBIN GROUP FOR WEB.jpg Three and Out

    After Saturday’s dramatic walk-off win over Campbellsville it looked like the Corbin Little League All Stars were destined to advanced past pool play in the state tournament.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0722 police roundup vandlism pic FOR WEB.jpg POLICE ROUNDUP: 6 juveniles charged for vandalism of delivery trucks

    Broken windshields, pried-open doors and other damage hit several Flav-O-Rich delivery trucks early Monday morning — and the six culprits were all allegedly juveniles.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0721 WEB drugs and money seized.jpg Six arrested in drug investigation

    Staff Report
    Six people were arrested Saturday on drug charges after a joint investigation by the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office and the London Police Department, according to Laurel County Sheriff John Root.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0721 WEB shelter cat 3458.jpg Shelter seeks help

    By Kristina Smith
    Staff Writer
    Renovating a 10,000-square-foot building isn’t easy, but Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter Director Deanna Myers is up to the task.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Hwy. 192 widening hearing set

    By Kristina Smith
    Staff Writer
    A public information hearing Thursday will discuss the widening of KY-192.

    July 21, 2014