Title: 'Looking Back... If I Knew Then What I Know Now'
Track: 6-Family Issues
Keyword(s): Parents understanding systems and support
Learning Objectives: Parents and professionals will have a better understanding of the systems of support available to them and parents will get a better understanding of the process of making decisions regarding their child’s life and their outcomes and how they can contribute to positive change.


Thanks to legislation, families are finding out much earlier that their babies are deaf and hard-of-hearing! When families get the news that their baby is deaf or hard-of-hearing, it is usually shocking. It is often the first experience knowing a person that is deaf or hard-of-hearing. They often report feeling alone. Often, they are told that they have decisions to make and they feel lost and confused. We want to reach out to families and help build on their understanding of the systems of support and to help them to think about the future for their child and the future for other parents and children. We also want to reach out to professionals to help build on their understanding of the family experience. We want professionals to better understand the variety of experiences a family might go through when they get the news. Professionals in early intervention will be able to see more clearly the need for parent-to-parent support as families embark on this journey. The parent-to-parent support augments the parent-professional relationship and offers families the empowerment they need to make informed decisions. Our intention is to give families a perspective about how the news was delivered years ago and how we felt then. Did we make decisions then that we might change if we got the news today? We want families to connect to resources in their states that are designed to support them; early intervention, parent resources, etc. Families are vital to move things forward in this arena! These are indeed exciting times!
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Darla Schwehr - Parent Links
     Credentials: BA in psychology.
     Other Affiliations: ParentLinks, IMPACT of CA. Board of Directors for families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
      Darla Schwehr is a Mentor for Parent Links for Central California. Parent Links is a Grant funded by the California Department of Education. Darla oversees support for families of children who are newly diagnosed with a hearing loss in 16 counties with phone support, on site trainings, monthly newsletter and website www.myparentlinks.com She holds a BA in psychology, working or MA is Psychology to become a Therapist. First and formost Darla is the parent of a 21 year old daughter who was born profoundly deaf.
Kat Lowrance - Rowell Family Empowerment of No. CA, Inc.
     Credentials: Early Childhood Special Education, M.A.
     Other Affiliations: Family Resource Center Network of CA.; CA. Association of Family Empowerment Centers; Member of Exceptional Children: Special Quest Trainer
      Kat Lowrance is the Executive Director of Rowell Family Empowerment of No. CA, Inc. She is the mother of a young deaf man, age 26. She is a ParentLinks Mentor for parents of deaf and hard of hearing children. Kat is a renowned trainer of Early Childhood inclusion, Parent Empowerment and Collaboration across the country.