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An Exceptional Story: Paolo Creates an Artistic New Life

We're sharing an article Exceptional Children's Foundation (ECF) wrote about Lanterman client Paolo.

When Paolo moved with his family from the Philippines to Los Angeles, he was in his early 20s. He wanted to make friends, but found being in a new environment with a new language a challenge that often left him frustrated and unable to communicate with many people.

Paolo's parents visited Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center to learn about local programs for adults with special needs that could engage and support Paolo, as well as provide opportunities for him to socialize with peers. They mentioned to their service coordinator that Paolo was interested in a creative program, and were referred to ECF's Art Centers Program (

One visit to ECF's Downtown L.A. art studio and Paolo enthusiastically enrolled. He had taken some art classes in the Philippines, but had never seen a fully-outfitted fine art studio like this. He also responded well to the nurturing approach of ECF's art instructors. Once he started working in the studio, he was able to relax, increase his technical abilities and develop his own unique artistic process.

Over the next two years, Paolo came to trust his own sense of style, reflected in his increasingly complicated and impressive ceramic pieces. He regards his artistic practice as his job, and gets very excited when he sells a piece on ( or has a creation exhibited at ECF's DAC Gallery (

Socially, Paolo has become more outgoing, both at home and in the art studio. While he is still developing his English skills, he can effectively communicate with staff and other artists through use of gestures. He has also developed a keen sense for interpreting other people's body language, allowing him to understand and participate in daily interactions and activities.

"Paolo likes to build things and has a natural understanding of how objects and materials fit together - like an architect," says Madga Audifred, ECF art instructor. "He is also extremely helpful and caring to all his peers; he keeps an eye on everyone."

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April 17 ~ CalABLE Webinar Workshop for Providers

CalABLE invites agencies and organizations serving people with disabilities to join them for a webinar workshop on Monday, April 17, 2017 from 1 to 2 p.m.

Targeted specifically for service providers, this will be an opportunity for representatives to ask questions about the CalABLE program and discuss strategies for collaboration in providing program information and education to clients.
This is part of their continuous effort to form working relationships with stakeholders serving the needs of people with disabilities, and they hope this webinar will provide an opportunity to continue the dialogue.
For questions and more information, contact CalABLE at 


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March 24 to 26 ~ Abilities Expo Comes to Los Angeles

Abilities Expo, for people with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals, will be held on March 24 to 26, 2017 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, West Hall A. Admission is free and show hours will be Friday, March 24 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, March 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Los Angeles Abilities Expo will feature a line-up of exhibits, workshops, events, celebrities and activities to appeal to people of all ages with the full spectrum of disabilities - including physical, learning, developmental and sensory disabilities. Complimentary loaner scooters and wheelchair repair will also be available during show hours.

The Expo is a forum that showcases essential technology to bridge the gap between ability and disability with a host of all-inclusive, adaptive activities, and provides the community of people with disabilities access to life-enhancing products, education, resources and fun. It’s a celebration of what you can do, not what you can’t.


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Tell Your Story: Why Medicaid Matters to Me

Last week, Congress introduced a plan to change the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Medicaid (known as Medi-Cal in California). According to the national Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, "The level of cuts over time would decimate the Medicaid program."

Why should we in California care?

  •  For many adults with developmental disabilities, Medicaid is their health insurance. It pays for care from doctors, specialists, and hospitals, as well as prescriptions.
  • California, like all states, receives Medicaid funding to help pay for the cost of long-term supports that people with developmental disabilities receive. If you or someone you know receives services paid for by a regional center, Medicaid most likely helps pay for it. Medicaid currently pays approximately half the cost of many community services through regional centers.

Thousands of Californians with developmental disabilities depend on Medicaid - or will need it in the future - to remain healthy, live in the community, and stay out of costly institutions. Many other groups of people will also be affected.

If this current approach passes, Medicaid in California would be significantly impacted.

It is important to share your story of Why Medicaid Matters to You.

What you can do: TELL YOUR STORY

Your Congressional Representatives and Senators need to know the impact Medicaid has on people's lives - and they need to know now. They know that Medicaid provides health coverage but may not realize all the other things Medicaid does, like funding In-Home Support Services (IHSS).

If you or someone you know relies on Medicaid-paid services as described above -- or will in the future -- take these three easy steps:

  1. Think about "Why Medicaid Matters to Me."
  2. Send an e-mail to -- briefly tell us the positive impact healthcare services and community supports have had on your life or the life of someone you care about. For example, how have regional center services helped you stay healthy, get or keep a job, live on your own, or do the things you want.
  3. Include your name, city and county.

We will hand deliver your messages to Congress on March 21.

What else can you do?
Call your Senators and Representatives today at 202.224.3121.

Check out the AUCD Joint Policy Statement explaining the impact of the proposed changes to Medicaid.

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CSPP Saturday Program Starts April 8

The next CSPP Saturday program will start on April 8, 2017 and end on June 10, 2017. The Community Special Program Partners (CSPP) officially began in January of 2003. The program serving individuals with developmental disabilities in the Greater Los Angeles Area is geared towards children starting at age 4 to young adults. The program enables them to participate in meaningful opportunities for self-growth, enhance learning, and improve on social skills. Based on 18 years of experience with the Sunday program at Young Nak Church, CSPP was incorporated as an independent entity and has secured its own nonprofit status as a public benefit organization.


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Job-Seekers Sought for Documentary Television Series EMPLOYABLE ME

Documentary producers at Optomen USA are looking for people with neuro-diverse conditions such as Tourette’s Syndrome, Asperger’s or Autism who would like their assistance finding employment on the documentary television series EMPLOYABLE ME.

EMPLOYABLE ME seeks to prove that having a neurological condition or disability can be viewed as an asset rather than an obstacle in the workplace. High profile, aspirational companies and brands are beginning to discover the benefits of recruiting from the ranks of those with disabilities and those whose “brains are wired differently.”

The job-seekers selected to appear on the documentary series will be encouraged to unlock their hidden talents with the help of experts and specialists so they can at long last find the job that best suits their unique skill sets and strengths. Visit the EMPLOYABLE ME Web page to view episodes.

A diverse workforce can be great for a business and EMPLOYABLE ME wants to dramatically shake up the system to prove it. Contact for more information on how to be considered for this opportunity.

Optomen Productions produces hundreds of hours of television each year for many of the major cable and broadcast networks including Food Network, Travel Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery and Bravo. Their most successful series include Worst Cooks in America and Mysteries at the Museum. Visit their Web site for more information about the company.

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New Group of Students Assisting Lanterman Educational Law Clinic

Meet the newest group of law students assisting with the Lanterman Special Education Law Clinic.

Pictured from left to right: Matt Stidham (Pepperdine University School of Law), Nicolas Nunez (USC School of Law), Jeanie Min (UCLA School of Law), Kristen Kim (UCLA School of Law), Patty Chen (UCLA School of Law) and Gloria Yi (USC School of Law)

Not pictured: Diana Malta (USC School of Law) and Nedra Firouzi (Southwestern Law School)

And we're reminding all Lanterman families with school-age children that if you need advocacy assistance with school-related issues, you can request a referral to the Lanterman Special Education Law Clinic from your service coordinator.

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Transition to Adulthood: Working Together to Integrate Our Youth Into the Community

The transition from school to adulthood is an exciting yet challenging progression that occurs in every young adult’s life. For young adults with developmental disabilities and their families, this transition can seem overwhelming. So in early February, a group of individuals representing the organizations that provide services and supports that help with this transition came together to share how they can help facilitate the next big steps in a youth’s life.

Nearly 30 families attended “Strategies for Students: Transition Into the Community.” The presentation simultaneously provided in three languages covered:

  • What is adulthood transition;
  • Knowledge on federal and state special education laws, which require transition planning to start by the time the student reaches the age of 16, though many school districts are beginning at 14 or younger, if appropriate;
  • How to obtain supports and services through the IEP/ITP process to prepare students to move from school to adulthood and help the young adult reach social and economic independence;
  • An overview of LAUSD District Office of Transition Services (LAUSD DOTS) and their support during the process, with a look into LAUSD post-high school career and transition programs for students on the alternate curriculum;
  • What regional centers can do to further post-secondary education, employment and/or independent living skills;
  • What inclusion opportunities are available and how to request them;
  • Helpful strategies for successful inclusion into the community.

Presenters/Panelists included (pictured above left to right, excluding Marjan Kermani):

  • Marjan Kermani, Special Education Attorney, Lanterman Special Education Law Clinic
  • Lela Rondeau, Coordinator, LAUSD District Office of Transition
  • Jaman Whittington, Transition Specialist, LAUSD Career and Transition Centers
  • Helane Schultz and Lissette Gomez, Regional Managers, Lanterman Regional Center

“It was an evening full of information and discussion, with many now having the knowledge to continue on a journey they are more versed to take,” shares Kermani.

Mark your calendars for additional opportunities to learn more about the transition to adulthood:

  • Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
    IEP, Inclusion and Transition to Adulthood
    View more information online.
  • Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
    Adulthood Transition
    More information to come.

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The Legacy of Frank Lanterman Exhibit

Lanterman House Exhibit Sheds Light on Lawmaker Who Advocated for Disabled Californians

Excerpt from the February 16, 2017 Los Angeles Times article by Sara Cardine

Who was Frank Lanterman? A man whose passion for playing the organ inspired him to abandon his studies at USC weeks before graduation? Or a state assemblyman whose work on behalf of people with disabilities is still evident 40 years later?

Or perhaps he was a bit of a recluse who rubbed elbows with America’s elite but spent the final years of his post-retirement life in close quarters with brother Lloyd, surrounded by organ mechanisms, tools, machines and countless boxes of personal and political memorabilia.

A new exhibit at Lanterman House museum in La Cañada Flintridge aims to shed light on the man known to friends as “Uncle Frank” and affectionately labeled by fellow lawmakers as “the workhorse of Sacramento,” using never-before-seen photos and audio elements to impart Lanterman’s indelible impact on California life.

Read the entire article

Check Out the Exhibit
The Legacy of Frank Lanterman (1901-1981) exhibit runs from February 14 thru December 21, 2017 and is displayed throughout Lanterman House.

Visit the Lanterman House Web site for more details

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Free Autism Flight Experience Event at LAX

Los Angeles International Airport will be holding its annual Autism Flight Experience on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 6 p.m. at LAX.

The free event, sponsored by All Nippon Airways (ANA), will provide families with autism the opportunity to experience the process of flying - from ticketing, screening, and actually boarding and sitting in an airplane.

Be sure to register by February 15. Download the registration form

You must also complete a film release form. Download the film release form

Both completed forms must be e-mailed to You will be contacted by the airport once you have been registered for the flight.

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Free Tax Preparation at Chinatown Service Center

Tax season is here again, and the Chinatown Service Center will be providing free tax preparation service. The service is available each Saturday and started Saturday, February 4. Anyone whose family income is lower than $60,000 may qualify for this free income tax preparation program - VITA program. Following is the link to the flyer for this program and you can also get more details by going to and typing VITA in the search box and clicking on “Free tax return preparation for you by volunteers.”


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Applications Being Accepted for the Second Session of the Uniquely Abled Academy

Applications are now being accepted for the second session of the Uniquely Abled Academy being held at Glendale Community College.

Here are some details:

  • 16-week program, February 21 to June 14, 2017
  • Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • To teach those with high-functioning autism to be entry-level computer numerically controlled (CNC) machinists
  • Includes CNC programming, setup and operation, and job readiness skills training
  • For those who qualify, most or all of the costs may be covered

The Uniquely Abled Academy program is focused on careers that require specialized training. The approach is to identify the unique abilities of folks with a particular diagnosis, and then match jobs in demand that require those unique abilities. The first career for which training is being provided is CNC manufacturing machine operator for those diagnosed with high-functioning autism.


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Delegation from Japan Visits Lanterman to Learn About Regional Center Service Delivery System

In early December, a delegation from the Ōita Prefecture, a prefecture of Japan on Kyūshū Island, visited Lanterman Regional Center.

The group consisted of 12 assembly members who were here to study California's developmental disabilities service delivery system.

The visit to Lanterman was facilitated with the help of Mariko Magami from the Japanese Speaking Parents Association of Children with Challenges Support Group.

Rose Chacana from Lanterman's Koch-Young Resource Center shares, "Over the years, Mariko has been instrumental in connecting Japanese officials with Lanterman Regional Center to learn about our system of care."

The group also presented Lanterman Executive Director Melinda Sullivan with a good luck figure.

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Formatting Issue on Annual Financial Reports Fixed, Statements Being Resent

Each year, Lanterman sends our clients, their parents or authorized representatives an annual statement that reports the services and supports purchased by Lanterman Regional Center on behalf of the client for the period of July 1 to June 30, based on payments that were made through August of that year. This year’s statements were sent out the second week of December and it was brought to our attention on December 20 that there was a formatting glitch in the English and Spanish versions of the statements. This was caused by a computer error that resulted in the financial data not displaying properly and rendered the statements confusing to read. The issue has been corrected and the annual statements are being reprinted and will be resent by the end of the week. Lanterman apologizes for any confusion that was caused. Should you have any questions about the statement, contact your service coordinator. Please note that this statement is not a bill and no further action is required on your part.

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Affordable Housing Coming to Koreatown in 2017

Coming in 2017, the Meridian Apartments will be an affordable housing project located within Koreatown. They will provide 100 units of affordable housing located at 225 N. Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. All units at Meridian Apartments will be adaptable, and 14 percent will be accessible in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, with 10 percent accessible units for mobility impaired households (10 units) and 4 percent accessible units for sensory-impaired households (4 units). The 14 accessible units will include a mixture of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units.
Although rental applications are not being accepted at this time, there is an interest list tab on the Meridian Apartments Web site for prospective residents to fill out. Please note, it is the responsibility of the prospective resident to keep contact information current. Do not fill out the the interest list contact form more than once unless you are updating your information.

Approximately four to five months prior to project completion, the property management company will reach out to prospective tenants with further information and hold an electronic lottery to determine the order of tenants able to apply to live at Meridian Apartments. There will be a separate lottery for all potential residents who indicate a need for a mobility or sensory impaired unit.

Remember, it is a lottery – there are no promises, but if you do not sign up on the interest list you will not have the opportunity to apply. Clients and families that need assistance completing the interest list, should contact their service coordinator.

About the Meridian Apartments
The Meridian Apartments are another quality tax credit project developed by AMCAL and Korean Churches for Community Development and professionally managed by FPI Management Inc.

Meridian Apartments will provide 100 affordable homes to families and 4,500 square feet of ground floor commercial space along Vermont Avenue. Located less than one block from the Vermont/Beverly Metro Red Line Station, residents will enjoy all the conveniences of this transit oriented development. The spacious floor plans will include 2 studios, 41 1-Bedroom, 24 2-bedroom and 33 3-bedroom units. On-site amenities include barbecue areas, dining terrace, a playground, large courtyards, elevator access, underground parking, bicycle storage and a clubhouse with offices, a computer lab and kitchenette. Meridian Apartments is seeking a LEED Gold Certification and LifeSTEPS will provide complimentary social services for residents.

Learn more about the Meridian Apartments

Complete the interest list form

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Service Provider Ann Hamilton Meets with Governor Brown

Governor Jerry Brown (left) with Lanterman Service Provider Ann Hamilton

On November 10, 2016, Lanterman Service Provider Ann Hamilton met with Governor Jerry Brown. She shares, "We had a meaningful conversation discussing a wide range of topics, including the residential care industry in California as it pertains to the elderly and individuals with developmental disabilities."

Specific points that Ann shared with the Governor include:

The increasing difficulty providers are having operating successful and profitable businesses in the current environment of increasing expenses and decreasing or static reimbursement rates.
How having facilities in adjoining cities with different minimum wages makes it necessary to request individual waivers by regional center client name, which is an onerous system for an agency charged with providing services for more than 300,00 clients and this causes significant delays in approving needed increases in reimbursement rates.

"Governor Brown assured me that he would have his staff look into our areas of concern and work toward rectifying any inequities in the system so that care providers could continue to provide quality services to the population that we serve," Ann adds.

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Happy Holidays from Lanterman

On behalf of Lanterman Regional Center, we send our heartfelt wishes for a wonderful holiday season to all of our clients, their families and our service providers. May your celebrations be safe, peaceful and joyous and best wishes for a happy, healthy and hope-filled new year.

Lanterman Community Makes Ornaments for State Capitol Tree

Heeding the call for handmade ornaments for the State Capitol tree, the Lanterman community made ornaments to send to Sacramento.

  • Top: One of the Spanish-speaking parent support groups made 82 ornaments for the tree.
  • Bottom Left: The Korean Parent Support Group made 73 ornaments to send.
  • Bottom right: The ornament made by Adult Basic Learning Environment in Glendale for the 2016 tree.

The tree lighting ceremony will take place in early December.

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Sam Suzuki Retires, Replaced by Lorenzo Hernandez as Manager

Pictured: Lorenzo Hernandez (left) and Sam Suzuki

Sam Suzuki Says Goodbye After 39 ½ Years at Lanterman
With Lanterman since June 1977, Sam Suzuki started his career as a service coordinator working with families in the Foothill communities. Lanterman was still part of Children's Hospital Los Angeles and had two satellite offices, one in Eagle Rock and one in Hollywood. He was one of just seven service coordinators covering the entire Foothill region, individual program planning had just started, and caseloads were small. Four years later, in 1981, he became a manager, a capacity he served in for 35 years.
Sam attended Loyola High School and decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Maryknoll Seminary where he was studying to become a priest. He obtained his master’s in social work at the University of Southern California in the 1970s and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 1981. 
He championed inclusion of children with special needs, promoting social acceptance and working with school districts to address the fears and anxieties that came along with the growing push in the 1990s for inclusion of all children, including those with significant disabilities, in school and after school activities.
“I have equally enjoyed being a teacher and mentoring new service coordinators. I started the Center’s LA School Age unit in 1999 and have been its manager ever since. I have enjoyed the opportunities to pass on some of my experience and wisdom to others,” he adds.
And he wants everyone to know how touched he was by what he calls a masterpiece of a retirement party that was organized by his team.  “Leaving Lanterman is bittersweet. I’m excited for what the future holds, yet sad for what I’m leaving behind. The team that I supervised was like family to me and I’m leaving a great part of my life behind by retiring,” he shares.
A resident of Montebello for nearly 40 years, Sam plans to spend more time helping at his parish church, Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Montebello. He and his wife, who also retired this year, plan to do some fall cleaning around their home they have lived in for 40 years, and he wants to replant his flower garden. He also plans to take up exercise classes at the local YMCA. Sam says, “I don’t have a major bucket list, my wife wants to travel a bit more and I enjoy sports, so I’ll be able to follow the LA Rams more closely.” And he’s looking forward to the joy of having grandkids, hopefully sooner rather than later.

From all of us at Lanterman Sam, fair winds and following seas.

Meet Lanterman’s New Manager for the Los Angeles School Age Unit
Lorenzo Hernandez started at Lanterman in July 2011 as a temporary service coordinator in the Los Angeles School Age unit, becoming a permanent employee in March 2012. Five years after coming on board, he became the Unit’s manager, replacing long-time manager Sam Suzuki upon his retirement.
Lorenzo has an undergraduate degree from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Prior to coming to Lanterman he worked with school-age children and their families for about 10 years. His focus was on behavior modification, specifically ABA and parent training, as well as with parent support groups, and also in the area of mental health. He shares, “It was rewarding assisting a child via behavior modification to develop a better way to express themselves and use alternative forms of communications, instead of a tantrum to express their needs.”
In his new role as manager, he will be working towards developing greater collaborative efforts between the entire support system – the school district, parents, community agencies, service providers, and the students with developmental disabilities themselves. “Our goal by working collaboratively is to put the best supports possible in place to ensure the best outcomes for the child,” he explains.
Lorenzo graduated from CSUN with his masters’ in public administration in 2014. In his free time he enjoys photography, reading, and road and mountain bike events. And he is getting married this month.

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