Columbus mother helps organize town hall meeting targeting developmental disabilities

Published: Oct. 24, 2015 at 10:16 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2015 at 10:46 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - 12-year-old Ty Baker goes to school like all the other kids his age. But he has a severe form of cerebral palsy that affects several parts of his body, classified as spastic quadriplegia. Ty also suffers from severe to profound hearing and vision loss.

"He was born at 24 weeks gestation. He only weighed about one pound three and a half ounces when he was born. From there it's been a lot of difficulties, hospitalizations, doctors visits, surgeries," said LaKisha Smith.

LaKisha Smith says her experiences with her son influenced her to volunteer and organize the upcoming town hall meeting focusing on informing individuals and families with options related to developmental disabilities. She is a 2014 graduate of AADD's Partners in Policymaking advocacy training initiative

"I just want to do whatever I could to help him have a better life and also help others that have disabilities and their families," said Smith.

Her son, Ty Baker uses a wheelchair to get around and has a nurse to help take some of the burden off the family.

Smith is also a parent mentor with Muscogee County Schools to guide families and students with disabilities through the special education process.

The town hall "Conversations That Matter" is a  series that give Georgians with developmental disabilities and their families the opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation about the future. It will be presented by All About Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

The executive director of All About Developmental Disabilities, Kathy Keeley gives some startling statistic on Georgians with disabilities.

"One in six children is diagnosed with a development disability. In the autism world, it is one in 68. Each year we have 1,400 individuals coming out of high school with a developmental disability," said Kathy Keeley.

Parents and family members of children and adults with developmental disabilities, teachers and the community are invited to the town hall.

"We want them to feel or experience that hope and the power to go make plans and services around their family member," said Keeley.

LaKisha Smith says she plans to continue advocating for her son and others so they can experience the most out of life.

The town hall meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m at Christ Community Church. The address is 4078 Milgen Road, Columbus, GA 31907.  For more information call  (706) 565-7240.

Information from the press release provided by Mitch Leff, Leff & Associates:

Topics covered will include:

PLANNING: Tools and tips for life planning: What you need to know now to prepare
    TRENDS: Discovering trends in housing, employment, community engagement and funding
    EMPLOYMENT: Issues around employment and day service programs that offer meaningful options for adults with developmental disabilities and bring them out of isolation
    WAIVER SERVICES: What to expect from new definitions and rates for waiver services.
    NETWORKING: Networking with other advocates in your community
    ADVOCACY: Learning about how you can get connected to statewide advocacy efforts.

About All About Developmental Disabilities:
All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) is a Georgia non-profit organization dedicated to providing family support, advocacy and training opportunities for individuals and families living with developmental disabilities.  Developmental disabilities are defined as severe chronic intellectual and/or physical disabilities that limit three or more critical functional abilities. Examples include Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, autism disorders, fetal alcohol disorders and intellectual disabilities. For more information, go to or call us at (404) 881-9777.

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