Special Needs Expo aimed at helping families find all options

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Pam Scarano, of Mountain Top, left, talks with Kim Minor, regional coordinator of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Special Kids Network, during th Special Needs Expo at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township on Friday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Dr. Thomas Challman, of Geisinger’s Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute, gives a presentation at the Special Needs Expo at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township on Friday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
Brighter Journeys co-founder Lisa Urbanski, left, listens to a woman during the Special Needs Expo at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township on Friday. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

PLAINS TWP. — A local nonprofit is hoping to make brighter tomorrows for the families of special-needs individuals by bringing as many local agencies as possible into one room.

Brighter Journeys held its first Special Needs Expo, called “Connecting the Dots,” at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Friday.

Lisa Urbanski, president and founder of Brighter Journeys, said the expo is exactly the sort of thing she was looking for as a parent of a child with special needs.

“I’m used to thinking outside the box,” Urbanski said.

And that outside-the-box thinking led to the expo. According to her, the expo was host to 51 organizations that each catered to people with special needs.

Urbanski said the expo didn’t focus on a single type of disability. Instead, health organizations were on hand to provide information on how to best help people with both mental and physical challenges.

Among those 51 organizations were Geisinger, the Graham Academy and Highmark, along with other nursing organizations and therapists. They provided information about new forms of therapy and new medical devices that patients could consider. There were also speakers throughout the day to make patients and family members aware of treatments they might not have considered.

Heather Gibson, of Pringle, said she is the parent of a 2-year-old who was just recently diagnosed with autism. She said her son, Jaxon, is non-verbal, and she was at the expo to see what options are available to her.

Gibson is grateful for the information she got at the expo, saying she was especially interested in a new therapy system called applied behavioral analysis, or ABA.

“It’s supposed to help with day-to-day things, like putting your shoes on,” she said.

Gibson said that since her son’s diagnosis, it’s been “overwhelming.” She said the expo allowed her to find many of the options available to her all in one place.

When Brighter Journeys isn’t hosting events such as these, which Urbanski hopes will become annual, she said the organization is helping families of special needs people by providing them with grants for therapies and items their insurance may have denied. For more information on the non-profit, visit www.brighterjourneys.net.

Pam Scarano, of Mountain Top, left, talks with Kim Minor, regional coordinator of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Special Kids Network, during th Special Needs Expo at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township on Friday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL092918SpecialNeedsExpo_1-2.jpgPam Scarano, of Mountain Top, left, talks with Kim Minor, regional coordinator of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Special Kids Network, during th Special Needs Expo at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township on Friday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Dr. Thomas Challman, of Geisinger’s Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute, gives a presentation at the Special Needs Expo at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township on Friday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL092918SpecialNeedsExpo_2-1-1-2.jpgDr. Thomas Challman, of Geisinger’s Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute, gives a presentation at the Special Needs Expo at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township on Friday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Brighter Journeys co-founder Lisa Urbanski, left, listens to a woman during the Special Needs Expo at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township on Friday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_TTL092918SpecialNeedsExpo_2-2.jpgBrighter Journeys co-founder Lisa Urbanski, left, listens to a woman during the Special Needs Expo at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township on Friday. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan