While living in Savannah, GA, I had the opportunity over two summer trips to volunteer with my mom at a special needs home in Tennessee. The adult residents of the home taught me invaluable life lessons. One of my takeaways was understanding how special needs individuals are similar to me in many ways: they like to engage, listen, laugh, sing and dance, take walks, swim, play sports, joke, love and be loved. I also found that one of the greatest attributes we possess as humans is the ability to live life authentically. This is a lesson most special needs kids seem to innately master— their candor is refreshing.

We live in a world of people who possess distinct personalities and abilities. Outside appearances don’t always tell the complete story of who we are. This month, Augusta Family shares a snapshot of our local special needs community with personal stories and collections that we hope provide insight, resources and knowledge for our readers. Our special needs directory lists more than 100 support groups and medical centers in and around Augusta for families of special needs kids.  Augusta Family’s staff spent the day with cover subject, Leanna Heider, at Great Oak Equine Assisted Programs in Aiken where we discovered the value of equine therapy through trained horses and attentive staff members. Longtime feature writer, Dr. Dana Harris, shares a personal piece that will educate and touch hearts. The Smart Mom’s Guide contains steps of preparedness if you are considering a special needs adoption and Josh Heath, our Inspiration Station writer, covers one local Augustan’s dream of helping others through the therapy of music. I hope you enjoy reading Augusta Family’s  special July issue!

Aimee Serafin

Photo by Chris Thelen