Having a family member with special needs can sometimes be overwhelming.
Like trying to connect the dots when you can’t even find the next number.



High Hopes Development Center is pleased to introduce “Connecting-the-Dots”, an endeavor to support families caring for those with special needs.  The goal is to provide encouragement and put available resources at your fingertips, and will be led by parent volunteer, Alison Kirk. 

Alison, mother of two distinct daughters, both with special needs, has volunteered to lead this effort as Resource Administrator, serving as a point-of-contact for family members and by sharing the knowledge and compassion she has gained through her own personal journey.

Please take a moment to find out more about Alison and what she can do to help you and your family in your journey of “Connecting-the-Dots” of caring for someone with special needs.

“When describing children with special needs, it is all too easy to fall into a listing of everything that doesn’t work…everything they can’t do. But as those of us with a front row seat to these little lives know, there’s much more to the story. It takes a bit of time to get to know children like my daughters, Caroline and Kate. They were sisters with a common disease that limited many of their choices, but seemed to intensify what was still available to them. Simple sensations—a summer breeze, a bite of cupcake, sparkly lights—gave them pure joy. Caroline liked to look at books, Kate liked to head butt people! They were individuals whose lives required more than the usual amount of caretaking and advocacy. Parents of children with special needs become skilled in areas we never dreamed we’d tackle.  We have our own language. IEPs. Chewy Ps. ABA. Blue Day. Waivers. Gait trainers. We often have more knowledge at our fingertips than many of the health care professionals we consult. We are members of the most Special Secret Service ever—escorting and guarding our small dignitaries. It is an all-consuming world. Most days, we do the best we can. Some days, we fall short of that. But we love, and we are present, and we keep putting one foot in front of the other for these children of ours.

I welcome you to join us as we strive to help families right where they are…so let us know what your current needs are that we may best seek to meet them.  I’m sad to report that I’m fresh out of winning lottery tickets, and I don’t handle legal or insurance issues. I understand how hard it is to find time to explore community resources, so I’m available to help you look up services and products and find and print out articles about diagnoses and treatments.  I’m also available for brainstorming sessions. My favorite thing to do is listen to stories about your children. I will post items of interest on the blog page, and I welcome your input as to what you’d like to see here. I view one of my roles as facilitating conversations among parents who don’t have the opportunity to sit in a room together. Consider this your room. Put your feet up.”

Feet Up pic

  • Upcoming Events

    1. Talbots In-Store Fundraiser

      August 24 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
    2. Special Needs All Access Night at Discovery Center

      August 25 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
    3. Great Americana BBQ Festival

      August 26 @ 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
    4. Special Saturdays at Christ Presbyterian Church

      September 9 @ 9:00 am - 11:30 am
    5. High Hopes Family Picnic

      September 15 @ 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm
    6. Free Autism Workshop at Vanderbilt

      September 16 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Testimonial

    "Teachers & therapists love the work they do"

    Meet our Elle.  Born in June 2010, Elle was six weeks early and spent almost two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit learning to eat properly and gain weight.  At six months, we began noticing Elle was not meeting typical goals, like rolling over.  At 14 months, Elle still wasn't pulling up or talking, so we contacted Tennessee's Early Intervention System (TEIS) who said Elle had a Global Development Delay and recommended High Hopes.

    Elle began physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy weekly at High Hopes' Therapy Clinic at 16 months of age.  Shortly after, Elle began attending High Hopes' Preschool and ...

    Learning to "eat like a boss!" ~ Anaya

    Anaya came home from Arkansas at 15 months old.  She had the most vibrant personality and we were smitten with her immediately!  At 15 months, she had never eaten food orally, nor even knew what that required.  She had a feeding tube as her main source of nutrition.

    We had a friend recommend High Hopes and we began seeing a feeding therapist there.  The feeding therapist was so sweet and patient with us as we learned how to teach this phenomenon we call "eating."  We worked together empowering Anaya to do it and she made incredible improvement!  After 6 months at High Hopes Anaya became completely independent of the tube.  Within one year of  Anaya being home, she had her t...

    Miracles Delivered through High Hopes ~ Caleb

    Caleb was born a perfectly healthy little boy July 11, 2012.  Two weeks later our world was turned upside down when he developed bacterial meningitis.  This  journey resulted in a month-long stay at Vanderbilt and life-long effects for Caleb of significant frontal lobe brain damage and risk of seizures.

    Caleb is our little fighter and has always had several guardian angels watching over him.  We came home from the hospital with no idea whether our son would walk, talk, eat well, or function as a typically-developing child.  We only knew we wanted to provide him with the best resources possible.  We sincerely believe it was one of those guardian angels who led us to be introdu...

    A Journey of Success ~ Caroline

    Our journey with High Hopes began in January 2006.  After relocating to Nashville, we were looking for a place for daycare and therapy for our then eight-month old daughter, Caroline, who was born with Down syndrome.  What we found in High Hopes was so much more.

    Because of its unique setting, High Hopes has provided Caroline with a nurturing and caring atmosphere where she not only has gone to school, but also has received the many therapies she needs to thrive.  It gave us the comfort of knowing she was being cared for by compassionate teachers and therapists in a safe environment.  It was important that what Caroline was learning and workin...

    From a tragic beginning to a hopeful future: Meet Grayson

    Grayson was born with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.  His withdrawals were so severe, he was in the hospital for three and a half months and was considered one of the worst cases of withdrawals that the nurses at Vanderbilt had ever seen.   As a result of his birth circumstances, Grayson often experienced respiratory distress and was diagnosed as significantly developmentally delayed.

    At 7 months, Grayson began receiving Physical, Occupational, Speech and Feeding therapies at The Therapy Clinic at High Hopes.  His therapists encouraged and supported the family while working to overcome so many obstacles and celebrated alongside them when they were...

    Meet Hatcher

    Hatcher, Stories of HopeHigh Hopes changes lives. My son, Hatcher, came to High Hopes at age one with Down syndrome and leukemia, unable to walk or talk. As a divorced mom with the responsibility of two older children and a baby that required multiple treatments and medical appointments, I could not work outside our home and applied for food stamps just to feed my children.

    When we arrived at High Hopes, we found help,...

    Read More Testimonials »

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