Child learn with therapist at Siskin Children's Institute Child learn with therapist at Siskin Children's Institute

Family Resources

Get connected to other families, join a support group, get help
navigating a complex healthcare system, and more.

Family Voices

Find the peer support and community resources you need through the Helen Siskin Pregulman Family Voices of Tennessee, Southeast Partnership.

Siskin Children’s Institute is proud to partner with Family Voices of Tennessee and the Tennessee Disability Coalition to serve as the local hub for families in the Chattanooga region in search of resources, support, and guidance as they care for children with special healthcare needs, chronic illnesses, or disabilities. Special thanks to the generosity of the Pregulman family, Unum, and the SunTrust Foundation for making this partnership possible.

Who We Are

We are families supporting families.

Our staff and volunteers all have personal experience caring for an individual with a special healthcare need, chronic illness, or disability. This personal experience helps us connect, train, and lead alongside the families we serve.

We Connect families with each other.

We Train families to become advocates and leaders.

We Lead alongside families to ensure their voices are included, heard, and honored

Watch our Q&A Video with Lisa Spurlock, Family Voices of TN Local Coordinator.

Like, Subscribe and Comment on YouTube

What We Do


Parent to Parent

Experienced, trained family members who provide one-on-one support to other families including peer support and assistance in navigating health care systems. Parent training is also available.


(Parents, Empowerment, Access, Resources, Support)

Support for families with children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing issues.

Family-to-Family Health Information Center

Help Navigating the healthcare system, including Medicaid & TennCare, SSI for children, Children’s Special Services, early intervention (TEIS), and more.

Parents Reaching Out
– Coming Soon!

Support for families of children in the NICU providing local connections and resources.

Voices for Choices

Leadership training for families who want their voices to be heard in decisions that affect their child’s care.

– Coming Soon!

Youth building a more inclusive world through leadership training and youth-to-youth mentorship.

Who We Serve


If you or someone you know has a child with a special healthcare need, chronic illness, or disability, we are here to help. Across the state of Tennessee, we provide moms, dads, grandparents, siblings, or any other family member resources to help the navigate health care needs.

Have a question? Contact us today.

Additional Support


United Way of Greater Chattanooga 2-1-1 is a free and confidential service helping people across the Tennessee Valley find the local resources they need when they need them. 2-1-1 Community Resource Specialists can help you find resources across numerous categories including: food, housing, transportation, employment, education, health services, eldercare, and other crisis hotlines.


Recommended Books

Check out these resources on Autism and other Developmental Disabilities.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a chronic disorder resulting in high levels of inattention and lack of focus. This may be accompanied by hyperactivity and impulsivity. The disorder is usually diagnosed in childhood, but often persists into adulthood. Examples of symptoms of ADHD would include:

Inattention: easily distracted, making careless mistakes, losing belongings, difficulty following instructions
Hyperactivity: squirming, fidgeting, in constant motion, talking too much, inability to stay seated
Impulsivity: inability to wait, making quick decisions without regard for consequences, interrupting

While it is common to experience these traits occasionally, ADHD would not be diagnosed unless they occurred over time and to an extent that the child’s ability to function at home or in school is impacted.

Treatment depends on the type of ADHD the child has. One type of treatment is the use of safe medications. But another component involves learning tools and strategies to improve the child’s abilities to focus, organize, control impulses, etc. These treatments can make dramatic improvements in the child’s life at home, in school, and in social situations.

Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents (Barkley)
Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood (Hallowell)
Delivered from Distraction
ADHD: What Every Parent Needs to Know (American Academy of Pediatrics, Reiff)
Parenting Children with ADHD: 10 Lessons that Medicine Cannot Teach (Monastra)
ADD/ADHD Checklist: A Practical Reference for Parents and Teachers (Rief)
Teenagers with ADD and ADHD: A Guide for Parents and Professionals (Dendy)
Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD (Williams) Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child (Halowell)
Raising Boys with ADHD: Secrets for Parenting Healthy, Happy Sons (Forgan)

For Children:
Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention: a Book for Kids about ADHD (Nadeau)
The Survival Guide for Kids with ADD or ADHD (Taylor)
The ADHD Workbook for Kids: Helping Children Gain Self-Confidence, Social Skills and Self-Control (Shapiro)
Putting on the Brakes: Understanding and Taking Control of Your ADD or ADHD (Quinn)
Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets (Esham)
My Mouth is a Volcano (Cook)

Sensory Issues/Behavior:
The Out-of-Sync Child (Kranowitz)
The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children (Greene)

Executive Functioning:
Smart, But Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential (Dawson)
Late, Lost and Unprepared: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning (Cooper-Kahn, Dietzel)

Informative Websites:
CHADD ( information and support as well as online trainings
Understood: help those who learn and think differently discover their potentials, take control, find community, and stay on positive paths along each stage of life’s journey.
National Institute of Mental Health
Siskin Children’s Institute
Misunderstood Minds: simulations demonstrate experience of attention difficulties

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of complex developmental disabilities that affect the functioning of the brain, impacting social interactions, communication and behavior. These characteristics can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations and varying levels and may include:

Difficulty relating to others

Minimal eye contact

Problems adapting to changes in routines

Repetitive patterns of behavior

Sensitivity to sensory stimuli

Obsession with a specific interest

Some children may have delayed communication skills, while children on the higher functioning end of the spectrum may have trouble with the social aspects of communication.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 59 children are now affected by autism spectrum disorders, the cause of which is unknown. But research has shown that early intervention can result in significant communication and social improvements. Activities that promote interaction with peers are important for social progress. Using strategies such as visual supports can help children express their needs and manage their behavior. Families working together with professionals can develop a plan to meet the needs of their child.

Autism spectrum disorders may qualify children for special education services if it is impacting their education. If so, school professionals can work with families to develop supports through the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) process. Before age three, children can be served through their state’s early intervention agency, such as Tennessee’s Early Intervention System.


Interested in learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorders?

These popular books (and hundreds of others) are available to you from our Siskin Lending Library:


Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew (Notbohm)

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Notbohm)

Thinking in Pictures, The Way I See It or The Autistic Brain (Grandin)

Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism (Sicile-Kira)

An Early Start for Your Child with Autism (Rogers)

Engaging Autism (Greenspan)

A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (Ozonoff)

Uniquely Human (Prizant)

The Reason I Jump (Higashida)

Overcoming Autism (Koegel)

High-Functioning autism and Difficult Moments (Myles)


Communication, Social Skills:

More Than Words: A Guide to Helping Parents Promote Communication and Social Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders ( Sussman)

The Social Skills Picture Book (Baker)

The New Social Story Book (Gray)

The Asperkid’s Secret Book of Social Rules (O’Toole)

Visual Supports for People with Autism (Cohen, Gerhardt)


Sleep Issues, Toilet Training:

Solving Sleep Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Katz, Malow)

Sleep Better! (Durand)

Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism or Other Developmental Issues (Wheeler)

The Potty Journey (Coucouvanis)


Anxiety, Sensory Issues:

When My Worries Get Too Big: A Relaxation Book for Children… (Dunn Baron)

The Out-of-Sync Child or The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun (Kranowitz)


For Children:

The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (and Their Parents) (Verdick, Reeve)

My Brother Charlie (Peete)

My Friend With Autism (Bishop)

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome (Niekerk, Venter)

All My Stripes (Rudolph)

Nathan’s Autistic Spectrum Superpowers (Yarborough)


We would also recommend:

Informative Websites:

Autism Society of America (

Autism Speaks ( includes the 100 Days kits, valuable resources for families of children newly diagnosed

Center for Disease Control (


Local Resources:

Chattanooga Autism Center ( very active local organization offering trainings, parent support, social events, an annual conference, etc.

Siskin Children’s Institute ( lists our training events as well as links to autism information

Down syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic variation causing delays in physical, intellectual and language development. Approximately one in every 733 children born has Down syndrome. The cognitive impact ranges from mild to moderate intellectual disability for most individuals. Common physical characteristics of Down syndrome include: low muscle tone, small stature, upward slant to the eyes, and increased risk of congenital heart disease.

However, behavior and physical development in children with Down syndrome varies, as do their unique personalities, capabilities and talents. Early intervention, inclusive education, appropriate medical care, positive public attitudes, and loving homes enable people with Down syndrome to live productive and fulfilling lives. In adulthood, many people with Down syndrome have jobs and enjoy recreational opportunities in their communities. More than 400,000 people in the United States have Down syndrome.

Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parents’ Guide (also available in Spanish)
Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives (Lynard)
A Guide to Good Health for Teens and Adults with Down Syndrome (Chicoine)
Teaching Children with Down Syndrome About Their Bodies, Boundaries, and Sexuality (Couwenhoven)
Down Syndrome Parenting 101: Must-Have Advice for Making Your Life Easier (Hale)
Helping Children with Down Syndrome Communicate Better: Speech and Language Skills for Ages 6-14 (Kumin)
Early Communication Skills for Children with Down Syndrome (Kumin)
The Down Syndrome Transition Handbook: Charting Your Child’s Course to Adulthood (Simons)
Down Syndrome: The First 18 Months (DVD)
Supporting Positive Behavior in Children and Teens with Down Syndrome (Stein)

For Children:
My Friend Isabelle (Woloson)
My Friend Has Down Syndrome (Tourville)
We’ll Paint the Octopus Red (Stuve-Bodeen)
My Sister, Alicia May (Ling)
Russ series by Janet Rickert or books by Marjorie Pitzer
Fasten Your Seatbelt: A Crash Course on Down Syndrome for Brothers and Sisters (Skotko)

Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals (Bruni)
Gross Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals (Winders)
Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome and Other Hands-On Learners (Horstmeier)
Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Teachers (Oelwein)

Informative Websites:
Brighter Tomorrows (
National Down Syndrome Society (
National Down Syndrome Congress (

Friendship & Social Skills

For Parents:
You Can’t Come to My Birthday Party: Conflict Resolution with Young Children (Evans)
The Friendship Factor: Helping Our Children Navigate Their Social World – And Why It Matters for Their Success and Happiness (Rubin)
The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends (Elman)
Getting from Me to We: How to Help Young Children Fit In and Make Friends (Tuck)
Your Successful Preschooler: Ten Skills Children Need to Become Confident and Socially Engaged (Densmore)
Best Friends, Worst Enemies (Thompson)

For Children:
How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them (Brown)
How to Lose All Your Friends (Carlson)
Talk and Work It Out; Be Polite and Kind; Share and Take Turns; Accept and Value Each Person; Join In and Play (Meiners)
When I Care About Others (Spelman)
How Do Dinosaurs Stay Friends? (Yolen)
The Way I Act (Metzger)
Be Kind (Miller)
Words Are Not for Hurting; Hands Are Not for Hitting; Voices Are Not For Yelling (Verdick)
Llama Llama Time to Share (Dewdney)
I’m Like You, You’re Like Me: A Child’s Book About Understanding and Appreciating Each Other (Gainer)
Since We’re Friends (Shally)
Clark the Shark Dares to Share (Hale)
Tucker Turtle Takes Time to Tuck and Think (Lentini)

For the Youngest Child:
Little Lion Shares; Penguin Says Please; Little Dinos Don’t Hit; Little Dinos Don’t Yell (Dahl)
Sharing Time (Verdick)
How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends (Yolen)
Voices Are Not for Yelling, Words Are Not for Hurting, Hands Are Not for Hitting (board book versions) (Verdick)
If Your Child has Autism:
When My Worries Get Too Big! (Buron); Formerly When My Autism Gets Too Big
Armond Goes to a Party: A Book About Asperger’s and Friendship (Carlson)
Social Skills Picture Book : Teaching Play, Emotion, and Communication to Children with Autism (Baker)
TalkAbility: People Skills for Verbal Children on the Autism Spectrum – A Guide for Parents (Sussman)


Grief comes to all families at some point, and whether it is the loss of a pet or a grandparent, we look for ways to help children through the grieving process. The following insights from bereavement experts may be helpful:

Talk about and remember the person who died.

Do not try to avoid grief.

Create special ways to remember: scrapbooks, memory boxes, anniversary rituals.

Allow children ways to say good-bye to the person who died, perhaps by writing letters or, for the young child, talking on a toy phone.

Expect and allow all kinds of emotions, and give young children ways to express them, offering crayons, paint, clay, chalk.

Continue to listen for signs of fear or confusion, and be ready to reassure or reiterate.

Welcome the release of laughter.

Be a model of good grief.

Do not hide your grief from your children.

Remember that children are more capable of putting aside grief, and their play may be a way of taking a break from it, or a way of releasing emotions.

Respect differences in children’s grieving styles.

Children will respond to grief quite differently, depending on their age and personality.

For Parents:
35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child (Dougy Center)
The Grieving Child: A Parent’s Guide (Fitzgerald)
When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses (James, Friedman)
Helping Children Cope with Separation and Loss (Jarratt)
A Parent’s Guide to Raising Grieving Children: Rebuilding Your Family After the Death of a Loved One (Silverman, Kelly)

Children’s Books:
Note: A family’s belief system is strongly tied to how they talk about death with their children. It is especially important that you read through children’s books dealing with death before sharing them with your child.
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death (Brown)
I Miss You: A First Look at Death (Thomas)
Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies (Silverman)
The Goodbye Book (Parr) – a simple book for the very young
Good-Byes (Rotner) – a more general book on types of good-byes
Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs (De Paola) – a sensitive classic
On the Death of a Pet:
Saying Goodbye to Lulu (Demas)
I’ll Always Love You (Wilhelm)
When a Pet Dies (Rogers) – an older book, but with Mr. Rogers’ trusted sensitivity


For Parents:
Worried No More: Help and Hope for Anxious Children (Wagner)
Overcoming Anxiety in Children and Teens (Baker)
Freeing Your Child From Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Strategies to Overcome Your Child’s Fears, Phobias, and Worries (Chansky)
The Opposite of Worry: The Playful Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears (Cohen)
How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler (Daniels)
Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents (Rapee, Wignall)
Helping Your Child Overcome Separation Anxiety or School Refusal (Eisen, Engler)
Anxiety-Free Kids: An Interactive Guide for Parents and Children (Zucker)
Monsters Under the Bed and Other Childhood Fears: Helping Your Child Overcome Anxieties, Fears, and Phobias (Garber, Spizman)
The Shyness Breakthrough: A No-Stress Plan to Help Your Shy Child Warm Up, Open Up, and Join the Fun (Carducci)
For Younger Children:
When My Worries Get Too Big (Buron)
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine (Cook, DuFalla)
When I Feel Worried (Spelman)
When I Miss You (Spelman)
Wemberly Worried (Henkes)
When I Feel Afraid (Meiners)
What Do You Do With a Problem? (Yamada)
Be Brave Little One (Richmond)
Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend and other Scaredy Squirrel books (Watt)
Worries Are Not Forever (Verdick) For older children:
The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook for Kids: Help for Children to Cope with Stress, Anxiety, and Transitions (Shapiro, Sprague)
I Bet I Won’t Fret : A Workbook to Help Children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Sisemore)
What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (Huebner, Matthews)

On Perfectionism:
Penelope Perfect: A Tale of Perfectionism Gone Wild (Anderson)
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes (Pett, Rubinstein)

Self-confidence Boosts
Be Who You Are; The I’m Not Scared Book; It’s Okay to Be Different (Parr)
I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem (Curtis)
I Like Myself (Beaumont)
Note: Our library also has many children’s books that address specific fears (dark, storms, fire drills, doctors, new school) which can be helpful for engaging children in conversations.

Online Resource:
What to Do (and Not Do) When Children Are Anxious (article from the Child Mind Institute)