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Exceptional Connection

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Resources Advocacy & Assistance Information & Education Network

Benefiting & Supporting
Our Children’s
World of Special Needs 

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  • A component of California’s EARLY START program serving families with children, ages birth to three years old, who have special needs, challenges, or are at risk.
  • Membership in a network of special needs resource centers throughout California
  • Serves a four-county area which includes Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, and Sierra Counties
  • Referrals to appropriate local resources and programs to meet a child’s and family’s specific needs
  • Support for parents and caregivers through activities, education, and parent to parent contact
  • Although funded for birth through three years old, information, referral and support is available to families and caregivers of older children and adults through EXCEPTIONAL CONNECTION.


by Emily Pearl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...... When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy.A kid holding a speak and spin" But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for awhile and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandt. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

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Contact us

Main Office:  472-013 Johnstonville Rd
Susanville, CA  96130
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. M-F
Phone:  Lassen County: (530) 257-9781
  Modoc County: (530) 233-3111
  Plumas County: (530) 283-2735 (ext. 880)
  Sierra County: (530) 993-1110
Program Coordinator
Ashley Gutierrez:
(530) 257-9781