The SPAN Difference at CNNH

In honor of Family Support Month, we’d like to shine a spotlight on a very important organization that we work with called SPAN..and a special family who benefitted from their support.

The Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) in New Jersey is an organization dedicated to supporting families raising children with special needs. SPAN provides information and referrals about county, state and national resources; information on special education rights; access to health care resources; connection with other families with similar needs; outreach to medical and school professionals, and so much more! They are relied on by thousands of families each year for information, educational rights and general support.

CNNH supports the difference that SPAN makes in the lives of parents by hosting a dedicated SPAN representative, Deepa Srinivasavaradan (everyone just calls her Deepa!), in the CNNH – Voorhees, New Jersey office two days a week. Deepa is available to meet with CNNH patients by appointment or connect via email or telephone.

“Parents who have children with special needs typically have so much going on in their lives,” comments Deepa. “CNNH has made accessing information and resources easier for their patients by contracting with SPAN. Typically one of the CNNH clinicians will refer a patient directly to me but I also hear from parents who heard about me in the newsletter or on the website. I know what parents are going through and I understand that time is precious. There are appointments to make, deadlines to meet and a lot of information to digest in order to be an effective advocate for your child.”

Dawn’s Story…

Dawn S. from Southern New Jersey, whose son is a patient at CNNH, benefitted from the SPAN Difference at CNNH when she first spoke to Deepa over four years ago.

“When we first came to CNNH for testing, the doctor at CNNH suggested I connect with Deepa,” remembers Dawn. “Deepa educated me on what services my son was entitled to receive to support his learning differences. I had no idea these laws existed prior to meeting with her.”

CNNH also played a part in the process as the clinicians offered recommendations for Dawn’s son and, with permission, consulted directly with Deepa about the services the family might need. “CNNH didn’t just hand me a report with numbers,” she recalls. They actually offered recommendations based on the testing and his specific needs. This removed the guesswork of what my son might need. Then, having access to a SPAN representative at CNNH really streamlined the process to access the services my son needed.”

The school district was receptive to the recommendations and worked with her to make improvements. “My school was great. They worked with me to get my son the services he needed for him to be more independent and successful. And, it worked! Four years later my son is doing really well. We make adjustments as they are needed and everyone involved is so pleased.”

Deepa still keeps in touch with Dawn, except now it’s to share how well her son is doing. “Now his grades are wonderful! He loves his teacher and does not fight me about going to school every day. This has removed the anxiety for both him and me!”

CNNH and SPAN partner on several initiatives to support families in the community, including a “Next Steps” workshop for families whose children have recently received a special needs diagnosis; a patient satisfaction outreach effort and a Milestones Brochure (created in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) outlining the stages and expectations of child development.

Specialty Care Medical Home and the Changing Landscape of Healthcare Delivery

Mark Mintz, MD, President, Founder and CEO of CNNH, discusses the changing landscape of healthcare delivery models, what is a medical home, and what is special about CNNH’s “Specialty Care Medical Home”® model of care.

This conversation occurred during Practical Neurology’s coverage of the American Epilepsy Society’s 2015 69th Annual Meeting:

This video is courtesy of Practical Neurology and Bryn Mawr Communications, see more coverage of AES 2015 here:


May is “Better Sleep” month, so why not highlight our very own sleep expert, Ralph Gallo, MD!

With experience and Board Certification in both Pediatrics and Sleep Medicine, Dr. Gallo offers the best of both worlds to children and adults with special needs at CNNH.

Patients with and without special needs who need a sleep assessment will see Dr. Gallo. He diagnoses and treats various disorders and diseases relating to sleep; this may include disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, night terrors/nightmares and various other disorders affecting sleep. He often looks at more holistic treatment options, depending on the individualized needs of his patients.

Dr. Gallo also diagnoses and treats patients with neurodevelopmental concerns. He started his medical career treating children with special needs and enjoys being able to integrate the fields of special needs and sleep concerns at CNNH! He sees patients in the Voorhees and King of Prussia offices.

Outside of work, Dr. Gallo enjoys caring for his three Golden Retrievers and 3 Shelties (Allure, Mandy, Sparkles, Pinky, Jake Jr. and Honey). He also volunteers at animal shelters and rescues.

15 Common Sleep Beliefs: Fact or Fiction?

  1. The older you get, the more sleep you need.
    FALSE: From age 21 to old age 8 hours, more or less is needed.
  2. The main reason teens are sleepy is the brain produces melatonin later than other age groups.
    TRUE: The biologic clocks in teens are usually delayed and Melatonin is produced later at night so they dont get as sleepy until later.
  3. Melatonin is the hormone of darkness.
    TRUE: The brain produces it and releases it at night, when in the dark. It is low in the early morning light.
  4. About 40% of people who are very overweight have sleep apnea, even if they don’t know it.
    TRUE: For example, there are 8 million truck drivers in the USA. 30-40%, at least, are significantly overweight. and 40-50 % of them have sleep apnea….almost 2 million!!! and many are sleepy…
  5. If teens are not getting enough sleep,the rates of depression, sleepiness, and motor vehicle accidents goes up and grades go down.
    TRUE: Studies have shown this.
  6. Restless legs can be easily treated most of the time with either Iron, Melatonin or prescription medications.
    TRUE: Iron deficiency is a cause. Recently it was shown that Melatonin helps decrease restless leg syndrome.
  7. Children from age 3 to 9 can have significant apnea if their tonsils are big.
    TRUE: This is the main cause of pediatric apnea
  8. CPAP is the only way to treat sleep apnea.
    FALSE: There are several other ways.
  9. CPAP is the best way to treat severe sleep apnea
    TRUE: Very effective.
  10. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain
    TRUE: Also heart attack and stroke.
  11. Sleep apnea and AFIB are often found together in the same patient.
    TRUE: Apnea can make it worse.
  12. Behavior problems in children don’t cause sleep problems
    FALSE: They often do.
  13. Children with Autism Spectrum disorder occasional have sleep problems.
    FALSE: It is 40-80%
  14. Children with ADHD are so active in the daytime that they sleep well at night.
    FALSE: Often they have difficulty settling down and falling asleep.
  15. Autism, Narcolepsy, Seizures, Insomnia, Restless legs and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are all brain/neurologic problems.
    FALSE: All are except sleep apnea which has other causes.

Staff Spotlight: Sara Shane, Psy.D., LPC

Dr. Sara M. Shane received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. During this time, she completed advanced training in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and conducted psychological assessments. Dr. Shane is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

With over eight years of experience in the field of mental health, Dr. Shane has had training in a variety of settings. She completed her Pre-Doctoral practicum training at Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital, where she provided psychological services to children, adolescents, and adults in an acute inpatient population. Moreover, Dr. Shane completed her Pre-Doctoral internship at the Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health (CNNH). As an intern, she completed Comprehensive Neuropsychological assessments and provided cognitive behavior therapy services to children and their families.

Dr. Shane is currently a Post-Doctoral Resident in Neuropsychology with CNNH and is also the CBT Services Coordinator. She continues to provide Comprehensive Neuropsychological assessments and cognitive behavior therapy services to CNNH patients and their families.

Why I am interested in treating individuals with depression:

We have all experienced difficult times in our lives. Depression is something that affects all people from all walks of life. It is something that can sneak up on you. I believe that helping people get through those difficult times by skill building will improve their quality of life. For me, it’s not just about seeing the person it is helping them make a lifelong and meaningful change in their life.

My Personal tidbit:

Awareness is the first step to change. Change occurs when people are provided the opportunity to carefully observe their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors through awareness building strategies.

Dr. Shane will be leading a webinar about Depression in Children and Adolescents on Tuesday, July 19th , 2016 from 12:00pm–1:00pm EST. CLICK HERE to register.