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Specal Parent


SPRiNg 2012

For better or worse

Couples can survive special needs

5 trips for your family

Now what?
After the diagnosis



orlds wi e New W

reation! ial Rec


Providing programs that will enhance socialization skills, improve self-help skills, build self-esteem, and develop ne and gross motor skills.

Adaptive Sports Art Dance Inclusion Music Paralympic Sports

Social Clubs Special Events Special Olympics Swim Lessons Summer Camps Trips
Specal Parent Spring 2012

Special Recreation Associations (SRAs) offer fun recreational leisure programs as well as inclusion services to children, teens and adults with disabilities through member park districts and recreation departments. To learn more or to nd the SRA in your area, see our display ad in the Resource Directory or visit




10:47 PM |

Specal Parent Spring 2012


Grace Driscoll of Palos Park PHOTO: Liz DeCarlo DESIGN: Mark Tatara

19 23

8 Two special trike fairies 10 My Life: He can hear you 12 My Life: Sugar high
Surviving life with autism and diabetes

Starting the special needs journey

Three moms share what theyve learned

Get away from the everyday

Five ideas for families with kids on the spectrum, plus an interview with the Schaumburg mom behind TravelinWheels

Our children are not simply to be managed, they need respect

27 31

Love, marriage & special needs

It takes work, but couples can survive a disability

People live up to expectations

Students with intellectual disabilities experience college and jobs

13 My Life: Challenge, love and early intervention

Simple reminders helped this mom see her boys thrive

14 Day of play: The inside way 16 Interview

Out of frustration came inspiration

17 News you can use

A hideout for kids with autism in Glen Ellyn

36 54

Teen tumbles, cheers to first place

Specal Parent Spring 2012



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The path to success

atie Driscoll doesnt see Down syndrome when she looks at her baby. She just sees a special little girl she named Grace, someone who is full of potential, hopes and dreams, despite what those who dont know her might suspect. I want her to be independent, happy, have friends, get married, have kids, she told us. ... I dont want her life to be a tragedy. TaMaRa L. No parent does. No one sets out to oShaUghNESSY have a child with special needs. When the Editor pregnancy test comes back positive, all our hopes and dreams and planning are for a happy, healthy baby. So when doctors deliver the news that something is wrong, its only natural to feel sadness over the loss of our dreams for our child. But as the parents throughout this issue show us, the dreams dont have to die because of special needs. They simply change. Imagine if Debbie and Gene Walega gave up on their little girl, Sabrina. They would have missed out on watching her climb her way to the top of her sports of gymnastics, cheerleading and dance. Or imagine if Dawn and Gordon Spahr gave up on hoping their daughter would go to college. They would have missed out on the chance to see Tess earning As

and dreaming about a career. The key, parents tell us, is leaving the door open for our children to push themselves, to experience failure and success. And yes, we have to advocate for them to make opportunities that might not otherwise exist or get them the services they need, starting with early intervention, to help them reach their potential. Fortunately, more opportunities than ever exist for children with special LiZ needs to aim high. From growing access DECaRLo to iPads and other devices to help them Editor learn and communicate to Aspiritechs job creation program and sports programs that train elite athletes, parents and therapists are transforming the future for children with special needsjust as our kids have changed us. She transformed our family, Driscoll says about Grace. We are different people than we were two years ago.


MaRiaN CaSEY is the executive director of A.S.K- Answers for Special Kids, a resource and advocacy organization that serves the needs of parents of children with special needs throughout northeastern Illinois. She is an attorney, active on a number of community boards, and the mother of a child with special needs.

ShEEBa DaNiELCRoTTY, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who focuses on child, adolescent and family psychotherapy and evaluation. She specializes in the assessment and treatment of neurobehavioral disorders, learning disabilities and social-emotional problems.

CaRa LoNg, a registered nurse and a mom of three, including one born with Down syndrome, is a state-credentialed parent liaison at Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region. She has worked with families as a support parent and public awareness speaker for the National Association for Down Syndrome.

DEiDRE PaTE oMahEN, CTRS, is a certified recreational therapist. She is the director of programs at National Lekotek Center, a therapeutic play program in Chicago. She has presented at numerous conferences on topics such as using computers for children with disabilities, assistive technology and toy adaptation.

LaRRY REiNER, Ed.D. CPRP, with a doctoral degree in counseling, health and adult education, was executive director of NEDSRA for 33 years. He is highly regarded for leadership in creating recreation opportunities for kids and adults with special needs. He is currently executive director of Success, a management consulting firm.

DR. aLaN RoSENBLaTT is a specialist in neurodevelopmental pediatrics who has been involved in medical care, advocacy and education efforts on behalf of children with special needs and their families at the local, state and national levels.

Specal Parent Spring 2012



EDITORS Liz DeCarlo, Tamara L. OShaughnessy aRT DIREcTOR Claire Innes EDITORIal DESIgnERS Alaina Buzas, Mark Tatara aSSISTanT EDITOR Elizabeth Diffin DIgITal cOnTEnT EDITOR Carrie Kaufman cOnTRIBUTIng WRITERS Robyn Monaghan, Dan Campana, Cindy Richards PHOTO EDITOR J. Geil cOnTRIBUTIng PHOTOgRaPHER Frank Pinc managER Of InTERnET anD TEcHnOlOgy Graham Johnston DISPlay aD SalES Walter Burden, Dawn Engelhardt, Kelly Montero, Lourdes Nicholls, Karen Skinner SalES anD maRKETIng cOORDInaTOR Sandi Pedersen aD PRODUcTIOn managER Philip Soell aD DESIgn managER Andrew Mead aD DESIgn Elisha-Rio Apilado, Debbie Becker, Evan OBrien cIRcUlaTIOn managER Kathy Hansen DISTRIBUTIOn cOORDInaTOR Alan Majeski cIRcUlaTIOn aSSOcIaTE Mike Braam cREDIT managER Debbie Zari BOOKKEEPER Diane Eggers cOllEcTIOnS Charlie Kelly ______ PUBlISHER Dan Haley vP/OPERaTIOnS DIREcTOR Andrew Johnston cOmPTROllER Ed Panschar
Photo by: Marita Blanken

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Specal Parent Spring 2012


Photo by:Petra Ford

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Specal Parent Spring 2012



In Our Shoes

Two special trike fairies G

ordon and Connie Hankins can put together a tricycle with an ease that would make any parent green with jealousy. Of course, thats because theyve done the same thing about 1,000 times before. These arent your ordinary trikes, but then again, Gordon, 75, and Connie, 69, arent your ordinary retirees. The Naperville grandparents of two boys have spent the past 16 years adapting tricycles and giving them away to children with special needs. They take regular tricycles and outfit them with foot containments, padded seatbacks and, sometimes, custom handlebars. Connie, a former surgical nurse, says the trikes are primarily used by children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida and Down syndrome to develop their muscles. But it also helps them socially and increases their confidence. You see the joy and the happiness, not only of the child, but of the parents, Connie says. Its just so heartwarming. The Hankinses found out about the tricycle program, Therapy Oriented Tricycles, through retiree group Telecom Pioneers at Lucent Technologies, where Gordon used to work. As soon as Connie heard about it, she knew it was a perfect fit. It took a little longer for Gordon to

catch the vision, but he says, Once you do it a little while, you get hooked. You want to do more. Theres such a need out there. Families generally hear about the project through word-of-mouth, and the Hankinses have taken trikes to hospitals, therapists and homes throughout the Chicagoland area. On the Internet, Gordon notes, adaptive trikes can cost as much as $4,000. So the Hankinses decided to give away the trikes for free. Families must provide a therapists letter of recommendation completed by a medical professional so the Hankinses know the tricycle is something that will benefit the child. And the benefits are truly huge, both for the children and for themselves. Connie says they get a lot of thank you notes and pictures from families and have received news from children who have learned to walk or ride a two-wheeler after receiving a trike. They love telling the story of a little girl who received a trike and now tucks it into bed every night. It honestly is such a blessing to do it, Connie says. I just feel that its what Im supposed to be doing.

Elizabeth Diffin

How To Help
X Contact Gordon and Connie at (630) 355-7211 or X All checks can be made out to Telecom Pioneers and sent to Gordon & Connie Hankins, 440 River Bluff Circle, Naperville IL 60540. | |

Specal Parent Spring 2012 | 9 Specal Parent Spring 2012 | 9

ChiCago ChiCago

He can hear you

Our children are not simply to be managed, they need respect

My LiFe


ur house is abuzz with out-of-town visitors. I am in the pantry preparing my neurotypical kids breakfast, gluten-free microwaveable pancakes and banana slices. The light bulb is out, so I am feeling around for the right stuff with the dying light of a Star Wars light saber to guide me. I have to do this in the dark with the door closed because if my son with autism, Noah, sees the perfectly round, caramel-colored, factory-made pancakes, he will lose it. He is sitting in a chair (a HUGE victory!) at the kitchen island, watching snippets of Cinderella in Polish and Arabic on his iPad. No matter how I try to make his special pancakesforged together from organic chicken, carrots and bananaslook like his siblings, its impossible. It bothers him that his breakfast is different. A house guest, my good friend, takes the seat next to him. She addresses my daughter who has just entered the room. Good morning, Madeleine! Howd ya sleep, beauty? Whats for breakfast this morning? Oh, I would love some of that yummy stuff you brought, that layered thing? The layered thing is a decadent strudel. While normally prominently displayed, this year my friends epicurean perfection was relegated to the garage along with the rest of the party food people with normal bowels can eat. OK, my friend says, then she alters her voice to sound like a whisper, but it is still the volume of normal conversation. Shhhhh, I tell you what... I will go get it out of the garage, but we have to hide it because Noah cant see it. You guys get some plates and Ill meet you upstairs in the TV room. I step out and survey the scene, careful to keep the unholy pancakes from Noahs line of vision. He can hear you, I say to my friend. She looks at me. Noah, I said. He can hear you. She looks at me, then down at him. He can? No. You think? He looks at me, back at her and then down at his iPad.

Noah and mom, LJ, share his first allergen free birthday cake
This friend is a good one. She was dragged, kicking and screaming, into our reality. Doctor after doctor, test after test. She listened. She became a believer. She started telling her friends. Her friends started telling their friends. Shes been a great asset from the outside. For her loyalty and understanding, I will be forever grateful. Even the good ones, though, struggle with how to treat our kids from time to time. In all honestly, so do we. My mama bear instincts kicked in. Yes, I said. I know he can hear you. He is not deaf. Oh, she said as she got up to get the strudel she and my neurotypical kids would share as they giggled and played and watched Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! in the TV room. A lot can be said in an oh. She did not see that if it was Liam sitting at that island, she would have showered him with kisses and offered him the biggest slice of strudel. She did not see that if it was Mads sitting there, she would have launched into how gorgeous she looked. But she did not acknowledge Noah and talked to the others about hiding food from him. Then she patted him. I know, because he is smart as hell, that he found it patronizing. But darn if hes not used to it. When Noah was first diagnosed back in 2008, I read an article explaining that parents tend to ascribe characteristics to their autistic child that do not really exist. Characteristics like compassion, thoughtfulness, altruism. The scholarly article went on to claim that moms, especially the highachieving professional moms of my generation, need to believe these things about their children, but they have no foundation in reality. In the beginning, when you are watching


Specal Parent Spring 2012



as the precious baby you once knew drifts away, you will listen to just about anyone who claims to know what they are talking about. Desperation does not begin to describe the terror in your heart. For some reason, as my friend unintentionally was dissing my son, this article came to mind. And then I thought about what this Christmas vacation must have been like for Noah. For the most part, he was handled. Managed. Dealt with. His feelings were discounted. Things that would have been whispered behind the backs of neurotypical children in an effort to spare their feelings were said in earshot of Noah. For some reason, everyone was given permission to discuss him, his business, his disabilities, his weaknesses, his bowels, his behavior, in front of him. Myself included. My heart filled with remorse for all the times I could have spared Noahs feelings, for all the times I spoke about him in front of him, for all the times I talked about him like a project to be managed, a deliverable to execute. I hate to disparage the experts, but I KNOW Noahs character. He is a brilliant child. He is smart, funny and has a biting sarcastic streak. He cares deeply for others. He cries at the sight of injustice. He revels in the accomplishments of his siblings. He loves coco loco bars, ska and classical music. He is vain. He does not like when people mess with his Justin Bieber hair. He loves swimming, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and art class with his teacher, Ms. Pam. He has PANDAS ravaging his brain, measles in his intestines. He fights diseases that were introduced to his immune system iatrogenically. He is sick. Terribly, terribly sick. He feels things, just like the rest of us do. His feelings get hurt, just like ours do. HE CAN HEAR. What is it about our culture that allows us to treat the injured among us with less consideration while simultaneously congratulating ourselves for tolerating them? I need to change, my friends need to change. We all need to change for these children. Noah and others like him are entitled to our respectandour admiration. LJ Goes is a contributing editor for the blog, Age of Autism,, and executive board member of the Illinois Canary Party, She is a writer, activist and mom to three children.

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Specal Parent Spring 2012



My LiFe
UPS for DOWNS is a parent directed non-profit organization offering support, education, and encouragement for parents, families, and others who love and care about persons with Down syndrome. We inspire community acceptance by sharing with others the presence, potential and abilities of people with Down syndrome.

Sugar high
Surviving life with autism and diabetes


Check the website for information, calendar of events, or more ways to get involved. email:
ORA: 09112201-IRB01 Date IRB Approved: 5/23/2011 Amendment Date: 11/8/2011

Does your child struggle knowing when someone is happy or surprised - angry or scared? Is your child diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder? If you answered yes, your child may be eligible to participate in a research study on a computerized facial affect recognition training program. To learn more about this study, please contact: Jason Johnson, B.S. Rush University Medical Center Rush Neurobehavioral Center 847-763-7988 Does your child enjoy playing computer games?

ow long has your son been diabetic? the ER nurse asked. My son is not diabetic, I responded. Well, his blood sugar is reading at over 800, so yes, he is diabetic, she said. At that point, the room started spinning and my tears started flowing. My sons blood sugar was so high he had ketoacidosis. High levels of ketones are like poison to your body. He could have died. I have never been so scared in my life. How could my sweet little boy handle getting shots every day? How was I even going to be able to give him shots? We spent one week in the hospital while I had Diabetes 101 training. Within a few days, his blood sugar returned to normal range. As we waited to be released, I heard a woman screaming and running down the hall. No, not my baby! A shudder went through my body and I could not stop crying. Why was I the lucky one who got to take my child home while this other mother was holding her lifeless child for the last time? I knew that no matter how hard it was going to be, I would do everything in my

Read about Mary Higgins and her journey with autism at
would have an explosion of language and skills. That didnt happen. I walked into his kindergarten orientation telling his teacher I suspected he had autism. So our journey began into the world of autism, psychologists, one-on-one aides and IEPs. It has been a rough road. My happiness started to revolve around my son coming home from school with all smiley faces on his chart. There have been plenty of bad days and I am sure there will be plenty more. We have been very blessed with a great team of nurses, special ed teachers, speech pathologists, a social worker and a one-on-one aide who truly loves my son. These people can see beyond his issues to what a truly special kid he is, with unlimited potential. Now, every year on the anniversary of getting the diabetes diagnosis, I say a prayer thanking God for letting us keep him and a prayer for that mother who had to say goodbye to her child on that same day. Mary Higgins is a stay-at-home mom to four kids she describes as amazing.

I knew that no matter how hard it was going to be, I would do everything in my power to keep my son healthy.
power to keep my son healthy. Before long, though, we were going to face another challenge. Autism. I secretly hoped that some of Brians speech and social skills delays had to do with the undiagnosed diabetes and now that we were getting that under control, he


Specal Parent Spring 2012



My LiFe

Challenge, love and early intervention

Simple reminders helped this mom see her boys thrive


What the early intervention team showed me is to care, push and show more love in tough situations.

ts not something any parent Little did I know more chalwants to hear, but when my lenges were ahead when I gave son, Anthony, was 2, my sisterbirth in April 2010 to my third in-law suggested something was child, Vincent, who was born with awry. Down syndrome. Because she is an experienced The news was so devastatmom of four, with one child with ing that I sheltered myself from special needs, I listened. I immedifriends and family, even my mom. ately took him to the doctor who The first couple of weeks were had been taking care of me since I overwhelming. was 11. His opinion: Dont worry. At his two-week checkup, the Boys just develop slower than girls. doctor understood exactly how I Not convinced, I took Anthony to a felt. She said I would have to give team of specialists, who diagnosed him a lot of love. attention deficit disorder, attenSoon, six therapists visited tion hyperactivity deficit disorder, Vincent to create an early intervenmental retardation and autism. tion plan. I thought he was too Luz Colindres with her children, Nina, Anthony and Vincent. As much as I was hurt by the young, but doctors told me the news, I was more concerned about longer you wait for intervention, helping my son who always seemed to me the longer it takes to meet milestones. Because physical therapy wasnt an option to be a happy, healthy boy. They were right. Vincent has shown vast with his diagnosis, I also enrolled him in improvement. He is alert, sits up by himself, sports, much to the embarrassment of the stands and cruises around his crib, knows men in my family. Yes, there were times how to set off the sounds of his favorite toys, he would throw himself on the grass, but knows how to clap and responds to his name. I would make him support his teammates What the early intervention team showed by clapping, passing out drinks and helping me is to care, push and show more love in clean up. tough situations. Seeing how far my boys My lesson to him was never to give up have come has helped me turn my boys disand always to finish what you start. abilities into their abilities. When Anthony started kindergarten, he started getting speech and social developLuz Colindres is a Guatemalan-American ment occupational therapy. He made great As the months passed, Anthony was offimom of three, Anthony, Nina and Vincent. progress for two years, then suffered a cially diagnosed with developmental delay She hopes by sharing her story, she will consetback when staff changed. Given his great and I enrolled him in a school for pre-K chil- progress, the doctor concluded Anthony has vince more Latino parents, some of whom she dren with special needs. My family didnt says are reluctant to ask for help, to seek out pervasive developmental disorder-not otherbelieve he belonged there. early intervention. wise specified.

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Specal Parent Spring 2012



The inside way

he winter months and early spring days can be a real challenge for parents and kids with special needs. Even though its recommended that children get one hour of exercise per day, snow and cold may keep kids inside. Children with compromised immune systems or respiratory issues need to be extra cautious when the windows get frosty and the wind blows. Never fear, parents, you can rise to the challenge and get your kids active with an indoor day of play.

Day oF PLay



doing some warm-up jumps and then take turns jumping up to dunk the ball. (Add jumps to your jump chart for this, too.)

Morning preparation
Get things jumping with time on a trampoline. We like the safety Trampoline for indoors by One Step Ahead with a grab bar that gives kids extra balance. Contests are a great way to make it fun, so count jumps and create a jump chart. Take breaks and return throughout the day, adding up the jumps to set a new daily record and reward the child with stickers, praise and pride. Hopping (one foot or two) and jumping without a trampoline also is a good option.

your kids shop the aisles. Give them pennies, peanuts or pretend money to pay for their items. Older kids can do the math and make the change. (Great lesson in making choices with limited funds!) Give your kids a cart to put items in (the Crazy Coupe by Crazy Little Tikes is a great Coupe addition to the fun) or use a box or basket. Make it physical by having kids push the carts to see how fast they can get across the kitchen or fill the cart with heavy items and see how far they can push it.

Take a trip to lunch

Since the weather outside can be frightful, plan an imaginary trip with a picnic lunch. You can bring in a favorite wagon like the Ride & Relax wagon by Little Tikes. Pack their lunches, bring up some pieces of luggage and tell the kids to pack their favorite stuffed animals to bring along. Whether you have the children pull the wagon or merely line up the kitchen chairs and pretend it is a train, add all you can to the illusion of a make-believe trip. Then eat!

Have kids take their final turn on the trampoline or hopping around, and then serve up a healthy snack and digest the day. What was their favorite part? Do they feel stronger from all the activity? What ideas can they come up with to have fun tomorrow? For more play ideas and toys for children with special needs, go to ableplay. org. This website was created by the National Lekotek Center to encourage children of all abilities to experience the benefits of play. Deidre Pate Omahen is director of programs at the National Lekotek Center in Chicago, a member of the Chicago Special Parent advisory board and a mom.

Afternoon finale

Safety Trampoline

Afternoon fun Morning activity

Children love to imitate, so why not let them do the grocery shopping? Start by making a sign and decorating it with the stores name. Then raid your pantry and stock the shelves (kitchen chairs work nicely). Older kids can decide on prices and put stickers on food items. Use kitchen towels to drape the shelves and stack cans to create displays. Then have Keep the inventiveness going by bringing something that is usually outside inside for the afternoon activities. Maybe its a small basketball set like the Totsport easy score Basketball set by Little Tikes. Replace the ball with a set of balloons, allowing the kids to be active and have fun without doing any damage. Balloons are also easier to throw for children who have weaker gross motor skills. The balloons can even inspire a pretend trip to the beach where they become beach balls full of fun. You can incorporate more jumping by

Totsport Easy Score Basketball Set


Specal Parent Spring 2012



Chicago Parent is your special needs resource

Chicago Parent covers special needs topics all year round. You can also find these supplemental magazines and special sections.
Chicago Parent Special Needs editorial features

Chicago Special Parent Summer

Couples can survive special needs

For better or worse

Specal Parent
SPRiNg 2012


5 trips for your family

Chicago Parent Special Needs editorial features

Chicago Special Parent Spring

Now what?
After the diagnosis
ChicagoSpecialParent_Spring2012_01.indd 1 1/26/12 2:47 PM

50 fall festivals

September 2011 FREE

Real. Happy. Families.

Specal Parent

May 2011


Fussy eater?
Is mom to blame?


Ways to get into the spirit The deportation dilemma

Friday night

Teach your kids to bounce back When gossip gets nasty

Mom bashing

Left behind
Get over the mommy guilt

plays thing
THE THE Interactive theater for kids with autism
ChicagoSpecialParent_Sum2011_01.indd 1

Sound of music

Therapy finds new role

resources you need

6/30/11 2:15 PM


For more information, visit |

Specal Parent Spring 2012




Out of frustration came inspiration


Photos courtesy of Steven Gross and Sally Krenger

llen Sternweiler could tell the 8-year-old girl didnt feel comfortable. The girl, with her younger sister and her parents, had come into The Sensory Kids Store at Bellybum Boutique shortly after it opened. The mother told Sternweiler the girl showed signs of sensory issues, but was otherwise undiagnosed. I said to her, You know what, this store is for you. You can walk around and touch and feel. Its all cool, fun stuff, Sternweiler recalls. After a few minutes, they are rolling around the store. Her daughter was happy, really digging it. The moment is affirmation for Sternweilera mother of three, two with developmental difficultieswho opened The Sensory Kids Store in late 2011 after repeated frustration with the struggle to find the right products for her children. The store, one of just five designed specifically for families of children with special needs, offers a select variety of developmental toys, therapeutic aides and sensory clothing. All items are also available online at bellybumboutique. com under sensory kids. The page,

The Sensory Kid store caters to special needs

Find The Sensory Kid Store online by visiting Bellybum is also on Facebook and at BellyBumMom.

Everyone is just flipping out... The excitement is building.


Owner, The Sensory Kids Store

while still being perfected, is designed with simplified terms for ease of navigation. Sternweiler avoided clinical terms and rigid categories, opting instead for sense-specific terms, such as see or using my eyes. That approach is in contrast to the typical shopping experience. For most parents with special needs, tracking

For information, call (773) 868 0944 or email down good adaptive toys or the correct piece of medical equipment involves sifting through hundreds of choices, shopping in warehousetype stores or having to buy in quantities The Sensory Kids Store. beyond what a normal family needs or The benefit to parents is they can feel uses, Sternweiler says. comfortable knowing they dont have to Every parent who is like me understruggle through the decision-making stands what this is like, Sternweiler says. process. If its in Sternweilers store, its Parents like me know what they the best of the best available. need. We just cant Its bright and fun and non-clinical, find it anywhere. she says. I dont want to walk into a Growing mainwarehouse. stream understandThe Sensory Kids Store occupies ing of the prevahalf of Sternweilers Bellybum Boutique lence of children located at 4347 N. Lincoln Ave. in with special needs Chicago and is open Wednesday through only made it more Sunday, and on Monday by appointment. frustrating that the Early response has been strong. retail world wasnt Everyone is just flipping out, getting it, she says. Sternweiler says, especially when a parHaving differences ent realizes the store has a particular is the norm these days. The bottom line item. I see them breathing a sigh of is that the awareness has grown, but relief. The excitement is building. the rest of the world hasnt caught up, For Sternweiler, the change in career Sternweiler says. path that led her to Bellybum, and now She used all of that as motivation for Sensory Kids, speaks to her passion for the thousands of hours working with helping others and a desire to give manufacturers, doctors and therapists, back. reading reviews and talking to other This has been an exciting journey so parents as part of the planning to create far, she says.


Specal Parent Spring 2012



Working to build a better future for adults on the spectrum

News you CaN use

ne phone call could change Brenda Weitzbergs world and the lives of hundreds more. In 2007, Weitzberg and her husband, Moshe, began the journey to create Highland Park-based Aspiritech, a nonprofit that trains high-functioning adults on the autism spectrum to be software testers. The inspiration for Aspiritech sparked after the Weitzbergs son, who has Aspergers syndrome, was fired from a grocery store job. What they found was an extremely high unemployment rate for adults with autism. For years, no one was talking about adults with autism, Weitzberg says. Im especially proud of the movement to bring attention to adults and young adults. Aspiritechs work is unique in the United States, although it follows the model of a Danish company. The idea is to put highfunctioning workers on what Aspiritech describes as highly repetitive, task-driven work. They are highly specialized. Theres a

place for them, we just need the right fit, Weitzberg explains. We didnt know if people like our son and others could do this type of work. As it turns out, they can. Aspiritech has trained 20 software testers and has 13 on its payroll. Since its pilot project in 2009 with mFluent, which designs cell phone applications, Aspiritech has worked with, among others, and Aspiritech has drawn considerable attention. Its waiting list has grown to about 1,000 people, Weitzberg says. That waiting list and her hopes for additional funding and contracts to secure living wages for Aspiritechs current testers keep her up at night, she says. Revenue increased from $75,000 in 2010 to $175,000 to end 2011. Weitzberg expects more grant money in 2012; still, business development is a key concern. The organization is in talks with a few big companies, but Weitzberg quickly has learned how long and arduous the process can be. A good sign, according to Weitzberg,

is that the foundations are coming to us with grant opportunities. I have really high hopes for 2012. Weitzberg realizes Aspiritech is taking small steps in its mission, but the organization remains focused on seeing its vision

X To learn more about Aspiritech, visit You can also find it at

expand to other geographic and business areas, while continuing to inspire others to replicate their model. That means a need for more billable work, which is where that one phone call could make all the difference. Come try us out. Give us a trial, let us prove it to you, Weitzberg offers, an abbreviated pitch to businesses.

Dan Campana

Hypoallergenic laundry detergent

If you have a child with allergies or sensitive skin, Eco Nuts, a environmentally friendly laundry detergent company, has introduced a new hypoallergenic liquid detergent that eliminates the need for fabric softener and dryer sheets. The detergent is made from soap nut extract, which comes from a soap-bearing berry, and two other natural ingredients to preserve and stabilize it for a long shelf life. The detergent is starting to appear on store and e-store shelves throughout the U.S. For information, visit econutssoap. com.

Foldable wheelchair may be good fit

Maddak Inc., manufacturer of Aids for Daily Living, has developed a foldable wheelchair wheel that will enable wheelchair users to get their wheelchair and wheels into and out of a car with greater ease, and may make it possible to keep wheelchairs inside the cabin of a plane. The folding feature of the wheel sets it apart from all other wheels on the market. After the wheel is disconnected from the frame it can be folded into a compact form for easy transport or storage. For more information, call (973) 628-7600 or visit |

Specal Parent Spring 2012



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Katie Driscoll wants Grace to have all the opportunities and dreams as her five little boys.

Starting the special needs journey

Three moms share what theyve learned to help others


ill my child be able to play with other kids? Are people looking at me? How do I understand this child?

Those are among the first questions Evon Mucek-Kucharczyk hears over and over when parents with a new baby or a child newly diagnosed with special needs walk through her doors. Getting parents over those fears is one of the first steps, says Mucek-Kucharczyk, administrator of childrens services and a

developmental therapist at Aspire in Hillside. The key, she says, is helping parents really see their child through a different lensnot just their special needs, but their strengths and then building everything from there. It takes a lot of work, a lot of intensely focusing on the child, she says. Three local moms who are balancing home life, typically developing siblings and special needsKatie Driscoll, Rolanda Laird and Beata McCannknow just how hard those first days after the diagnosis can be and the effort it takes not to buy into the feelings that the dreams for their children are lost.

Continued on page 20 |

Specal Parent Spring 2012




from page 19

Ive got to find a yes My child will be a success story

Two years ago, Down syndrome was just a word to Katie Driscoll. Then doctors discovered the baby she was carrying, Grace, had Down syndrome. We were scared and sad, she remembers. But Driscoll, a Palos Park mom who already had five little boys at home, isnt the kind of mom who lets fear stop her. She fought the sadness with information. Before Grace arrived, she says, she immersed herself in research, connecting immediately with moms who knew all too well what having a baby with Down syndrome means. She now has a list of tips for new parents in the special needs community: Celebrate, take photos. You cant predict the future, you dont know whats going to happen. You can make today great. You just dont want to have that regret (of not cherishing fleeting moments with your child, particularly their birth). Youve just got to love that baby because that baby is yours. Make it your mission to find a friend. No one will understand what you are going through unless they have been through the good days and bad days themselves, she says. Support your spouse. Youve got to come together, youve got to talk about it. Its hard, but youve got to be there for each other. Find a therapy program you believe in. Everything you do today will make tomorrow easier. It is hard, and you do have to work hard. I think a lot of people settle and that is the one area not to settle. She says her expectations for Grace are exactly the same as for her boys. I am determined my child will be a success story. I dont want her life to be a tragedy. She is now sharing her story with a new blog, Rolanda Laird sensed something wrong with her son, Tremaine, when he was about 6 months old. He would not stand on both legs and kept one hand in a tight ball. Doctors ran a lot of tests and by the time he turned 1, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, she says. Laird spent a lot of time researching and finding programs like Aspire to help Tremaine even though doctors told her hed never talk and probably wouldnt walk before he entered school. The more they told me no, I said Ive got to find a yes, says Laird, a mom of four. Tremaine, 6, is proving doctors wrong. Laird remembers setting milestones low at first, but has since stopped setting them at all because he surpasses them daily. Hes just an amazing kid. Wow, he did it again, she says, adding that the first thing people notice about him is his smile. He has taught me not to make exceptions. They just have to learn their way of doing things. Over the years, she says looking for the bright side of things and focusing on all of Tremaines positives gave her something to hold onto. Thats good advice for everyone, she says. You have to accept what you have.

Hes just an amazing kid. Wow, he did it again.


Beata McCanns three kids keep her busy. Really busy. The biggest challenge this Western Springs mom faces is not with Olivia, 3, having Down syndrome, but balancing her intensive weekly therapy sessions with 6-year-old Andrews and 4-year-old Ellas many activities. How has she managed? I try to organize the time as best as I can and just realize I cant do it all. I just do the best that I can. She also has set the same expectations for Olivia as she has for Andrew and Ella. To be able

Dont dwell on the special needs


Specal Parent Spring 2012



Grace Driscoll, far left, is one lucky girl surrounded by brothers, left to right, Ryan, 6, Sean, 4, Liam, 9, Colin, 3, and Patrick, 8. The first thing everyone notices about Tremaine Laird, left, is his smile, his mom says. So true. Olivia McCann is such a happy girl when shes with her sister Ella, 4, and brother, Andrew, 6.

(excerpt from an actual email message from the mother of Emily K. of New Jersey while at Euro-Peds National Center for Intensive Pediatric PT in Pontiac, Michigan,

April 13, 2011 Hi folks, Were into our second week of three here at euro-Peds in michigan and things are going very well. since this is our 4th trip here, the adjustment went relatively quickly. it was pretty cool that during her first week of intensive physical therapy, i found emily walking across the living room (rather than crawling) to look for me during one of her escapes from her bed at the hotel. i cheered inside, while promptly ushering her back to bed. shes still crawling, too, but its been surreal for me to sit and watch her, on her own volition, walking across a room or down a hallway to get something. the focus of emilys euro-Peds treatment this time around is on increasing her strength and balance with independent walking. Her therapist, mel, knows emily quite well and she does a nice job of keeping emily engaged and happy, while getting her to realize that resistance is futile:-). Also, the aide working with emily, Karla, is a wonderfully warm and playful woman who has charmed the socks off of emily through endless, repeat readings of various sesame street and dr. seuss books. they do a great job of keeping emily engaged and working through the daily 4-hour workouts. As usually happens, weve been able to talk with and get to know some of the other families who are here getting intensive Pt for their kids. its really wonderful spending time and exchanging info with other families who are on the same journey. Whats particularly cool is that because of all the progress emily has made, she is giving some of the other families hope about what intensive Pt might do for their kids. im attaching a few pictures of emily in motion at euro-Peds. i hope you enjoy them! take care. Amy

to function as best as they can, dont underestimate them. Expect the world and they will meet it eventually. While she says she gets sad when she sees what other 3-year-olds can do, she considers all that Olivia can do. McCanns advice to other parents: Its not as bad as you think its going to be. Its your reality and you adapt to it. Dont dwell on the special needs.

Kids own timeline

Mucek-Kucharczyk says there are plenty of books about the typical milestones of development, but there is something to be said about being available and open to understanding your child. Every child has their own timeline. Respecting that and following their lead is how they develop, thrive and grow and develop healthy relationships. Parents of children with special needs will find themselves facing unwanted advice, suggestions and comments, she says. And yes, stares. It can help to focus on the disability itself and not make it personal, Mucek-Kucharczyk says. Sometimes, in the midst of dealing with the special needs, parents forget their children will also give them the same parenting challenges every other parent faces, from figuring out potty training, to discipline, to getting them to sleep and feeding them. For that, Mucek-Kucharczyk offers this advice: A lot of trial and error, with a very consistent message.

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Nicole Korosa and her son Nicholas, 7, who has autism, on a trip to Tennessees Smoky Mountains.

Get away from the everyday

Five ideas for families with kids on the spectrum
hen Nicole Korosas parents offered to fly her and her boys, one of whom has autism, to Florida for a visit, she thought, Im not passing up this trip. I will deal with two-and-a-half hours of a screaming kid. But Nicholas, 7, didnt screamnot even going through the security checkpoint at the airport. He became so engrossed in the conveyor belt that he didnt even mind taking off his shoes. And he loves airplanes, so he loved flying. It was the beach that freaked him outhe doesnt like sand or sun or wearing sandals. My dad stayed with him a lot in the


house, says the Homer Glen mom. While experts have general ideas about where to consider vacationing with a child on the autism spectrum, they all agree that it can vary greatly from child to child. For example, at least one expert recommended heading to the beach because it tends to be a calmer destination than, say, Disney World. Korosa, however, says that while Nicholas hated the beach, he had a great time at Disney. He wants to go back, even though the only ride he wanted to go on was the tea cups. Julie Martin, executive director of By Your Side, a Burr Ridge-based speech and language therapy center for children with autism, notes that its tough to predict what destination will work for kids on the autism spectrum. In fact, she says, places that work

for kids with autism dont always work for kids with Aspergers and vice versa. Its important always to call ahead and talk with someone at the destinationnot just rely on Internet researchto ensure the place can accommodate your childs needs. With that caveat, here are a few destinations worth investigating if you want to take a family vacation with a child with an autism spectrum disorder. 1. Try a dude ranch. Some children with special needs find it comforting to be around the huge animals, and several dude ranches offer special programs for children with autism. For example, Snow Mountain Ranch in northern Colorado, a resort-style property operated by the YMCA of the

continued on page 24 |

Specal Parent Spring 2012




from page 23

Rockies, offers therapeutic horseback riding programs and summer camps for children with autism. Similarly, Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson offers to tailor programs for children with special needs. 2. Book a condo, house or suite. This is Korosas recommendation. Nicholas finds hotel rooms too confining. But there are hotel chains that cater to families with special needs children, such as the beautiful TradeWinds Resort in St. Pete Beach, Fla. The resort has been named an autismfriendly business by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. It offers a social book online for families to review prior to their arrival, has a gluten-free menu, and provides free hotel room safety kits, including outlet covers, corner cushions and a hanging door alarm. 3. Visit during a less chaotic period. At the Childrens Museum of New Hampshire, that means going on the second Saturday of the month for the Exploring Our Way program. The museum is open from 10 a.m.-noon only for families with children on the autism spectrum. If you set your sights biggeran amusement park, for examplego in the offseason or choose a smaller, calmer park like

Traveling made easier

X Traveling through a major airport such as OHare International Airport can be an overwhelming sensory experience for anyone, let alone someone who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. X To make the trip from ticket counter, through security, on to the gate and finally into the air easier for people on the autism spectrum, The Autism Program of Illinois, The Hope Institute for Children and Families, and Have Dreams created three Aviation Accessibility Kits. The kits lay out the steps involved in moving through an airport in words and pictures. Download the kits at

The beach can be a dream or a nightmare vacation.

Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind. 4. Look for a place that offers special programs for special needs visitors. In Utah, that includes the National Ability Center in Park City, which offers summer camps exclusively for children with autism and sports programs that allow the whole family to learn and play together. 5. Consider Madison. The capital of Wisconsin has a small town feel, but a plethora of autism-friendly attractions and support programs, says Judy Frankel, public relations manager for the citys visitor

bureau and the mom of a son with autism. The city has an array of offerings, from yoga classes to a local theater that offers a program one Saturday a month for kids with autism.

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Specal Parent Spring 2012



Know before you go

chaumburg mom Michell Haase has traveled around the world with her 19-year-old daughter, a Paralympic hopeful. In 2011, Haase left her job to start TravelinWheels, a website that serves those who looking for accessible travel. She talked to Chicago Special Parent about what shes learned about traveling with someone who has special needs. why did you decide to start Travelinwheels? We found it was very difficult to find information about accessibility in destinations. There were blogs, subjective information, but it was very hard to find details about hotels, restaurants. I would spend a lot of time researching things. So a few years ago, I came up with the concept. We give people

our tips and tricks, the resources available to them, what their rights are. And were working with the hospitality industry to teach them what the needs are in the accessible market, beyond compliance. We want to see more people feel they can travel and teach them how to do it effectively and also teach those who are providing the services. if you had one piece of advice for families, what would it be? My biggest piece of advice is you have to have a sense of humor. You have to know your own limits. You have to take a deep breath, laugh and pace yourself. Its really important we try as parents to stay calm, laugh it off, make the best of it, be assertive when things arent right. Sometimes the worst things can turn out to be a funny story later on.

Michell Haase, right, and daughter Kelsey have traveled around the world together.
whats the best place to visit if your child has special needs? It all depends. It depends on what the disability is, what you want to do. Everyone says Disney World is nirvana, but if you have a child that gets over stimulated, its not nirvana for you. If you have a nature lover, our national parks have really started to get it, so theres wonderful places to go. Its a changing world with a lot more understanding, or at least the beginning of understanding. if a family has decided to go on a trip, how do they find out this information? They come to us! If its not on our website, we have an information email, and I answer all of those personally. We have lot of resources. . We change lives, and I dont take that lightly.

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t was Mothers Day and family law attorney Ana Marcyan was folding laundry in her Clarendon Hills home. Barons on the roof, she heard a neighbor call outside. After a nightmarish afternoon with what looked like a SWAT team of rescue workers trying to lure her 6-year-old son with autism safely from the shingles, Anas husband came home with their other two children. Why werent you watching him? she remembers Carl Marcyan asking.

Love, marriage special needs

It takes work but couples can survive a disability


out a window and following the white lines down the street. Thats when I realized something Id heard beforethat love is a decision, she says. We decided to keep loving each other. The Marcyan divorce was off. Ironically, Barons dad is now a family law attorney who specializes in divorce between parents of children with special needs.

A series of similar stories about 12 years ago landed the Marcyans in a court-mandated divorce mediators office in DuPage County. Instead of saying Youre right, Ana, as she expected, the counselor pointed out that there were no drugs, alcohol, gambling or extramarital relationships muddling her marriage. What was coming between them was the sheer fatigue of caring for a low-functioning son with autism who had a penchant for stripping off his clothes, slipping

Continued on page 28
Photos by Frank Pinc

Ana and Carl Marcyan enjoy some quiet family time with their son Baron. |

Specal Parent Spring 2012



from page 27

Staying together through special needs

1. Protect your marriage. One of the reasons marriages are more prone to divorce is that care for the child often overrides everything else in the family. 2. Embrace your differences. Differences are amplified when disability enters the family. Couples differ in emotional reactions, future expectations, discipline and educational and medical treatments. Couples should ask: What is good about the fact that my partner has a different point of view on this? 3. Take care of yourself. Parents need to learn that they will be no good for their children, or have anything to give to their marriages, if they do not also protect some time for themselves. 4. Become a team. Couples often divide responsibilities in a way that is practical in the short run but can cause problems longer term. Becoming a team also requires making space for genuine co-parenting while giving up some control. 5. Protect romance and sexual intimacy. Loss of romance and sexual intimacy is one of the many problems amplified in couples raising children with disabilities. Many disorders result in sleep problems and increase the likelihood that children sleep with their parents or a couple is too exhausted to have the energy for sex. 6. Practice forgiveness and realistic expectations. There is a tendency to form unrealistic expectations of a partner simply because the pressures can be so great. Because resentments then build easily, it is important for couples to practice forgiveness when appropriate. Source: Married With Special Needs Children, Laura Marshak, Ph.D., professor of counseling at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a psychologist at North Hills Psychological Services in Pittsburgh, where she works with parents of children with disabilities.

After the diagnosis

Until recently, conventional wisdom has pegged the divorce rate in families with autism at around 80 percent. But new research is debunking the myth that relationships for parents of children with disabilities are statistically doomed. A 2010 study by researcher Brian Freedman, clinical director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, found that children with autism live in homes with both parents 64 percent of the time, compared with children in families without autism at 65 percent of the time. The new findings may assuage a little bit of the pressure that plagues parents of children with special needs. About a quarter of Buffalo Grove therapist Amy Bashs practice is working with parents of special needs children. A mother of a child with special needs herself, Bash says the most common issue that brings parents into counseling is grief. Special needs parents face the complicated, consuming, frightening and challenging task of raising the child they have, while letting go of the child they dreamed of, she says.

meeting with school staff and health professionals, exploring research, and providing the special care required. Moms tell Bash about their feelings of isolation and their shortage of time to take care of themselves. Ana Marcyan tells of her loneliness at home with Baron as Carl took Barons siblings to weekend soccer matches and movies.

The quality of the emotional relationship between husband and wife has an impact on closeness with a child.
Laura Marshak Author, Married With Special Needs Children
It was impossible to get a babysitter, she says. Men, Bash finds, get lost in their role when they cant be the fixers, she says. It is the father who is most likely to retreat to the safety and consistency of his work. Dads, like Carl Marcyan, say they rarely get a break if they go from work to home, where child care and chores await. It got to the point where I was actually glad Monday morning was coming because the stress at home was so intense, he says. Bash also says fathers feel extra pressure to make enough money to pay for therapies and medical supplies.

Grief in the gender gap

What can rip vows asunder is the thorny reality that husbands and wives grieve in different ways. Women are socialized to talk about their feelings, while men often believe they should be stoic in order to be supportive of their wives, Bash explains. Mothers will take on the role of seeking help and therapies,


Specal Parent Spring 2012



a parent may turn more to a child. Its a recurring marriage buster both Marcyan and Bash see when they work with families. The enmeshed parent may become overprotective, over-involved and overly controlling. At the other end of the spectrum is another homewrecker familiar to both Marshak and Marcyan. Its the parent who takes the head-in-the-sand approach by minimizing the childs disability, rejecting all diagnoses and insisting their child simply will grow out of the problem.

Emotionally enmeshed
Laura Marshak is the author of Married With Special Needs Children, a book detailing the romantic pitfalls of parenting children with disabilities. She sees a lot of parents who love too muchbut not each other. The quality of the emotional relationship between husband and wife has an impact on closeness with a child, she says. If unhappy,

Where can couples turn to keep from winding up in Marcyans office negotiating a visitation schedule? Social support with friends and family, along with advocacy and support groups, is key, Bash says. A good way for couples to support each other is to trade off parenting responsibility by swapping time when one is on for parenting. But carving out time together as a couple is critical, too. Finding respite services if family or friends are not available is a must.

For better rather than worse

If time is not set aside, exhaustion is the result and the sex life and the emotional intimacy is diminished, Bash says. But the absolute best predictor of successful marriages is the ability to resolve conflict and develop resiliency. Communication and fair fighting skills are key in any marriage. Resentments develop when parents dont stand up for their personal needs. Bash helps her clients realize they may not have control over the challenges that life presents, but they do have control over what they think about the events. I encourage clients to do what they need to do, but surrender the control of how it is supposed to happen, she says. In the Marcyan household, where both parents are divorce lawyers, nobody is afraid of the D-word, Carl Marcyan says. Yet he and Ana stepped back off the ledge when they realized in the counselors office that day that theirs was a manageable problem. The mediator told them to go across the street to the bar and work things out. Thats when we came to the conclusion that for better or worse really means for better or worse, Ana says.



Marklund Day School Life Skills Program Announces Placement Openings For Students Identi ed on the Autism Spectrum

he Marklund Day School Life Skills Program provides opportunities for students ages 1421 to participate in functional and meaningful activities within a highly structured environment, enabling students to maximize their potential and achieve personal success. Program sta are trained and skilled in the application of various teaching methodologies (ABA, TEACCH, PECS, etc), utilizing a combined approach to ensure a high degree of individualization. e classroom environment and program supports are based upon the interests, strengths, and needs of the students. Students in the Life Skills Program will participate in a specialized functional curriculum, with an emphasis on the following: Communication Skills Functional Life Skills Social Skills Functional Academics Community Integration Vocational Skills


Full-time Therapists on sta 12-month year-round programming Our highly sensory-driven program o ers a variety of therapies, including: Physical and occupational therapy Speech therapy Music and recreational therapy Snoezelen therapy Aquatic therapy Job training/job coaching Behavioral therapy Cost: e students home school district pays for tuition and transportation.

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Specal Parent Spring 2012



A secured future
Tough decisions need to be made before crisis strikes
acob Coughenour had to endure brain and spinal cord surgery after the taxi driver taking him home from school nodded off and crashed the cab. So, when it came to making sure Jacob would get to keep his settlement money without losing his monthly disability benefits, his mother stepped in. Joyce Coughenour learned about a special needs trust at a workshop by special needs investment expert Mary Anne Ehlert. Think of a special needs trust as a legal safe deposit box. Coughenour knew Jacob, 22, could draw monthly federal


Social Security Income payments and state-administrated Medicaid. But her sons $674 a month can only be spent on housing and food. According to the rules, if a person accumulates more than $2,000, the benefit checks stop. That leaves next to nothing for filling a life with trips to the barber, special sports equipment or dinner with friends. What a special needs trust does is give parents the peace of mind of knowing the child will continue to live in the lifestyle in which he was raised, Coughenour says. So, she reached out to finance experts at Lifes Plan Inc. of Lisle. She chose a plan for about $750 a year.

Pitfalls to avoid

X When setting up guardianships, the team approach is the best way to make sure no one can take advantage of the beneficiary, Kirsten Izatt says. X Make sure there is some flexibility in the trust, as rules surrounding government benefits often change irrevocable but amendable is the adage to go by, Izatt advises.

Emergency room planning

When people hear the word trust, they tend to think big bucks. Most special needs trusts hold less than $100,000. But it isnt always easy for families to put a future plan in motion. Its easy to put off future planning because people dont like to contemplate their own mortality, says Kirsten Izatt, a Wheaton attorney who specializes in financial planning for people with disabilities. Its hard for them to imagine the childs life without them. Izatt sees the worst-case scenario all too often. Families who plan for the child to live with the parents

forever end up doing their planning around heart surgery and all kinds of emergency situations, she says. In these situations, crucial planning is either rushed or it isnt done at all. While it never fails to shock her, Izatt can understand how families never get around to planning for their childrens future amid the daily stresses of juggling doctors appointments, therapist bills and transportation.

Protecting tomorrow

But there is a better way. Thats what Penny Schwent of Schaumburg found when she started inputting photos, vignettes and traditions into her Protected Tomorrows album, an online future care planning system. Its a place to record her hopes and dreams for her

19-year-old daughter Emily, who has Angelman syndrome. The album is a step-by-step Web-based guide that directs parents through preparing for life as they see it for the person with special needs. I saw families going to the lawyers office to make future arrangements, then being so baffled by the decisions they were facing, they simply never went back, says Ehlert. With few communication skills, Emily Schwent looks to her parents to be her biggest advocates. Now, her mom and dad, Dale, are compiling important things to know about Emily. Its hard to go there emotionally, Peggy Schwent says, but we have to think about her life from 22 to 62. Were looking at what we want for her and considering what life would be like without us.


Specal Parent Spring 2012



Photos courtesy Ellen Cook / Shepherds College

Students with intellectual disabilities experience college and jobs

People live up to expectations

awn Spahr of Warrenville always hoped that her daughter would go to college, but she knew for that to happen, Tess would need a lot of support. After all, Tess has always had learning challenges and most people anticipated she would only earn a high school diploma. But fortunately for Tess, 23, one Wisconsin college has different expectations for young people with intellectual disabilities. Shepherds College, in Union Grove, Wis., was founded in 2008 as a post-secondary option exclusively for people with intellectual disabilities. The population we work with really distinguishes us, says Tracy Terrill, the director of the college. When the Spahrs first heard about Shepherds College, the unique nature of the program quickly became apparent. Tess graduated from Wheaton Warrenville South High School in 2007 and was in a transitional program and attending some classes


at College of DuPage, but both she and her parents wanted to find a post-high school experience where she could live away from home and gain living skills and academics. I was like, (Shepherds is) exactly what Ive been looking for, Dawn says. There arent really many options out there, at least that we found or heard of that was like this There are kids who just sort of fall through the cracks after high school and transition programs, who can really do more with their lives. Shepherds three-year residential program was exactly what the family was seeking. The college teaches both general life skills and specific career skills in the areas of horticulture and culinary arts, with the goal of helping students develop appropriate independence for adult life. It looks different for each of our grads, each of our students, Terrill says. One student who is lower-functioning, if we can help her find employment serving on a food line, that might be the best shes ever

going to accomplish. Some of our higherfunctioning students, they aspire to go well beyond that (and) they have the ability to go well beyond that. The schools three-year framework is designed for students to reach their own level of independence in increments. During the first year, students live in a dormitory-style setting, progressing to a group home in their second year and an apartment with a roommate in the third, with the goal of taking on more responsibility in meal preparation and household chores. (I like) living in the dorm because the girls are crazy.Theres some pretty interesting things that have happened in the dorm, Tess says with a laugh, before recounting the story of one of the girls putting the wrong type of soap in the dishwasher, leading to an evening of sud

Continued on page 32 |

Specal Parent Spring 2012




from page 31 removaland an inadvertent lesson in cleaning up messes. Its that progression all the way through, with every component of everything we do, says Angela Houk, dean of the college. (Were) giving them more and more responsibility, more and more freedom, more and more independence, so that if they fail, theres a cushion. In order to grow in independence, there has to be opportunity for failure. And as with any college freshman, theres a period of adjustment. Tess says the experience was nerve-wracking. She didnt know what to expect and missed her family and friends. According to Houk, that period of transition is the most difficult part of the three years for most students. You have students from all different backgrounds and different expectations were placed on all of them from mom and dad, she says. And then you come here and we set the expectations high and then we help get them to meet them. We help them be successful with it. Staff members note that the self-assurance students gain from being successful is noticeable. When they came on campus for the

Chef Brett McCarthy shows students a cooking technique in a culinary arts class.

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Specal Parent Spring 2012



area. This training prepares them for the first time, most of them were hiding behind third year, which is primarily taken up by their shoulder and hair and their head an internship assignment in their field. was down, says Susan Griffis, director of One recent graduate, Gloria Pavuk, marketing for the college. Now theyre had an internship at Country Rose Bakery confident young men and women walking and Caf in Union Grove, where she did around the hallways Its just unreal. everything from baking treats in the kitchen Of course, academics are a key element of any college experience, and theyre to cleaning up after diners. Her supervisor, Rose Laketa, was so pleased with Glorias something that gets a lot of attention at work and rapport with Shepherds. During the customers that she hired first year, classroom her as an employee after instruction focuses on graduation, and eventugeneral academic classes ally increased her hours. like math and language (These students) can arts, as well as life skills be productive in society, classes like money and Tracy Terrill and I love it, Laketa computers. A popular says. Were not all class is personal developDirector, Shepherds College doing favors for them. ment, where students Why treat them any learn everything from different? how to make friends Other students have received equal to how to dress professionally. Students also receive training in the Bible, since the praise in their assignments, which range school is Christian (religious affiliation is from serving food at an elementary schools not required for admission). cafeteria to operating machinery at a local farm. Leslie Leith, the lead horticulture In the second year, the focus turns instructor who oversees the internships, toward vocational training, where students select either horticulture or culinary arts and take hands-on classes in their chosen Continued on page 34

We want to challenge them to dream big.

Courtesy Becky Terrill / Shepherds College

Tess Spahr is excelling in the horticulture program.

Extended Home Living Services

847-215-9490 North 630-717-4445 West 773-775-6122 Chicago

Let us help make your home work better for your child: Wheelchair Lifts & Ramps Ceiling Lifts Bathroom Remodeling Free In-Home Assessment Partnering with multiple funding agencies. |

Specal Parent Spring 2012




from page 33

says her students excel in their evaluations by supervisors. Tess Spahr worked at a greenhouse during high school and immediately knew that she wanted to be part of the horticulture program. But since coming to Shepherds, she decided she wants to get into flower arranging. She says she wants to own her own flower shop, her mom says. Who knows? These lofty aspirations are right in line

with the schools vision. We want to challenge them to dream big, Terrill says. We really try to expect a lot out of them and push them to get to accomplish all that. Shepherds College had its first graduating class last June. (These students) have a lot of ability beyond their disability. After time, you have to stop being surprised at how able

they are, Griffis says. People live up to expectations. As for Tess, her mom wrote in a recent email, Shepherds College has been such an amazing gift for her. ... She can learn at her own level and pace ... and is getting straight As. We are very proud of her. Elizabeth Diffin is the assistant editor at Chicago Parent.

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Specal Parent Spring 2012




Gadgets pave way to learning

audio books. is an Amazon company that offers books, radio shows, magazines and speeches as downloads for computer, iPods and mobile phones. offers accessible titles that can be enhanced by assistive tools, like text-to-speech, or you can order a book in embossed Braille. WRITING Students who struggle with writing organization and mechanics might benefit from Dragon Dictate. This speech recognition solution allows students to speak their thoughts and commands, and the program will write it down. Software by goQ, called wordQ+speakQ, is a tool that combines word prediction technology, spoken feedback and speech recognition for learners with writing challenges. NOTE TAKING The Pulse smartpen by livescribe records everything a student reads and writes. Students can replay a teacher lecture with the tap of the pen. The SoundNote app allows you to record the class lecture and make scribbles on your iPad at the same time. Evernote is also great for recording class notes and is available for Mac and Windows. ORGANIZATION Students can improve organization with OneNote by Microsoft. This digital notebook allows students to store notes, project items and homework in one place on the computer and easily access it for presentations, projects and studying. Simple apps for keeping track of homework assignments include myHomework and iHomework for the iPhone. While technologies can provide some solutions to learning challenges, they are most effective when combined with classroom accommodations and an independent education plan. For more resources and guidance, visit LD OnLine (, the National Center for Learning Disabilities ( and the Learning Disabilities Association of America ( Sharon Miller Cindrichs Plugged-in Parent column runs monthly in Chicago Parent. |

Book helps explain disability

When occupational therapist Jill Rigby found herself in meeting after meeting trying to explain executive functioning disorder to parents, she started writing it down instead. Three times a year we have parent-teacher conferences and the big issue that kept coming up was, Your child has executive functioning disorder, says Rigby, who works at a school in Northfield. Parents were confused about what that meant. So Rigby began writing out simple explanations in laymans terms of the disorder, which is the inability to transition, organize and adapt to activities in your day. Before she knew it, she was writing a book about the disorder, called I put it right here I swear! The book begins with explaining a day in the life of a boy with executive functioning disorder and how he feels. He keeps getting yelled at and he keeps losing things, Rigby explains. The book, illustrated by Rigbys 17-year-old daughter, who also struggles with the disorder, is available through




My son has some learning disabilities. Are there any technologies that could help with schoolwork?

Technology can be the great equalizer for children and adults with disabilities. Often referred to as assistive technology, these programs can help with learning, classroom activities or homework assignments. The following resources, programs and gadgets may help your son maximize his learning potential. MATH Talking calculators, which vocalize each number, symbol or operation when the calculator button is pressed, are popular gadgets that can help struggling math students. Listening to the numbers as they are being pressed into the calculator can help students avoid errors and reinforces the process through an auditory message. Talking calculators are available at many online retail outlets. The TalkCalc app is designed for iPhone and iPad and great for young children. READING Students who struggle with reading and comprehension may benefit from

Specal Parent Spring 2012




Find more information online

Northbrook (847) 564-0822

he resources you find here are just an excerpt of the hundreds of searchable resources you can find online at If you are a resource provider and your services are not listed online, email Liz DeCarlo at ldecarlo@ with your information or submit your information at resource-submission-form.

In-home customized care from respite to behavior modification.

easter Seals Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research

1939 West 13th St. Suite 300, Chicago (312) 491-4110

Autism Society of Illinois

2200 S. Main St., Suite 205 Lombard (630) 691-1270 (888) 691-1270 (hotline)

extended Home Living Services
210 W. Campus Drive Suite B, Arlington Heights (847) 215-9490

(630) 892-7267

Rents, sells and installs lifts and ramps.

evanston Citizens for Appropriate Special education

1609 Sherman Ave. Suite 203, Evanston (847) 556-8676

Information and referral to support groups and providers/services. Offers IEP consults and advocacy at no charge.

Education, therapeutic research, training, school-to-work transition and adult vocational services.

Giant Steps
2500 Cabot Drive, Lisle (630) 864-3800

Sleep Safe Beds

3629 Reed Creek Drive Bassett, Va. (866) 852-2337

Autism Speaks
Chicagoland Chapter 2700 S. River Road Suite 203, Des Plaines (224) 567-8573

Therapeutic day school for children with autism.

In-home elevators, wheelchair, stair- and ceiling-mounted patient lifts, ramps and accessible remodeling.

Adapted beds.

Special education advocacy, education and support organization. Also offers monthly meetings for parents.

Have dreams
515 Busse Highway Suite 150, Park Ridge (847) 685-0250 2020 Dempster St. Evanston (847) 905-0702

A new Ray of Hope
435 Pennsylvania Ave. #146, Glen Ellyn (630) 260-3780

Deaf or Hearing Impaired, Dentists, Diabetes, Disability Groups. . . . . . . . . . 38 Down Syndrome, Education . . . . . . . 40 Epilepsy, General. . .41 Health, Incontinence Supplies . . . . . . . . 43 Legal, Pediatric Home Care, Recreation. . . 44 Support . . . . . . . . 45 Therapy . . . . . . . . 46 Vocational Training/ Programs . . . . . . . 49

Hatchbacks Footwear
70 SW Century Drive Suite 100-234, Bend, Ore. (541) 317-3957 (800) 936-0511

Illinois Life Span Project

20901 La Grange Road Suite #209, Frankfort (800) 588-7002

Nonprofit organization dedicated to awareness, funding, science, research and advocacy.

Charlies Gift Autism Center

The Community House 415 W. 8th St., Hinsdale (630) 323-7500 ext. 230

Preschool, afterschool activities, sports, Special Olympics, therapy, family support, buddies.

Educational and health advocate.

Shoes that open from the back to make it easy to fit an ankle foot orthotic.

Clearinghouse on early education and Parenting

Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Childrens Research Center Room 20, 51 Gerty Drive Champaign (877) 275-3227 (217) 333-1386

A statewide information and advocacy coordination system for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Helping Hand Center

9649 W. 55th St. Countryside (708) 352-3580

Kids equipment Resource

P.O. Box 121, Forest Park (630) 766-0505 ext. 8

Protected Tomorrows Inc.

103 Schelter Road LifeCare Center Lincolnshire (847) 522-8086

Monthly parent support group meetings, workshops and conferences. Afterschool clubs, summer camps and other events offered.

Chicagoland Autism Connection

1803 West 95th St., #268 Chicago (773) 329-0375

School for children with autism, ages 3-21. Occupational, physical, speech and language, and music therapy.

New and refurbished equipment for children with special needs who cant afford it.

Advocacy firm focused on life planning.

Illinois Autism/ Pdd Training and Technical Assistance Project

1590 S. Fairfield Ave. Lombard (630) 968-3898


Wheelchair vans and adaptive equipment, including sales, mechanical service, rental vans and mobile consulting. Locations in Plainfield, Skokie and Villa Park.

An information resource for families and professionals involved in the Illinois Early Intervention Program.


Autism Community Connection
Naperville group/autismcc

Monthly meetings offered.

easter Seals Autism Programs - Joliet

212 Barney Drive, Joliet (815) 725-2194

Focuses on educating and supporting children with autism and their families.

equip for equality

20 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 300, Chicago (312) 341-0022

2225 Tanglewood Drive Aurora

Free self-advocacy assistance and educational seminars for parents.

Online support and resources.

Autism Home Support Services

85 Revere Drive, Suite AA

Includes medical diagnostic clinic, social skills groups, sibling recreational workshops, special recreation nights, day care for ages birth-4 and a parent support group.

Little City Foundation ChildBridge Services

700 N. Sacramento Blvd. Suite 220, Chicago (773) 265-1671 760 W. Algonquin Road Palatine


Specal Parent Spring 2012



Institute for Therapy Through the Arts, see Page 47.

(847) 358-5510

In-home personal and family supports, clinical and behavior intervention, residential services, therapeutic arts programs, and special needs foster care and adoption. Also provides employment services and training, horticulture, art and residential services for young adults. Provides recreation, medical and dental services for all ages.

autism and their families. Operates two childrens group homes, in Oak Park and Elmwood Park, for children with autism and one group home for adults with autism in Rogers Park.

for parents. Parents can sign up for a free parent mentor. Meetings are in Crystal Lake, Oak Park/Naperville and Algonquin.

(312) 666-1331

Camp new Hope

P.O. Box 764, Mattoon (217) 895-2341

Educational, clinical, vocational and rehabilitation services for children, youth and adults.

with developmental disabilities ages 9-90.

613 S. Main St., Lombard (630) 495-7723


Illinois department of Human ServicesBureau of Blind Services
401 S. Clinton St., Chicago (800) 843-6154 (217) 785-3887 TTY

The Hadley School for the Blind

700 Elm St., Winnetka (847) 446-8111

Day program and inhome support for adults with disabilities.

Little Friends Inc.

140 N. Wright St. Naperville (630) 355-6533

Spectrum Support
1575 W. Lake Shore Drive Woodstock (815) 337-7570

The largest provider of tuition-free distance education for individuals over age 14 who are blind or visually impaired.

For children with developmental disabilities ages 8 and up. Wheelchair-friendly facilities include 3-foot swimming pool with lift, respite building and the Camp New Hope train.

elite Stars All Sport Camp

(847) 804-3547

Gymnastics, fitness, figure skating, cheerleading, dance and general sport training for individuals with special needs.

Camp Ray Graham Association

Burr Ridge


Highland Park (847) 814-STAR (7827) For children with ADHD, high-functioning autism and related disorders.

Day camp.

Operates three schools, vocational training programs, communitybased residential services and the Little Friends Center for Autism.

PACTT Learning Center

7101 N. Greenview Ave. Chicago (773) 338-9102

Speech and occupational therapy, DAN biomedical, chiropractic therapy and tutoring. Support, education and social groups for kids and their families.

Programs for children and youth.

Voices of Vision Talking Book Center

127 S. First St., Geneva (800) 227-0625

Camp Red Kite

Agassiz Elementary School 2851 N. Seminary Ave. Chicago (773) 227-0180

Illinois Parents of the Visually Impaired

P.O. Box 2947, Naperville (877) 411-IPVI (4784)

Life Tools Camp

Evanston (847) 328-2044

Free library service for people unable to read or use conventional print material.

Talk About Curing Autism Chicago chapters

(708) 574-9328 (847) 669-2359

Provides support services to parents.

Camp easter Seals Program

For children with autism who enjoy making art. Applications can be found online.

Day camp with optional overnight opportunities.

Educational, residential, vocational and consultant services for people with

Monthly meetings and informal Coffee Talks

The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
1850 W. Roosevelt Road Chicago

Camp Red LeafJewish Council of youth Services

26710 W. Nippersink Ingleside (847) 740-5010

Shady oaks Camp for People with disabilities

16300 S. Parker Road Homer Glen (708) 301-0816

Day and residential camps, as well as weekend and after-school programs.

For youth and adults |

Residential summer camp and day camp.


Specal Parent Spring 2012


Tourette Syndrome Camp organization
6933 N. Kedzie, #816 Chicago (773) 465-7536

ymCA Camp Independence

At Camp Duncan 32405 N. Highway 12 Ingleside (847) 546-8086


Alexander Graham Bell montessori School
9300 Capitol Drive, Wheeling (847) 850-5490

Center on deafness
3444 Dundee Road Northbrook (847) 559-0110

(866) 733-8729

Residential camping program for kids with Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

A year-round outdoor retreat and rehabilitation center serving children with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, brain tumors and spinal cord injuries.

Oral education program for deaf and hard-ofhearing children using cued speech.

Serves children and adults who have hearing impairments with additional handicapping conditions.

Provides parents of children with newly identified hearing loss with support, information and resources.

Information about area dentists for patients with special needs.

Chicago Childrens diabetes Center
La Rabida Childrens Hospital 6501 S. Promontory Drive Chicago (800) 770-CCDC (2232)

Illinois Hands & Voices

P.O. Box 9366, Naperville (877) 350-4556

CHoICeS for Parents

P.O. Box 806045, Chicago (312) 523-6400


Grades 6 -12

post hiGh sChool sUCCess

Brehm School is a unique family style boarding school for students with complex learning disabilities, grades 6-12. Brehm is a forerunner in serving students with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, auditory processing disorders, NVLD, aspergers and language-based learning disabilities. Brehm students go on to college, find fulfilling careers and become successful entrepreneurs. Brehm offers: A fully accredited high school A unique holistic program (Fulfilling our students academic, social and emotional needs) 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio Individualized academic curriculum Team recreational programs & Interscholastic sports Supervised dorm living 24/7 Health Services, Nursing staff and support 5 full-time Speech Language Pathologists on staff OPTIONS Transitions to Independence is a comprehensive transitional program, with structured apartment living, for post high school students with complex learning disabilities. OPTIONS helps young adult students find independent adulthood. OPTIONS offers: Structured living with Independent Living Counselors Social skills training & implementation Academic instruction Speech language therapy Nursing staff and support Internship participation Employment readiness Two tracks: aCollege Transition Track: College class participation with academic support aCertificate of Completion Track Certificates include: Business Retail Health Services Computer Animal Care Social Services Food Services Janitorial Services

Parent-driven, nonprofit organization to support families that have children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

learninG disabilities

learninG disabilities


Illinois School for the deaf

125 Webster Ave. Jacksonville (217) 479-4200

Chicagos only pediatric diabetes program. Accepting new patients at La Rabida Childrens Hospital, Hinsdale, New Lenox and St. John, Ind.

Educates students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Association for Individual development
309 W. New Indian Trail Court, Aurora (630) 966-4000

Project Reach-Illinois
818 DuPage Blvd., Glen Ellyn (800) 771-1158 (630) 790-2474

Brehm has helped me become more aware. Ive gotten to know myself, my learning disabilities and my processing issues. If I have a problem, I now feel comfortable talking with someone about it. After making so many friends here, its the first time in my life that I feel that Im not alone. Anna

OPTIONS helped change my life. After struggling with parochial school, I was diagnosed with ADD and OCD. Soon after, I began attending Brehm and OPTIONS, which helped me through community college and then Southern Illinois University. Thanks to the lessons Ive learned from Brehm, Im only the second person in my family to graduate from college. Pete 101 S. Lewis Lane Carbondale, IL 62901

Provides technical assistance/consultation, information, training and family support for children with deaf-blindness and their families.

Programs are available for individuals with physical or developmental disabilities, and those in need of behavioral health services or crisis intervention.

Illinois masonic dental CenterSpecial Patient dental Care Program
811 W. Wellington Ave. Chicago (773) 871-2188 services/other/dentistry/ forms.html

Belle Center of Chicago

1754 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago (773) 878-7868

1245 E. Grand Avenue Carbondale, IL 62901

Provides a progressive, family-centered inclusive approach to education and community life. Offers occupational and speech therapy in the childs home.

Call Brehm today: 618.457.0371

Empowering students grades 6 through 12 with complex learning disabilities to recognize and achieve their full potential.
Brehm Preparatory School, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. Brehm admits students without regard to race, creed, sex or national or ethnic origin.

Call OPTIONS today: 618.549.4201

Empowering post high school students with complex learning disabilities to recognize and achieve their full potential.
Brehm Preparatory School, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. Brehm admits students without regard to race, creed, sex or national or ethnic origin.

Provides routine dental care to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Learning disabilities Association of Illinois

10101 S. Roberts Road Suite 205, Palos Hills (708) 430-7532

Illinois State dental Society

P.O. Box 211, Northbrook (800) 893-1685

Chicago North chapter offers services to the northern city and suburbs. Another chapter, encompassing Lake


Specal Parent Spring 2012



encompassing Lake Forest-Lake Bluff, meets monthly.

Rett Syndrome Association of Illinois

1415 W. 22nd St. Tower Floor, Oak Brook (630) 645-2280

A hideout for kids with autism

Unique play space in Glen Ellyn open to visitors
A big couch in one corner, a TV humming along and kids toys spread all aroundit looks like just about any living room youve ever seen. And thats exactly what Lisa Kelly set out to create when she opened Kaitlins Hideout, a play center for children with autism that opened in Glen Ellyn. I wanted it to be as comfy and cozy as possible, Kelly says. This is like someones house. Kellys daughter, 10-year-old Kaitlin, was diagnosed with autism eight years ago. She describes Kaitlin as being at Monday-Friday; 11 X Kaitlins Hideout the pretty severe end of the a.m.-4:30 p.m. X 526 Crescent autism spectrum, adding that Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Blvd., Glen Ellyn (in Kaitlin is nonverbal. Sunday. the Little Shops) Kelly spent several years X (630) 460-0878 X $10 per visit primarily dealing with doctors X and therapists, and unable to X Hours: 10:15 spend much time with support a.m.-2:15 p.m. groups because she needed to care for Kaitlin. A former hotel and restaurant manager, she began crafting the concept for Kaitlins Parents are welcome to play with their Hideout because of the information and child or sit on the couch and talk with interaction gaps she experienced. other parents. Its that kind of face-to-face For $10, children are free to roam interaction Kelly wished she had during inside the Hideout from one play area the early years of learning about autism. to another. There are also quiet areas, Anyone who is touched by autism including a pillow and blanket-filled spot thinks its awesome, Kelly says, adding with a black light that avoids overshes had families visit from as far away whelming the senses. as Rockford and Gurnee. Dan Campana Its a safe place to play, Kelly says.

Least Restrictive Environment Clearinghouse-LRE

100 W. Randolph St. Suite 14-300, Chicago (312) 814-2220

All-volunteer organization offers resources and events.

A resource for families and educators on issues related to educating students with disabilities in the regular classrooms.

Spina Bifida Association of Illinois

8765 W. Higgins Road Suite 403, Chicago (773) 444-0305

Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of Illinois

310 W. Lake St., Suite 111 Elmhurst (800) 888-6208

Services, information, referral, research and public awareness.

The Arc of Illinois

20901 La Grange Road Suite #209, Frankfort (815) 464-1832

Want to go?

Information, referrals and support groups.

NF Midwest
473 Dunham Road, Suite 3 St. Charles (630) 945-3562

A clearinghouse of information for people with disabilities.

The Cystic Fibrosis Institute

2401 Ravine Way, #302 Glenview (847) 998-3434

Nonprofit network serves families and individuals affected by neurofibromatosis.

Pathways Awareness Foundation

150 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 2100, Chicago (800) 955-2445

Assistance and advocacy for individuals and families.

United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Chicago

547 W. Jackson St., Suite 225 Chicago (312) 765-0419

Raises awareness about the benefits of early detection and early therapy for children with early motor delays.

Provides support to families and advocates for inclusion.

Dedicated to working with children to attain their fullest potential

WE PROVIDE Comprehensive Evaluations Occupational, Physical & Speech Therapy Services Developmental Screenings Contractual and Community Services Family Support SPECIALIZING IN Torticollis and Plagiocephaly Sensory Integration Neuro-Developmental Treatment Feeding Difficulties Therapeutic Listening Handwriting Without Tears

Occupational & Physical Gymnastics Therapy

Martial Arts Gymnastics T-Ball

Tennis Soccer

Enriching lives through sports, tness and fun.

Mundelein Downers Grove Northbrook Deereld

2901 Finley Road Suite 101 Downers Grove, IL 60515

(630)792-1800 |


Specal Parent Spring 2012


doWn SyndRome
doWn SyndRome
down in the Southland
P.O. Box 831 Tinley Park (708) 614-6118

Provides educational support and programs.

GiGis Playhouse
1071 W. Golf Road Hoffman Estates (847) 885-PLAY (7529)

Activities, resources, educational programs and support. Locations also in Chicago, Aurora, McHenry and Machesney Park.

Elite Stars All Sport Camp, see Page 37.

(773) 881-1005

national Association for down Syndrome

P.O. Box 206, Wilmette (630) 325-9112

Private special education facility serving children ages 3-21.

Palos Heights (708) 389-0555

Brain Balance Achievement Center

1101 S. Milwaukee Ave. Suite 105, Vernon Hills (847) 821-1328

Programs for children and adults with disabilities, including a school and residential program.

Therapeutic school for kids ages 5-10 with internalized emotional disabilities.

Information, parent support program, mentoring, work experience program and other individualized services.

Hope Institute for Children and Families

15 E. Hazel Dell Lane Springfield (217) 585-5437

Soaring eagle Academy

8320 S. Madison St. Burr Ridge (630) 323-2900

ups for downs

Hartford Plaza 1070 S. Roselle Road Schaumburg (847) 895-2100

Uses a multi-faceted approach to address each childs specific deficiencies while combining proper nutritional guidance.

A volunteer parentrun support group for parents of children born with Down syndrome. Email for information on meetings.

Cognitive Solutions Learning Center Inc

2409 N. Clybourn Ave. Chicago 480 Elm Place, Suite 105A Highland Park (773) 755-1775

A multifaceted educational, residential, health services, research and training provider.

Therapeutic day school for students with autism ages 5-adolescence.

The Achievement Centers Inc.

6425 S. Willow Springs Road La Grange Highlands

Leelanau School
One Old Homestead Road Glen Arbor, Mich. (231) 334-5800

Acacia Academy
6425 S. Willow Springs Road La Grange Highlands (708) 579-9040

Educational and psychological testing, oneon-one tutoring, neurofeedback, psychotherapy and executive functions training.

Structured residential programs. Also offers summer programs.

Psychoeducational evaluations, speech and language, occupational therapy, social assessments and programs.

Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes

740 N. Waukegan Road Suite 207, Deerfield (847) 412-1841

The Cove School

350 Lee Road, Northbrook (847) 562-2100

Private school approved for out-of-district placements.

easter Seals Autism Therapeutic School

17300 Ozark Ave. Tinley Park (708) 802-9050

A private K-12 day school.

Beacon Therapeutic School

10650 S. Longwood Drive Chicago

For children ages 3-22.

Teaches reading, language comprehension and math to children with dyslexia, hyperlexia and autism.

The Lily Garden Child Care Center

830 S. Addison St. Villa Park (630) 261-6283

elim Christian Services

13020 S. Central Ave.

Safe Haven School

937 Happ Road, Northfield (847) 509-5885

An inclusive Easter Seals child care center.


Specal Parent Spring 2012



Therapeutic School & Center for Autism Research

1939 W. 13th St. (13th Street and Damen Avenue) Chicago (312) 432-1751 (school) (312) 491-4110 (central office)

epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago

17 N. State St., Suite 1300 Chicago (800) 273-6027 (312) 939-8622

A nonresidential center. All services are free.

Catholic Charities
721 N. LaSalle St. Chicago (312) 655-7000

Anixter Center
2001 N. Clybourn Ave. Chicago (773) 973-7900

people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and mental retardation.

(708) 354-4547

Education, research, training, academic and therapeutic services, schoolto-work transition and on-site adult vocational program on one campus.

Programs and services for individuals of all ages.

Abraham Lincoln Centres
3858 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Chicago (773) 285-1390

Provides education, employment, life skills, communication, recreation, health care, counseling and support. Dozens of locations across Chicago.

Counseling available on a sliding fee scale throughout Chicagoland. Also offers residential care for people with disabilities at Misericordia Home in Chicago.

Community Alternatives unlimited

8765 W. Higgins Road Suite 300, Chicago (773) 867-4000

Center for enriched Living

280 Saunders Road Riverwoods (847) 948-7001

Independent case management services for individuals with a wide range of disabilities.

danny did Foundation
P.O. Box 46576 Chicago (800) 278-6101

Blue Cap
2155 Broadway St. Blue Island (708) 389-6578

Resources for parents, information on SUDEP, seizure warning devices and awareness-raising events. Helps families who cannot afford seizure warning devices.

Special education and mental health services, adult developmental training programs, homebound programs and programs for people with mental illness.

Access Living
115 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago (800) 613-8549 (312) 640-2100

Physical, occupational, speech and developmental therapy for children ages birth-3. Also offers school for children with developmental disabilities ages 3-21. On-site day care for children ages 2-5 is available.

Provides skill development and education, recreation and social programs. Also offers day programs for ages 22 and up.

Community Service options Inc.

6845 S. Western Ave. Chicago (773) 471-4700

Offers respite, group homes and independent living arrangements, adult and parent support services, customized supported employment, transition planning and classes. Also owns and operates the Chicago Canine Club, offering day care, boarding, grooming, retail sales and vocational training programs for people with disabilities to develop skills to work in the pet care industry.

1551 E. Fabyan Parkway Geneva (888) 282-0997 (630) 879-2277

1835 W. Central Road Arlington Heights (847) 870-7711

Information, education, planning and service coordination.

Community Support Services Inc

9021 W. Ogden Ave. Brookfield 5416 W. 25th St., Cicero

Provides experiences and opportunities for

Guides individuals and their families through the maze of community services to access needed services.

Special Recreation Associations in Illinois provide a lifetime of recreation opportunities for children and adults with disabilities.
Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR) Champaign, Urbana 217-239-1152 Fox Valley Special Recreation Association (FVSRA) Aurora, Batavia, Fox Valley, Geneva, Montgomery, North Aurora, Oswegoland, South Elgin, St. Charles, Sugar Grove 630-907-1114 Gateway Special Recreation Association (Gateway) Burr Ridge, Countryside, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Oakbrook, Pleasant Dale, Westchester, Willowbrook, York Center P.D. 630-325-3857, ext. 110 Heart of Illinois Special Recreation Association (HISRA) Chillicothe, Morton, Peoria, Washington Park District 309-691-1929 Illinois River Valley Special Recreation Association (IRVSRA) East Peoria, Fon Du Lac, Pekin 309-699-3923 Joliet-Bolingbrook Special Recreation Association (JBSRA) Bolingbrook, Plainfield 630-739-1124 Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association (KSRA) DeKalb, Genoa, Sycamore 815-758-6663 x122 Lincolnway Special Recreation Association (LWSRA) Frankfort, Manhattan, Mokena Community, New Lenox Community, Peotone 815-464-2811 Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation (M-NASR) Des Plaines, Golf-Maine, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Park Ridge, Skokie 847-966-5522 Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association (NEDSRA) Addison, Bensenville, Butterfield P.D., Glendale Heights, Itasca, Lombard, Medinah, Oak Brook Terrace, Schiller Park, Villa Park, Wood Dale 630-620-4500 Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA) Barrington, Cary, Crystal Lake, Dundee Twp., Elgin, Hampshire, Harvard, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Marengo, McHenry, Wauconda, Woodstock 815-459-0737 If your Park District /Village/ City is not listed, contact WSSRA at 847-455-2100 for assistance with finding an agency near you. Please note P.D. denotes park district. Look for our ad in this magazine. South West Special Recreation Association (SWSRA) Alsip, Blue Island, Justice, Merrionette Park, Midlothian, Palos Heights, Posen, Summit, Worth P.D. 708-389-9423 Southwestern Illinois Special Recreation Assn. (SWILSRA) Alton, Belleville, Collinsville, Granite City, Highland, OFallon, Roxanna, Wood River 618-346-7529 Special Recreation Assn. of Central Lake County (SRACLC) Grayslake, Hawthorn Woods, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mundelein, Vernon Hills 847-816-4866 Special Recreation Services of Northern Lake County (SRSNLC) Round Lake 847-546-8558 Lindenhurst 847-356-6011; Waukegan 847-360-4760; Zion 847-746-5500; Special Recreation of Joliet and Channahon (SRJC) Channahon, Joliet 815-741-7275 X169 Special Recreation Services (SRS) Calumet Memorial, Dolton, Ivanhoe/Riverdale, South Holland, Thornton 708-841-1071 x233 Tri County Special Recreation Association (Tri County) Crest Hill, Lemont, Lockport Township, Romeoville 815-407-1819 Warren Special Recreation Association (WSRA) Grandwood Park, Gurnee, Warren Township, Wildwood 847-244-6619 Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Roselle, Warrenville, West Chicago, Wheaton, Winfield 630-681-0962 West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA) Berwyn, Cicero, Clyde, Elmwood Park, Forest Park, P.D. of Franklin Park, Harwood Heights, Hawthorne Park District, Norridge, North Berwyn, Oak Park, River Forest 847-455-2100

Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA) Deerfield, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Northfield, Riverwoods, Wilmette, Winnetka 847-509-9400 Northlands Association for Special Recreation (NASR) Belvidere 815-547-5711; Freeport 815-235-6114; Rockford 815-987-1606; Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA) Arlington Hts., Bartlett, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove, Hanover Pk., Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Mt. Prospect, Palatine, Prospect Heights, River Trails, Rolling Meadows, Salt Creek, Schaumburg, South Barrington, Streamwood, Wheeling 847-392-2848 Oak Lawn Park District-Special Recreation Cooperative Bedford Park, Bridgeview, Burbank, Chicago Ridge, Evergreen Park, Hickory Hills, Hometown, Oak Lawn, Palos Hills, Stickney, 708-857-2200 River Valley Special Recreation Association (RVSRA) Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Limestone 815-933-7336 South East Assn. for Special Parks & Recreation (SEASPAR) Brookfield, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Indian Head Park, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Lisle, Western Springs, Westmont, Woodridge 630-960-7600 South Suburban Special Recreation Association (SSSRA) Country Club Hills, Frankfort Square, Hazel Crest, HomewoodFlossmoor, Lansing, Matteson, Oak Forest, Olympia Fields, Park Forest, Richton Park, Tinley Park 815-806-0384 |

Specal Parent Spring 2012



duPage Center for Independent Living
739 Roosevelt Road Building 8, Suite 109 Glen Ellyn (630) 469-2300

Services include peer counseling, independent living skills training, deaf/hearing-impaired services and personal assistant programs.

Provides educational, recreational and vocational programs for children and young adults with special needs. All of the programs are integrated with peers. Multiple locations throughout the Chicagoland area.

Leeda Services of Illinois

1607 W. Howard, 4th Floor Chicago (773) 274-9760

envision unlimited
8 S. Michigan Ave. Suite 1700, Chicago (312) 346-6230

Provides services that promote choice, independence and community integration.

Good Shepherd Center

17314 S. Kedzie Ave. Hazel Crest (708) 335-0020 ext. 10

Child-centered services and support include behavior analysis, respite, therapeutic recreation and caregiver and sibling support. Other services include adult residential, transitional services and vocational services.

The Hadley School for the Blind, see Page 37.

Medical and dental care; residential facilities in Bloomingdale and Geneva; rehabilitative therapies; education and day services; communitybased respite and earlyintervention programs. with developmental disabilities.

Preschool, developmental, physical, occupational, speech therapies, Lekotek services and respite care.

Lexi Kazian Foundation-Helping From Heaven

105 Townline Road Suite 132, Vernon Hills (847) 624-LEXI (5394)

Ray Graham Association

901 Warrenville Road Suite 500, Lisle (630) 620-2222

oak Leyden developmental Services

411 Chicago Ave. Oak Park (708) 524-1050

Illinois Chapter for Prader-Willi Syndrome

List of resources and events for families with this syndrome.

Institute on disability and Human development-uIC

1640 W. Roosevelt Road Chicago (312) 413-1647

Helps network families through fun events for the child with special needs that the whole family will enjoy. Also runs Lexis Closet, a place to request therapy equipment parents cant get from their insurance company. Also accepts gently used therapy equipment to share with others.

midAmerica Service dogs Foundation

3 Grant Square, #354 Hinsdale (630) 272-8159

Vocational and residential services for adults and therapy, educational and family support for infants and young children.

Vocational, residential, educational, respite, therapeutic and recreational services and supports at 35 locations in DuPage County.

adult clients with an array of developmental, congenital and acquired disabilities, specializing in cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders. Also offers physical, occupational, speech language and massage therapies.

SHoRe Community Services Inc.

Regenstein Center 4232 Dempster St. Skokie (847) 982-2030

St. Coletta of Illinois

18350 Crossing Drive, Suite 103, Tinley Park (708) 342-5200

Provides service and companion dogs to children and adults with disabilities.

Pioneer Center
4001 Dayton St., McHenry (815) 344-1230

Little City Foundation

1760 W. Algonquin Road Palatine (847) 358-5510

neumann Family Services

5547 N. Ravenswood Ave. Chicago (773) 769-4313

Services include a family clinic, a Hispanic diagnostic and family support program, a program for ages 0-3 and an autism clinic.

Keshet-Jewish Parents of Children with Special needs

617 Landwehr Road Northbrook (847) 205-1234

Residential options, home-based services, case management, clinical services, medical and dental care, employment opportunities, day supports, recreation, and arts programming.

Provides education, housing, recreation, rehabilitation, training and employment opportunities to people with disabilities and mental illness.

Serves people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, traumatic brain injury and provides early intervention therapies for children ages birth-5.

Programs include residential, early intervention, supported living, home-based services, senior program, vocational, in-home respite and adult day services.

Provides elementary through high school education. Also a Vocational Training Center. The program consists of 30 groups homes within 15 southwest suburban communities of Chicago. Early childhood program will be starting soon.

Pure Compounding Pharmacy

603 E. Diehl Road, Suite 131 Naperville (877) 976-7873

Southwest Community Services

6775 Prosperi Drive Tinley Park (708) 429-1260 The SCS Phoenix Center 19015 Jodi Road, Suite A Mokena (physical therapy) (708) 478-1414

Suburban Access Inc.

925 W. 175th St. Homewood (708) 799-9190

1 S. 450 Wyatt Drive, Geneva (630) 593-5500 |

new Hope Center

1624 E. 154th St., Dolton (708) 841-1071

Services for individuals

Makes custom prescription medications without allergens or artificial additives.

Treats pediatric and

Handles case management and service coordination to individuals with developmental disabilities.


Specal Parent Spring 2012


The Friendship Circle of Illinois

3068 Antelope Springs Northbrook (847) 943-9770

(847) 998-3434

Medical practice serves children and adults with cystic fibrosis.

Shriners Hospital for Children

2211 N. Oak Park Ave. Chicago (773) 622-5400

Progressive medical Supply
15534 S. Cicero Oak Forest (708) 687-8340


A helping hand to families who have children with special needs, involving them in a full range of social and Judaic experiences.

La Rabida Childrens Hospital

East 65th at Lake Michigan Chicago (773) 363-6700

Trinity Services Inc.

100 N. Gougar Road, Joliet (815) 485-6197

Children with complex medical conditions receive the array of services they need under one medical home roof.

Provide pediatric orthopedic surgeries, plastic and craniofacial surgery, and spinal cord injury rehabilitation to children under age 18 at no charge.

Sells incontinence supplies, including diapers and pull-ups, in all sizes.

Walgreens medical
Multiple locations in city and

Four stores sell incontinence supplies for all sizes. The medical supply store is located within Walgreens stores at the following locations: 11 E. 75th St., Chicago, (773) 2241211; 107th Street and Cicero Avenue, Oak Lawn, (708) 424-3594; 7510 N. Western Ave.,

Chicago, (773) 7641765; 7113 W. Cermak Road, Berwyn, (708) 795-5550.

dePaul university Special education Advocacy Clinic
14 E. Jackson Blvd. Suite 100, Chicago (312) 362-8294

Provides residential services, adult learning programs, vocational programs, an autism center, respite services, in-home supports, a drop-in center and therapy.

mAGIC Foundation
6645 W. North Ave. Oak Park (800) 362-4423

Support and education for children and adults with growth disorders.

Ability Healthcare
1100 Lake St., Suite 120 Oak Park (708) 848-8488

nature First
1800 Nations Drive Suite 112, Gurnee (847) 263-0480

Natural health care without the use of drugs. Also offers natural healthcare seminars and workshops.

Biomedical approach to evaluation and treatment. Additional locations in Woodstock and Oakbrook.

We invite children and families with disabilities to experience Chicago Childrens Museums playful, multisensory exhibits and activitiesone hour before the museum opens to the public.

Play For All

The second Saturday of every month at 9 am

Feb. 11, March 10, April 14, May 12, June 9
RegistRation is RequiRed. The first 100 visitors to register receive FREE admission (limit 6 per family).

Advocate Hope Childrens Hospital

4440 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn (708) 684-8000

Pfeiffer Treatment Center/Health Research Institute

4575 Weaver Parkway Warrenville (630) 505-0300

to register or request accommodations, please call (312) 321-6551.

Treatment for children with a wide range of disabilities and medical issues.

Childrens memorial Hospital

2300 Childrens Plaza Chicago (773) 880-4000 (800) KIDS-DOC (543-7362)

Medical outpatient facility specializing in the treatment of symptoms from biochemical imbalances.

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago-Pediatric & Adolescent Program

345 E. Superior St. Chicago (800) 354-REHAB (7342)

It was the best day of my life.RaSaan, Play For All participant

Illinois only freestanding hospital exclusively for kids. Provides a wide range of services.

Cystic Fibrosis Center of Chicago

2401 Ravine Way Suite 302, Glenview

Treats children from birth through adulthood with a wide range of diagnoses, from mild stroke to major trauma.
at navy PieR (312) 527-1000
Like us on Facebook!

open daily, 10 am5 pm Memorial Day through Labor Day:

Thurs.-Sat., 10 am-8 pm; Sun.-Wed., 10 am-6 pm |

Specal Parent Spring 2012



Comprehensive advocacy program designed to protect the educational rights of children with disabilities while introducing law students to the growing field of special education law.

area. Information on home care/private duty nursing also available.

Chicago (312) 527-1000

Loving Care Agency

2400 E. Devon Ave. Suite 256, Des Plaines (847) 298-0859

One Saturday a month, the museum hosts the Play For All program.

Occupational therapy in gymnastics setting and aquatic therapy in warm water pools.

Karate for children with special needs.

Naperville (630) 717-6622

dolphin Swim Club

Crystal Lake, Skokie and Loves Park (847) 854-1300

Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association

400 E. Illinois Road Lake Forest (847) 283-0908

Keen (Kids enjoy exercise now) Chicago

P.O. Box 06255 Chicago (312) 876-2535


AllWays Caring ResCare HomeCare
6200 N. Hiawatha Ave. Suite 450, Chicago (773) 685-1700

Provides pediatric home care for medically fragile children.

Workshops in music, theater, dance and visual arts geared toward children with special needs. Also offers summer camps.

Wellspring Personal Care

125 N. Halsted St., Suite 303 Chicago (312) 648-1565

Small-group and private lessons from teachers experienced in working with students who have special needs.

Offers inclusive recreational, fitness and competitive sports activities.

Recreational opportunities for kids and young adults with physical and mental disabilities, at no cost to their families.

Special Gifts Theatre

P.O. Box 2231 Northbrook (847) 564-7704

Offers services from companionship to specialized care.

A Big Blast
Multiple locations (847) 650-8161

duPage Childrens museum

301 N. Washington St. Naperville (630) 637-8000

Hanson Center
15 W. 431 59th St. Burr Ridge (630) 620-2222

Right Fit
7101 S. Adams St., Unit 7 Willowbrook (630) 850-4050

Independence Plus
720 Enterprise Drive Oak Brook (708) 366-4500

Offers classes to foster parents and nurses of special medical needs children in the Chicago

Therapeutic and recreation programs for kids with special needs.

Third Thursday of every month 5-7 p.m. is for families of children with special needs.

Programs include horseback riding, sports, physical fitness, summer camps and a preschool.

Chicago Childrens museum

Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave.

Funtastic Gymnastic
Multiple locations (224) 554-9634

Karate Can-do!
North Shore Dojo 2081 Johns Court Glenview (847) 729-0001

Right Fits fitness programs Raise the Bar for youth and adults with autism spectrum disorders are taught on and off-site.

Weekly theater program for kids 10-21 with special needs presents a musical production each year. There is also an Early Childhood Program for kids 3-6 that presents a Story Show.

Special olympics
Northern Office 800 Roosevelt Road, B-220 Glen Ellyn (630) 942-5610

School of Performing Arts Spectrum Program

200 E. 5th Ave., Suite 132

Provides sports training

At Southwest Dental

we take special care of

special needs.

Have you visited the coupon section lately?

Check it out for more values than ever from your number one parenting resource in Chicago! Visit and click on coupons to get great discounts and offers for water parks, theatres, museums, family products and more!

Exceptional care and patient comfort go hand in hand at Southwest Dental Group. This gives special needs children and adults an experience they can feel good about - with the option of IV sedation for situational anxiety. We believe theres no need too special.

(708) 403-3355
16600 South 107th Court Orland Park, IL

Dr. Tentler holds diplomate status in the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists. Dr. Robert L. Tentler and Associates, General Dentistry

Dr. Bob Tentler



Specal Parent Spring 2012


and competition for children (8 and older) and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Golf instruction for people with special needs.

Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education 1950 W. Roosevelt Road Chicago (708) 863-1186 ext. 225

Special olympics Illinois young Athletes

(630) 942-5612 (309) 888-2558

Education, resources and support for families of children with any disability.

eagles nest
Willow Creek Community Church 67 E. Algonquin Road South Barrington (847) 855-9571

Lifecare Home Solutions Inc.

8330 S. Madison, Suite 90 Burr Ridge (630) 932-4032

national Lekotek Center

2001 N. Clybourn Ave. Chicago (773) 528-5766 (800) 366-PLAY (toy resource helpline)

Center for Independent Futures

743 Main St., Evanston (847) 328-2044

Toy lending library.

Gross motor training program for children ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities.

P.O. Box 751112 Las Vegas, Nev. (888) 769-9264

Helps individuals with disabilities and their families.

Support group for parents of special needs children meets twice a month on Saturday afternoons.

Bonded, insured caregivers on both a comeand-go and live-in basis.

making Headway
Schwab Rehab Center 1401 S. California Ave. #1 Chicago (708) 945-8360

Special Recreation Associations in Illinois

Childhood Stroke & Hemiplegia Connections of Illinois

P.O. Box 3252, Lisle (630) 854-4058

Families of Spinal muscular Atrophy

925 Busse Road Elk Grove Village (800) 886-1762

Lekotek centers offer monthly play sessions for families of children with special needs ages birth6 and toy lending library.

one Place for Special needs

P.O. Box 9701 Naperville oneplaceforspecial

To find your Special Recreation Association or learn more about specialized recreation services, visit the website.

Provides information and support to individuals with facial differences.

A support group focusing on brain injuries.

Check the website for local chapters.

Beth Lacey Center for Support

5416 W. 25th St., Cicero (708) 354-4547 ext. 142

A local support and information group.

Sunshine Through Golf Foundation

Midwest Golf House 11855 Archer Ave., Lemont (630) 257-2005

dyspraxia Foundation uSA

3059 N. Lincoln Ave., Unit C Chicago (312) 489-8628

Family Resource Center on disabilities

20 E. Jackson Blvd. Room 300, Chicago (312) 939-3513

mumS national Parent to Parent matching

150 Custer Court Green Bay, Wis. (877) 336-5333

National information network for families with disabilities.

South Chicago Parents & Friends

10241 S. Commercial Ave. Chicago (773) 734-2222

Bilingual resources.

Celebrate differences
5 E. Washington St., Oswego (630) 885-3006

Support for developmental dyspraxia.

Provides information and support for families, plus free seminars.

Networking system that matches parents with other parents whose children have the same or similar condition.

Supports people with developmental disabilities.

Party Planning Guide

Coming in April
For more information, call (708) 386 5555 or visit |

Specal Parent Spring 2012



Southern Fox Valley mothers united for moral Support
(630) 554-8989 foxvalleymums Easter Seals), Joliet specialparentsforspecial

A parent-led group open to all parents, regardless of their childs diagnosis.

disabilities. For more information, email

Tuesdays Child
4028 W. Irving Park Road Chicago (773) 282-5274

developmental, behavioral and occupational therapies. Also a therapeutic summer camp.

pational and speech therapy, as well as nursing services.

Belle Center of Chicago

1754 W. Wilson Ave. Chicago (773) 878-7868

Dedicated to education about various disabilities, networking and parent support.

Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters

3800 N. Lake Shore Drive #3E, Chicago (708) 989-3619

Adult and Child Therapy Services
708 Washington St. Woodstock (815) 338-1707

Adventist Paulson Pediatric Rehab

222 E. Ogden Ave. Hinsdale (630) 856-2600

Special Parents for Special Kids

212 Barney Drive (inside

Provides support to siblings of people with

Therapeutic classrooms provide behavioral and developmental therapy. Offers Early Intervention for birth-3 and speech,

Offers physical, occu-

Physical, occupational and speech therapists, and a pediatric audiologist.

Therapy, advocacy, parent support, professional consultation, sibling support groups and workshops.

Beth osten & Associates

9833 Woods Drive Skokie (847) 663-1020

All Bright Therapies

1957 W. Dickens, Chicago (773) 789-9640

Speech/language, occupational and feeding therapy for children.

Art & Soul

1509 W. Berwyn Ave. Suite 202, Chicago (773) 878-7685

Occupational, developmental, physical and speech and language therapy. Also an intensive therapeutic preschool play group and in-home floortime sessions.

Art therapy and counseling services for children, teens and families.

Center for Independence Through Conductive education

100 W. Plainfield Road Countryside (708) 588-0833

For information contact Sensei Jeff Kohn 847-729-0001 2081 Johns Ct., Glenview, IL 60025
Improving the lives of children who learn differently through the art of karate. Karate Can-Do! works hand-in-hand with North Shore Dojo, the areas premier karate school, to provide personalized training for individuals of all abilities. As featured on ABC-TV Channel 7 and in Chicago Special Parent magazine. Karate Can-Do! is a registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.

Aspire Childrens Services

1815 S. Wolf Road Hillside (708) 236-0979

Intensive motor training program.

Comprehensive services for infants and children who have developmental delays and disabilities.

Chicago Childrens Clinic

1731 N. Marcey St. Suite 505, Chicago (312) 587-1742

Assential Therapies
241 Golf Mill Center Suite 201, Niles (847) 699-9757

Clinical psychologists, educational specialists and speech-language pathologists.

Camp 2012

ChiCago Parents annual CamP guide

Monthly through May
For more information, call (708) 386-5555 or visit

Feeding clinic and multidisciplinary therapy services.

Chicago Sound Therapy

180 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 310 2113 W. Walton St. Chicago (773) 227-1619

BdI Playhouse
11411 W. 183rd St. Orland Park 1864 High Grove Lane Suite 104 Naperville (708) 478-1820

Provides Integrated Listening Therapy for adults and children.

City Kids
5669 N. Northwest Highway Chicago (773) 467-5669

Provides a wide range of therapy services, intensive programming for autism, play groups and parent training.

Physical, occupational, speech and language,


Specal Parent Spring 2012



and therapy, plus educational preschool playgroups.

(630) 620-4433

Focus on Kids Too

425 Huel Road Suite 14A Northbrook (847) 412-9772

Clinical Connections
2225 Lakeside Drive Bannockburn (847) 234-0688

Offers physical, occupational, speech-language, nutrition and assistive technology therapies for children of all abilities.

In-home floortime services, occupational therapy, sports training and music therapy. Teen center to learn and practice leisure and social skills.

easter Seals Gilchrist - marchman Childrens development Center

1001 W. Roosevelt Road Chicago (312) 492-7402

Specializes in the treatment of children with sensory processing disorders.

Hopes Playground Pediatric Therapy

311 West Depot St. Suite N, Antioch (847) 838-8085

Community Therapy Services

40W310 LaFox Road Suite A1/B1, St. Charles (630) 444-0077

Speech, occupational, physical and animalassisted therapy programs for children.

Child care services for children ages 0-5, including those with disabilities. Also an afterschool program for children ages 5-12.

Southwest Community Center, see Page 42.

early childhood education, family support and services, and youth and adult services.

Pediatric occupational, physical and speechlanguage therapy. gross motor disorders.

easter Seals Society of metropolitan Chicago

1939 W. 13th St., Suite 300 Chicago (312) 491-4110

euro-Peds national Center for Intensive Pediatric PT

Doctors Hospital of Michigan Pontiac, MI (248) 857-6776 ext. 3

eyas Landing
670 W. Hubbard Lower level, Chicago (312) 375-8883

Institute for Therapy Through the Arts

2008 Dempster St., Evanston (847) 425-9708

el Valor
1850 W. 21st St., Chicago (312) 666-4511

easter Seals duPage and the Fox Valley Region

830 S. Addison Ave. Villa Park

Autism services, early intervention, inclusive

Bilingual, bicultural rehabilitation center.

Intensive pediatric physical therapy center for children who have cerebral palsy and other

Yoga, occupational therapy, sensory exploration, developmental therapy, preschool readiness.

Therapy services through dance/movement, drama, music and art.

babies web extras


InsIde Out art studIO

serIOus Fun FOr artIsts OF all ages
After School Art Classes, Spring & Summer Break Art Camp! One on One Art Therapy Sessions for Children and Adults on the Autism Spectrum. Improve and Explore your Painting, Drawing and Sculpting Skills in a fun and inspiring environment. See our Schedule Page @


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Weekend Scoop

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...and much more! Visit us today.

2005 W. MONTROSE | 773-697-5012 | INSIDEOUTARTS.US |

Specal Parent Spring 2012



Jewish Child and Family Services
216 W. Jackson Blvd. Suite 800, Chicago (312) 444-2090

Kids in motion Inc.

4721 W. Midlothian Turnpike Suite 25 Crestwood (708) 371-7007

Learning through Play Center for Child development

633 W. Addison St., Chicago (312) 458-9865

milestones-For Kids Success

2901 Finley Road, Suite 101 Downers Grove (630) 792-1800

Services for children, adults and families with disabilities.

Physical, occupational and speech therapists.

Julie Herr & Associates early Childhood Therapy Center

2032 W. Grand Ave., Chicago

Kids in Sync Pediatric occupational Therapy

1820 W. Webster Ave. Suite 304, Chicago (773) 235-5070 222 Northfield Road Suite 201, Northfield (847) 784-9115

Preschool classes and developmental playgroups for children ages 2-4.

Pediatric occupational, physical and speechlanguage therapy.

Assessment and intervention for children with motor, sensory, feeding/swallowing and communication impairments.

(773) 779-5800

Occupational therapy.

SPoT 4 Kids
29-D Stonehill Road Oswego (630) 554-6156

Sinha Clinic
2560 Foxfield Road Suite 240, St. Charles (630) 762-9606

800 Roosevelt Road, Building B, Suite 104, Glen Ellyn 1847 W. Jefferson Ave. Naperville (630) 858-5105

Therapy center.

LeeP Forward developmental Clinic

400 N. May St., Suite 202 Chicago (773) 255-8155

Super Stars
5400 East Ave. Countryside (708) 352-3099

Therapies, transitional kindergarten program (ages 3-6), therapeutic camp (ages 3-8) and social groups.

Holistic approach to treatment, including dietary and spiritual needs.

Neurofeedback practice.

Occupational therapy.

Kids Can do Inc. Childrens Therapy Center

19100 S. Crescent Drive Suite 101, Mokena (708) 478-5400

Larson Learning and Play

7313 N. Honore, #2 Chicago (773) 680-7082

Therapeutic preschool, developmental therapy and social groups.

Social endeavors
1416 Lake St., Suite 1 Evanston (847) 213-9161 (773) 339-7619

north Shore Pediatric Therapy

Glenview, Chicago and Highland Park (773) 278-6500 (city) (847) 486-4140 (suburban)

Full-service sports and rec center that offers pediatric occupational and physical therapy program.

LynX Therapeutics Pediatric Therapy

9436 Ozark Ave. Morton Grove (847) 791-1631

Three pediatric multidisciplinary clinics.

Speech, occupational and physical therapy.

Home-based developmental and educational therapy for children ages 2-13.

Pediatric therapy and learning instruction programs.

Pathways Center
2591 Compass Road Glenview (847) 510-5600

Treatment services to help children ages 2-10 develop age-appropriate social and communication skills.

The discovery Clinic

1306 Waukegan Road Glenview (847) 901-0909

Special Therapy Care

11750 S. Western Ave. Chicago

Offers computer-based training to improve attention, impulse control, mood and energy,

The Ultimate Guide to Family Fun!


The ultimate guide to family fun

Our guide to the best


15 boat tours


Where to ride


Cover GP Spring 2011.indd 1

2/25/2011 2:41:06 PM

Spring edition coming soon!

For more information, call (708) 386 5555 or visit

n !


Specal Parent Spring 2012



anxiety, organization, motor control, language and social skills.

Avenues to Independence
515 Busse Highway Park Ridge (847) 292-0870

buttons, magnets and keychains.

(708) 755-8030

Therapy yoga Gymnastics Rock

1845 Raymond Drive Northbrook 2610 Commerce Drive Libertyville (847) 414-1057

Parents Alliance employment Project

2525 Cabot Drive, Suite 302 Lisle (630) 955-2075

Assists with vocation, community living and social integration.

Supported employment Associates

P.O. Box 4714 Wheaton (630) 653-5662

Employment program for people with disabilities.

We Grow dreams
1055 W. Washington St. West Chicago (630) 293-0100

Residential housing, job placement and workshops.

Spectrum Vocational Services

2302 Wisconsin Ave. Downers Grove (630) 852-7520

CAReS Chicago
700 N. Sacramento Blvd. Suite 221, Chicago (773) 265-3300

Free individualized employment services.

Comprehensive supported employment services.

Pediatric occupational, physical and speech therapy in gymnastic and yoga centers.

SouthStar Services
1005 W. End Ave. Chicago Heights

Employment, training and support services.

Offers training and vocational opportunities for teens and adults.

Ticket to Work Program

(866) 968-7842

Training and employment for people with disabilities through the greenhouse and garden center.

uIC Child & Family development Center

1640 W. Roosevelt Road Room 336, MC628 Chicago (312) 413-1567

Cornerstone Services Inc.

Career Solutions 800 Black Road, Joliet (815) 727-6694

ChiCago Specal Parent Advertiser Index

Ad Name .....................................Page Number(s) A Big Blast .......................................................................39 Acacia Academy..............................................................33 Aspire ...............................................................................22 bellybum boutique...........................................................3 Brehm Preparatory .........................................................38 Calian & Gross, LLP ..........................................................22 Chicago Childrens Museum ...........................................43 Chicago Park District.......................................................24 Childrens Memorial Hospital...................................51, 56 DuPage Childrens Museum ........................................... 13 Easter Seals DuPage & the Fox Valley Region ..........7, 51 Euro-Peds ........................................................................ 21 Extended Home Listing Services ...................................33 Grand Prairie Transit ....................................................... 18 Horizon Therapy...............................................................11 Inside Out Art Studio ......................................................47 Karate Can Do................................................................. 46 Learning Through Play .................................................. 40 SEASPAR...........................................................................25 Sertoma Speech & Hearing Center................................22 Sibsations ........................................................................ 51 Smart Love Family Services ........................................... 18 Southwest Dental Group ..........................................44, 51 Special Recreation Assoc. Network of IL..............2, 41, 51 Therapy Gymnastics .......................................................32 Tuesdays Child................................................................25 Ups for Downs................................................................. 12 |

Lifes Plan ..........................................................................7 Macrobiotic Austim Treatment ......................................34 Marklund..........................................................................29 Mayors Office for People with Disabilities.....................8 Milestones for Kids Success............................................39 Mobility Works .................................................................11 PACE ...................................................................................5 Rush Neorobehavioral Center........................................ 12 Safe Haven School .......................................................... 13

Program offers services to the child and family that are individualized, evidence-based, and family-centered.

Assists young adults and older adults with disabilities to find and keep jobs in the community.

donka Inc.
400 N. County Farm Road Wheaton (630) 665-8169

Vital Rehabilitation Clinics and Services

5820 W. Irving Park Road Chicago (773) 685-8482

Developmental, occupational, physical and speech therapies. Also offers in-home services. Locations in Chicago, Park Ridge, Merrionette Park and Schaumburg.

Provides computer training to read, write, continue their education or advance skills needed for the workplace.

FASd Vocational Training - Are We There yet?

1260 Iroqouis Ave. Suite 104, Naperville (630) 369-4152


Assistive Technologies Inc.
1437 Ambleside Circle Naperville (800) 244-4906

Vocational training and programs. Additional locations in Des Plaines and New Lenox.
Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago 17300 Ozark Ave. Tinley Park (708) 802-9050

Services include vocational assessment, applications training on most computer software and rehabilitation adaptations for home, work and school environments.

Adolescents and young adults with autism are employed by HarrysButtons. com at Easter Seals, a micro-enterprise that manufactures wholesale, handmade custom

Specal Parent Spring 2012






Chicago parents have a lot to say about their childrens doctors.

My daughter has suffered with asthma for many years. Doctor Jacobson took the time to really listen to her. He came up with a treatment plan that has really changed her life and has greatly reduced the stress on our family. J. Frankel

For a complete listing of nominees along with reader comments, visit
Dr. Freed takes the time to get to know his patients and cares about treating them, so that they will have good health their whole lives. D. Surian 50

Specal Parent Spring 2012



Specal Parent
thaNK you to our SPoNSorS SiBLiNg SuPPort

Service Directory

PROGRAM FOR SIBS OF KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS SIBSENSATIONS gives siblings (ages 8-13) of children with special needs a chance to meet peers in a fun, friendly setting where they can share common joys and concerns. Through games, activities and discussions, they will form friendships, learn about disabilities and discover how to handle tough situations they all face. When: Saturdays: 2/11, 3/17, 4/21, 5/12. 9:00 11:30 a.m. Cost: $10.00 per session, registration is required. Where: Yacktman Childrens Pavilion 1675 Dempster-Park Ridge, IL Contact: Kathryn Smart MS RN, 847-723-9484


See our ad in the Resource Directory.

PeDiatric theraPy
Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region

SPeciaL NeeDS DeNtiStry

At Southwest Dental we take special care of

special needs.

Visit the web site Visit the web site or call to learn more today. more today. 1.800.KIDS DOC 1.800.KIDS DOC
25 N. Wineld Road, Wineld, IL 60190 IL 60190 25 N. Wineld TTY for hearing impaired 630.933.4833 630.933.4833 TTY for hearing
*Childrens Memorial at Central DuPage Hospital is a collaboration between Central *Childrens Memorial at Central DuPage Hospital is a collaboration between Central DuPage Hospital and Childrens Memorial Hospital. The physicians involved in this DuPage Hospital and Childrens Memorial Hospital. The physicians involved in this collaboration are neither agents nor employees of Central DuPage Hospital or any of its collaboration are neither agents nor employees of Central DuPage Hospital or any of its afliate member organizations. afliate member organizations.

Helping infants, children and adults with disabilities achieve maximum independence and providing support for the families who love and care for them.

H Physical Therapy H Occupational Therapy Look for the Summer issue H Speech/Language Therapy ChiParentSpec_FNL_ad.indd 1 2/4/09 ChiParentSpec_FNL_ad.indd 1 2/4/09 2:35:53 PM of Chicago Special Parent 2:35:53 PM H Nutrition Therapy this July! H Aquatic Therapy CHICAGO H Assistive Technology H Outreach Programs H Specialized Clinics H Audiology Services for All Ages H Inclusive Child Care Services Sound H Social Services of music

Specal Parent

Exceptional care and patient comfort go hand in hand at Southwest Dental Group. This gives special needs children and adults an experience they can feel good about - with the option of IV sedation for situational anxiety. We believe theres no need too special.

(708) 403-3355

16600 South 107th Court, Orland Park, IL

plays thing
THE THE Interactive theater for kids with autism

Therapy finds new role

296 resources
you need
6/30/11 2:15 PM

Villa Park Elgin Naperville 630.620.4433

Dr. Tentler holds diplomate status in the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists. Dr. Robert L. Tentler and Associates, General Dentistry

ChicagoSpecialParent_Sum2011_01.indd 1 |

Specal Parent Spring 2012



Our family of family magazines

February 2012 FREE

Cabin fever

Find your kids camp now

Real. Happy. Families.

Stand-up parents

Real moms blast

201 1

Specal Parent


SPRiNg 2012

baby fat
every mom 57placesto know needs

For better or worse

Couples can survive special needs

e ultimate guide to family fun

4 of Chicagos funniest

hills are alive

The Where to sled in the city

When your neighbor HATES your kids

5 trips for your family

in the act
Plus liking, loving and dating your spouse




Where to eat, play and shop
ChicagoBaby2011_01 1

Babes in

Now what?
After the diagnosis
ChicagoSpecialParent_Spring2012_01.indd 1

Five stores not to miss

TOYING cooking & caroling

with the


Every month


10/4/11 2:54 PM

Twice a Year

1/26/12 2:47 PM

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Every season

11/2/11 12:20 PM

Online at

Specal Parent Spring 2012




2 1

Photo by Becky June Davis

Photo by Marita Blanken

Photo by Jennifer Prucha

Photo by Barbara Kohn

Photo by Petra Ford

Striving Toward Independence

The College of DuPage Photojournalism and Portraiture students collaborated with Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region for the 12th annual Photography Exhibition to feature more than 20 children.

Photo by Chris Johnson

1) Brett 2) Maddie and Sammie 3) William 4) Brittany 5) Mia 6) Ethan and Liam 7) Ethan 8) Zoey


Send your childs photo to tamara@ Photo by Bethany Foy

5 10 |

Photo by Gary Ghertner


Specal Parent Spring 2012


Specal Parent Spring 2012



Teen tumbles, cheers to first place

hen Sabrina Walega blew out her knee last year and was sidelined for the season, the three-sport athlete refused to sit out of competition. At one meet, Sabrina, who had a torn ACL and three bone chips, started suiting up and had to be told again she couldnt compete. But that kind of determination doesnt surprise Sabrinas parents, Debbie and Gene. She said I have two good arms and one good leg, and she wanted to go back, says Sabrinas mom. Sabrina, 14, who has Down syndrome, started taking gymnastics when she was 10. Before long, she was also competingand winningin dance and cheerleading. The petite seventh-grader has competed in Texas and St. Louis, and will soon travel to Atlanta and Indianapolis. Because of her size, shes a flyer in cheerleading, meaning shes tossed high into the air. She gets a rush out of it. I think its the daredevil factor, says her coach Patty Hermann. Shes definitely driven by challenge. Since her first competition four years ago, Sabrina also has been driven by the desire to win. The first time she competed, she received a ribbon and she was mad, her dad, Gene, remembers with a laugh. She wanted to make the podium. Since then, in the past 40 meets, Sabrina has taken a first place in every competition. And while some of those are Special Olympics


competitions, the majority are regular gymnastics meets with typically developing kids. But Sabrinas used to pitting herself against her peers. Her twin siblings, Sam and E.J., 15, are only a year older and were her benchmark growing up. She always wanted to be like her sister, Debbie says. Shes competitive with both of them, Gene adds. When Sabrina was first born, Debbie and Gene admit they initially grieved for all the things she wouldnt do. It didnt take long, though, for them to decide she would do whatever her siblings did. When doctors said Sabrina wouldnt be able to drink out of a bottle and would go home with a feeding tube, Debbie said no way. She spent hours working with her newborn, successfully taking her home drinking from a bottle. Sabrina started physical therapy at six weeks, and whatever she worked on in therapy, her parents continued working on at home. Still, it wasnt until Debbie heard about Pattys gymnastics and cheer program that Sabrina really blossomed. When Debbie and Gene called Patty, she told them the program was full, but they could bring Sabrina in to meet with her anyway. As soon as Patty worked with Sabrina, she realized the young girl held unusual talent

Fast facts
Who: Sabrina Walega, 14 Family: Parents Debbie and Gene, siblings Sam and E.J. Hometown: Chicago What she does: Competes in gymnastics, cheerleading and dance at regional and national levels through Elite Star Athletics Hardest part: Floor exercise. Theres a lot to remember. How does it feel to compete? Its scary. Im nervous the whole time. But its not scary to get thrown in the air. Elite Star Athletics (847) 804 3545 Offers a competitive training program for people with special needs from 4 and up in gymnastics, cheerleading, competi tive dance and figure skating.

and opened a spot on the team for her. Since then, Sabrina has expanded into cheerleading and competitive dance. There was talk of putting her on the list last year to compete internationally in gymnastics until they realized she was still too young to qualify. Through it all, she maintains her fearless, determined attitude, often practicing 20 hours a week and never complaining when the uneven bars rip open blisters on her hands. When she was first born we thought, Shell never be able to do what the other kids do, Debbie says. But she proved us wrong.

Sabrina Walega


Specal Parent Spring 2012





February 2012 FREE

Cabin fever

Find your kids camp now

Real. Happy. Families.

Stand-up parents

4 of Chicagos funniest

When your neighbor HATES your kids

ChiCago Parents annual CamP guide

Monthly through May
For more information, call (708) 386-5555 or visit

Caught in the act




Plus liking, loving and dating your spouse

a childrens hospital
like this before!

Theres never been

Lahela, patient since 2008

The expansiveness of this hospital is as impressive as the wonders it holds. Onsite clinical research expedites breakthrough discoveries from the research labs to the patients bedside. Sharing the medical school campus of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine allows for fantastic collaboration with adult care physicians and researchers. All part of an awe-inspiring vision to make Chicago the healthiest place in the nation for kids. PREPARE TO BE AMAZED.

is becoming

Opening downtown June 2012

Learn more at

To learn more about the new hospital, scan this tag. To get the Tag Reader, visit
2012 Childrens Memorial Hospital