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ABLE Plans Let Those With Disabilities Set Financial Goals

For most of us who would like to save up for something – a new computer, a college class, a trip or even retirement – all we need to do to get started is to open a bank account or take advantage of a retirement or college savings plan. Most people with disabilities don’t have that luxury. Those who take advantage of state and federal government benefits such as Supplemental...

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Registration is Open for Free Accessible Rose Parade Viewing

The Tournament of Roses and the city of Pasadena work together to coordinate three areas of accessible street-level viewing for the annual Rose Parade, and this year people with disabilities can make reservations online for the first time. There are three accessible viewing areas offering reserved space to people with disabilities free of charge. This allows those with disabilities – and up to four guests – to avoid having to...

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Young Adults With Autism Need Workplace Social Skills

"As I wandered the resource fair with both my kids in tow, it became strikingly clear how limited the options would be for Nicholas post-high school." "There is a lot of money invested in these kids when they are young, but there is significantly less as they get older. You feel as if you're on your own." These are real thoughts plaguing parents of high school-age children with autism spectrum...

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The Art of Autism: Growing Up

From Tom Iland: Growing up with autism is not easy. Social challenges, family dynamics, academics, employment opportunities and many other issues need to be addressed over the course of one’s life. In my experience, in having the right mindset and an effective, loving support system made these obstacles more manageable. Shortly after my diagnosis at 13 years old, I was taught that using autism as an excuse or as a crutch...

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Must-Do Self-care Tips For Special-Needs Moms

Areva Martin is a busy woman. She is an attorney, legal analyst and commentator who often appears on “The Doctors,” “Dr. Phil,” “Dr. Drew” and “Good Morning America.” She founded and runs the resource and advocacy organization Special Needs Network and is a wife and mother of three, with one son on the autism spectrum. And – believe it or not – she has learned to take good care of...

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Freewheeling At the Beach

A day at the beach is a quintessential SoCal summer family outing. And even if your child uses a wheelchair, you can hit the sand. Ashley Lyn Olson was paralyzed in a car accident at age 14, and has become a lifelong access advocate. In 2006, she launched wheelchairtraveling.com to encourage people in wheelchairs to “come access your world.” The northern California resident travels the globe and often hits the...

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July Fourth Fireworks With Sensitive Kids

Diane Cullinane has a son with sensory issues, and when he was 2 or 3 years old, the family decided to attend a local fireworks display one July Fourth. Cullinane knew her son was sensitive, so they parked three blocks from the celebration and watched from there. Even so, they had to leave after a few minutes. “It was just too much for him,” Cullinane says. For many kids with...

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An Animated Look at the World of Autism

Lots of kids love Disney animated films, watching them again and again until their parents are driven to distraction – and have memorized most of the dialog. Owen Suskind’s parents, though, don’t complain about his Disney obsession. They credit it with helping bring him back to them. The documentary “Life, Animated,” in local theaters beginning July 1, lets us share that journey. Near the beginning of the film we see...

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A Family with Unreasonable Hope

The doctor said it again and again: “She will never ….” And for Chad Veach, hearing this about his 4-month-old daughter, Georgia, was too much. “My heart sank into my socks,” says Veach, pastor of Zoe Church in Los Angeles and author of the new book “Unreasonable Hope.”   The doctor was explaining to Veach and his wife, Julia, that their daughter has lissencephaly, which literally means “smooth brain” and is...

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Songs About Social Skills – And Us

Social skills are important in helping smooth our way through life – but they’re not something we talk about a lot. An album out this spring from SoCal singer/songwriter Kerry Fenster makes the conversation musical. “Songs About Us,” from the independent Muzic School label, is a collection of five tunes aimed at teaching social skills to children and young adults with developmental delays. The album was inspired by Fenster’s work...

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5 Tips to Lessen Summer Visitation Drama

Summer is when many of us create some of the best memories with our children. For divorced parents who have limited custody during school months, summer visitation can provide an excellent opportunity to extend visits and spend quality time with their children. It also allows for children to maintain a loving relationship with both parents after a divorce. Parents typically follow a child custody order issued by the court during...

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5 Don’ts For a Stronger Marriage

Given enough time and togetherness, any relationship between two people will face a challenge or two. And all marriages take a bit of work, no matter how in love you are. “Love is a component, but it really is only one component,” says clinical psychologist Darren Sush, Psy.D., whose Brentwood-based practice specializes in helping parents of children with autism. Many other things come into play in making a marriage work....

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L.A. Sports Programs for Kids With Special Needs

Kickball was one of my favorite childhood sports. Our weekly neighborhood games were even sweeter because we had a designated pitcher. Jonathan would be the first one on the empty lot at the end of our street. He’d always bring the ball, and as long as we could get at least four kids together, we had a game. Jonathan used a wheelchair, but he loved kickball, and for us, that’s...

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Support For Special Needs Siblings

For 13-year-old Brianna Baker, joining a support group for siblings of children with special needs was natural. She had essentially grown up visiting Encino-based McRory Pediatric Services as her younger sister, Olivia, underwent a series of occupational, physical and speech therapies. After Olivia, now 10, was officially diagnosed with Rett syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that impacts speech and motor skills, Brianna began seeing a counselor on her own and,...

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Working On a Dream

Their cell phones are never quiet and seem to vibrate simultaneously. During a recent afternoon, their oldest daughter, Avivah, is trying to coordinate a ride on Lyft from her high school in west Los Angeles to their home in the San Fernando Valley. Matt Asner takes care of the logistics while his wife, Navah Paskowitz, answers a text from their son. They’re frazzled, but definitely in sync. Asner and Paskowitz...

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Why the World Needs Kids of All Abilities

Vincent Van Dyk was born with a rare condition called Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes developmental delays, delayed growth and other issues. “When we first got his diagnosis, it was really scary,” says his mom, Felicia. “I thought back to my own childhood, how kids used to make fun.” Still, Van Dyk decided to make sure Vincent, who is now 12, was fully included when he started attending...

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Eight Ways to Calm Autism-related Anxiety

Professionals say a little anxiety now and then is natural, and even good for us. But anxiety that interferes with daily life – as it does for some children who have special needs or are on the autism spectrum – is not. Here are a few tried-and-true techniques for calming feelings of anxiety in children with autism. Be prepared. A big part of stress reduction is planning for stressful situations,...

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Estate Planning For Families With Special Needs

Estate planning is a task that is neglected by many parents. But in families that include children with special needs who will need long-term care and resources beyond their parents’ lifetime, it is a task that can seem especially daunting. Even something as wonderful as an unexpected financial windfall can have unforeseen – and devastating – consequences for these children. “We received a frantic call from a family for whom...

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Pam Lyn King: Coaching From the Heart

Pam Lyn King knows first hand what life is like for a special-needs family. Her younger sister, Kristol, was born with Down syndrome and autism. When Kristol died three years ago at age 20, King felt a profound void that she wasn’t sure how to fill. Landing a new job as an administrative specialist in the communications department of Kaiser Permanente in 2014 opened her heart in ways she didn’t...

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Summer Camp for Special Kids

You did your homework, made your visits and found a great school for your child with special needs. But soon school will be out. What will your child do this summer? If you are considering summer camp, know that there are a lot of great programs in the L.A. area that will allow your child to have a real summer-camp experience in a safe and nurturing environment. Now is the...

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Putting People With Autism To Work, Now

Each Thursday evening six young adults gather around a large table in an office off Ventura and Reseda boulevards and work to hone their employment skills. Because these individuals have autism, their chances of finding meaningful employment aren’t great. While 50,000 18-22-year-olds with autism graduate from public schools in the U.S. each year, the employment rate among people with disabilities is only 10 percent. This is why Joanne Lara and...

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Keeping Bloodhounds On the Scent of Missing Kids

Around half of all children on the autism spectrum will wander toward something that interests them, or bolt away from something that is bothersome. And because they have little sense of danger, this wandering can take them away from their caregivers and into unsafe situations. These children often go missing, and according to the National Autism Association, children ages 9 and younger with autism who wander off are killed 42...

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Down Syndrome Stories That Will Make You Smile

When Andrea Knauss gave birth to her third daughter, Anna, 25 years ago, a nurse came into her hospital room and told her, “God has a big job for you!” The hospital photographer told her, “I guess you don’t want pictures of your baby, do you.” Anna was born with Down syndrome, and the hospital social worker Knauss consulted couldn’t even point her toward a book or video that would...

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Pairing Special Needs Families With Quality Providers

Need a restaurant recommendation? Try Yelp. A plumber? Angie’s List. And if you’re looking for a reliable service provider for someone with special needs, you can turn to Love My Provider (www.lovemyprovider.com), a fee-free website specializing in therapeutic services such as Applied Behavior Analysis; occupational, physical and speech therapy; summer camps and day programs. The nonprofit company was founded by special educator and behavior analyst Sara Gershfeld, who provided special-needs...

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USC Telehealth Offers Free Help For Special-Needs Caregivers

Mary Ann Frattarole thinks it was early 2012 when she started getting desperate calls from parents and caregivers of children and adults with special needs. “I got some heart-wrenching calls from parents that had a special-needs child,” she says, including one mom who also had a husband with a disability for whom she was the only caregiver. “She said, ‘I don’t know how I can make it another day. Can...

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A Conference To Talk About Typing

Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher both have limited speech due to autism, and when they were growing up, this meant they were labeled “retarded” and excluded from regular education. But their lives were turned around when, as adults, each learned to communicate by typing. Bissonnette, 52, and Thresher, 42, eventually embarked on a world tour to shine a light on autism that became the 2010 documentary film Wretches & Jabberers....

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For Autism Initiative, Sesame Street Looks to Our Neighborhood

TV’s “Sesame Street” has long been populated with flightless birds, singing frogs, cuddly monsters and children of all sorts. And as the number of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum continues to grow in the world at large, they are coming to Sesame Street as well. To help out with the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” initiative, Sesame Workshop turned to a neighborhood in Sherman Oaks,...

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This Holiday Shopping Keeps Vacation Dreams Afloat

Since 2006, Autism on the Seas has organized and staffed vacations (on cruises and at resorts on land) for families with children and adults with a variety of special needs – from autism to Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other types of challenges. Now the organization has launched a nonprofit arm that will help fund these vacations as well. The Autism on the Seas Foundation will award varying amounts of...

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13-year-old Chef Cooks With Food Greats at Autism Speaks Gala

By the time Chase Bailey was 10, he was hooked on cooking shows. He discussed best methods for caramelizing onions with his mom and filled the family DVR with recipes for pizzas baked in brick ovens and tortillas filled with mahi mahi and mango-radish salsa. At 11, he started his own cooking blog, followed by his YouTube channel, “Chase 'N Yur Face.” And in October, the Irvine 13-year-old, who is...

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New Gluten-Free Breads at La Brea Bakery

Due to the large demand for gluten-free breads nowadays, La Brea Bakery (www.labreabakery.com) which first opened in Los Angeles 26 years ago, has recently introduced its own gluten-free breads. Best known for its artisan breads, La Brea Bakery was looking to offer customers something that was tasty and healthy, thus the creation of the new breads. To begin, the bakery is offering two classic flavors. The first is the White...

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New Online Autism Training For Babysitters Available

All parents want their child’s babysitters to be well prepared – able to keep their child entertained, handle the after-school or bedtime routine and deal with whatever challenges or emergencies might come up. For parents of children on the autism spectrum, there’s a new online tool available to help prepare sitters for the unique challenge of caring for these special kids. Available from the Institute for Behavioral Training (IBT), the...

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School Involvement for Special Needs Parents

If you are the parent of a student with special needs, you likely spend a lot of time at your child’s school discussing IEPs, accommodations and other issues affecting his or her education. Some encounters go smoothly. Others don’t, and this might have you avoiding the school except at drop-off and pick-up time. But there’s a school of thought (no pun intended) that contends that getting involved in your child’s...

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Help Group Summit Focuses on Autism, Learning Disabilities and ADHD

A two-day conference featuring leading experts in research and best practices in the assessment and treatment of autism, learning disabilities and ADHD is set for Oct. 23 and 24 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The Help Group’s Summit 2015 is designed for educators, clinicians/therapists and parents. Speakers include experts from UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, University of Washington, UC Davis, UC Riverside and USC. The conference...

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Helping Special-Needs Teens Transition Socially

A group of teens is talking. Your child wants to join the conversation, but isn’t sure how to go about it. What would you advise? If you’d tell your child to just walk up and introduce himself, you aren’t doing him any favors. “It would look odd to just walk up to a random group and say hi,” says Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D., founder and director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic,...

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A Boy and His Dog Share Love and Therapy

Eight-year-old Daron, of Van Nuys, has a tight knit family. They have been through a lot together. Daron has cerebral palsy and needs a lot of support, but his parents, Hagop and Armine, and his older sister, Ani, are devoted to him. They will do just about anything to make Daron smile. That is why the family applied for an assistance dog for Daron from Canine Companions for Independence. The...

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Special Needs Conference Focuses On Balance For Families

For Navah Paskowitz, “Bringing Balance,” the theme of the conference she is organizing for parents and siblings of children with special needs, is personal. “It really came out of my own family,” Paskowitz says. “We have a heavy load, my husband and I.” Paskowitz, executive director of corporate development and program director of The Friendship Circle By the Sea, is married to Matt Asner, executive director of the Southern California...

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3 Keys for Success with Highly Sensitive Kids

Highly sensitive children feel things more deeply than other children do, and oftentimes respond more quickly. Their heightened perception includes being sensitive to sensory input such as loud noises, harsh images, strong smells or scratchy tags on clothing. Coupled with their incredible sensitivity is an intensity that can go quickly in the “right direction” as they immerse themselves in a creative project, or in the “wrong direction” as they cry...

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Taking Care of Your Child’s Smile

If your child has special needs, you are likely immersed in an array of tasks and therapies – occupational, educational and physical. As you work to help your child make the most of her or his abilities, don’t forget your child’s smile! “You need to care for their mouths. It is a journey. It is a process,” says Jill Lasky, DDS, a pediatric dentist who practices in Tarzana and Studio...

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Bringing Reilly To Life

“The life of Reilly” is an old-fashioned way of describing a life that is easy and pleasant. That’s not what Sinead Clancy thought she had in store when her son Roan, now 10, was 18 months old and his pediatrician told her that he had autism. “I started Googling autism and trying to find out about it,” says Clancy, “and it was just this terrifying landscape of everything that was...

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When Parenting is Not What You Expected

Los Angeles-based psychologist and neuropsychologist Rita Eichenstein, Ph.D., has worked with what she calls “atypical” children for more than 25 years. Eichenstein coined the term “atypical” to help describe kids who have combinations of developmental, behavioral and learning differences that make it difficult to fit them into neat categories of clinical diagnosis. “But what I have come to realize is that focusing on the child’s needs is not sufficient,” she...

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Making the Skies – And Airport – Friendlier For People With Special Needs

Larry Rollon thinks a lot about helping people of various abilities through the airport. As coordinator for disability services at Los Angeles World Airports (which includes LAX and Ontario International Airport), he oversees programs to assist passengers in wheelchairs, the hearing and visually impaired, and others who need help navigating the airport and getting to their flight. But he hadn’t thought much about passengers with autism until about two years...

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Support For Parents of Kids With Special Needs

If you are the parent or caregiver of a child with autism, you’re likely involved in a slew of activities, from advocating for financial and educational resources to dealing with your child’s communication and behavior issues, making choices about treatments and therapies, and attending intensive therapy sessions with your child. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy alone can take several hours a day. “It can be like a full-time job for the kids, except it doesn’t pay a salary,”...

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Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte On Growing Up With CP

As a child, actor RJ Mitte had a clever trick for keeping his legs – which were in casts – cool during the hot summer months growing up in Austin, Texas and Lafayette, Louisiana. He froze pennies and quarters and then dropped them into his casts. “The problem was, I couldn’t get them out. So when I walked, you would hear the ching, ching,” says Mitte with a laugh. Diagnosed...

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Spiritual Connections For Special Needs Families

When my cousin Gloria asked whether my son, who has autism, was getting a religious education, I balked. “I just can’t think about that now – not with all of his therapies, his intense behavioral challenges, battling the school system, finding doctors, rallying Regional Center funding. It’s too much to add one more thing to my plate,” I told her. I didn’t realize that a spiritual community was exactly what...

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Getting Kids With Special Needs Ready for Adulthood

Avremel Mayer has Down syndrome – and an independent streak. When he was a teenager, a yellow school bus picked him up each morning for the trip to Fairfax High. He had convinced his parents to let him wait for the bus on his own. One day, he decided the school bus was coming too late. “He walked to the corner, picked up the [city] bus to Fairfax Avenue and...

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Families With Special Needs: Get the FriendMaker App For Free

If you wanted to start a conversation with someone you didn’t know, you might follow steps like these: Casually look over at the person. Use a prop. Look for a common interest. Make a reference to the common interest. Trade information about the common interest. Assess interest. Introduce yourself. Most people wouldn’t use a checklist for this, but for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum a simple social...

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7 Safety Strategies for Kids With Special Needs

As parents, it is our job to worry about our kids. And we worry about our children with special needs at every stage of their (and our) lives. As it turns out, worry is a waste of mental energy – energy we cannot afford to waste! The best thing to do with worry is convert it to action, doing something positive to mitigate the unsettling thoughts that keep us awake...

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Enjoying a Special Day In the Kitchen

The holiday season sends most families into the kitchen, and we’ve got a fantastic way to make sure kids with special needs are included. “Special Day Cooking: A Life Skills Cookbook” by Beverly Worth Palomba includes more than 60 recipes designed especially for these special kids. The book covers breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus vegetables, soups and salads, drinks and snacks and dessert. The recipes are in large type, with...

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Thanking Your Family’s Special-Needs Angels

Taking time to recognize and express our gratitude to others for the impact they have had in our lives is good for everyone, especially for families of individuals with special needs. Whether you employ direct service providers, or are a client of one, there are several ways to show your gratitude for their work. These special professionals sit knee-to-knee with children and teach them in circumstances that are sometimes challenging....

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When It Is Not Autism: Examining Alternative Diagnoses

As awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder has increased, there has also been a rise in the number of cases of the disorder. In 2000, it was estimated that approximately one in 150 children met criteria for autism, but that number has increased to one in 68. Some experts now question whether this means more children actually have autism, or whether the increase might be due to expansion of the definition...

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Conquering Behavior Challenges With Collaborative Problem Solving

Some children just seem to have more behavioral challenges than average, in spite of excellent parenting. They might be chronically agitated, have low tolerance for frustration and minor schedule changes or frequently argue with or actively defy the adult authority figures in their lives. These children are often in trouble at school and other extracurricular activities, resulting in frequent phone calls to their exasperated parents. To add insult to injury,...

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Outings On the Spectrum

Taking your children out on an excursion where everyone has fun can feel like a major accomplishment for any parent. If you have a child with autism spectrum disorder, a successful outing might be even more of a challenge, but just as much of a necessity. Regardless of a child’s level of ability, participating in community outings is a skill that will ultimately enhance her or his quality of life....

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Straight Teeth For Kids With Special Needs

For many kids, braces are a rite of passage – not an enjoyable one, but worth enduring for straight teeth and a lovely smile. For children with special needs, however, braces can be more than a nuisance. Children on the autism spectrum, and those with cerebral palsy and other challenges, are extra sensitive to having wires and brackets in the mouth and often damage the appliances. Traditional braces also make...

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Evaluating Research 101 – Your Handy Guide To Evidence-Based Interventions

By Lisa Stoddard, M.A., BCBA From the time our children are born, we parents are faced with a seemingly endless stream of decisions. Disposable or cloth? Cow’s milk or soy? Montessori or Waldorf? But for parents of children with special needs, decisions about treatments and therapies can be daunting. When facing a sea of conflicting theories, treatment models and news reports touting the latest study, how does a parent determine...

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Taking the Blues Out of Jeans

By Christina Elston Stephanie Alves started sewing at age 10, and grew up with a brother with developmental disabilities. The clothing available made it truly challenging for him to dress himself. This was in the 1970s, when there wasn’t even Velcro on tennis shoes. “When I was a teenager, my mom said, ‘Why don’t you make clothes for people like your brother?’” Alves says. During more than 25 years as...

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Creating Custom Reward Systems For Children With Autism

Be creative and consider the child and the setting when working to shape behavior. By Christina Elston Not long ago, Michael Cameron was at the beach and saw a father and son playing in the surf and collecting shells. The boy was well behaved, but it didn’t take long for Cameron to identify him as a child with special needs. The father, wanting to reward his son for good behavior,...

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More Fun Together

Toys can build connections between kids with special needs and their peers. By Ellen Metrick “Inclusion” is a popular word used around children with special needs. It reflects the emotional need of every human being to be included and the innate desire to share experiences, and there is perhaps no better place to put the concept of inclusion to work than through toys and play. Hot categories of toys this...

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Improvising Through Parenthood

Couples who have children with special needs have to be flexible in their dreams, and care for their relationships, too. By Elena Epstein As Rodney Peete and Holly Robinson Peete chat about their day-to-day family life – homework, after-school activities, teen drama – their manner is warm and casual. They share an easygoing rapport and sense of humor. As talk turns to their son, RJ, I get the sense that...

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Fostering Friendships

Local programs bring together children with – and without – special needs By Ronna Mandel “You’ve got a friend in me,” goes the theme to Disney’s Toy Story films, all of which feature the special bond between a boy named Andy and his toys. Childhood friends, real and animated, are an important part of growing up. For children with special needs, however, making friends can be a challenge. There’s no...

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A Club That Welcomes An Extra Chromosome

Pasadena’s Club 21 opens its arms, and reaches out a lifeline, for families of children with Down syndrome Christina Elston Sixteen years ago, Nancy Litteken’s obstetrician told her this: “Don’t worry. We can take care of it.” He meant that they could abort the baby she was carrying because the results of her amniocentesis test showed that the baby would be born with Down syndrome. “At that time, people who...

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Tips for Long Journeys With Loved Ones With Autism

Tips for Long Journeys With Loved Ones With Autism

The author of “Cowboy and Willis” and mother of a son with autism offers helpful advice for special-needs travel. by Monica Holloway For many families with loved ones on the autism spectrum the idea of a long journey can be daunting. Here are some suggestions from the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (www.sath.org), a nonprofit educational organization, for making travel with those with special needs as streamlined as possible....

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Social Foundations Helps Special-Needs Kids Build Skills

Social Foundations Helps Special-Needs Kids Build Skills

Built on Michelle Winner’s ‘Social Thinking’ concept, the mom-run Santa Monica business touts social awareness. by Elena Epstein Moms Suzanne Tabachnick and Kelly Priest met seven years ago in an early-intervention program for children on the autism spectrum. They had an instant connection. Priest has a Master’s degree in clinical psychology and several years of experience working with families. She attended conferences on “Social Thinking,” a concept pioneered by speech...

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Snip-Its Hair Salons Specialize In Special-Needs Kids

With extra training for stylists and helpful guides for parents, the chain makes haircuts easier for children on the autism spectrum. by Christina Elston For parents of a child on the autism spectrum, little things that other families take for granted – things like a simple haircut – can be a real challenge. Children with autism can find the sights and sounds of a hair salon, the feel of someone...

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Seven Keys to Keep You Smiling Through Dental Visits

Seven Keys to Keep You Smiling Through Dental Visits

These tips will help children with special needs – and their parents – feel more comfortable in the dentist’s chair. by Elaine Hall I’m scared of dentists. Well, not the dentist himself (my brother is a dentist in San Diego), but I am scared of sitting in that chair, opening my mouth and not knowing what pain I am about to endure. Just thinking about the sound of the drill,...

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Making Sense of Fine Motor Skills

More than 20 tips and activities from an occupational therapist that will improve your child’s handwriting. by Annie Baltazar Mori, ODT Handwriting or any fine motor activity seems like it is a simple and straightforward learning process. But when we pull back the curtain, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, working in seamless harmony to create a perfectly formed and spaced sentence or well-constructed craft project. Occupational...

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Keeping Bullies At Bay

Keeping Bullies At Bay

Children with special needs are bullied more often, but Dawn Barnes of Dawn Barnes Karate Kids has some wonderful prevention tips. by Dawn Barnes Sending children back to school is exciting. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of worry. Bullying is in the news more than ever and mothers are rightfully concerned about the safety of their children. Mothers of children with special needs may hold even deeper concerns...

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Helping Your Special-Needs Child Build Meaningful Friendships

Helping Your Special-Needs Child Build Meaningful Friendships

These seven keys will help you pinpoint the ways in which your child is social, and use them to create rewarding relationships. by Elaine Hall “Hey guys! I had fun! See you next week,” calls 12-year-old Jackson as he climbs into his mom’s SUV. “Mom, I had a great time and I think I made some friends,” he beams. This was Jackson’s first day in our theater class and, as...

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Four Support Strategies For Special-Needs Families

Four Support Strategies For Special-Needs Families

Children with special needs aren’t the only ones who need support. Using these tips to help keep the whole family healthy benefits the special-needs child as well. by Brian Roper, Ph.D. For human beings, childhood lasts a very long time. Born with just the basics needed for survival, each of us has much to learn toward becoming a contributing member of society. The family plays an incredibly important role in...

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Financial Planning Today Means Care For Tomorrow

Special Needs: Financial Planning Today Means Care For Tomorrow

Coping with a special-needs child’s diagnosis can take its toll, but don’t delay planning for the future. by Melanie Gaball Financial planning is important for parents, but for those who have a child with special needs the complexities of funding a lifetime of care can be overwhelming and emotional. While many parents are still dealing with the acceptance of their child’s diagnosis, developing a financial road map for their family’s...

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Book Takes a Look At What Makes Us Different

Book Takes a Look At What Makes Us Different

‘Jacob’s Eye Patch’ is a sweet story that offers lessons for approaching special needs. by Christina Elston If you’re the parent of young children, you’ve no doubt had to remind them not to stare, point or talk too loudly about some difference they have noticed in someone else – the man who is so tall he has to duck to get through doorways, the child in the wheelchair, the lady...

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A Super Kid, A Heroic Mom, A Story Worth Reading

"Life With a Superhero: Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome" tells a family's story with bravery and heart. by Julie Kertes Michael Hulings’ story is a remarkable one, right from the beginning. In a small Israeli town more than 20 years ago, a mother gave up her newborn baby when she discovered he had Down syndrome. She told family and friends that the baby had died, but her misfortune became...

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7 Ways to Help Your Special-Needs Child Self-Advocate

7 Ways to Help Your Special-Needs Child Self-Advocate

Kids with autism can often speak, act and negotiate for themselves. Here’s how to help them become more independent. by Monica Holloway and Areva Martin It is natural for parents of children with autism to assume the role as advocate for their children, but it is important to help these kids learn tools for self-advocacy as they grow into teens and adults. Our sons, Wills and Marty, are teenagers, and...

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7 Keys To Gift Giving For Special-Needs Families

7 Keys To Gift Giving For Special-Needs Families

Wondering what to get a special someone? Shopping is easier than you think with these tips. by Elaine Hall “What should I get for my nephew who has autism?” asks my girlfriend Katie. “What does he like to do?” I query. “My sister says that right now he just likes to play with Tupperware.” “Great! Get him that.” I remember one year, one of my son’s caretakers wrapped up two...

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7 Keys To Easing Transition Anxiety

7 Keys to Easing Transition Anxiety

These tips will help children with special needs manage all sorts of transitions and new situations by Elaine Hall Transitions can cause tremendous anxiety for a child with special needs. Often, it is not the new place itself that may illicit fear in children living with AD/HD, OCD, sensory processing disorder, or autism. Instead, it is the potential for sensory or social-emotional elements that could cause them to feel out...

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