Susie Redfern developed Milestones Magazine to help individuals with disabilities and their families achieve and celebrate events and milestones in their lives.

Susie Redfern developed Milestones Magazine to help individuals with disabilities and their families achieve and celebrate events and milestones in their lives.


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eyond disabilities<br />

Summer Issue 2020<br />

Unmasked<br />

Virtually Yours<br />

The Resilience Zone<br />

Emotional Support Dog<br />

Help Through a Stressful Time

contents<br />

03 Pulling Teeth<br />

05 Autism in the Workplace<br />

07 Virtually Yours<br />

11 The Resilience Zone<br />

13 Unmasked?<br />

15 Therapy, Support, Hugs and<br />

Kisses: Courtesy of my Dog<br />

16 Filling in the Cracks<br />

17 Rapid Prompting Method - Autism<br />

19 Following My PATH<br />

21 Take Good Care of Me -<br />

Finding My Joy Maker<br />

22 Have Clippers will Travel<br />

23 My Kind of Care<br />

24 Give Me a Break<br />

summer<br />

2020<br />

Publisher<br />

Susie Redfern, is the parent of a special<br />

needs child who recently “aged out”<br />

of the public-school system.<br />

She developed Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine<br />

to help individuals with disabilities<br />

and their families achieve and celebrate<br />

events and milestones in their lives.<br />

info@milestonesmagazine.com<br />

1<br />






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PULLING teeth<br />

Among the many challenges individuals with disabilities<br />

(and sometimes folks without disabilities) face is a visit to the dentist<br />

for routine preventive care. For folks with sensory issues<br />

such as Autism and/or mental health challenges such as anxiety,<br />

this can easily lead to behaviors that can make routine dental care difficult,<br />

or even impossible, to accomplish safely.<br />


I have experienced this dilemma first-hand with my son, now age 25. When he<br />

was young, we used a pediatric dentist close to our house who had experience<br />

with and resources for, special needs patients. Later, after a move when our son<br />

was 8, we started with a general practice dentist who a fellow member of the<br />

special need PTA recommended. This arrangement worked well until recently,<br />

when my son showed almost unprecedented resistance to the routine dental work.<br />

This was a potentially dangerous situation for the dental hygienist, my son, me,<br />

and anyone else in proximity.<br />

So, back to square one. We called the dental insurance providers and got a name<br />

of a provider who treats special needs patients. His office is a relatively short drive<br />

for us, so we made an appointment. The first visit didn’t go very well, but he has<br />

Saturday hours available, as needed, for patients with Autism or other conditions.<br />

So, on our second visit, our son was more relaxed and cooperated with a basic<br />

tooth brushing and dental exam. Then we went back after Christmas for an<br />

(unsuccessful) attempt at a more comprehensive cleaning. We will be doing all<br />

needed dental work next month with the help of a dental sedation team that<br />

partners with local dentists for patients that need that service.<br />

While this is very good for us personally (and hopefully will be our solution for<br />

dental care moving forward), it doesn’t solve the problem for everyone. Therefore,<br />

I was thrilled when the following information came across my desk (so to speak)<br />

in an email I received. An article from Disability Scoop: Dental Students Will<br />

Soon Be Trained To Care For Those With Special Needs, here are the highlights:<br />

“Dental school students will soon be required to learn how to care for patients<br />

with disabilities under new guidelines from an accrediting body.<br />

The Commission on Dental Accreditation approved new standards this<br />

summer requiring all U.S. dental schools to train students in the assessment<br />

and management of patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities,<br />

among other special needs populations.<br />

The change means that by mid-2020, schools that offer degrees in dentistry,<br />

orthodontics, dental hygiene and dental assistant programs must include clinical<br />

training with a “special needs” population of patients in their graduation<br />

requirements or risk losing their accreditation.”<br />

I am hopeful that this training for dental school students, when fully<br />

implemented, will allow folks with special needs and their parents/guardians<br />

not to feel like it’s like (pun intended) pulling teeth to find a dentist who can<br />

treat them. And perhaps leaving no other treatment options than pulling teeth<br />

by the time care is obtained.teeth by the time care is obtained. M<br />


I’m on the<br />

Autism Spectrum<br />

By: Matt Hemauer<br />

let me<br />


how to work from home<br />


Well, it seems that everyone is working from home. That<br />

includes me. I’m a software testing analyst at Aspiritech,<br />

a company that trains and employs adults with autism to<br />

perform QA software and hardware testing. Basically, we’re<br />

focus and concentrate. I’m in a house with my dad, who<br />

works remotely, and my two brothers who are completing<br />

their college courses remotely too. Tuning out the noise<br />

can help your productivity.<br />

the people that make sure that websites, applications, and<br />

wireless electronics work smoothly.<br />

As I mentioned, those of us on the autism spectrum<br />

have unique traits that enable us to work efficiently<br />

At Aspiritech, my 130 colleagues (90% of us are on the<br />

autism spectrum) and I generally work in our Chicago<br />

offices. Some of the traits that make people on the<br />

spectrum especially talented at software testing<br />

(attention to detail, ability to focus on a single<br />

task) also help us easily adapt to working<br />

from home.<br />

from home. For example, I excel when given the<br />

chance to work without the disruption of in-person<br />

meetings. Most things said in a meeting can be<br />

communicated by Slack and email. Working<br />

from home gives everyone -- on the<br />

spectrum and beyond it -- an<br />

opportunity to refine their written<br />

communication skills. When it’s<br />

Now that we -- and likely you --<br />

can’t work at the office, let<br />

me offer some advice for<br />

a seamless transition.<br />

First and foremost, you<br />

have to make sure your home<br />

office is clean and feels like an<br />

actual office. Especially if you work<br />

necessary to meet, virtual<br />

check-ins have less<br />

pressure than an<br />

in-person meeting,<br />

and I can get back to<br />

work. And no commute<br />

means I have more time<br />

for work and free time.<br />

in technology and have wires everywhere,<br />

it can get messy quickly.I set up near the<br />

window so I have plenty of natural light, plus a<br />

lamp nearby for when it gets dark. I also set up a<br />

second monitor which can be helpful when you are<br />

handling multiple projects. I’ve usually got Slack open on<br />

one monitor, and the tests I’m running on the other. Try to<br />

I also want to address the stereotype<br />

of people on the spectrum not wanting<br />

to deal with social interactions. If the<br />

stay-at-home orders ended tomorrow, I would<br />

be excited to return to the office because even<br />

though there are distractions, I miss the community.<br />

retain your normal schedule. We have a group Google<br />

Hangout right when we’d normally clock in, so you feel like<br />

you’re “arriving” at the office. This helps to maintain a sense<br />

of normalcy.<br />

Lastly, I use noise cancelling headphones (mine are Bose<br />

I hope this time also gives hiring managers a reason<br />

to think about how neurodiversity -- the viewpoint<br />

that brain differences are normal and beneficial -- is a<br />

competitive advantage for any company’s financial<br />

success and efficiency. M<br />

QC 700’s ,one of Aspiritech’s many clients) to help me<br />


Virtually Yours<br />

COVID-19 Pandemic<br />

The COVID-19 Pandemic has upended millions of lives and<br />

tested everyone’s resilience. To me, resilience, while not a<br />

solution to the financial strain imposed on millions of families<br />

and businesses, leads to the ability to pivot, reassess, and<br />

examine options rationally. As the pandemic itself illustrates,<br />

decisions based on panic and fear can be bad decisions, with<br />

unintended consequences.<br />

The fall-out from COVID-19 has been, at best, stressful for<br />

everyone, but especially so for individuals with mental, physical,<br />

sensory, or developmental challenges; even for those fortunate<br />

enough to have escaped severe symptoms of the virus itself.<br />

Countless individuals, businesses, and organizations have<br />

stepped up to provide needed supplies and equipment to those<br />

on the “front lines”. Businesses and organizations are also<br />

scrambling to find ways to provide their services and products<br />

to customers and clients.<br />

Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine is doing a sampling of our magazine<br />

contributors (past, present, and future), all of whom have a<br />

product or service that serves and/or employs people with<br />

challenges. In this article we will share what they are doing<br />

virtually to connect with their customers, clients, and employees<br />

with challenges during this stay at home period, and beyond.<br />


Tarryl Zdanky, Tarryl’s Teaching Tools<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine contributor Tarryl Zdanky collaborated on an article,<br />

Meltdown in Aisle 5 which appeared on pages 10-11 of the debut<br />

edition. She writes:<br />

“As a Mom of 2 young adults affected with autism, I know how difficult<br />

this time can be. Increased behaviors, changes in sleep patterns, and other<br />

issues can make this time challenging.<br />

I wanted to help make this time at home fun for families. I am offering<br />

two free printable downloads for the following two subjects at<br />

www.tarrylsteachingtools.com:<br />

Walk/Scavenger Hunt (fun to find items while enjoying a walk in your<br />

community, as well as items you may need to go on your walk). Things<br />

to do in Isolation / Coronavirus (several options of things to do at home<br />

or in your community during isolation, as well as items to discuss<br />

regarding coronavirus).<br />

There are two download files for each subject. We like to use colorful<br />

photos/words to embrace the real-life experience of everyday life. You<br />

can leave the download in paper form (check off each item as you go),<br />

or laminate the 8.5” x 11” printable download (use wipe-off marker to<br />

check off each item as you go), or cut and laminate each photo/word<br />

square. Then attach hook fastener tape to the back of each laminated<br />

square card. Finally, attach the laminated cards to the loop fastener<br />

tape on our ShopXplore Activity Bag (visual support storage bag sold<br />

separately) for your very own visual support schedule. Using the<br />

ShopXplore Activity Bag: Place each task card for the activity on to<br />

the outside of the bag. Once a task is completed, place the laminated<br />

card in the center pocket until all are completed. “I did it!”<br />

Make a goal (how many to achieve), check them off as you go or place<br />

each task card in the ShopXplore Activity Bag, and have an incentive.<br />

I hope these visual supports will make your time in isolation fun and<br />

create a learning experience to be remembered for many years.”<br />

Tarryl’s Teaching Tools -- www.tarrylsteachingtools.com.<br />


Jillian Newkirk, Licensed Clinical Professional<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine contributor Jillian Newkirk collaborated on an article,<br />

Milestones and Beyond, which appeared on pages 4-5 of the debut<br />

edition of the magazine. Excerpted from the article is the following,<br />

which describes her current virtual therapy service for families:<br />

“My name is Jillian Newkirk, I am a Licensed Clinical Professional<br />

with a passion to provide convenient, quality online counseling and<br />

coaching services to busy parents and children. I founded Fly on the<br />

Wall Counseling to equip parents to confidently manage their children’s<br />

challenging behaviors and emotions. My clinical experience has led<br />

me to be an expert in working with children with behavior and mood<br />

disorders and their families. I also work with parents whose children<br />

have not received any diagnosis, but need additional support and want<br />

to feel confident in their parenting. My sessions are conducted via<br />

HIPAA compliant video conferencing, so that, I am able to provide a<br />

convenient service to busy parents, easily and provide less-intimidating<br />

services to children who struggle with in-person therapy/counseling.<br />

I have been able to see significant changes and growth in my clients by<br />

implementing customized therapeutic and psychoeducational strategies<br />

and interventions that uniquely fit their family’s presenting concerns,<br />

needs, values, and goals.”<br />

Lindsey Wander, WorldWise Tutoring LLC<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine contributor Lindsey Wander contributed to this article<br />

with the following:<br />

“The mission of WorldWise Tutoring LLC is to provide a “Personalized<br />

Approach to Lifelong Learning.” This means that our instructors are<br />

dedicated to helping students of all ages and abilities with all their<br />

academic needs, while also teaching the underlying executive functions<br />

and study skills to become better learners. We recognize that, for our<br />

incoming students, the traditional methodology is not working for them.<br />

Many of our students have Learning Difficulties that makes conventional<br />

schooling difficult for them, while others struggle with focus and<br />

engagement in a general curriculum setting. Thus, we deliver instruction<br />

that is customized to our students’ changing needs and desires. To do this,<br />

we primarily build on their strengths to raise their levels of confidence<br />

and enjoyment. Then we work on overcoming their weaknesses to spur<br />

confidence and motivation. This process is all very personalized, as<br />

every student is unique.<br />

The recent transition to e-learning has not hindered our mission. Using<br />

free online tools in conjunction with our own resources, we are still<br />

able to effectively serve students remotely. For instance, a student with<br />

ADD/ADHD may have instruction that incorporates interactive, live<br />

demonstrations of content covered in class with frequent direct checks<br />

for comprehension. A student who struggles with Executive Functioning<br />

might have a tutor establish an easy-to-use system of organization<br />

with constant reviews and reminders to ensure assignments are being<br />

completed and submitted. A student who has difficulties with Visual<br />


Processing may be taught how to utilize resources to help<br />

with tracking, highlighting, organization, and audio, all<br />

while minimizing visual distractions. Whatever the child’s<br />

specific needs, we will work to provide instruction that<br />

helps them to be successful. With how tech savvy kids<br />

are nowadays, providing these services online is often<br />

not just acceptable, but even preferred.”<br />

Shirley Perez, Director of Ligas Family Advocate &<br />

Family Support Network, Arc of IL<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine contributor Shirley Perez collaborated on an<br />

article, Filling in the Cracks, which appears in this issue<br />

of Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine. Shirley directs two Arc of IL<br />

programs, Ligas Family Advocate and Family Support<br />

Network. Arc of IL has gone online for all of its<br />

programs, services, and events until in-person is again<br />

Emotional Support Animals<br />

Therapy/emotional support animals (such as Duke Sterk,<br />

deemed safe. Some programs, services, and events<br />

have been delayed or cancelled.<br />

whose story is told in this issue of our magazine) most<br />

often live at the home of the individual or family needing<br />

their service. However, they are available in other ways.<br />

They are commonly taken to visit with patients in<br />

hospitals, residents at nursing homes, and so on.<br />

Kish Pasani<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine contributor Kish Pasani collaborated on an<br />

article, Following my Path, which appears in this issue<br />

of Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine. The Illinois Association of<br />

Microboards and Cooperatives has rescheduled the<br />

During the pandemic, such in-person therapy is not<br />

happening. However, organizations such as Lutheran<br />

Church Charities, a dog service ministry in Northbrook IL,<br />

provide these therapies online to health care providers and<br />

spring PATH training for the summer or fall. The<br />

website, www.iambc.org, has an archive of monthly<br />

webinars from Oct. through Dec. of last year, with<br />

both the recording and resources of each.<br />

others in need. Families and individuals can also foster<br />

emotional support animals (typically dogs, but includes<br />

roosters, bunnies, and other critters).<br />

Reference: Chicago Tribune article, Wed. May 6, 2020, titled “Cooped up?<br />

Feeling anxious? Therapy dogs there to help.” (by video call during this<br />

phase of the pandemic).<br />

Jessica Elabed<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine contributor Jessica Elabed collaborated<br />

on the article My Kind of Care, which appears in this<br />

issue of Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine. Her agency, My Kind<br />

of Town Nannies, can be reached at: 773-759-0025,<br />

mkotn.com and jessie@mkotn.com. Partner Kidnectivity<br />

Alexandra Baig<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine contributor Alexandra Baig collaborated on an<br />

article, My First Job, which appeared on pages 20-22 of<br />

the debut edition. Alex has posted an article on her blog:<br />

How To Manage Social Security While Social Distancing,<br />

is a provider of occupational therapy that offers training<br />

and consultation as needed for the agency’s nannies<br />

regarding special needs children. Kidnectivity is<br />

providing teletherapy during the stay-at-home orders<br />

resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

to assist her clients who rely on Social Security, Medicare,<br />

and Medicaid for some or all of their income. She is<br />

working from home during the stay-at-home period<br />

mandated by the governor’s executive order.<br />

Aspiritech<br />

Aspiritech employs individuals on the Autism Spectrum<br />

to do software testing and other needed computer services<br />

for their clients. Their employees are currently working<br />

Jordan Burstein, JJB Ed Consultants<br />

remotely. For details, please check out their article, Autism<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine contributor Jordan Burstein collaborated on an<br />

article, Going to College, which appeared on page 13 of the<br />

Fall Issue. At their website, jjb-edconsultants.com, you can<br />

register for weekly events they host (all are online currently),<br />

check out resource links, and visit their blog.<br />

in the Workplace, in this issue of Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine.<br />

M<br />


ZoneThe COVID-19 Pandemic has upended millions<br />

The<br />

Resilience<br />

of lives and tested everyone’s resilience. To me,<br />

resilience, while not a solution to the financial strain<br />

imposed on millions of families and businesses,<br />

leads to the ability to pivot, reassess, and examine<br />

options rationally. As the pandemic itself illustrates,<br />

decisions based on panic and fear can be bad<br />

decisions, with unintended consequences.<br />


In this article, Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine introduces some of<br />

our magazine contributors, each of whom will provide<br />

one or two tips or examples of resilience and problem<br />

that is necessarily the best. Often these are the easy<br />

solutions. Resilience encourages more thought<br />

and reflection.<br />

solving they have shown during this still ongoing<br />

COVID-19 pandemic.<br />

Two of my characters, Chadwick and Chevron, display<br />

these qualities. Chadwick comes up with many solutions<br />

The first of these are new contributors, Gloria & Peter<br />

van Donge, who I came upon virtually, through a<br />

Linked-in contact. Gloria has written a series of children’s<br />

to help Tiger run as fast as he does; while Chevron finds<br />

a way to interest his friends in numbers and shapes when<br />

they only want to run and jump and play.”<br />

books. While these books (and the advice she gives) are<br />

focused on children formally identified as gifted,<br />

everybody is capable (sometimes with some guidance)<br />

of the resilience and problem solving the characters in<br />

these books show. The advice she offers applies to<br />

everyone. In Gloria’s own words:<br />

For more about The Gifted Kid Books Series, visit their<br />

website, www.giftedkidzone.com or email Gloria at<br />

giftedkidzone@gmail.com. U.S. residents who might<br />

be interested in purchase of the series can contact the<br />

publisher, Royal Fireworks Press, at this link:<br />

www.rfwp.com/series/gifted-kid-book-series.<br />

M<br />

“Resilience and problem-solving go hand in hand for<br />

gifted children. Often, it is not their first or second idea<br />


Unmasked?<br />

The pandemic has introduced<br />

unprecedented, drastic restrictions<br />

on virtually everyone to contain and<br />

reduce its spread. #Alone together has<br />

become a major catchphrase. The world<br />

has been introduced (or re-introduced)<br />

to preventive measures such as social<br />

distancing, hand-washing, and masks.<br />

The emphasis on masks is the most<br />

recent phenomenon. Initially, the expert<br />

guidance suggested masks weren’t<br />

recommended. More recently the<br />

official position moved so that they<br />

were recommended. Today, masks are<br />

required when indoors at any businesses<br />

where social distancing of 6 feet can’t<br />

be maintained such as groceries and<br />

warehouse stores.<br />

It seems that people with medical or<br />

mental health conditions were completely<br />

left out of policy discussions. Whether<br />

they are able to comply with the mask<br />

requirements or not, this oversight is<br />

compounded by the lack of a known<br />

duration for the regulations. We don’t<br />

know whether the regulations are in place<br />

for many weeks or many months. Some<br />

are concerned that the precautions may<br />

be necessary for years. And their effect<br />

on people with disabilities is profound.<br />

13<br />

My son, for example, has sensory issues<br />

that make compliance difficult, if not<br />

impossible. We carry a doctor’s note<br />

stating he is medically exempt (although<br />

my understanding is that businesses<br />

aren’t allowed to challenge a statement<br />

of medical exemption). Nevertheless, I<br />

don’t take him to the grocery store or<br />

pharmacy during this more restrictive<br />

period. I will need to get him a haircut<br />

once salons open up and they are<br />

requiring mask wearing for customers.<br />

Therefore, I can easily anticipate other<br />

customers looking at us, and asking (or<br />

at least thinking), why isn’t he wearing<br />

a mask? The general tone on social media<br />

is that people who don’t wear masks<br />

when required are, at best, thoughtless<br />

and selfish. Very few understand that<br />

some people can’t wear masks.<br />

Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine is inviting therapists<br />

and others who serve people with<br />

challenges to provide advice/tips to<br />

our families on how to deal with these<br />

preventive measures. How are you<br />

helping your clients cope with staying<br />

at home? Can you advise families on<br />

creative ways to handle the mask/no<br />

mask challenge when in public?<br />

Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine is also including<br />

(when offered) anecdotes from families<br />

themselves.<br />

From Jillian Newirk, of<br />

Fly on the Wall Counseling:<br />

“Parents of kids with special needs have<br />

enough worries and stressors of their<br />

own when going out into public… and<br />

now we add in the complications of a<br />

virus that has our society in a tizzy.<br />

Judgement seems to be at an all-time<br />

high with the mandate for wearing masks<br />

while out in the community; as if parents<br />

needed anymore fear of and pain from<br />

judgement. One of the most important<br />

things you can do in regard to the<br />

ever growing and changing lists of<br />

requirements and suggestions in this<br />

pandemic is to take the time to think<br />

through and truly decide which of these<br />

are possible and not possible for your<br />

child with special needs. Having true<br />

conviction and belief in your decisions<br />

will be crucial in handling the staring and<br />

questioning faces you encounter. When<br />

you are confident that you are making<br />

the best decision for your child (in light<br />

of present concerns/circumstances),<br />

you will be less tempted to even look for<br />

judgmental glares and be able to brush<br />

off comments from strangers.

Beyond that, equip yourself with the idea that everyone you meet may not know or<br />

understand about your child’s special needs. On top of that, many people are scared<br />

and when people are scared, they don’t make the best decisions, say the nicest<br />

things, or have the ability to empathize with your specific, unique situation. When you<br />

get a negative reaction, just know that person may be struggling with more than you<br />

can realize… In other words… have the empathy for them that you wish they would<br />

have for you. Instead of “What’s wrong with them?!”, think that they must not<br />

understand what it’s like to live in your (or your child’s) shoes and are just<br />

wanting to feel safe.<br />

If your convictions involve your child needing to become accustomed to new things<br />

(wearing a mask, staying home more, homeschooling, not seeing grandparents, etc.),<br />

then creating a process to get them accustomed to these changes will be important.<br />

If you have a therapist, it would be wise to bring them in on this to help your child<br />

through this time of transition and change. For example, if you believe your child<br />

ought to wear a face mask, start in small increments of time in familiar circumstances<br />

before expecting them to go out for long periods of time. If your child is going to be<br />

using video conferencing more, do short sessions and prompt them beforehand as<br />

to what to expect and what to do during these calls. If your child will be<br />

homeschooling, start out slow and work at the level they can currently handle;<br />

build over time. Mapping out a set plan is important to help you know that you<br />

aren’t just winging it and that you are, indeed, working to create change and<br />

progress. You having confidence in your work is just as important as putting the<br />

work in. If you are unsure of how to create a plan, then seeking support from an<br />

expert is worth your investment!<br />

There are so many unknowns in this time and even the things we do know may be<br />

too complex to fully explain to your child. There is no protocol for how to handle this,<br />

which means mistakes will be made, meltdowns will happen, and negative behaviors<br />

will rise. That’s not because you are a bad parent or failing your child, it’s because we<br />

are all trying to figure out what life looks like right now. Have grace for yourself, grace<br />

for your child, grace for those judging you, and seek help!”<br />

Jillian Newkirk can be reached at her virtual office:<br />

https://doxy.me/flyonthewallcounseling<br />

Chartered Special Needs Consultant, Nancy Roach-Wilder reflected, “My 29-yearold<br />

on the spectrum was trying to stay occupied. But I had to check myself around<br />

weeks 3 and 4, for possibly contributing to his total meltdown. After checking with<br />

his resources, it was felt MY anxiety over the quickly deteriorating conditions was a<br />

change for him. And for him, change was not a good thing”<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine contributor Tarryl Zdanky (Tarryl’s Teaching Tools commented: “As a<br />

parent of two young adults affected with autism, they both are very different in many<br />

different aspects. My son will wear a mask when going out into the community. My<br />

daughter on the other hand wants only sameness and nothing new in her daily<br />

routines. A mask will only irritate her and she will take it off very quickly. Keeping her<br />

safe means keeping her away from others and primarily home. She would definitely<br />

cough or sneeze on innocent bystanders if the occasion should arise. Since her<br />

favorite place to be is home, this has not been too difficult to keep her safe as well as<br />

preventing those at risk from any germs that she may carry. On the other hand, my<br />

son misses going out into the community. He is a shopper and I have just recently<br />

been allowing him to go out with me once again with a mask and gloves. He seems<br />

to be happy with his recent ventures to the store while wearing his mask.” M<br />


DUKE STERK, Therapy Dog & Pawthor<br />

Duke Sterk is a Goldendoodle who joined Sterk Family Law Group in 2016 and<br />

was trained as a therapy dog for our clients and our team. He brings joy every<br />

day to everyone he greets. He is responsible for providing support, diversion,<br />

cuteness, and fun. Duke is a welcome addition to our office and our clients love<br />

him. He regularly attends our firm’s events and loves anyone willing to pet him.<br />

As a therapy dog, Duke has a special place in his heart for children and seniors.<br />

Duke is also an author and currently collaborates with K.P. Lynne writing and<br />

telling stories for kids of all ages. Duke has a Facebook page where you can like<br />

and follow his story at Duke Sterk. He also is on Instagram at Duke_Sterk.<br />

Therapy,<br />

Support,<br />

Hugs and Kisses:<br />

Courtesy<br />

of my Dog<br />

There has been controversy in recent years regarding<br />

service animals and emotional support/therapy animals.<br />

The incidents and issues largely revolve around<br />

people who push the envelope; often passing off pets<br />

as service or therapy animals to receive the<br />

accommodations provided to them by law. To add to<br />

the irony, these animals (which have included pigs,<br />

miniature horses and a variety of other critters) are<br />

often unsuitable and/or untrained; and have<br />

Visit dukesterk.com for More Information<br />

been known to bite people as well as<br />

genuine service animals to boot.<br />

Help your favorite little ones<br />

realize they are not stuck at home,<br />

they are safe at home. This story<br />

told through the eyes of a lovable<br />

Goldendoodle named Duke!<br />

Another aspect of this controversy is confusion<br />

among the public at large regarding service dogs vs.<br />

emotional support/therapy dogs. There is a distinction<br />

between the two groups related to what accommodations<br />

are made for them by law vs. ordinary pets. Genuine<br />

service dogs are always allowed to accompany their<br />

owners; emotional support/therapy dogs<br />

may or may not be.<br />

dukesterk.com<br />

facebook.com/DukeSterk<br />

instagram.com/duke_sterk<br />

For a more complete picture regarding<br />

emotional support/therapy animals (typically dogs),<br />

I give you K.P. Lynne, author of<br />

“Dogs at School are Totally Cool”<br />

TM<br />

(“told” to her by real life therapy<br />

Free Virtual Consultations Available<br />

dog Duke Sterk)<br />

M<br />

15<br />

<br />

Empower ourself With Options<br />

YEARS<br />

sterkfamilylaw.com<br />

815-600-8950<br />

Advertising Material

FILLING in the CRACKS<br />

There is a GEICO commercial airing currently that depicts a long-haired young<br />

man asking his emotional support mini-horse to fetch him something. Instead, the<br />

animal goes out the dog-sized door to the outside. How this fellow ever earned<br />

enough money to move out of his parent’s basement, I’ll never know. And there<br />

are plenty of young people who have either not moved out of their parent’s home<br />

or have returned to it, due to financial circumstances or for other reasons.<br />

Generally speaking, these individuals don’t have medical, physical, or<br />

developmental challenges that can impede their path to self-sufficiency and<br />

independence. It is a different matter for individuals who have received special<br />

education services during their school careers. Many of them can meet the<br />

challenges of adult life with little or no outside help; but a portion of those<br />

individuals have more significant obstacles.<br />

I am the parent of such an individual, and while there is much joy in the<br />

relationship with him, there is also significant frustration. Not with him, but with a<br />

system where the resources and supports for adults, once they age out of school<br />

district programs, are often lacking or inappropriate at best. You have to be really<br />

careful walking around our block, because some of the cracks in our sidewalk<br />

are big and easy to slip through.<br />

All is not lost, however. There are organizations dedicated to filling in those<br />

cracks for families trying to navigate the system. In that vein, I am pleased to<br />

introduce Shirley Perez, director of The Family Support Network and Ligas Family<br />

Advocates. Both programs are under the auspices of the Arc of Illinois and work<br />

with families. Here is some information from their websites:<br />

“The Ligas Family Advocate Program has one purpose – to connect recipients<br />

of Ligas award letters seeking Home Based or CILA services and their families<br />

with family advocates who are knowledgeable about creative ways to utilize<br />

their Ligas funding to build successful lives in the community.” Visit<br />

ligasfamilyadvocateprogram.org to learn more or connect with them.<br />

“The Family Support Network has 4 goals:<br />

• To keep families together until the person with a disability chooses to<br />

live independently<br />

• To enhance a family’s ability to meet the many needs of their family<br />

member with a disability<br />

• To improve the quality of supports to families while minimizing the<br />

need and the cost of out-of-home placement<br />

• To allow the family to participate in integrated leisure, recreational,<br />

and social activities<br />

• To make a positive difference in the life of the person with a disability<br />

as well as the lives of family members.”<br />

M<br />

Visit<br />

familysupportnetwork.org<br />

to find out more<br />


Rapid Prompting<br />

method-autism<br />

For parents, one of the top 3 developmental milestones in the<br />

first years of their children’s lives is learning to talk. For some children<br />

with autism or other developmental issues, talking is a developmental milestone<br />

they will reach months or years later than “neuro-typical” children<br />

(and some will be non-verbal for life).<br />

When my younger son was a toddler, “early intervention” wasn’t available.<br />

He made his frustration with his communication difficulties known by<br />

shrieking; often and loudly. One day, his older brother read to him a 79 cent<br />

Golden Book we had just bought “My First Book of Animal Sounds”. I still<br />

don’t know exactly how it worked, but it did. My son got the connection<br />

between the words and the animal sounds; and the language barrier was<br />

broken! Soon to follow were requests for pizza and other foods, various<br />

toys, and so on.<br />

While parents and siblings often play a crucial role in a child’s learning to<br />

talk (as we did); professionals are sometimes needed to lend a hand in the<br />

process. There are a variety of therapies and techniques available, according<br />

to the reason(s) for the developmental lag. One type of therapy, called<br />

RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) can be used with children with sensory<br />

challenges such as Autism.<br />

“Soma® RPM is academic instruction leading towards communication<br />

for persons with autism. Soma Mukhopadhyay developed Rapid Prompting<br />

Method to teach her own son Tito, who is a published writer despite his<br />

autism.” I am pleased to introduce Jackie Dorshorst, who is an RPM<br />

therapist, to tell you more about RPM.<br />

“RPM is an academic teaching method that may lead to communication.<br />

It is first and foremost considered a method of teaching. Many students<br />

progress to communication through lessons. During a session, the teacher’s<br />

job is to get the student to an optimal state of learning. This means that the<br />

student is able to take information in and give a response. RPM provides a<br />

mode of response to the student. This mode of response may be a choice<br />

of words or spelling the answer on a letter board. Prompting is used as<br />

needed but it is extremely important to note that prompting is faded as the<br />

student progresses. As the student makes progress, they go from written<br />

choices to spelling specific answers to spelling more open-ended answers.<br />

During sessions, the teacher may also work on different skills such as speech<br />

and/or writing. The ultimate goal for RPM is independence. This can take<br />

much time to achieve. Students who have goals for independence may work<br />

on holding a letter board, spelling with the letter board flat on a table,<br />

typing on a computer or using an iPad to spell (among other goals). RPM<br />

goes beyond the letter board as well. Many students have used the process<br />

of RPM to learn self-help, reading or leisure skills, among others.”<br />


Rapid Prompting Method-Autism<br />

HALO is a non-profit organization providing Soma® RPM,<br />

which is academic instruction leading towards communication<br />

for persons with autism. Soma Mukhopadhyay developed<br />

Rapid Prompting Method to teach her own son Tito<br />

who is a published writer despite his autism.<br />

HALO’s clinic in Austin, Texas is where she conducts 1:1<br />

Soma® RPM education and training.<br />

www.halo-soma.org<br />

For more info: Please watch this video on YouTube.<br />

M<br />


Following<br />

M Y P A T H<br />

I had the good fortune of being able to attend a Webinar presented<br />

by Kish Pisani, Executive Director of the Illinois Association<br />

of Microboards and Cooperatives (IAMC). I have personal<br />

and professional interest in the topic.<br />


I had the good fortune of being able to attend a<br />

Webinar presented by Kish Pisani, Executive<br />

Director of the Illinois Association of Microboards<br />

and Cooperatives (IAMC). I have personal and<br />

professional interest in the topic.<br />

I am the publisher of Milestones <strong>Mag</strong>azine (a free<br />

online publication), which showcases programs,<br />

products, and services that help people with<br />

disabilities achieve and celebrate milestones in their<br />

lives. I am also the parent of a now-25 year old on<br />

the Autism Spectrum who aged out of school<br />

district services more than 3 years ago and whose<br />

life since then largely consists of video games on<br />

the computer and daily walks (weather permitting)<br />

in the neighborhood, park district/forest preserve<br />

facilities, or the mall.<br />

I am honored and pleased to introduce Kish Pisani<br />

to give families such as mine (who may have a<br />

limited on non-existent inner circle of family and<br />

friends) a rundown of how to create a PATH,<br />

possibly also a Microboard, in order to hit the<br />

ground running once their son or daughter is<br />

picked from PUNS and gets funding.<br />

one feel secure about the future, long after<br />

they might be gone.<br />

IAMC provides technical support to help<br />

individuals live full and inclusive lives in the<br />

community, in a home that they choose, and<br />

in living a true self-directed life. The process<br />

includes could look like the following, although<br />

not everyone chooses to move forward with<br />

a microboard or cooperative.<br />

Facilitation of a PATH (Planning Alternative<br />

Tomorrows with Hope) as a true person-centered<br />

planning tool focusing on a person’s hopes<br />

and dreams.<br />

• Developing Circles of Supports using tools and<br />

inspiration from IAMC staff.<br />

• Creation of a Microboard, including training of<br />

board members, expectations, filing for legal<br />

documents and technical assistance.<br />

• Formation of a Cooperative – group of<br />

like-minded individuals, families sharing<br />

resources for a better quality of life.<br />

• Ongoing support<br />

Circles of Support/Relationship are essential well<br />

before a person is placed on the PUNS list and<br />

just as important once receiving funding. All too<br />

often a person with IDD has many “paid” people in<br />

their lives. While necessary to provide the supports<br />

needed for jobs, daily living, and logistics, having<br />

a robust Circle of Support, complemented with<br />

natural supports, helps the family of the loved<br />

IAMC will hold a PATH facilitator training this<br />

spring. It is open to anyone interested in learning<br />

and facilitating person-centered planning.<br />

Parents, advocates, teachers, case managers,<br />

therapists and vocational professionals are<br />

encouraged to come to this training.<br />

For more information visit www.iambc.org.<br />

M<br />

What is a Microboard?<br />

A Formalized Circle of Support<br />

Serves One Person<br />

A<br />

Small (Micro) Board of Directors Created<br />

to Support the Person with a Disability<br />

A Non-Profit Corporation (not charity)<br />

A Think Tank<br />


Take<br />

Good Care of Me:<br />

finding my<br />

“ joymaker”<br />

Finding and keeping suitable and affordable child care, for children<br />

with or without disabilities, can be quite the task. For families of<br />

children with challenges, this task can be incredibly frustrating.<br />

Most child care providers (centers and family homes) will say<br />

they’ll consider a child for enrollment if they can “meet their needs”.<br />

However, for a variety of reasons, the child care situation doesn’t<br />

always work out for the family.<br />

Some families, by choice or due to lack of other options, look for<br />

child care in their own home. While that option doesn’t involve<br />

finding a program that meets a “special needs” child’s sometimes<br />

complexset of circumstances; it does require finding a caregiver<br />

with experience and training that not all caregivers have.<br />

When parents are looking for child care, they want a program or<br />

provider that will meet the child’s needs, and engage/develop his/her<br />

skills and interests. For those that are looking for child care in their<br />

own home, a computer app called Joshin may help.<br />

Joshin was recently developed by twins Melissa Danielsen and<br />

Melanie Fountaine, and inspired by their childhood experience<br />

helping care for older brother Josh, who had developmental<br />

disabilities and health issues.<br />

Joshin is available by subscription for Private Pay and Medicaid<br />

(building out partnerships with corporations as an employee benefit).<br />

Joshin went live in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St Paul) area<br />

of Minnesota in April 2019, launched in Chicago IL in August, 2019,<br />

and in Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester MN in December, 2019.<br />

For more information about Joshin, please visit their website,<br />

joshin.com and check out this reference link to the Star Tribune /<br />

TNS | October 29, 2019 written by reporter Catherine Roberts; Twin<br />

sisters launch app to match special needs clients with caregivers. M<br />


have<br />

clippers Will Travel<br />

For medically exempt, mask-averse individuals,<br />

getting a haircut at a salon can be a challenge. We<br />

found this out firsthand, when the accommodation<br />

offered to us from the salon (part of a major chain)<br />

we have used for years was, basically, “take it<br />

outside”. I was not convinced of the safety of that<br />

for my son, who can react unpredictably, and who,<br />

We have a nice introduction. I show<br />

all my tools and talk gently and<br />

slowly about what I’m going to do<br />

before I do it. If at any time we need<br />

to take a break,we take a break or if<br />

we need to stop, we can stop and<br />

plan for another.”<br />

at age 26, is not easily containable unless he<br />

wants to be.<br />

Antoinette Obrad can be reached by<br />

email at toekneee@sbcglobal.net or<br />

Fast-forward (by just a few days) to a thread on<br />

by phone at 847-630-8149.<br />

the Next-Door Neighbor website and community,<br />

through which I came upon a contact, Antoinette<br />

Obrad, who does haircuts at the client’s home.<br />

She just finished with a roughly 10-minute<br />

haircut for my son. She accepted<br />

his non-mask wearing and lack<br />

of social distancing<br />

with graciousness.<br />

I am honored to invite Antoinette<br />

to share any techniques she<br />

uses for children (and even<br />

adults) who have difficulty<br />

tolerating haircuts. So,<br />

without further ado,<br />

here’s Antoinette.<br />

“People with disabilities<br />

and their families have difficult<br />

issues when it comes to getting<br />

a haircut. During this pandemic,<br />

and even before and after, some<br />

can or cannot tolerate going to<br />

a salon/barber. Those who are<br />

more comfortable being in their<br />

own home are safe in their<br />

surroundings. I wear my face<br />

mask and ask the family about<br />

any instructions I should follow.<br />


my<br />

Kind of Care<br />

With child care arrangements (not to mention life as<br />

we know it) disrupted by the pandemic, parents are<br />

scrambling for child care; with parents of challenged<br />

children perhaps at the greatest need. For safety and<br />

health reasons, many of these parents may be looking<br />

towards in-home care, now more than ever.<br />

For these parents, My Kind of Town Nannies, located<br />

in the Chicago area, is worthy of mention. Milestones<br />

<strong>Mag</strong>azine is please to introduce founder Jessica Elabed,<br />

who will describe how My Kind of Town Nannies trains<br />

and vets their nannies.<br />

“At My Kind of Town Nannies, we search for nannies<br />

who have attended college to pursue careers that involve<br />

children, such as pediatric therapy and social work.<br />

Our nannies must be CPR and First Aid certified. For<br />

our nannies who only have hands-on experience, we<br />

recommend that they partake in therapy sessions with the<br />

family they are going to work with. If any extra training is<br />

needed, we are partnered with Kidnectivity, a local<br />

pediatric therapy clinic in Northbrook.”<br />

My Kind of Town Nannies can be reached at:<br />

Phone: 773-759-0025<br />

Website: www.mkotn.com<br />

Email: jessie@mkotn.com<br />

M<br />


Give Me A<br />

BREAK!<br />

Respite Care is designed to give<br />

families breaks from 24/7 caregiving<br />

for their child with a disability<br />

For parents, raising and caring for their children is<br />

a full-time job, with many challenges and rewards.<br />

That goes double (or even triple!) for parents of<br />

children with challenges or diagnosed disabilities.<br />

Advice is often offered to these parents that they<br />

should carve out time to take care of themselves.<br />

Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Respite care<br />

is one option for parents to allow for some self-care.<br />

I am pleased to introduce Roy Cantu, of Respite<br />

Care Resources, to let you know what respite care is,<br />

and what this service typically offers to families.<br />

Respite Care is designed to give families breaks<br />

from 24/7 caregiving for their child with a disability.<br />

Respite Care Resources provides a secured<br />

professional website at which families can be<br />

matched with caregivers. Caregivers with Respite<br />

Care Resources have professional experience and<br />

training in working with individuals with special<br />

needs. ALL caregivers undergo an interview<br />

process as well as a criminal background and<br />

reference checks.<br />

Author’s note: The above paragraph referenced<br />

Respite Care’s website and Facebook page. For more<br />

information about Respite Care Resources<br />

or to reach them directly, please visit their website<br />

and/or Facebook page. M<br />


Check out our other <strong>Mag</strong>azines!<br />

<br />

beyond disabilities<br />

Summer Issue 2019<br />

Articles<br />

Sink or Swim<br />

Run Down of Swim<br />

Lesson Businesses<br />

My First Job<br />

Even with a Disability<br />

Working and Earning<br />

Money is Better<br />

Than Not Working<br />

Just to Collect<br />

Government Benefits<br />

The Family Vacation<br />

Traveling with a<br />

Special Needs Child<br />

Can be Challenging<br />

Summer Issue 2019 Fall Issue 2019<br />

Connections child care<br />

Child Care Connections links families to child<br />

care suited to children with challenges.<br />

Child Care Connections also provides informational<br />

articles (referencing North Carolina University<br />

Extension Service) about adapting child care<br />

Features a registry that both parents and providers<br />

can Sign-Up for when they are looking for, or offering,<br />

care for children with various challenges, such as<br />

programs to children with special needs. Once you<br />

sign-up you’ll receive the article Adapting the Child<br />

Care Environment for Children with Special Needs.<br />

developmental disability, autism, hearing impairment,<br />

vision impairment, and more!<br />

Check out our website: milestonesmagazine.net<br />

25 27

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