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

Summer Issue 2020


Virtually Yours

The Resilience Zone

Emotional Support Dog

Help Through a Stressful Time


03 Pulling Teeth

05 Autism in the Workplace

07 Virtually Yours

11 The Resilience Zone

13 Unmasked?

15 Therapy, Support, Hugs and

Kisses: Courtesy of my Dog

16 Filling in the Cracks

17 Rapid Prompting Method - Autism

19 Following My PATH

21 Take Good Care of Me -

Finding My Joy Maker

22 Have Clippers will Travel

23 My Kind of Care

24 Give Me a Break




Susie Redfern, is the parent of a special

needs child who recently “aged out”

of the public-school system.

She developed Milestones Magazine

to help individuals with disabilities

and their families achieve and celebrate

events and milestones in their lives.








At Prudential, we understand the fi

nancial challenges faced by

people caring for a loved one with special needs. From planning for

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to help meet those challenges for you – and your family.

Call me today and let’s get started.

Nancy Roach-Wilder, CFP ® , ChSNC

Financial Planner, Prudential Advisors

CA Insurance License Number 0G27220

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Among the many challenges individuals with disabilities

(and sometimes folks without disabilities) face is a visit to the dentist

for routine preventive care. For folks with sensory issues

such as Autism and/or mental health challenges such as anxiety,

this can easily lead to behaviors that can make routine dental care difficult,

or even impossible, to accomplish safely.


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

was young, we used a pediatric dentist close to our house who had experience

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

was 8, we started with a general practice dentist who a fellow member of the

special need PTA recommended. This arrangement worked well until recently,

when my son showed almost unprecedented resistance to the routine dental work.

This was a potentially dangerous situation for the dental hygienist, my son, me,

and anyone else in proximity.

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

of a provider who treats special needs patients. His office is a relatively short drive

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

Saturday hours available, as needed, for patients with Autism or other conditions.

So, on our second visit, our son was more relaxed and cooperated with a basic

tooth brushing and dental exam. Then we went back after Christmas for an

(unsuccessful) attempt at a more comprehensive cleaning. We will be doing all

needed dental work next month with the help of a dental sedation team that

partners with local dentists for patients that need that service.

While this is very good for us personally (and hopefully will be our solution for

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

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

in an email I received. An article from Disability Scoop: Dental Students Will

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

“Dental school students will soon be required to learn how to care for patients

with disabilities under new guidelines from an accrediting body.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation approved new standards this

summer requiring all U.S. dental schools to train students in the assessment

and management of patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities,

among other special needs populations.

The change means that by mid-2020, schools that offer degrees in dentistry,

orthodontics, dental hygiene and dental assistant programs must include clinical

training with a “special needs” population of patients in their graduation

requirements or risk losing their accreditation.”

I am hopeful that this training for dental school students, when fully

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

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

treat them. And perhaps leaving no other treatment options than pulling teeth

by the time care is obtained.teeth by the time care is obtained. M


I’m on the

Autism Spectrum

By: Matt Hemauer

let me


how to work from home


Well, it seems that everyone is working from home. That

includes me. I’m a software testing analyst at Aspiritech,

a company that trains and employs adults with autism to

perform QA software and hardware testing. Basically, we’re

focus and concentrate. I’m in a house with my dad, who

works remotely, and my two brothers who are completing

their college courses remotely too. Tuning out the noise

can help your productivity.

the people that make sure that websites, applications, and

wireless electronics work smoothly.

As I mentioned, those of us on the autism spectrum

have unique traits that enable us to work efficiently

At Aspiritech, my 130 colleagues (90% of us are on the

autism spectrum) and I generally work in our Chicago

offices. Some of the traits that make people on the

spectrum especially talented at software testing

(attention to detail, ability to focus on a single

task) also help us easily adapt to working

from home.

from home. For example, I excel when given the

chance to work without the disruption of in-person

meetings. Most things said in a meeting can be

communicated by Slack and email. Working

from home gives everyone -- on the

spectrum and beyond it -- an

opportunity to refine their written

communication skills. When it’s

Now that we -- and likely you --

can’t work at the office, let

me offer some advice for

a seamless transition.

First and foremost, you

have to make sure your home

office is clean and feels like an

actual office. Especially if you work

necessary to meet, virtual

check-ins have less

pressure than an

in-person meeting,

and I can get back to

work. And no commute

means I have more time

for work and free time.

in technology and have wires everywhere,

it can get messy quickly.I set up near the

window so I have plenty of natural light, plus a

lamp nearby for when it gets dark. I also set up a

second monitor which can be helpful when you are

handling multiple projects. I’ve usually got Slack open on

one monitor, and the tests I’m running on the other. Try to

I also want to address the stereotype

of people on the spectrum not wanting

to deal with social interactions. If the

stay-at-home orders ended tomorrow, I would

be excited to return to the office because even

though there are distractions, I miss the community.

retain your normal schedule. We have a group Google

Hangout right when we’d normally clock in, so you feel like

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

of normalcy.

Lastly, I use noise cancelling headphones (mine are Bose

I hope this time also gives hiring managers a reason

to think about how neurodiversity -- the viewpoint

that brain differences are normal and beneficial -- is a

competitive advantage for any company’s financial

success and efficiency. M

QC 700’s ,one of Aspiritech’s many clients) to help me


Virtually Yours

COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 Pandemic has upended millions of lives and

tested everyone’s resilience. To me, resilience, while not a

solution to the financial strain imposed on millions of families

and businesses, leads to the ability to pivot, reassess, and

examine options rationally. As the pandemic itself illustrates,

decisions based on panic and fear can be bad decisions, with

unintended consequences.

The fall-out from COVID-19 has been, at best, stressful for

everyone, but especially so for individuals with mental, physical,

sensory, or developmental challenges; even for those fortunate

enough to have escaped severe symptoms of the virus itself.

Countless individuals, businesses, and organizations have

stepped up to provide needed supplies and equipment to those

on the “front lines”. Businesses and organizations are also

scrambling to find ways to provide their services and products

to customers and clients.

Milestones Magazine is doing a sampling of our magazine

contributors (past, present, and future), all of whom have a

product or service that serves and/or employs people with

challenges. In this article we will share what they are doing

virtually to connect with their customers, clients, and employees

with challenges during this stay at home period, and beyond.


Tarryl Zdanky, Tarryl’s Teaching Tools

Magazine contributor Tarryl Zdanky collaborated on an article,

Meltdown in Aisle 5 which appeared on pages 10-11 of the debut

edition. She writes:

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

this time can be. Increased behaviors, changes in sleep patterns, and other

issues can make this time challenging.

I wanted to help make this time at home fun for families. I am offering

two free printable downloads for the following two subjects at


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

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

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

or in your community during isolation, as well as items to discuss

regarding coronavirus).

There are two download files for each subject. We like to use colorful

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

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

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

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

square. Then attach hook fastener tape to the back of each laminated

square card. Finally, attach the laminated cards to the loop fastener

tape on our ShopXplore Activity Bag (visual support storage bag sold

separately) for your very own visual support schedule. Using the

ShopXplore Activity Bag: Place each task card for the activity on to

the outside of the bag. Once a task is completed, place the laminated

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

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

each task card in the ShopXplore Activity Bag, and have an incentive.

I hope these visual supports will make your time in isolation fun and

create a learning experience to be remembered for many years.”

Tarryl’s Teaching Tools -- www.tarrylsteachingtools.com.


Jillian Newkirk, Licensed Clinical Professional

Magazine contributor Jillian Newkirk collaborated on an article,

Milestones and Beyond, which appeared on pages 4-5 of the debut

edition of the magazine. Excerpted from the article is the following,

which describes her current virtual therapy service for families:

“My name is Jillian Newkirk, I am a Licensed Clinical Professional

with a passion to provide convenient, quality online counseling and

coaching services to busy parents and children. I founded Fly on the

Wall Counseling to equip parents to confidently manage their children’s

challenging behaviors and emotions. My clinical experience has led

me to be an expert in working with children with behavior and mood

disorders and their families. I also work with parents whose children

have not received any diagnosis, but need additional support and want

to feel confident in their parenting. My sessions are conducted via

HIPAA compliant video conferencing, so that, I am able to provide a

convenient service to busy parents, easily and provide less-intimidating

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

I have been able to see significant changes and growth in my clients by

implementing customized therapeutic and psychoeducational strategies

and interventions that uniquely fit their family’s presenting concerns,

needs, values, and goals.”

Lindsey Wander, WorldWise Tutoring LLC

Magazine contributor Lindsey Wander contributed to this article

with the following:

“The mission of WorldWise Tutoring LLC is to provide a “Personalized

Approach to Lifelong Learning.” This means that our instructors are

dedicated to helping students of all ages and abilities with all their

academic needs, while also teaching the underlying executive functions

and study skills to become better learners. We recognize that, for our

incoming students, the traditional methodology is not working for them.

Many of our students have Learning Difficulties that makes conventional

schooling difficult for them, while others struggle with focus and

engagement in a general curriculum setting. Thus, we deliver instruction

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

we primarily build on their strengths to raise their levels of confidence

and enjoyment. Then we work on overcoming their weaknesses to spur

confidence and motivation. This process is all very personalized, as

every student is unique.

The recent transition to e-learning has not hindered our mission. Using

free online tools in conjunction with our own resources, we are still

able to effectively serve students remotely. For instance, a student with

ADD/ADHD may have instruction that incorporates interactive, live

demonstrations of content covered in class with frequent direct checks

for comprehension. A student who struggles with Executive Functioning

might have a tutor establish an easy-to-use system of organization

with constant reviews and reminders to ensure assignments are being

completed and submitted. A student who has difficulties with Visual


Processing may be taught how to utilize resources to help

with tracking, highlighting, organization, and audio, all

while minimizing visual distractions. Whatever the child’s

specific needs, we will work to provide instruction that

helps them to be successful. With how tech savvy kids

are nowadays, providing these services online is often

not just acceptable, but even preferred.”

Shirley Perez, Director of Ligas Family Advocate &

Family Support Network, Arc of IL

Magazine contributor Shirley Perez collaborated on an

article, Filling in the Cracks, which appears in this issue

of Milestones Magazine. Shirley directs two Arc of IL

programs, Ligas Family Advocate and Family Support

Network. Arc of IL has gone online for all of its

programs, services, and events until in-person is again

Emotional Support Animals

Therapy/emotional support animals (such as Duke Sterk,

deemed safe. Some programs, services, and events

have been delayed or cancelled.

whose story is told in this issue of our magazine) most

often live at the home of the individual or family needing

their service. However, they are available in other ways.

They are commonly taken to visit with patients in

hospitals, residents at nursing homes, and so on.

Kish Pasani

Magazine contributor Kish Pasani collaborated on an

article, Following my Path, which appears in this issue

of Milestones Magazine. The Illinois Association of

Microboards and Cooperatives has rescheduled the

During the pandemic, such in-person therapy is not

happening. However, organizations such as Lutheran

Church Charities, a dog service ministry in Northbrook IL,

provide these therapies online to health care providers and

spring PATH training for the summer or fall. The

website, www.iambc.org, has an archive of monthly

webinars from Oct. through Dec. of last year, with

both the recording and resources of each.

others in need. Families and individuals can also foster

emotional support animals (typically dogs, but includes

roosters, bunnies, and other critters).

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

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

phase of the pandemic).

Jessica Elabed

Magazine contributor Jessica Elabed collaborated

on the article My Kind of Care, which appears in this

issue of Milestones Magazine. Her agency, My Kind

of Town Nannies, can be reached at: 773-759-0025,

mkotn.com and jessie@mkotn.com. Partner Kidnectivity

Alexandra Baig

Magazine contributor Alexandra Baig collaborated on an

article, My First Job, which appeared on pages 20-22 of

the debut edition. Alex has posted an article on her blog:

How To Manage Social Security While Social Distancing,

is a provider of occupational therapy that offers training

and consultation as needed for the agency’s nannies

regarding special needs children. Kidnectivity is

providing teletherapy during the stay-at-home orders

resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

to assist her clients who rely on Social Security, Medicare,

and Medicaid for some or all of their income. She is

working from home during the stay-at-home period

mandated by the governor’s executive order.


Aspiritech employs individuals on the Autism Spectrum

to do software testing and other needed computer services

for their clients. Their employees are currently working

Jordan Burstein, JJB Ed Consultants

remotely. For details, please check out their article, Autism

Magazine contributor Jordan Burstein collaborated on an

article, Going to College, which appeared on page 13 of the

Fall Issue. At their website, jjb-edconsultants.com, you can

register for weekly events they host (all are online currently),

check out resource links, and visit their blog.

in the Workplace, in this issue of Milestones Magazine.



ZoneThe COVID-19 Pandemic has upended millions



of lives and tested everyone’s resilience. To me,

resilience, while not a solution to the financial strain

imposed on millions of families and businesses,

leads to the ability to pivot, reassess, and examine

options rationally. As the pandemic itself illustrates,

decisions based on panic and fear can be bad

decisions, with unintended consequences.


In this article, Milestones Magazine introduces some of

our magazine contributors, each of whom will provide

one or two tips or examples of resilience and problem

that is necessarily the best. Often these are the easy

solutions. Resilience encourages more thought

and reflection.

solving they have shown during this still ongoing

COVID-19 pandemic.

Two of my characters, Chadwick and Chevron, display

these qualities. Chadwick comes up with many solutions

The first of these are new contributors, Gloria & Peter

van Donge, who I came upon virtually, through a

Linked-in contact. Gloria has written a series of children’s

to help Tiger run as fast as he does; while Chevron finds

a way to interest his friends in numbers and shapes when

they only want to run and jump and play.”

books. While these books (and the advice she gives) are

focused on children formally identified as gifted,

everybody is capable (sometimes with some guidance)

of the resilience and problem solving the characters in

these books show. The advice she offers applies to

everyone. In Gloria’s own words:

For more about The Gifted Kid Books Series, visit their

website, www.giftedkidzone.com or email Gloria at

giftedkidzone@gmail.com. U.S. residents who might

be interested in purchase of the series can contact the

publisher, Royal Fireworks Press, at this link:



“Resilience and problem-solving go hand in hand for

gifted children. Often, it is not their first or second idea



The pandemic has introduced

unprecedented, drastic restrictions

on virtually everyone to contain and

reduce its spread. #Alone together has

become a major catchphrase. The world

has been introduced (or re-introduced)

to preventive measures such as social

distancing, hand-washing, and masks.

The emphasis on masks is the most

recent phenomenon. Initially, the expert

guidance suggested masks weren’t

recommended. More recently the

official position moved so that they

were recommended. Today, masks are

required when indoors at any businesses

where social distancing of 6 feet can’t

be maintained such as groceries and

warehouse stores.

It seems that people with medical or

mental health conditions were completely

left out of policy discussions. Whether

they are able to comply with the mask

requirements or not, this oversight is

compounded by the lack of a known

duration for the regulations. We don’t

know whether the regulations are in place

for many weeks or many months. Some

are concerned that the precautions may

be necessary for years. And their effect

on people with disabilities is profound.


My son, for example, has sensory issues

that make compliance difficult, if not

impossible. We carry a doctor’s note

stating he is medically exempt (although

my understanding is that businesses

aren’t allowed to challenge a statement

of medical exemption). Nevertheless, I

don’t take him to the grocery store or

pharmacy during this more restrictive

period. I will need to get him a haircut

once salons open up and they are

requiring mask wearing for customers.

Therefore, I can easily anticipate other

customers looking at us, and asking (or

at least thinking), why isn’t he wearing

a mask? The general tone on social media

is that people who don’t wear masks

when required are, at best, thoughtless

and selfish. Very few understand that

some people can’t wear masks.

Milestones Magazine is inviting therapists

and others who serve people with

challenges to provide advice/tips to

our families on how to deal with these

preventive measures. How are you

helping your clients cope with staying

at home? Can you advise families on

creative ways to handle the mask/no

mask challenge when in public?

Milestones Magazine is also including

(when offered) anecdotes from families


From Jillian Newirk, of

Fly on the Wall Counseling:

“Parents of kids with special needs have

enough worries and stressors of their

own when going out into public… and

now we add in the complications of a

virus that has our society in a tizzy.

Judgement seems to be at an all-time

high with the mandate for wearing masks

while out in the community; as if parents

needed anymore fear of and pain from

judgement. One of the most important

things you can do in regard to the

ever growing and changing lists of

requirements and suggestions in this

pandemic is to take the time to think

through and truly decide which of these

are possible and not possible for your

child with special needs. Having true

conviction and belief in your decisions

will be crucial in handling the staring and

questioning faces you encounter. When

you are confident that you are making

the best decision for your child (in light

of present concerns/circumstances),

you will be less tempted to even look for

judgmental glares and be able to brush

off comments from strangers.

Beyond that, equip yourself with the idea that everyone you meet may not know or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wanting to feel safe.

If your convictions involve your child needing to become accustomed to new things

(wearing a mask, staying home more, homeschooling, not seeing grandparents, etc.),

then creating a process to get them accustomed to these changes will be important.

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

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

ought to wear a face mask, start in small increments of time in familiar circumstances

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

using video conferencing more, do short sessions and prompt them beforehand as

to what to expect and what to do during these calls. If your child will be

homeschooling, start out slow and work at the level they can currently handle;

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

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

progress. You having confidence in your work is just as important as putting the

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

expert is worth your investment!

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

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

which means mistakes will be made, meltdowns will happen, and negative behaviors

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

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

for your child, grace for those judging you, and seek help!”

Jillian Newkirk can be reached at her virtual office:


Chartered Special Needs Consultant, Nancy Roach-Wilder reflected, “My 29-yearold

on the spectrum was trying to stay occupied. But I had to check myself around

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

his resources, it was felt MY anxiety over the quickly deteriorating conditions was a

change for him. And for him, change was not a good thing”

Magazine contributor Tarryl Zdanky (Tarryl’s Teaching Tools commented: “As a

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

different aspects. My son will wear a mask when going out into the community. My

daughter on the other hand wants only sameness and nothing new in her daily

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

safe means keeping her away from others and primarily home. She would definitely

cough or sneeze on innocent bystanders if the occasion should arise. Since her

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

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

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

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

to be happy with his recent ventures to the store while wearing his mask.” M


DUKE STERK, Therapy Dog & Pawthor

Duke Sterk is a Goldendoodle who joined Sterk Family Law Group in 2016 and

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

day to everyone he greets. He is responsible for providing support, diversion,

cuteness, and fun. Duke is a welcome addition to our office and our clients love

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

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

Duke is also an author and currently collaborates with K.P. Lynne writing and

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

and follow his story at Duke Sterk. He also is on Instagram at Duke_Sterk.



Hugs and Kisses:


of my Dog

There has been controversy in recent years regarding

service animals and emotional support/therapy animals.

The incidents and issues largely revolve around

people who push the envelope; often passing off pets

as service or therapy animals to receive the

accommodations provided to them by law. To add to

the irony, these animals (which have included pigs,

miniature horses and a variety of other critters) are

often unsuitable and/or untrained; and have

Visit dukesterk.com for More Information

been known to bite people as well as

genuine service animals to boot.

Help your favorite little ones

realize they are not stuck at home,

they are safe at home. This story

told through the eyes of a lovable

Goldendoodle named Duke!

Another aspect of this controversy is confusion

among the public at large regarding service dogs vs.

emotional support/therapy dogs. There is a distinction

between the two groups related to what accommodations

are made for them by law vs. ordinary pets. Genuine

service dogs are always allowed to accompany their

owners; emotional support/therapy dogs

may or may not be.




For a more complete picture regarding

emotional support/therapy animals (typically dogs),

I give you K.P. Lynne, author of

“Dogs at School are Totally Cool”


(“told” to her by real life therapy

Free Virtual Consultations Available

dog Duke Sterk)



Empower ourself With Options




Advertising Material


There is a GEICO commercial airing currently that depicts a long-haired young

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

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

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

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

or have returned to it, due to financial circumstances or for other reasons.

Generally speaking, these individuals don’t have medical, physical, or

developmental challenges that can impede their path to self-sufficiency and

independence. It is a different matter for individuals who have received special

education services during their school careers. Many of them can meet the

challenges of adult life with little or no outside help; but a portion of those

individuals have more significant obstacles.

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

relationship with him, there is also significant frustration. Not with him, but with a

system where the resources and supports for adults, once they age out of school

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

careful walking around our block, because some of the cracks in our sidewalk

are big and easy to slip through.

All is not lost, however. There are organizations dedicated to filling in those

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

introduce Shirley Perez, director of The Family Support Network and Ligas Family

Advocates. Both programs are under the auspices of the Arc of Illinois and work

with families. Here is some information from their websites:

“The Ligas Family Advocate Program has one purpose – to connect recipients

of Ligas award letters seeking Home Based or CILA services and their families

with family advocates who are knowledgeable about creative ways to utilize

their Ligas funding to build successful lives in the community.” Visit

ligasfamilyadvocateprogram.org to learn more or connect with them.

“The Family Support Network has 4 goals:

• To keep families together until the person with a disability chooses to

live independently

• To enhance a family’s ability to meet the many needs of their family

member with a disability

• To improve the quality of supports to families while minimizing the

need and the cost of out-of-home placement

• To allow the family to participate in integrated leisure, recreational,

and social activities

• To make a positive difference in the life of the person with a disability

as well as the lives of family members.”




to find out more


Rapid Prompting


For parents, one of the top 3 developmental milestones in the

first years of their children’s lives is learning to talk. For some children

with autism or other developmental issues, talking is a developmental milestone

they will reach months or years later than “neuro-typical” children

(and some will be non-verbal for life).

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

He made his frustration with his communication difficulties known by

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

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

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

between the words and the animal sounds; and the language barrier was

broken! Soon to follow were requests for pizza and other foods, various

toys, and so on.

While parents and siblings often play a crucial role in a child’s learning to

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

process. There are a variety of therapies and techniques available, according

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

RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) can be used with children with sensory

challenges such as Autism.

“Soma® RPM is academic instruction leading towards communication

for persons with autism. Soma Mukhopadhyay developed Rapid Prompting

Method to teach her own son Tito, who is a published writer despite his

autism.” I am pleased to introduce Jackie Dorshorst, who is an RPM

therapist, to tell you more about RPM.

“RPM is an academic teaching method that may lead to communication.

It is first and foremost considered a method of teaching. Many students

progress to communication through lessons. During a session, the teacher’s

job is to get the student to an optimal state of learning. This means that the

student is able to take information in and give a response. RPM provides a

mode of response to the student. This mode of response may be a choice

of words or spelling the answer on a letter board. Prompting is used as

needed but it is extremely important to note that prompting is faded as the

student progresses. As the student makes progress, they go from written

choices to spelling specific answers to spelling more open-ended answers.

During sessions, the teacher may also work on different skills such as speech

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

much time to achieve. Students who have goals for independence may work

on holding a letter board, spelling with the letter board flat on a table,

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

goes beyond the letter board as well. Many students have used the process

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


Rapid Prompting Method-Autism

HALO is a non-profit organization providing Soma® RPM,

which is academic instruction leading towards communication

for persons with autism. Soma Mukhopadhyay developed

Rapid Prompting Method to teach her own son Tito

who is a published writer despite his autism.

HALO’s clinic in Austin, Texas is where she conducts 1:1

Soma® RPM education and training.


For more info: Please watch this video on YouTube.





I had the good fortune of being able to attend a Webinar presented

by Kish Pisani, Executive Director of the Illinois Association

of Microboards and Cooperatives (IAMC). I have personal

and professional interest in the topic.


I had the good fortune of being able to attend a

Webinar presented by Kish Pisani, Executive

Director of the Illinois Association of Microboards

and Cooperatives (IAMC). I have personal and

professional interest in the topic.

I am the publisher of Milestones Magazine (a free

online publication), which showcases programs,

products, and services that help people with

disabilities achieve and celebrate milestones in their

lives. I am also the parent of a now-25 year old on

the Autism Spectrum who aged out of school

district services more than 3 years ago and whose

life since then largely consists of video games on

the computer and daily walks (weather permitting)

in the neighborhood, park district/forest preserve

facilities, or the mall.

I am honored and pleased to introduce Kish Pisani

to give families such as mine (who may have a

limited on non-existent inner circle of family and

friends) a rundown of how to create a PATH,

possibly also a Microboard, in order to hit the

ground running once their son or daughter is

picked from PUNS and gets funding.

one feel secure about the future, long after

they might be gone.

IAMC provides technical support to help

individuals live full and inclusive lives in the

community, in a home that they choose, and

in living a true self-directed life. The process

includes could look like the following, although

not everyone chooses to move forward with

a microboard or cooperative.

Facilitation of a PATH (Planning Alternative

Tomorrows with Hope) as a true person-centered

planning tool focusing on a person’s hopes

and dreams.

• Developing Circles of Supports using tools and

inspiration from IAMC staff.

• Creation of a Microboard, including training of

board members, expectations, filing for legal

documents and technical assistance.

• Formation of a Cooperative – group of

like-minded individuals, families sharing

resources for a better quality of life.

• Ongoing support

Circles of Support/Relationship are essential well

before a person is placed on the PUNS list and

just as important once receiving funding. All too

often a person with IDD has many “paid” people in

their lives. While necessary to provide the supports

needed for jobs, daily living, and logistics, having

a robust Circle of Support, complemented with

natural supports, helps the family of the loved

IAMC will hold a PATH facilitator training this

spring. It is open to anyone interested in learning

and facilitating person-centered planning.

Parents, advocates, teachers, case managers,

therapists and vocational professionals are

encouraged to come to this training.

For more information visit www.iambc.org.


What is a Microboard?

A Formalized Circle of Support

Serves One Person


Small (Micro) Board of Directors Created

to Support the Person with a Disability

A Non-Profit Corporation (not charity)

A Think Tank



Good Care of Me:

finding my

“ joymaker”

Finding and keeping suitable and affordable child care, for children

with or without disabilities, can be quite the task. For families of

children with challenges, this task can be incredibly frustrating.

Most child care providers (centers and family homes) will say

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

However, for a variety of reasons, the child care situation doesn’t

always work out for the family.

Some families, by choice or due to lack of other options, look for

child care in their own home. While that option doesn’t involve

finding a program that meets a “special needs” child’s sometimes

complexset of circumstances; it does require finding a caregiver

with experience and training that not all caregivers have.

When parents are looking for child care, they want a program or

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

skills and interests. For those that are looking for child care in their

own home, a computer app called Joshin may help.

Joshin was recently developed by twins Melissa Danielsen and

Melanie Fountaine, and inspired by their childhood experience

helping care for older brother Josh, who had developmental

disabilities and health issues.

Joshin is available by subscription for Private Pay and Medicaid

(building out partnerships with corporations as an employee benefit).

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

of Minnesota in April 2019, launched in Chicago IL in August, 2019,

and in Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester MN in December, 2019.

For more information about Joshin, please visit their website,

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

TNS | October 29, 2019 written by reporter Catherine Roberts; Twin

sisters launch app to match special needs clients with caregivers. M



clippers Will Travel

For medically exempt, mask-averse individuals,

getting a haircut at a salon can be a challenge. We

found this out firsthand, when the accommodation

offered to us from the salon (part of a major chain)

we have used for years was, basically, “take it

outside”. I was not convinced of the safety of that

for my son, who can react unpredictably, and who,

We have a nice introduction. I show

all my tools and talk gently and

slowly about what I’m going to do

before I do it. If at any time we need

to take a break,we take a break or if

we need to stop, we can stop and

plan for another.”

at age 26, is not easily containable unless he

wants to be.

Antoinette Obrad can be reached by

email at toekneee@sbcglobal.net or

Fast-forward (by just a few days) to a thread on

by phone at 847-630-8149.

the Next-Door Neighbor website and community,

through which I came upon a contact, Antoinette

Obrad, who does haircuts at the client’s home.

She just finished with a roughly 10-minute

haircut for my son. She accepted

his non-mask wearing and lack

of social distancing

with graciousness.

I am honored to invite Antoinette

to share any techniques she

uses for children (and even

adults) who have difficulty

tolerating haircuts. So,

without further ado,

here’s Antoinette.

“People with disabilities

and their families have difficult

issues when it comes to getting

a haircut. During this pandemic,

and even before and after, some

can or cannot tolerate going to

a salon/barber. Those who are

more comfortable being in their

own home are safe in their

surroundings. I wear my face

mask and ask the family about

any instructions I should follow.



Kind of Care

With child care arrangements (not to mention life as

we know it) disrupted by the pandemic, parents are

scrambling for child care; with parents of challenged

children perhaps at the greatest need. For safety and

health reasons, many of these parents may be looking

towards in-home care, now more than ever.

For these parents, My Kind of Town Nannies, located

in the Chicago area, is worthy of mention. Milestones

Magazine is please to introduce founder Jessica Elabed,

who will describe how My Kind of Town Nannies trains

and vets their nannies.

“At My Kind of Town Nannies, we search for nannies

who have attended college to pursue careers that involve

children, such as pediatric therapy and social work.

Our nannies must be CPR and First Aid certified. For

our nannies who only have hands-on experience, we

recommend that they partake in therapy sessions with the

family they are going to work with. If any extra training is

needed, we are partnered with Kidnectivity, a local

pediatric therapy clinic in Northbrook.”

My Kind of Town Nannies can be reached at:

Phone: 773-759-0025

Website: www.mkotn.com

Email: jessie@mkotn.com



Give Me A


Respite Care is designed to give

families breaks from 24/7 caregiving

for their child with a disability

For parents, raising and caring for their children is

a full-time job, with many challenges and rewards.

That goes double (or even triple!) for parents of

children with challenges or diagnosed disabilities.

Advice is often offered to these parents that they

should carve out time to take care of themselves.

Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Respite care

is one option for parents to allow for some self-care.

I am pleased to introduce Roy Cantu, of Respite

Care Resources, to let you know what respite care is,

and what this service typically offers to families.

Respite Care is designed to give families breaks

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

Respite Care Resources provides a secured

professional website at which families can be

matched with caregivers. Caregivers with Respite

Care Resources have professional experience and

training in working with individuals with special

needs. ALL caregivers undergo an interview

process as well as a criminal background and

reference checks.

Author’s note: The above paragraph referenced

Respite Care’s website and Facebook page. For more

information about Respite Care Resources

or to reach them directly, please visit their website

and/or Facebook page. M


Check out our other Magazines!

beyond disabilities

Summer Issue 2019


Sink or Swim

Run Down of Swim

Lesson Businesses

My First Job

Even with a Disability

Working and Earning

Money is Better

Than Not Working

Just to Collect

Government Benefits

The Family Vacation

Traveling with a

Special Needs Child

Can be Challenging

Summer Issue 2019 Fall Issue 2019

Connections child care

Child Care Connections links families to child

care suited to children with challenges.

Child Care Connections also provides informational

articles (referencing North Carolina University

Extension Service) about adapting child care

Features a registry that both parents and providers

can Sign-Up for when they are looking for, or offering,

care for children with various challenges, such as

programs to children with special needs. Once you

sign-up you’ll receive the article Adapting the Child

Care Environment for Children with Special Needs.

developmental disability, autism, hearing impairment,

vision impairment, and more!

Check out our website: milestonesmagazine.net

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