Summer Issue 2020
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
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.
CARING FOR SOMEONE
WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
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SO YOU CAN BOTH LIVE IN THE MOMENT.
At Prudential, we understand the fi
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Nancy Roach-Wilder, CFP ® , ChSNC
Financial Planner, Prudential Advisors
CA Insurance License Number 0G27220
The Prudential Insurance Company of America
1901 Butterfi eld Rd,
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Off ce 224-305-2257, Phone Off ce 877-840-7826
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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
By: Matt Hemauer
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. 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Partner Kidnectivity
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
solving they have shown during this still ongoing
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
email@example.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
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
FILLING in the CRACKS
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
• 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
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.
M Y P A T H
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
• 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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,
“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:
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
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!
Summer Issue 2019
Sink or Swim
Run Down of Swim
My First Job
Even with a Disability
Working and Earning
Money is Better
Than Not Working
Just to Collect
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