Spring Issue 2021

celebratepotential51

Helping Individuals with Disabilities & their Families Achieve & Celebrate Events & Milestones in their Lives

eyond disabilities

Spring Issue 2021

Let’s Get Cooking

Planning to Succeed

School and Home

I Need a Lawyer?


contents

spring 2021

03 Planning to Succeed

07 Let’s Get Cooking

09 I Need a Lawyer?

13 School and Home

16 Play for Life

19 Exceptional Sports

21 Carving out a Job

23 Happy Trails

Publisher

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.

info@milestonesmagazine.com

1

MilestonesMagazine.net


PLANNING TO SUCCEED

Back in my college days I was taking a required

Biology class. One day, the professor was

giving a lecture on the process of photosynthesis,

which is how plants get energy from light

(or something like that). The process of

photosynthesis has several steps, which the

So, WHAT is

Executive Functioning?

You may hear this term often and we hope

the following clarifies your understanding.

professor was going through. Unfortunately,

he wasn’t very organized. He would go through

Executive function skills are critical for all of us;

the steps out of order, which was exceedingly

frustrating to this then-college student trying

they are a group of skills that we use every day to

to take notes about the whole darn thing.

learn, manage and accomplish things and

This anecdote demonstrates the importance of

executive functioning (and no, I’m not referring

generally get what we want out of life.

to executive as a noun, in the company CEO

sense). I am pleased to introduce Caryl

Frankenberger, Ed.M., Executive Director of

Frankenberger Associates, who has written the

Executive functioning (EF) skills include

but are not limited to:

article below on this very topic.

3


Planning and Prioritizing

In order to complete a task, you begin with

the larger goal in mind. Once the goal is

solidified, you lay a plan of action, prioritizing

mental math requires one to make calculations

in mind. Working memory is a very important

EF skill and one that is often a weakness in our

learning disabled and ADHD populations.

what is most important. Students have to plan

and prioritize many aspects of their lives,

especially their short- and long-term

school assignments.

Self-Monitoring

Completing a task or an assignment, socializing

and just about everything we do requires

one to monitor their performance. We have

Organization

Once you have a plan you have to organize

to think about what we are doing, how we are

the parts into the whole. This requires sorting

through and arranging information into a

system that works for you. Our children have

multiple organizational demands made on

them every day, from rising in the morning,

organizing and locating their belongings,

getting out the door, navigating multiple

classes, returning home to homework and

then heading to bed, and much more.

Flexible Thinking

When working through a task one needs to

think flexibly. If you are rigid in your thinking,

then it is unlikely that you will apply different

approaches when problem solving. Often,

one has to revise a plan of action or obtain new

information, especially if a mistake has been

accomplishing the task and, in the end, asking

ourselves how did I do? This requires one

to monitor their performance and actions by

stopping and reflecting, an important skill that

takes time and practice to acquire.

SKILLS for LIFE

made. We all need to think flexibly and be

ready to change our course of action.

Attention

Attention plays a role in everything we do. To

accomplish a goal, you must focus on the task

at hand. Once you are focused you have to

sustain attention and recognize when your

attention shifts. If it has waxed and waned,

you must bring your focus back to the activity

and maintain focus until the task is completed.

Many students have attentional weaknesses

that hamper their ability to complete tasks.

Working Memory

Working memory is the ability to hold and

manipulate information in mind. When you

read you have to hold and comprehend

information from the beginning to the end

of the page or chapter; listening to directions

requires the same skill, holding and remembering

several pieces of information. Taking notes

in class demands listening, comprehension

and writing simultaneously, and performing

4


Impulse Control

The old adage, “think before you act” applies to the EF skill

impulse control. It really means to control your impulses, to

resist saying or doing something, to stop one’s self. In addition

to controlling our impulses, we have to consider how our

behavior impacts others. This is an important skill for all

students to master.

Emotional Control

Much like attentional and impulse control, emotional control

is the ability to manage your thoughts and emotions so that

you can achieve your goals. Emotions take many forms and,

for example, in the classroom a student has to control their

frustration, annoyance at others, anger at something that did

not go their way. Understanding and managing emotions is

critical to the successful completion of tasks, especially

group work and social relations.

Goal Directed Persistence

Persistence is essential for completing tasks. Many students

struggle to complete tasks because of distractions or because

inevitable setbacks become insurmountable roadblocks. It is

important to maintain a focus on the task at hand and to be

able to summon the grit necessary to push through inevitable


Executive

Functioning

is a broad set of

self-directed

SKILLS

that IMPACT

all aspects

of our lives.

challenges with the overall goal in mind.

It is important to

Executive functioning is a broad set of self-directed skills

that impact all aspects of our lives.

Executive function challenges are often seen at home, in the

classroom and at work. Executive functioning difficulties can

arise from weaknesses in any of the aforementioned skills,

which impact goal directed behavior. It is important to

understanding and address these deficits early so that they

do not become roadblocks to success.

Caryl Frankenberger, Ed.M.

Frankenberger Associates, Branford CT

understanding and address

these deficits early so

that they do not become

roadblocks to success.


www.frankenbergerassociates.com

M

5


6


Let’s Get

Cooking

Many kids love to mess around in

the kitchen. For some of them, the

messing around may actually

involve helping to prepare meals

with their mom or dad.

Some of those budding chefs may be

children with sensory or cognitive

challenges that complicate the steps

involved in preparing a recipe or a

meal. That’s where people such as

Terri Jordan come in. She came up

with a system to benefit her own

son, which is where a number of

parents start who create products,

services, or businesses that help

empower and support people

with disabilities.

I am pleased to introduce

Terri Jordan and her creation,

The Color-Coded Chef.

7


The Idea Behind the Kit

Like all parents, I wanted my son to acquire basic life skills. So,

at age 16, we decided to try cooking. I quickly realized he did not

understand things like “1/4 cup” or “2 tablespoons” — the

measurements kept him from being able to follow traditional

recipes. But he did understand color. This was The Aha Moment

when the idea behind The Color-Coded Chef was born!

Therapy Opportunities

The more you practice, the better you

become at: Gross and Fine Motor Skills,

Speech, Socialization, Teamwork and

Behavior. Plus, when you make your own

food, you tend to try more types of food.

You open yourself up to new possibilities

After many hours of trial and effort, the idea of this cooking kit

became a hands-on reality. And its ultimate goal? To spend

and you elevate your quality of life!

quality time together while teaching life skills

that build self-esteem and independence.

WOW!! What a wonderful way to foster

pride and self-worth in a loved one as they

accomplish an everyday task!

How Does It Work?

The Color-Coded Chef Kit is a collection of

recipes with detailed step-by-step instructions

and simple illustrations that make the recipe

easy to follow and understand. The Ingredients

page can be used as a grocery list at the store,

then used as a checklist when you begin to

cook. The kit comes with a dry-erase marker so

you can easily check off lists on the laminated

cards. Wipe off and reuse! In addition to these

user-friendly recipes and instructions, the kit includes color-coded

measuring cups and spoons and a collection of safe, easy-to-use

common kitchen utensils.

What is Happening Now?

Over the last several years, we have come

so far — as a family and as a company.

And today, I am proud to say my son

Visit TheColorCodedChef.com for a sample Chocolate Chip

Cookie recipe!

assembles The Color-Coded Chef kits

for shipment!

The Benefits of This Kit

The wonderful thing about The Color-Coded Chef Kit is that there

are so many more benefits beyond just learning the practical life

skill of cooking. With each recipe, you are incorporating: Decision

Making, Teamwork, Social Skills, Sequencing, Directions,

Terri Jordan can be reached by:

636-422-1515

Facebook.com/thecolorcodedchef

TheColorCodedChef.com

M

Health and Hygiene Self-Discipline, Safety, and Patience.

8


I Need a

Lawyer?

Many parents with children receiving special education services,

have issues with the school system for one reason or another.

Perhaps their child is in what they regard as an inappropriate

setting (placement concern). Maybe the child isn’t making

expected progress in one or more subject areas. There are many

possible areas of concern.

For some (perhaps even most) instances of conflict, parents are

able to work through the problems directly with the school;

whether on their own or with the help of an IEP (Individualized

Education Plan) Advocate. The IEP Advocate is typically there to

provide support/guidance and mediation, if necessary, for the

parents, but is not a legal representative.

There are situations where, despite the efforts of everyone

involved, an impasse comes about and parents are left wondering

whether legal representation is their only option. I am pleased to

invite Christine Lai, Executive Director of the Special Education

Legal Fund, to address this question. Christine Lai wrote

A Parents Guide to Connecticut Special Education Attorneys,

and much of the information in the guide is helpful for parents

regardless of where they live in the United States.

9


“Many parents struggle through the special education process

with their child’s school district. For some, retaining a special

education attorney is the only way to overcome the obstacle or

hurdles in their child’s way to receiving a free and appropriate

public education. But what is a special education attorney, and

how can I as a parent find the right one for me?

A special education attorney is an attorney who practices law

on behalf of children and young adults to help secure necessary

educational services as required under the law (generally the

A special

education

attorney

is an attorney

who practices law on

behalf of children

and young adults

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA). Special

education attorneys can practice on behalf of parents and

families as part of the private bar association or as part of an

agency like Legal Aid, or on behalf of schools, school districts

and boards of education. A special education attorney generally

has undergone training that includes college, a law degree, and

some type of either coursework or practical experience that

addresses the specific needs of special education students. The

last piece, coursework or practical experience, is particularly

important to consider when a parent is embarking on the process

of seeking out and hiring an attorney to represent their child in

a special education matter. Special education is a particular

specialty of the law and IDEA is a very specific and voluminous

piece of legislation with complex timelines and requirements.

Hiring an attorney who practices, for example, family law, will

to help

not get you where you need to be in terms of representation by

a lawyer who understands the myriad and complex issues of

secure necessary

educational

services

as required

under the law.

special education. For the same reason that you wouldn’t hire

an attorney who practices patent law to defend you in a criminal

trial, you shouldn’t hire an attorney with any other specialty than

special education or disability rights law to represent your child

and family in a special education matter.

The other reason to hire a special education attorney to

represent your child’s specific issues in the special education

realm is because special education law in most states is a

relatively small and tight knit community. In Connecticut, the

private special education bar is well known to one another; most

of the attorneys know each other well and have often worked side

by side for many years advancing the rights of students in special

education. In addition, the parent-representing attorneys are

familiar with the school districts – with the administrators,

special education coordinators, in house attorneys, and outside

counsel that represent schools, school districts, and boards of

education in special education matters. When you as a parent

hire an attorney to represent your child’s special education case,

the school district will also have legal resources to draw upon.

10


In the complex process that follows, having an attorney that knows

the players is an invaluable asset for a family. In addition, a good

special education attorney also knows the other players that matter

in the special education community, and will know what clinicians

write the best reports and who performs best on the stand in a due

process hearing should it come to that.

So how do I find the right special education attorney for my

family? First and foremost, interview more than one attorney to

figure out who you feel most comfortable with. Since you are

going to be spending an inordinate amount of very stressful time

with this person, make sure you communicate well and have a good

level of trust with your legal professional. Word of mouth

recommendations are important, but remember that each

student is different, and each student’s case is different. Just

At the end of the day,

whatever attorney

you decide to hire,

make sure that

1. they have specific

because your neighbor’s attorney was successful with your district

school doesn’t necessarily mean that the same will be true for you

and your child. Ask around – the local bar association will likely

have a list of special education attorneys, and private schools you

are interested in or professionals who have worked with your child

may also have recommendations of attorneys. A great resource

for special education attorneys is the directory of the Council

of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, or COPAA. COPAA is a

national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the rights

of students and their families in matters of special education and

disability rights; they maintain a directory of member attorneys

which can be useful for families beginning the special education

experience in special

education law

2. they have experience

representing students with

your child’s learning profile

as well as the outcome you

are attempting to achieve

legal process. (www.copaa.org).

for your student

3. they have experience with

your school district

4. you understand how they

are charging you for their

services.

Special education attorneys come to this field of law for many

reasons, but in my experience, many of those reasons are personal.

So many of the attorneys that I’ve met in Connecticut who

represent parents in special education matters do so because they

have personal experience as a parent of a child with an IEP. Their

experience advocating for their own child in the special education

system in many cases has acted as inspiration for their professional

legal careers. Other special education attorneys have backgrounds

as special education teachers, administrators, school psychologists,

social workers. An increasing number of special education

attorneys are entering this field of law because of experience they

have had in the special education system themselves. As selfadvocates

and special education attorneys, their experiences both

inside the system and advocating for students within the system

can be particularly compelling.

11


Many a family has seen an attorney-client relationship run

aground over a misunderstanding or lack of clarity around

legal fees. While all attorneys are different and fee arrangements

vary widely among attorneys and across regions and states, you

should always have a clear understanding of how your attorney

is charging you for his or her services. In Connecticut, attorneys

can charge on a hourly basis or according to a flat fee retainer,

and the way in which an attorney bills may be a factor in the

attorney you select to represent your family. You should ask your

prospective attorney clear questions about the billing process –

now is not the time to be shy about money! Having everything

up front from the beginning will go a long way to eliminating any

future miscommunications or misunderstandings about fees or

fee structures. Finally, you should always ask your attorney for

an estimate of what he or she believes your case will take in terms

of time, and therefore money. While some things are not controllable

(the response of the school district in the process is the

biggest unknown), all attorneys should be able

to give you a ballpark estimate of what your case

will cost you in terms of hours and dollars, with

certain caveats in mind.

Finally, very often parents reach out to a special

education attorney because they’ve reached an

impasse or an obstacle in their child’s

educational journey, and they cannot move

forward without support. But what can you do

if you can’t afford the thousands of dollars in

retainer fees that most attorneys charge to let

you walk in the door? Special Education Legal

Fund was founded on this premise: that all

families deserve equal access to full advocacy

efforts for their children. By providing over

$350,000 in grants since 2018 to families in

35+ Connecticut & Westchester County,

New York school districts, S.E.L.F. has

endeavored to level the playing field for all families in special

education regardless of income or background. For more

information about S.E.L.F. or to inquire about S.E.L.F. grants,

please visit spedlegalfund.org.”

M

DISCLAIMER: This article contains material previously published online at

spedlegalfund.org. The guide(s) referred to in this article was written by a parent

for parents. This article is intended as a resource for families who are navigating the

special education system in Connecticut or Westchester, New York and is meant to

provide a basic understanding of special education attorneys in those regions from a

parent’s perspective, with an emphasis on attorneys who practice on behalf of

children and families. This article is not intended to provide legal support, advice,

or assistance, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified special education

attorney. Families in need of legal advice, support, and assistance should contact a

special education attorney licensed to practice in Connecticut, New York, or their

specific state to discuss the specific needs of their individual student.

12


ScHooL and HomE

The pandemic has upended virtually

every aspect of life; including work,

recreation, and school. For many of

us, everything (or at least most things)

home-school their children and follow

the guidelines from the state related to

home-schools (which are considered

private schools).

are now done at, or from, home. And

for our children, that includes school,

so many parents are, for the timebeing,

in effect, home-schooling.

Home-schooling families are not just

left on their own (unless they want

to be, of course). There are people,

organizations and resources that can

However, parents whose children

are enrolled in their district’s public

schools and are doing remote

learning because that’s the only

option their district currently

offers are not home-schooling per se.

Home-schooling families are those

who have made a voluntary choice to

help them set up and operate their

home-school and join with other

home-schooling families. One such

person is Fiona Sifontes, Owner/CEO

of NYAdvocates4Kids. In addition to

her Educational Advocacy work, she

has been involved in home-schooling

for her own child.

13


HomEScHooLiNg

One may think of homeschooling,

where students remain at home and

learn online and/ or parents provide

the curriculum. Yes, that may be true

in some households but not all.

Homeschooling has come such a

long way, with diversity, homeschool

co-op’s, social gatherings, class trips,

classes at museums, galleries, and

even private art/ music studios,

family programs, concerts,

architecture, and parks and playgrounds.

Homeschooling is legal

in the United States, and each state

sets its policies and procedures for

homeschooling. Some states have

no requirements, while others want

parents to submit certain forms and

follow specific procedures. Please

check with your state before initiating

Homeschooling to prevent any legal

actions against you, the parent. Your

student can get the attention they

need with co-op classes with low

student-to-instructor ratios. Plus,

meet friends who may be your

friends for years or even family.

There are tons of activities for

students in New York who opt to

homeschool. Due to this unprecedented

time we are all facing, Homeschooling

has become an integral

part of learning. But to call virtual

learning homeschooling is a stretch.

I’ve homeschooled my son way

before this pandemic and continued

through high school. Without joining

a homeschool co-op, I would’ve been

lost and my son wouldn’t have the

friends he has throughout the years of

his homeschool learning experience.

Yes, this experience can be daunting

in deciding whether to homeschool

or not, and dealing with the administrative

and bureaucratic requirements

of the New York Department of

Education (NYDOE) may be

overwhelming, but not giving it a

chance, one can’t speak on what

Homeschooling endures.

14


There’s an abundance of programs for

homeschoolers in New York, and let’s not

forget Homeschoolers can get IDs as well

from organizations like Homeschool Buyers

Co-op, Zazzle, or HSLDA, to name a few.

If you want your student to receive a State

ID and who lives in NYC, one can get an

NYC ID at the youngest age of 10. NYC

ID gives you offers from free to discounted

events, such as museums and cultural

institutions, theaters, libraries, and

educational programs, etc.

Below are Homeschool Resources in

New York:

NYC DOE for Homeschoolers:

333 Seventh Ave, Floor 7, New York, NY

10001, 917-339-1793

Fearless Homeschooling:

339 West 47th St, Third Floor,

New York, NY 10036, 917-816-1070

Different Directions:

339 West 47th St, Third Floor,

New York, NY 10036, 917-816-1070

The ROC Network for Learning:

2nd Ave & East 2nd St, New York,

NY 10003, 646-854-4762

M

Publishers Note: This article is one of a series of articles

Milestones Magazine is working on about Home-Schooling.

The article included in the previous edition of Milestones

Magazine focused on home-schooling resources in Illinois.

Planning

Licensed to practice in

California and Colorado

for a Child with

Special Needs?

Learn about the

Special Needs Trust

for Free

Email for your free

Family Asset Protection

Survival Guide or call for

your free consultation

with Diedre Braverman,

Special Needs

Planning Attorney.

melanie@braverman-law.com

303-800-1588


PLAY

LIFE

for

One old saying, drilled into the minds of many teachers and

parents, is that “children learn through play”. And despite the

prevalence of computers, smartphones, and other “devices”,

children still need to play: at home, at school, and at day care.

However, for children who have physical, sensory, cognitive,

or motor difficulties, playing itself provides significant, if not

insurmountable challenges. A child may not know how to play

with other children. He or she may have physical difficulties

preventing him or her from reaching or accessing toys or

play equipment.

There are well-known types of therapy (occupational and

physical, for example) that address some of these issues for

children. Less well-known, perhaps, are therapies such as play.

And one type I wasn’t aware of is called Recreational Therapy.

I am pleased to introduce Jeanne Hastings, who is in private

practice as a Recreational Therapist, and has developed a free

tool on her website to help people find certified and licensed

recreational therapists. Jeanne will let us know what recreational

therapy is, and how it can develop and enhance play and social

skills in children with and without disabilities.

16


“Recreational Therapy is probably the best kept secret in

healthcare. In fact, most likely the first time someone would

have contact with a Recreational Therapist would be in an

institutional rehabilitative setting. I first heard about

Recreational Therapy and Therapeutic Recreation when I was

PLAY

for

a junior in High School. That was 1975. I always knew at the

time that I wanted to work with people with disabilities and

disorders, but I was not sure what profession would best

fit my own personal talents and interests.

That is when I heard that our local Community College had a

curriculum called Therapeutic Recreation. After two years at the

community college, I was hooked. I discovered a profession that

was centered on improving the quality of life of people through

play. Upon graduation I continued my studies in Therapeutic

Recreation at SUNY Brockport graduating in 1981 as a

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, CTRS. Later I

earned my Master of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation

from the University of Tennessee and have enjoyed a career as

a Recreational Therapist for 40 years.

LIFE

Recreation, play, and leisure have always been taken for granted.

It’s a given that anyone can enjoy play and participate in sports

and recreation. The mind set has always been if you want to try

new things all you need do is go and do it. You want to ride a

bike? Go do it. You want to ski or go out to a social event; you

just go and do it. If we told our parents that we were bored we

were told to “go out and play” Now let’s say you are involved in

a tragic accident or you are crippled with social anxieties, mental

illness, or physical barriers. Going out to “play” takes on a whole

new challenge. That’s where a recreational therapist can help.

All throughout my career the one question that I have been

asked most frequently is, “What is a Recreational Therapist?”

This question was usually followed by do you play “BINGO

and go out on trips”? The answer is, yes. We play BINGO

and go out on trips but there is so much more to it than that.

The clinical answer to that question is best stated by the

American Therapeutic Recreation Association, ATRA,

(ATRA-online.com).

ATRA states, “Recreation Therapy, also known as therapeutic

recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and

other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs

of individuals with illnesses and /or disabling conditions, as

a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and

wellbeing. Recreational Therapy means a treatment service

designed to restore, remediate, and rehabilitate a person’s

level of functioning and independence in life activities, to

17


promote health and wellness, as well as reduce or eliminate the

activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life

situations caused by an illness or disabling condition.”

(ATRA May 2015).

We, as professionals, work in rehabilitation as well as

habilitative services. Habilitative by helping people keep, learn,

or improve skills and functioning for daily living and also

rehabilitative services that help a person keep, get back, or

improve skills and functioning for daily living that have been

lost or impaired because of being sick, hurt or disabled. We

work basically the same as any rehabilitative service such as

physical therapy, or occupational therapy but the biggest

difference is our interventions.

We utilize the clients recreational and leisure interests to bring

about the desired positive changes. We are one of the first

professions to provide person centered care with the goal

PLAY

for

always to improve the quality of life of the individual. One way

to improve the quality of life is through play, recreation, and fun.

Although we all work to improve the physical well-being of the

individual, recreational therapy also focuses on the emotional,

mental, and social health of that person.

Throughout my 40-year career as a recreational therapist I have

had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful, gifted

people in all types of treatment settings. The one treatment

LIFE

setting that I found to be lacking access to recreational

therapy was in home health. Not only were our services

unavailable but there was no easy way to find a Recreational

Therapist in the community.

That is why I created My Recreation Therapist LLC. My

Recreation Therapist (myrecreationtherapist.com) is a FREE

tool that anyone can use to find and hire their own Licensed or

Certified Recreational Therapist. All a person needs do is sign

up, create a profile, and describe the “job” you would like to fill.

Once joined the person will have access to thousands of CTRS

and LRT’s all-over North America. With a Recreational

Therapist joining your treatment team you will have the most

qualified professional to address quality of life issues through

play, recreation, and leisure to help reach the individuals highest

level of life satisfaction while improving their physical, mental,

emotional and social health. Play is medicine.

If you would like more information about this life changing

profession, please feel free to visit our site at

www.myrecreationtherapist.com.”

M

18


EXCEPTIONAL SPORTS

When parents are looking for a

recreational/sports program for their

child, they don’t always find the right

fit. This can be true for typically developing

children, but perhaps even more so

for children with challenges. Park

districts typically offer accommodations,

and special recreation associations

and/or Special Olympics may fit the bill

for some families, but other families go

their own way.

weeks. The program has served 50-80

athletes weekly. Its initiatives include

a bowling program that has met 3

Saturdays monthly at a local alley

called Bowlero. The program charges

a nominal fee to bowlers and is

otherwise supported with (generally)

tax deductible donations. The program

was named the Murrieta Chamber of

Commerce Non-Profit of the Year for

2019. The mission of the program is

social interaction through recreation (in

One such family founded Exceptional

other words, fun and conversation).

Sports, based in the southern California

wine country town of Murrietta.

This program, like just about everything

we have taken for granted, was

Exceptional Sports started about 10

years ago, to fill a gap created when

Special Olympics cut its program

suspended due to COVID-19. The

organizers hope to start up again

soon. For more information visit their

locally down from year-round to 10

Facebook page.

M

The founder of Exceptional Sports is Jeffrey Nickerson,

19

a “special needs” parent and lawyer specialized in estate planning and special

needs trusts. He and his wife run the Exceptional Sports program together.


Carving

out a

JOB

Finding/keeping a job, especially the first job, can

be a struggle for anyone. That old “Catch-22”, “you

can’t get experience without a job; you can’t get a

job without experience” can be an obstacle for

anyone. This can be especially true for people with

challenges; my younger son being a case in point.

He has autism and some cognitive impairment. His

only real work experience is as “team member” at a

greenhouse whose mission is to provide job training

for people with disabilities.

We Grow Dreams remains my son’s only job experience to date.

He has been declared “not work-ready” by the Division of Rehab

Services (twice, in fact). It’s a real struggle. His story is not unique;

it’s shared by many thousands locally, regionally, and nationally.

disabilities, and increased workforce

On that note, I am pleased to introduce Garret Rosiek, HR

engagement at Bazaar Inc.

Generalist at Bazaar Inc. This company sponsors an initiative to

increase the percentage of people with disabilities in the workforce.

I’ll turn it over to him to write all about it.

How have we been able to succeed

with this disability and inclusion

initiative during the COVID-19

Disability Inclusion at The Bazaar Inc

At The Bazaar, Inc., our long-term goals involve hiring 50% of the

workforce with people with disabilities.

Pandemic? There were many

variables, but the main components

contributing to this change initiative

include top-down support, job

What is the motivation behind this? Besides giving individuals of

diverse backgrounds an opportunity to step into a career and work

carving roles, and altering the

human resources department.

environment, the data collected from our current workforce has

shown positive long-term benefits of having a more significant

percentage of the workforce people with disabilities.

Top-Down Support: This diversity and

inclusion initiative started with our

CEO Bradley Nardick. At The Bazaar,

At The Bazaar Inc, we have 22% of our workforce with disabilities,

which translates to 28 individuals in the company. This includes

individuals with disabilities, veterans, second-chance employees,

and people who have experienced homelessness. The employee

turnover is only 32% for individuals with diverse backgrounds

than 76% turnover for individuals without disabilities.

Inc. we are fortunate to have the

company’s CEO be as passionate

about diversity and inclusion as

Bradley Nardick is. The company

has been able to allocate resources,

energy, and money to grow our

diversity and inclusion initiative.

There have been notable improvements among our employees since

implementing the following strategies company-wide. Changes

internally have created increased communication and collaboration

There have also been significant

changes in the company’s strategic

planning over the past five years.

with managers and staff, higher success rates for those with

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The changes include investing in disability inclusion consultants,

building community support partners, and altering many different

standard operating procedures to create a universal design with the

workplace that better supports people from all different types of

diverse backgrounds.

Job Carving Roles: The purpose of job carving is to take one job

and simplify it into multiple roles. The various functions are then

further analyzed, and task fluency is developed from one task to the

next. This creates more job opportunities with particular positions,

which can be very beneficial for an individual with a disability or

someone entering a new workplace environment. At The Bazaar,

Inc. we perform job carving by assessing our daily operations and

identifying areas that need improvement. After we find areas that

needed improvement, we can job carve out multiple roles for

Helping people

with disabilities

veterans

second chance

employees

and people who have

experienced

homelessness

certain positions. This process has helped our company create more

roles for people with disabilities across a broader spectrum

and give more opportunities for success within

our organization.

Alternating Human Resources:

The Bazaar, Inc. altered their human

resources department and brought in an

employee with previous experience in

applied behavior analysis and had

worked with individuals with

disabilities across a wide spectrum.

This employee, Garret Rosiek, also

has education in organizational and

industrial psychology and has used

his areas of expertise to create performance

reviews, company-wide

training and development,

specialized onboarding, and has

been able to train other staff how to

work with individuals with various

disabilities. Due to the changes made

in the HR department, those working at

this organization are now better supported

within the organization and there have been

notable improvements with collaboration among

employees from all backgrounds.

communication and collaboration

The Bazaar Inc is dedicated and determined to have at least

50% of the workforce include people from diverse backgrounds.

This includes people with disabilities, veterans, second chance

employees, and people who have experienced homelessness. We

believe everyone should have an opportunity to work if they

desire that opportunity and we are driven to progress the

workplace with our diversity and inclusion initiative. At The Bazaar

Publisher Note:

Garret Rosiek can be reached at

1900 5th Ave, River Grove IL 60171

267-265-8172

grosiek@thebazaarinc.com

Facebook

thebazaarinc.com

Inc our vision is one of hope and inclusion as we move towards a

more progressive and diverse culture for the future of our company.

We hope to see you there soon!

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23

Happy Trails


Many children, with a variety of conditions, such as Cerebral Palsy

and Autism, have physical and coordination difficulties that require

occupational therapy. The therapy often involves working with toys,

feeding utensils, and other devices to improve a child’s skills in

various areas.

They use both hippotherapy (use

of the movement of the horse) and

equine interactions and the equine

environment (use of the

horse’s environment).

However, there are some therapy practices that take a bit more unusual,

albeit evidence-based, approach. One such organization is Brandywine

Occupational Therapy, LLC, which use horses extensively in their

practice and may add hippotherapy to their clients’ plan of care.

Their practice treats folks of all ages

with a variety of diagnoses, including

Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Autism,

Traumatic Brain Injury, Sensory

Processions Disorder, Low Muscle

The following information comes straight from the horse’s mouth (o.k.,

actually from the website of Lauren Janusz, operator of Brandywine

Occupational Therapy). It has been edited and summarized.

Tone, Down Syndrome, Cerebral

Palsy, Developmental Delays, Spina

Bifida, and Chromosomal Disorders.

“Brandywine Occupational Therapy, LLC provides occupational

Happy Trails to you!

therapy with the help of a horse!”

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Helping Individuals with Disabilities & their Families

Achieve & Celebrate Events & Milestones in their Lives

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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