Spring Issue 2021

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

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


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eyond disabilities<br />

<strong>Spring</strong> <strong>Issue</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

Let’s Get Cooking<br />

Planning to Succeed<br />

School and Home<br />

I Need a Lawyer?

contents<br />

spring <strong>2021</strong><br />

03 Planning to Succeed<br />

07 Let’s Get Cooking<br />

09 I Need a Lawyer?<br />

13 School and Home<br />

16 Play for Life<br />

19 Exceptional Sports<br />

21 Carving out a Job<br />

23 Happy Trails<br />

Publisher<br />

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

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

of the public-school system.<br />

She developed Milestones Magazine<br />

to help individuals with disabilities<br />

and their families achieve and celebrate<br />

events and milestones in their lives.<br />

info@milestonesmagazine.com<br />

1<br />



Back in my college days I was taking a required<br />

Biology class. One day, the professor was<br />

giving a lecture on the process of photosynthesis,<br />

which is how plants get energy from light<br />

(or something like that). The process of<br />

photosynthesis has several steps, which the<br />

So, WHAT is<br />

Executive Functioning?<br />

You may hear this term often and we hope<br />

the following clarifies your understanding.<br />

professor was going through. Unfortunately,<br />

he wasn’t very organized. He would go through<br />

Executive function skills are critical for all of us;<br />

the steps out of order, which was exceedingly<br />

frustrating to this then-college student trying<br />

they are a group of skills that we use every day to<br />

to take notes about the whole darn thing.<br />

learn, manage and accomplish things and<br />

This anecdote demonstrates the importance of<br />

executive functioning (and no, I’m not referring<br />

generally get what we want out of life.<br />

to executive as a noun, in the company CEO<br />

sense). I am pleased to introduce Caryl<br />

Frankenberger, Ed.M., Executive Director of<br />

Frankenberger Associates, who has written the<br />

Executive functioning (EF) skills include<br />

but are not limited to:<br />

article below on this very topic.<br />


Planning and Prioritizing<br />

In order to complete a task, you begin with<br />

the larger goal in mind. Once the goal is<br />

solidified, you lay a plan of action, prioritizing<br />

mental math requires one to make calculations<br />

in mind. Working memory is a very important<br />

EF skill and one that is often a weakness in our<br />

learning disabled and ADHD populations.<br />

what is most important. Students have to plan<br />

and prioritize many aspects of their lives,<br />

especially their short- and long-term<br />

school assignments.<br />

Self-Monitoring<br />

Completing a task or an assignment, socializing<br />

and just about everything we do requires<br />

one to monitor their performance. We have<br />

Organization<br />

Once you have a plan you have to organize<br />

to think about what we are doing, how we are<br />

the parts into the whole. This requires sorting<br />

through and arranging information into a<br />

system that works for you. Our children have<br />

multiple organizational demands made on<br />

them every day, from rising in the morning,<br />

organizing and locating their belongings,<br />

getting out the door, navigating multiple<br />

classes, returning home to homework and<br />

then heading to bed, and much more.<br />

Flexible Thinking<br />

When working through a task one needs to<br />

think flexibly. If you are rigid in your thinking,<br />

then it is unlikely that you will apply different<br />

approaches when problem solving. Often,<br />

one has to revise a plan of action or obtain new<br />

information, especially if a mistake has been<br />

accomplishing the task and, in the end, asking<br />

ourselves how did I do? This requires one<br />

to monitor their performance and actions by<br />

stopping and reflecting, an important skill that<br />

takes time and practice to acquire.<br />

SKILLS for LIFE<br />

made. We all need to think flexibly and be<br />

ready to change our course of action.<br />

Attention<br />

Attention plays a role in everything we do. To<br />

accomplish a goal, you must focus on the task<br />

at hand. Once you are focused you have to<br />

sustain attention and recognize when your<br />

attention shifts. If it has waxed and waned,<br />

you must bring your focus back to the activity<br />

and maintain focus until the task is completed.<br />

Many students have attentional weaknesses<br />

that hamper their ability to complete tasks.<br />

Working Memory<br />

Working memory is the ability to hold and<br />

manipulate information in mind. When you<br />

read you have to hold and comprehend<br />

information from the beginning to the end<br />

of the page or chapter; listening to directions<br />

requires the same skill, holding and remembering<br />

several pieces of information. Taking notes<br />

in class demands listening, comprehension<br />

and writing simultaneously, and performing<br />


Impulse Control<br />

The old adage, “think before you act” applies to the EF skill<br />

impulse control. It really means to control your impulses, to<br />

resist saying or doing something, to stop one’s self. In addition<br />

to controlling our impulses, we have to consider how our<br />

behavior impacts others. This is an important skill for all<br />

students to master.<br />

Emotional Control<br />

Much like attentional and impulse control, emotional control<br />

is the ability to manage your thoughts and emotions so that<br />

you can achieve your goals. Emotions take many forms and,<br />

for example, in the classroom a student has to control their<br />

frustration, annoyance at others, anger at something that did<br />

not go their way. Understanding and managing emotions is<br />

critical to the successful completion of tasks, especially<br />

group work and social relations.<br />

Goal Directed Persistence<br />

Persistence is essential for completing tasks. Many students<br />

struggle to complete tasks because of distractions or because<br />

inevitable setbacks become insurmountable roadblocks. It is<br />

important to maintain a focus on the task at hand and to be<br />

able to summon the grit necessary to push through inevitable<br />

“<br />

Executive<br />

Functioning<br />

is a broad set of<br />

self-directed<br />

SKILLS<br />

that IMPACT<br />

all aspects<br />

of our lives.<br />

challenges with the overall goal in mind.<br />

It is important to<br />

Executive functioning is a broad set of self-directed skills<br />

that impact all aspects of our lives.<br />

Executive function challenges are often seen at home, in the<br />

classroom and at work. Executive functioning difficulties can<br />

arise from weaknesses in any of the aforementioned skills,<br />

which impact goal directed behavior. It is important to<br />

understanding and address these deficits early so that they<br />

do not become roadblocks to success.<br />

Caryl Frankenberger, Ed.M.<br />

Frankenberger Associates, Branford CT<br />

understanding and address<br />

these deficits early so<br />

that they do not become<br />

roadblocks to success.<br />

“<br />

www.frankenbergerassociates.com<br />

M<br />



Let’s Get<br />

Cooking<br />

Many kids love to mess around in<br />

the kitchen. For some of them, the<br />

messing around may actually<br />

involve helping to prepare meals<br />

with their mom or dad.<br />

Some of those budding chefs may be<br />

children with sensory or cognitive<br />

challenges that complicate the steps<br />

involved in preparing a recipe or a<br />

meal. That’s where people such as<br />

Terri Jordan come in. She came up<br />

with a system to benefit her own<br />

son, which is where a number of<br />

parents start who create products,<br />

services, or businesses that help<br />

empower and support people<br />

with disabilities.<br />

I am pleased to introduce<br />

Terri Jordan and her creation,<br />

The Color-Coded Chef.<br />


The Idea Behind the Kit<br />

Like all parents, I wanted my son to acquire basic life skills. So,<br />

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

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

measurements kept him from being able to follow traditional<br />

recipes. But he did understand color. This was The Aha Moment<br />

when the idea behind The Color-Coded Chef was born!<br />

Therapy Opportunities<br />

The more you practice, the better you<br />

become at: Gross and Fine Motor Skills,<br />

Speech, Socialization, Teamwork and<br />

Behavior. Plus, when you make your own<br />

food, you tend to try more types of food.<br />

You open yourself up to new possibilities<br />

After many hours of trial and effort, the idea of this cooking kit<br />

became a hands-on reality. And its ultimate goal? To spend<br />

and you elevate your quality of life!<br />

quality time together while teaching life skills<br />

that build self-esteem and independence.<br />

WOW!! What a wonderful way to foster<br />

pride and self-worth in a loved one as they<br />

accomplish an everyday task!<br />

How Does It Work?<br />

The Color-Coded Chef Kit is a collection of<br />

recipes with detailed step-by-step instructions<br />

and simple illustrations that make the recipe<br />

easy to follow and understand. The Ingredients<br />

page can be used as a grocery list at the store,<br />

then used as a checklist when you begin to<br />

cook. The kit comes with a dry-erase marker so<br />

you can easily check off lists on the laminated<br />

cards. Wipe off and reuse! In addition to these<br />

user-friendly recipes and instructions, the kit includes color-coded<br />

measuring cups and spoons and a collection of safe, easy-to-use<br />

common kitchen utensils.<br />

What is Happening Now?<br />

Over the last several years, we have come<br />

so far — as a family and as a company.<br />

And today, I am proud to say my son<br />

Visit TheColorCodedChef.com for a sample Chocolate Chip<br />

Cookie recipe!<br />

assembles The Color-Coded Chef kits<br />

for shipment!<br />

The Benefits of This Kit<br />

The wonderful thing about The Color-Coded Chef Kit is that there<br />

are so many more benefits beyond just learning the practical life<br />

skill of cooking. With each recipe, you are incorporating: Decision<br />

Making, Teamwork, Social Skills, Sequencing, Directions,<br />

Terri Jordan can be reached by:<br />

636-422-1515<br />

Facebook.com/thecolorcodedchef<br />

TheColorCodedChef.com<br />

M<br />

Health and Hygiene Self-Discipline, Safety, and Patience.<br />


I Need a<br />

Lawyer?<br />

Many parents with children receiving special education services,<br />

have issues with the school system for one reason or another.<br />

Perhaps their child is in what they regard as an inappropriate<br />

setting (placement concern). Maybe the child isn’t making<br />

expected progress in one or more subject areas. There are many<br />

possible areas of concern.<br />

For some (perhaps even most) instances of conflict, parents are<br />

able to work through the problems directly with the school;<br />

whether on their own or with the help of an IEP (Individualized<br />

Education Plan) Advocate. The IEP Advocate is typically there to<br />

provide support/guidance and mediation, if necessary, for the<br />

parents, but is not a legal representative.<br />

There are situations where, despite the efforts of everyone<br />

involved, an impasse comes about and parents are left wondering<br />

whether legal representation is their only option. I am pleased to<br />

invite Christine Lai, Executive Director of the Special Education<br />

Legal Fund, to address this question. Christine Lai wrote<br />

A Parents Guide to Connecticut Special Education Attorneys,<br />

and much of the information in the guide is helpful for parents<br />

regardless of where they live in the United States.<br />


“Many parents struggle through the special education process<br />

with their child’s school district. For some, retaining a special<br />

education attorney is the only way to overcome the obstacle or<br />

hurdles in their child’s way to receiving a free and appropriate<br />

public education. But what is a special education attorney, and<br />

how can I as a parent find the right one for me?<br />

A special education attorney is an attorney who practices law<br />

on behalf of children and young adults to help secure necessary<br />

educational services as required under the law (generally the<br />

A special<br />

education<br />

attorney<br />

is an attorney<br />

who practices law on<br />

behalf of children<br />

and young adults<br />

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA). Special<br />

education attorneys can practice on behalf of parents and<br />

families as part of the private bar association or as part of an<br />

agency like Legal Aid, or on behalf of schools, school districts<br />

and boards of education. A special education attorney generally<br />

has undergone training that includes college, a law degree, and<br />

some type of either coursework or practical experience that<br />

addresses the specific needs of special education students. The<br />

last piece, coursework or practical experience, is particularly<br />

important to consider when a parent is embarking on the process<br />

of seeking out and hiring an attorney to represent their child in<br />

a special education matter. Special education is a particular<br />

specialty of the law and IDEA is a very specific and voluminous<br />

piece of legislation with complex timelines and requirements.<br />

Hiring an attorney who practices, for example, family law, will<br />

to help<br />

not get you where you need to be in terms of representation by<br />

a lawyer who understands the myriad and complex issues of<br />

secure necessary<br />

educational<br />

services<br />

as required<br />

under the law.<br />

special education. For the same reason that you wouldn’t hire<br />

an attorney who practices patent law to defend you in a criminal<br />

trial, you shouldn’t hire an attorney with any other specialty than<br />

special education or disability rights law to represent your child<br />

and family in a special education matter.<br />

The other reason to hire a special education attorney to<br />

represent your child’s specific issues in the special education<br />

realm is because special education law in most states is a<br />

relatively small and tight knit community. In Connecticut, the<br />

private special education bar is well known to one another; most<br />

of the attorneys know each other well and have often worked side<br />

by side for many years advancing the rights of students in special<br />

education. In addition, the parent-representing attorneys are<br />

familiar with the school districts – with the administrators,<br />

special education coordinators, in house attorneys, and outside<br />

counsel that represent schools, school districts, and boards of<br />

education in special education matters. When you as a parent<br />

hire an attorney to represent your child’s special education case,<br />

the school district will also have legal resources to draw upon.<br />


In the complex process that follows, having an attorney that knows<br />

the players is an invaluable asset for a family. In addition, a good<br />

special education attorney also knows the other players that matter<br />

in the special education community, and will know what clinicians<br />

write the best reports and who performs best on the stand in a due<br />

process hearing should it come to that.<br />

So how do I find the right special education attorney for my<br />

family? First and foremost, interview more than one attorney to<br />

figure out who you feel most comfortable with. Since you are<br />

going to be spending an inordinate amount of very stressful time<br />

with this person, make sure you communicate well and have a good<br />

level of trust with your legal professional. Word of mouth<br />

recommendations are important, but remember that each<br />

student is different, and each student’s case is different. Just<br />

At the end of the day,<br />

whatever attorney<br />

you decide to hire,<br />

make sure that<br />

1. they have specific<br />

because your neighbor’s attorney was successful with your district<br />

school doesn’t necessarily mean that the same will be true for you<br />

and your child. Ask around – the local bar association will likely<br />

have a list of special education attorneys, and private schools you<br />

are interested in or professionals who have worked with your child<br />

may also have recommendations of attorneys. A great resource<br />

for special education attorneys is the directory of the Council<br />

of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, or COPAA. COPAA is a<br />

national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the rights<br />

of students and their families in matters of special education and<br />

disability rights; they maintain a directory of member attorneys<br />

which can be useful for families beginning the special education<br />

experience in special<br />

education law<br />

2. they have experience<br />

representing students with<br />

your child’s learning profile<br />

as well as the outcome you<br />

are attempting to achieve<br />

legal process. (www.copaa.org).<br />

for your student<br />

3. they have experience with<br />

your school district<br />

4. you understand how they<br />

are charging you for their<br />

services.<br />

Special education attorneys come to this field of law for many<br />

reasons, but in my experience, many of those reasons are personal.<br />

So many of the attorneys that I’ve met in Connecticut who<br />

represent parents in special education matters do so because they<br />

have personal experience as a parent of a child with an IEP. Their<br />

experience advocating for their own child in the special education<br />

system in many cases has acted as inspiration for their professional<br />

legal careers. Other special education attorneys have backgrounds<br />

as special education teachers, administrators, school psychologists,<br />

social workers. An increasing number of special education<br />

attorneys are entering this field of law because of experience they<br />

have had in the special education system themselves. As selfadvocates<br />

and special education attorneys, their experiences both<br />

inside the system and advocating for students within the system<br />

can be particularly compelling.<br />


Many a family has seen an attorney-client relationship run<br />

aground over a misunderstanding or lack of clarity around<br />

legal fees. While all attorneys are different and fee arrangements<br />

vary widely among attorneys and across regions and states, you<br />

should always have a clear understanding of how your attorney<br />

is charging you for his or her services. In Connecticut, attorneys<br />

can charge on a hourly basis or according to a flat fee retainer,<br />

and the way in which an attorney bills may be a factor in the<br />

attorney you select to represent your family. You should ask your<br />

prospective attorney clear questions about the billing process –<br />

now is not the time to be shy about money! Having everything<br />

up front from the beginning will go a long way to eliminating any<br />

future miscommunications or misunderstandings about fees or<br />

fee structures. Finally, you should always ask your attorney for<br />

an estimate of what he or she believes your case will take in terms<br />

of time, and therefore money. While some things are not controllable<br />

(the response of the school district in the process is the<br />

biggest unknown), all attorneys should be able<br />

to give you a ballpark estimate of what your case<br />

will cost you in terms of hours and dollars, with<br />

certain caveats in mind.<br />

Finally, very often parents reach out to a special<br />

education attorney because they’ve reached an<br />

impasse or an obstacle in their child’s<br />

educational journey, and they cannot move<br />

forward without support. But what can you do<br />

if you can’t afford the thousands of dollars in<br />

retainer fees that most attorneys charge to let<br />

you walk in the door? Special Education Legal<br />

Fund was founded on this premise: that all<br />

families deserve equal access to full advocacy<br />

efforts for their children. By providing over<br />

$350,000 in grants since 2018 to families in<br />

35+ Connecticut & Westchester County,<br />

New York school districts, S.E.L.F. has<br />

endeavored to level the playing field for all families in special<br />

education regardless of income or background. For more<br />

information about S.E.L.F. or to inquire about S.E.L.F. grants,<br />

please visit spedlegalfund.org.”<br />

M<br />

DISCLAIMER: This article contains material previously published online at<br />

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

for parents. This article is intended as a resource for families who are navigating the<br />

special education system in Connecticut or Westchester, New York and is meant to<br />

provide a basic understanding of special education attorneys in those regions from a<br />

parent’s perspective, with an emphasis on attorneys who practice on behalf of<br />

children and families. This article is not intended to provide legal support, advice,<br />

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

attorney. Families in need of legal advice, support, and assistance should contact a<br />

special education attorney licensed to practice in Connecticut, New York, or their<br />

specific state to discuss the specific needs of their individual student.<br />


ScHooL and HomE<br />

The pandemic has upended virtually<br />

every aspect of life; including work,<br />

recreation, and school. For many of<br />

us, everything (or at least most things)<br />

home-school their children and follow<br />

the guidelines from the state related to<br />

home-schools (which are considered<br />

private schools).<br />

are now done at, or from, home. And<br />

for our children, that includes school,<br />

so many parents are, for the timebeing,<br />

in effect, home-schooling.<br />

Home-schooling families are not just<br />

left on their own (unless they want<br />

to be, of course). There are people,<br />

organizations and resources that can<br />

However, parents whose children<br />

are enrolled in their district’s public<br />

schools and are doing remote<br />

learning because that’s the only<br />

option their district currently<br />

offers are not home-schooling per se.<br />

Home-schooling families are those<br />

who have made a voluntary choice to<br />

help them set up and operate their<br />

home-school and join with other<br />

home-schooling families. One such<br />

person is Fiona Sifontes, Owner/CEO<br />

of NYAdvocates4Kids. In addition to<br />

her Educational Advocacy work, she<br />

has been involved in home-schooling<br />

for her own child.<br />


HomEScHooLiNg<br />

One may think of homeschooling,<br />

where students remain at home and<br />

learn online and/ or parents provide<br />

the curriculum. Yes, that may be true<br />

in some households but not all.<br />

Homeschooling has come such a<br />

long way, with diversity, homeschool<br />

co-op’s, social gatherings, class trips,<br />

classes at museums, galleries, and<br />

even private art/ music studios,<br />

family programs, concerts,<br />

architecture, and parks and playgrounds.<br />

Homeschooling is legal<br />

in the United States, and each state<br />

sets its policies and procedures for<br />

homeschooling. Some states have<br />

no requirements, while others want<br />

parents to submit certain forms and<br />

follow specific procedures. Please<br />

check with your state before initiating<br />

Homeschooling to prevent any legal<br />

actions against you, the parent. Your<br />

student can get the attention they<br />

need with co-op classes with low<br />

student-to-instructor ratios. Plus,<br />

meet friends who may be your<br />

friends for years or even family.<br />

There are tons of activities for<br />

students in New York who opt to<br />

homeschool. Due to this unprecedented<br />

time we are all facing, Homeschooling<br />

has become an integral<br />

part of learning. But to call virtual<br />

learning homeschooling is a stretch.<br />

I’ve homeschooled my son way<br />

before this pandemic and continued<br />

through high school. Without joining<br />

a homeschool co-op, I would’ve been<br />

lost and my son wouldn’t have the<br />

friends he has throughout the years of<br />

his homeschool learning experience.<br />

Yes, this experience can be daunting<br />

in deciding whether to homeschool<br />

or not, and dealing with the administrative<br />

and bureaucratic requirements<br />

of the New York Department of<br />

Education (NYDOE) may be<br />

overwhelming, but not giving it a<br />

chance, one can’t speak on what<br />

Homeschooling endures.<br />


There’s an abundance of programs for<br />

homeschoolers in New York, and let’s not<br />

forget Homeschoolers can get IDs as well<br />

from organizations like Homeschool Buyers<br />

Co-op, Zazzle, or HSLDA, to name a few.<br />

If you want your student to receive a State<br />

ID and who lives in NYC, one can get an<br />

NYC ID at the youngest age of 10. NYC<br />

ID gives you offers from free to discounted<br />

events, such as museums and cultural<br />

institutions, theaters, libraries, and<br />

educational programs, etc.<br />

Below are Homeschool Resources in<br />

New York:<br />

NYC DOE for Homeschoolers:<br />

333 Seventh Ave, Floor 7, New York, NY<br />

10001, 917-339-1793<br />

Fearless Homeschooling:<br />

339 West 47th St, Third Floor,<br />

New York, NY 10036, 917-816-1070<br />

Different Directions:<br />

339 West 47th St, Third Floor,<br />

New York, NY 10036, 917-816-1070<br />

The ROC Network for Learning:<br />

2nd Ave & East 2nd St, New York,<br />

NY 10003, 646-854-4762<br />

M<br />

Publishers Note: This article is one of a series of articles<br />

Milestones Magazine is working on about Home-Schooling.<br />

The article included in the previous edition of Milestones<br />

Magazine focused on home-schooling resources in Illinois.<br />

Planning<br />

Licensed to practice in<br />

California and Colorado<br />

for a Child with<br />

Special Needs?<br />

Learn about the<br />

Special Needs Trust<br />

for Free<br />

Email for your free<br />

Family Asset Protection<br />

Survival Guide or call for<br />

your free consultation<br />

with Diedre Braverman,<br />

Special Needs<br />

Planning Attorney.<br />

melanie@braverman-law.com<br />


PLAY<br />

LIFE<br />

for<br />

One old saying, drilled into the minds of many teachers and<br />

parents, is that “children learn through play”. And despite the<br />

prevalence of computers, smartphones, and other “devices”,<br />

children still need to play: at home, at school, and at day care.<br />

However, for children who have physical, sensory, cognitive,<br />

or motor difficulties, playing itself provides significant, if not<br />

insurmountable challenges. A child may not know how to play<br />

with other children. He or she may have physical difficulties<br />

preventing him or her from reaching or accessing toys or<br />

play equipment.<br />

There are well-known types of therapy (occupational and<br />

physical, for example) that address some of these issues for<br />

children. Less well-known, perhaps, are therapies such as play.<br />

And one type I wasn’t aware of is called Recreational Therapy.<br />

I am pleased to introduce Jeanne Hastings, who is in private<br />

practice as a Recreational Therapist, and has developed a free<br />

tool on her website to help people find certified and licensed<br />

recreational therapists. Jeanne will let us know what recreational<br />

therapy is, and how it can develop and enhance play and social<br />

skills in children with and without disabilities.<br />


“Recreational Therapy is probably the best kept secret in<br />

healthcare. In fact, most likely the first time someone would<br />

have contact with a Recreational Therapist would be in an<br />

institutional rehabilitative setting. I first heard about<br />

Recreational Therapy and Therapeutic Recreation when I was<br />

PLAY<br />

for<br />

a junior in High School. That was 1975. I always knew at the<br />

time that I wanted to work with people with disabilities and<br />

disorders, but I was not sure what profession would best<br />

fit my own personal talents and interests.<br />

That is when I heard that our local Community College had a<br />

curriculum called Therapeutic Recreation. After two years at the<br />

community college, I was hooked. I discovered a profession that<br />

was centered on improving the quality of life of people through<br />

play. Upon graduation I continued my studies in Therapeutic<br />

Recreation at SUNY Brockport graduating in 1981 as a<br />

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, CTRS. Later I<br />

earned my Master of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation<br />

from the University of Tennessee and have enjoyed a career as<br />

a Recreational Therapist for 40 years.<br />

LIFE<br />

Recreation, play, and leisure have always been taken for granted.<br />

It’s a given that anyone can enjoy play and participate in sports<br />

and recreation. The mind set has always been if you want to try<br />

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

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

just go and do it. If we told our parents that we were bored we<br />

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

a tragic accident or you are crippled with social anxieties, mental<br />

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

new challenge. That’s where a recreational therapist can help.<br />

All throughout my career the one question that I have been<br />

asked most frequently is, “What is a Recreational Therapist?”<br />

This question was usually followed by do you play “BINGO<br />

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

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

The clinical answer to that question is best stated by the<br />

American Therapeutic Recreation Association, ATRA,<br />

(ATRA-online.com).<br />

ATRA states, “Recreation Therapy, also known as therapeutic<br />

recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and<br />

other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs<br />

of individuals with illnesses and /or disabling conditions, as<br />

a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and<br />

wellbeing. Recreational Therapy means a treatment service<br />

designed to restore, remediate, and rehabilitate a person’s<br />

level of functioning and independence in life activities, to<br />


promote health and wellness, as well as reduce or eliminate the<br />

activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life<br />

situations caused by an illness or disabling condition.”<br />

(ATRA May 2015).<br />

We, as professionals, work in rehabilitation as well as<br />

habilitative services. Habilitative by helping people keep, learn,<br />

or improve skills and functioning for daily living and also<br />

rehabilitative services that help a person keep, get back, or<br />

improve skills and functioning for daily living that have been<br />

lost or impaired because of being sick, hurt or disabled. We<br />

work basically the same as any rehabilitative service such as<br />

physical therapy, or occupational therapy but the biggest<br />

difference is our interventions.<br />

We utilize the clients recreational and leisure interests to bring<br />

about the desired positive changes. We are one of the first<br />

professions to provide person centered care with the goal<br />

PLAY<br />

for<br />

always to improve the quality of life of the individual. One way<br />

to improve the quality of life is through play, recreation, and fun.<br />

Although we all work to improve the physical well-being of the<br />

individual, recreational therapy also focuses on the emotional,<br />

mental, and social health of that person.<br />

Throughout my 40-year career as a recreational therapist I have<br />

had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful, gifted<br />

people in all types of treatment settings. The one treatment<br />

LIFE<br />

setting that I found to be lacking access to recreational<br />

therapy was in home health. Not only were our services<br />

unavailable but there was no easy way to find a Recreational<br />

Therapist in the community.<br />

That is why I created My Recreation Therapist LLC. My<br />

Recreation Therapist (myrecreationtherapist.com) is a FREE<br />

tool that anyone can use to find and hire their own Licensed or<br />

Certified Recreational Therapist. All a person needs do is sign<br />

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

Once joined the person will have access to thousands of CTRS<br />

and LRT’s all-over North America. With a Recreational<br />

Therapist joining your treatment team you will have the most<br />

qualified professional to address quality of life issues through<br />

play, recreation, and leisure to help reach the individuals highest<br />

level of life satisfaction while improving their physical, mental,<br />

emotional and social health. Play is medicine.<br />

If you would like more information about this life changing<br />

profession, please feel free to visit our site at<br />

www.myrecreationtherapist.com.”<br />

M<br />



When parents are looking for a<br />

recreational/sports program for their<br />

child, they don’t always find the right<br />

fit. This can be true for typically developing<br />

children, but perhaps even more so<br />

for children with challenges. Park<br />

districts typically offer accommodations,<br />

and special recreation associations<br />

and/or Special Olympics may fit the bill<br />

for some families, but other families go<br />

their own way.<br />

weeks. The program has served 50-80<br />

athletes weekly. Its initiatives include<br />

a bowling program that has met 3<br />

Saturdays monthly at a local alley<br />

called Bowlero. The program charges<br />

a nominal fee to bowlers and is<br />

otherwise supported with (generally)<br />

tax deductible donations. The program<br />

was named the Murrieta Chamber of<br />

Commerce Non-Profit of the Year for<br />

2019. The mission of the program is<br />

social interaction through recreation (in<br />

One such family founded Exceptional<br />

other words, fun and conversation).<br />

Sports, based in the southern California<br />

wine country town of Murrietta.<br />

This program, like just about everything<br />

we have taken for granted, was<br />

Exceptional Sports started about 10<br />

years ago, to fill a gap created when<br />

Special Olympics cut its program<br />

suspended due to COVID-19. The<br />

organizers hope to start up again<br />

soon. For more information visit their<br />

locally down from year-round to 10<br />

Facebook page.<br />

M<br />

The founder of Exceptional Sports is Jeffrey Nickerson,<br />

19<br />

a “special needs” parent and lawyer specialized in estate planning and special<br />

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

Carving<br />

out a<br />

JOB<br />

Finding/keeping a job, especially the first job, can<br />

be a struggle for anyone. That old “Catch-22”, “you<br />

can’t get experience without a job; you can’t get a<br />

job without experience” can be an obstacle for<br />

anyone. This can be especially true for people with<br />

challenges; my younger son being a case in point.<br />

He has autism and some cognitive impairment. His<br />

only real work experience is as “team member” at a<br />

greenhouse whose mission is to provide job training<br />

for people with disabilities.<br />

We Grow Dreams remains my son’s only job experience to date.<br />

He has been declared “not work-ready” by the Division of Rehab<br />

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

it’s shared by many thousands locally, regionally, and nationally.<br />

disabilities, and increased workforce<br />

On that note, I am pleased to introduce Garret Rosiek, HR<br />

engagement at Bazaar Inc.<br />

Generalist at Bazaar Inc. This company sponsors an initiative to<br />

increase the percentage of people with disabilities in the workforce.<br />

I’ll turn it over to him to write all about it.<br />

How have we been able to succeed<br />

with this disability and inclusion<br />

initiative during the COVID-19<br />

Disability Inclusion at The Bazaar Inc<br />

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

workforce with people with disabilities.<br />

Pandemic? There were many<br />

variables, but the main components<br />

contributing to this change initiative<br />

include top-down support, job<br />

What is the motivation behind this? Besides giving individuals of<br />

diverse backgrounds an opportunity to step into a career and work<br />

carving roles, and altering the<br />

human resources department.<br />

environment, the data collected from our current workforce has<br />

shown positive long-term benefits of having a more significant<br />

percentage of the workforce people with disabilities.<br />

Top-Down Support: This diversity and<br />

inclusion initiative started with our<br />

CEO Bradley Nardick. At The Bazaar,<br />

At The Bazaar Inc, we have 22% of our workforce with disabilities,<br />

which translates to 28 individuals in the company. This includes<br />

individuals with disabilities, veterans, second-chance employees,<br />

and people who have experienced homelessness. The employee<br />

turnover is only 32% for individuals with diverse backgrounds<br />

than 76% turnover for individuals without disabilities.<br />

Inc. we are fortunate to have the<br />

company’s CEO be as passionate<br />

about diversity and inclusion as<br />

Bradley Nardick is. The company<br />

has been able to allocate resources,<br />

energy, and money to grow our<br />

diversity and inclusion initiative.<br />

There have been notable improvements among our employees since<br />

implementing the following strategies company-wide. Changes<br />

internally have created increased communication and collaboration<br />

There have also been significant<br />

changes in the company’s strategic<br />

planning over the past five years.<br />

with managers and staff, higher success rates for those with<br />


The changes include investing in disability inclusion consultants,<br />

building community support partners, and altering many different<br />

standard operating procedures to create a universal design with the<br />

workplace that better supports people from all different types of<br />

diverse backgrounds.<br />

Job Carving Roles: The purpose of job carving is to take one job<br />

and simplify it into multiple roles. The various functions are then<br />

further analyzed, and task fluency is developed from one task to the<br />

next. This creates more job opportunities with particular positions,<br />

which can be very beneficial for an individual with a disability or<br />

someone entering a new workplace environment. At The Bazaar,<br />

Inc. we perform job carving by assessing our daily operations and<br />

identifying areas that need improvement. After we find areas that<br />

needed improvement, we can job carve out multiple roles for<br />

Helping people<br />

with disabilities<br />

veterans<br />

second chance<br />

employees<br />

and people who have<br />

experienced<br />

homelessness<br />

certain positions. This process has helped our company create more<br />

roles for people with disabilities across a broader spectrum<br />

and give more opportunities for success within<br />

our organization.<br />

Alternating Human Resources:<br />

The Bazaar, Inc. altered their human<br />

resources department and brought in an<br />

employee with previous experience in<br />

applied behavior analysis and had<br />

worked with individuals with<br />

disabilities across a wide spectrum.<br />

This employee, Garret Rosiek, also<br />

has education in organizational and<br />

industrial psychology and has used<br />

his areas of expertise to create performance<br />

reviews, company-wide<br />

training and development,<br />

specialized onboarding, and has<br />

been able to train other staff how to<br />

work with individuals with various<br />

disabilities. Due to the changes made<br />

in the HR department, those working at<br />

this organization are now better supported<br />

within the organization and there have been<br />

notable improvements with collaboration among<br />

employees from all backgrounds.<br />

communication and collaboration<br />

The Bazaar Inc is dedicated and determined to have at least<br />

50% of the workforce include people from diverse backgrounds.<br />

This includes people with disabilities, veterans, second chance<br />

employees, and people who have experienced homelessness. We<br />

believe everyone should have an opportunity to work if they<br />

desire that opportunity and we are driven to progress the<br />

workplace with our diversity and inclusion initiative. At The Bazaar<br />

Publisher Note:<br />

Garret Rosiek can be reached at<br />

1900 5th Ave, River Grove IL 60171<br />

267-265-8172<br />

grosiek@thebazaarinc.com<br />

Facebook<br />

thebazaarinc.com<br />

Inc our vision is one of hope and inclusion as we move towards a<br />

more progressive and diverse culture for the future of our company.<br />

We hope to see you there soon!<br />


23<br />

Happy Trails

Many children, with a variety of conditions, such as Cerebral Palsy<br />

and Autism, have physical and coordination difficulties that require<br />

occupational therapy. The therapy often involves working with toys,<br />

feeding utensils, and other devices to improve a child’s skills in<br />

various areas.<br />

They use both hippotherapy (use<br />

of the movement of the horse) and<br />

equine interactions and the equine<br />

environment (use of the<br />

horse’s environment).<br />

However, there are some therapy practices that take a bit more unusual,<br />

albeit evidence-based, approach. One such organization is Brandywine<br />

Occupational Therapy, LLC, which use horses extensively in their<br />

practice and may add hippotherapy to their clients’ plan of care.<br />

Their practice treats folks of all ages<br />

with a variety of diagnoses, including<br />

Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Autism,<br />

Traumatic Brain Injury, Sensory<br />

Processions Disorder, Low Muscle<br />

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

actually from the website of Lauren Janusz, operator of Brandywine<br />

Occupational Therapy). It has been edited and summarized.<br />

Tone, Down Syndrome, Cerebral<br />

Palsy, Developmental Delays, Spina<br />

Bifida, and Chromosomal Disorders.<br />

“Brandywine Occupational Therapy, LLC provides occupational<br />

Happy Trails to you!<br />

therapy with the help of a horse!”<br />


Helping Individuals with Disabilities & their Families<br />

Achieve & Celebrate Events & Milestones in their Lives<br />

Connections child care<br />

Child Care Connections links families to child<br />

care suited to children with challenges.<br />

Child Care Connections also provides informational<br />

articles (referencing North Carolina University<br />

Extension Service) about adapting child care<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

vision impairment, and more!<br />

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


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