Chicago Special Parent - Summer 2019

Page 1

Specıal Parent CHICAGO



A mom’s fight + The CBD debate,

inclusive playgrounds and resources you need SP_Cover_Summer_2019.indd 1

7/25/19 3:26 PM

The Special Recreation Network of Illinois (SRANI) provides information on the 34 cooperative agencies throughout Illinois called Special Recreation Associations (SRAs). These SRAs deliver a variety of community-based recreation services to children, teens and adults with disabilities through a cooperative agreement with their member park districts and recreation agencies. For a statewide listing of SRANI agencies, see our display ad in the Resource Directory or visit

SPECIAL RECREATION Your child will explore whole new worlds!

• Adaptive Sports • Aquatics • Cultural Arts • Field Trips

• Inclusion • Paralympic Sports • Social Clubs

• Special Events • Special Olympics • Summer Camps

• Unified Sports • Vacation Trips • Weekly Programs

Providing programs that will enhance socialization skills, improve self-help skills, build self-esteem, and develop fine and gross motor skills.

CSP_0819_CV2.indd 1

8/1/19 11:33 AM

CSP_0819_001.indd 1

8/2/19 4:05 PM


h S h rt o N e th f o r e id v ro P y p The Leading Autism Thera

KGH Autism Services is a multidisciplinary therapy center supporting young children with autism in our center, in your home, school and community. As one of the few accredited Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence in the Midwest, we provide personalized support for the whole family.

Specializing in Early Childhood Free Autism Screenings Autism Diagnostic Evaluations Comprehensive ABA Therapy ages 0-6 Therapeutic Preschool ages 3-5 2


SpecÄąal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_002.indd 1

Learn More: 224-326-2206


8/1/19 10:56 AM


STAFF EDITOR Tamara L. O’Shaughnessy MANAGING EDITOR Hillary Bird DIGITAL EDITOR Katina Beniaris ART DIRECTOR Claire Innes EDITORIAL DESIGNER Jacquinete Baldwin CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jerry Davich, Lori Orlinsky, Ericka Polonco-Webb CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Thomas Kubik IT AND DIGITAL DEVELOPER Mike Risher DISPLAY AD SALES Annette Coffee, Christine Griffith, Lourdes Nicholls, Karen Skinner ADVERTISING AND PRODUCTION MANAGER


Andrew Mead CLIENT ENGAGEMENT Natalie Johnson

16 1

AD DESIGN Debbie Becker, Mark Moroney

Mom: ‘I don’t want their future dictated by their special needs.’


20 2


23 2


CONTACT PHONE (708) 386-5555

Perfect playdate spots Mom-approved suburban play spaces everyone will love.

Wakeelah Cocroft-Aldridge

Dan Haley

Determined advocate


6 28 40

CBD and special needs Should you or shouldn’t you look at cannabis and oils?


Saving for the future Tax-free program growing in popularity for families with disabilities.




AN EMPOWERMENT GUIDE FROM Our offices are at 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, Illinois 60302. © 2019 Wednesday Journal, Inc. All rights reserved.


A mom’s fight + The CBD debate,

inclusive playgrounds and resources you need

On the Cover Rafi, left, and Samir play with mom, Jackie Spinner Photography: Thomas Kubik of TK Photography Design: Claire Innes |

CSP_0819_003.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 12:23 PM

Postsecondary Program for Young Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities STUDENT LIFE



P.A.C.E. at NLU is a postsecondary, residential program based in Chicago, designed for the transitional needs of young adults with multiple intellectual, learning and developmental disabilities.


P.A.C.E. provides: • Independent living skills instruction • Employment preparation • Functional academic courses • Social development and community living skills

REQUEST MORE INFO • 312.261.3770



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_004.indd 1


8/1/19 10:54 AM

HELP YOUR CHILD SHINE AT SCHOOL OPENING in JULY! AHSS Autism Center 2762 N. Lincoln Avenue Chicago, IL 60614


Autism Center

Autism presents a spectrum of learning challenges at school. Maybe your child is struggling in kindergarten or is almostbut not quite-ready for preschool. That’s why we created the Early Learners Group — an alternative program to help children get ready for their next academic milestones. Here, your little learner will join a structured, small-group classroom environment where we use evidence-based methodologies to promote skills acquisition and enhance your child’s individual therapy. Our goal matches yours: to get your child ready to more fully participate in future outside social settings — and especially at school.

Give your child what’s needed to achieve the next academic milestone: • Ready-to-learn skills • Self-care skills • Social skills • Peer interaction • Group-learning skills • Pretend play • Play/recreation skills • Daily living skills • Classroom readiness Locations:

AHSS Autism Center 85 Revere Dr., Ste. AA Northbrook, IL 60062 AHSS Autism Center 3385 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Ste. K Arlington Heights, IL 60004 AHSS Autism Center 2762 N. Lincoln Avenue Chicago, IL 60614

Contact Us Today to Move Your Child Forward

844-AHSS-ABA (247-7222) • |

CSP_0819_005.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 10:54 AM

In Our Shoes “He just doesn’t let anything stop him. Nothing.”

‘He just never stops smiling’


t’s a moment Beth Schied will never forget. She held 18-monthold Jake on her lap as an eye doctor peered into his eyes and spotted a large tumor in one. The next day, under anesthesia, doctors discovered tumors in both eyes. After an unfathomable 50 tumors developed in one eye, the eye had to be removed. A few months later, another tumor developed in the other eye and the pair was sent to Philadelphia to see a specialist. Jake ultimately lost his second eye. Despite many surgeries and thousands of miles of travel for specialized care, 13-year-old Jake is a regular kid who loves playing football and hockey and inspires all those around him, his mom says. “He never complained. ... He just has gone through so much, it was a long, hard battle. Now he is 13 and he is wonderful, he is the happiest,” she says. “He just doesn’t let anything stop him. Nothing.” The day the pair returned home after his second eye was removed when he was 8 years old, he pulled on a pair of roller blades and went off down the sidewalk with a friend. Sometimes, though, Schied confesses, her son’s blindness stops her in her tracks. The mom of four also worries about high school and his future, though she tells Jake he’s destined to be a sportscaster since you can ask him about any athlete in any sport and he can recite their stats and background. He dreams of attending Penn State. Jake is about to begin his final year playing football for St. John Fisher School on Chicago’s southwest side. Inspired to try after hearing the story of Jake Olson, a University of Southern California long snapper who had the same retinal cancer, Jake became the Falcons’ long snapper and his dad helped coach the team. Jake also joined the Chicago Blackhawks Blind Hockey team. “I wish I could tell you how he does it,” his mom says.

In Mom’s Words Best mom survival strategy: One day at a time Worst day: When I found out he was going to lose his first eye, I remember being at school and the doctor calling and telling me it needs to be removed immediately. Being at work and it hitting me was the worse. I remember going into the teachers’ bathroom and falling to the floor crying, my wonderful teacher friends trying to help me. Honestly, I don’t remember the rest of the day. Happiest moment: When Jake lost both of his eyes, I finally had

the courage to ask him if he only saw dark. His response was, “No mom, I see, I just imagine everything.” That is when I knew Jake was going to be OK. Best advice received after cancer diagnosis: Live life like you would. Do not stop or change anything unless it is necessary. Yes, things are different, but do not stop living! Biggest hope for Jake’s future: I want Jake to be able to do what he wants: go to high school, go to college, find a job, find love and start a family. Photos provided



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_006.indd 1


8/1/19 10:53 AM

Holistic Riding Equestrian Therapy Proudly Offers: | Therapeutic Riding Lessons | Farm Experience Program | Veterans Classes

Sign Up Now for our Fall Session!

| Trail Classes

Participant and Volunteer Openings Available!

Enjoy miles of nature trails and meet our 4-legged friends while visiting a historic landmark working farm just minutes from Chicago in Lemont, IL

For More Information Visit Us @ 630-878-8096 | | Like us on Facebook @HolisticRidingEquestrianTeam


OUR SERVICES • • • • • •

Occupational Therapy Speech-Language Pathology Physical Therapy Nutrition/Feeding Therapy Applied Behavior Analysis Developmental Therapy

PROVIDED ACROSS CHICAGOLAND Clinic • Home • School • Telehealth

Eyas Landing We care. They create.™

CALL US TODAY AT 312.733.0883

Eyas Landing | 1409 W Carroll Ave. Chicago, IL 60607 | |

CSP_0819_007.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 10:53 AM

Where Hope and Healing Meet At Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago, our mission is simple: deliver world-class care to children who need it most – regardless of their ability to pay. For over 90 years, thousands of families with children in need of orthopaedic care, specialized plastic surgery, cleft lip and palate repair, physical rehabilitation, and spinal cord injury care have come through our doors with hopes of finding the very best pediatric specialty care. Under our roof, those hopes are answered every day — by physicians, nurses, and specialists using the latest technology, innovative research, and a collaborative, family-centered approach. It’s how the Shriners Hospital system has provided care for over 1.3 million children.

Do You Know a For a consultation, or to refer a patient, call: Child We May Be Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago Able to Help ? 773-385-KIDS (5437)

CSP_0819_008.indd 1

8/1/19 10:52 AM


Fill your bookshelf 5


Author: Sylvia Liang

8 new books for families with special needs



ids of all abilities love to see themselves represented in books, whether it’s someone with the same hair color, features or even abilities. Families of children with special needs can thank publishers for their 2019 books that feature children with autism finding friends and learning to hug, kids with ADHD solving mysteries, a boy with cerebral palsy living his dreams and many more.


Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach

Author: Elizabeth Gerlach Ages: 3 6

Ben has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming about a day at the beach. He feels the sand in his toes and the sun on his face, playing with his family and friends. Elizabeth Gerlach wrote the book about her son who was non verbal and used a chair, hoping to teach other children to be comfortable around kids in wheelchairs.


A Friend for Henry Author: Jenn Bailey

Ages: 5 8 The label on the carpet square in Classroom Six says it comes from Rug World, but a boy in Henry’s class says it’s from a genie’s lamp. How Henry sees the world isn’t the same as his class mates as he searches for a friend. Author Jenn Bailey worked with experts to write a book that shows children how kids with autism see the world differently.


How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine

Authors: Amy Guglielmo & Jacqueline Tourville with Giselle Potter Ages: 4 8

Like many on the autism spectrum, Temple Grandin was sensitive to touch as a kid. So hugs were out of the question. The book deftly tells the story of how Grandin saw that hugs could be comfort ing, and she set about to find a way to be happy in one.

Happy Book 4The (and other feelings) Author: Andy Rash Ages: 3 7 Teaching kids what feelings look like is hard for any parent. Giving feelings colors and sounds helps kids of all ages understand why some actions turn into good or bad feelings.

Ages: 4 8 Kids of all abili ties are rooted in routine. Breaking out of the routine is hard for Normal, who goes by Norm. One day, he meets Odette, whom he calls “Odd.” As Odd teaches Norm about her world, Norm learns to break out of his routine. The book is a perfect teacher of what accep tance looks like.


The Map Challenge

Author: Dr. Tracy Packiam Alloway

Ages: 5 7 At camp, Sammy balks when he’s asked to be the navigator during a map challenge because of his dyslexia. Once another friend takes over the job, Sammy learns his own way of remembering and helps his fellow campers. In addition to information for kids and parents about how children with dyslexia learn differ ently, there are questions that readers can ask themselves after reading the story.


The Classroom Mystery Author: Dr. Tracy Packiam Alloway

Ages: 5 7 Knowing there was a class room mystery to be solved, Izzy, who has ADHD, couldn’t sit still in her chair. She used her great memory and problem solving skills to find the bandit, in a book that helps kids learn how to cope with ADHD.


Nobody Hugs A Cactus Author: Carter Goodrich

Ages: 4 8 Hank lived in a pot in a window in the dry, empty desert and he liked it. He didn’t like visitors and wasn’t looking for friends. Then, one day someone suggested a hug. Hank didn’t want a hug, but then he doesn’t know what a hug is. As kids find change difficult, so does Hank, who is OK sometimes being alone. |

CSP_0819_009.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 10:50 AM


Fairy tales do come true


or his new book, Chicago author Larry Broutman’s epiphany came from his belief that Chicago’s truest treasure is its children, who he wanted to somehow highlight as storybook characters. Chicago Treasure showcases children from the city and suburbs, many with special needs, featured with their favorite nursery rhyme or fairytale character. It is a collaborative effort with Broutman, a former plastics engineer and professor, along with John Rabias, a digital-age magician with post-production imaging, and Rich Green, a computer graphics guru who has illustrated several popular children’s books. “The kids are the story. The book is their adventure,” its creators say. Broutman is donating proceeds from the book to Access Living and The Chicago Lighthouse.


Chicago Treasure Imprint: Lake Claremont Press: A Chicago Joint Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and everythinggoesmedia. com, $35



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_010.indd 1


8/1/19 1:45 PM


A better welcome for special needs


orking with KultureCity, a nonprofit pushing for change when it comes to accommodating sensory needs, the United Center became the first sports and entertainment venue in Chicago to receive sensory inclusivity certification. Staff has been trained to recognize guests with sensory on iTunes and Google Play, needs and how to properly it now has a dedicated quiet handle sensory overload. A desroom. ignated quiet room is available The room, created as a calmat Section 115. ing room, prayer room In addition, or a place to recharge Find all KultureCity KultureCity cremobility devices, is Sensory Inclusive ated sensory bags available during peak certified locations for the United times Thursdaysnationwide by Center, Chicago Sundays. It offers comdownloading the Cubs and Chicago fortable seating, adjustKultureCity app White Sox. The able lighting, weighted in Google Play bags include lap pad, sound reducand Apple noise-canceling ing headphones and app store. headphones, a prayer rug. Find it fidget tools, verbal in Shedd’s main lobby cue cards and weighted lap in the Northern Trust Suite. pads. The White Sox also added Shedd Aquarium also a sensory room in Suite 460 stepped up its accessibility. In this year with textured walls, addition to its Calm Waters specialize lighting, weighted special needs events and its free blankets and cushy chairs. Sensory Friendly App available Chicago Parent staff

Wanna be friends? Tips to try


riendships can be difficult to foster for anyone, but as a parent of a child with special needs, it can be even more difficult. Get confident: Remind your child of the abilities they do have and explain to them that there are other children that have those abilities, too. Invite classmates to a fun activity or movie that is sure to bring out the ability to laugh. Be optimistic: Enroll your child in an extracurricular or two. Build confidence: Just as adults role play for job interviews, help your child become confident in their approach. Honing in on those social skills are important to their growth and development.

Get social: Encourage your child to attend events in the community and at school. Showing up to sporting events and community programs are opportunities to socialize and meet new people. It’s also an opportunity for schoolmates to see them outside the school building. Get creative: We all have friends and neighbors. Invite them over for a picnic and introduce the kids by sharing the commonalities they do have. This is sure to change the perspective of children and parents alike. Use technology: Introduce the idea of video chatting with classmates after school hours.

Ericka Polanco-Webb | 312.278.0022 | |

CSP_0819_011.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 3:28 PM

fall family camp with Keshet OCTOBER 25-27, 2019 LAKE DELTON, WISCONSIN


et away to an all-inclusive weekend designed specifically for families with children who have developmental disabilities, social and communication disorders and other complex needs. Fun activities and entertainment will take place, especially for siblings. Fishing, music, magic show, sports and games, art, yoga, campfires and more! 847.412.5777

Water safety & swim lessons

Peer-to-peer fitness program

For individuals with autism spectrum disorder

For teens with and without disabilities

JCC Chicago is a non-profit organization inspired by Jewish values, bridging traditions and generations to create a more vibrant, connected community. JCC is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community. Š2019 JCC Chicago



SpecÄąal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_012.indd 1


8/1/19 11:22 AM


Finding support virtually Local Facebook groups one place families are getting advice


ot everyone understands what it’s like having a child with special needs. And while the Facebook moms groups popping up might include special needs moms, wouldn’t it be nice to find a group of people who share your challenges and joys? Luckily, there are a few that do just that. One of the newest groups for special needs families is C.I.T.Y. of Support, which has more than 2,500 members. Ask questions (anonymous postings allowed through moderator), attend its events and get great info on raising kids with special needs. It was created by Beth Deiter, a speech-language pathologist and mom. She says she wanted to create a place, both online and in person, for families to connect. We caught up with Deiter recently: What impacts on families have you seen especially from your Facebook group? What started as a Facebook group and a way to share experiences/make connections with others has grown into an organization that hosts education roundtables, coordinated playdates, special celebrations and community outreach initiatives. It’s wonderful to attend an in-person event and see parents who have only communicated online finally meet each other in person. Hopefully families are finding a safe space to connect with others, ask questions, provide advice, learn about resources, celebrate milestones and commiserate with others. Why do you think Facebook groups work for parents with kids with special needs? Facebook has changed the way we connect with others,

allowing for the creation of so many different groups. As a mom, I am a member of several local Facebook Groups who share my common values, interests and/or geographic location. Because of their convenience, I tend to pose questions/search for answers in these groups when handling specific situations, as I know the responses will be from people similar to me. Access is available at any time of day, and I often learn new and helpful information. One piece of advice for families exploring Facebook groups? I would emphasize that the group (unlike our Facebook page/newsletter/website) offers a space for discussion, conversation and collaboration. I would encourage members to observe the “tone” of a new Facebook group prior to actively participating. Observe whether posts are responded to with judgment, arguments, negativity or drama. In C.I.T.Y. of Support, I believe our tone is one of the primary reasons that we have created such a supportive community. We are accepting of sharing different viewpoints/ideas; professionals understand that this is not a marketing platform; and parents, although able to share negative experiences generically, are discouraged from naming specific clinics/providers in their post. These general Facebook

Group guidelines have created a safe, comfortable space for parents, providers, family members, and community members to interact with each other regarding a shared interest: the best care and support for their child. *** Here are a few other local groups we find supportive and helpful: Special Needs Community of the West Suburbs of Chicago; 650 members. Its members share reviews on products, ask questions and link to events

and activities they think other families might enjoy. IPADDUnite; 3,800-plus members. A group dedicated to families with a teen or adult family member with a developmental disability. A great spot to ask about SSI, Medicaid and other financial concerns, teen issues and more. I Am Who I Am; 3,322 members. Its members share inspirational stories, news and events. Members are able to ask questions to the group.

Soothing soap inspired by ASD Local soap maker Sam Davis has created a new soap for people on the autism spectrum. “All of my products are created with all natural products to avoid irritants but this is something dif ferent, and it’s also deeply personal,” he said in a press release, adding that family members and friends have been touched by autism. Spectrum’s scent, derived from therapeutic grade essential oils, has a mild lavender mint scent to promote calm, com fort and ease cognitive stress. It also has oils like coconut and olive plus magnesium to help regulate mood and sleep. Pure indigo powder gives it its soft blue hue. Find it online at or at Distinct Bath and Body, 40406 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. |

CSP_0819_013.indd 1

Chicago Parent staff

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 11:07 AM


Navigating the wheelchair life A few simple hacks to make it easier BY ERICKA POLANCO-WEBB


amilies with children in wheelchairs are thought to be courageous folks. While the cards dealt were not initially in the “we are having a baby” excitement tool belt, families quickly learn to roll with the punches and become educated in all things accessibility. Nevertheless, just like any other family, families with kids in wheelchairs want fun days out of the house and even, occasional dinners out. The truth is, navigating a world that is not necessarily designed for wheelchair living

can be difficult. It’s a family effort. The best way to approach the wheelchair life as a family is to change your perspective. Instead of thinking about the things that cannot be done, consider how it can be made accessible or at least easier and efficient. Sometimes it requires rolling up your sleeves, but if everyone works together, those adventures are fun and those dining experiences are stress free. Hopefully these tips help make you even more courageous than before.

Navigating rough terrain Whether it is camping or a paved trail, kids in a wheelchair and parents need to be prepared. These items are great to have for those “uh-oh” moments: Zip ties: Add heavy duty zip ties to the wheelchair wheels to add traction. Small tool kit: Things happen during the most obscure times. Keep a small, compact tool kit with adequate tools needed to adjust the wheelchair.

Navigating the great outdoors We all know summer is a fun time, but when your child is in a wheelchair, sometimes they can’t just run away from insects or jump out of the sun to find a shaded area. Here are a couple items I’ve found that can help: Clip-on battery-operated fan: This is great for beating the heat and keeping bugs away. Clamp-on umbrella: Keeps your child fully shaded and dry from rain. Cup holders: This is not only great for your child but also for the person pushing the wheelchair. Remember, it’s a family effort. Caddy: Caddies are great to attach to the wheelchair because it provides a place for a caregiver’s personal items and items the child may need. Cup leash: Things happen. The cup leash will make it easier for children to pick up their cup if it falls. It simply is attached to the cup and you attach it to the wheelchair.



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_014.indd 1

Photo by Thomas Kubik

Erika Polanco-Webb and husband, Lewis, with son Jay.

Navigating restaurants Dining out can feel overwhelming. However, I created a system to help my family make sure the accommodations are suitable for the wheelchair and all members of the family. We use the acronym A.S.K. Assess the space: Make a phone call before your arrival and ASK if the space is wheelchair accessible. If so, upon arrival and before unloading, head into the restaurant and ASK if you can take a quick look around to determine if the space is adequate enough for your family. Secure the position: Once you have scoped an area that you feel is most suitable for your family ASK if you can be seated in that area. This is important because you want to make sure the entire family is comfortable. Keep it in the family: Designate a role for each of your family members to make transitions smoother. ASK who would like to be responsible for what designated roles, such as pushing, opening the door, etc. Ericka Polanco-Webb is a mom of five, including one teenager in a wheelchair. She is the woman behind and works to inspire moms to get the most out of parenting and their lives.


8/1/19 3:28 PM

Great strides from the start Explore how our services can complement school-based therapy goals. Add Easterseals to your child's team this school year and meet milestones faster. Find a west suburban location near you:

Š Julie Hermes |

CSP_0819_015.indd 1

SpecÄąal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 11:32 AM

Determined advocate

Mom: ‘I don’t want their future dictated by their special needs’ BY JERRY DAVICH PHOTOS BY THOMAS KUBIK


ackie Spinner first set eyes on her two adopted sons in the same waiting room on the top floor of a Moroccan hospital. Three years apart, they were both brought to her as infants, tightly wrapped in blankets.

“That waiting room was my delivery room,” says Spinner, who was adopted herself at 23 days old in Chicago. Still, adoption wasn’t part of her master plan of motherhood while pursuing a demanding and potentially dangerous job as a journalist in the Middle East. The adopted daughter of a pipe fitter and a teacher in downstate Decatur worked as the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, covering breaking news with a true sense of purpose. Just after turning 40, Spinner found herself dining in Cairo, Egypt, with a photojournalist friend, Chris Hondros, pondering their futures beyond breakingnews journalism. “So what do you want, Spin?” Hondros asked her. After pondering the weight of the question, Spinner replied from her heart, not her head. “I want to be mom,” she said. That exchange gave birth to the idea of adoption, the same lifelong gift that Spinner received as an infant. Her feelings toward motherhood intensified in April 2011 after Hondros was killed by mortar fire while traveling with rebel fighters in Libya. “His death truly impacted me, especially in light of our discussion earlier,” Spinner says. “My friend ran out of time. I didn’t



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_016.indd 1

“These days I find myself fighting for everything my sons need, including basic essentials.” — Jackie Spinner want to do the same.” She began preparing for life as an adoptive mother, further exploring her deep emotional connection to the Middle East— and to Morocco—where she first visited as a journalist. That country has a closed adoption system, similar to the United States in the 1950s, before open adoptions became so common and accepted. Spinner first applied for a teaching position at Columbia College Chicago to help prepare her nest after she eventually flew back home to Illinois. Without planning it, Spinner’s two adopted sons effectively gave her an exit route from journalism abroad and its inherent perils. Samir, now 7, arrived first. Rafi, now 4, followed the same adoptive path through the same orphanage in Meknes, Morocco.

Her sons have different racial makeups, and she doubts they will ever be able to trace their ethnic heritage if they choose to as curious adults, like their adoptive mother. “They have since consumed my life in all the best ways,” says Spinner, 48, an associate professor at Columbia College. “The Jackie Spinner that used to exist is now the mother of two young sons with special needs. I never dreamed of such a life.” Both boys were diagnosed with different shades of autism, prompting Spinner to shift her watchdog mentality from proactive journalist to protective mother. She has become a vocal, determined advocate for her sons, as well as for the neurodiversity world. “I’m a watchdog not only for my sons but for every student at that school. It’s who I am,” she admits. “I’m probably a nightmare at school meetings.” As a single parent, Spinner is her sons’ sole translator, both verbally and behaviorally. “When I was in Fallujah (Iraq), I only had to worry about not dying,” Spinner recalls. “These days I find myself fighting for everything my sons need, including basic essentials. I had to fight to get my older son to remain in a mainstream classroom. However, I understand that this fight would be tenfold if they still lived in Morocco.” Samir, her oldest son, is fluent in Arabic, English and Spanish, a multilingual talent he

continued on page 19


8/1/19 11:02 AM

The Spinner family at play. |

CSP_0819_017.indd 1

SpecÄąal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 11:01 AM

Lumiere is a full-service, pediatric therapy pratice with over 10 years of experience. Ask us about our therapeutic preschool program and enrichment classes!

FREE CLASS! NEW CITY 1500 N Clybourn Ave Chicago, IL 60610 (312) 242.1665





At Southwest Dental

we take special care of

special needs.

Exceptional care and patient comfort go hand in hand at Southwest Dental Group. This gives special needs children and adults an experience they can feel good about - with the option of IV sedation for situational anxiety. We believe there’s no need too special.

(708) 403-3355 16600 South 107th Court Orland Park, IL

Dr. Tentler holds diplomate status in the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists. Dr. Robert L. Tentler and Associates, General Dentistry



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_018.indd 1

Dr. Bob Tentler


8/1/19 11:01 AM

DETERMINED ADVOCATE from page 16 likely wouldn’t have developed if still in Morocco. “He may not have spoken at all,” Spinner says. He is more challenged socially, with the need for others to communicate with him on his own level. Rafi, on the other hand, has no social deficits. He never stops talking. “He understands autism more because of his brother than because of his own life,” Spinner says. “They’re energetic, amazing little boys who are the life of the party they’ve created for themselves. You will hear them before you see them coming down the street. They sing and dance pretty much all day long. They’re best friends who have a lot of fun.” This summer, Spinner is planning a vacation trip with her sons to Disney World. “It will be a Moroccan journey for us to get to this American mecca,” she jokes. The career journalist continues to practice her craft while teaching at Columbia College and serving as editor of a journalism magazine. “I will never stop practicing journalism,” she says firmly. “To be effective as a journalism teacher, you should still be practicing it, I believe.” Yet when the Washington Post contacted her to cover a breaking news story, Spinner simply had to say no. “These days I can’t go alone to the local CVS store let alone to another country or to the scene of a crime,” she jokes. “Breaking news would break me at this point. My life is rich and full, but I no longer have the ability to drop everything for a story.” These days, she has become the story. During her first year of teaching, she intentionally lived in a Chicago neighborhood immersed in Arabic culture to nurture her connection to the Middle East. Her home is adorned with so many Moroccan items, artwork and furnishings that natives have commented “how Moroccan”

Samir Spinner it is. In 2017, Spinner returned to that country with her sons for the first time since their births. Her mission was to capture what life would have been like for them if they stayed there. Her experience inspired the documentary short film, “Don’t Forget Me,” examining the lives of three Moroccan families and their experiences raising autistic children. The film was produced almost entirely by young Moroccans under the age of 25, including an orphan, with more than a dozen Columbia alumni, faculty and students working post-production on editing, audio mixing, engineering and animation. As expected, Spinner takes a journalistic approach, spotlighting the lack of laws, advocacy, and resources within an educational system that does not

support children with neurological disabilities. (Watch a trailer at https://vimeo. com/270956993.) “It’s sad to see how hard the parents of the Moroccan boys in the film work to find opportunities that I take for granted, including the right my sons have in America to go to school,” Spinner says. Spinner is very careful about how she describes her sons and how she defines their autism, purposely avoiding wrongly worded language that can be dismissive or discriminatory in a judgmental society. She also doesn’t willingly accept the social narrative that comes with being an “autism mom.” “My sons have changed the way my family now looks at neurological challenges,” she says. “I don’t want their future dictated by their special needs.” A case in point, Samir is

Don’t Forget Me Watch a trailer of her documentary short film at https://vimeo. com/270956993 currently fixated on someday becoming a police officer. “Maybe by the time he graduates from college there may be a place for him in a police department somewhere. I don’t know,” Spinner says, sounding like a mother before the journalist in her clarifies her point. “Realistically, I just hope they both grow up to ask great questions about everything in their world.” Jerry Davich is a Chicago area freelance writer and dad. |

CSP_0819_019.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 10:58 AM

Perfect playdate spots Mom-approved suburban play spaces everyone will love REVIEWED BY ERICKA POLANCO-WEBB

Sandlot 1450 Forest Gate Road, Oak Brook; sandlot-universal-playground The Sandlot is Oak Brook Park District’s newest attraction. It is a fully accessible and inclusive park equipped with two ramps for wheelchair accessibility and adaptable swings. What kids will love: Kids will enjoy the musical elements and saucer swing. What parents will love: The variety of play equipment for all abilities and shaded seating area. Special note: This is a perfect location to host a playdate or birthday party. This is an inclusive playground that really suits the needs for various abilities.

Oak Brook Park District

Color Wheel Playhouse 2000 W. Army Trail Road, Hanover Park; colorwheel Indoor play place for children that have sensory sensitivities. This playhouse doubles as play place that has dual functionality equipment perfect for play or developing strength. What kids will love: The sensory stations, painting, zipline and quiet time in the “carwash”

for those moments when they need to decompress. What parents will love: Playologists! The Playologists are in place to not only to keep kiddos safe but to play alongside with them. This allows parents an opportunity to sit back, relax or observe their child. Special note: Some therapists visit the playhouse with patients using interchangeable equipment on site.

Darien Community Park 7100 Clarendon Hills Road, Darien; default.aspx A fully ADA accessible park for children of all abilities to enjoy and allow their imaginations to run wild. The park is equipped with imagination stations to allow children to use their creativity along with a spongy surface



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_020.indd 1

to easily maneuver about the playground. What kids will love: Chalk wall and drama village stage for performing. What parents will love: Fully fenced-in playground and plenty of seating. Special note: There are no bathrooms, however there is a portable potty. |

8/1/19 10:57 AM

Photo by Larry Kmeicke

Sensory Garden Playground 2751 Navistar Drive, Lisle; An inclusive playground and garden nestled in the DuPage Forest Preserves’ Danada South area, this playground is completely sensory based with gardens that ignite fragrances of flowers and herbs and instruments that evoke sound. What kids will love: Sound garden with chimes and drums.


151 S. Water St, South Elgin; Inclusive playground equipped with adaptable swings and ramps allowing parallel play for children with all abilities. What kids will love: The adaptable swings and wide open spaces allowed for

What parents will love: The shaded central gathering area equipped with benches and picnic tables. Special note: The park has a trail that’s suitable for running or walking with six workout stations along the way for a quick stationary workout. The trail is suitable for strollers and wagons.

additional play space. What parents will love: Beautiful scenery, shelter with picnic tables and accessibility to Fox River. It’s a great location to have an extended afternoon of fun. Special note: Fishing opportunities are available on the premises and walking trails.

A boutique law firm focusing on special education, school, mental health, and other disability law. EXPERIENCED ADVOCACY CLIENTS COUNT ON.





555 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 250, Northbrook, IL 60062 847.715.2801 | |


P E D I A T R I C page T H E RadA P Y N E T W O R K Hansen & Cleary LLC_HinsdaleLiving_1/4


Owens Playground at Hillcrest School 1435 Jefferson Ave., Downers Grove; hillcrest-elementry Universally designed playground with double-wide

ramps, relaxation station, connected climbing structures and structures that adapt to a wheelchair or walker. What kids will love: Kids love the connected structures with lots of opportunities to climb through each structure. What parents will love: Relaxation station for children who need to rest or are overly stimulated. Special note: This playground is located on school grounds and is only open to the public on days when class is not in session and during the end of the school day.

continued on page 22 |

CSP_0819_021.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 11:17 AM

PERFECT PLAYDATE SPOTS Learning LearningDisabilities Disabilities of Illinois Illinois Association of Association

Hasyour your child child been Has been diagnosed or do diagnosed or doyou you suspect that your child suspect that your child has a learning disability? has a learning disability? For Information contact:

ForLDA Information contact: of Illinois

10101 Rd, Ste 205 LDAS. Roberts of Illinois Hills, IL 60465 10101Palos S. Roberts Rd, Ste 205 (708) 430-7532 Palos Hills, IL 60465

discover abilities achieve potential realize dreams

SEASPAR is a special recreation association providing year-round, all-ages recreational programs and services to individuals with disabilities in the communities of: Brookfield • Clarendon Hills Darien • Downers Grove Indian Head Park • La Grange La Grange Park • Lemont Lisle • Western Springs Westmont • Woodridge

(708) 430-7532

2019 Fall Conference Saturday, October 5, 2019

At the Gibson Electric & Technology Solutions Corporate Conference Center, 3100 Woodcreek Drive, Downers Grove

Keynote Speaker: Lara Cleary

plus breakout sessions on Empowering Parents to be Effective Advocates, Executive Function: MakingLike Progress Self-Determination, ustoward at Learning ADHD and Mental Health, Sixty 60 Second Disabilities Association Behavior Interventions of Illinois on

Like us at Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois on

from page 21

Come play with us! Social/Fitness/Art Programs Special Events • Trips Day Camps • Inclusion Special Olympics Training Wonders Multi-Sensory Room 630.960.7600 Voice 630.960.7605 TDD

Harvester Park

15W400 Harvester Drive, Burr Ridge; harvester-park Harvester Park is nearly 37 acres of wetlands equipped with playgrounds, fishing, trails, observations points, discovery centers and much more. What kids will love: The splash pad and musical barn fully stocked with instruments to create various musical sounds.

What parents will love: The shaded pavilion and accessibility to restrooms and plentiful parking. Special note: There are no accessible swings. However this park is full of sensorystimulating elements, including the instruments, waterplay, splash pad and sand box. There is also a ramp and paved pathways to maneuver through the park.

GiGi’s Playhouse

We Rock The Spectrum 553 E. Dundee Road, Palatine; werockthespectrum We Rock The Spectrum is an indoor gym for children of all abilities. This gym is a true kiddie gym with 10 pieces of uniquely designed sensory equipment. What kids will love: The variety of equipment available to play on. What parents will love: The ability for children to have a place to play indoors that is not only sensory stimulating but allows them to be active. Special note: Check the Facebook page or call ahead of time for open play hours.



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_022.indd 1

GiGi’s Playhouse

2350 W. Higgins Road, Hoffman Estates and other cities; gigis Gigi’s Playhouse is a Down syndrome achievement center dedicated to providing educational, therapeutic and career development services free to individuals with Down syndrome. What kids will love: Children love the vibrant and fun atmosphere along with all of the fun toys and classes. What parents will love: Free educational and support services and warm sense-of-joy atmosphere. Special note: Gigi’s Playhouse has many locations throughout Illinois and beyond. The Hoffman Estates location has a beautiful cafe run by teens looking to gain work skills.


8/1/19 11:17 AM

CBD and special needs Should you or shouldn’t you look at cannabis and oils?

Evan Crudup Photo provided



hen Evan Crudup was just 4, he suddenly lost all of his language and began to daydream (later identified as seizures). His mom, Nicole, watched her easy-going, happy child struggle both physically and emotionally rather quickly, eventually leading to a diagnosis of a rare form of epilepsy called Landau-Kleffner Syndrome. Despite more than 10-plus medications to control his hundreds of seizures a day, it wasn’t until this year—four years after his initial diagnosis—that he found relief. The miracle drug his mother credits is Epidiolex, or Cannabinol, a CBD oral solution approved by

the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2018 to treat various forms of seizures. Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved drug that contains a purified drug substance derived from marijuana and it must be prescribed only by a pediatric neurologist. According to the FDA, the medication produces anticonvulsant affects without an accompanying psychogenic high. After a few months of being on the medication and finding the “sweet spot” of the correct dosing, Nicole says Evan’s seizures drastically dropped, and he began talking again. “He is like a different kid,” she says. “He isn’t doped up all the time, he is talking and

happy. It’s been amazing to see his personality blossom again.” Nicole is just one of many parents of children with special needs who have turned to CBD to treat her child’s symptoms. While controversial, the media hype surrounding these products, coupled with the success stories, have led many parents down this avenue. Dr. Rahul Khare is the founder of Innovative Wellness, a medical cannabis consulting practice and CBD retail store in Lincoln Park, and an emergency medicine physician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. He works with parents whose children suffer from epilepsy, cerebral palsy, spasticity, traumatic brain injuries and various behavioral disorders. He says he considers himself to be a second stop in the medical journey of a patient, most times after frustrated parents do exhaustive research about additional treatment options for their child. “Parents might be taking their kids to the best hospitals in the country, but doctors don’t feel comfortable broaching the subject of cannabis or CBD because they aren’t properly educated,” Khare says. Khare evaluates patients and works closely with parents to help a child obtain a medical marijuana card. Together, they determine the best course of treatment, which may include one or more of the following methods: RSO (oil ingested within the gums), tinctures (liquid under the tongue), balms (rubbed into the skin), patches (absorbed through skin) or edibles (eaten in chocolate or jellybeans).

The facts on CBD and Cannabis In general, the American Academy of Pediatrics is opposed to any type of medical mari juana, outside the FDA regulatory process. While the AAP recognizes can nabinoids as potential therapy for a number of medical conditions, it feels there are currently not enough studies to support chang ing the stance. Epidiolex became the first FDA approved CBD based drug g to hit the market. It containss a CBD isolate, which is a substance derived from the cannabis plant. CBD and THC are not the same: CBD is the abbrevia a tion for cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids (chemical compound) found d in marijuana and hemp; THC is another compound found in the cannabis plant. But unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. Studies have shown that children with various special needs can get symptomatic relief from CBD. This includes epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism, ADHD and pain management, to name a few conditions. CBD may be taken in a number of ways: Most commonly for chil dren with special needs, it can be ingested within the gums, liq uefied under the tongue, rubbed into the skin, absorbed into the skin or eaten via edibles. Look for a reputable medical dispensary: Parents who are considering CBD and cannabis for their child should visit a high quality medical cannabis facility where they can work with a team of experts on their child’s care plan.

Continued on page 24 |

CSP_0819_023.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 3:30 PM

CBD AND SPECIAL NEEDS “Cannabis is an organic, natural remedy with a safety profile that’s unlike any other medicine out there,” he says. But he cautions parents considering this route to see a licensed medical professional who can offer guidance on using hemp or cannabis products medically. Kelly Cervantes, of Chicago, found out the hard way that there are dangers in not going through a professional. A few years ago, she treated her then-15-month-old daughter, Adelaide, who suffers from a multitude of medical issues (including epilepsy, Dysautonomia and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome), with CBD she ordered online. At the time, doctors at major medical centers were not permitted to work with patients on CBD because it wasn’t federally regulated. So with only a guide from the company she ordered from and the advice

from page 23

of Facebook communities, Kelly was on her own, starting Adelaide off with a low dose and slowly titrating up. During a routine visit to the dietician, however, a blood test showed that Adelaide’s liver enzyme levels were dangerously high, most likely due to a medication interaction with CBD. “I got understandably scared off and stopped giving it to her immediately,” Kelly says. “I’m

who can now consult with her on dosages and monitor Adelaide’s response through routine tests. Kelly, who runs the “Seizing Life” podcast for Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, says there are so many miscon“Cannabis is an ceptions about organic, natural cannabis and CBD, mostly remedy with a perpetuated by the media. safety profile “CBD gets that’s unlike any a ton of play not a pharmacist or other medicine because it’s a hot topic right medical professional, now. There’s a I was just doing the out there.” best with the infor— Dr. Rahul Khare, misconception Innovative Wellness that it can’t do mation I had.” founderC any harm, but Adelaide, now 3, is currently on it is still affectEpidiolex to control ing chemical her seizures. While reactions in the body. It can work wonders Kelly has yet to see any positive for some people, but we haven’t or negative impact from it, she found it to be the case for our says it feels like night and day being under the care of a doctor daughter.”



We Offer Specialty Eye and Speech-Language Services for Children with Special Needs.

We provide exceptional service, quality care, and the latest technology. Our faculty and students have expertise addressing the unique needs of children with communication and/or visual impairment.

Call 630.743.4500 to make your appointment. Speech-Language Institute & Eye Institute Your Family’s Home for Healthcare



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_024.indd 1

3450 Lacey Road Downers Grove, IL 60515 630.743.4500


8/1/19 11:14 AM

Camp LeeMar Mar Camp Lee


2019 Dates: June 22-August 9

2019 Dates: June 22-August 9

Please visit us on On YouTube you can view parents and campers talking about their experiences at Lee Mar.

Please visit us on On YouTube you can view parents and campers talking about their experiences at Lee Mar. |

CSP_0819_025.indd 1

SpecÄąal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 3:08 PM

Maggie, Cate and Ellie Marchialette

Saving for the future Tax-free program growing in popularity for families with disabilities BY LORI ORLINSKY


manda Marchialette spends a lot of time thinking about and planning for her daughters’ futures. While she makes monthly contributions through a traditional 529 plan for Maggie, 11, and Cate, 13, planning for her oldest daughter, Ellie, 14, who has autism, weighed more heavily on her mind. “I began to realize she may not go away to college and will likely need lifetime assistance,” the Mount Prospect mom says. “It’s been a different stress and anxiety trying to plan for her future.” In January 2018, she decided to open an Illinois ABLE account for Ellie, which she contributes to every month just like her sisters’ funds. Marchialette says she is working to build up enough foundation to help Ellie in the future. “My ultimate goal is to be able to provide for her the best I can into her adult life and take as much of that responsibility off of my other daughters,” Marchialette says. Illinois ABLE accounts, which stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience, are bank accounts that help parents, like Marchialette, save their own money for their child’s disability related expenses. ABLE accounts came from the Federal ABLE Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2014, but are established and managed at the state level. Modeled after 529 college savings plans,



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_026.indd 1

Illinois ABLE accounts allow children with special needs to save up to $15,000 each year, for a maximum cap of $100,000, without affecting federal benefits. The money grows tax free and parents don’t pay taxes on withdrawals, which can be made for a variety of qualifying expenses, including therapy, specialty equipment and education at an early age, and housing, transportation and employment training later in life. Under the leadership of Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Illinois became the 11th state to implement an ABLE program in January 2017 (there are now 42 state programs plus Washington, D.C.). To date, in Illinois, there are almost 1,000 accounts with more than $5 million already saved. “ABLE’s impact on individual families is far greater than any other savings program in the state,” Frerichs says. “Before ABLE, people with disabilities were left in a chronic state of financial insecurity. There was no way to save for the additional expenses that come with a disability unless they had the means to pay for specialized trusts or were willing to jeopardize federal benefits. ABLE accounts increase financial independence and bring peace of mind to those with disabilities.” Parents can sign up for an ABLE account as soon as a child is born, or at the time of a disability diagnosis. Martha Christensen opened an ABLE

account for her daughter Annabel, 7, as soon as she heard it was available. Annabel was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH), a congenital neurological condition that can affect her vision, development, and can also include seizure and autism spectrum disorders. Because ONH can take years to understand exactly how and to what extent a child is affected, Christensen and her husband felt an ABLE account was the best option in planning for Annabel’s future. “It is gives us a flexibility that we really appreciate since we can use it for college if she eventually becomes college bound, or we can use it for other supports based on what she will end up needing in the future,” says Christensen, of Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. “It’s very relieving to us that we can use it for whatever our daughter’s needs end up being, since we live with so much uncertainty regarding her future functioning.” Chicago dad Aidan Butler was in the same boat as Christensen, signing up for an ABLE account for his son, Billy, 6, who has Down syndrome, as soon as the program became available. “It was really about a simple way to establish saving for my son, knowing that it would not affect any future disability benefits he may receive,” Butler says. While it is true that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) has a $2,000 resource limit, the ABLE Act offers an exception: The first $100,000 in an ABLE account is not counted as a resource when an 18-year-old’s eligibility is determined. “Knowing now you can put money into an ABLE account and leave something behind for your child puts a parent’s mind a little more at ease and diminishes anxiety when that day comes,” Frerichs says. Christine MacVay, of Wilmette, says she considers her 8-year-old daughter Caroline’s ABLE account to be a gift for parents who want to see their children get the support they need and deserve. “We want to make certain we do all we can to ensure our daughter has a happy, healthy and fulfilled adult life when we’re no longer around to support her,” MacVay says. “This ultimate goal fuels our actions every day, and our IL ABLE account is one means to that hopeful end.”

For more info For more information about Illinois ABLE, visit


8/1/19 11:21 AM



R=39 G=144 B=165





R=254 G=101 B=8 R=254 G=101 B=8




R=191 G=168 B=52 R=217 G=203 B=137


R=191 G=68 B=137





R=60 G=99 B=174

Looking for more special needs content? Sign up for our monthly special needs newsletter at |

CSP_0819_027.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 4:24 PM

Resources Adaptive Services, Austim Spectrum Disorders . . . . . . . 28 Blind or Visually Impaired, Deaf or Hearing Impaired, Down Syndrome. . 31 Epilepsy, General . . . . . . . . 32 Recreation . . . . . . 37 Support, Disabilities Organizations, Education . . . . . . . 38 Vocational Training/ Programs . . . . . . . 39

ADAPTIVE SERVICES Extended Home Living Services 210 W. Campus Drive, Suite B Arlington Heights (847) 318-3312

Provides stair lifts, accessible bathroom remodeling, ramps and wheelchair lifts, ceiling mounted lift systems, home elevators, and general remodeling to provide accessibility. Get a free in-home consultation or visit the showroom.

MobilityWorks 23855 W. Andrew Road Plainfield (815) 254-2008 9207 N. Milwaukee Ave. Niles (224) 534-5001 155 E. North Ave. Villa Park (630)794-9056

Provides wheelchair vans and adaptive equipment to the disabled community, including sales, mechanical service, rental vans and mobile consulting.

RampNOW 2280 Cornell Ave. Montgomery (630) 892-7267 (877) 700-7267

Rents, sells and installs lifts and ramps that assist individuals with mobility issues, granting access to places most people take for granted.

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS Alexander Leigh Center for Autism 4100 Veterans Parkway McHenry (815) 344-2522

Nonprofit, full-day, yearround therapeutic day school approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. The school is for kids 3-18 with autism spectrum disorder, OHI, multiple disabilities, developmental delay and/or intellec-



SpecÄąal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_028.indd 1

Keshet tual disability. Students receive 1:1 support in the areas of academics, speech, OT, music therapy, life skills, behavior and community-based instruction. Serves Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties.

Autism Behavior & Childhood Services Chicago (312) 420-2093

Offers a wide range of therapies and approaches that are custom designed for each child, using the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) approach in the home.

Autism Spectrum Therapies 670 W. Hubbard St., Suite 200 Chicago

3375 Commercial Ave. Northbrook (312) 635-8989

Offers a multidisciplinary approach to helping families live with autism throughout Chicago and the North Shore. Services include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); individual, couples and family therapy as well as play therapy.

Autism Home Support Services 85 Revere Drive, Suite B Northbrook 3385 N. Arlington Heights Road, Suite K Arlington Heights 2762 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago (844) 247-7222

Customized ABA behavior therapy for children with

autism and other related disorders, which can be done in the home, at the center or a combination of both. It also offers parent coaching, early learning groups, group social skills training, speech-language therapy, school consultations and counseling. New Chicago office will add speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy services over time.

Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter 3500 W. Peterson Ave., Suite 204 (224) 567-8573

Nonprofit organization dedicated to awareness, funding, science, research and advocacy for autism. Also provides free services for families.

Find more information online


he resources you will find here are just an excerpt of the hundreds of searchable resources you will find online at If you are a resource provider and your services are not listed online, e-mail Hillary Bird at with your information or submit your information at resource-submission-form.


8/1/19 3:32 PM

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS Behavioral Perspective Inc. 452 N. Eola Road, Suite A Aurora 29 Stonehill Drive, Unit D Oswego 9239 S. Route 31 Lake In The Hills (888) 308-3728

Provides ABA services to maximize independence and quality of life for individuals impacted by autism.

Caravel Autism Health 2923 N. California Ave., Suite 230 Chicago (312) 971-9991 15255 94th Ave., Suite 400 Orland Park (708) 789-1691 770 Lake Cook Road, Suite 203 Deerfield (847) 318-3190 1879 Mill St., Suite 204 Naperville (630) 687-9022 1111 Plaza Drive, Suite 580 Schaumburg (847) 558-2611

Provides intensive treatment

designed to help kids learn new skills and connect with the world.

Center for Autism & Related Disorders Multiple locations Aurora, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oak Park, O’Fallon, Tinley Park, Westmont (818) 345-2345

CARD’s primary objective is to help each person attain his or her maximum potential in the least restrictive environment via behaviorally-based intervention. Each program is individualized in accordance with the particular deficits and skills identified through assessment.

Charlie’s Gift Autism Center Center for Autism and Related Disorders 415 W. Eighth St. Hinsdale (630) 323-7500

Provides individual and group occupational, speech and mental health/behavioral therapy for children/families through a family-centered, team-based approach. Family education/support activities and sibling activities are offered throughout the year. After-school clubs and summer programs offered. A family lending library is available. Charlie’s Gift is a program of The Community House.

Chicago Autism & Behavior Specialists 901& 915 W. Hawthorn Drive Itasca (800) 844-1232

Treats children with autism and related disorders. Programs are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In addition to language and communication skills, programs encourage

flexibility, problem solving, impulse control, social referencing and self-regulation. Social work, speech therapy and parent training are incorporated into treatment plans.

occupational and speech therapy. A medical diagnostic clinic, social skills groups, sibling recreational workshops, family special recreation nights, inclusive birth-4 daycare, mental health therapy, educational materials and a parent support group.

Chicagoland Autism Connection 9449 S. Kedzie Ave., Suite 268 Evergreen Park (773) 329-0375

CAC meets on the third Saturday of each month from September through June (except December). Each meeting includes one or more speakers.

Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley: Autism Diagnostic Clinic & Autism Services Centers in Villa Park, Naperville and Elgin 830 S. Addison Ave. Villa Park (630) 620-4433

The clinic provides a comprehensive interdisciplinary team evaluation to determine the presence of an Autism Spectrum Disorder or other developmental disability. It assists families in determining their child’s specific needs related to their diagnosis. Families leave the clinic with

Easterseals Autism Programs 212 Barney Drive Joliet (815) 725-2194

Offers a wide variety of programming for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders including pediatric physical,


IMAGINE IF BEING PART OF A COMMUNITY WAS PART OF THE CURRICULUM. At The Cove School, students with complex learning disabilities receive direct support to make and maintain authentic peer relationships. Cove’s leading-edge instructional methodologies, including classroom ability-grouping, allow students to feel at home within a learning environment. With over twenty-five after school activities, monthly social events and limited class sizes, Cove gives students the opportunity to find the community meant for them.


Join us for an Open House at The Cove School on

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 Wednesday, March 11, 2020 Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Please RSVP to

350 Lee Road, Northbrook, IL 60062 847.562.2100 • |

CSP_0819_029.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 1:55 PM

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS a diagnosis, initial treatment guidelines and resources. A team of licensed professionals works with each family to develop a well-rounded therapy plan. Services are provided individually or in a group setting.

Have Dreams

sultative services.

therapy for autism up to age 21. Also offers parent support group the second Thursday of each month and parents’ night out in the third Saturday of the month (reservations required).

21 and under with autism and other intellectual and Helping Hand Center developmental disabilities 9649 W. 55th St. and their families, includCountryside ing in-home personal and (708) 352-3580 family supports, clinical and Therapeutic Day School behavior intervention, 24/7 Serves children, teens and for children with autism, residential services, therapeuKGH Autism Services young adults with autism. ages 3-21, providing yeartic art programs and special 1161 Lake Cook Road Easterseals Therapeutic Offers individualized afterround best practice services. needs foster care and adopDeerfield School and Center for school programs, vocationPediatric outpatient clinic tion services. The ChildBridge (224) 326-2206 Autism Research al, life skills and transition for children birth-21 with Center for Education provides 1939 W. 13th St., Suite 300 Multidisciplinary therapy cento employment programs, an array of disabilities and progressive services for stuChicago ter for children with autism. along with diagnostic and delays, providing occupadents with intellectual and (312) 491-4110 Specializes in early childhood family support services. developmental disabilities, tional, physical, speech and therapy for kids 0-6 and Transition to adult services This campus combines as well as students with language and music therapy. offers a therapeutic preschool include Project SEARCH educational, therapeusevere and profound needs Also offers psychotherapy, for ages 3-5. Conducts free tic research, training, Collaborates for Autism at on the autism spectrum. Also mental health and diagnosautism screenings. school-to-work transition Northwestern University provides tic testing and behavioral C H I C A G O P A R E N T . C O M | J U N E 2 0 1 9 | F R E E employment services and adult vocational serand Have Dreams Academy, services. and training, horticulture, art, Little City Foundation vices. The interior features as well as programs that recreation and residential serChild Bridge Services Howard Intervention include special acoustic finfocus on developing critical vices for young adults. 1760 W. Algonquin Road Center ishes, lighting fixtures and soft skills for employment, Palatine 18324 Ashland Ave. Little Friends Inc. (847) 358-5510 (Palatine) observation rooms in classinternship experiences and Homewood 140 N. Wright St. 700 N. Sacramento, Suite 201 rooms rooms to help reduce life skills. Also provides (708)794-6509 Naperville Chicago distractions and promote best-practice autism train(630) 355-6533 (773) 265-1539 more effective learning. Provides home, center and ing for professionals and Serves clients ages 3-22. community-based ABA Provides services for children Operates three schools, individual and school con515 Busse Highway, Suite 150 Park Ridge (847) 685-0250 2020 Dempster St. Evanston (847) 905-0702



The top parenting C H I C A G O resource for families FEBRUARY 2019 | FREE PARENT in Chicago and the MEDIA suburbs CHICAGO


R=193 G=205 B=35




R=39 G=144 B=165





R=254 G=101 B=8

Follow Chicago Parent on Social Media

R=254 G=101 B=8





SpecÄąal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_030.indd 1



R=191 G=168 B=52 8/2/19 10:11 AM

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS vocational training programs, community-based residential services and the Little Friends Center for Autism. Founded in 1965, Little Friends serves more than 800 people each year throughout DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Will, McHenry and western Cook counties.

ments with additional handicapping conditions such as mental illness or developmental disabilities.

Child’s Voice 180 Hansen Court Wood Dale 1846 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago (630) 595-8200

PACTT Learning Center

Provides educational and audiology services to children with and at-risk for hearing loss. This includes a full pediatric Audiology Center, Early Intervention Program, schoolage program and additional therapies. Services are offered from birth-8.

7101 N. Greenview Ave. Chicago (773) 338-9102

Offers educational, residential and vocational services for people with severe autism and their families. The therapeutic day school focuses on academics, independent living, communication and social interaction for students ages 3-21 and includes a transition program for older teens. PACTT also operates two group homes for children and two adult homes that focus on independent life skills and community integration.

TotalLink2 Community 1200 Shermer Road, Suite 109 Northbrook (224) 412-4718

Non-profit organization that provides programs and services that teach critical life skills to help prepare young adults with special needs for work. It provides life skills and a customized employment process that empowers young adults with disabilities to be confident, independent and deeply rooted in their home communities.

Turning Pointe Autism Foundation 1500 W. Ogden Ave. Naperville (630) 570-7948

Offers a therapeutic day school, Career College life skills training, recreational opportunities and individualized programming for children, individuals and families navigating the lifelong impact of autism.

KEEN: Kids Enjoy Exercise Now

BLIND OR VISUALLY IMPAIRED Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired 700 Elm St., Winnetka (800) 323-4238

The largest provider of tuition-free distance education for individuals over age 14 who are blind or visually impaired. More than 100 courses are offered in five program areas: Family Education, High School, Adult Continuing Education, Professional Studies and Low Vision Focus. Materials are provided in a student’s medium of choice including large print, braille, audio and online.

The Chicago Lighthouse for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired 1850 W. Roosevelt Road Chicago (312) 666-1331

Provides the highest quality education, clinical, vocational and rehabilitation services for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired, including deafblind and multi-disabled. The Lighthouse offers a nationally

acclaimed school for children with multi-disabilities, a Birth-to-3 Early Intervention Program for infants and families, a blended preschool with children who are blind or visually impaired and those who are sighted, the Sandy and Rick Forsythe Center for Comprehensive Vision Care, a scholarship program for post-secondary education and a Tools for Living retail store with an extensive adaptive technology.

CHOICES for Parents


The Illinois Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments P.O. Box 316634 Chicago (773) 882-1331

Provides support services to parents of visually impaired children.

Illinois School for the Deaf 125 Webster Ave. Jacksonville (217) 479-4200


Educates students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

AGBMS-AEHI Alexander Graham Bell Montessori School

222 Waukegan Road Glenview (847) 510-6200

9300 Capitol Drive Wheeling (847) 850-5490

Project Reach-Illinois Deaf-Blind Services 818 DuPage Blvd. Glen Ellyn (630) 790-2474

Provides an oral education program for deaf and hardof-hearing children using Cued Speech to enhance their ability to acquire age-appropriate literacy skills. Children are mainstreamed with hearing peers and receive support services from teachers of the deaf and speech and language pathologists.

Center on Deafness 3444 Dundee Road Northbrook (847) 559-0110

Provides technical assistance/ consultation, information, training and family support to address the needs of children with deaf-blindness, their families and their schools.

DOWN SYNDROME Down in the Southland P.O. Box 831 Tinley Park

Foster the development of educational, social and life skills among individuals with Down syndrome and their families in the southern

Serves children and adults who have hearing |

CSP_0819_031.indd 1

Provides parents of children with hearing loss with support, information and resources.

The Chicago Lighthouse Vision Rehabilitation Center (The Chicago Lighthouse North)

Serves to meet the needs of residents on the north side of Chicago as well as in the northern suburbs. It houses a Birth-to-3 Early Intervention Program for infants and families; a low vision care clinic offering optometry, psychological counseling and occupational therapy services; a Tools for Living retail store offering independent living aids; cutting-edge adaptive technology devices featuring the latest in innovative textto-speech electronics, CCTVs; and an array of enrichment programs for children and

P.O. Box 646 Highland Park (312) 523-6400 (866) 733-8729

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 3:32 PM


suburbs of Chicago. Provides educational support and programs that help children increase their future skills.

Danny Did Foundation 3008 Central St., Suite 203 Evanston (800) 278-6101

GiGi’s Playhouse 2350 W. Higgins Road Hoffman Estates (847) 885-6149

International Down syndrome achievement centers that offer free educational and therapeutic programs and support for individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community. Other Illinois locations include Chicago, Fox Valley, Oak Forest, McHenry, Rockford and Bradley.

National Association for Down Syndrome 1460 Renaissance Drive, Suite 102 Park Ridge (630) 325-9112

Services include information and support for families at

The foundation’s website offers resources for parents, information on SUDEP and seizure safety, seizure monitoring devices and awareness-raising events. Funding goes toward families who cannot afford seizure devices and research. Photo by Thomas Kubik

All-In Swim at Bernard Weinger JCC every stage of life, leadership and self-advocacy training for young adults with Down syndrome, education for professionals working with individuals with disabilities, and trained public speakers who present at hospitals, schools

and other organizations in the community.

Ups for Downs 1070 S. Roselle Road Schaumburg (847) 895-2100

A volunteer parent-run group

for families, professionals and people with Down syndrome. Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of the month, from September through May at the Fox Links Golf Run Club House in Elk Grove Village.

GENERAL Access Living 115 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago (312) 640-2100

Offers peer-oriented independent living services; public education; individualized advocacy; and enforcement of civil rights on behalf of



Daily Therap y • Sensory

de Play i s t u O • s Gyms • Traditional Classroom


West Loop Northcenter 310 N Loomis St 1921 W Irving Park Rd Chicago, IL 60607 Chicago, IL 60613 32


Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_032.indd 1


8/1/19 1:53 PM

GENERAL people with disabilities. All services are provided at no charge.

Anixter Center 6610 N. Clark St. Chicago (773) 973-7900

Provides an array of services, including education, employment, life skills, communication, recreation, health care, counseling and support, for people with disabilities. More than 10,000 children, teens and adults are served each year at locations across greater Chicago. Most people who receive services have physical, intellectual, developmental, sensory, psychiatric or HIV/AIDSrelated disabilities. Advocates for the rights of people with disabilities to be full and equal members of society.

Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation (312) 636-2969

Ben’s Toy Closet is a program where children with different abilities can receive toys, switches or other devices that would enable them and make it easier to play and learn.

Blue Cap 2155 Broadway St. Blue Island (708) 389-6578

Offers a school for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, who are 3-21. On-site day care for children of all abilities age 2-5 is also available.

Center for Enriched Living 280 Saunders Road Riverwoods (847) 948-7001

Fun and learning join

forces where youth, teens and adults enjoy social, art and recreational programs in Riverwoods and in the community beyond.

Center for Independence through Conductive Education Countryside, Lake Zurich, Chicago (708) 588-0833

Provides intensive motor training programs based on the principles of conductive education for children with physical disabilities. The motivating, peer-supported program focuses on functional activities to improve independence and serves children with cerebral palsy ages 2-18. The transdisciplinary team of conductive education teachers, occupational therapists and physical therapists provide year-round programming.

Clearbrook 1835 W. Central Road Arlington Heights (847) 870-7711

Provides experiences and opportunities through programs and services for people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities.

Community Support Services Inc. 9021 W. Ogden Ave. Brookfield 5416 W. 25th St. Cicero (708) 354-4547

Nonprofit serving people of suburban Cook and eastern DuPage of all ages with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families. Promotes independence and abilities to engage in com-

munity life with respite, CILA group homes and independent living arrangements, adult and parent support services, customized supported employment, transition planning and classes, cooking, art, health and wellness classes, and social activities. Cicero location focuses on family support services. CSS also owns and operates the Chicago Canine Club offering daycare, boarding, grooming, retail sales and conducting vocational training programs people with disabilities to develop skills to work in the pet care industry.

Division of Specialized Care for Children Central Administrative Office 3135 Old Jacksonville Road Springfield (800) 322-3722

University of Illinois at Chicago-Division of Specialized Care for Children provides free care coordination for families of children with special health care needs. Depending on specific needs and preferences, it might mean help accessing free testing to get a diagnosis or offering information. Care coordinators also find and arrange special medical care and explain insurance plans. Specialized Care for Children works with doctors, specialists and schools to create a comprehensive plan of care to meet a family’s need. Families that meet income guidelines may also get help paying for medical expenses.

Easterseals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region 830 S. Addison Ave. |

CSP_0819_033.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 4:14 PM

GENERAL Villa Park (630) 620-4433

Offers physical, occupational, speech-language, nutrition and assistive technology therapies for children of all abilities. Also offers audiology services, community outreach programs and specialty clinics. In addition to counseling and resources, it provides support groups and sibling support groups. Other locations at 1323 Bond St., Suite 119, Naperville, (630) 357-9699, and 799 S. McLean Blvd., Suite 103, Elgin, (847) 742-3264. The Lily Garden Child Care Development Center in Villa Park (eastersealslilygarden. org) is an inclusive childcare center.

MANNY HERRERA Occupational Therapist

Volo Commerce Center 26575 W. Commerce Dr. Unit 506 Volo, IL 60073

Eyas Landing

T: 847.740.6229 F: 847.740.6447

1436 W. Randolph St. Suite 204, Chicago (312) 733-0883


Special Recreation Associations in Illinois provide a lifetime of recreation opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. Please visit or contact WDSRA at 630-681-0962 to find an agency near you.

Offers occupational therapy, speech therapy, group therapy, therapeutic preschool program, early intervention services and summer camp programs. Specializes in sensory integration, autism, DIR/Floortime, augmentative communication and stuttering.

Hansen & Cleary, LLC 555 Skokie Blvd., Suite 250 Northbrook (847) 715-2801

A law practice experienced in mental health law and disability law focusing on children and families, individuals with disabilities, medical and mental health professionals, private schools and other non-profit agencies in the greater Chicagoland area and throughout Illinois.

Holistic Riding Equestrian Therapy 12300 115th St. Lemont (630) 878-8096

Designed to improve the physical, emotional, cognitive and social aspects of the lives of individuals with special needs. HRET offers a variety of classes meeting the needs of preschoolers to independent riders.

Institute for Therapy through the Arts 1702 Sherman Ave. Evanston (847) 425-9708

Provides individual, group and family therapy services for individuals of all ages who have psychological, physical and developmental challenges, encouraging them to achieve the fullest potential through the arts—dance/movement,

South Suburban Special Recreation Association (SSSRA) 815-806-0384,

Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation (M-NASR) 847-966-5522,

South West Special Recreation Association (SWSRA) 708-389-9423,

McDonough County Special Recreation Association (MCSRA) 309-833-4526,

Southwestern Illinois Special Recreation Association (SWILSRA) 618-877-3059,

New Star Recreation Services (NSRS) 708-801-9966,

Special Recreation Association of Central Lake County (SRACLC) 847-816-4866,

Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA) 847-509-9400, Northern Will County Special Recreation Association (NWCSRA) 815-407-1819,

Gateway Special Recreation Association (Gateway) 630-620-2222,

Northlands Association for Special Recreation (NASR) Belvidere 815-547-5711, Freeport 815-235-6114, Rockford 815-987-1606,

Heart of Illinois Special Recreation Association (HISRA) 309-691-1929,

Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA) 847-392-2848,

Illinois River Valley Special Recreation Association (IRVSRA) 309-347-7275,

Oak Lawn Park District/Special Recreation Cooperative 708-857-2200,


CSP_0819_034.indd 1

600 Academy Drive, Suite 130

Lincolnway Special Recreation Association (LWSRA) 815-320-3500,

Chicago Park District Special Recreation Dept. 312-742-5798,

SpecÄąal Parent Summer 2019

Keshet: A Rainbow of Hope for Individuals with Special Needs

South East Association for Special Parks & Recreation (SEASPAR) 630-960-7600,

Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA) 815-459-0737,


Serves individuals with developmental disabilities and their families across the lifespan. Services include a Hispanic Diagnostic and Family Support program, Early Intervention program and an Autism Clinic.

Lily Cache Special Recreation Association (LCSRA) 630-739-1124,

Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR) 217-239-1152,


1919 W. Taylor St. Chicago (312) 996-6695

Special Opportunities Available in Recreation (S.O.A.R.) 309-434-2260,

Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association (NEDSRA) 630-620-4500,

Fox Valley Special Recreation Association (FVSRA) 630-907-1114,

Institute on Disability and Human Development-UIC Family Clinics

Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association (KSRA) 779-777-7285,

Look for our ad in this magazine.

Decatur Park District Special Recreation Assn. 217-429-7750,

drama, music and art. Serves clients throughout Chicagoland as well as an in-house clinic in Evanston, Chicago, Downers Grove and Lake Forest.

River Valley Special Recreation Association (RVSRA) 815-933-7336,

Special Recreation Services of Northern Lake County (SRSNLC) Lindenhurst - 847-356-6011, Round Lake - 847-546-8558, Waukegan - 847-360-4760, Zion - 847-746-5500, Special Recreation of Joliet and Channahon (SRJC) 815-741-7275 x160, Springfield Park District 217-585-2941, Veterans Park District/Village of River Grove 708-343-5270, Warren Special Recreation Association (WSRA) 847-244-6619, Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) 630-681-0962, West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA) 847-455-2100,


8/1/19 1:52 PM

GENERAL apy, aquatic therapy, speech therapy and counseling in a family’s home or classroom.

Northbrook (847) 205-1234

Provides educational, recreational and vocational programs for children and young adults with special needs. Year-round programs allow kids to play and work alongside their typically developing peers. Multiple locations throughout the Chicagoland area.

Play Works Therapy Inc. 2155 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago (847) 977-3399

Offers home-based and clinicbased developmental therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, counseling/behavior therapy and playgroup services to children throughout the Chicagoland area.

Kick Start Pediatric Therapy Network

Pyramid Therapeutic Early Learning Center

1845 Oak St., #15, Northfield 14044 Petronella Drive, Suite 1 Libertyville (847) 386-6560

A multi-disciplinary clinic dedicated to providing innovative therapeutic services for children while supporting families with an eclectic and holistic approach.

Lumiere Children’s Therapy 1500 N. Clybourn, Suite C-105 Chicago (312) 242-1665

Dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families. Classes and programs customized around neuropsychological differences. Also offers enrichment classes and specialized therapeutic preschool.

Manny O.T. and Associates Volo Commerce Center 26575 W. Commerce Drive Unit 506 Volo (847) 740-6229

Child and family centered occupational therapy created for each child’s individual differences. Focus is on the whole child, including fuctional, cognitive, emotional and social levels.

Marklund 1S450 Wyatt Drive Geneva (630) 593-5500 164 S. Prairie Ave. Bloomingdale (630) 529-2871 1435 Summit St.

Provided by Shriners

Ethan is thriving in treatments at Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago. Elgin (224) 523-7530

A nonprofit organization that makes everyday life possible for infants, children and adults with severe and profound developmental disabilities through residential and educational services. Services include residential services for developmentally disabled infants, children and adults; specialized developmental training for residents as well as community clients; and also includes Marklund Day School that offers specialized education and life skills training for children with medical, developmental and physical disabilities, and those on the Autism Spectrum.

Matt Cohen & Associates 155 N. Michigan Ave., #715 Chicago (866) 787-9270

Law practice with an emphasis on special education and school-related issues, health care and human services providers and the legal needs of children and adults with substance dependency or mental, developmental and physical disabilities.

MidAmerica Service Dogs’ Foundation 7420 S. County Line Road, Ste. 8 Burr Ridge (866) 472-9744

Provides service dogs and companion dogs to children and adults with disabilities free of charge. Dogs and people are matched based on their specific training and disabilities. Many dogs are obtained from shelters or rescue groups as well as donated by breeders. Program includes children, some with disabilities, that foster and train dogs for other clients in the program.

Envision Unlimited 8 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 1700 Chicago (312) 346-6230

Provides education, housing, recreation, rehabilitation, training and employment opportunities to adults with disabilities and mental illness.

Midwestern University Speech-Language Institute and Eye Institute 3450 Lacey Road Downers Grove (630) 743-4500

Offers specialty eye and

speech-language services for children with special needs using the latest technology.

Offers global therapy services including ABA, occupational and speech therapies. The program focuses on helping students develop academic, social and developmental skills.

New Star

Pioneer Center

1005 W. End Ave. Chicago Heights 25930 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Crete 1624 E. 154th St. Dolton (708) 755-8030 Community service agency that provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities who reside in Southeast Cook County, Northeast Will County and

4031 W. Dayton McHenry (815)344-1230

A nonprofit organization located in McHenry County that provides adult and youth behavioral health services, intellectual and developmental disability programming and homeless services through McHenry County PADS.

Northwest Indiana.

Oak Leyden Developmental Services

Ray Graham Association

411 Chicago Ave. Oak Park (708) 524-1050

901 Warrenville Road, Suite 500 Lisle (630) 620-2222

Individual and group therapy and support services for children birth-5 with developmental delays; community drop-in events for families with young children; Music Together classes; day and residential services for adults with developmental disabilities.

Pediatric Therapy Network (312) 278-0022

Offers occupational therapy, physical therapy, feeding |

CSP_0819_035.indd 1

3048 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago (312) 458-9865

An innovative, personcentered organization that supports and works with people with disabilities, their families and the community to improve the individual’s quality of life. Nearly 2,500 children and adults with developmental disabilities, including cerebral palsy and autism receive vocational, residential, educational, respite, therapeutic and recreational services and supports at 35 locations in DuPage County.

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 1:50 PM

GENERAL Shriners Hospitals for Children 2211 N. Oak Park Ave. Chicago (773) 622-5400 chicago

Provides quality care to children with neuromusculoskeletal conditions, burn injuries and other special healthcare needs as well as conducts research to improve the quality of health care and quality of life for children and their families.

Shore Community Services Inc. 8350 Laramie Ave. Skokie (847) 982-2030

Provides programs for children and adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and many secondary mental and physical

disabilities for birth-adult. Programs include residential, early intervention, supported living, home-based services, senior program, vocational, in-home respite and adult day services. All programs are tailored to meet the individuals’ needs and can focus on daily living skills, mobility, cognition, communication, socialization, fine and gross motor development, independent living, pre-vocational training, job training and job placement.

Smart Moves Pediatrics 7929 Cermak Road, Unit C North Riverside (708) 442-0023

Occupational, physical and speech therapists who specialize in developmental healthcare for children with physical, cognitive, behavioral, and sensory needs.

St. Coletta of Illinois 18350 Crossing Drive Tinley Park (708) 342-5246

Provides early childhood through high school education. The school program serves about 80 students who are developmentally disabled or on the autism spectrum. The Vocational Training Center provides opportunities for 250 individuals with special needs to become self-sufficient and learn the responsibilities and benefits of working. St. Coletta’s residential program is designed to provide quality housing for special needs individuals, allowing clients to be integrated into the community. The program consists of 30 groups homes within 15 southwest suburban communities of Chicago.

Suburban Access Inc.SAI 900 Maple Ave. Homewood (708) 799-9190 1 Westbrook Corporate Center, Suite A-820 Westchester (708) 499-7257

Nonprofit agency handles case management and service coordination to individuals with developmental disabilities in 18 townships of south and west suburban Cook County.

The Sensory Kids Store Wilmette (847) 920-4708

Specializes in helping parents find the sensory products and solutions they need since 2009. Includes toys, adaptive products, school supplies and sensory clothing among other tools and aids.

Trinity Services Inc. 301 Veterans Parkway New Lenox (815) 485-6197

Serves 3,500 children and adults who have developmental disabilities or mental illness needs. Services for people with developmental disabilities include residential options, Trin School for K-12, adult learning programs, employment services, a therapeutic horseback-riding program, crisis prevention and intervention services. Trinity’s Behavioral Health program provides comprehensive therapeutic services for people with a mental illness or dual diagnosis, residential programs, services specific to autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, traditional counseling for individuals, families and groups.

Smart Moves Pediatrics

Where Every Move Makes A Difference

We are professional Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapists who specialize in developmental healthcare for children with physical, cognitive, behavioral, and sensory needs. As therapists we are actively invested in continuing education to ensure that we are providing a variety of the best and current techniques, including sensory integration. Whether your child’s goals are to improve physical strength, develop independence in self-care, or increase success in school, we will find a way to accomplish those goals in the context of play. 7929 W Cermak Rd unit c, North Riverside | 708-442-0023



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_036.indd 1


8/1/19 1:50 PM

GENERAL V.I.P Service Dog Foundation

learning differences and physical challenges.

(800) 654-8898 vipservicedogfoundation. com

KEEN: Kids Enjoy Exercise Now

Trains service and companion dogs for the disabled.

P.O. Box 06255 Chicago (312) 876-2535

RECREATION All-In-Swim Multiple locations

Swim program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder designed to teach water safety and swim skills in a comfortable, supportive environment. Lessons adapted for each swimmer.

Five Keys Yoga 1818 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago (773) 857-1763

Offers Yoga for the Special Child that is a gentle method of yoga. It uses breathing and eye exercises, singing, deep relaxation, and asanas (yoga poses) customized to a child’s needs and abilities.

Special Stars 2230 Cornell Ave. Montgomery (630) 896-8277 stephaniesacademyofdance. com

A therapist-supported program that offers specialized and inclusive dance classes for kids with learning differences ages 2 through adult. Classes promote cognitive, social and emotional, speech and language, fine motor and gross motor goals. Students are mentored by their peers of typical development.

Karate CAN-DO 770 Lake Cook Road Suite 300, Deerfield

Teaches karate to children and adults with

Nonprofit, volunteer-led organization that provides free one-to-one recreational opportunities for people 5-21 with developmental and physical disabilities. KEEN pairs a trained volunteer “coach” with a young athlete in sports and swim programs. Not only does the program provide respite and support to families, but also disability awareness training.

Right Fit Sport Fitness Wellness 7850 S. Quincy St. Willowbrook (630) 850-4050 1045 S. LaGrange Road LaGrange (708) 639-4199

Right Fit’s Raise the Bar fitness programs and camps are offered year-round for youth and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and those physically and mentally challenged.

Second City Improv for ASD 1616 N. Wells St. Chicago (312) 337-3992

The Second City Training Center has created an Improv for ASD and anxiety curriculum, offering both teens and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders a unique 12-week mentoring and development experience that includes improv games and exercises to help with the exploration of relation-

ships and social cues.

Special Gifts Theatre P.O. Box 2231 Northbrook (847) 564-7704

An educational- and therapy-based drama program for individuals who have special needs. SGT uses the stage as a platform to develop social skills, increase self-confidence and improve speech communication. Multiple locations and programs are available year-round for children and adults.

Special Olympics Illinois 605 E. Willow St. Normal (309) 888-2551

Provides sports training and competition for children (8 and older) and adults with intellectual disabilities. Check website for competition schedule and locations in Chicago area.

Special Olympics Illinois Young Athletes Program (309) 888-2551

A gross motor training program for children with and without intellectual disabilities between 2-7. Young Athletes focuses on motor development and preparation for participation in future sport. Young Athletes trainings and events happen at the local, regional and state level.

Special Recreation Associations in Illinois

The Special Recreation Associations Network of Illinois (SRANI) is a network of therapeutic recreation agencies that

On-demand care app launches for families C

hicagoland has a new way for families to find care for their children with special needs. An ondemand care app, Joshin, was created by twin sisters who grew up helping care for their brother, Josh, who had special needs. The sisters, Melissa Danielsen and Melanie Fountaine, say they wanted to create something to honor Josh while meeting a big need they see in families with special needs. They started with Josh’s Place, which provides 24/7 care for adults with special needs in Minnesota. After finding no childcare platforms that put special needs first, they decided to create Joshin, which matches families with special needs ■ Find Joshin in the Apple with professionals experiapp store or on Google Play. enced with special needs, Use the code: Free30 for a free such as special ed teachers, 30-day subscription. Regular social workers, therapists and subscription pricing is $24.99nurses, who want to use their $34.99 per month. skills in a side job. “Safety is key. Part of our mission is fun, but we can only do that if everybody knows that they are safe and vetted,” Fountaine says. “The joymakers are here for families with special needs. That’s what their passion is, that’s what their background is.” Families can upload a care plan to assure continuity of care and can search for a joymaker who has been screened, given a background check and vetted that most meets their needs. The joymakers can provide quality care for babies to adults with special needs, they say. Danielsen says the majority of Joshin users use it for respite, but others use it for before and after-school care and daily living skills development. The hourly rates are negotiated between the joymaker and family. “We’re really excited about supporting Chicago,” Danielsen says. |

CSP_0819_037.indd 1

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO



8/1/19 1:48 PM

RECREATION provides community-based special recreation services to children and adults with disabilities. These agencies are members of the Illinois Therapeutic Recreation Section of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA).

The Sensory Garden Playground 2751 Navistar Drive Lisle 630-510-4984

The Sensory Garden Playground is a combination of sensory-integrated playground equipment and amenities along with gardening areas. Includes a 2- to 5-yearold playground area, fragrance garden and sound garden.

SUPPORT Celebrate Differences 74 W. Washington St Oswego (630) 885-3006

An all-inclusive community resource center, welcoming all children and their families regardless of age or disability. Offers informative monthly workshops, sibling workshops, a resource library, annual summer and holiday parties, a Next Chapter book club, play groups and more. Connects families through outreach projects, social activities and social networking.

Center for Independent Futures 1015 Davis St. Evanston (847) 328-2044

A nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities and their families access the skills and opportunities to realize full lives.

Family Resource Center on Disabilities 11 E. Adams St., Suite 1002 Chicago (312) 939-3513

Provides information and support for families, free semi-



nars, Youth Advocacy Project and Parent-To-Parent Training Project.

Illinois Parents of Adults with Developmental Disabilities (IPADD) Unite 3104 Treesdale Court Naperville (630) 922-3232

Closed Facebook group for parents of teens and adults to share online support and resources specific to Illinois on topics including transition, employment, selfemployment or supported employment, volunteerism, day programming, funding, legislative advocacy, housing, social security, Medicaid and Medicare and transportation.

The Orchard 1330 N. Douglas Ave. Arlington Heights (847) 392-4840

Children (birth-12th grade) are included in classes with trained volunteers while parents attend the worship services at 9:30 a.m. Sundays. Special Needs Parent Network meets for prayer and support the first Monday of the month. Childcare provided. Additional locations at Barrington and Itasca.

Protected Tomorrows Charities 103 Schelter Road Lincolnshire (847) 522-8086

Nonprofit dedicated to helping families with special needs optimize the lifelong care of their loved ones. The mission is to provide resources, research and education for families of individuals with disabilities and the elderly.

CSP_0819_038.indd 1

Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters 3800 N. Lake Shore Drive, #3E Chicago

Nonprofit organization providing support to siblings of people with disabilities in Illinois by connecting them with information, networking opportunities and resources to enhance the quality of life for their entire family. For more information, e-mail

The Apraxia Connection

The volunteer board of directors, advisors and helping hands of the community strive to connect neighborhood resources and information on apraxia and associated disorders with the individuals, families, therapists, educators and other professionals who need them.

DISABILITIES ORGANIZATION Aspire Kids Chicago 3235 W. Montrose Ave. Chicago (773) 878-7868

Provides an innovative, family-centered approach to inclusive education and community life that supports kids with disabilities and their families. Offers such services as career training, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

out Kane, Kendall, DeKalb, DuPage, suburban Cook and Will counties. More than 20 programs are available for individuals with physical or developmental disabilities, and those in need of behavioral health services or crisis intervention. CARF accredited and is also a child welfare agency licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Esperanza Community Services 520 N. Marshfield Ave. Chicago (312) 243-6097

Nonprofit organization that provides instruction and services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, including autism and behavioral needs to help them become as independent as possible. It provides a full array of services, including a private, therapeutic day school for students age 5-21, an adult day program and vocational skill-building program, a 24-hour residential program that supports independent living and an in-home case management program.

Illinois Spina Bifida Association 2211 N. Oak Park Ave. Oak Park (773) 444-0305

Nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with Spina Bifida through direct services, information, referral, research and public awareness.

Lambs Farm 14245 W. Rockland Road Libertyville (847) 362-4636

Offers vocational, residential and recreational programs.

Park Lawn Association 10833 S. LaPorte Ave. Oak Lawn (708) 425-3344

Nonprofit offering a variety of supports, including adult developmental training, residential facilities, vocational training, supported employment and more. Park Lawn’s mission is to provide services that promote independence, choice and access to community for people with developmental disabilities. 355 E. Erie St. Chicago (800) 955-2445

Strives to empower parents and health professionals with free educational resources on the benefit of early detection and early therapy for children’s motor, sensory and communication development. Materials (brochures, handouts, videos, etc.) are available on its website.

The Arc of Illinois 20901 LaGrange Road, Suite 209 Frankfort (815) 464-1832

A clearinghouse of information committed to empowering people with disabilities to achieve full participation in community life through informed choices.

EDUCATION Acacia Academy 6425 Willow Springs Road LaGrange (708) 579-5872

This school strives to achieve educational stability with roots of strength and character that will last a lifetime.

South Chicago Parents & Friends

Association for Individual Development (AID)

10241 S. Commercial Ave. Chicago (773) 734-2222

309 W. New Indian Trail Court Aurora (630) 966-4000

10101 S. Roberts Road, Suite 205 Palos Hills (708) 430-7532

310 N. Loomis St. Chicago 1921 W. Irving Park Road Chicago (312) 243-8487

Supports people of South Deering, South Chicago, South Shore, Pullman and

Nonprofit, community-based organization serving more than 5,000 people through-

Serves families of people with learning disabilities throughout Illinois.

Designed to foster socialization, sensory regulation and learning skills. Blue Bird

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

Roseland communities with developmental disabilities, enabling them to become productive, valued members of society by allowing them to learn, work, play and live just like others.

Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois

Blue Bird Day School


8/1/19 1:47 PM

EDUCATION The Lily Garden Child Care Center

Day programs are ideal for children with autism, sensory processing disorders, articulation and phonological disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and sensory-based feeding disorders. Relationship-based therapists work to build individual goals for each child and their family.

830 S. Addison Ave. Villa Park (630) 620-4433

Provides child care services for children six weeks through 6 years in a nurturing environment where children learn and grow together. The Lily Garden is committed to fostering independence, compassion, knowledge and respect for children of all abilities.

Brain Balance Achievement Center 1101 S. Milwaukee Ave., Suite 105 Vernon Hills (847) 821-1328

Works with children with developmental and learning disorders such as ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, dyslexia, Tourette’s, PDD and Autism Spectrum Disorders. An individualized program that uses a comprehensive, multifaceted approach designed to address each child’s specific deficiencies while combining proper nutritional guidance.

City Elementary 1100 E. Hyde Park Blvd. Chicago (872) 240-2489

Classrooms are structured to provide small-group instruction for children on the autism spectrum, those with significant attentional issues, and those with sensory-integration challenges who use language to communicate.

Cognitive Solutions Learning Center Inc. 2409 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago (773) 755-1775

Specializes in learning disabilities and ADHD and offers educational and psychological testing, one-on-one tutoring, neurofeedback, psychotherapy and executive functions training.

Easterseals GilchristMarchman Child Development Center 1939 W. 13th St., Suite 300 Chicago (312) 491-4110


GiGi’s Playhouse Full-day, full-year inclusive early childhood and education services for children six weeks to 5 years. State certified, credentialed and bilingual teaching staff.

Elim Christian Services 13020 S. Central Ave. Crestwood (708) 389-0555

Serves students 3-22 who have developmental and/or physical disabilities.

Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. School for Exceptional Children St. Coletta’s of Illinois 18350 Crossing Drive Tinley Park (708) 342-5200

centered learning offered through an innovative and individualized curriculum.

National Louis University (312) 261-3770

NLU’s postsecondary program for young adults with intellectual and development disabilities is a residential program designed to provide transitional needs of young adults with special needs, including independent living skills, employment preparation, functional academic courses and social development.

Northside Learning Center

The vision is to provide a positive school environment where students become independent through a variety of experiences focused on academics, community involvement, occupational skills and social emotional learning.

3730 W. Bryn Mawr Chicago (773) 534-5180

Metropolitan Schoolhouse

Safe Haven School

1415 N. Dayton St. Chicago (224) 255-5148

Whole-person, student-

A specialty Chicago Public School educating students 14-22 with mild to severe intellectual disabilities and autism. 906 Muir Ave. Lake Bluff (847) 604-3903

Therapeutic school that accepts students in fourth

grade through high school who have severe to profound emotional disturbances, learning disabilities, autism and/or other health.

Soaring Eagle Academy 800 Parkview Blvd. Lombard (630) 323-2900

Helps people with special needs and developmental needs through residential housing, job placement and workshops.

Donka Inc. 400 N. County Farm Road Wheaton (630) 665-8169

A nonprofit Illinois State Board of Education-approved therapeutic day school for students ages 3-21 with autism and disorders of relating and communicating.

Provides computer training that teaches disabled students who demonstrate special accessibility requirements and low-income levels how to use computers to read, write, continue an education or advanced skills needed for the workplace.

The Cove School 350 Lee Road Northbrook (847) 562-2100

A private, K-12 day school that serves students with learning disabilities. Children from diverse backgrounds receive an individualized educational experience. Cove provides students with customized learning strategies to complete an academic curriculum, while at the same time facilitates the development of students’ social and emotional skills and self-advocacy. |

515 Busse Hwy. Park Ridge (847) 292-0870 Easterseals Metropolitan Chicago 1939 W. 13th St., Suite 300 (312) 491-3945

Provides employment opportunities for people living with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. Team members are integrated into all aspects of business operations and receive individualized training with customized supports. Part of Easterseals Chicagoland.

Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO




GiGi wants a kinder, more accepting world BY LORI ORLINSKY


eventeen-year-old GiGi Gianni is no stranger to making public appearances, having been featured on outlets such as The Today Show and CNN. But her biggest performance yet was on June 25—10 years in the making— when she fulfilled her lifelong dream and sang the national anthem at Wrigley Field in front of 37,000 Cubs fans (and Anthony Rizzo, her “crush”). The junior at Barrington High School, who has Down syndrome, received a standing ovation, bringing many fans to tears. “People with Down syndrome have hypotonia (low muscle tone), which makes it more difficult to speak and sing,” says GiGi’s mom, Nancy. “GiGi has spent years working on dictation, articulation and breathing, gearing up for that moment, and she did it with confidence, dignity and grace.” GiGi is the namesake for GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers (“GiGi’s Playhouse”), a network of Down syndrome achievement centers started in 2003 by her family. “The Playhouse is a special place,” says GiGi, whose favorite thing to do is to hold the babies that come in and take pictures with them. When GiGi isn’t tutoring literacy and math or working out at the Playhouse, she travels with her mother, making frequent public appearances at Playhouse grand openings, conferences and book signings. She often refers to herself as “boss lady” and “the GiGi” and loves every minute of her role in the spotlight. Her favorite part about being on the road,



Specıal Parent Summer 2019 CHICAGO

CSP_0819_040.indd 1

Photos courtesy of Julie Lennekin/Menager

“hands down” is ordering cheeseburgers and cheese fries from hotel room service. GiGi also serves as the inspiration for a global social movement called #GenerationG, which aims to change the way the world views Down

syndrome. #GenerationG asks people to commit to its pledge to Be Accepting, Be Generous, Be Kind. Through this movement, people are challenged to step outside their comfort zones to take actions to create lasting

acceptance. Examples include sitting with a new friend at lunch, or giving an individual with a disability an employment opportunity. “I want people to know that sometimes we [people with Down syndrome] need a little help, but we can do anything,” GiGi says. As GiGi’s playhouse works to open pop-up models and collaborates with Microsoft to put together virtual programming for those with Down syndrome, GiGi hopes to attend the University of Kentucky and study journalism. In the meantime, she’s enjoying spending her free time playing basketball for the Special Olympics of Illinois and Facetiming with her long-distance boyfriend, Sam. And of course, cheering on the Cubs.


8/1/19 11:18 AM

THE MORE YOU UNDERSTAND HER WORLD, THE MORE POSSIBILITIES YOU SEE. THE MORE YOU UNDERSTAND For Julia’s family, early screening for HER WORLD, THE MORE autism made a lifetime of difference. Find out more at POSSIBILITIES YOU SEE. For Julia’s family, early screening for autism made a lifetime of difference. Find out more at

© 2019 Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved.

© 2019 Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved.

CSP_0819_CV3.indd 1

8/1/19 4:05 PM

CSP_0819_CV4.indd 1

8/1/19 11:35 AM