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Specıal Parent CHICAGO



Time out time: The discipline debate


Camps and resources you need

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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

www.specialrecreation.org The Special Recreation Association 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 www.specialrecreation.org.

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


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your intuition + expert therapists = a superhero team for your child

Services from to that help every child with Autism Spectrum Disorder reach their goals.

Discover your child's superhero team at


Pediatric Therapy Villa Park | Naperville | Elgin 630.620.4433 info@eastersealsdfvr.org ChicagoParent.com |

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SpecÄąal Parent Winter 2019 CHICAGO



2/28/19 10:59 AM


Adventures for families and children with disabilities

Sensory Saturdays at the Field Museum offer your family a dynamic experience suited for children with disabilities, especially autism and sensory processing disorders. Curious kids can join us in our interactive, crowdfree space to explore through hands-on activities with tactile opportunities and sensory tools.

Sensory Saturdays in the Crown Family PlayLab

For dates and details on free registration, visit fieldmuseum.org/sensorysaturday



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| ChicagoParent.com

3/1/19 12:15 PM

Early Intervention Program 2-5 yrs old

Bridge Program

Transition Program

(preschool-aged) 4-6 yrs old

(school aged) 7-10 yrs old

Maintenance Program (school-aged) 8-13 yrs old



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Specıal Parent Winter 2019 CHICAGO



2/28/19 11:05 AM

The Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy (ELSA)

An incredible college experience. A lifetime of achievement. Elmhurst College offers a uniquely traditional college experience for students with differing abilities. Our beautiful campus is home for students as they develop the personal and professional skills they’ll need to live as independently as possible. Students grow in three key areas: • Academics and career preparation • Independent living • Social and recreational interactions

LEARN MORE (630) 617-3752 elsa@elmhurst.edu elmhurst.edu/elsavisit

FOLLOW US facebook.com/elsa-elmhurst

This four-year certificate program is for students, ages 18–28, who have earned a high school diploma or certificate of completion. Students grow as individuals and participate in internships and professional opportunities as they build their skills for a life of independence and lifelong learning.



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| ChicagoParent.com

3/5/19 11:48 AM


STAFF EDITOR Tamara L. O’Shaughnessy MANAGING EDITOR Hillary Bird DIGITAL EDITOR Katina Beniaris ART DIRECTOR Claire Innes EDITORIAL DESIGNERS Jacquinete Baldwin, Javier Govea CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jerry Davich, Megan Murray Elsener, Lori Orlinsky, Jennifer Wheeler CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Juan Carlos Pelayo



Happy camper

DISPLAY AD SALES Annette Coffee, Christine Griffith,

10 steps to help you find the right camp


Lourdes Nicholls, Karen Skinner

Charting her own course


How one girl’s disability is celebrated and embraced



To discipline or not to discipline ne


The answer isn’t always easy when special needs are part off the h picture

Debbie Becker, Mark Moroney CIRCULATION MANAGER

IN OUR SHOES 6 ■ ■ ■ ■


AJ’s inspiration Three teens on the spectrum In my own words News you can use


Jill Wagner






ON THE COVER Cover kid: Elena Walke, 8, of Oak Park Photographer: Juan Carlos Pelayo Design: Claire Innes

chiparent@chicagoparent.com ADVERTISING advertising@chicagoparent.com CIRCULATION circulation@wjinc.com Our offices are at 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, Illinois 60302. ChicagoParent.com © 2019 Wednesday Journal, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Specıal Parent Winter 2019 CHICAGO



2/27/19 2:10 PM

In Our Shoes AJ’s inspiration

Photos provided by the Bombacino family

Parents create Real Food Blends out of necessity BY JERRY DAVICH


ulie and Tony Bombacino didn’t know what hit them when their 6-month-old baby, AJ, suffered a 45-minute seizure out of the blue. The Chesterton, Ind., couple were scared, confused and scrambling for whatever information they could find, even if it came from “Dr. Google” or online searches. “We felt helpless,” Tony recalls. “It still gives me the chills thinking about it.” At a children’s hospital in Ohio, they waited for 72 hours while doctors tried to figure out what happened to



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AJ. Those early days were filled with “tears, big words, misdiagnoses and desperation,” the couple says. Finally, they were told that AJ had “malformations of his cortical development.” “What does that mean?” they asked. AJ had a brain abnormality that affected his normal processes, including the ability to swallow, among other developmental problems. The couple figured that their bright-eyed little bundle of joy merely had reflux, or colic, or possibly he was just a fussy eater. “We were wrong,” Julie says. They had AJ transferred by

ambulance to Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “We wanted to be closer to home and have the best care possible for him,” Tony says. More tests were done on AJ, who suffered more seizures. A month after his initial seizure, his eating habits worsened. The baby was listed as NPO, or nil per os, a Latin phrase meaning “nothing through the mouth” to avoid choking or aspiration of food into his lungs. Doctors prescribed a feeding tube. But there was another problem for the couple, who were prescribed a typical diet of feeding-tube “formula” for AJ, like with most children and

| ChicagoParent.com

2/28/19 11:07 AM

“I never could have imagined that my son would inspire my wife and I to create a food company for people with feeding tubes. And to take our shot at disrupting the multibilliondollar nutrition industry.” adults with feeding tubes. This formula is traditionally high in corn syrup, preservatives, additives, synthetic vitamins and other sources of protein. “And a bunch of other ingredients you can’t pronounce,” says Tony, who began a crash course in feeding tube nutrition. The couple couldn’t imagine feeding their baby the same exact formula diet day after day, month after month, possibly for the rest of his life. AJ also wasn’t settling for it, reacting with constant problems to various formulas and methods. Nothing worked for the couple, or for AJ, who would vomit up to 10 times a day. Out of desperation, Tony and Julie wondered what would happen if they fed AJ real foods for babies his age that were blended into their own personalized formula. Despite no support from dieticians and other health professionals, they began experimenting in their kitchen. The couple bought a high-powered Vitamix blender, started very slowly with simple food items, and built on their successes. “The dieticians said we could easily clog his feeding tube, or wouldn’t know how much protein, fiber or fats, or how many calories he was getting,” Tony recalls. “They scared us from trying food, you know, what all humans have survived on for years now.” Within a few days, AJ stopped vomiting and he began to have normal bowel movements. His parents rejoiced at such a normal thing for babies his age. Since those early experimental days, AJ has been fed a strict diet of homemade “real food blends” as

the couple called it. This is where their story of parenting fed into a new story of business entrepreneurship. But again, it came out of the blue and out of sheer necessity. The couple was planning a family vacation to Disney World with AJ and his older sister, Luca. However, such a trip would mean having to pack their bulky blender, pre-chosen foods and pre-blended everything, among other laborious necessities. “It sounded more like work than a vacation,” Tony recalls. Again they wondered, what

if there was a prepackaged, travel-friendly meal option for people with feeding tubes, using shelf-stable “real food” without corn syrup or preservatives. They couldn’t find such a thing on the market so during their family vacation, they made the decision to open their own family business. They named it Real Food Blends after taking more than two years to make it a reality. It took half of their life savings and countless days of research, brainstorming and market studies. They eventually figured out three basic meal varieties, the right manufacturing partner, ideas for warehousing and shipping. The couple mass produced their first 15,000 feeding tube meals in 2014, without any idea if the real food blends would sell in the multi-billion dollar industry. They sold out in a month. They produced 90,000 more meals, selling out again, this time in less than a month. In time, they figured out that their meals could be covered by medical insurance, with home healthcare firms also agreeing

to distribute the meals. The couple hasn’t looked back with their son. Although being unable to walk or talk, 8-year-old AJ has a beaming smile, a playful spirit, and a steady stream of real food blends fed into his feeding tube three times a day. The family firm now has a Facebook community of more than 100,000 people, with tens of thousands of customers, adults and children alike, across the country and beyond. They have sold millions of meals nationwide. “I never could have imagined that my son would inspire my wife and I to create a food company for people with feeding tubes. And to take our shot at disrupting the multi-billion-dollar nutrition industry,” Tony says. “And now we couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Julie says. “All thanks to AJ, our company’s CIO, Chief Inspiration Officer.” Watch a video of the parents’ story at RealFoodBlends.com/ About.

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Specıal Parent Winter 2019 CHICAGO



2/28/19 11:07 AM

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.

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facebook.com/shrinerschicago twitter.com/shrinerschicago shrinerschicago.org

| ChicagoParent.com

3/1/19 12:28 PM


Three teens on the spectrum What we can learn about autism by simply asking BY JENNIFER WHEELER


hen my oldest son turned 16 this year, there was no trip to the DMV for his driver’s license. When my 14-year-old son entered high school this year, there were no homecoming pictures to post on social media. And, when my youngest son became a teen just last month, there was no one to invite to his party. So far, my fellas don’t seem to care about being typical teens who enjoy driving, dates and sports. But they are typical teens in other important ways. My youngest doesn’t think people can tell he has autism, but he wishes aloud that things were easier for his brother. My oldest doesn’t think he has it and denies being impacted by it. (He is.) While other teens are collegebound, he’s focused on basic vocational goals and fundamental life skills. I’m OK with that and so is he. “I don’t want to drive, I’m not interested in dating and sports aren’t my thing. I like drawing, and hanging out with my brothers, and playing video games,” he told me. His “differences” don’t seem that different, especially not to him. But my 14-year-old had much to say about differences. What he told me gives us a deeper insight into the mind of a teen with autism. “Because I have autism, I think I’m different from other teens in a lot of ways. I love video games, so I could hang out with kids who like technology. But I don’t enjoy some of the stuff that other teens do, like sports and parties.

“I enjoy being around the kids at my high school, but I never get invited to do anything with them. I think it’s because I don’t know how to start a conversation with them, and because I can’t relate to some of the things that interest them. I like current events, politics and economics and also science, math and llamas. Other teens like movies and music instead, and so I don’t think they want to socialize with me. I’m not sure I’d even know what to do if other teens asked me to hang out, unless we were playing video games or talking about how much we hate Donald Trump. “I do respect other teens who have different opinions than I do, I just don’t know how to continue a conversation with them when our perspectives aren’t the same. “But I like the kids in my school who are smart and funny and who stick up for others; I feel I have a lot in common with them. But many of them are looking for love, and I’m not. I want relationships, but

not the romantic kind. It’s more important for me to be valued for my work, and for being kind and funny. But others can’t see those things about me, except for maybe my teachers. I wish other kids knew I was funny, because I see the benefit of being friends. “I want some help making friends. I sit with some kids at lunch, but they are my brother’s friends. It would be nice to have my own friends, too, but I don’t know how to get them. It’s hard for me to talk to people I don’t already know. I might get annoyed if they like Donald Trump, or they might not be able to understand me since I stutter, so they’d have to be patient, and some teens aren’t patient. “Everyone is in a rush to grow up, but I’m worried I won’t be ready. I feel like there is too much to learn to be independent; I’m learning a lot academically, but I don’t think I will know everything I need to know if I am going to live on my own after high school. “I think I’m worried about a job while other teens are worried

about college, but not about what comes after college. I want to be a commentator on CNN about politics and economics, and I’m not sure how to get there. I know other teens don’t worry about that, but I do, because I prefer to work alone, and I stutter. And I don’t know what kind of career is good for people with autism who have a hard time expressing themselves. “For now, I like being a teenager because I don’t have any of the responsibilities I’ll have when I’m an adult, but I also don’t have the freedom I felt just being a kid. I know I’ll be successful because I work hard and I like school, but I also think that I might be lonely without friends. If I didn’t have my brothers, I don’t know who I’d hang out with. I don’t mind being alone, but I don’t like feeling lonely.” And so, despite all of the ways having autism makes my middle son feel different from other teens, it seems to me he feels the same way many of them do sometimes: lonely.

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Specıal Parent Winter 2019 CHICAGO



2/28/19 11:09 AM

Family and friends can contribute to his needs with an Illinois ABLE account. il.savewithable.com

For more information about Illinois ABLE (the “Member Plan”), call 1-888-609-8683, or visit il.savewithable.com to obtain Plan Disclosure Documents, which include investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information; read and consider it carefully before investing. Investors should consider before investing whether their home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified ABLE program and should consult their legal, tax advisor and/or other advisor regarding their specific legal, investment or tax situation. The Member Plan is sponsored by the state of Illinois and administered by the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer. The Member Plan is one of the qualified ABLE plans issued by the ABLE Consortium Trust. Ascensus College Savings Recordkeeping Services LLC, the Program Manager, and its affiliates have overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations, including investment advisory, recordkeeping and administrative services. The Member Plan offers a series of investment options within ABLE Consortium Trust. The Member Plan is intended to operate as a qualified ABLE plan to be used only to save for Qualified Disability Expenses, pursuant to the Section 529A of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, as amended.



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| ChicagoParent.com

2/28/19 11:09 AM


In My Own Words Chicago-area teen with Down syndrome stars in Emmy-nominated documentary BY LORI ORLINSKY


eople with Down syndrome havee few ions greater champions than 19-year-old Wheaton resident Sam Anderson. Sam and his mom, Katherine, created the blog “In My Own Words” to give people with Down syndrome a place to be heard. The blog, which has several thousand followers, tells the d stories, reflections and experiences of peoplee with Down syndrome. “We are all special,” says Sam, who has Down syndrome. “We are inspiring, kind and have different talents. We make a difference in the world.” While Sam is usually the one asking the questions, he’s the subject of the documentary “Sam Anderson: In My Own Words,” produced by Sarah Taschetta. Originally a college assignment for Taschetta, the video was nominated for a Chicago/ Midwest Emmy by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The 10-minute documentary

Sam Anderson and Sarah Taschetta at The Emmys.

follows Sam during his final semester of senior year at Wheaton North High School as he manages the basketball team, competes in various Special Olympics sports and asks a girl to prom. “I’m just me,” he says humbly. Taschetta, who knew Sam through a mutual acquaintance, says it’s ironic that he’s always the one telling everyone else’s story, yet he himself has an amazing one to tell. An inclusion advocate, Sam was the first student with Down syndrome to enter his

“The good life does not depend on chromosomes. He is living proof that a disability should not hold anyone back.”

elementary and junior high schools. “Sam wanted to go to school with his siblings and his friends,” his mom, Katherine, says. “At first, the schools weren’t supportive, but we pushed for it so he could be included and be part of the community.” Sam excelled in school, and made his mark in high school. He served as the manager of the varsity basketball team, and even

took home the title of “Mr. Wheaton North,” earning a spot on homecoming court as homecoming king. “Sam showed me that there’s a positive to everything,” Taschetta says. “The good life does not depend on chromosomes. He is living proof that a disability should not hold anyone back.” Sam still keeps a busy schedule—he takes transition classes at The College of DuPage, works in food service at Wheaton College, and plays for the Special Olympics basketball, track and bowling teams. He is involved in his church youth group and volunteers at a food pantry. He hopes to enter a two-year program at Judson College in the coming years. Watch “Sam Anderson: In My Own Words” at https://player. vimeo.com/video/267488766.

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2/28/19 11:23 AM


Study: Bullying is different depending on special need


ids with learning disabilities are more likely to be bullied in person while kids with physical disabilities are more likely to be bullied online, a new study by the University of New Hampshire found. According to the researchers, 30 percent of youth ages 10-20 surveyed reported experiencing some form of victimization. “We hope these findings help schools consider the context in which these events occur and possible ways to minimize risk to all youths, including those with disabilities or those receiving special services in schools,” the researchers said in the study. The researchers said they believe that peer-to-peer programs that give youth leadership skills and opportunities to partner with school staff will be most successful. “We need to focus on helping youths learn how to take care of each other and feeling safe talking to trusted adults,” researchers said.

Deaf children learn differently


ifferences in cognitive development between hearing and deaf children start in infancy, according to new research by The Ohio State University College of Medicine. When researchers compared the visual processing skills in hearing and deaf infants, the study said they found it takes longer for deaf infants to become familiar with new objects, highlighting a difference in how the infants process information, even when the information is not auditory. Researchers showed 23 deaf infants and 23 hearing infants ages 7 to 22 months a colorful object on a screen. Deaf infant looking times were 30 seconds



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longer than hearing infants and the deaf infant look-away rate was about 40 percent lower than hearing infants. “This is somewhat counterintuitive because a lot of people assume that deaf children compensate for their lack of hearing by being better at processing visual things, but the findings of the study show the opposite,” study co-author Claire Monroy said in a news release. However, researchers say the results don’t necessarily mean that deaf children are learning at a slower pace. “Because they use vision to process the world around them, they may pay closer attention to visual objects,” said study coauthor Derek Houston, associate

Photo courtesy of The Ohio State University College of Medicine

Macey Kinney plays with her 10-month-old son Zealand, who was born deaf. professor of otolaryngology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “They might actually be processing more about each object.” The ongoing research is

important because as experts try to understand the differences in visual learning, they can better help deaf children learn and reach their full potential.

| ChicagoParent.com

2/28/19 11:23 AM


Two new places to play


hankfully, there is a growing number of places being added to Chicagoland for kids with special needs. Here are two to consider:

We Rock the Spectrum 553 E. Dundee Road, Palatine Every child deserves a safe and supportive play environment. We Rock the Spectrum is Chicagoland’s first sensory gym, featuring both open play and classes for infants through age 13 with autism and other special needs. What kids will love: Trampolines, swings, arts & crafts and even a zip line (with crash pit) offer endless opportunities for exploration and

We Rock the Spectrum skill building, and each piece is designed to work with many of the sensory processing issues kids on the spectrum have. Classes like yoga and music therapy make learning a fun experience for littles. What parents will love: Parents can rest assured their little ones are enjoying themselves safely while also developing social skills, improving sensory processing and increasing strength.

The A’s Club 1801 Knapp St., Crest Hill This activity center boasts an inclusive playgroup available for children with special needs. Littles will find creative stimulation in classes like music, movement and mini yoga. Children 6 and older can join one of the “clubs,” which include activities like dance, cheer, video and board game playing and arts &

crafts. What kids will love: The sheer variety of activities mean children will never run out of things to do. What parents will love: Enjoy a kid-free evening at an affordable cost ($8.75 per hour or $35 flat rate for four hours, plus kids are fed dinner). While you’re away, kids will enjoy board games, karaoke, movies, crafts and story time.

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| ChicagoParent.com

2/28/19 11:25 AM

Photo provided by Keshet

Keshet offers both day camps (above) and overnight camps (below).

Happy camper 10 steps to help you find the right camp for your child



eciding whether to send your child to camp is a difficult decision for any parent. But worries are often magnified for parents of children with special needs who have more individualized concerns about their child’s environment and level of care. How will the camp meet my child’s medical needs? Does the camp target my child’s IEP goals? How can I communicate with the staff?

Chicagoland offers dozens of camps that provide independence, growth and unique experiences for children of all ages, abilities and interests. With registration to most camps already under way, we’ve broken down the steps to finding the right camp for your kiddo.


Determine if an inclusion or special needs camp is right for your child The first step when choosing a camp is to decide whether your child would thrive best in a traditional camp that is inclusive, one that serves campers with specific special needs or one that welcomes a broad range of special needs. Each camp has its own pros, cons and considerations. Jennifer Phillips, chief program officer at Keshet, a leader in inclusive recreation

Photo provided by Keshet

and education programs, says while parents often feel that a special needs camp will help their kids continue the skills they learned in school, she believes in testing out inclusive camp settings first. “I think that ultimately, parents want their children to be in a camp where they can enjoy it like their peers do,” she says. ChicagoParent.com |

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Decide what type of experience you want your child to have What do you want your child to gain from the camping experience? Some camps are centered around recreation and social interaction, while others might focus on structured activities and therapy-based instruction. Discuss camp options with your child to find the best fit. CONTINUED ON PAGE 16

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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

Summer Day Camps SEASPAR’s day camps are the perfect place for kids, teens, and young adults ages 3–22 to spend their summer enjoying creative, social, and physical activities as well as fun community outings.

Wonders Multi-Sensory Room SEASPAR’s Wonders MultiSensory Room in Lisle offers soothing and stimulating therapeutic recreation for autism, ASD, and ADHD.


4500 Belmont Road Downers Grove, IL 60515

Look for our summer program & camp guides in April! 630.960.7600 630.960.7605 TDD


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Tour prospective camps with your child Most camps will host an open house, family weekend or information session. Walk around the camp venue and allow your child to meet the staff and ask questions. If your child feels comfortable in their surroundings, they will be more excited about attending camp.


Inquire about staff training and ratios Ask about qualifications of the staff. Do any of the counselors have a background in your child’s area of focus? What about the counselor-to-child ratio? According to guidelines set forth by the American Camp Association, inclusion camps typically have one counselor for every six to 10 campers, while the ratio for special needs camp tends to be lower at one counselor for every three children.


SEASPAR also offers weekly programs, special events, trips, Special Olympics athlete training, adapted sports, and more for all ages.


Research various camp types Summer camps can be day camps or overnight camps, and can vary in length from a few days to a few weeks. The American Camp Association’s Find a Camp tool filters camps by just about any criteria, including location, activities, gender, cost and more.

Understand the camp’s communication policies The key to a successful experience is parent communication. Be sure to ask about how you’ll be updated about your child’s well-being throughout the summer. Do they do daily or weekly emails or phone calls? Do they encourage you to send notes with campers?


Align on disciplinary procedures What happens if a camper does not follow behavior guidelines, and what action steps are taken if the behavior problems progress? Ensure you are comfortable with the camp’s disciplinary approach, which should be reasonable and well communicated.

Find a camp t Check out a list of great camps found in our Special Needs Resources beginning on page 27.


Be open about your child’s special needs with the camp Parents should contact the camp and have a conversation with the directors about their child and their specific and special needs. “I encourage parents to be as honest and forthcoming as possible about what their child needs in order to be successful in a group environment,” says Colette Marquardt, executive director of the American Camp Association-Illinois. “This will help parents and directors become partners in setting up the child for a positive camp experience.”


Look into funding assistance In addition to offering special discounts for early bird registration or longterm payment plans that can be spread throughout the year, some camps offer scholarships or financial aid. Don’t assume your income doesn’t qualify; ask your camp what assistance programs they offer. The government also offers programs to assist with day camp costs, such as a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.


Keep a positive attitude Even if you have doubts or anxiety after you’ve made the decision to send your child to camp, keep your emotions at bay. Children often take a cue from their parents, so staying optimistic about the camp experience will reflect how they go into their first day. “Camp is a great place for kids to learn independence, social and communication skills, and ways to learn to advocate for themselves,” Phillips says “It also allows campers to enjoy being a kid and having fun with friends.”

| ChicagoParent.com

2/28/19 11:26 AM

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lena Walke is like so many second grade girls. She enjoys math and reading, plays games in gym and attends school with all the neighbors on her block. Yet what Elena does in her everyday life is even more impressive considering she has cerebral palsy that affects all four of her limbs. She is non-verbal, non-ambulatory and cannot purposefully use her hands. Elena was clinically diagnosed around nine months old with cerebral palsy, which was confirmed six months later with an MRI. “There was certainly a period of grief and anger as we mourned the child that we thought we were going to have, but we knew that we had to get through that in order to be a parent for our young child,” says dad Bernhard Walke. “Elena has always been an upbeat and happy child, so it’s hard to be sad about her disability when she wakes up with a smile every single day,” he says. “Elena just let us know that she was on her own timeline and own path of doing things” From her diagnosis until she was 3, Elena received physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy at home. Then from ages 3-5, she was in the Early Childhood program in her school district in Oak Park where she thrived. “She loved the social interaction, the teachers, her aides and of course, her friends,” he says. “Early Childhood gave her the chance to show off to the world all that she could do and how she did it.”



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Charting her own course

How one girl’s disability is celebrated and embraced Sheri Lenzo has worked with Elena since Early Childhood as her assistive technology specialist and physical therapist and saw firsthand how well Elena has

adapted to school life. “I don’t really see Elena as someone with a disability,” she says. “I see a very determined young girl who’s smart, social,

eager, and playful like other girls her age. She’s a very special, and amazing little girl, and she’s given me far more than I’ll ever be able to give her.”

| ChicagoParent.com

2/28/19 11:27 AM

“She has taught me to be patient, adaptive, innovative and serve as an advocate not only for Elena but also for those who live on the margins.”

Ready for more Both of Elena’s parents are educators, so they knew the ultimate goal of a student with special needs is to put them in the least restrictive environment with appropriate support. “In all honesty, Elena advocated for herself to be in a mainstream school setting,” Walke says. “She demonstrated to all her teachers and aides what she could do and they advocated for her as well.” Rosa and Berhnard decided to send Elena to her local school, Horace Mann Elementary. “For her social-emotional development, we wanted Elena to go to her local school with everyone in the neighborhood, so that she was more included and plugged in to her community,” he says. “We wanted her to be known as ‘Elena’ rather than the girl in the chair who gets shipped away every day to a different school. Normally, Elena rolls down the alley with all the neighborhood kids on the way to school and it’s truly no big deal.”

Lenzo says she believes it’s important for all children to have the opportunity to learn and play together, regardless of ability or disability. “A direct discussion about a child’s disability, and about the things he or she needs that are different, yields understanding and is beneficial to everyone,” she says. Three years into grade school, Elena is flourishing and progressing each day. She communicates using her eyes and her facial expressions. For simpler tasks, she looks up to say “yes” or to the side or down to say “no.” For academic or more complex work, she uses a computer that recognizes her eye movement and allows her to select what she would like to communicate. According to Sarah Kiolbasa, Elena’s resource teacher and case manager at Mann, she is on par with her peers. “While Elena benefits from being at Mann, I think the rest of the students and staff benefit even more,” Kiolbasa says. “Elena brings out the best

in all her fellow students. Her peers jump at the opportunity to hold the door for her, open her locker or assist in other daily living tasks. Students develop empathy, compassion, patience and an appreciation for all types of diversity when they learn alongside Elena. “Elena’s perseverance and grit is inspiring to her teachers.”

Celebrating disability The Walke family made the conscious decision for Elena’s disability to be celebrated rather than tolerated and to be more thankful for what they have rather than what they lost. “When I was in the classroom teaching English, one of my students told me ‘Mr. Walke, we should never be judged by the situation that we are born into, but rather how we respond to it.’ I’ll never forget those wise words and I’d like to think that Elena has taught us to properly respond to her disability,” he says.

While mainstreaming was appropriate for Elena, Walke advises parents to find a setting that is best for their own child. “There is so much diversity in the disability community and there’s seldom a one-size-fits-all solution,” he says. “Also never be apologetic for your child’s disability. Nothing ‘happened’ to your child; it’s part of their identity and it doesn’t need to be fixed or cured.” Elena is just one of the kids at Mann and on the block. “Our hope is that one day Elena is able to live, move and communicate independently with assistance,” Walke says. “Early on, her therapists mentioned that they pictured Elena in college and we share that aspiration as well. She has taught me to be patient, adaptive, innovative and serve as an advocate not only for Elena but also for those who live on the margins.” Megan Murray Elsener is a Chicago Parent contributor, freelance writer and mother of three.

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To discipline or not to discipline? The answer isn’t always easy when special needs are part of the picture



atie and Brian Bartak are admittedly too lenient when it comes to disciplining their 5-year-old son, Jaxson. “We try and treat him as an average 5-yearold. But with everything Jaxson has been through, due to his condition, my husband and I are more lenient with him,” Katie says. Jaxson was born with a congenital heart defect due to a genetic disorder called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, caused by the deletion of a piece of chromosome 22. Due to his condition, the darkhaired, bright-eyed boy from Orland Hills has developmental delays and special needs.

“He’s our only child so he is definitely more spoiled than we planned,” Katie says. This challenging family dynamic is a familiar one with children with special needs, whose parents typically lean toward leniency in the disciplinarian department. Several factors can play a role, ranging from guilt and indecision to fear and self-blame. Should special needs kids be punished as often or as vigorously as kids without special needs? Does their medical condition or health problem allow them to repeatedly misbehave or get away with too much? These are common questions for parents and guardians. “It is important to keep in mind that children do not just misbehave,” says Jessica Schultz, a behavioral specialist at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley. “There is always a reason for a behavior, and it is important to look at the overall child and his or her development.” Typically, when a child’s behavior appears aggressive or non-compliant, a skill or skill set is either delayed or missing. A key rule of thumb to counter such behavior is to think about teaching a replacement behavior. “Consequences do not teach the child,



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them allows a certain behavior, the other but teaching a missing or delayed skill can one shouldn’t do the same. Otherwise, their be quite effective in reducing that behavyoung son will not learn he is in the wrong. ior,” Schultz says. “We try to stay on the For example, a child same page because Jaxson with limited communicacertainly knows what he tion skills may engage in a “All children may can and can’t get away behavior of aggressive hitappear to fight with, like any kid, and he ting to obtain something, will use that to his advanwhether it’s a toy, a snack against rules and tage,” Katie says. or a sibling’s attention. Jaxson is in a mainIn this case, teaching the limits. But they stream kindergarten class child a better way to comwith a resource teacher, municate could be highly desperately want so he is routinely removed effective in reducing that and need those for occupational and behavior. speech therapy. Being “A child who pushes rules and limits to in a school structure has other children on the heightened his awareness playground would bendetermine their of behavioral boundaries. efit from learning how to proper behavior.” It has also heightened his communicate better with parents’ awareness how peers and how to play — Rachel Schwartz they treat him in and out appropriately,” Schultz of their home. says. “These are likely “For instance, some self-help skills that missing skills for this child, and teaching he can do himself,” his mother says. “We them with practice and consistency often do a lot for him because sometimes it’s just reduces or even eliminates this behavior.” easier, and other times he knows he can The Bartaks consciously attempt to balget away with it. While at school, he does ance out each other’s disciplinary duties some of these things on his own.” with Jaxson by being aware that if one of

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Rachel Schwartz, director of social services for JCC Chicago, reminds parents that there is no black-and-white, one-size-fitsall strategy when it comes to disciplining children. The key is to be consistent. Set expectations and be sure that a certain behavior repeatedly elicits a certain response. “All children may appear to fight against rules and limits. But they desperately want and need those rules and limits to determine their proper behavior,” says Schwartz, a mother of three. “They thrive on routine predictability.” With multiple locations in the Chicago area, JCC Chicago serves thousands of young children, teenagers and families with award-winning, lifeenriching programs, classes and experiences. “In the middle of a meltdown or a tantrum, kids can’t often be reached emotionally, so it’s those times before and after the meltdowns that matter,” Schwartz says. It’s important to validate a child’s feelings even if you don’t agree with their related behavior. Acknowledge what they may want or need, or what they think they want or need. When possible, do this before disciplining your child so they feel empathetic responses as well as punitive actions. Schwartz describes it as a “first” and “then” approach. For example, “First we’re going to understand your feelings, and then we’re going to deal with them.” “Keep in mind that you can’t

try a certain discipline strategy once or twice, and then give up on it. You need to give it more time. Be persistent,” she says. Schultz, from Easterseals, adds, “Visual supports such as schedules and to-do lists are also highly effective in providing the necessary structure most children need. These types of supports also make a child’s day more predictable and often help children who have difficulty coping with change.” It’s crucial to figure out the reason behind the child’s behavior and to teach a more appropriate way to get a need met, she notes. Catering to a child’s social or emotional wellbeing may hinge on meeting their basic needs. Maybe they’re hungry or tired or need a bathroom break. In these cases, no amount of discipline will help the situation. “If it’s safe to do, it’s also perfectly OK to simply ignore the child’s behavior, and not to validate it with a reaction,” Schwartz says. Or consider creating a calming area or a safe space in your home for such outbursts. Possibly with soothing sensory materials such as mood lighting, fluffy pillows or soft music. “Not in a punitive way, but in a positive way,” she says. “Remember that they’re watching and listening to everything we do as parents. We need to model our own behavior in proper relation to theirs.” Jerry Davich is a Chicago area dad and writer. ChicagoParent.com |

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Ups for Downs Adaptive Services, Autism Spectrum Disorders . . . . . . . 23 Blind or Visually Impaired. . . . . . . . 26 Camps . . . . . . . . . 27 Deaf or Hearing Impaired... . . . . . . 29 Down Syndrome, Epilepsy, General . 30 Recreation . . . . . . 33 Support . . . . . . . . 35 Disabilities Organizations. . . . 37 Education, Vocational Training/Programs... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

ADAPTIVE SERVICES Extended Home Living Services 210 W. Campus Drive Suite B Arlington Heights (847) 318-3339 ehls.com

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 (877) 275-4907 9207 N. Milwaukee Ave. Niles (877) 275-4907 155 E. North Ave. Villa Park (630) 794-9056 mobilityworks.com

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 rampnow.com

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 alcacenter.org

Nonprofit, full-day, year-round 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 intellectual 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 (773) 552-3810

(312) 420-2093 abctherapyforme.com

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

Autism Spectrum Therapies 670 W. Hubbard St. Suite 200, Chicago (312) 635-8989 3375 Commercial Ave. Northbrook (312) 635-8989 autismtherapies.com

Offers a multidisciplinary approach to helping families live

Autism Home Support Services 85 Revere Drive, Suite B Northbrook 3385 N. Arlington Heights Road, Suite K Arlington Heights (844) 202-8855 autismhomesupport.com

Customized ABA behavior therapy for children with autism and other related disor-

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 ChicagoParent.com. If you are a resource provider and your services are not listed online, e-mail Hillary at hillary@chicagoparent.com with your information.

ChicagoParent.com |

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with autism throughout Chicago and the North Shore. Services include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); individual, couples and family therapy as well as play therapy.

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Main Stay provides Therapeutic Riding, Equine and Animal Assisted Learning, as well as Adaptive Gardening Activities that partners humans with horses and animals to achieve therapeutic benefits.


ders, 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.

Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter 3500 W. Peterson Ave. Suite 204 (224) 567-8573 autismspeaks.org/chicago

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

Behavioral Perspective Inc. 452 N. Eola Road, Suite A Aurora 5375 Route 34, Oswego 3S140 Barkley Ave. Warrenville 9239 S. Route 31 Lake In The Hills (888) 308-3728 behavioralperspectiveaba.com

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 770 Lake Cook Road Suite 203 Deerfield (847) 318-3190

Provides early intervention to treat signs and symptoms of Autism.

Center for Autism & Related Disorders Multiple locations Aurora, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oak Park, O’Fallon, Tinley Park, Westmont (855) 345-2273 chicago.centerforautism.com

CARD’s primary objective is to help each person attain his or her maximum potential in the least restrictive environ-



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Camp Red Kite ment via behaviorallybased 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 thecommunityhouse.org

Provides individual and group occupational, speech and mental health/behavioral therapy for children/ families through a familycentered, 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 autismbehaviorspecialists.com


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.

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

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

Easterseals Autism Programs-Joliet 212 Barney Drive Joliet (815) 725-2194 easterseals.com/joliet

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AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS Offers a wide variety of programming for children with autism spectrum disorders including pediatric physical, 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.

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 eastersealsdfvr.org

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 a diagnosis, initial treatment guidelines and resources. Easterseals also offers a variety of services that address the specific strengths and challenges of children with autism. 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.

Easterseals Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research 1939 W. 13th St., Suite 300 Chicago

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Marklund (312) 491-4110 easterseals.com/chicago

This campus combines educational, therapeutic research, training, school-to-work transition and adult vocational services. The interior features include special acoustic finishes, lighting fixtures and observation rooms in classrooms rooms to help reduce distractions and promote more effective learning. Serves clients 3-22.

Have Dreams 515 Busse Highway, Suite 150 Park Ridge 2020 Dempster St. Evanston (847) 685-0250 (Park Ridge) (847) 905-0702 (Evanston) havedreams.org

Serves children, teens and young adults with autism. Offers individualized after-school programs, vocational, life skills and transition to employment programs, along with diagnostic

and family support services. Programs include Special Olympics, Technology Club and a nationally recognized Film & Multimedia camp. Transition to adult services include Project SEARCH Collaborates for Autism at Northwestern University and Have Dreams Academy, as well as a variety of programs that focus on developing critical soft skills for employment, internship experiences and life skills. Also provides best-practice autism training for professionals and individual and school consultative services.

Helping Hand Center 9649 W. 55th St. Countryside (708) 352-3580 hhcenter.org

Therapeutic Day School for children with autism,

ages 3-21, providing year-round best practice services. Pediatric outpatient clinic for children birth-21 with an array of disabilities and delays, providing occupational, physical, speech and language, and music therapy. Also offers psychotherapy, mental health and diagnostic testing and behavioral services.

Howard Intervention Center 18324 Ashland Ave. Homewood (708)794-6509 howardinterventioncenter.org

Provides home, center and community-based ABA 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).

Little City Foundation Child Bridge Services 1760 W. Algonquin Road Palatine (847) 358-5510 (Palatine) littlecity.org/childbridge

Little Friends Inc.

Provides services for children 21 and under with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, including in-home personal and family supports, clinical and behavior intervention, 24/7 residential services, therapeutic art programs and special needs foster care and adoption services. The ChildBridge Center for Education provides progressive services for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as students with severe and profound needs on the autism spectrum. Also provides employment services and trainChicagoParent.com |

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ing, horticulture, art, recreational opportunities and residential services for young adults. 140 N. Wright St. Naperville (630) 355-6533 littlefriendsinc.org

Operates three schools, vocational training programs, communitybased 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.

PACTT Learning Center 7101 N. Greenview Ave. Chicago (773) 338-9102 pactt.org

Offers educational, residential, and vocational services for people with

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BLIND OR VISUALLY IMPAIRED severe autism and their families. The therapeutic day school focuses on academics, independent living, communication and social interaction for students 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.

gramming for children, individuals and families navigating the lifelong impact of autism.

Turning Pointe Autism Foundation

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

1500 W. Ogden Ave. Naperville (630) 570-7948 turningpointeautismfoundation.org

Offers a therapeutic day school, Career College life skills training, recreational opportunities and individualized pro-



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

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Tourette Syndrome Camp 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

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Chicago (312) 666-1331 chicagolighthouse.org

Provides the highest quality education, clinical, vocational

and rehabilitation services for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired, including deaf-blind 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 supply of adaptive technology.

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CAMPS The Chicago Lighthouse Vision Rehabilitation Center (The Chicago Lighthouse North) 222 Waukegan Road Glenview (847) 510-6200 chicagolighthouse.org

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

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

Provides support information services to parents of visually impaired children.

CAMPS Camp Bradford Woods Indiana University’s Outdoor Center 5040 State Road 67 North Martinsville, Ind. (765) 342-2915 bradwoods.org

Single-day and overnight programs and events for children with special needs and their families.

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Special Olympics Illinois Camp Easterseals Program easterseals.com

As a veteran serviceprovider for children and adults with disabilities, Easterseals offers accessible camping with 140 camping and recreation facilities across the country. Day and residential camp sessions, as well as weekend and afterschool programs, are available.

Camp New Hope 1364 County Road 100 East Neoga, Ill. (217) 895-2341 campnewhopeillinois.org

Accommodates people of widely diverse developmental disabilities ages 8 and up. Wheelchairfriendly facilities include mini-golf, pontoon boat, fishing deck, on-site automatic external defibrillator, playground, sleeping cabins with air conditioning, trails, 3-foot swimming pool

with lift and shaded deck, respite building and the Camp New Hope train. Camps begins the first week of June and run through the last week of July.

Camp Red Kite The Station 100 S. Racine Ave. Chicago (773) 227-0180, ext. 322 chicagochildrenstheatre.org/ campredkite

Provides a high-quality arts experience tailored specifically to the unique interests and needs of children on the autism spectrum. Led by a team of artists, administrators and special needs teachers dedicated to creating a safe, welcoming and comfortable environment for children with autism who enjoy making art. Scholarships available.

Camp Red Leaf -Jewish Council of Youth Services 26710 W. Nippersink

Ingleside (847) 740-5010 jcys.org/camp-red-leaf

For individuals ages 9 and older with disabilities. As the only American Camp Association accredited camp serving both children and adults with disabilities in metropolitan Chicago, Camp Red provides week-long Summer Camp opportunities, Weekend Respite Care and 10-day Travel Camp adventures. The highly adaptable programs strive to increase self-esteem, promote interaction, improve social skills and encourage independence in a natural environment.

Camp Wisconsin Badger 1250 US-151 BUS Platteville, Wis. (608) 348-9689 badgercamp.org

Wisconsin Badger Camp hosts eight one-week sessions and one two-week session specially tailored to meet the needs of each camper with developmental delays.


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Residential summer camp for people with disabilities ages 5 and up. Also offers a twoweek day camp program for children with disabilities age 5-17.

Tourette Syndrome Camp Organization

Highland Park (847) 814-STAR (7827) jcys.org/campstar

A summer treatment program for children entering grades 1-7 with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Related Disorders. The awardwinning seven-week treatment program takes place in a fullday camp setting. Co-sponsored by Jewish Council for Youth Services and University of Illinois at Chicago.

Shady Oaks Camp for People with Disabilities 16300 S. Parker Road Homer Glen (708) 301-0816 ChicagoParent.com |


32405 US-12 Ingleside (773) 465-7536 tourettecampusa.com

Residential camping program is designed for kids 8-16 with a primary diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and to a lesser degree ADD/ADHD. For more information, email: info@tourettecamp.com.

Camp Independence at Camp Duncan 32405 N. Highway 12 Ingleside (847) 546-8086 ymcachicago.org/ independence

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St. Colletta of Illinois An eight-week summer camp program and four weekend retreats throughout the year, serving children and adults with spina bifida. YMCA Camp Independence’s mission is to provide programs that teach life skills, foster independence, build confidence and increase self-esteem.

JCC Chicago Inclusive Camp 30 S. Wells St., Suite 4000 Chicago jccchicago.org

Campers of all abilities are welcome at JCC Chicago’s Inclusive Camp, which has been nationally recognized for including campers with a wide range of learning, developmental, cognitive, social and physical disabilities into the larger camp program. Teamed up with Keshet, a leader in inclusive recreation and education programs, JCC Chicago offers 12 inclusive day and overnight camps to campers with disabilities so they can experience a summer of adventure and friendship with their typically developing peers.

One in a Hundred 2737 Techny Road Northbrook



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(847) 461-9230 oneinahundredprogram.com

Since 2009, One in a Hundred summer camp has created a positive day camp experience by helping children who have challenges establishing and maintaining friendships, such as those diagnosed with high-functioning autism, social communication disorders, attention deficit disorder and anxiety disorders. Camp is for kids entering firsteighth grade and takes place at the Northbrook Covenant Church in Northbrook. Over the five weeks, campers will write and perform their own plays, play sports and enjoy arts and crafts. Campers are placed in groups according to grade and social abilities and the curriculum adapts to the needs of each group.

accommodates children and adults with all types of special needs. Camp Little Giant offers all the best camp activities like arts and crafts, swimming, music, nature hikes, horseback riding, campfires and more. Weeks vary by age and developmental needs.

Tuesday’s Child Summer Camp (773) 423-5055 tuesdayschildchicago.org/ summer-camp

For families struggling with behavior issues, Tuesday’s Child offers a behavioral summer camp for kids 6 and younger. The camp includes visits to parks, fun themes and field trips while offering a low staff-to-child ratio of 4:1 and evidencebased behavioral interventions.

Camp Crossroads

(618) 453-1121 siu.edu/camps-and-retreats/ camp-little-giant

737 S. Halstead St. Chicago (608) 222-7785 ext. 6538 diabetes.org/in-my-community/diabetes-camp/camps/ crossroads.html

Located on the shores of Little Grassy Lake in the Shawnee National Forest of southern Illinois, the camp was established by the founders of Special Olympics in 1953 and

Often children with diabetes feel stripped of their independence, but the one-week day camp, Camp Crossroads in Chicago, offers camping activities for ages 4-9

Camp Little Giant

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DEAF OR HEARING IMPAIRED while developing confidence in caring for their diabetes. Trained certified health professionals and counselors teach campers about insulin, blood sugar testing, exercise and nutrition.

DEAF OR HEARING IMPAIRED AGBMS-AEHI Alexander Graham Bell Montessori School 9300 Capitol Drive Wheeling (847) 850-5490 agbms.org

Provides an oral education program for deaf and hard-of-hearing children using Cued Speech to enhance their ability to acquire age-appropriate literacy

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Easterseals of Joliet skills. Children are mainstreamed with hearing peers and receive support services from licensed teachers of the deaf and speech and language pathologists.

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

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

Serves children and adults who have hearing impairments with addi-

tional handicapping conditions such as mental illness or developmental disabilities.

Child’s Voice 180 Hansen Court Wood Dale

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

Provides parents of children with hearing loss

125 Webster Ave. Jacksonville (217) 479-4200 illinoisdeaf.org

Educates students who are deaf or hard of hearing to be responsible, self-supporting citizens.

Project ReachIllinois Deaf-Blind Services 818 DuPage Blvd. Glen Ellyn (630) 790-2474 philiprockcenter.org/ project-reach

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

Lily Cache Special Recreation Association (LCSRA) 630-739-1124, www.lilycachesra.org

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

Lincolnway Special Recreation Association (LWSRA) 815-320-3500, www.lwsra.org

South Suburban Special Recreation Association (SSSRA) 815-806-0384, www.sssra.org

Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation (M-NASR) 847-966-5522, www.mnasr.org

South West Special Recreation Association (SWSRA) 708-389-9423, www.swsra.com

McDonough County Special Recreation Association (MCSRA) 309-833-4526, www.mcsra.org

Southwestern Illinois Special Recreation Association (SWILSRA) 618-877-3059, www.park.granitecity.com

New Star Recreation Services (NSRS) 708-801-9966, www.newstarrecreationservices.com

Special Recreation Association of Central Lake County (SRACLC) 847-816-4866, www.sraclc.org

Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR) 217-239-1152, www.cuspecialrecreation.com

Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA) 815-459-0737, www.nisra.org

Chicago Park District Special Recreation Dept. 312-742-5798, special.recreation@chicagoparkdistrict.com

Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA) 847-509-9400, www.nssra.org

Fox Valley Special Recreation Association (FVSRA) 630-907-1114, www.fvsra.org

CHOICES for Parents

Illinois School for the Deaf

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

Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association (NEDSRA) 630-620-4500, www.nedsra.org

Decatur Park District Special Recreation Assn. 217-429-7750, www.decatur-parks.org

Child’s Voice helps children with hearing loss learn to listen and speak. Students wear hearing aids and/or cochlear implants and programs use a childfocused, research-based curriculum, all with the end goal of transitioning graduates back to their neighborhood schools. This year, Child’s Voice has supported nearly 400 children from newborn to age 8 and their families.

Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association (KSRA) 779-777-7285, www.kishsra.org

Look for our ad in this magazine.

Northern Will County Special Recreation Association (NWCSRA) 815-407-1819, www.nwcsra.org.org

Gateway Special Recreation Association (Gateway) 630-620-2222, www.ray-graham.org

Northlands Association for Special Recreation (NASR) Belvidere 815-547-5711, www.belviderepark.org Freeport 815-235-6114, www.freeportparkdistrict.org Rockford 815-987-1606, www.rockfordparkdistrict.org

Heart of Illinois Special Recreation Association (HISRA) 309-691-1929, www.hisra.org

Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA) 847-392-2848, www.nwsra.org

Illinois River Valley Special Recreation Association (IRVSRA) 309-347-7275, www.irvsra.org

Oak Lawn Park District/Special Recreation Cooperative 708-857-2200, www.olparks.com River Valley Special Recreation Association (RVSRA) 815-933-7336, www.rivervalleysra.com

Special Recreation Services of Northern Lake County (SRSNLC) Lindenhurst - 847-356-6011, www.lindenhurstparks.org Round Lake - 847-546-8558, www.rlapd.org/programs-specialrecreation.cfm Waukegan - 847-360-4760, www.waukeganparks.org Zion - 847-746-5500, www.zionparkdistrict.com Special Recreation of Joliet and Channahon (SRJC) 815-741-7275 x160, www.jolietpark.org Springfield Park District 217-585-2941, www.springfieldparks.org Veterans Park District/Village of River Grove 708-343-5270, www.veteransparkdistrict.org Warren Special Recreation Association (WSRA) 847-244-6619, www.warrenspecialrec.org Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) 630-681-0962, www.wdsra.com West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA) 847-455-2100, www.wssra.net

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with support, information and resources.

1846 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago (630) 595-8200 childsvoice.org.

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DOWN SYNDROME DOWN SYNDROME Down in the Southland P.O. Box 831 Tinley Park (708) 614-6118 downinthesouthland.org

Down in the Southland is devoted to fostering the development of lifelong educational, social and life skills among individuals with Down syndrome and their families in the southern suburbs of Chicago. Provides educational support and programs that help children increase their future skills.

Hartford Plaza 1070 S. Roselle Road Schaumburg (847) 895-2100 upsfordowns.org

A volunteer parentrun group for families, professionals and people with Down syndrome. Topical 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. See website or email info@upsfordowns.org for more information on activities.

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.

Services include information and support for families at 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.



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Offers body-centered behavioral therapy to kids, parents and families looking for a holistic approach to counseling.

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

3008 Central St., Suite 203 Evanston (800) 278-6101 dannydid.org

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.

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

Offers peer-oriented independent living services; public education, awareness and outreach; individualized and systemic advocacy; and enforcement of civil rights on behalf of people with disabilities. All services are provided at no charge.

Anixter Center 6610 N. Clark St.

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310 Happ Road Suite 205A Northfield (847) 848-0697 chicagodancetherapy.com

Danny Did Foundation

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

Chicago Dance Therapy


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

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 and summer programming.

Ups for Downs

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Special Gifts Theatre Chicago (773) 973-7900 anixter.org

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/AIDS-related disabilities. Advocates for the rights of people with disabilities to be full and equal members of society.

Blue Cap

2155 Broadway St. Blue Island (708) 389-6578 blue-cap.org

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 centerforenrichedliving.org

Fun and learning join forces at the Center for Enriched Living where youth, teens and adults enjoy social, art and recreational programs in Riverwoods and in the community beyond. Offers a summer camp

for teens and young adults, 13-22, as well as day programs for adults.

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

Provides intensive motor training programs based on the principles of conductive education for children with physical disabilities. Conductive education is an intensive method of teaching motor disabled children to be more functionally independent. The motivating, peer-supported program focuses on

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 cssservices.org

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 community 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

| ChicagoParent.com

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GENERAL 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.

family’s needs. Families that meet income guidelines may also get help paying for certain medical expenses. Care coordination services are delivered by teams located throughout the state to help families within their community. Teams are formed based on each family’s needs.

Division of Specialized Care for Children

Institute on Disability and Human Development-UIC Family Clinics

Central Administrative Office 3135 Old Jacksonville Road Springfield (800) 322-3722 722 W. Maxwell St. 3rd Floor, Suite 350 Chicago (312) 433-4114 dscc.uic.edu

University of Illinois at Chicago-Division of Specialized Care for Children provides free

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Institute on Disability 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 clear diagnosis or offering information to learn more about your child’s condition. 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 that meets your

1919 W. Taylor St. Chicago (312) 996-6695 ahs.uic.edu/disability-humandevelopment/institute-ondisability-and-human-development/

UIC Family Clinics serve individuals with developmental disabilities and their families

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across the lifespan. Services include a Hispanic Diagnostic and Family Support program, Early Intervention program and an Autism Clinic.

Keshet: A Rainbow of Hope for Individuals with Special Needs 600 Academy Drive, Suite 130 Northbrook (847) 205-1234 keshet.org

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.

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We can help give your special child special attention in a custody case. Marilyn previously practiced special education law, giving her insights and sensitivity to the needs of special children.

Give us a call for a free consultation regarding your family law issues.


Dissolution | Custody | Support | Paternity

Lexi Kazian Foundation-Helping From Heaven 21760 W. Washington St. Grayslake (847) 624-LEXI (5394) helpingfromheaven.org

Helps network families through fun events for the child with special needs that the whole family will enjoy. Also runs Lexi’s Closet, a place to request therapy equipment that parents can’t get from their insurance company, are waiting to get delivered or are not sure might work for their child. Also accepts gently used therapy equipment to share with others.


111 W. Washington St. Suite 1625 Chicago, IL 60602


1301 West 22nd St. Suite 603 Oak Brook, IL 60523

630-954-1480 (by appointment only)



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Photo by Frank Pinc

GiGi’s Playhouse

1S450 Wyatt Drive Geneva, 164 S. Prairie Ave. Bloomingdale 1435 Summit St. Elgin (630) 593-5500 (Geneva) (630) 5292871 (Bloomingdale) (224) 523-7530 (Elgin) marklund.org

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: specialized education and life skills training for children with medical, developmental and physical disabilities, and those on the Autism Spectrum.

MidAmerica Service Dogs’ Foundation 7420 S. County Line Road, Ste. 9 Burr Ridge (630) 272-8159 midamericaservicedogs.com

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 chil-

dren, 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 envisionunlimited.org

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

New Star 1005 W. End Ave. Chicago Heights 25930 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Crete 1624 E. 154th St. Dolton (708) 755-8030 newstarservices.org

Community service agency that provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities who reside in Southeast Cook County, Northeast Will County and Northwest Indiana.

Oak Leyden Developmental Services 411 Chicago Ave.

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RECREATION Oak Park (708) 524-1050 oak-leyden.org

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

Pioneer Center 4031 W. Dayton McHenry (815)344-1230 pioneercenter.org

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.

Ray Graham Association 901 Warrenville Road, Suite 500 Lisle (630) 620-2222 raygraham.org

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 developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy and autism receive vocational, residential, educational, respite, therapeutic and recreational services and supports at 35 locations in DuPage County.

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

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Have Dreams 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.

St. Coletta of Illinois 18350 Crossing Drive Suite 103 Tinley Park (708) 342-5246 stcolettail.org

Provides early childhood through high school education. The school program serves about

80 students who are developmentally disabled or autistic. The Vocational Training Center, in Tinley Park, 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 and become productive members of society. The program consists of 30 groups homes within 15 southwest suburban communities of Chicago.

Suburban Access Inc.-SAI 900 Maple Ave., 3rd floor Homewood (708) 799-9190 1 Westbrook Corporate Center, Suite A-820 Westchester (708) 499-7257 subacc.org

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

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

Trinity serves 3,500 children and adults who have developmental disabilities or mental illness needs. Services for people with developmental disabilities include residential options, Trinity 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.

V.I.P Service Dog Foundation P.O. Box 851 Oswego (866) 439-3362


Trains service and companion dogs for the disabled.

RECREATION Chicago Children’s Museum Navy Pier 700 E. Grand Ave. Chicago (312) 527-1000 chicagochildrensmuseum.org

The museum hosts its Play For All program, which provides families with children with special needs a chance to visit the museum early and play in a quiet, more manageable setting. Opens at 9 a.m. for the pre-registered guests and offers a quiet room with special lighting. Museum opens to the public at 10 a.m. The first 250 to register (limit six per family) receive free admission.

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

A therapist supported program that offers specialized and inclusive ChicagoParent.com |

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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.

KEEN: Kids Enjoy Exercise Now P.O. Box 06255 Chicago (312) 876-2535 keenchicago.org

Nonprofit, volunteerled 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. Programs take place at UIC Sport and Fitness Center, UIC East Campus, Loyola Park, Alcott College Prep High School and Sky High Sports.

Right Fit Sport Fitness Wellness 7850 S. Quincy St. Willowbrook (630) 850-4050

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RECREATION 1045 S. LaGrange Road LaGrange (708) 639-4199 10498 163rd Place, Unit B Orland Park (630) 738-2728 right-fit.com

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. Right Fit is a partner with PAK (ProActive Kids), training youths who struggle with obesity and providing support to the families.

School of Performing Arts Spectrum Program 1112 S. Washington, Suite 100 Naperville (630) 717-6622 schoolofperformingarts.com

Workshops in music, theater, dance and visual arts geared toward children with special needs. Also offers summer camps for children with special needs.

Second City Improv for ASD 1616 N. Wells St. Chicago (312) 337-3992 secondcity.com/training/ chicago

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 relationships and social cues.

Sky High Sports 2244 Corporate Lane Naperville 6424 Howard St. Niles (630) 717-5867 (Naperville) (847) 801-5867 (Niles) nil.jumpskyhigh.com nap.jumpskyhigh.com

Once a month, Sky High Sports turns off the music and dials down the distractions for special jumpers. One court remains especially quiet for kids with sensory disorders who need an extra peaceful environment. Even children with physical disabilities can join the fun. A parent can take a child out of the wheelchair and to lie on the trampoline. Then mom or dad jumps, gently bouncing the child on the trampoline. Jumps are held from 3-6 p.m. the first Tuesday of

All-In Swim at Bernard Weinger JCC each month. Cost is $5 for three hours for the special jumper with a free parent or therapist. Siblings, friends and others who jump are also $5.

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

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.

Photo by Thomas Kubik

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

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

Transforming Young Lives Special Needs children usually have irregular brainwave patterns. Early treatment started with Neurofeedback can re-balance those brainwave patterns, and help normal development succeed.

Call The Discovery Clinic in Glenview at 847-901-0909 to schedule a consultation or an evaluation. www.thediscoveryclinic.com 34


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| ChicagoParent.com

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SUPPORT Chicago area.

Special Olympics Illinois Young Athletes Program (630) 942-5610 (309) 888-2551 soill.org/young-athletes

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. For information about starting a Young Athletes program in your home, school or community, contact youngathletes@soill.org.

Special Recreation Associations in Illinois specialrecreation.org

The Special Recreation Associations Network of Illinois (SRANI) is a network of therapeutic recreation agencies that provides communitybased 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 playforalldupage.org

The Sensory Garden Playground is a combination of sensoryintegrated playground equipment and amenities along with gardening areas. Includes a 2-5-year-old playground area, fragrance garden and sound garden.

Therapy Yoga Gymnastics Rocks

Provided by Shriners

Ethan is thriving in treatments at Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago. Locations in Chicago, Libertyville, Niles and Northbrook (773) 991-7316 therapygymnastics.com

Provides pediatric Occupational and Physical Therapy in fun gymnastic and yoga centers. Certified therapists create fun individualized sessions that use gymnastics equipment and yoga activities to improve physical, social, cognitive and life skills

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

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, an annual summer and holiday party, 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 independentfutures.com

A not-for-profit organization 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 frcd.org

Provides information and support for families, free seminars, Youth Advocacy

Project and Parent-ToParent Training Project.

(847) 392-4840 theorchardarlingtonheights. org

Illinois Parents of Adults with Developmental Disabilities (IPADD) Unite

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 1301 S. Grove Ave., Barrington, (847) 852-2200, theorchardbarrington.org and Itasca, 716 E. George St. Itasca, (630) 7731883, theorcharditasca. org.

3104 Treesdale Court Naperville (630) 922-3232 ipaddunite.org facebook.com/IPADDUnite

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

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

Not-for-profit dedicated to helping families with ChicagoParent.com |

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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.

South Chicago Parents & Friends 10241 S. Commercial Ave. Chicago (773) 734-2222 scpf-inc.org

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

Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters 3800 N. Lake Shore Drive, #3E Chicago (708) 989-3619 sibsnetwork.org

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Camp Lee Mar Camp LeeMar Mar Camp Lee

2019 Dates: June 22-August 9

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



SpecÄąal Parent Winter 2019 CHICAGO

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| ChicagoParent.com

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Therapy Yoga Gymnastics Rocks 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 info@sibsnetwork.org.

The Apraxia Connection theapraxiaconnection.org

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.


families. Offers such services as career training, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Association for Individual Development (AID) 309 W. New Indian Trail Court Aurora (630) 966-4000 aidcares.org

Nonprofit, communitybased organization serving more than 5,000 people throughout 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.

Aspire Kids Chicago

Esperanza Community Services

3235 W. Montrose Ave. Chicago (773) 878-7868 aspirechicago.com

520 N. Marshfield Ave. Chicago (312) 243-6097 esperanzacommunity.org

Provides an innovative, family-centered approach to inclusive education and community life that supports kids with disabilities and their

Nonprofit organization that provides instruction and services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, including autism and

Photo by Thomas Kubik

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 i-sba.org

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

Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois 10101 S. Roberts Road, Suite 205 Palos Hills (708) 430-7532 ldaillinois.org

Serves families of people with learning disabilities throughout Illinois.

Park Lawn Association ChicagoParent.com |

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VOCATIONAL TRAINING/PROGRAMS 10833 S. LaPorte Ave. Oak Lawn (708) 425-3344 parklawn.com

Non-profit 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.

Pathways.org 355 E. Erie St. Chicago (800) 955-2445 pathways.org

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. Pathways.org materials (brochures, handouts, videos, etc.) are available on its website.

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

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

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

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, multi-faceted approach designed to address each child’s specific deficiencies while combining proper nutritional guidance.

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

City Elementary

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.

1100 E. Hyde Park Blvd. Chicago (872) 240-2489 cityelementary.org

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 helpforld.com

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

Easterseals Gilchrist - Marchman Child Development Center 1939 W. 13th St., Suite 300 Chicago 312-491-4110 chicago.easterseals.com

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 elimcs.org

Elim Christian School

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

Safe Haven School 906 Muir Ave. Lake Bluff (847) 604-3903 safehavenschool.org

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 soaringeagleacademy.org

A not for profit, Illinois State Board of Education-approved therapeutic day school for students ages 3 through 21, with autism and disorders of relating and communicating.

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

A private K-12 day school that serves students with learning disabilities. Children from diverse backgrounds receive an individualized educational experience.

Division of Specialized Care 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.

sion, knowledge and respect for children of all abilities.

The Lily Garden Child Care Center

515 Busse Hwy. Park Ridge (847) 292-0870 avenuestoindependence.org

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

The Lily Garden provides child care services for children six weeks through six years of age in a nurturing environment where children learn and grow together. The Lily Garden is committed to fostering independence, compas-


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 donkainc.org

Provides computer train-

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ing that teaches disabled students who demonstrate special accessibility requirements and lowincome levels how to use computers to read, write, continue an education or advanced skills needed for the workplace.

HarrysButtons.com Easterseals Metropolitan Chicago 17300 Ozark Ave. Tinley Park (708) 802-9050 harrysbuttons.com

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 sup-

| ChicagoParent.com

2/28/19 12:07 PM

Spring Sports Thrills • Character Visits • Bounce Houses Train RidesObstacle Courses • Entertainment Stage all ages welcome!

Sunday, April 28 • 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Athletico Center • Northbrook 1900 Old Willow Rd., Northbrook, IL 60062

Discover Chicago Parent Marketplace! Shop at a dozen small retailer booths as part of the fun!

Thanks to our Sponsors!

Visit ChicagoParent.com/playdate for advance tickets and info! ChicagoParent.com |

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Specıal Parent Winter 2019 CHICAGO



3/1/19 12:33 PM


Photos courtesy of the Chicago Bulls

Dallas Wayne Hardrick didn’t tell anyone about his cerebral palsy when he applied to the Chicago Bulls Kid Talent Search.

Beating the odds

Young drummer with cerebral palsy wins Chicago Bulls Talent Search BY LORI ORLINSKY


hen he was a baby, Dallas Wayne Hardrick was inconsolable, crying for countless hours at a time. Dallas was born premature at 28 weeks and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy following a brain hemorrhage that left him with the loss of sensory nerves and poor muscle tone.



Specıal Parent Winter 2019 CHICAGO

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His mom, Tina PageHardrick, remembers those tough days, having attempted “everything imaginable” to soothe her son. A swear-by tactic for many parents, she tried driving him around in the car in hopes that he’d fall asleep. But funny enough, Tina discovered it wasn’t the motion that calmed Dallas down, it was the music. “There was something unique about sounds and music that captured his attention, and it

Dallas Wayne Hardrick Favorite drummer: Quest Love Favorite genres: Blues, Christian, Hip hop What I want people to know about me: I’m not just the kid with cerebral palsy What I do when I’m not drumming: Play basketball for the Special Olympics

became the best therapy for him when he was agitated,” she says of her now 10-year-old son.

| ChicagoParent.com

2/28/19 12:31 PM

“I wasn’t scared at all. I always knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.” — Dallas Wayne Hardrick

While Dallas was delayed in walking, Tina says her son would desperately try knee walking to the kitchen as a toddler to get his hands on the pots, pans and spoons to make a beat. Shortly after, everything became a drum to Dallas, from the living room tables to the floor. His love for drumming has only gotten stronger with age. Dallas, now a fourth-grader who lives in Bolingbrook, won the 2018 Chicago Bulls Kid Talent Search. The contest is for musicians and singers, and Dallas was selected by fan applause to win the grand prize of $1,000. After submitting an essay and audition videos, he performed twice at a Bulls game halftime show, trading in his home and church stages for the United Center, playing Bruno Mars “That’s What I Like” in front of more than 20,000 fans. In an effort to be judged on his ability, Dallas did not disclose his disability when applying for the contest. “I wasn’t scared at all,” says Dallas, who plays music entirely by ear. “I always knew I wanted to do this for the rest

of my life.” In addition to taking home the Chicago Bulls Kid Talent Search title, Dallas received VIP treatment leading up to his performance. The day before, his

school declared “Dallas Day,” encouraging kids to dress up in Bulls clothing to support him. On the day of the game, Dallas had more than 60 of his own fans at the game supporting

him. He also toured the locker room and watched the players take the court. “It was the coolest day ever,” Dallas says. While Dallas is thriving through music, he’s right side hemiplegia, receiving physical therapy for balance issues, (one of his arms and legs is longer than the other) and therapy for ADHD. He attends PAEC Elementary School in Hillside, a special needs school. “When we got the diagnosis, even though we didn’t know what the developmental outcome would be, we decided to push him to his full potential,” Tina says. “I want people to see that he’s able and not a label.” What’s next for Dallas? “I want to be a celebrity drummer and design my own drum set and drum stick line,” says Dallas, who has recently picked up beatboxing and playing the bass guitar and congas. “I know I have cerebral palsy, but cerebral palsy doesn’t have me.” Follow Dallas’s latest beats on Instagram at @dallas_da_drummer214.

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Specıal Parent Winter 2019 CHICAGO



3/1/19 12:23 PM


YOU THINK SOMETHING MAY BE WRONG. THE ANSWER IS NOT STARING YOU IN THE FACE. Avoiding eye contact is one early sign of autism. Learn the others today at autismspeaks.org/signs. Early diagnosis can make a lifetime of difference.

T:10” T:10”

© 2013 Autism Speaks Inc. “Autism Speaks” and “It’s time to listen” & design are trademarks owned by Autism Speaks Inc. All rights reserved. The person depicted is a model and is used for illustrative purposes only.

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© 2013 Autism Speaks Inc. “Autism Speaks” and “It’s time to listen” & design are trademarks owned by Autism Speaks Inc. All rights reserved. The person depicted is a model and is used for illustrative purposes only.

2/28/19 12:39 PM

Profile for Chicago Parent

Chicago Special Parent, Winter 2019  

An empowerment guide for Chicago area parents with children with special needs

Chicago Special Parent, Winter 2019  

An empowerment guide for Chicago area parents with children with special needs


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