W I N T E R 2019
MOM NEXT DOOR
WHITNEY KIELWASSER FIVE THINGS TO DO THIS WINTER
FIND THE RIGHT SITTER PUBLISHED BY
V O L . 11 I S S U E N O. 4
CHANGES TO MEDICAID, SPECIAL ED + MORE
Early Intervention Program 2–5 yrs old
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(school-aged) 7–10 yrs old
Maintenance Program (school-aged) 8–13 yrs old
COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY (CBT) • • • • • •
APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS (ABA) • • • • • •
PLAY THERAPY • • • • • •
SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING AND PROBLEM SOLVING • • • • • •
THERAPEUTIC GAMES AND BOOKS • • • • • •
SOLUTION FOCUSED • • • • • •
PARENTING/BEHAVIOR SOLUTIONS—PARENT TRAINING AND COACHING We serve children whose diagnoses may include Autism, ADHD, ADD, OCD and ODD LOCATIONS IN FLOWER MOUND, GRAPEVINE & TROPHY CLUB Office: (972) 410-5297 | Fax: (972) 410-5270 | abc-pediatrics.com
Special Needs D F WCH I L D
formerly Thrive Magazine
TABLE OF CONTENTS
W I N T E R 2 01 9
Departments TAKE NOTE
5 Sitter Search
Questions to ask a potential caregiver
Fort Worth mom Bethany Thomas created a Bible study book specifically for moms of kids with disabilities 6 Not Alone Julie Hornok is bringing together moms of kids with autism 6 Quotable in the News Dallas has a new league for kids with all abilities
ABOVE // Adoptive mom, Whitney Kielwasser has become an expert on fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, page 9.
16 Legal Aid
The new Texas laws that affect your family words Carrie Steingruber
Column 30 Confessions / Mom Truths
Funny and heartwarming parenting moments to get you through the week
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Nick Prendergast
REAL MOMS 9 Mom Next Door / Whitney Kielwasser
After failed fertility treatment and a long adoption process, the Dallas mom faced another challenge: fetal alcohol syndrome disorder 12 5 Things ... / Care Package Where our Mom Next Door goes for family time and “me” time 14 Mommy Diary / Jenni Jensen The founder of Hope Park balances volunteering, working and caring for two kids with disabilities and differences ID CULTURE K 21 Five Things To Do Special needs–friendly events for the family in November, December and January
DIRECTORY 22 Special Needs Resources
Listings every family should have at their fingertips
staff box Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Joylyn Niebes
Creative + Content Director PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK PRENDERGAST; ©ISTOCK
Heather Vance Devers
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Carrie Steingruber MANAGING EDITOR Elizabeth Quinn FREELANCE ASSISTANT EDITOR Maya Butler
CALENDAR EDITOR Elizabeth Smith DIGITAL EDITOR Sydney Blalock Ritchie EDITORIAL INTERN Emily Yearwood
CONTRIBUTING DESIGNER Lesley Busby GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Susan Horn, Ariana Leyva
CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT LARGE Lauren Niebes
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Diana Whitworth Nelson ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Alison Davis, Kristen Gramling, Mendy Lea, Nancy McDaniel, Sandi Tijerina ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Alli Renner
AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Candace Emerson MARKETING ASSISTANT Tran-Anh Le
BUSINESS MANAGER Leah Wagner ACCOUNTING Jeanie Vance
DFWChild Special Needs is published four times a year by Lauren Publications, Inc. Address: 4275 Kellway Circle, Ste. 146, Addison, TX, 75001. Phone: 972/447-9188. Fax: 972/447-0633. Online: dfwchild.com/specialneeds. DFWChild Special Needs is distributed free of charge, one copy per reader. Only DFWChild Special Needs authorized distributors may deliver or pick up the magazines. We reserve the right to edit, reject or comment editorially on all material contributed. We cannot be responsible for the return of any unsolicited material. DFWChild Special Needs is ©2019 by Lauren Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without express written permission prohibited.
an exhibition that dares to be different...
OPENS NOVEMBER 10
T I C K E T S A N D M O R E AT D M A . O R G
Ini Archibong, rendering of theoracle, ÂŠ 2019
speechless: different by design is co-organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Additional support provided by The Bonnie Pitman Education Endowment to Do Something New. The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Members and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.
BEYOND BASIC CARE
Sitter Search how to find the right caregiver WORDS BILLY CUCHENS
T’S HARD TO FIND A BABYSITTER when we have four kids, three of whom have various and multiple medical diagnoses. We have some local extended family, but we try to use them sparingly. “They sure are a lot of work,” they tell us when the kids have spent the night over. “We live with them 24/7,” we want to say. “We’re very aware of this.” I remember a few months back when the kids spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. On the car ride home, I asked the kids what they did. “We watched TV,” one of the kids said. My wife, Laurie, and I waited for someone to elaborate. “What else?” Laurie finally asked. The kids gave each other confused looks, but no one said anything. “Well, what did you all have for dinner?” “Pizza.” “What about breakfast?” “Doughnuts.” “Well, did you guys have fun?” “I guess.”
I looked at Laurie and whispered, “This isn’t exactly what I had in mind when your mom offered to watch the kids.” FAMILIAR FACES
No matter how well-meaning, potential sitters—including family members—might not know how to both watch your child and nurture their development. “It’s important to find a hands-on caregiver,” adds Kimberly Downing, a local mother of three and elementary school assistant principal. “Every day I see kids whose development and creative thinking has been hindered by obvious signs of too much television. I urge parents to find babysitters who will stimulate their children, which will then impact their cognitive abilities.” She recommends asking sitters questions like “What’s your plan for the evening?” to find out whether they will encourage your child to play instead of watching TV. Make toys, books and sensory items available. The Vetting Process Lately, we don’t ask the As a hiring manager, I became a grandparents to babysit overhuge fan of behavioral interview night. We’ll ask for less stressquestions, which encourage apful help, like taking the kids plicants to give real-life examples to football practice or picking of past behaviors. Use questions them up for school. like these to vet a potential sitter: A few weeks back, we were triple-booked with the kids, so • “Tell me about your experience while Laurie chauffeured one kid and background.” Ask for speacross town and I took another, cific details like the gender, age and diagnoses of the kids they’ve we asked Laurie’s dad to watch the other two at the house for a cared for in the past. couple of hours. When we got • “What are your career goals?” back, we asked the kids what Look for answers like studying they did with Grandpa. child development in college or “He taught me chess!” going into pediatrics. Jayden said. • “Do you have training in first “We’ve been playing it the aid and CPR?” whole time!” Vivi added. • “Tell me about a time you had “Wow,” I said, looking at to make a split-second decision.” my 12- and 11-year-old. “It • “Tell me about a time you had never occurred to me that they to care for a difficult child. What were ready for chess.” were some of the tools you used to connect with the child?”
We frequently hear from other parents of kids with special needs that they can’t leave their kids with just anyone. “In my circle of friends, we take turns babysitting each other’s kids,” says Stephanie Hanrahan, whose daughter Campbell and son Eli are on the autism spectrum. You can also turn to other adults who are familiar with your child and their behavior. “I also have a group of professionals who babysit,” Hanrahan reveals. “Therapists and teachers have offered, and they’re great because they got into their field because of their heart for kids.” START SHORT
“Caregiver fatigue is alive and well in the special needs community,” adds Hanrahan. “Bedtime and meal times can be very stressful for parents as well as babysitters, so maybe hire someone for a brunch or something simple and short. This is also an ideal way to test a new or younger caregiver.”
It’s crucial that we put ourselves out there to find likeminded people who will care for our kids. As parents, we don’t get many breaks, so the ones we get are important for our mental health. But really, it’s our kids who benefit the most. They will live richer lives when they have access to safe caregivers who bring new learning opportunities. Besides babysitting apps and services, there are other resources where connections can be made, like parents’ groups and family nights at church (turn to page 22 for a list of church-based respite nights), school and preschool PTAs, and social media groups. Wherever you find good care, the break will be worth it, for both you and your children. dfwchild.com
tn: I N
WORDS ELIZABETH QUINN + SYDNEY BLALOCK RITCHIE
Sports for All
Since chronicling a day in her life for our magazine in 2015, Julie Hornok founded UNITED IN AUTISM, a nonprofit that started as a book, to encourage moms of kids with special needs to take care of themselves. We caught up with the Plano mom, who is married to Greg, and has three kids: Andrew, 18, Lizzie, 16, and Noah, 13. Lizzie was diagnosed with autism after her second birthday and is nonverbal. Special Needs: Since your mommy diary in 2015, what have you been up to? Julie Hornok: So much! Once Lizzie began progressing, I had the time and energy to give what I wished I had when Lizzie was young. Through the National Autism Association of North Texas, I spearheaded an emotional support event for moms in the trenches of autism. Together with a fantastic team, we pampered and connected them with other moms who became their lifelines in this journey. SN: Why did you start writing United in Autism? JH: Every year we did the emotional
support event, I searched for the perfect book to give as a take-home gift, but I couldn’t find it, so I wrote it. I interviewed inspirational autism parents ... and shared their stories in the book, United in Autism: Finding Strength Inside the Spectrum. The format is written with the special-needs mom in mind… short stories of daily inspiration and understanding that can easily be read while hiding in the bathroom with some Oreos. The book enabled me to start the nonprofit, United in Autism, and bring these events all over the country. SN: What does autism mean to you? JH: When Lizzie was first diagnosed, autism meant a roadblock keeping me from living my real life. I worked desperately hard to “fix” her, so our family could get back to the life I thought I deserved. Now, over 14 years later, I see autism as a different way of thinking that challenges us to slow down, open our minds to others’ perspectives and show kindness in a world that has become indifferent. Find out more at unitedinautism.com.
In September, three Dallas moms formed a new chapter of THE MIRACLE LEAGUE, so we asked two Miracle League athletes about how much they enjoy being able to play team sports. Colin and “I was sad that I Chance both couldn’t play on have autism, and they face the basketball team at school. I love daily social, behavioral and Miracle League communication because I get to play, and it inspires challenges.
me to get better.” Heather Gregg, Paula —Colin Forde, 15 Willard (Chance’s “It’s fun, and I like mom) and Caroline Demers shooting and passing the ball to started the my friends.” chapter after —Chance Willard, 15 realizing there was a serious need for kids with special needs to be able to play sports like their friends. The league’s first season kicked off in October with basketball. Learn more at miracleleagueofdallas.com.
Feeling drained as a mom of kids with special needs (a 13-year-old daughter with epilepsy and 10-year-old son with autism), Fort Worth mom Bethany Thomas found hope in a Bible study group. But after being unable to find materials tailored to moms like her, she published her own Bible study this June. Titled BLESSED BE, the book is for moms who come from an “anything-but-typical” home, whether their kid has a disability, mental health challenge or other difference. Thomas says she created the book to revive the emptiness and lifelessness in a woman’s soul—emotionally, physically, financially and more. The book is designed to help women discover their higher purpose through ten weekly lessons with fill-in answers and group discussion questions, as well as daily journaling. Blessed Be by Bethany Thomas, $12.99 // bethanythomasministries.com
6 special needs
PHOTOS COURTESY OF JULIE HARNOK; CARRIANNE PHOTOGRAPHY; BETHANY THOMAS; CHELSI VANSLYKE; ©ISTOCK
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Mom Next Door Whitney Kielwasser WORDS KELLY WOOLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY NICK PRENDERGAST
ESTLED IN THE CORNER OF
White Rock Coffee, Whitney Kielwasser bravely tells the story of how she and her husband fulfilled their dream of becoming parents. She hasn’t told the story in a while, so as she reveals the details of their long journey towards parenthood, she’s understandably emotional.
A LOOK INSIDE
It’s a combination of sad and happy tears as she talks about her daughter Maria’s diagnosis and reflects upon the tiny miracles they celebrate each day. Kielwasser and her husband endured eight years of failed fertility treatments (one round of intrauterine insemination, two rounds of in vitro fertilization) and several trips to Ukraine to finally become adoptive parents to 2 ½-year-old Maria. The story doesn’t end there. After Kielwasser and her husband brought Maria back to the United States, they discovered their new daughter had fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD), something the adoption agency in Ukraine was not aware of. More than 10 years later, despite all the hardships, Kielwasser has taken Maria’s diagnosis in
stride and is now an expert on FASD.
Special Needs: Did you always know you wanted to be a mom? Whitney Kielwasser:
Yes, absolutely, that’s why we tried for so long.
“I’m always wondering whether I’m doing what’s best for her.”
SN: After the failed fertility treatments, did you want to give up trying? WK: No, it
wasn’t really a consideration. We just knew that our next step was adoption and luckily had some other friends who had already gone down that path.
SN: You adopted Maria from Ukraine instead of someone in the United States, why was that? WK:
When we decided to adopt, we started looking locally and thought we would foster to adopt. The process was intense, but it just didn’t work out for us. The idea of adopting internationally became appealing because we wanted to be free from any local ties with the birth parents.
AGE 54 HAILS FROM Baton Rouge LIVES IN The Preston Hollow area of Dallas ALMA MATER Louisiana State University SIGNIFICANT OTHER Her husband of 30 years, who came to LSU on a wrestling scholarship OFFSPRING Maria, 12 PREVIOUS CAREER Worked in the title business CURRENT CAREER Part-time Pilates instructor at the YMCA and part-time assistant to a real estate agent DON’T HOLD IT AGAINST HER She’s an LSU and Saints fan
rm: M O M
SN: What led you to adopt in Ukraine? WK: We knew someone who had adopted a
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SN: What were your specifications? WK:
I didn’t really care about gender, but my husband really wanted a girl. We both wanted her to be as young and healthy as possible. SN: You mentioned the adoption process took four years, why was that? WK: Well, it
took several visits over there to visit with the agency, and then there is a ton of paperwork, called your dossier, that you have to fill out when adopting. The dossier has strict timelines it has to be reviewed within, and we had the deadline run out on us several times. SN: When you brought Maria home, did you suspect that she had any health conditions? WK: The agency in Ukraine had told
us Maria had rickets, which is caused by a vitamin D deficiency, but that was all. SN: When did you discover that Maria had FASD? WK: Our first visit to our
pediatrician. He looked at her and immediately suspected FASD because of some of Maria’s facial features that are common with the diagnosis. He referred us to a geneticist who confirmed the diagnosis. SN: How much did you know about FASD at the time? WK: Nothing but I
immediately began doing my research. There’s not a whole lot of awareness about FASD in the community. SN: Were you angry or resentful about Maria’s diagnosis? WK: No, not really. I
SN: What are the qualities of someone with FASD? WK: FASD causes brain damage,
which leads to developmental and emotional delays and oftentimes, many challenging behaviors. Maria’s impulsive and doesn’t understand consequences. It can be impossible to reason with her. She’s also very distractible and can have big mood swings. But, she’s so physically healthy and strong, and we’re so grateful for that. SN: How have you coped with Maria’s diagnosis. WK: I’m hard on myself. I’m
always wondering whether I’m doing what’s best for her. It can be easy to go negative winter 2019
SN: What is day-to-day life like with Maria? WK: It’s very uncertain. I’m always on
edge because I don’t know how she’s going to react in certain situations. We went to CVS the other day, and she got scared by some stuffed animals and had a meltdown, so we immediately had to leave. SN: You changed Maria’s birthday four years after bringing her home—why is that? WK: She was just so developmentally
delayed, we wanted to give her a chance to catch up. I researched and learned it wasn’t the first time adoptive parents had done that before. So, we readopted her through Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth and changed her birthday from Nov. 15, 2005, to Nov. 15, 2007.
SN: What will Maria’s future look like? WK: It’s so uncertain. She will definitely need
“SHE’S ASKED ME WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER BEFORE AND I TELL HER NOTHING.”
had much more resentment and anger when we were going through the fertility process. Ukraine is a beautiful country, but it’s so impoverished, and the people there just don’t have the resources or education like we do. I don’t think they had any idea there was so much wrong with her/
10 s p e c i a l n e e d s
because of all the uncertainties of what her future will look like. I have to remember to focus on the joy of the little things.
long-term assistance. We have made a will and made my niece the executor so she can make decisions for Maria once we are gone.
SN: Have you connected with other parents whose children have FASD? WK:
We have. There’s an FASD parent support group that’s held every month. The children are much older than Maria, so it can be tough to hear about the struggles their children are having, like running away or getting in trouble with the law. SN: Before having Maria, did you envision having a large family? WK:
Not really. The process to get her took so long that we figured we would just have one. We had told the agency we would take siblings if they were available. Sometimes I do wish Maria had a sibling because I think it would help with her social skills. SN: Do you think Maria knows she’s different? WK: Yes, and it makes my heart so
heavy. She’s asked me what’s wrong with her before, and I tell her nothing. I struggle with that. I haven’t sat her down yet and explained her diagnosis, but I do want her to have a better understanding.
SN: Does Maria know she’s adopted? WK:
Yes, we talk about going back to visit. But
there’s no deep thinking from her there; she’s never asked about her mom. SN: How do you balance two part-time jobs and being a mom? WK: I have worked
really hard to make them manageable. Maria is in school all day, so I teach my classes at the YMCA in the mornings, and my job as an assistant to a real estate agent is very flexible.
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5 THINGS ...
Care Package Whitney Kielwasser shares her self-care spots and offers advice to other special needs parents INTERVIEW KELLY WOOLEY
HER HAPPY HOUR SPOTS
“I love my girlfriend time. We like to try different spots. Just tried Shinsei, and it was really good. We also like Dunston’s and Cantina Laredo’s happy hour.” SHINSEI RESTAURANT //
HER PARENTING REMINDERS
7713 Inwood Road, Dallas; 214/352-0005; shinseirestaurant.com DUNSTON’S STEAK HOUSE // 5423 W. Lovers Lane, Dallas; 214/352-8320; 8526 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas; 214/637-3513; dunstonssteakhouse.com CANTINA LAREDO // Multiple locations; cantinalaredo.com
HER LATEST REASON TO CELEBRATE
“MARIA IS TAKING THE BUS TO SCHOOL THIS YEAR, WHICH IS A HUGE STEP FOR HER TOWARDS MORE INDEPENDENCE.”
I HAVE TO REMIND MYSELF THAT IT’S A SLOW PROCESS WITH MARIA, AND EVERYTHING JUST TAKES A LITTLE LONGER. BE PATIENT.
12 s p e c i a l n e e d s
HER FAMILY TIME RECIPE
HER SELF-CARE ROUTINES
“I recently started going to the movies by myself, and I love it. And I love anything exercise-related, whether it’s the Pilates classes that I teach or riding my bike to clear my mind on the Northaven Trail. I also love to read.” NORTHAVEN TRAIL // northaventrail.org
“We just enjoy doing simple things together. It’s actually nice for us not to have plans on the weekend. We do enjoy getting pizza at Campisi’s as a family.” CAMPISI’S // Multiple locations; campisis.uscantinalaredo.com
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARTER ROSE; PHOTO COURTESY OF CANTINA LAREDO; ILLUSTRATION BY ARIANA LEYVA
“I try to keep things simple and remember that whatever behavior she’s exhibiting is not her fault.”
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A Day in the Life of Jenni Jensen
Frisco mom Jenni Jensen and husband Mike have four kids—Will, 19, Grace, 18, Andrew, 14, and Nora, 13, who has Down syndrome. Nora was the inspiration for Frisco’s Hope Park, the inclusive playground that Jensen founded in 2010; now Jensen owns and runs brickLAB, a toy store and makerspace.
14 s p e c i a l n e e d s
AM I wake up and move to the family room sofa to watch a few hours of Netflix. Right now, I am hooked on a show called It’s a Miracle. 5:45AM Get out clothes for the day, take a fast shower, and start getting myself ready for the day— all while listening to Kid Rock! 6:45AM Let our 7-month-old puppies outside. They jump all over me and act like they haven’t seen me for years. I wake my daughter Nora to help her get ready for school. She has Down syndrome and had a stroke when she was 6 and lost most of the use of her right arm. 7:20AM It’s time to wake Andrew. He sleeps like a log, so this is just the first wake-up call. 7:25AM Second wake-up call. 7:30AM I am now annoyed; third wakeup call. 7:35AM Let the knucklehead puppies in the house. Time for Nora’s grooming routine. Wrestle hair (big knots) into a ponytail, brush teeth, clean her glasses and apply deodorant, which we call “tickle fest” because she squeals when I put it on her—all while dancing to Adele or the Bee Gees. 7:50AM Time to wait for the bus. Bus arrives. Goof around with Steve, the bus driver, as we get Nora on the bus, and then tell her to have a great day and that I love her. Deep sigh! 7:55AM Back in the house to hound Andrew to get moving, reminding him of every step along the way. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other diagnoses, so the mornings
are challenging for us. 8:25AM Hound Andrew again. 8:30AM Send Andrew out the door, telling him to have a great day and that he is loved. 8:32AM Deeper sigh! Thank God that two of my kids can manage themselves! 8:45AM I head out the door to volunteer at the Frisco ISD Parent Sanctuary and Lending Library housed at the Early Childhood School. 9AM Arrived on time! At the Parent Sanctuary, I check people in, help them look for resources for their children with special needs, and comfort them if they need to talk. I have cried with many parents who needed a shoulder to cry on because their child was just diagnosed. That is honestly my favorite part of volunteering here. 9:35AM No one has come in yet, so I start working on some of my projects. I need to reach out to several people that might be able to teach classes at brickLAB. No one has stepped up yet, so I need to post an ad on Indeed. 10:40AM A mom with a small child comes in to the Sanctuary. We talk about her child that was just diagnosed with autism and how I can help. 11:46AM After the woman and her child leave, I get to work on my other to-do’s. I just became a board member at the special needs nonprofit Frisco SAGE this fall, and I need to come up with some fundraising ideas for the year. I call a friend of mine about having a gala next year in September. 12:35AM I am starving! I pull out my snack and chow down. 2PM The Sanctuary closes, and I head over to brickLAB. 2:40PM Finally home. I throw some laundry in the washer and do the dishes. I look in the freezer for something to make for dinner. Frozen lasagna it is. Of course, two of my kids won’t eat that, so I will also make chicken nuggets and veggies. 3:50PM I wait for Nora’s bus to arrive. I give her a snack, and her occupational therapist rings the doorbell. 4:40PM Andrew’s ride drops him off. I talk with him about his awful day at school, and I try to make it seem like it wasn’t so bad. Then he has a snack while we are talking, and I mention homework. He hates when I say that word! 4:50PM I get Nora going on some writing or a little project. She keeps herself busy for a bit as I get lasagna in the oven. She is singing to herself in the background. We decide to play some Van Morrison and dance around the kitchen as we cook.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNI JENSEN
No Limits, Just Possibilities
All About Jenni
FAVORITE INDULGENCE The Cookie
Rack’s cookies WHAT’S SHE’S READING Disney U by Doug Lipp BEST VACATION Italy with my hubby WHAT’S IN HER NETFLIX QUEUE It’s a Miracle, Workin’ Moms, Atypical, Shameless and Ozark FAVORITE MOVIE Where Hope Grows
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2018 Allen St. Dallas, TX 75204 214-720-3911 notredameschool.org
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“Taking Care of Ears Throughout the Years”
MET HER HUSBAND In high school. I dated one of his best
friends. SHE’S REALLY GOOD AT Helping other people. I volunteer for several charities. SHE’S REALLY BAD AT Cooking HABIT SHE CAN’T QUIT
7PM Dinner beep sounds off. Mike and Will walk in the door for dinner. We eat and talk about many things, but mostly we ask Will about the Marines. (He just joined the Reserve.) It is so nice to hang out with my grown-up boy! 8PM It’s Nora’s bedtime, so we get her ready. Pray and send Nora to bed. Then try to help with Andrew’s homework. I am tired, and he can’t focus any better than I can. 8:42PM Clean up the kitchen and hound Andrew to finish his homework. I put the knuckleheads in their pen where they wait for Daddy to come and play. 9:12PM I am so tired … Andrew and I have this great idea to get up at 5am and finish homework. I figure that works for me since I am up anyway. 9:19PM I sneak into my room and do my evening grooming ritual. I try to say a quick prayer, and I go to bed. Lights out.
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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE COOKIE RACK; ILLUSTRATION BY ARIANA LEYVA
16 s p e c i a l n e e d s
Legal Aid 12 NEW TEXAS LAWS YOU NEED TO KNOW WORDS
COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, TEXAS GOT IN TROUBLE WITH THE FEDS for illegally
capping special education services—and thereby short-changing schools on funding. With the U.S. Department of Education breathing down the state’s neck, it’s no surprise that special education funding was increased at the 86th legislative session. (ICYMI: Lawmakers budgeted enough to pay the penalty and avoid falling afoul of the feds in upcoming years, but did not open the coffers as much as advocates hoped.) So what else happened down in Austin this year? We picked out a handful of new laws you ought to be aware of—from school discipline to driving—and asked policy experts what you can do to be the best advocate for your kid.
BILL: HB 3703 Four years ago, only people with intractable epilepsy could legally start a cannabis regimen through the state’s brand-new Compassionate Use program. Now lawmakers have added autism, seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, incurable neurodegenerative disease and a short list of other conditions to the list. And instead of two neurologists, patients need only one physician with expertise in the treatment of their condition to sign off. One thing that didn’t change: the percentage of tetrahydrocannabidinol (THC) that’s allowed. THC is the secret sauce in marijuana that makes you high, but it also seems to make cannabidiol (CBD, the active ingredient in medical cannabis) more effective. There were some changes in the amount of CBD to allow a more accurate ratio of CBD to THC, explains Rep. Stephanie Klick, who authored the original Compassionate Use Act. Previously, medical cannabis products
had to be at least 10% CBD by weight—not anymore, but they still can’t contain more than 0.5% THC. That cap is lower than some families would like, only marginally above the legal limit for over-the-counter hemp (.3%), which was given the green light in Texas this year. But until officials wrap their red tape around the hemp industry, Klick has a simple warning for families who decide to take their chances with overthe-counter CBD: “Buyer beware. We do know that there has been adulterated product that people have been exposed to throughout the country.” (Klick mentions rat poison and the synthetic drug K2, for example.) And while plenty of product might be just as advertised, “some of the product doesn’t contain any CBD oil,” she adds. The bottom line for families seeking relief through CBD: “You really need to work with your physician,” Klick says, as your child may need to reduce or eliminate other medications when using CBD. And the safest route is the Compassionate Use program, not the wild, Wild West of hemp.
BILL: SB 976 If your child is already driving or will soon be old enough to get behind the wheel, the Samuel Allen Law will (we hope) smooth interactions with police officers. Coming soon to a vehicle registration application near you: a place to indicate that a disability or health condition could affect the driver’s ability to communicate with officers. The Department of Motor Vehicles will relay that info to the Department of Public Safety, which is creating a system to give officers a heads-up when they make a traffic stop. Privacy is king here. In order to verify a driver’s condition, the DMV may ask for a statement from a health professional, but they can’t spill the details to the DPS. And drivers don’t have to participate at all. “It’s voluntary,” emphasizes Jean Langendorf, a policy specialist at Disability Rights Texas. “I think everybody has to make the determination as to if this is something that would work well [for their child].”
“Don’t let them tell you ‘Oh, we have to do this — this is the new state law,’ It does not override exising protections.” 18 s p e c i a l n e e d s
BILLS: HB 3540, HB 3116 The justice system has gaps when it comes to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), but Texas has taken a couple of steps toward becoming more accommodating. If police are called to a group home or intermediate care facility, HB 3540 gives them the flexibility not to arrest residents, as long as the officers believe that everyone’s safe. The state is also putting together a task force to study best practices for detaining people with IDD; the group will deliver its recommendations by Dec. 1 of next year, ahead of the 87th legislative session (HB 3116).
BILLS: HB 1, HB 4533, SB 1207, SB 1096 This legislative session brought a slew of reforms to the muchmaligned system—and still fell short of some families’ hopes. But progress was made in several key areas. You can peruse the four bills in question to catch all the changes; here are some of the most noteworthy: • Texas finally caught up with a federal mandate and added coverage for medically necessary autism treatments, including applied behavioral analysis, to the Medicaid budget (HB 1). • Thought your adult child with IDD would soon be moving to Medicaid managed care? Not so fast. First, the state will test the waters with a pilot program (that families may opt out of) before transitioning everybody to managed care for long-term services (HB 4533). The pilot program will provide nonresidential supports to adults who aren’t already enrolled in a Medicaid waiver program. “I feel like this bill is a great way to see what people need and really redesign the system,” says Susan Murphree, a policy specialist with Disability Rights Texas. She explains that the Health and Human Services Commission will evaluate the pilot program before creating a broader transition plan (with help from an advisory committee). That means adults with IDD in four Medicaid waiver programs—Community Living
abilities waiver programs so that caregivers can receive assistance within hours (SB 1207), as well as stricter rules to ensure that STAR Kids enrollees can stay on their prescribed medications (SB 1096). Not all of these laws will make waves immediately; rules and procedures have to be established and adopted. “There’s a couple of layers here,” Mehta explains. “Some of it, families should begin to see in the next couple of months. You’re dealing with this massive agency and all these big insurance companies—there’s always this lag.” For further enlightenment and to track the implementation of these new laws, follow Murphree’s lead: “What has been useful to me so far has been tuning in to state agency presentations, listening to the advisory committee [meetings],” she says. You can find recordings and minutes of advisory committee meetings at texas.hhs.gov.
Education Assistance and Support Services, Deaf Blind with Multiple Disabilities, Home and CommunityBased Services, and Texas Home Living—plus those in intermediate care facilities, will move to managed care starting in 2027 at the earliest. • A major frustration for families already served by Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) is the frequent—and, at times, life-threatening—denial of treatments, equipment and other services, including eligibility renewals for the Medically Dependent Children’s Program. “Literally the denial rates for families have more than tripled,” says Hannah Mehta, Flower Mound mom and executive director of the advocacy group Protect TX Fragile Kids. “There’s a huge data curve there that shows what is obviously needed.” She’s optimistic about another part of HB 4533 that tells Health and Human Services to shop around for alternative delivery models, i.e., not managed care. Change won’t happen overnight (“Nothing moves quickly—it’s
like turning a giant cruise ship around”) but the legislation might eventually result in a system that’s “more fitting,” she says. In the meantime, families fed up with the denials have new protections that could result in fewer no’s. After an MCO denies or cuts services, you can request an external medical review, and third-party clinical staff—not the MCO—will decide whether the denied services are medically necessary (SB 1207). Families might not even get to that point so often, thanks to the improved prior authorization process (now with transparency!). MCOs must publicize their PA requirements and give crystalclear reasons for PA denials so that families and providers know exactly what they need to do to gain approval (SB 1207). • Parents like Mehta, who has a 12-year-old son with complex medical needs, pushed for protections for the most vulnerable children served by the state. Victories include a 24/7 helpline for the Medically Dependent Children and Deaf Blind with Multiple Dis-
BILLS: HB 3630, SB 712 After some high-profile cases of abuse in the classroom, legislators have banned the use of “aversive techniques” for behavioral intervention. The banned list runs the gamut from inflicting pain to denying bathroom access to verbally demeaning a child. Timeouts aren’t allowed, either, unless they’re part of a student’s IEP. Make sure you know exactly what’s included in your child’s IEP so that you can cry foul if one of these aversive techniques is used on your kiddo. If they’re coming home with fear and bruises, and you suspect abuse, Disability Rights Texas recommends calling Child Protective Services, which has “jurisdiction over a teacher’s classroom just as much as a family’s home,” explains policy specialist Steven Aleman. Get proof. “Document your communication with the school,” Aleman says. “Ask for a specific reply by email where it’s in writing so that there can be a paper chain.” Take advantage of other procedures that are there to protect your kid—you can request a new ARD meeting if you think
something’s not right, and ask for IEP facilitation to help settle any disputes. “Depending on the setting, parents can request installation of video cameras,” Aleman adds. BILL: SB 2432 Texas also added to the list of offenses that will get a child sent to a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP). In addition to selling drugs and issuing terroristic threats, kids will be pulled from the classroom for harassing a teacher or other staff member. While protecting teachers, the new law may have “unintended consequences” for kids with disabilities, Aleman explains. What if your child’s behavior is perceived as harassment, even when there’s no malicious intent? “Don’t let them tell you, ‘Oh, we have to do this—this is new state law,’” Aleman says. “It does not override existing protections for students with disabilities.” He cites section 37.004 of the Texas Education Code: A special education student can’t immediately be put in a DAEP; first, there has to be a review to determine whether their behavior was a manifestation of their disability. BILL: SB 11 There’s a provision that might get overlooked among the other safety measures in this lengthy bill: School safety plans have to make sure kids (and staff) with disabilities have equal access to safety. You’d think that would go without saying, but Aleman explained in an email that at some campuses, the safety plans purportedly called for students with disabilities to be evacuated last. “Parents should be mindful that their public school should have an updated plan and should ask the principal if it addresses the needs of students with physical and other disabilities,” he writes.
To learn about a few more new laws that might affect your family, visit the Special Needs section of dfwchild.com. dfwchild.com
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P L AY
F IVE November, December & January things to do this
WORDS ELIZABETH SMITH
DSPNT Fall Festival
Let your kids find out firsthand whether pumpkins float or sink in water when you come out to this fall festival at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, hosted by the Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas’ GROW family programming. Meet in the Backyard Veggie Garden on Saturday, Nov. 2, for pumpkin floating, seed planting, leaf painting and more along with games and story readings. $5 per person; free for individuals with Down syndrome and children 5 and younger. Registration is required. Fort Worth; 817/332-4441 brit.org
Explore artworks in the galleries of the newly renovated Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and get creative with art-making experiences during Sensory Exploration, a new, free program designed for families with children of all ages on the autism spectrum. Register in advance, and bring the whole family (siblings and other relatives welcome) on Saturday, Nov. 9, to learn about works in the collection and then do an activity or craft to take home afterward. FREE Fort Worth; 817/989-5013 cartermuseum.org
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROCKY KRUEGER; CASA MAÑANA; DFW DANCE PHOTOGRAPHY; AMON CARTER MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART; RACHEL LINCOLN
The Nutcracker Suite Ballet North Texas introduces your kids to the holiday favorite by staging this sensory-friendly performance at Dallas’ Moody Performance Hall on Sunday, Nov. 24, for those of all ages on the autism spectrum or with other special needs. This shortened, afternoon performance of The Nutcracker Suite opens in Act 2 with the Sugar Plum Fairy welcoming Clara to the Land of Sweets. Almost as sweet are the reduced sound levels and house lights, trained staff on hand, and none of the usual house rules against talking or moving around during the show. Tickets from $25. Dallas; 530/605-7250 balletnorthtexas.org Jack Frost For more events tailored to you, sign up for our newsletter at dfwchild.com/ newsletter.
Santa Claus narrates this children’s holiday show at Casa Mañana theater starring a young Jack Frost as he’s banished from the Frozen Kingdom by his evil uncle. Watch as Jack and his misfit friends try to save the world from a new ice age when Casa Mañana offers an American Sign Language-interpreted show on Friday, Dec. 6, at 6:30pm. Call the box office for the best seating information. Tickets for the show start at $19. Fort Worth; 817/332-2272 casamanana.org
Right before the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo gets underway at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, more than 225 equestrians with disabilities take over the John Justin Arena. Help pack the seats for the annual Chisholm Challenge during eight competitions from Jan. 13–15. (Check the site for opening ceremonies and event times as the date nears.) Free for spectators. Have extra time? Stop by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame next door to see the new display featuring the Chisholm Challenge. Admission is $12 for adults; $6 for children ages 4–12; free with stock show admission beginning Jan. 17. Fort Worth, 817/877-2420 chisholmchallenge.com dfwchild.com
Achievement Center of Texas Nonprofit day care and day habilitation center for children and adults with disabilities or other special needs. Also offers arts exploration, educational assistance and community inclusion. Garland; 972/414-7700; achievementcenteroftexas.org Brighter Day Academy Fully inclusive day care for nonaggressive children with special needs, infant to age 12. Medications and breathing treatments can be given on-site if necessary. Children accepted case by case. Dallas; 214/265-8585 Calab, Inc. Provides quality individualized child care that encourages independence in individuals with disabilities. Multiple locations; calabinc.com
Start planning for summer—registration for Camp Summit (pg. 24) opens in January.
WE KNOW SHOPPING FOR RESOURCES PROBABLY ISN’T AT THE TOP OF YOUR DAY-OFF TO-DO LIST, so we’ve packed this handy directory with as many local support groups, recreational activities and respite programs in DallasFort Worth as we could find. If you know of something we missed or have an idea for a new listing, send your recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADD & ADHD
Attention Deficit Disorders Association (ADDA) Southern Region Designed to be a resource network to support individuals with ADHD and/or related conditions and to advocate for community resources. Support group meets from 7–8pm every other month during the school year (the second Tuesday of the month in February, April, September and November) at the Mesquite ISD Professional Development Center. Location to change in 2020; details to come. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Mesquite; 972/743-1138; adda-sr.org Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) Works to educate and empower others with information about ADD/ADHD by providing parents with tools and information to help their child reach their full potential. Tarrant County support group meets the fourth Monday of each month 22 s p e c i a l n e e d s
from 7–9pm at the White’s Chapel United Methodist Church (inside the Adult Education Building) in Southlake. Call 817/707-6264 or 304/834-5678 for more information. ntxchadd.com
ASPERGER’S & AUTISM
AUsome Moms A nonprofit that provides support, social opportunities and education to Dallas-Fort Worth families with children on the autism spectrum. Flower Mound; ausomemoms.org
Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT-NT) Provides resources, support, education and advocacy for families in the autism community. Richland Hills; 682/626-5000; featnt.org Our Children’s Circle Support group of parents, educators and community leaders that strives to provide resources for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders. McKinney; Find information on Facebook.
The Clubhouse for Special Needs Afterschool programs, school holiday programs, summer programs and all-day programs for teens and young adults (ages 13–22) with special needs. Bedford; 817/285-0885 theclubhouse.org Easterseals North Texas Child Development Center Provides an ABA therapy program in a preschool setting for children who have autism (ages 6 weeks–6 years) and typically developing children to learn alongside one another. Carrollton; 972/394-8900; easterseals.com/northtexas Emma’s House Provides functional, vocational and life skills to promote independence and self-sufficiency for teens and young adults with disabilities. Afterschool and summer programming is also available. Irving; 469/586-5244; emmashouse.net KinderFrogs School at TCU. Early childhood program (ages 18 months–6 years) designed to accommodate children with Down syndrome and other developmental delays. Fort Worth; 817/2576828; kinderfrogs.tcu.edu Mary’s House Provides before- and after-school care (Monday–Friday), day habilitation, activities and therapeutic options for teens ages 13 and older and adults with disabilities. Dalworthington Gardens; 817/4594494; maryshouseinc.org Mom’s Best Friend The nanny agency and babysitter service provides referrals for in-home care for chil-
dren of all ages with special needs throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Carrollton; 972/446-0500; momsbestfriend.com
Blue Caboose Children’s Fund Provides back-to-school assistance, a Christmas toy drive and a parent network for the families of children with cystic fibrosis. The adults-only support group meets on the second Monday of each month. (Location varies; see Facebook page for details or email email@example.com) Dallas; 228/341-0403; bluecaboose4cf.org
North Texas FASD Network Support group for parents of children and adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Meets the fourth Monday of every month (except May and December) from 7–8:30pm in the Activities Center at First Baptist Richardson; email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas Provides information, social and educational activities and events, and support for new parents, families and caregivers of those with Down syndrome. Fort Worth; 682/316-3121; dspnt.org
Blue Sky Therapeutic Riding & Respite Provides a safe, happy and healthy therapeutic community that works to empower and propel citizens with special needs to their fullest potential through therapeutic horseback riding and respite as well as vocational and entrepreneurial opportunities. Krugerville; 469/4509594; blueskytexas.org Born 2 Be Therapeutic Equestrian Center Dedicated to safe and affordable horseback riding and carriage driving for children and adults with disabilities through small-group or private lessons. Riders have the opportunity to participate in the Texas Special Olympics and in exhibitions, including the Chisholm Challenge for Special Riders Horse Show held in Fort Worth each January. Sanger; 940/595-8200; born2betec.org Equest Strengthens and rehabilitates children and adults with physical, cognitive, sensory, emotional and learning disabilities through equine-facilitated programs and therapies. Programs are taught by credentialed professionals and assisted by over 400 trained volunteers. Dallas; 972/412-1099; equest.org
PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMP SUMMIT; DOWN SYNDROME PARTNERSHIP OF NORTH TEXAS
Serving the needs of learning-different students for more than 30 years
Grace Lake Ministries, Inc. God-centered therapeutic riding program with the goal of developing wholeness in the lives of the people served. Riders include anyone in need of hope and healing, including children and adults with disabilities or social challenges. Anna; 972/837-4621; gracelakeministries.org
• PRESCHOOL THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL
ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship Provides a fun, enriching and supportive environment for riders to reach their potential. Offers group, semiprivate or private lessons taught by certified riding instructors with the assistance of volunteer aides. Riders participate in pre-mounted and post-mounted horse care as much as they are able. McKinney; 469/742-9611; manegait.org
• SMALL CLASS SIZES • SOCIAL LEARNING CURRICULUM AT ALL GRADE LEVELS
New Hope Equine Assisted Therapy Provides therapeutic horseback riding services for people with a wide variety of disabilities. Program is designed to bring hope, healing and happiness to riders by encouraging the horse and human connection. Argyle; 817/729-5315; newhopeequine.com
• SENSORY MOTOR LAB • SPEECH AND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ON SITE • SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS IN PRESCHOOL THROUGH FIRST GRADE CLASSROOMS
Riding Unlimited Provides small-group and individual lessons for age 4 to adult. Students can participate in therapeutic horsemanship classes, hippotherapy, exhibition and drill teams, Special Olympics equestrian events, and shows, such as the Chisholm Challenge for Special Riders Horse Show. Ponder; 940/479-2016; ridingunlimited.org
• TRANSITIONS SKILLS AND JOB READINESS • SUMMER CAMPS
Stable Strides Farm Therapeutic Riding Children and adults age 2 and older with physical or cognitive disabilities learn to become effective, competitive riders. Students are encouraged to ride independently as soon and as safely as possible. Riders participate in the Special Olympics and other competitions and shows. Flower Mound; 940/595-3600; stablestridesfarm.org
Oak Hill Academy is dedicated to providing individualized academic and social-emotional learning programs not found in traditional learning environments. Through a multi-sensory instructional model, we take a whole-child approach, preparing our students for life after graduation.
Unbridled Horse Therapy Aims to effectively intercede and encourage unrealized potential for those with special needs and disabilities through the connection between horse and rider and the use of physical, speech and behavioral therapy. Email email@example.com for more information. Flower Mound; 817/319-7778; unbridledhorsetherapy.com
9407 MIDWAY ROAD, DALLAS 75220 | 214-353-8804 | oakhillacademy.org
Victory Therapy Center Cares for the physical, mental and emotional needs of children, adults, veterans, first responders and their families through the healing power of horses. Roanoke; 682/831-1323; victorytherapy.org
Mental Health America of Greater Dallas Works to stop the stigma around mental illness and build awareness of mental health issues while providing resources from providers in the community. Offers multiple peer-led support groups at varying times. Dallas; 214/871-2420; mhadallas.org
OCD and Anxiety Support Group DFW Support group for families and friends of individuals with OCD and other anxiety disorders. Meets on the second and fourth Thursday of each month (except on holidays) from 6:30–8pm at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford. Bedford; ocdsupportgroupdfw.wordpress.com OCD Support Group Professionally led support group serving the Dallas, Richardson and Plano areas for parents of children with OCD, adults with OCD, family members and friends of people with OCD, and teens with OCD. Meetings are held the second Monday of each month (except December) from 7:45–9pm at the Methodist Richardson Medical Center – Bush/Renner Campus, second floor, Education Room B. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Richardson; 214/906-1692
Angel League Baseball Program Free baseball program sponsored by the Kiwanis Club and the city of Rockwall. The youth team accepts players ages 4–15 with any disabilities; the adult team is for ages 16–60 with mental challenges. Seasons start in March and September. Register online. Rockwall; 972/722-6001; angelleague.org
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ACEing Autism Dallas Nonprofit organization that provides a weekly program to teach children (5–18 years) and young adults (19–30 years) on the autism spectrum the game of tennis while improving their gross motor skills, handeye coordination and social skills. Sessions are held in the fall, spring and summer. Richardson; 214/901-9010; aceingautism.org/locations/dallas-tx
directory Aqua-Fit Swim & Fitness Family Wellness Center Offers swimming lessons for adults and children with special needs on Saturday and Monday in suite D2. Plano; 972/578-7946; aquafitplano.com Aqua-Tots Swim School The Special Needs Adaptive Program provides customized swim lessons to meet the individual needs of children and address specific goals set for them by their parents. Multiple locations; aqua-tots.com
ASI Gymnastics Offers Gymmie Kids, a recreational gymnastics program designed to enhance motor skills, provide social interaction and build the self-esteem of children with special needs. Multiple locations; asigymnastics.com Bachman Recreation Center Provides an accessible facility for individuals age 6 and older with disabilities. Dallas; 214/670-6266; dallasparks.org/facilities Buddy League Provides recreational opportunities for children with special needs, allowing children with disabilities to learn baseball with their typical peers, or “buddies.” Garland; 972/414-9280; buddyleague.org Buddy Sports at Cross Timbers YMCA Specialized program for athletes ages 5–18 with learning and physical disabilities. Athletes meet on Sunday afternoon from noon–2pm (younger kids) or 2–4pm (older kids) to have fun, exercise and be part of a team in an understanding atmosphere. The sport changes every six to seven weeks; sports include basketball, baseball, soccer and floor hockey. Registration is $25 per season. Flower Mound; 972/539-9622; crosstimbersymca.org
Dental Care for your Special Loved One
Camp Summit Camp for children and adults with disabilities ages 6–99. Traditional camp activities are adapted to each individual, provided in 100% barrier-free facilities and implemented by trained, caring staff. Paradise; 972/484-8900; campsummittx.org
Anna Willison, DDS
People with disabilities often need special care to maintain their dental health.
Challenge Air for Kids & Friends Offers motivational and inspirational aviation experiences to children and youth with physical challenges. Dallas; 214/351-3353; challengeair.com
Dr. Willison is a member of the Special Care Dentistry Association and is trained to provide her patients the attention and care they deserve. Our state-of-the-art office with trained staff is available to treat most of our patients.
Cheer Academy Cheerleaders 5 and older learn basic cheer steps as well as tumbling moves as part of the academy’s special needs team. Contact email@example.com. Arlington; 817/823-7522; cheeracademy.com
We utilize a whole body holistic approach to dental care for everyone. Only the most biocompatible materials are used to treat and prevent dental disease. This means no mercury amalgams or metal crowns ever!
Dallas Center for Oral Health & Wellness Medical City Hospital Dallas, 7777 Forest Ln., Ste. A-309
972-566-6300 • yourprettysmile.com © 24 s p e c i a l n e e d s
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If needed, in-office sedation is available by a board certified anesthesiologist. Dr. Willison is also on medical staff at the Medical City Hospital in Dallas, where she can safely complete the necessary dental treatment under general anesthesia in the operating room.
Coppell TOPS Soccer League Program by the Coppell Youth Soccer Association for boys and girls ages 4–19 with mental and physical disabilities. Teams organized according to physical size and ability play eight noncompetitive games throughout the season. Coppell; 972/3040886; coppellyouthsoccer.com Crull Fitness Personal and group training for children and adults with various physical and cognitive disabilities through the Champions Challenge program.Richardson; 972/497-9900; crull-fitness.com
ABOVE// Sign up online for the spring season of Angel League Baseball for ages 4–60, pg. 23.
Dallas Jr. Wheelchair Mavericks Basketball In this wheelchair league, kids are divided into two groups: two varsity teams and a prep team. Dallas; 214/668-1121; dallasjuniorwheelchairmavericks.org Dallas Sled Stars The Dallas Stars Foundation supports this sled hockey league that caters to athletes with limited mobility, amputees and typical athletes with leg and hip injuries. The youth league runs September through March. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Farmers Branch; 682/556-1277; dallassledstars.com Dana’s Studio of Dance Kids 10 and up can join a special needs hip-hop class on Monday from 6:45–7:45pm. Keller; 817/745-3262; danastudio.com Emler Swim School Teaches the lifesaving skill of swimming to children with special needs in a fun, positive environment. Multiple locations; 817/5527946; emlerswimschool.com Encore School of Dance. Offers No Boundaries, coed classes for dancers with special needs of all ages and abilities. Sign up online or at the studio. Saginaw; 817/232-9393; encoreschoolofdance.com Especially Needed. Builds a strong sense of unity for individuals with special needs by offering familyfriendly events throughout the year. McKinney; 214/499-3439; especiallyneeded.org Express Cheer Offers a Shining Stars cheerleading team for children with special needs. They practice on Monday from 5:30–6:30pm. Email email@example.com for more information. Frisco; 972/7315888; expresscheer.com Irving Parks and Recreation Special Olympics Program Athletes 15 and up can take part in basketball, volleyball, golf and bowling programs adapted to meet the needs of individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. Practice is scheduled Tuesday from 5:30–7pm, but might vary. Email Emory Caballero at firstname.lastname@example.org. Irving; 972/721-8090; cityofirving.org Jumpstreet Hosts a semiprivate event on the first Saturday of the month for children with special needs and their siblings. Multiple locations; gotjump.com Keller ATA Martial Arts Offers classes on Tuesday and Thursday at 4:15pm for children and adults with special needs and participates in tournaments that offer divisions for special abilities competitors. Instructors have experience working with students with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other conditions. Keller; 817/337-9493; kellerata.com
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANGEL LEAGUE
Arlington TOPS Soccer Free soccer program for ages 5–25 with special or adaptive needs. Fall league includes Saturday games and two groups (ages 5–12 and 13 and up). Each player receives a uniform and end-of-season trophy. Visit the Facebook page. Arlington; 817/229-0629
Green Oaks Education and Support, Inc. Presents
Health & Wellness for Individuals with IDD
Join us for this quarterly speaker series featuring nationally known speakers on important health issues for individuals with Down syndrome and related intellectual disabilities.
November 16, 2019 // Dr. Brian Chicoine Promoting Health for Adolescents & Adults with Down Syndrome
January 25, 2020 // Joan Guthrie Medlen, R.D. Healthy Lifestyles for People with Intellectual Disabilities: Nutrition & Exercise
April 18, 2020 // Dr. Dennis McGuire Mental Wellness & Healthy Aging All sessions will be held at Green Oaks Education and Support, Inc.
Register for one or all at TinyURL.com/GreenOaksSpeakerSeries
Sponsored by: 500 Houston St., Arlington, TX 76011 817-861-5000 â€˘ greenoaksinc.org
directory Metroplex Adaptive Water Sports (MAWS) Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for persons with all types of disabilities to experience water sports. Dallas; 214/803-9955; youcanski.org Miracle League of Dallas Provides opportunities for children and young adults of all abilities (ages 5–21) to enjoy playing, growing and learning through adaptive team sports. Basketball launched this fall; contact email@example.com for more information. Dallas; 214/794-6120; miracleleagueofdallas.com Miracle League of DFW Provides an opportunity for children with physical or mental challenges to play baseball. Arlington; 817/733-6076; miracleleaguedfw.com Miracle League of Frisco Offers seven sports for children ages 5–22 with special needs, with attainable goals set and assistance provided by a buddy or volunteer. Seasons run from February–October. Frisco; 214/295-6411; friscomiracleleague.org Miracle League of Irving Provides children and adults with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball, regardless of their ability level. The spring season runs March–July, and the fall season runs September–November. Irving; 972/9868898; irvingymca.org Miracle League of Southlake Baseball league for ages 5 and up with all abilities and special needs, including high-functioning autism, vision impairment and limited mobility. Games last two innings and each player is assigned a typical buddy. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Southlake; 817/675-8701; miracleleagueofsouthlake.com The Palaestra The developmental gymnastics program offers private lessons and group integration classes for tumblers of all ages with all mental disabilities and most physical disabilities. (Children who use wheelchairs might be limited.) Farmers Branch; 972/620-9922; thepalaestradallas.com Plano Metropolitan Ballet – Pals Program A free, weekly ballet class tailored especially to children with special needs. PMB Pals have the opportunity to perform at the annual Plano Metropolitan Ballet Junior Company Jubilee. Plano; 972/769-0017; planometballet.org RISE Adaptive Sports Promotes independence for individuals with physical disabilities through sports, recreation and other outdoor events and programs. Irving; 469/762-5075; riseadaptivesports.org Southwest Wheelchair Athletic Association (SWAA) Provides wheelchair sled hockey (at Farmers Branch location), fencing, track and other sports for people with disabilities. Multiple locations; swaasports.org Special Abilities of North Texas Supports adults with disabilities through programs and events, including a health and fitness program, creative arts program, and opportunities to visit local attractions and sporting events. Lewisville; 972/317-1515; Flower Mound, 214/984-0326; specialabilities.net Special Needs Gymnastics Coaches work individually and in groups with students of all ages and skill levels who have disabilities to help athletes achieve success. In addition to gymnastics, the program offers art, music, swimming, cycling and life skills. Multiple locations; 806/438-3227; specialneedsgymnastics.com and lovesng.org Special Olympics Texas Provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The Unified Sports program brings athletes with and without disabilities together on the same team in order to promote inclusion in sports and everyday life. Statewide; 512/835-9873; sotx.org Special Strong Specialized health, nutrition and fitness services, including private training and boot camps for children and adults with special needs. DallasFort Worth area; 972/836-8463; specialstrong.com Spirit Xtreme Spirit Xtreme’s Rejoice is a coed special needs all-star team for athletes with an intellectual and/or physical disability who love to cheer, dance and perform. Contact email@example.com. Southlake; 817/2518984; spirit-xtreme.com Starcatchers Provides youth and adults with opportunities to shine through drama, music, dance and visual art. From large theater productions to intimate art summer camps, participants further the development of social, communication, motor and cognitive skills. Multiple locations; 972/4222575; starcatchers.org
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Wet Zone Waterpark Angel Swim Open swim for members of the community with special needs and their families during summer months. Rowlett; 972/412-6266; rowlett.com/parksandrec YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas Puts Christian values into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Various club locations offer camps, swimming lessons and sports programs for kids with special needs. Multiple locations; 214/880-9622; ymcadallas.org
APT G Held the third Saturday of each month (September–May) from 7–9:30pm at First United Methodist Church. Grades six and up. Free; register online by the Thursday before. Allen; 214/385-8850; firstallen.org Arise Held one Saturday a month from 5:30– 8:30pm at Irving Bible Church. All ages are welcome. Free. Irving; 972-560-4600; irvingbible.org Breakaway A respite night for kids with special needs (all ages) and their siblings (0–12 years) on the third Friday of the month except June, July and December. RSVP required; email Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fort Worth; 817/7314329; ccbcfamily.org Bryan’s Buddies Takes place one Friday a month from 6:30–9:30pm at First United Methodist Church. Ages 3–18. Free; contact Joyce King at fumcdt@gmail. com. Grapevine; 817/481-2559; firstmethodistgrapevine.org Friday Night Respite Takes place the last Friday of the month from 5:30–8:30pm at First United Methodist Church. Dinner provided. All ages welcome. Free; register online. Mansfield; 817/477-2287; firstmethodistmansfield.org Friday NITE Friends A respite program for ages 0–15 and their siblings (up to age 12) on Friday evenings from 6–10pm. Plano; 972/618-3450; fridaynitefriends.org Harvey’s Kids Takes place the second Saturday of every month from 5–8pm at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. Reservations required. Carrollton; 972/492-2432; hcumc.org Kids Night Out For ages 1–11 and their siblings on the second Friday of each month (except June and July) from 5:45–8:45pm. $20 per family or $40 for four or more kids; reservations required. Email email@example.com to let her know if you will be bringing siblings. Plano; 972/941-7272; plano.gov
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Loving Hands Ministry Offers respite care for kids up to age 16 and their siblings up to age 10 from 5:30– 8:30pm at First United Methodist Church. Check website for meeting dates. Coppell; 972/462-0471; fumccoppell.org Night Lights Takes place from 6–10pm on the first, second and third Friday of every month (except January and July) at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, the first Friday of the month at White Rock United Methodist Church, and the third Friday of the month at Christ Foundry United Methodist Mission (for Spanish-speaking families). Free; registration required. Dallas; 214/706-953; raysoflightdallas.org NightOWLS Happens on the second Friday of the month at Munger Place Church from 6–10pm for ages 3 months–12 years. At the Highland Park United Methodist Church, NightOWLS takes place on the first and third Friday each month at the same time for ages 3–12 years. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively, for more information. Munger Place Church: Dallas, 214/823-9929; mungerplace.org; Highland Park United Methodist Church: Dallas; 214/523-2284; hpumc.org Parents’ Night Out Held one Saturday a month during the school year. Ages kindergarten to sixth grade. Allen, 972/727-8241; fbcallen.org
SIBLING CL ASSES
Cook Children’s Sib2Sib Program Free program for siblings of patients with a chronic illness or a life-changing injury. Activities use crafts and games to encourage open communication. A group for ages 5–7 and a group for ages 8–12 meets every other month; there are occasional field trips and camps for ages 13–24 and overnight camps for ages 13–18. Fort Worth; 682/8855872; cookchildrens.org FEAT-North Texas Sibshops Sibshops held annually at the FEAT-NT Resource Center and Library. Library books on sibling issues, autism and a range of other disabilities and related topics available for parents and children to check out. Richland Hills; 817/919-2228; featnt.org HEROES Sibshops Program for the siblings of children with disabilities to participate in fun and exciting activities in a safe environment. Workshops take place one Saturday a month (excluding June, July and August). Richardson; 972/663-5853; heroesdfw.org
North Texas Tourette Syndrome Support Group Serves North Texas families with Tourette syndrome and its associated disorders. Visit the website and contact the group leader for meeting times. Irving; 281/2388096; tourettetexas.org/dallas-northtexas
Know of a listing or special needs resource that we missed? We’d love to hear from you—email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SPECIAL OLYMPICS TEXAS; EMMA’S HOUSE
Texas Cutez Serves children with special needs of all ages and abilities as they learn and make friends on a cheerleading team. Lewisville; 469/233-2882; texascutez.com
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
a resourceful guide for your special needs We provide services to children and adults. • 1-on-1 in center & in home ABA therapy • Social Skills • Community Outings • Naturalistic Teaching • Interactive Approach • Social Skills Group • Community Outings • Speech Therapy Available
A One-Of-A-Kind Camp Camp Summit is a residential camp for children and adults with disabilities where the emphasis is on the campers’ abilities rather than their disabilities. Traditional camp activities are adapted to each camper, provided in our barrier-free facilities, and implemented by trained, caring staff. Campers are grouped by age, providing the opportunity to make friends within peer groups while experiencing new adventures.
ABA Interactive Behavioral Therapy 817-849-5802 abainteractive.org
Camp Summit 270 Private Rd. 3475, Paradise, TX 76073 972-484-8900 • email@example.com campsummittx.org
SUMMER CAMP FOR PEOPLE 18+ WITH DISABILITIES
Language Works/Rainbow Kidz
• Farm Animals • …and more!
Language Works/Rainbow Kidz provides low-cost, high therapeutic interventions and therapies both 1:1 and in small groups using the principles of ABA and the analysis of verbal behavior. We offer individual therapy, social skills classes, recreational classes, handwriting, sibling classes, Saturday classes and summer/holiday break classes at affordable prices.
Down Home Ranch Residential • Day Program • Camp • Respite 20250 FM 619 Elgin, TX 78621 512-856-0128 • www.DownHomeRanch.org
Andrea Gamble M.Ed., BCBA 2155 Marsh Ln. Ste. 132, Carrollton, TX 75006 972-306-3189 • firstname.lastname@example.org www.languageworksllc.com
NOW ENROLLING AT OUR NEW GREENVILLE LOCATION
Center for Children with Autism (CCAM) & Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)
Ranch Camp is designed to build confidence by encouraging social connections and supporting the development of new interests. Traditional camp activities are implemented by trained staff, maintaining a 1 to 5 staff/ volunteer to camper ratio. • Hayrides • Archery
• Kayaking • Fishing
Our program includes an on-site therapy clinic, where students receive ABA Therapy throughout the day in addition to participating in an accredited educational program. • ABA Therapy • Club Jr. Social Skills Group (6–12) • Indoor Motor Lab • Parent Academy Marigold Learning Academy ABA Therapy Center 401 W. Washington St., Rockwall, TX 75087 972-722-3892 • MarigoldLearningAcademy@gmail.com www.MarigoldLearningAcademy.com
CCAM provides individualized ABA treatment for children ages 2–12. We are now enrolling UHC, BCBS, Magellan, Aetna, Cigna, Scott & White as well as Medicaid. Our ECI program provides therapeutic services to babies from birth to 3 years. Metrocare Services Multiple Dallas area locations 972-331-6363 metrocareservices.org
To advertise in the Services section, call 972-447-9188 or email email@example.com
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COMPILED BY ELIZABETH QUINN ILLUSTRATION MARY DUNN
WHEN YOU TELL YOUR LITERAL AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER CHILD TO ‘PUT THOSE PANTS BACK ON,’ AND HE COMES DOWNSTAIRS WITH HIS PANTS ON BACKWARDS.”
—Amy, Southlake. She has a 6-year-old who has autism spectrum disorder. 30 s p e c i a l n e e d s
Mom Truths Sometimes being a parent is one part funny, one part gross, one part exhausting, and all the parts rewarding. Here's a roundup of our current favorites. “When Joseph was 5, the school nurse called to tell me she thought he wasn’t feeling well and was clutching his stomach. He was not very verbal at the time. Later that night when I was getting him ready for bed, I noticed something on his stomach; it was melted Pop-Tarts!” —Jeanmarie, Plano. She has a 23-year-old son who is autistic, 29- and 26-year-old daughters, and a 19-year-old son.
“We worked so hard to get my daughter, Lizzie, to imitate others’ actions. After watching cartoons one morning, she climbed up on my bed, jumped up and literally swung from the chandelier, crashing it to the floor. No one was hurt, and she nailed the imitation. Feels like a win-win to me!” —Julie, Plano. Her 16-year-old has autism.
YESTERDAY WHEN I PICKED UP MY SON FROM SCHOOL, I WAS STANDING OUTSIDE AND HIS FRIENDS FROM HIS GEN ED CLASSROOM PASSED BY, AND I COUNTED SIX FRIENDS WHO WAVED AND SAID HELLO AS THEY WALKED BY. I HAVE HONESTLY NEVER WITNESSED THIS MANY HELLOS WITH HIM YET, SO IT TRULY WAS REMARKABLE TO SEE.” —Shelley, Highland Village. She has a 7-year-old son with autism who is nonverbal and a 16-year-old son.
Got a humorous or heartwarming moment you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you. Send it to editorial@ dfwchild.com.
KIDS BELIEVE ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. SO DO WE.
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Kids. They’re unstoppable. Inspirational. Amazing. And one-of-a-kind kids deserve health care to match. That’s why at Children’s HealthSM, we do more than treat illnesses and injuries. Our experts are dedicated to helping kids feel like kids again. Because at Children’s Health, KIDS RULE.