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MAY/ JUNE 2018












VOL. 10 NO. 3







Between therapies, treatments and


tutoring sessions, it’s easy to neglect a vital piece of your child’s well-being: their emotional health.

7 The Cure Controversy 9 A Better Test 9 Wet Your Wheels 9 Lough Out Loud



words Sundey McClendon

23 sports programs to keep your kids active

words Alexis Manrodt & Lisa Salinas


11 Mom Next Door: Michele Erwin 14 Clean Beauty 14 Sound Advice: ARD Pressed 14 Treats for All 16 Mommy Diary: Nika Arastoupour

MAY/ JUNE 2018




9 20


34 Life Goes On words Josh Schilling

thrive DAL L AS-F O R T WO R T H


25 5 Things To Do in May & June











27 Directory of Special Needs Resources

staff box Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief Joylyn Niebes

Creative Director Lauren Niebes


MANAGING EDITOR Carrie Steingruber ASSOCIATE EDITOR Alexis Manrodt





ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Diana Whitworth Nelson ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Nikki Garrett, Maggie Marston, Nancy McDaniel, Kristen Niebes, Sandi Tijerina, Laura Vardell, Kerensa Vest ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Alexa Wilder





DFWThrive is published six 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/Thrive. DFWThrive is distributed free of charge, one copy per reader. Only DFWThrive 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. DFWThrive is ©2018 by Lauren Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without express written permission prohibited.


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Your child’s care should be

nothing less than epic Epic Health Services is Texas’ leading pediatric care continuum provider The Epic Health Services family of companies provides a pediatric care continuum, including private duty skilled nursing, therapy, developmental services, and home medical solutions, including enteral nutrition, respiratory, and medical supplies to medically fragile children across the United States. By maintaining a focus on the highest quality care, extraordinary customer service, and compliance, Epic Health Services operates as the largest comprehensive pediatric care continuum provider, helping patients navigate through all stages of life and health. Contact us today, and let us take your family from “surviving” to “thriving!”

HEALTH SERVICES: Full-service in-home care Private duty skilled nursing

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Short- and long-term care available 24/7 live on-call client service coordinators MEDICAL SOLUTIONS: Enteral nutrition Medical supplies (incontinence, ostomy, urological, diabetic, ketogenic)

To learn more about the services provided and find a location in your area, please visit our websites below.

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Aveanna Healthcare complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. © 2018 The Aveanna Heart Logo is a service mark of Aveanna Healthcare LLC and its subsidiaries.

Does Your Child Have Autism?

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take note


son can function in society with autism. Instead of seeking a cure, she focuses on improving his JUST AS HE IS life skills so that he can beChad Kleis and his sons come an independent adult. from a Thrive shoot in 2016. Hunter, right, has autism and Jonathan’s 9-year-old Kleis piroritizes treatments brother, Daniel, also has over a cure. autism, but understanding his surroundings is more of a gray area than it is for Jonathan. The third-grader needs consistent implementation of behavioral supports; otherwise, he becomes defensive, and he’s tried to run from his school campus. But even though his behaviors are more involved, “a life is a life is a life, no matter what they have,” she says, adding that rejecting her son’s autism outright would be “too much social engineering.” In today’s society, “the push is for a neurodiverse world,” French explains. “Everybody can be included and live in an allinclusive world.” Finding a Still, not every parent rejects Balance the idea of a cure. Three ways to support your McKinney dad Chad Kleis has child while seeking a cure: an 11-year-old son, Hunter, with 1. Stay calm, says Marsha moderate autism. Though Kleis Ring, a Dallas-area marriage does not making finding a cure and family therapist. Your child can tell if you are anxious for Hunter’s condition a priority, he’s not opposed to the idea. “I about their disability. WORDS C.C. MALLOY am never looking for a cure,” he PHOTOGRAPHY CARTER ROSE 2. “Acknowledge that none says, “but if I find one along the of us are perfect or whole,” HEN OUR CHILDREN TREAT OR CURE? Ring says. Accept your child’s way—great!” FALL, WE MEND THE CUTS French believes treating sympcondition, even if you seek a AND BRUISES. For children toms is essential for teaching THE WAY IT IS cure for it. with special needs, “fixing” self-regulation and coping 3. Understand that there may For parents who welcome a cure, their conditions is more skills, especially when a child not be a cure—yet. McKinney how can they find a balance bedad Chad Kleis, whose son, complicated. Some kids’ dishas self-injurious behaviors. tween celebrating who their child Hunter, has autism, says abilities can’t be cured—not yet, at least. But searching for a cure is and working to eliminate their he does not want to keep Other people just don’t want a cure. for your child could imply that child’s condition? disappointing himself by In a 2017 New York Times article titled something is wrong with them. Dallas-area marriage and searching for a cure. Instead, “‘Cure’ Me? No Thanks,” Ben Matlin, who has In 2016, national advocacy family therapist Marsha Ring he puts his energy into spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair, organization Autism Speaks advises parents to stay calm and advocating for Hunter. explains why he’s choosing not to chase after a removed the controversial not show anxiety about their cure promised by a new drug—besides the risk word “cure” from its mission child’s condition. “Anxiety is and the financial investment, his condition is statement due to pushback from people in the contagious,” she says. part of his identity. It’s something he takes pride autism community. Instead, she counsels parents to “accept the in. “You don’t try to cure something you like “I think you have to think about where on the way it is”—even if you hope for a cure. about yourself,” he writes. spectrum your child is,” says Euless mom Trina “Some things are out of our control,” she “We think people might want to be fixed, but Hoover, who has two sons with autism. “If there is says, “but we can make the person comfortable.” many of them are happy the way they are,” says an upper end, you want to treat that but you don’t Kleis supports his son by doing everything Jessi French, a board certified behavior analyst want to take away the things that make him unique.” possible to enhance Hunter’s future through with Crosspoint Autism Therapy in Plano. Many Her oldest, 12-year-old Jonathan, has autism therapies and interventions. of the children and young adults she works with and neurofibromatosis (NF), a painful disorder “I have always tried to eliminate anything don’t feel they need to be cured at all. that also causes cognitive and motor delays. that would stand in the way of his quality of “We are pushing society standards on them Though Hoover actively fundraises for a cure for life,” he explains. “Then, at least I can say I’ve that they don’t care to follow,” she says. the painful symptoms of NF, she feels that her tried everything.”

The Cure Controversy Is it wrong to seeks a for cure your child?



may/june 2018 7

Shaeffer tackles her neuromuscular condition with spirit.

Shaeffer, Age 6 Neuromuscular Patient

Shaeffer won’t let her neuromuscular condition stand in the way of her dream of becoming a cheerleader. With a team of specialists at Children’s HealthSM cheering her on, she works hard during therapy to fight a disease as unique as she is. Every patient has a dream. Read more at childrens.com/littledreamers

take note


know the stress that accompanies get-

ting a diagnosis—but what if there was a blood test that could identify autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Research published in the journal Molecular Autism offers a method for earlier ASD diagnosis and may even point

to the causes of the disorder. Scientists at England’s University of Warwick studied the blood and urine of children ages 5–12 and found biomarkers of damaged proteins in kids with ASD. One test, which measured the levels of a molecule called dityrosine, had a 90 percent success rate in identifying kids with ASD. With the proper funding, the test could be available to the public by 2020. In the meantime,

SHAEFFER’S PARENTS KNEW THE DIFFERENCE CHILDREN’S HEALTHSM COULD MAKE. We know care isn’t one size fits all. That’s why we’re specifically trained in pediatrics, so kids like Shaeffer can grow up to pursue their dreams.

the team is looking to expand the study to a larger pool of children. The full study is available online. —Alexis Manrodt Molecular Autism, molecularautism.biomedcentral.com

Wet Your Wheels

Inspiration Island, Morgan’s Wonderland’s allinclusive water park, opens for its first full season May 5. Watch the littles splash in the water geysers at Shipwreck Island and run or wheel though the large water dome at Hang Ten Harbor. If your kiddo is sensitive to normal water temperatures, steer them toward the heated waters at Rainbow Reef splash pad (a purple octopus marks the spot). Special amenities include waterproof wheelchairs, seven accessible changing rooms and adult-size changing tables. Admission into Morgan’s Wonderland is $17 for adults and $11 for children ages 3–17, with an additional $10 entry fee to Inspiration Island. Guests with disabilities get in free. —Lisa Salinas

State of the art Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities

More than 50 specialties from occupational therapy to developmental screenings and parent education and support

Innovative technologies, groundbreaking research and life-changing treatments

Morgan’s Inspiration Island 5223 David Edwards Drive, San Antonio; 210/495-5888 morganswonderland.com/inspirationisland

Photos courtesy of Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics and Angela Ross Photography


Master of ceremonies Andrea K. Baum

On the heels of moving to a new Design District outpost, Stomping Ground Comedy Theater is unrolling Improv for Life, a series of therapeutic comedy classes for teens and adults with anxiety, autism, dementia and brain injuries, run by psychotherapist Andrea K. Baum. Improv exercises hone social skills, improve quick thinking and give kids a sense of confidence—plus a lot of laughs. Teens 14–18 can take part in Saturday morning Improv for Autism classes through June 9. Kids 5 and up are welcome at Stomping Ground’s weeklong summer camps and monthly improv storytelling show. The eight-week Improv for Autism course costs $245; summer camps start at $175. Enroll online. For more information, contact Andrea at improvforlife@stompinggroundcomedy.org. —A.M.

Learn more at childrens.com

Stomping Ground Comedy Theater 1350 Manufacturing St., Suite 109, Dallas 469/759-3663; stompinggroundcomedy.org thrive

may/june 2018 9

Helping families sleep soundly At the Pediatric Sleep Institute, we understand that a sleep or neurological disorder of a child affects the entire family. Our team of board-certified specialists provide a comprehensive evaluation of Neurology and Sleep and Wake Disorders in children ages newborn to 18 years of age. For those requiring an over-night sleep study, we offer five child-friendly rooms equipped with a second bed for a caregiver to spend the night. Talk with your physician about a referral to the Pediatric Sleep Institute. We look forward to helping your family sleep soundly.

A Department of Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery

Phone Fax

(214) 778-3000 (972) 419-8190


At the Pediatric Sleep Institute, children with special needs such as developmental delays/intellectual disability, and neurodevelopmental disabilities are tested in a warm and caring atmosphere. Medical conditions which may require a sleep study include:

ADHD Asthma Cardiac disease Depression/Anxiety Diabetes Down syndrome GERD Hypertension Hypertrophy of tonsils Obesity Pulmonary artery hypertension Seizure disorder Sickle cell anemia

Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery is a licensed physician-owned hospital as defined by Federal Law. The hospital is affiliated with, but not controlled by Texas Health Resources or its subsidiaries. Some of the physicians on the medical staff own a financial interest in the facility. Physicians on the medical staff who provide services operate as independent medical service providers.


real moms

Mom Next Door

commercial flights, All Wheels Up is on a mission to put a wheelchair spot on every plane, which would allow passengers like Greyson to fly in the comfort of their own chairs. It’s no small feat, but Erwin’s already proven she’s up for WORDS NICOLE JORDAN the challenge. PHOTOGRAPHY CARTER ROSE Recognized as the authority on accesichele Erwin is changing the sible air travel, Erwin is world—one crash test at a time. frequently called on by In 2011, the Frisco mom of major airlines and universitwo launched All Wheels Up ties to share her expertise. She after a difficult travel experiregularly travels to Washington, ence with her son, Greyson, who has spinal D.C., to raise awareness and lobby for fundmuscular atrophy (SMA) and uses a wheelchair. ing, and the U.S. House Committee on The only organization in the world crashTransportation has called her organization testing wheelchairs and wheelchair tie-downs for “the leader in research.”

Michele Erwin



“It’s exciting to see that so many people are interested,” says the 43-year-old mom of two: Greyson, 11, and Vivian, 8. “There are 4 million Americans who use wheelchairs and 20 million globally, so our work will certainly make an impact on the world.” A native New Yorker with a degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Erwin never dreamed she’d one day have airlines knocking on her door. Before meeting her husband of 13 years, Douglas, and having Greyson, she worked in fashion merchandising for heavyweights such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. After hiatuses following Greyson’s birth and the family’s 2014 move to North Texas (Douglas, who also works in the fashion industry, received a job opportunity), she’s hitting her stride once again as sourcing manager at JCPenney.

“I was this parent that could never do enough.”

ABOVE / Michele Erwin and her husband, Douglas, practice gratitude for every day with their children Greyson, 11, and Vivian, 8. thrive

m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 8 11

Providing Lifelong Learning through Community Experiences Serves all people with different abilities from ages three through adulthood.

H.E.R.O.E.S. Academy H.E.R.O.E.S. Academy is a communitybased, year-round day program for adults who have aged out of the school system. We provide the much-needed opportunity for individuals to become active and contributing members of the community. • Job training opportunities • Volunteering • Learning life skills: money management, cooking, shopping, social skills and more • Recreational activities

Other programs offered: • Weekend retreats and sleepovers • Parent and family support • Continuing Ed courses • Seasonal day camps: Summer, Winter, Spring Break • Sibshops: fun activities for siblings of brothers/sisters with disabilities

For further information or to schedule a visit, email info@heroesdfw.org

www.heroesdfw.org Like us on Facebook: HEROESCamp

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may/june 2018


“Leaving for so long to care for Greyson “I wouldn’t want anybody to go through definitely took a toll on my career,” she this,” she says. “It’s life changing, but it has says. “Parents who take time off from their certainly changed me for the better.” careers have the same Before Greyson was uphill road. I don’t think born, the Erwins adopted my story is special; it was the mantra, “Here’s to our just a forced choice.” side of the grass,” a phrase It was one of many that’s grown to hold great difficult choices Erwin meaning over the years. has faced since becomThey practice gratitude ing a parent 11 years for every day their feet hit ago. When Greyson was the floor and consciously diagnosed with SMA at 6 strive to prioritize “quality months, life as she knew it over quantity” in the way ceased to exist. they live. Intuition told her For Erwin, this means something was wrong long days with little sleep right away. Milestones as she balances a full-time came and went unmet. job with family, running a But when she expressed nonprofit, and a little bit her concerns to doctors, of self-care. they blamed her—even In between work and going as far as to accuse late-night grant-writing ABOVE / Michele Erwin founded her of neglect. sessions, Erwin plays All Wheels Up after becoming “They made me feel competitive tennis. It’s a frustrated with the subpar travel like I was making things passion she shares with accommodations available to up,” says Erwin. “I was Vivian, who also plays, and individuals who use wheelchairs, this parent that could is typically the activity of such as the standard chair above. never do enough.” choice during their weekly Finally, a friend got her an appointment mother-daughter date nights. with a pediatric neurologist, who immediThe mom is careful to ensure that Vivian ately diagnosed the infant with SMA. isn’t overshadowed by her brother’s extensive Erwin remembers the moment vividly. needs and gets the undivided attention she White noise filled her ears; she describes it craves as a typical 8-year-old. like something out of a movie. “She’s not shy and lets me know when “This doctor tells you that your child has I’m not giving her the attention she needs,” a terminal illness, and you’re in a state of she says. “But she understands the needs of disbelief. You don’t know what to do, where her brother.” to turn … whether to cry. It was probably the Erwin says it was a hard decision to have most difficult day of my life.” another child—because SMA is genetic, they Refusing to wallow in the news, the had to consider the possibility that their Erwins sprung into action, setting up doctors’ second would have the disorder too. But ultiappointments, locating support groups and mately, their desire for the “family dynamic” reading about SMA on the internet. they’d dreamed of won out. What they learned: Similar to amyoAnd today, with the exception of medical trophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s equipment and nurses migrating in and out, disease), SMA is a progressive disorder that they have just that. The kids go to school, mom affects nerve cells located in the spinal cord, and dad have date nights and the family spends resulting in immobilization. Even more distime together hanging out in front of the TV. heartening: Children born with the disorder Given Erwin’s determination and All have a life expectancy of less than two years. Wheels Up’s success thus far, family vacations But, though Greyson’s care is comare sure to be on the calendar soon, too. plicated—around-the-clock nurses, “When I was younger, I’d look nighttime assistance from a BiPAP at my grandmother or Jackie To donate breathing machine, a team of Onassis—very strong women or learn more aides to help him through the with authority and gumption— about All Wheels school day and more—he has and I’d think about how I’d love Up, visit allwheels more than defied the odds. to be like that one day,” says up.org. And in her own way, so Erwin. “With my child’s illness has Erwin. She’s faced situations and the path I’ve taken trying to unfathomable to most parents, and advocate for him and others around while she’s the first to admit that she’s the world, I realized it just takes finding susceptible to bad days like anyone else, that passion and believing in yourself. I’m she’s weathered the storm with grace. proud of me today.” t

Photo courtesy of All Wheels Up



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Serving the needs of learning different students for 30 years. Early Childhood – 12th Grade Small class sizes

Autism now affects 1 in 68 children. There is effective treatment. Our goal is for every child in our ABA treatment program to reach his/her maximum potential. We specifically use proven methods and highly trained staff members to give each child the best chance to have a successful future. Our program includes: » » » » » »

Behavior assessment and design of behavior treatment plan Individualized, 1:1 ABA treatment provided in the child’s home, school, and/or community setting Comprehensive curriculum targeting the improvement of socialization, communication, self-help, play, academics and more Techniques to reduce challenging behaviors Parent training and participation in behavior intervention methods Facilitated play dates with peers

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m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 8 13

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Sound Advice ARD Pressed

Credo Beauty // 7700 Windrose Ave., Suite G160, Plano; 469/782-1407 // credobeauty.com

Parabens, petroleum, sodium lauryl sulfate—the list of big, bad beauty ingredients seems endless. Enter Credo Beauty, our newest “me” time destination in Plano’s Legacy West. The spa and shop is the latest outpost from Annie Jackson and the late Shashi Batra—two key members behind Sephora’s U.S. empire—so they know a thing or two about beauty. With a mission to make your beauty routine as simple as the ingredients in their products, Credo is stocked with over 100 brands that

meet the “clean beauty” criteria— nontoxic, cruelty-free and sustainable. The spa is staffed exclusively by trained estheticians and makeup artists who offer free makeup tutorials and hand-picked skin care routines, plus spa services using Tata Harper’s luxurious, all-natural products. —Alexis Manrodt

treats for all

Spend a warm Saturday morning strolling your neighborhood farmers market with your gal pals and pick up fresh local foods that meet your kiddos’ dietary needs; you’ll even have the opportunity to talk to vendors one-on-one about their ingredients. Don’t forget dessert: Visit the Mansfield Farmers Market to try I Can’t Believe It’s Allergy Free’s plant-based cakes and cupcakes in flavors from chocolate and vanilla to gingerbread and Mexican marble. And look for The Cookie Crave’s nut-free treats at a number of farmers markets around Dallas and Collin counties.—Lisa Salinas I Can’t Believe It’s Allergy Free, $30 per dozen basic flavored cupcakes, $3 per cake serving // Mansfield Farmers Market, 703 E. Broad St., Mansfield; icantbelieveitsallergyfree.com // The Cookie Crave, $12–$16 for a half dozen, $24 for a mixed dozen // Multiple locations, 940/535-8520; thecookiecrave.com 14 t h r i v e

may/june 2018

Before the meeting: • Take steps to gain control. Ask for the data supporting the school’s recommendations and bring your data to be considered by the ARD committee members. This will give you some control of the meeting by requiring that all decisions made are data-driven. • Give yourself time to process your emotions. Request a full explanation of your child’s disability and its characteristics. By doing so, you will have had time to emotionally process this information and will be less likely to make an emotional decision. • Don’t be a stranger. Being a part of the school’s community will make you feel more at ease with the individuals serving on your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) committee. As a result, when an ARD meeting is held you will not feel like a stranger, but an active participant in your child’s education. • Remember, no one is perfect! Dr. Akweta Hickman is the executive director of special education at DeSoto Independent School District.

Photos courtesy of Credo Beauty, I Can't Believe It's Allergy Free; Illustration by Mary Dunn

clean beauty

Being a parent of a student eligible for special education services requires parents to have a great understanding of the special education process. The unfamiliarity and novelty can cause extreme emotional turmoil for families. However, challenges are made to be conquered! Preparing for Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meetings beforehand will help you manage the stress of navigating the special education journey.



LEARNING DIFFERENT CHILD NOT REACHING THEIR TRUE POTENTIAL? Great Lakes Academy, an accredited, non-profit private school in Plano offers 3rd–12th grade students with average to above average intelligence, with various learning differences, ADHD or Asperger’s syndrome, a positive school experience.



6000 Custer Road • Building 7 • Plano 972-517-7498 ext. 103


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Se Habla Español




m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 8 15


A Thursday in the Life of

Nika Arastoupour

Nika Arastoupour is a Realtor at Rogers Healy and Associates and a co-owner of The Helm ABA. She is also the founder of Heart of Autism, which has raised more than $200,000 to help local families touched by autism. She and her husband, Amir, live in Frisco with their sons, 7-year-old Mazy, who is on the autism spectrum, and 6-year-old Bijan.

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:40AM I beat my alarm by a few minutes, so I browse social media to help me wake up. 6AM Hit the elliptical for 30 minutes and play a mix of Persian pop, hip-hop and Top 40 on Pandora. This is definitely my favorite part of the day—it sets the mood for everything else. 6:33AM Jump in the shower before the kids wake. 6:45AM The boys and I share some wake-up tickles, then it’s to the bathroom to brush teeth, wash faces and get dressed for school. Mazy finally knows how to dress himself, so it’s a competition for the boys to see who can get ready the fastest. 7AM Amir preps breakfast so I can finish getting ready. Cartoons keep the boys subdued long enough to finish breakfast. We have a schedule of whose day it is to have the remote— it’s a constant battle for control over the television. 7:26AM We load up the car and are off to school drop-off. Mazy asks about his schedule and confirms the same daily routine. 7:29AM Carpool drop-off is always a little hectic. Mazy can get very upset if the car door is opened by the student helpers who come out at 7:30, so we arrive a couple of minutes early. 7:35AM I make my way over to work in Lewisville. I call my mom and my BFF Anishta to talk about our lives while applying makeup at every red light. 8:20AM Pull up at The Helm ABA

offices. I dive into work on market research, insurance verification calls and taking the overflow of intake calls. We provide in-home applied behavior analysis to over 28 areas in North Texas, as well as in-center services, so there is always plenty to do. Today, I’m working on the lease contract for our new Allen center. 12PM I work through lunchtime at my desk. It’s Jimmy John’s to the rescue. 2PM I arrive for carpool at the boys’ school with just enough time to check emails and catch up on calls. 2:55PM My boys rush out of school and jump into the car. They talk over each other telling me about their day. We pull up to the house, where Mazy’s ABA therapist awaits him. Mazy has lots of questions about his session, as always.  3:10PM The boys drop their backpacks and grab a snack. Mazy starts therapy while Bijan does homework.   3:45PM Bijan and Amir head out for martial arts class, Mazy is upstairs and I catch up on more emails. Quiet time is rare in this house so I make the most of it. 4:30PM Time to start prepping dinner: rice and beef kabobs. Our family is Persian, and the kids love their Persian food! 5:30PM I tidy up around the house before Bijan and Amir get home. They arrive shortly after, and we get ready for dinner. 6PM Mazy is done with his therapy. Dinnertime—it is Mazy’s turn to say grace, and of course Bijan jumps in to add to it. 6:20PM We ask the boys about their day. I begin to tear up because I’m so thankful for my boys and how far Mazy has come. I recall our early days when I didn’t know what today would look like or if Mazy would have a voice. We always count our blessings. 6:30PM The boys clean their plates and rush to the television. It’s a repeat of this morning, and they fight over the remote. I remind them that it’s Bijan’s turn.  6:45PM Amir and I finish dinner. I really dislike washing dishes so my amazing husband does that chore for me.   7PM Bathtime. Tonight, I run an Epsom salt and lavender bath for the boys.    7:20PM The kids choose their bedtime books. Mazy loves Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems while Bijan goes for a superhero book that he got from his school library. 7:45PM Lights out! Bijan is out in five minutes. We hear Mazy stirring before he finally falls asleep an hour later. We have come a long way, and I am so thankful  that he is able to put himself to sleep.

Photo courtesy of Katie Lander Photography

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Nika's Necessities

Dental Care for your Special Loved One

Yearly destination Orlando Greatest fear Deep waters, like out in the ocean Words she lives by I am blessed. God is great. Motherhood in five words “Well, today went pretty good!” Ongoing project Heart of Autism Celebrity mom she admires My mom—she’s a celebrity in my books Celebrity closet she’d like to raid Kyle Richards Blog she follows Inspire Me! Home Décor Must-have magazine for a long flight Duh, Thrive!

Anna Willison, DDS

People with disabilities often need special care to maintain their dental health. 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.

The Ashford Rise School of Dallas at the Moody Family YMCA is an NAEYC-accredited preschool serving children

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.

with and without special needs in an inclusive environment for ages 6 months to 6 years.

Student-to-staff ratio 3–4:1

We recognize that caring for special needs patients takes compassion and understanding. We focus on meeting those needs, both for the patients and the care givers.

+ Occupational, Speech, Physical and Music Therapy in the classroom setting + Educational assessment + Year-round schedule + Full day program 8:00a–2:30p + YMCA after-care available 2:30–5:30p

Dallas Center for Oral Health & Wellness Medical City Hospital Dallas, 7777 Forest Ln., Ste. A-309

8PM Amir and I chat about our day over some hot tea. 9PM I get the kids’ school bags cleaned out and sign their folders, and then I lay out their clothes for the morning.   9:15PM Back to work, now on real estate. I catch up on emails and schedule a few lease showings for Friday afternoon. A client is getting ready to list their house for sale, so I run comparable analyses of nearby properties. 11PM I catch up on work for my nonprofit, Heart of Autism, and work on agenda topics for our upcoming board meeting. 11:30PM I review my to-do list and add urgent things in my calendar for tomorrow morning. To be honest, everything seems urgent on most days. 12:40AM Finally in bed. I read through Facebook posts from parents about their kiddos who are on the spectrum. I shed some light where I can and offer some words of encouragement.   1:15AM One last glance at the clock before I finally fall asleep. t Diaries are penned by moms (and dads) in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The authors volunteer to share a day of their choosing and are not paid or endorsed by Thrive. Send your diary to editorial@dfwchild.com. All submissions are subject to editing and may be cut for space.

6000 Preston Rd., Dallas 75205 214-526-7293 // www.risedallas.org ©


Serving STAR Kids Members Throughout Texas!

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We Have

Feelings Too o x ox o x oxo xo xo xo xo x Between therapies, treatments and tutoring sessions, it’s easy to neglect a vital piece of your child’s well-being: E M O T I O N A L H E A LT H. WORDS SUNDEY MCCLENDON


he email from my son’s teacher made my heart sink. “Your son is the most challenging student I have ever had,” it read, “because his self-esteem is so low. He hides his work behind a folder and will not engage in class. He seems very sad.” My son was 9 at the time, profoundly dyslexic and, though I didn’t see it until it was pointed out to me, hedging dangerously close to depression. By that point, we had spent countless hours on testing and tutoring, decoding and practicing, but these practical therapies weren’t addressing a deeper issue: Navigating my son’s disability meant diving down into his feelings with him before they wrecked him. It turns out, my son was not alone in feeling down. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Learning Disabilities revealed a significant increase in social anxiety, generalized anxiety and depressive symptoms in children with learning disabilities over typically developing children. Feeling isolated and struggling to accept what makes them different is a common thread in kids with other disabilities too, and experts believe those feelings are leading to more cases of depression. Fran Osborn, a licensed professional counselor at Dallas Area Insight Counseling, says that while it is no secret that anxiety and depression are on the rise for typical children, she is seeing an even greater spike among kids with special needs. In trying to take care of their more obvious needs—making therapy appointments, keeping up with the medication schedule, communicating with teachers and tutors, navigating health care red tape—parents can overlook their child’s complex inner life.

“Children with disabilities need emotional support just as much as they need the physical therapies,” she says, “because if they cannot fully accept themselves and their disabilities and deal with being different and find purpose for their lives, that can lead to anxiety and depression down the road.” That’s not to say that every child with disabilities will develop depression. But every child with disabilities has thoughts and feelings, even if parents may not perfectly understand them, and learning to interpret and care for those feelings is a crucial part of creating the best life possible for your kid. COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN

Lauren Schnepf is trying to help her 4-year-old son Caleb, who has Down syndrome, prepare emotionally for mainstream kindergarten this fall. Since he doesn’t have a lot of words, his feelings can come out through his fists. “Sometimes when we are out in public, if someone invades his personal space, he will swat at them to get them to back up,” the Lake Highlands mom explains. She admits that her son’s behavior used to embarrass her until she understood the emotions he was trying to convey. “Now I realize that it’s a normal emotion to feel overwhelmed when someone is too close to you or making you feel uncomfortable,” she says. “We all feel that—I just have to help Caleb find a way to express that without hitting.” For kids with special needs, expressing their emotions can be complicated by communication challenges, which in turn makes it more difficult thrive

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to dealing with the feelings of only path for him,” he explains. isolation that accompanied her “Then when it comes time for disability. This kind of open actheir child to graduate, the famceptance is important in helping a ily’s confidence is shattered when child make room for her disability they find that college isn’t a viable in her identity without allowing it option for their child.” to become her identity. To avoid that kind of emotional “When you don’t acknowledge fallout, it’s important for parents to disabilities, that’s when a problem find education and mental health can form later on down the line consultants who can put their child as children have to learn how to on a realistic path toward a future accept that they are different, and with purpose. that the difference is just one part A PL ACE IN THE WORLD of who they are,” Osborn says. Be warned: A realistic path is not Feuerbacher agrees that when a sheltered one. parents fully accept their child’s Osborn says parents may disability as part of who they accidentally become a hindrance are, it helps the child process to their children’s emotional things better. “If a child is bipolar, health by protecting them from understanding that his reactions risky new experiences, making aren’t always a choice but instead them feel like they are inadequate a chemical reaction leads to more or have no real purpose. As acceptance, and that helps the counterintuitive as it may seem, child feel comfortable accepting battling feelings of isolation and himself and the things about him anxiety actually requires parents that are different,” she says. to be less hands-on. When those sleepover invita“Many parents don’t throw tions came, Smith was frank with their kids out there and let them Caroline about her abilities. “We experience had to talk a things, but these lot about how experiences we cannot build ability,” change what is she says. “They different but help children we can find a find their strong different way points and help to do things,” them realize they she says. have a purpose Wes Parks, in this world.” a Fort Worth Feuerbacher psychotherapist, says she can says that a realclearly see istic view is cruthe difference cial to raising between the children who kids she works feel comfortable with who have THE WRITER’S SON FOUND with themselves a healthy emoHIS PURPOSE IN THE AIR. and confident tional balance that they can and those who be successful, adding that an undo not—and that difference is realistic view of their abilities can their parents. The parents of emohurt children’s emotional health in tionally healthy kids “are focusing the long run. He sees this problem on the whole child and not the at school, especially for kids with disability,” she explains. “They find cognitive impairment: Instead of ways for them to pursue interests giving students with disabilities like art or modified sports. They attainable goals and plans for the give them these opportunities future, he says schools may downeven though it’s challenging.” play the severity of disabilities, For the Smiths, that meant putleading to disappointment, anxiety ting Caroline in pursuits designed and depression in the future. for children with disabilities, like “They tell the parents of a T-ball through the Miracle League, child with an IQ of 65 that he will but also mainstream activities like go to college and puff them up the church nursery and soccer with this notion that college is the

Photo Courtesy of Sundey McClendon

for parents to recognize and infore it starts, and I have more time terpret those feelings. Emotional to work with him on processing it distress, in particular, may look using things like social stories.” different for a child with disabiliIn addition, the Schnepfs ties than it does for other kids. also sought out professional help Alisha Feuerbacher, a specialthrough the Rise School of Dallas. ized behavior support teacher at “They connected us with a beFrisco High School, helps havioral therapist who will come children in special alongside what we are doing education at home and help connect whose Caleb’s behaviors with his behaviors feelings and then help “It’s critical impact untangle the ones that to their emotional their aren’t helping him,” development to feel daily she explains. school capable in a world AWARENESS life. She that will often try to AND ACCEPTANCE says As kids with distell them that they their abilities get older, they are not.” emotional may begin to recognize challenges their limitations, leading can manifest to feelings of isolation and in ways that might inadequacy. not initially look like an emoMansfield mom Stephanie tional issue. Smith remembers the first time “When we as adults think of she realized that besides the what depression or anxiety looks physical challenges of spina bilike, it’s usually from our own fida, her daughter Caroline would perspective,” she says. “But for the have another set of challenges kids I work with, the symptoms that could be less obvious—and look like outbursts, anger and at times, much more painful. sometimes violence. It looks like “I remember when birthday frustration at not having the tools party invitations started coming in to process a big feeling.” for things that were hard for her to Feuerbacher says these emodo, like swimming or roller skating,” tional issues, if left unrecognized Smith recalls. “Caroline started feeland unsupported, can intensify ing really different and a little sad.” into a big problem for a child’s Later, sleepovers became a whole family. source of anxiety too. “With the “My job is 60 percent working things she couldn’t do as easily as with the parents and 40 percent her friends came a lot of feelings with the kids,” she explains, that she had to learn to process,” “because if the child’s emotional Smith explains. “She was frustrated needs are not met, it can cause a and felt like she was missing out lot of stress for the parents’ and when she had to leave a party early that can turn into a hard situation because of physical limitations.” for everyone.” Though it is tempting to To meet Caleb’s needs, Schnepf soothe your child’s frustrations by left her corporate job to run an downplaying her disability, Osonline boutique, which allowed born says that being cognizant of her to be at home more with her your child’s limitations is actually son. Now she’s close at hand to a great starting point for lending read his emotions and help him emotional support. “A lot of times, process them. the way the child handles her dis“For Caleb, this has helped a ability depends on how the parent lot because as his mother, I can handles it,” she says. tell when he’s frustrated or sad Osborn, who was born blind, or angry,” Schnepf says. “I can says the best thing her parents did usually feel it coming on in his was to help her accept that she was mannerisms or a slight change in blind and roll with the punches. his demeanor that others might “Their approach was very matnot be able to pick up on. Before ter of fact,” she remembers. “It was I could sense that change, but I like, ‘This is who you are.’” didn’t have as much time to work By setting the tone early on, with him. Now I can head it off bethey gave her a healthy approach

through SoccerTots. These opportunities helped her find friends who could see past her wheelchair and leg braces and opened the door to new and affirming experiences. Soon Caroline developed a strong circle of girlfriends whose parents went out of their way to be inclusive. “Once we accepted that we would have to do things differently, those friends were willing to help us and go the extra mile so that Caroline eventually could spend the night at friends’ houses or swim with them,” Smith says. “Having friends who invested in her was one of the biggest things we did that made a difference in her life.” Pursuing interests—particularly in the company of others—can banish loneliness and boost a child’s social confidence, but it’s also a vehicle for keeping feelings of inadequacy at bay. “It is so important to highlight what children can do well,” Osborn says. “It’s critical to their emotional development to feel capable in a world that will often try to tell them they are not.” The Smiths give Caroline space to feel disappointed or frustrated, but they meet that disappointment with affirmation that her differences make her unique and give her a distinct purpose in this world. “We would listen and validate her feeling because, yeah, it can stink to be different,” Smith says. “But all of us are different in one way or another, so we would quickly follow that up with affirmation and then push her to focus on what she can do and to do it to the best of her ability.” Turns out Caroline is gifted academically—she just needed a place to cultivate that interest. “[We] found a private school where she could blossom and not have to constantly explain her disability,” Smith says. “She is currently taking pre-AP algebra and doing great.” Osborn encourages parents to follow Smith’s lead and move past a place of fear, to push their children to try new things and find their niche. “It can be scary, but as parents your job is to prepare your children to live independently in the world, so we must push past the fear,” Osborn says. “On the other side of that fear is going to be where they find their identities as whole persons.” For my own son, it started with a lawn mower. My husband spent several months teaching him how to mow the grass. The instant gratification of seeing a freshly mowed yard boosted his confidence tremendously, and some neighbors even offered him a job mowing their yards. Realizing that he could command a big machine helped him find an even bigger purpose: becoming a pilot. Now 12, he is working toward his pilot’s license and glider pilot’s license. In order to push past my fear of allowing him to go up in an airplane, I asked myself if I wanted a son who battled depression on the ground or who found his self-worth in the air. I’m happy to report that while his typical peers are struggling to navigate middle school, he is flying high. t



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If your child has been experiencing any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it may be time to add a therapist or counselor to the rotation.

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LET’S GET PHYSICAL 23 sports programs to keep your kids active WORDS ALEXIS MANRODT & LISA SALINAS

SPORTS PROGRAMS FOR SPECIAL NEEDS ARE plentiful in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, making it easier than ever to get your kid off the sidelines and into shape. Before enrolling your child, be sure to visit a doctor to check that your child is healthy enough to participate in his or her sport of choice. It’s helpful to speak with the coach or instructor about your child’s disabilities and the best way to work with your little one to ensure the best season ever. Game on!


Teams are available for individuals ages 4–15 and age 16 and up with all disabilities. The spring season is now in session. Register online. Cost: Free Yellowjacket Park, 995 W. Yellowjacket Lane, Rockwall; 972/722-6001 angelleague.org


Start your weekends with Buddy League’s Saturday morning baseball games, open to ages 4–18. Teams are divided by age. Register online. Cost: $10 per year for spring and fall seasons; T-shirt and equipment included Bradfield Park, 1220 Castle Drive, Garland; 972/414-9280 buddyleague.org

MIRACLE LEAGUE OF DFW All ages and abilities are welcome to play in the local 22 t h r i v e

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league’s two-inning game— games are always a tie at the end, and everyone wins. Register online for the six-week fall or spring season. Contact Grace Whetstone at info@ miracleleaguedfw.org. Cost: $25 per season; some scholarships available Randol Mill Park, 1901 W. Randol Mill Road, Arlington; 817/733-6076 miracleleaguedfw.com

MIRACLE LEAGUE OF IRVING Batter up! All abilities and needs are welcome in Irving’s free softball and baseball league. To enroll your kiddie, visit the Irving YMCA or pop by the field on game day. Spring season is now in session. Contact executive director John Munoz at jmunoz@ ymcadallas.org. Cost: Free Cottonwood Creek Park, 4051 N. Story Road, Irving; 972/986-8898 ymcadallas.org


Baseball enthusiasts 5 and up with all abilities and special needs, including highfunctioning autism, vision impairment and limited mobility, are welcome. Games last two innings and each player is assigned a typical buddy. For more information email info@ miracleleagueofsouthlake.com. Cost: Free Bicentennial Park, 450 W. Southlake Blvd., Southlake; 817/300-1094 miracleleagueofsouthlake.com


Aspiring Mavs ages 5–18 can don a blue-and-white jersey of their own in this wheelchair league. Kids are divided into three groups: two varsity teams, a prep team and a futures team with more one-on-one instruction. Register online. For more info, contact Jodi Commers at jodi. commers@ dallascityhall. com. Cost: $12 per month, plus a membership to the Bachman Recreation Center ($5 annually for ages 6–17) 2750 Bachman Drive, Dallas, 214/670-6266 dallasjuniorwheelchairmavericks.org

Cheer, Dance & Tumbling ASI GYMNASTICS

Kids ages 3–18 with autism, genetic conditions, neuromuscular disorders, vision or hearing impairment, and general developmental delays can gain strength and skills in ASI’s Gymmie Kids program. Coaches will evaluate whether your child should take customized private lessons or enroll in a class led by a support coach. Private and group lessons are conducted weekly. Cost: Prices start at $68 per month, plus $30 enrollment fee Multiple locations; asigymnastics.com


Cheerleaders 5 and older learn basic cheer steps as well as tumbling moves as part of the academy’s special needs team. Led by U.S. All Star Federation– certified coaches, the coed squad regularly struts their stuff at competitions held everywhere from Six Flags to AT&T Stadium. Practices are Mondays from 6–7pm. To enroll, contact Patty at info@cheeracademy.com. Cost: Free 805 Secretary Drive, Suite C, Arlington; 817/823-7522 cheeracademy.com


Kids 9 and up join instructor Lücke Alexandre for a special

needs hip-hop class on Monday from 6:30–7:30pm at the studio’s Keller outpost. The current program ends in June, so visit the studio website to enroll in the upcoming season, which kicks off in August. Cost: $75 per month; free trial class available 5700 Kroger Drive, Keller; 817/745-3262 danastudio.com


No Boundaries is a coed class for dancers with special needs of all ages and abilities. Sign up for the introductory-level class online or at the studio. Parents are invited to stay and observe—or bust a move or two yourselves! Cost: Free 208 W.J. Boaz Road, Saginaw; 817/232-9393 encoreschoolofdance.com


Each cheerleader on the Shining Stars team has a typical cheer helper, plus two coaches who lead the squad to perform routines at local events and competitions. Weekly practices start in June, but athletes can join the team through September. Register online. Cost: $25 per month, plus $35 annual fee and $100 uniform rental fee 9550 John W. Elliott Drive, Frisco; 972/731-5888 expresscheer.com


Photos © iStockphoto

The developmental gymnastics program offers private lessons and group integration classes for tumblers 3 and older. In weekly 50-minute classes, children with all mental disabilities and most physical disabilities (children who use wheelchairs might be limited) will learn to use beams, ropes and trampolines. Register by phone or online. Cost: $80 per month 4335 N. Beltwood Parkway N., Farmers Branch; 972/620-9922 thepalaestradallas.com


Kids 7–18 can bust a move at hip-hop classes every Wednesday from 5:30–6:15pm. Sacred Ground also offers a buddy program that pairs kids

with high school students in the typical dance program to socialize and learn a few new moves. Cost: $20/month 3301 Long Prairie Road, Suite 135, Flower Mound; 806/241-7226 sgdance.org


Spirit Xtreme’s Rejoice team is open to boys and girls 5–18. Cheerleaders with all disabilities can work up a sweat learning traditional cheer steps and boost their self-confidence through dance performances. Practices begin mid-August—contact melissa@spirit-xtreme.com for information or attend the parent information meeting on Monday, June 4, to learn more. Cost: Prices start at $35 per month, plus $35 registration fee 2895 Market Loop, Southlake; 817/251-8984 spirit-xtreme.com


TCA offers both cheer and dance programs for performers with special needs: Dance class is Sunday from 2:45–3:15pm, and cheer practice follows from 3:15– 3:45pm. TCA also offers private lessons for anyone who wants individual training. Contact texascutez@gmail.com for more information. Cost: $45 per month for one program or $65 for both, plus fees and uniform cost 1214 Metro Park Blvd., Suite 203, Lewisville; 469/233-2882 texascutez.com


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. Kids 5 and older can join the youth league, which runs September through March. Contact dfwsledhockey@ gmail.com for information and to inquire about the soon-to-launch Special hockey team for athletes with all disabilities. Cost: $45 per year; first year free Dr Pepper StarCenter, 12700 N. Stemmons Freeway, Farmers Branch; 682/556-1277 swaasports.org


The Y’s Buddy Sports program welcomes kids ages 5–18 interested in basketball, kickball and more. Register in person. For more information, contact DeWayne Norris at dnorris@ ymcadallas.org. Cost: $25; YMCA membership not needed 2021 Cross Timbers Road, Flower Mound, 972/539-9622 ymcadallas.org


All ages are invited to participate in RISE’s free adaptive programs, from rugby to volleyball to swimming to tubing to handcycling. RISE serves individuals with a wide range of special needs and medical conditions. Enroll online. Email info@ riseadaptivesports. org with questions. Cost: Free Multiple locations; 469/762-5075 riseadaptivesports.org

Swimming AQUA-FIT SWIM & FITNESS WELLNESS CENTER Six-week sessions are available Monday and Saturday yearround for ages 3 and up. The Froggies program develops each class to fit your child’s needs and abilities. Call to register. Cost: $119 for six lessons, plus $69 annual enrollment fee 1400 Summit Ave., Suite D2, Plano; 972/578-7946 aquafitplano.com


Ages 4 months to 12 years are welcome to join the Special Needs Aquatic Program (SNAP). Specific goals are created for every swimmer through an initial evaluation and ongoing parent-instructor meetings. Private lessons are also available. Register online. Cost: Classes begin at $89 per month for one class per week Multiple locations; aqua-tots.com


Kiddos learn stroke styles and distance swimming through a customizable semester-long curriculum. Group lessons, semi-private lessons and private lessons are available at every location. Register online. Cost: Prices vary by location but begin at $99.23 per month Multiple locations; emlerswimschool.com


Boys and girls ages 4–19 withmental and physical disabilities can join this program by the Coppell Youth Soccer Association. Teams are organized according to physical size and ability, with TOPS teams facing off against typical teams in the CYSA in eight noncompetitive games throughout the season. Enrollment runs April–July, and the season kicks off the weekend after Labor Day. Cost: $35 per season, plus cost of jersey 509 W. Bethel Road, Coppell; 972/304-0886 coppellyouthsoccer.com


Kids with autism spectrum disorder ages 5–18 work on hand-eye coordination, racket skills, volleys and social skills while playing a fun game of tennis. Young adults ages 19–30 are also welcome. Fall, spring and summer sessions are available. For more information, contact Adrienne or Matthew Bransky at aceingautismdallas@ gmail.com. Cost: Varies per age, $65–$120 The University of Texas at Dallas, 2400 Armstrong Drive, Richardson; 214/901-9010 aceingautism.org t


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Share in our Stomp Dance demonstrations.


Mother’s Celebration & Music Fair MAY 12

Armed Forces Celebration & Native Drums MAY 19

Memorial Celebration MAY 26 & 27

Father’s Celebration & Native Creativity JUNE 16

SPRING in BLOOM GARDENS • FESTIVITIES Join us as we celebrate


the season with festivities, attractions, art and culture. Tour the Traditional Village, Butterfly Gardens and Water Pavilion. Indoors are fascinating exhibits and experiences to share. Shop and enjoy the sunlit Aaimpa' Café.

Our Spiral Garden features the ancient “Three Sisters” method of planting beans, corn and squash together.

Stroll across the beautiful new Inkana Bridge!

ChickasawCulturalCenter.com Sulphur, OK • 580-622-7130


kid culture


things to do in


Sensory Children's Shows

Dallas, 214/740-0051 dct.org/sensory

Dallas Children’s Theater pulls double duty on Saturday, May 5, with sensory-friendly performances for Blue, an all-blue play designed for toddlers, and for Jungalbook, an adaptation of the original story about the man cub Mowgli, written for age 5 and older. Shows include brightened house lights, lowered sound and an available quiet room for kids on the spectrum. Call for tickets, only $5 apiece. Reserve your seats online for the American Sign Language interpreted show of Jungalbook on May 13; tickets from $17.

Adaptive Sports Fun On Saturday, June 9, Christian nonprofit Access-Life returns to Grapevine’s Oak Grove Park for the North Texas Expo Tour. Register by phone or online to take part in adaptive activities for all ages: boat rides and kayaks on Lake Grapevine, fishing, and time with furry animals such as horses. FREE Grapevine, 352/4559926; access-life.com/ north-tx

Photos courtesy of Karen Almond, Access-Life, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Macatee Photography and Telus World of Science

Ultimate Dinosaurs Exhibit

With the help of augmented reality and hands-on activities, meet a host of dinosaurs you’ve never seen before at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science’s special exhibit Ultimate Dinosaurs, opening June 23. (Members get first look June 21–22.) The Hoglund Foundation Theater, screening National Geographic’s Flying Monsters 3D, provides wheelchair and companion seating. $30 for adults, $21 for youth 2–12. $7 for Perot members. $6 for film tickets. Dallas, 214/428-5555; perotmuseum.org

For more events tailored to you, check the SpecialNeeds Friendly option on our online calendar at dfwchild.com/ calendar.


Special Needs Football Game

Highland Park High School students offer a real game changer for children with special needs who love football. Register online or by emailing hpbuddybowl@gmail.com by May 7 for your child to play in the second annual HP Buddy Bowl, a real game at Highlander Stadium on Saturday, May 19. Each athlete is paired up with a high school student, who teaches him or her football skills in an on-field clinic then competes side by side with them during the game at 11am. Participation is open to boys and girls of any age (adults included) with any type of disability. FREE Highland Park; hpbuddybowl.com

DSPNT Goes to the Gardens

Meet up with members and friends of the Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas on Saturday, May 19, for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden’s backyard vegetable garden and greenhouse. If you have gardening gloves, bring ’em for morning playtime and educational activities such as planting seeds, a scavenger hunt and investigating the soil like a scientist. Space is limited and open to the public so RSVP online for your spot. $4 per person at the door. Fort Worth, 682/316-3121; dspnt.org/events


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Children and Young Adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder are needed for a University of North Texas Study RECEIVE $300 AND FREE AUDITORY TRAINING

High-functioning individuals with ASD, ages 8-21 years, who qualify to participate will complete a 12-week auditory processing training program and use state-of the-art hearing technology.

FOR DETAILS, CONTACT: Dr. Erin Schafer, PhD., CCC/A Study Director and Professor of Audiology Email: untschaferlab@gmail.com



Check out: therapyandbeyond.com/pie-in-face-challenge Accepting Applications for Summer Camp & Fall 2018

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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 Dallas-Fort Worth as we could find. If you know of something we missed or have an idea for a new listing, send your recommendations to editorial@dfwchild.com. AT A GLANCE 27 add & adhd 27 asperger’s & autism 27 celiac disease 27 cerebral palsy 27 child care 28 cystic fibrosis 28 developmental disabilities 28 down syndrome 28 dyslexia 28 epilepsy 28 equestrian therapy 30 fragile x 30 hearing impaired 30 helpline 30 mental illness 30 muscular dystrophy 30 obsessive compulsive 31 recreation 31 respite care 32 sibling classes 32 tourette’s syndrome

Photos courtesy of Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas

32 vision impaired

ADD & ADHD Attention Deficit Disorders Association (ADDA) Southern Region Mesquite, 972/467-9299; adda-sr.org. Designed to be a resource network, to support individuals with ADHD and/or related conditions, and to advocate for community resources. Support group meets 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. Email opal. harris@att.net for more information. Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) ntxchadd.com. Works to educate and empower others with information about ADD/ADHD by providing parents with tools and information to help their child reach his or her full potential. Farmers Branch support group meets the third Wednesday of each month from 6–7:30pm in the Farmers Branch Library Conference Room. Call 469/767-6866 for more information. Tarrant County support group meets the fourth Monday of each month from 7–9pm at the Avant-Garde Counseling and Coaching Center. Call 817/707-6264 for more information.


ADAPT of Texas Austin, 512/4420252; adapt.org. National grassroots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities. Disability Rights Texas Dallas, 214/630-0916; drtx.org. Nonprofit organization that works on the state and community levels to protect and advocate for the legal rights of people with disabilities in Texas. The group provides legal services to people with many different kinds of disabilities. Special Needs Assistance Partners (SNAP) Euless, 817/5459456; ntxsnap.org. Advocates for people with cognitive disabilities. Creates and supports a variety of

programs that assist individuals 17 and older living with intellectual and developmental disabilities in achieving and sustaining full lives. Texans Care for Children Statewide, 512/473-2274; txchildren.org. Nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the well-being of Texas children through advocacy, childserving agencies, public outreach and other resources.

A S PE R G E R ’ S & AU T I S M AUsome Moms Flower Mound; ausomemoms.org. A nonprofit that provides support, social opportunities and education to Dallas-Fort Worth families with children on the autism spectrum.

Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT-NT) Richland Hills, 817/919-2228; featnt.org. Provides resources, support, education and advocacy for families in the autism community. National Autism Association of North Texas Plano, 214/925-2722; naa-nt.org. Seeks to increase public awareness of autism and to support parents, individuals and professionals dealing with autism through advocating and providing resources and the latest information on therapies and biomedical treatment. Our Children’s Circle McKinney. Support group of parents, educators and community leaders that strives to provide resources for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders. Find information on Facebook.



Achievement Center of Texas Garland, 972/414-7700; achievementcenteroftexas. org. 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. Brighter Day Academy Dallas, 214/265-8585. Fully inclusive day care for nonaggressive children with special needs ages 0–12. Medications and breathing treatments can be given on-site if necessary. Children accepted case by case. BrightStar Care Multiple locations, 866/618-7827; brightstarcare. com. Offers in-home care for highfunctioning children with special needs, including autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and more. Availability of services is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Calab, Inc. Multiple locations, calabinc.com. Provides quality individualized child care that encourages independence in individuals with disabilities. Clubhouse for Special Needs, The Bedford, 817/285-0885; theclubhouse.org. After-school programs, school holiday programs, summer programs and all-day programs for teens and young adults (ages 13–22) with special needs. Easterseals North Texas Child Development Center Carrollton, 972/394-8900; easterseals.com/ northtexas. Provides a preschool program for children with autism ages 6 weeks–6 years and typically developing children to learn alongside each other.


Gluten Intolerance Group of Greater Dallas DOWN SYNDROME GUILD OF Dallas, dfwceliac. DALLAS / page 28 org. Nonprofit Emma’s House. organization Irving, 972/839-1502; emmashouse. devoted to sharing and providing net. Provides functional, vocational information to help those with and life skills to promote gluten intolerance diseases, independence and self-sufficiency including celiac disease. Email for teens and young adults with president@dfwceliac.org. disabilities. After-school and summer programming is also available. C E R E B R A L PA L S Y Ability Connection Statewide, KinderFrogs School at TCU Fort 800/999-1898; abilityconnection.org. Worth, 817/257-6828; kinderfrogs. Offers a variety of programs to ensure tcu.edu. Early childhood program that people with all types of physical (ages 18 months–6 years) designed and intellectual disabilities have the to accommodate children with opportunity to participate fully and Down syndrome and other equally in all aspects of society. developmental delays. thrive

m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 8 27


Denton County MHMR Center Denton, 940/381-5000; dentonmhmr. org. Provides services to individuals with mental and behavioral health care needs. HEROES SIBSHOPS / page 32

The Kristine Project Plano, 469/212-4254. A private child care, preschool and respite service on the east side of Plano with 35 years of experience serving children with special and medical needs. Full-time, drop-in or respite care available. Email colleeneggert@yahoo.com or visit the Facebook page for more information. Mary’s House Dalworthington Gardens, 817/4594494; maryshouseinc.org. Provides before- and after-school care (Monday–Friday), day habilitation, activities and therapeutic options for teens ages 13 and older and adults with disabilities. Mom’s Best Friend Carrollton, 972/446-0500; momsbestfriend.com. The nanny agency and babysitter service provides referrals for in-home care for children of all ages with special needs throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


Blue Caboose Children’s Fund Dallas, 228/3410403; bluecaboose4cf.org. Provides back-to-school assistance, a Christmas toy drive and a community 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 kiri@ bluecaboose4cf.org). Cystic Fibrosis Foundation National, 800/3444823; Dallas, 214/871-2222; Fort Worth, 817/2497744. cff.org. Works to cure and control cystic fibrosis and to improve the quality of life for those with the disease.


Arc of Texas, The Statewide, 512/454-6694; thearcoftexas.org. Chapters in Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties provide services and support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dallas FASD Support Group Richardson. Support group for parents of children and adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Meets the fourth Monday of every month (except December) from 7–8:30pm in the Activities Center at First Baptist Richardson; email dallasfasd@gmail.com for more information. Dallas Metrocare Services – MHMR Dallas, 214/331-0109; metrocareservices.org. Provides an array of services to people with mental and 28 t h r i v e

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Easterseals North Texas Fort Worth, 888/617-7171; easterseals. com/northtexas. Centers in Dallas, Carrollton, Fort Worth and Grapevine provide services including outpatient rehabilitation, personal assistance, autism programs and respite care for children and adults with disabilities and other special needs. Jewish Family Service Dallas, 972/437-9950; jfsdallas.org. Offers a support group for parents, and provides extensive services for children with special needs and their parents and siblings, including assessment of abilities and needs, diagnostic testing, counseling, play therapy, social skills groups and school consultation. MHMR of Tarrant County Fort Worth, 817/5694300; mhmrtarrant.org. Provides services to individuals with behavioral health care needs, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance abuse disorders.


Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas Richardson, 214/267-1374; downsyndromedallas.org. Provides accurate and current information, resources and support for people with Down syndrome, their families and the community. Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas Fort Worth, 682/316-3121; dspnt.org. Provides information, social and educational activities and events and support for new parents, families and caregivers of those with Down syndrome.


Decoding Dyslexia Texas Statewide. Grass-roots movement driven by Texas families concerned with the limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia. The group aims to expand the public conversation about dyslexia and increase the awareness of dyslexia and the need for appropriate remediation services in all Texas schools. Visit the Facebook page. Impacting Dyslexia Education Awareness and Support (IDEAS) Plano, ideasplano.org. Promotes awareness and connects parents, caretakers and teachers with resources and information to aid children with dyslexia. Visit the Facebook page. International Dyslexia Association – Dallas Branch Dallas, 972/233-9107; dal.dyslexiaida.org. Nonprofit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to the study and treatment of dyslexia. The Dallas branch provides information and resources concerning learning differences to parents, educators, professionals and anyone who

wants to be more informed about dyslexia. The group meets from 7–8:30pm on the second Monday of each month (except July). Discussion topics change monthly; check the website for the meeting topic and location.


Epilepsy Foundation Texas Addison, 214/420-2737; eftx.org. Nonprofit organization that strives to improve the lives of children and adults with epilepsy.


Blue Sky Therapeutic Riding & Respite Krugerville, 469/450-9594; blueskytexas.org. 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, vocational and entrepreneurial opportunities. Born 2 Be Therapeutic Equestrian Center Aubrey, 940/595-8200; born2betec.org. Dedicated to safe and affordable horseback riding and carriage driving for children with disabilities through smallgroup 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. Equest Dallas, 972/412-1099; equest.org. Works with riders to develop independent skills that carry over to their everyday lives. Riders are encouraged to set individual goals ranging from holding the reins for one full circuit of the arena to more complex challenges, such as qualifying for and competing in the international arena. Grace Lake Ministries, Inc. Anna, 972/837-4621; gracelakeministries.org. 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. ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship McKinney, 469/742-9611; manegait.org. 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. As much as possible, riders participate in pre-mounted and post-mounted horse care. New Hope Equine Assisted Therapy Argyle, 817/729-5315; newhopeequine.com. Provides therapeutic horseback riding services for people with a wide variety of disabilities. Program is designed to bring hope, healing and happiness to riders through encouraging the horse and human connection. Riding Unlimited Ponder, 940/479-2016; ridingunlimited.org. Provides small-group and individual lessons for ages 4 to adult. Students can participate in therapeutic horsemanship classes, hippotherapy, exhibition and drill teams, Special Olympics equestrian events, and shows like the Chisholm Challenge for Special Riders Horse Show. Unbridled Horse Therapy Flower Mound, 817/319-7778; unbridledhorsetherapy.com. 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 shelly@ unbridledhorsetherapy.com for more information. Victory Therapy Center Roanoke, 682/831-1323; victorytherapy.org. Cares for the physical, mental

Photo courtesy of HEROES

developmental disabilities, including Early Childhood Intervention and the Center for Children with Autism programs.

You’re Invited

Organic Cedar Raised Garden Beds for Children

Saturday, May 5th 11am–1pm The Adolphus Hotel The Ashford Rise School OF DALLAS

Runway For Rise is a heartwarming children’s fashion show and luncheon featuring our very own students, with and without developmental disabilities.

Includes instructional book and seeds to start

Guests will be treated to a delicious lunch, live raffle and designer mystery gift boxes.

Sizes vary from 4’ x 4’ and larger

512-565-4860 spectrumgardenstx.com

Please join us in celebrating diversity and supporting these amazing children. All donations go directly to the Ashford Rise School of Dallas at the Moody Family YMCA.

Visit our website to learn some of the benefits of gardening for children with special needs.


Green Oaks School Green Oaks Adult Learning

Educate Minds.

500 Houston St. Arlington, TX 76011 (817) 861-5000 www.greenoaksinc.org

Nurture Spirits. Transform the Community.

Ads with © are © of Lauren Publications, Inc. 2018.

Air North Texas

stroll together breathe better

Walking with your child on the way to school or while running errands gives you more quality time together and helps improve air quality. Learn more about helping our air at airnorthtexas.org.

• Christian-based programs serving both children and adults with intellectual disabilities. • Summer camps and school year programming for children. • Continuing education and vocational programming for adults offered year-round, both part- and full-time. • Medicaid waiver funds may be used for many of the programs.


m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 8 29


a resourceful guide for your special needs

directory and emotional needs of children, adults, veterans, first responders and their families through the healing power of horses.

F R AG I L E X A One-Of-A-Kind Camp Camp Summit is 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 individual and are 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. Camp Summit 270 Private Rd. 3475, Paradise, TX 76073 972-484-8900 • camp@campsummittx.org www.campsummittx.org

“LEARN THE MARIGOLD WAY” RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY MLA is a private school for children with autism and related disabilities. We provide one-to-one and small group ABA therapy for children ages 18 months–10 years in a school-based program. • ABA Therapy • Indoor Gym • Social Skills • After-School Tutoring Marigold Learning Academy 401 W. Washington St., Rockwall, TX 75087 972-722-3892 • MarigoldLearningAcademy@gmail.com www.MarigoldLearningAcademy.com

No Limits, Just Possibilities Notre Dame School educates students with developmental disabilities and facilitates their integration into society. As the only school in Dallas exclusively serving this student population, Notre Dame is a unique educational resource with 160 students ages 8–22. We are now accepting applications for the 2018–2019 school year. Please contact Cindy Reynolds at creynolds@notredameschool.org. Notre Dame School of Dallas 2018 Allen St., Dallas, TX 75204 214-720-3911 notredameschool.org Speech-Language Assessments – Hearing Assessments – Speech-Language Therapy We provide evaluation and therapy services to   assist children and adults with: • Speech sound disorders • Childhood apraxia of speech • Voice and fluency • Receptive and expressive language • Feeding and swallowing   • Hearing and aural habilitation Now accepting new patients at our Denton clinic. Make an appointment today! TWU Speech, Language & Hearing Clinic 940-898-2285 • comsclinic@twu.edu twu.edu/speech-language-hearing-clinic To advertise in the Services section, call 972-447-9188 or email advertising@dfwchild.com

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Texas Fragile X Association Dallas, 972/757-8939; txfx.org. An association made up of families and professionals who provide resources and education on Fragile X issues. The association organizes family activities and education events throughout the year.


Dallas Hearing Foundation Dallas, 972/424-7711; dallashearingfoundation. org. Nonprofit foundation dedicated to giving the gifts of hearing and speech to children and adults with hearing loss through surgical treatment, hearing technologies, rehabilitation and educational support to those in financial need. Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas (DBMAT) Dallas, dbmat-tx.org. The mission of DBMAT is to promote and improve the quality of life for all Texans who are deaf-blind multihandicapped. DBMAT provides deaf-blind multihandicapped individuals and their families access to other members, training opportunities, social events and resources.


2-1-1 Texas: Finding Help in Texas Statewide, 211; 211texas.org. Free, anonymous and confidential information and referral line answered by nationally certified specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When callers dial 211, they are connected to information centers in their region.


Mental Health America of Greater Dallas Dallas, 214/871-2420; mhadallas.org. Works to stop the stigma around mental illness and build awareness of mental health issues while offering resources from established providers in the community. Offers multiple support groups at varying times. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Dallas, 214/341-7133; namidallas.org. NAMI Texas, 512/693-2000; namitexas.org. Provides support and education to families and friends of people with serious mental illness.


FACES of North Texas parentprojectmd.org. Families advocating, connecting, educating and supporting is the parent-led outreach initiative of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. FACES provides mentoring, support and advocacy to families living with muscular dystrophy. Visit the Facebook page.

O B S E S S I V E - CO M P U L S I V E

OCD and Anxiety Support Group DFW Bedford, ocdsupportgroupdfw. wordpress.com. 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. OCD Support Group Richardson, 214/906-1692. Professionally led support group serving the Dallas/Richardson/Plano area for parents of children with OCD, adults with OCD, family members/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 ocdparenthelp@yahoo.com for more information. OCD Texas Statewide, ocdtexas.org. Nonprofit support and advocacy organization that brings together people with OCD, their families and researchers across Texas. Visit the website for local contacts.


Bachman Recreation Center Dallas, 214/670-6266; dallasparks.org/ facilities. Provides an accessible facility for all individuals age 6 and older with disabilities. Best Buddies Statewide, 214/242-9908; bestbuddies.org/texas. Provides opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrating people with disabilities into their communities. Camp Summit Paradise, 972/484-8900; campsummittx.org. Camp for children and adults with disabilities ages 6–99. Traditional camp activities are adapted to each individual, provided in 100 percent barrier-free facilities, and implemented by trained, caring staff.

Challenge Air for Kids & Friends Dallas, 214/351-3353; challengeair.com. Offers motivational and inspirational aviation experiences to children and youth with physical challenges. Especially Needed McKinney, 214/499-3439; especiallyneeded.org. Builds a strong sense of unity for individuals with special needs by offering familyfriendly events throughout the year. The Feast Dallas, 214/521-3111; hpumc.org. Worship service at Highland Park United Methodist Church that is a welcome place for those with special needs, their families and friends, and all who have a heart for special needs. The Feast takes place on Sunday at 5pm. Jumpstreet Multiple locations, gotjump.com. Hosts a semiprivate event on the first Saturday of the month for children with special needs and their siblings. Keller ATA Martial Arts Keller, 817/337-9493; kellerata.com. Offers classes on Tuesday and Thursday for children 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. Metroplex Adaptive Water Sports (MAWS) Dallas, 214/803-9955; youcanski.org. Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for persons with all types of disabilities to experience water sports. Soaring Eagle Center DeSoto, 972/223-1873; soaringeaglecenter.org. Serves adults with developmental disabilities and their families through Special Olympics, social activities, educational classes and a day program. Adults with special needs work at Soaring Eagle Thrift Store to gain life skills. Special Olympics Texas Statewide, 512/835-9873; sotx.org. Provides yearround sports training and athletic competition in a variety of sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Starcatchers multiple locations, 972/422-2575; starcatchers.org. Provides youth and adults with opportunities to shine through drama, music, dance and visual art. Opportunities range from large theater productions to intimate art classes and further the development of social, communication, motor and cognitive skills. Wet Zone Waterpark Angel Swim Rowlett, 972/412-6266; rowlett.com/ parksandrec. Open swim for members of the community with special needs and their families during summer months.


Adventure Kids Playcare Multiple locations, adventurekidsplaycare.com. Offers hourly drop-in child care that is inclusive to children with special needs. Reservations are required. APT G: A Place to Go Allen, 214/385-8850; fumcallen.org. Free monthly respite night for children with special needs in grades six and up. Held the third Saturday of each month (September–May) from 7–9:30pm. Register online by the Wednesday before. Breakaway – Special Needs Ministry Fort Worth, 817/546-0876; ccbcfamily.org. Free respite night for children with special needs (all ages) and siblings (ages infant to 12 years) on the third Friday of the month throughout the year (excluding June, July and December). Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Bryan’s Buddies Grapevine, 817/481-2559; firstmethodistgrapevine.org. Monthly respite care for children with special needs and their siblings held at First United Methodist Church. Bryan’s House Dallas, 214/559-3946; bryanshouse.org. Provides respite care, child care and support services for children affected by HIV/AIDS and their families as well as children with other special health needs. Friday Night Fun and Night Vision at Lake Pointe Church Rockwall, 469/698-2310; lpkids.com/rockwall. Friday Night Fun is a monthly parents’ night out for children with special needs (6 months–13 years) and their siblings from 6–9pm on the third Friday of the month. Night Vision is for older students with special needs one Friday a month from 7–9pm. Non-church members accepted when space is available. Email emilyc@ lakepointe.org to register. SOAR, the special needs ministry, offers other programs for children and adults with special needs. Friday NITE Friends Plano, 972/618-3450; fridaynitefriends.org. Respite program for families with special needs and medically fragile children (ages birth–15 years) and their siblings (up to 12 years) on Friday evening from 6–10pm. thrive

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directory Gary’s Angels Plano, 214/291-8024; standrewumc.org. Sensory activities, a quiet room and Sunday school activities for children with special needs and their siblings at St. Andrew UMC during services at 9:30 and 10:50am.

christian academy

ST. TIMOTHY A Christian for Students with Learning Differences christian aSchool cademy

“When fear was edging out hope,

St. Timothy’s wonderful ministry

was the answer we needed.” Serving Grades K–12 Individualized Instruction Low Student-Teacher Ratio Positive, Nurturing Environment Multi-Sensory Approach to Teaching Social Skills Integrated into the Curriculum 6801 W. Park Blvd., Plano 75093 | 972/820-5460 staplano.org

Linking your ability to learning! Diagnostic neuro-educational evaluations for all ages to identify learning profiles, learning differences & disabilities, ADHD, Autism; Speech-Language services Academic coaching, Dyslexia tutoring Educational consultations Aptitude testing for college & career

KINDERFROGS SCHOOL AT TCU / The curriculum-based program Kids’ Night Out Plano, serves about 30 children, most of whom have disabilities, ages 18 972/941-7272; plano. months to 6 years. (page 27) gov/408/AdaptedRecreation. Respite night for children ages 1–11 and games to encourage open communication. A teens ages 12–15 with special needs and their group for ages 5–7 and a group for ages 8–12 siblings meets at Liberty Recreation Center from meets every other month; there are occasional 5:45–8:45pm on the second Friday of each month field trips and camps for ages 13–20. (except June and July). Reservations required.

Loving Hands Ministry Coppell, 972/462-0471; fumccoppell.org. Respite care for children with special needs up to age 16 and their siblings up to age 10 one Saturday a month from 5:30–8:30pm. A registered nurse will be on hand to offer support while the children engage in various activities. Night Lights Dallas, 214/706-9535; raysoflightdallas.org. Children with special needs ages 6 months–21 years and their siblings ages 6 months–13 years enjoy arts and crafts, computer games, live entertainment and more at this free respite night from 6–10pm every first, second and third Friday of the month (except January and July) at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church and every first Friday of the month at White Rock United Methodist Church. Free respite care for Spanish-speaking families on the third Friday of every month at the Christ Foundry United Methodist Mission. Registration required. Night OWLS Dallas, 214/523-2284; hpumc.org/ night-owls. Respite program for children ages 3 months–13 years with identified special needs and their siblings from 6–10pm on the first and third Friday night of each month at Highland Park United Methodist Church and the second Friday night of each month at Munger Place Church. Parents’ Night Out Allen, 972/727-8241; fbcallen.org. Respite program with music, games, movies and snacks for children with special needs in kindergarten through sixth grade and their siblings one Saturday a month during the school year at First Baptist Church Allen. Respite Care at Irving Bible Church Irving, 972/560-4613; irvingbible.org. Respite night one Saturday a month for children, teens and adults with special needs from 5:30–8pm. Reservations required.

(Formerly The Learning Center of North Texas) Mallick Tower ▪ 101 Summit Ave., Suite 612 Fort Worth, TX 76102 ▪ PH 817-336-0808 www.link-ed.org

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Cook Children’s Sib2Sib Program Fort Worth, 682/885-5872; cookchildrens.org. Free program for siblings of patients with a chronic illness or a life-changing injury. Workshops use crafts and

FEAT-North Texas Sibshops Richland Hills, 817/919-2228; featnt.org. Sibshop 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. HEROES Sibshops Richardson, 817/925-9434; heroesdfw.org. 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).


North Texas Tourette Syndrome Support Group Irving, 281/238-8096; tourettetexas.org/ dallas-northtexas. Serves North Texas families with Tourette’s syndrome and its associated disorders. Visit the website and contact the group leader for meeting times. Tourette Syndrome Association of Texas Richmond, 281/238-8096; tourettetexas.org. Raises funds to directly assist Texas families and children in crisis, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


American Foundation for the Blind Dallas, 214/352-7222; afb.org. Provides information and referrals to blind and visually impaired persons and their families. Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind Dallas, 214/8212375; dallaslighthouse.org. Nonprofit organization that focuses on improving and enhancing the lives and opportunities for individuals with visual impairments in North Texas. Texas Workforce Commission Dallas, 800/6285115; twc.state.tx.us. Works with Texans who are blind or visually impaired to help them get highquality jobs and live independently. Prevent Blindness Texas Dallas, 214/528-5521; preventblindnesstexas.org. Dedicated to preventing blindness and preserving sight for all Texans through vision screenings, education and free voucher programs.


Photo courtesy of Kinderfrogs School at TCU


Harvey’s Kids Carrollton, 972/492-2432; hcumc.org. Arts and crafts, food and other activities for children with special needs and their siblings every second Saturday of the month from 5–8pm. Reservations required.




June 11th through August 24th

830 Parker Square Rd. Flower Mound, TX 75028 972-410-5297 www.abc-pediatrics.com

Plano 6105 Windcom Ct. Ste. #400 Plano, TX 75093 Frisco 8501 Wade Blvd. Ste. #330 Frisco, TX 75034 972-312-8733 www.behaviorexchange.com

Our Summer camp program is an inclusive program with a responsive, developmentally appropriate approach to child growth and learning. We provide individualized attention to support each child’s emerging communication and learning skills. We work on communication, sensory integration, social relatedness, gross and fine motor development, play and self-help skills.

The Behavior Exchange family invites yours to a 10-week Summer Camp full of learning, laughter, and possibilities. ENROLL YOUR CHILD TODAY WHILE SPACES ARE AVAILABLE! All sorts of fun activities are planned that encourage communication, school readiness, social skills, and group participation. Our industry-leading approach combines a proprietary curriculum with proven ABA-Therapy techniques. The result is our ability to highly tailor programs for each child that raises the bar on expectations. We’re committed to ensuring children acquire real skills that make a difference in their lives this summer and beyond. So enroll today! (COVERED BY INSURANCE IN MOST CASES)

Camp Summit is a one-of-a-kind 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 individual and are provided in our barrier-free facilities and implemented by trained, caring staff. Our campers are grouped by age, providing the opportunity to make friends within peer groups while having fun and experiencing new adventures. 270 Private Rd. 3475 Paradise, TX 76073 972-484-8900 camp@campsummittx.org www.campsummittx.org

Camp Summit is located just north of DFW on 460 beautiful acres of land. We are accredited by the American Camp Association and licensed as a Youth Camp in the State of Texas.


m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 8 33



life goes on


that I sometimes forget to look at my daughter and her achievements—and the struggles she faces every day as a sibling of two boys with disabilities. Our daughter, Kiersten, is 11 years old and is smack in the middle of her brothers. She has been a sibling of individuals with disabilities her entire short life. The silver lining is that she does not know anything different. I think I honestly try to avoid the emotional side of supporting her because it scares me. I know the social situations she has to deal with just plain stink. Kiersten has had a great experience attaining friendships, but maintaining them has proven a little more difficult. She’s had a few friends over to spend the night, but it’s always been just the one time. Her friends are a little freaked out by everything involved with supporting the boys. To start, our older son has around-the-clock care. It even took me awhile to be comfortable going to sleep knowing there was a stranger walking around our house. Then there are the sounds of all the machines going— oxygen concentrators, IV pumps, nebulizers, CPT and suction machines. It doesn’t allow you to have much peace and quiet. Then there is dealing with a seizure or having an ambulance arrive at your house

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on a regular basis. (There is a time I remember vividly, when she was about 7 or 8, that Nick was not doing well, and we had to call 911 again.

"But despite all of that—or because of it—Kiersten is darn amazing." They arrived, and she opened the door and greeted them with, “Hello, firemen. Nick is over there.”) The fact that this is my daughter’s normal breaks my heart. Siblings like Kiersten are in the lives of individuals with disabilities the longest, and we need to support these siblings’ needs as well as prepare them for their future, which will likely look different from most people’s. When it comes to dating, I am not too concerned. I have already shared with her my rules: When a guy comes to pick her up, he must come in and sit on the couch between her brothers for a little while. If he can survive this, then he can have the privilege of taking her out. Then there’s graduating high school and going to college. Will she want to run as far away as she can because she is tired of dealing with her brothers? We try to keep her from worrying about the future, but she does. She has already

asked if her brothers will have to live with her forever. Absolutely not, we shared with her. She will be responsible for looking out for them and their needs, but they do not have to live with her and her future family. We shared that her responsibility will set in long after college, when she is an adult. This seems to have eased some of the stressors that shouldn’t even be a problem for a preteen. But despite all that—or because of it—Kiersten is darn amazing. Sometimes people do not give her the chance to show how fantastic she really is. My wife and I are doing everything we can to support her growth into a young woman. She is on a dance team and is at the studio Monday through Thursday right after school until 7:30– 8:00. She is able to put some of her emotions and feelings into her dancing. It is her escape. It’s important to provide her this opportunity. If adults need ways to escape the day-to-day challenges, then our kids need it more. She also participates in a program called Sibshops through HEROES, where she is able to share her feelings and have them validated. She is surrounded by students who


get her and understand the greatness that can come with being a sibling of an individual with disabilities. With support, kids like Kiersten can grow up to be more resilient, self-sufficient and strong. She shows such great love and empathy for her brothers, and it carries over to the community she is in. She is kind and smart and loving. She is strong-willed and knows what she likes. She is fantastic. She is my girl.


KERA Kids has a world of teacher-tested, kid-approved content, online and on the air. Go for the shows, videos and games. Go because fun and learning go hand-in-hand. Go to enrich their education, with the same member-supported organization that probably helped support yours. Go Public.


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



PLAY THERAPY • • • • • •




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

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Thrive May/June 2018  

Thrive May/June 2018  

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