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2017 / 18

Presented by

The Power

of MUSIC

8 Tips

for School Success Promote Self-Regulation with YOGA

Finding Good

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Avoid

PARENT BURNOUT

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Helping Families for Over 40 Years!

F E D E R AT I O N F O R C H I LD R E N WI T H SP ECIAL NEEDS

Informing, Educating, Empowering Families

The Federation for Children with Special Needs is the place families turn when they need information and resources to help their children with disaibilities. Staffed primarily by parents of children with special education and/or special health care needs, the Federation provides training and support on special education, healthcare, community resources and parent/professional collaboration.

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November 2017:

Annual Appeal | fcsn.org/donate

Support the work of the Federation through our Annual Appeal

March 10, 2018:

Visions of Community Conference | fcsn.org/voc

A full day of learning and networking opportunities for families of children with special needs and the professionals who serve them. Location: Seaport World Trade Center | Boston, MA

May 18, 2018:

Celebrating Every Child | fcsn.org/gala

Location: Westin Waterfront Hotel | Boston, MA If you are looking for support, information and/or resources for your child with special needs/special health care needs, call us at 617-236-7210 or visit us on the web at www.fcsn.org 3

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fcsn.org

The Schrafft Center | 529 Main Street, Suite 1M3 | Boston, MA 02129 | Phone: 617-236-7210 | info@fcsn.org


Contents Your Child’s Learning

Health & Wellness

6 8 Tips for School Success 10 Music Therapy

20 Yoga for Children with Special Needs 22 Finding Mental Health Providers 26 Why Self-Care is Vital for Parents

Tolerance & Understanding 12 When a Sibling has Special Needs 16 Please Ask Me About My Granddaughter 18 Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Resources 30 Second Chance Kids 31 Support Groups and Resources 34 Special Needs Resource Guide

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Programs for Students on the Autism Spectrum

B O S T O N C O N S E R V A T O R Y. B E R K L E E . E D U

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YOUR CHILD'S LEARNING

for School Success By Barbara Dianis

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tudents diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD, ADHD or a learning disability may wonder whether they will be able to graduate from high school and/or collegiate studies. I worried over the same issue myself because I was diagnosed with dyslexia in a time period when there were very few strategies to help strengthen my learning disabilities. Education

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was very important to me, and I wanted to graduate from high school and college despite my scholastic challenges. Therefore, I set out to teach myself ways to overcome my learning obstacles and graduate. Through the implementation of systematic step-by-step educational solutions, I, like my students with learning issues, began to master how to overcome learning challenges.


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Plan homework schedule and study times to begin the school year. The planned work and review times will help your child or teen to help meet the scholastic increase of the new grade level. The plan should include additional study time even if the child or teen has study halls during their school day. The times can be adjusted on a successful academic achievement basis.

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Children and teens entering a higher grade level typically need to upgrade their study skills to help them keep pace with their current curriculum. Children and teens benefit from reviewing the notes they take in each of their classes for at least five minutes a day. Reviewing the class notes taken will help children and teens retain more core learning concepts. Consistent review will also assist their ability to access the information on tests. Younger students can benefit from a few minutes of reviewing concepts such as grammar and phonetic rules.

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A parent and their child benefit from checking the student’s grades online together several times a week. Parents who check grades online with their son or daughter show them they care about education. Additionally, if there are downturns in their grades or missing assignments, then educational solutions can be applied before their difficulty becomes a scholastic issue. The extra accountability generally helps students of all grade levels stay on track throughout the school year. Students of all ages often respond positively to their parents’ praise when they see good grades.

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Tests and quizzes become an important part of the academic experience. Children and teens should add more study and preparation time to the system they used in the previous grade level. Students of all ages benefit from studying for tests and quizzes several days before they are given. Parents can help their student understand that their brains may need time to absorb and readily access the educational concepts they will be tested over. Waiting until the day before a test may not be the best option for students because of the increase in information, which is associated with each new scholastic level.

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As soon as a student begins to slide, academically educational solutions should be applied to help the child or teen overcome their academic obstacles. All too often scholastic slides are not addressed early enough because the parent may feel it is a problem that will correct itself. It is generally better to address the academic difficulty early on before the child’s or teen’s grades begin to spiral downward. One way to address

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scholastic slides is to help your child correct mistakes on graded assignments that have multiple mistakes on them.

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Parents can help make learning fun during homework and study time. Children and teens can make review and drill time into a game show format using flash cards. They can make these from their study material. When review time is presented in a game show format, students generally are more engaged throughout the learning process. Parents may wish to host a study review time for their child with several students in their son’s or daughter’s classes. Students of all grade levels generally enjoy the review process when it is made into a game they are playing with their friends.

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Parents can help their child or teen develop an interest in learning by asking their teen to tell them three concepts they learned in their classes each day. Asking your child or teen to report several core concepts learned in class can also help improve his or her ability to focus in class. In addition, the student typically will report the class to be more interesting and fun.

8 Creative Arts Therapies in Hingham and Duxbury

Individual and group music therapy, adaptive dance and accessible yoga for of all ages and abilities Eve Montague, MT-BC Director, Creative Arts Therapies 781-934-2731, x20

www.sscmusic.org 8

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If a child or teen is struggling in the area of math, then prelearning the mathematical formulas can really help increase the student’s understanding of new concepts. Previewing the key concepts from the upcoming lesson can help the student absorb and glean more information from the instructional teaching lesson. Students can pre-learn new math concepts by reading the following day’s lesson in their online text or textbook. Next, the student should make a notation of concepts that are not understood. The child or teen should ask the teacher for further instruction on the more difficult mathematical concepts. In addition, students benefit from reviewing key terms to increase their mathematical vocabulary to improve their understanding during the lectures. Students of all grade levels and ages who implement educational solutions to help them overcome areas of academic weakness can improve in their educational skills. Generally, children and teenagers will discover over time they are accurately able to spend less time learning new scholastic concepts as their organizational skills and study habits improve. Students may find learning to be fun as they become capable to meet scholastic challenges and overcome their learning weaknesses. Another added benefit from implementing educational solutions into their daily study time is they may have a renewed sense of academic self-esteem, dignity and a restored positive attitude toward their studies. By igniting students’ interests and understanding, improved grades can be the result of their increased scholastic skills. ■ Barbara Dianis overcame dyslexia in her own life using self-taught strategies and techniques. She is the author of Grade Transformer for the Modern Student (LuLu Publishing Services, 2014) and has counseled parents of children with special needs for 22 years.


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We offer a wide range of specialized services, in individual and group settings. The goal is to help children of all abilities, achieve their full potential. Whether your child is experiencing a developmental delay or has a physical, cognitive or emotional disability, PCCD has a program suited to your child’s educational, developmental and therapeutic needs.

PEDIATRIC THERAPY PROGRAM Provides a variety of therapies, individually and in small groups, for children aged 3 and over who would benefit from extended therapies. Our services include: speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, feeding/nutritional services and developmental evaluations. 2017/18 Edition | BostonParentsPaper.com

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MusicTherapy

By Claudia Eliaza

Why It Works

Music is a universal language, used and understood by all no matter what one’s background. This concept is successfully proven in music therapy sessions across the country, where children find themselves speaking their first words, building communication skills, and improving social skills, all by way of music.

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What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the skillful use of music to promote, maintain and restore physical, social, cognitive and emotional health. When music is used as therapy, its nonverbal, imaginative, organizational and emotional qualities help enhance communication, build confidence and self-expression, accelerate healing and development, and support academic achievement.


Families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), mental health challenges, developmental or intellectual disabilities, social and learning challenges, and physical disabilities, in many cases, turn to music therapy because alternatives have not worked. After exploring music therapy, they soon become committed to it, due to the positive effects that come from the sessions that focus on their child’s ability rather than disability. Music therapists key components of these sessions are flexibility and adaptability. Music therapists begin by creating treatment goals during an initial assessment period to learn how the child communicates, learns, relates and physically navigates. During this assessment, a treatment plan is created that projects short- and long-term goals and objectives for the therapist, parent and participant. For children, the focus might be on the mild or severe cognitive delay or on attention, sequencing or the processing of information. Another focus might be on a speech or communication delay, with sessions aimed at enhancing receptive and expressive language and communication skills.

How is it Used?

sample sounds, voice and instruments allowing them to create their own music. This exploration of sound and listening lays out a foundation of learning. Technology is a gateway for those who can’t play a drum set but have the fine motor skills to push a button on a smart device. This adaptation of musical instruments allows anyone to create a song and not be held back by limitations. Songwriting can be very rewarding for children because it is something they create themselves, tapping into their potential and helping them to achieve their goals. Confidence levels soar, as they tell their stories through song. Songwriting is also used to teach concepts, to entertain and to enforce academic skills. Children on the autism spectrum might have a hard time interacting with peers and teachers in effective ways. They may have issues with eye contact, communication or sensory defensiveness. Music therapy is extremely useful in addressing these areas. In a fun and engaging way, the letters on a xylophone can help the child who is learning to read or speak. The natural pattern structure of music affords itself to effective learning. For the nonverbal child, music creates a safe space for self-expression and communication. For a child with social and emotional limitations, song creation is used to effectively communicate feelings and anxieties. Above all, music therapy works because it’s fun. Kids want to have fun. Kids love instruments. They are drawn to this environment. When you put a drum in front of a child or a scarf in someone’s hand, it’s amazing how quickly the child and parent forget their struggles and lose themselves in the music. ■ Claudia Eliaza is director of music therapy at Community Music Center of Boston (CMCB). For more than 35 years, the CMCB has been providing music therapy in Boston, enhancing the lives of children with special needs. Services range from individual and group sessions to work with agencies. Participants are of all ages and from all walks of life.

For the nonverbal child, music creates a safe space for self-expression and communication.

Some kids work on gross and fine motor skills, pertaining to how they move their bodies and how they grasp small objects, such as mallets or egg shakers. Music is also used to support the child in creating a stronger sense of spatial awareness. Using instruments, kids reach physical, auditory and cognitive milestones. For example, children who find finger isolation exercises to be challenging can work on the dexterity of using all five fingers on the piano. Technology has also added to music therapy’s success. A nonverbal child with ASD might communicate very well by way of eye contact, pointing and emulating sounds. Through music composition programs, such as GarageBand, participants have access to

2017/18 Edition | BostonParentsPaper.com

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TOLERANCE & UNDERSTANDING

When a Sibling has Special Needs By Emily Rubin

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rowing up as the typically developing sibling of a brother or sister with mental health challenges or other special needs can be confusing, embarrassing and sometimes scary. Life at home with brothers or sisters who are explosive, withdrawn or alternate between periods of normal and inappropriate behavior is not easy, and “walking on eggshells” is not a healthy way to live.

The Sibling Experience Siblings of children with mental health needs tend to experience a wider range of highs and lows than other children. Common dynamics include: • CONFUSION. About the unpredictable behavior and shifting moods of their brothers and sisters, who seem to be held to a different set of rules. Relatives and family friends might interact differently with the child with special needs than they do with the child’s sibling. • SAFETY CONCERNS. Siblings may be subjected to physical and verbal aggression, resulting in generalized anxiety, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, sleep problems, impaired concentration in school and other issues. These concerns can be minimized with professional help.

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• SHAME AND EMBARRASSMENT. About a brother or sister’s behavior, making a sibling reluctant to invite friends over, be seen in public or participate in activities. • “PARENTIFICATION.” A child takes on adult responsibilities before she is developmentally ready. While this can be the child’s way of managing stress, siblings may miss out on childhood. • INDEPENDENCE. Accustomed to having less parental attention, young siblings are often capable of tasks that exceed their age range,

such as putting themselves to bed or preparing their own meals. • OVERPROTECTIVENESS. Highly aware of their brother or sister’s vulnerabilities, siblings may become overprotective on the playground and in family arguments, or cover up for poor choices made by the sibling. • COMPETING FOR ATTENTION. Because a brother or sister with mental health issues requires unusual amounts of attention, some siblings resort to negative behavior to get attention of their own. Others see how emotionally taxed their parents or guardians are and don’t want to add to the burden so they keep too many personal problems to themselves. • LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP. Siblings may have times when they get along well together followed by bouts of intense dislike. It’s confusing when a best friend suddenly becomes a worst enemy. • ANGER AND RESENTMENT. About the seemingly preferential treatment received by a brother or sister. Siblings don’t understand the difficult choices parents and guardians make when they “pick and choose their battles.”

How to Support Siblings Siblings need to know that it is not acceptable to be treated poorly


Siblings need to understand they aren’t responsible for their brother or sister’s mental health problems. It’s not their fault nor can they fix it.

by someone they love or who loves them. When siblings accommodate themselves to a brother or sister’s dysfunctional behaviors, they learn an unhealthy model for building relationships in the future. To minimize the risk of entering abusive relationships as adults, siblings need the opportunity to address their conflicting feelings about their complicated families. They need to understand they aren’t responsible for their brother or sister’s mental health problems. It’s not their fault nor can they fix it. It is also important for siblings to understand their brother or sister’s condition and why it leads them to act the way they do. As they age, siblings tend to become primary advocates for their brothers and sisters with disabilities; this is especially true of female siblings. The more information and education

siblings receive growing up, the more likely they are to advocate for their brothers and sisters later on with awareness and compassion. The most effective intervention is for parents or guardians to talk openly with siblings, acknowledging the challenges of their family life in age-appropriate language. Sometimes siblings tell parents things that parents don’t want to hear, such as “I hope my brother doesn’t come home from the hospital.” When this happens, it’s best for parents to validate the child’s experience: “I can understand why you would feel this way. I know it makes you really angry when your brother does such and such.” This will let the siblings know that their concerns are important and that parents understand how difficult it is for them.

LOCAL RESOURCES • Massachusetts Sibling Support Network; masiblingsupport.org • Federation for Children with Special Needs; fcsn.org • Massachusetts Advocates for Children; massadvocates.org • Children’s Behavioral Health Institute; mass. gov/eohhs/gov/ commissions-and-initiatives/ cbhi/ • Wayside Youth & Family Support Network; waysideyouth.org • Parent/Professional Advocacy League; ppal.net • Massachusetts Department of Mental Health; mass.gov/dmh • Asperger’s Association of New England; aane.org

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Try not to blame the child with mental health needs and remind siblings that everyone has something they struggle with. Help them figure out what to say to others about their situation and help to identify “safe buddies” – friends or relatives they can turn to when home life becomes difficult. Give them opportunities to express their feelings outside of the family in a safe and nurturing setting and encourage them to lead their own lives. Emily Rubin is president of the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network, which provides education, community building and resources, such as a listing of sibling support groups. This material is adapted from the pamphlet “Supporting Siblings of Children with Mental Health Needs.”

Why Siblings Need Attention

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he sibling of a child with special needs tends to grow up being a bit more loyal, understanding and accepting of others and a bit more mature than other kids. Much is expected of these siblings within the family, and they tend to rise to the occasion. But who is looking out for their needs while their brothers or sisters are requiring so much attention and care? At a workshop in Boston entitled “No Sibling Left Behind,” panelists with the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network, prompted by questions from workshop participants, shared these recommendations for helping siblings cope with their unique experiences: • Acknowledge the siblings’ complex lives and conflicting feelings. Validate their experiences of living in a home with a child with special needs. Use

• •

age-appropriate language. Make sure siblings know they do not have to assume the role of caregiver. Assure siblings they are not responsible for their brother or sister’s lot in life. Encourage them to have their own experiences. Spend one-on-one time with them. This doesn’t have to be expensive; it can just be a simple activity like baking or taking a walk together. Communicate positive feelings for them and the difficult role they play in the home. Write a loving letter, for example. Stress that there’s no “right” or “wrong” type of family. Stay aware of your own attitudes about a disability, as your children will most likely mirror those attitudes.

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• Connect with other families going through similar issues. • Seek individual and/or family therapy. • Find a sibling support group. • Develop a plan with kids to help them determine what statements are OK to be shared with neighbors, family and friends, and what things are private. Siblings shouldn’t have to harbor secrets. There’s a difference, though, between secrecy and the family’s right to privacy. • Inform teachers and others at school of your family’s situation so that they can better understand the sibling’s experience. • If a sibling is embarrassed by a brother or sister’s behavior (and perhaps reluctant to invite friends to the home), remind kids that everyone in every family has something to work on.

Parents might want to create a plan (which may be a written document) to define the sibling’s role in the family. When they get older, some siblings will have to make crucial and very difficult decisions about guardianship. Growing up with a brother or sister with disabilities also prompts the way siblings will look at important life decisions, such as where to go to college and whether to have children (if there’s a genetic component). Throughout their lives, they will need to examine how to balance their personal lives with their role as siblings. As they do this, they will benefit from the support and encouragement of parents and other caring adults. – Mary Alice Cookson, former associate editor

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Please Ask Me About My Granddaughter

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By Janet Harrold

ometimes I think that many members of my family and my friends have no idea what to say or how to act around my granddaughter Hailey, a beautiful little girl who has cerebral palsy. I think a lot of them are unsure just what cerebral palsy is, and that makes them nervous or hesitant to ask about her. They don’t know what to say, so they say nothing.

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Some friends may be afraid that they’ll ask something they shouldn’t. Some may be afraid to share their children’s successes for fear that we’d feel badly that Hailey hasn’t reached the same milestones. Please, don’t be afraid. Ask me questions. Let me talk about her. We have totally accepted Hailey’s disability and we’re very proud of her and her accomplishments. Cerebral palsy is a result of an episode that causes a lack of oxygen to the brain; the brain then doesn’t send the right messages to the muscles. There are four different kinds of cerebral palsy, and Hailey has what’s known as athetoid cerebral palsy, which causes involuntary and uncontrolled movement. Her disease is not curable or contagious. Some children with cerebral palsy may not be able to walk, talk, eat or play the same way that other children do. But, in so many ways, they are just like other children their age. Hailey likes to eat cookies and ice cream; she likes to swing on the swings in the park; and she loves to go down the slide (all by herself, I might add) with someone at the top to lie her down and someone at the bottom to catch her. She loves watching Dora the Explorer and Tinkerbell. She loves to be read to and she loves to learn. She’s crazy about music and swimming. She understands exactly what you’re saying to her, even if she can’t respond with words. She is learning sign language and other ways to communicate with us. Hailey has feelings just like any other able-bodied child. All I want is for people to talk to her the same way that you would talk to other children, to treat her the same way that you would treat them, and most of all, to love her the same way that you would love them. I never expected to feel this way. I knew that I would love my grandchildren when the day came. I

knew that I would be blessed and elated. But I never expected to feel a love as deep and as strong as I do for Hailey. After a while, and one heck of a roller coaster ride, reality and acceptance set in and love and admiration grew deeper than I would have ever thought possible. Hailey is an amazing little girl who has taught our family how to live a life that we never knew existed. She brings us to new places and gives us a new perspective on what is most important. She has shown us how to be better people and more accepting of others. I have learned that we take so many things for granted – being able to do everyday tasks like walk, talk or eat a bowl of cereal in the morning. Hailey has opened my eyes to the fact that these mundane parts of life are not simple tasks for many in this world. Certainly I knew that there were people with disabilities, but I had closed my eyes to it all. I had no idea how large of a community it really is. People with disabilities are by far the strongest and most determined people I know. Yet we perceive them as weak. They will endure more in their lifetimes than many of us could even fathom. I challenge everyone who is reading this to have a new outlook on life and a newfound respect for people with disabilities. I never knew that such a world existed, and I never knew that I could love someone as deeply as I love my granddaughter Hailey. ■ Janet Harrold is a West Roxbury resident, freelance writer and advocate for people with special needs. Read her blog at janetharrold.blogspot.com.

Hailey has feelings just like any other able-bodied child. All I want is for people to talk to her the same way that you would talk to other children, to treat her the same way that you would treat them, and most of all, to love her the same way that you would love them.

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By Lindsey M. Muller

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ounger and older humans, like animals, engage in habits, also known as repetitive behaviors. Some human habits include tapping your fingers on a flat surface when thinking, thumb sucking, tapping a pencil on a desk during a test, shaking your foot when your ankles are crossed or twirling your hair. There isn’t anything wrong with regularly demonstrating these actions. In most cases, minimal attention is given to these habits or “quirks.” Yet, some of the same behaviors, when repetitive and excessive, can cause interference with everyday functioning and cross over from being just a behavior to being a diagnosable mental health disorder – a pattern of behavioral or psychological symptoms that impact multiple life areas and/or

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Children and adolescents who are seen regularly in skin picking, nail biting, hair pulling, lip biting or cheek biting, whereby there are physical and visual ramifications, are technically demonstrating a body-focused

create distress for the person experiencing the symptoms. Because children are less aware of others’ perceptions and societal norms, parents are likely to be the ones experiencing distress or negative impact as a result of a child’s behavior. Children and adolescents who are seen regularly in skin picking, nail biting, hair pulling, lip biting or cheek biting, whereby there are physical and visual ramifications, are technically demonstrating a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB). BFRB is a catch-all category for impulse-control behaviors causing damage. Research and public awareness of mental health disorders in children tends to be focused on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/ HD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorders; therefore it’s helpful to compare and contrast with these disorders when discussing BFRBs. BFRBs may cause difficulties with focus and concentration because the behavior can be distracting. While this mirrors one symptom of AD/HD, a BFRB is not AD/ HD. A BFRB is expressed through compulsive behavior. Yet it is not the same as OCD because OCD is diagnosed as a result of engaging in behaviors to get away from anxiety; one struggling with a BFRB may not report feelings of anxiety. This is what also differentiates a BFRB from an anxiety disorder. So, while some disorders can have overlapping symptoms, being diagnosed with the right disorder has important implications for treatment for your child.

emotions, pay attention to how well your child is able to name and share her emotions based on what is developmentally appropriate. Make sure your child knows what different emotions are and what they may feel like. Pictures, stories and movies can serve as a clear example of how to demonstrate those emotions. Encourage expression, which can be done verbally or through art and play. BFRBs can develop to regulate emotion or self-soothe. • Does your child seem to be overly annoyed, reactive or distracted by lots of visual stimulation or sound in the environment? In many cases, there is a sensory component to skin picking, nail biting or hair pulling, for example. When seeking a diagnosis, while pediatricians are familiar with these behaviors, it may be best to find a BFRB specialist. Do not seek medication as the first, line of defense. In most cases, an antidepressant/antianxiety medication seems to strengthen or magnify the behavior instead of help. Some children and teens grow out of the behavior, while others do not. Typically, the younger the child at the time the behavior started, the more he is likely to grow out of the behavior. It is important to take the issue seriously and find someone who can offer effective treatment. Proper treatment approaches include behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy. For younger children, behavioral therapy, art therapy and play therapy are great places to start. Most children and teens do not understand why this behavior is happening, when it started or how to stop. By remaining patient, loving and supportive, your child will be able to work on addressing the BFRB in an encouraging and hopefully stress-free environment. ■ Lindsey M. Muller, M.S., LPCCI, is a mental health therapist and BFRB coach. A former skin picker, nail biter, and hair puller, Lindsey works with parents of children, adult clients and adolescent clients who struggle with a BFRB, OCD and other anxiety disorders, and disordered eating. She is the author of a psychology memoir about BFRBs titled Life is Trichy (Mindful Publishing Co., 2014).

repetitive behavior (BFRB).

Here are some things parents can look for to know if a child is expressing a BFRB: • Look for constant hair stroking, touching or twirling because this may (but not always) be a warning that hair pulling is on the horizon. Scan your child’s body and scalp (bath time is a great opportunity) for scabs, pick marks or bald patches. • Red, peeling or bleeding lips can be an indication of lip biting or excessive licking. • Does your child seem to be holding things in, burdened or appear to have mood swings? If yes, encourage your child to express her emotions. In discussing

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HEALTH & WELLNESS

Yogafor Children By Teresa Mills-Faraudo

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with Special Needs

henever four-year-old Dylan, who has been diagnosed with autism, starts having an anxiety attack, he stands on his head. Suddenly, this stressed-out preschooler is calmer. His mother Jennifer was willing to try anything to help her son. Dylan can’t speak or understand what others are saying. When someone suggested yoga, she brought him to Vanessa Kahlon, M.A., executive director and founder of Yoga Education for Autism Spectrum. “It was amazing to see that within an hour of working with her, he was relaxed,” Jennifer says. “She taught him how to self-regulate.” More and more parents who have children with special needs are turning to yoga. Some research connects the practice to improvements in children with ADHD, autism, asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. Studies show it can be helpful for conditions that are worsened by stress and anxiety. Dylan goes to yoga classes once or twice a week and also uses what he learns regularly at home. When he feels anxiety coming on, he knows to go into a yoga pose to ease his stress. “He can’t communicate his wants and needs, so he has high anxiety when things can’t go his way,” she

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says. “It’s like being in a foreign country and not knowing the language for him.” Kahlon, who primarily works with autistic and visually impaired children, says she focuses on teaching kids breath work, social skills, language skills and learning how to focus. “It helps a lot with confidence and body awareness,” she says. “It comes down to trusting their own body.” There are certain poses, Kahlon says, that can be especially beneficial for her students. The “Tree” pose, for example, helps with balance since the child stands on one leg. The “Downward Dog” pose can be good for body awareness because it requires specific feet and hand placement. “Warrior” pose can benefit kids craving movement and sensory/ motor stimulus. For Raj Sidharthan’s 9-year-old daughter, Olivia, who has highfunctioning autism, yoga helps with self-regulation when she’s upset. As someone who has practiced yoga since his childhood in India, Sidharthan was not surprised that it helped his daughter. “It’s been challenging to get her to do it every day, but now she’s more focused,” he says. “She finds a lot of enjoyment in doing yoga. We can put on the music and she can do it on her own.”


What the Studies Say

According to studies, yoga may help reduce stress by balancing the production of neurotransmitters in the brain. It has also been shown to improve oxygen levels and increase lung capacity because of the deep breathing techniques. It may be why yoga can help children with attention problems control their impulsivity and hyperactivity. Yoga can also be beneficial for children with lung disorders like asthma, cystic fibrosis or any chronic airway inflammation, says John Mark, M.D., a pediatric pulmonary physician. Mark, who has an interest in nonconventional therapies for children with chronic disorders, recommends yoga for many of his patients. “Any time you can get children to stretch and use their posture it can help with their health and anxiety,” Mark says. “It’s a way to learn how to relax and focus.” He says that studies have shown that yoga is helpful for kids with behavioral issues and has improved focus in kids with ADHD. But Mark believes yoga can help children with any disorder. “Most doctors don’t recommend exercise to their patients. I think physicians turn to medications first because that is how they are trained,” Mark says. “It is a lifestyle change that can really help. It can really lower the severity of an illness.” However, parents should bring their kids to yoga instructors who are trained to deal with children who have special needs, he says. Some hospitals have instructors on site or there are teachers like Kahlon who work regularly with children. Caron Bush, a physical therapist and board-certified clinical specialist in sports physical therapy, teaches yoga and pilates classes for children, including kids with autism, ADHD, Asperger syndrome and physical injuries. While most yoga classes for adults involve little if any conversation, Bush says she likes to talk with her students because it makes them feel like they’re in a safe place. Once the kids start talking to her, they usually feel more relaxed and able to do the poses. Students’ self-confidence, focus and flexibility seem to improve for those who take the classes regularly, Bush says. “I think yoga is an easy thing to do because there are a lot of stretches that are very basic,” she says. Jennifer hopes other parents consider signing up their kids for yoga. “It allows them to use their brains differently. You hear ‘yoga’ and think, how can this help my kid? But parents need to just think of it as therapy through movement.” Teresa Mills-Faraudo is an associate editor of a parenting magazine.

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Mental Health Care a Quality, Providers – Finding Knowledgeable Therapist

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As a consumer, do your research to assure the validity of your diagnosis or form of therapy or treatment. If you discover contradictions from reputable sources, discuss it with your therapist. Should your child be faced with such a crisis, know how to find a reputable mental health care provider with the expertise you need and that you can trust.

Finding a Trustworthy, Reputable Therapist Most mental health care professionals adhere to ethical guidelines but, as with any field, there are always a few bad apples. Know how to screen. Begin your search by asking family or friends for recommendations or check out the local resources on the next page. Phone three or four therapists and ask about their credentials, policies and treatment methods. You should ask the following questions: • What are your areas of expertise? • How much experience do you have with my particular issues? • Are you licensed or certified by the state? • Has your license ever been suspended or revoked? If so, can you tell me about the situation? • What are your professional affiliations? • What forms of treatment and therapy do you provide? What evidence is there to support its effectiveness? Is there controversy among mental health care professionals regarding this treatment? • What are your fees? Do you accept my insurance or work on a sliding scale? If you can’t get answers to these basic questions over the phone, look elsewhere. If you’re satisfied with the therapist’s responses, check with your state licensing department to verify the license status and to make sure no actions have been taken against the therapist.

Evidence-Based Practice Once you begin therapy, complications still may arise. According to Beautler, Bongar, and Shurkin, therapists who base their beliefs on personal experiences often reject scientific findings that don’t coincide with their beliefs. As a consumer, do your research to assure the validity of your diagnosis or form of therapy or treatment. If you discover contradictions from reputable sources, discuss it with your therapist. It

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may be a simple misunderstanding or data of which your therapist was not aware. If your therapist rejects the information, ask why and determine if the reason is valid or is based on personal opinion. If it’s preventing you from obtaining a proper diagnosis and/or treatment, find a therapist that recognizes those findings. Though rare, unethical therapists have been known to misdiagnose for financial gain. More commonly, those with questionable practices may recommend unnecessary, inappropriate, outdated or unproven treatments. That said, “Your therapist is obligated not to take advantage of you, either intentionally or unintentionally through negligence or ignorance, and to act only in your best interests,” explain Jack Engler, Ph.D., and Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., in The Consumer’s Guide to Psychotherapy: The Authoritative Guide for Making Informed Choices About All Types of Psychotherapy.

Mental Health Care Ethics There are certain rules set by state licensing divisions as well as the American Psychological Association and other mental health associations that providers must follow. Some serious ethical violations you should be aware of are that mental health care providers may not: • Disclose information about you without prior written consent or even verify that you are being seen by the therapist except under certain situations, such as when child abuse is reported; ✼ • Suggest that you do something that is undeniably harmful, immoral or illegal; ✼• Treat you for or offer services that are outside his or her area of expertise; ✼• Offer experimental or unproven therapies without informing you of such; or ✼ • Degrade you because of your values or problems or pressure you to change them.

Handling Ethics Violations and Negligence If you feel your rights have been violated or your therapist has treated you with negligence, there are several options according to Engler and Goleman. If the violations are minor, you might want to discuss the problem with your therapist. You can


also seek a second opinion to determine whether it’s a misunderstanding or a valid complaint. If your complaint seems valid and is serious enough to warrant such, you can file a formal complaint with the appropriate ethics committee or with the state licensing or certification board. This is an important step if there’s concern that someone else might be harmed by the therapist’s practices. Finally, if your therapist acted negligently rather than simply unethically, a civil malpractice suit may be in order. Remember, most people have positive experiences with their therapist. Just be aware of unforeseen problems and take precautionary steps, and you’ll avoid the risk of a negative experience. ■ Kimberly Blaker is an author and freelance writer.

MENTAL HEALTH CARE RESOURCES Arbour Health System – 800-222-2237; arbourhealth.com Cambridge Health Alliance – 617-665-1372, 617-665-3458; challiance.org Federation for Children with Special Needs – 617-236-7210; fcsn.org Massachusetts Department of Mental Health – 800-221-0053; mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dmh McLean Hospital – 800-333-0338; mcleanhospital.org New England Center for Mental Health – 978-679-1200; nementalhealth.com Riverside Community Care – 781-320-9136; riversidecc.org

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When you are parenting a child with special needs, the need for self-care is even greater and is twice as challenging as for other parents. The pressures and expectations we put upon ourselves as parents are greater than any human can realistically sustain.

Why Self-Care is Vital for Parents By Cindy Kaplan

T

he alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. I stumble to the kitchen and press the button on the electric tea kettle. I stand there, gazing out the window. I have 30 to 45 minutes before anyone enters my space, before someone needs something, before questions are asked and the rituals and demands of the day begin. Some mornings I sit down on my yoga mat, breathe and practice. Other days, I curl up with the dog on the couch, savoring each sip of tea, or sit down at the computer to check email or Facebook. There is something almost magical about being awake while everyone else in the house is sleeping. This is my time to make it what I want it to be. I have three children, ages 16, 13 and 8. My 13-year old daughter, Mira, suffered a brain injury during labor and delivery that has left her unable to speak, walk or do almost anything independently. She requires all the things that any child needs and then some. She requires stretching every morning to protect her muscles from tightening, shortening and causing contractures. She needs full assistance to get dressed, get to the toilet, brush her teeth, get to the table, eat her food, help her communicate, get her into her wheelchair and guide her down the driveway to the school bus. She attends a school for children with special needs, but she also has other therapies after

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school, such as physical therapy, horseback riding and music therapy. I am a firm believer in allowing our kids to do as much for themselves as they can, but I will never be able to do that with Mira in the same way. We also don’t have the luxury of just calling a neighbor to babysit, as we need someone who can lift and transfer Mira, be willing to change her pull-ups and be prepared to handle a seizure. The heavy load of all that my daughter demands plus the weight of all that we could and should be doing to support her independence and optimal development is more than we are given hours in the day and requires more bandwidth than I can mentally provide. My two other kids are in completely different worlds. Parenting the three of them often feels like parenting three different families. There are very few moments of “today we are going for a bike ride” or “taking a trip into Boston.” I sometimes envy the family that can pull into a parking spot, open the door and expect that the others will unbuckle themselves, get out of the car and walk to a destination. When you are parenting a child with special needs, the need for self-care is even greater and is twice as challenging as for other parents. The pressures and expectations we put upon ourselves as parents are greater than any human can realistically sustain. When we neglect to care for ourselves,


we are at risk of exhaustion, illness, resentment and ultimately not being the parent, spouse or person that our children, our partner or ourselves deserve. The first time I really understood the concept of self-care was when I was away at a weeklong workshop on yoga for the special child, more than 10 years ago. My yoga teacher stated very simply, “We can’t give our children what we don’t have ourselves.” Being away from home at that yoga workshop was a fabulous self-care opportunity for me. I returned home relaxed, calm, present and saw things with more gratitude. My husband, noting the difference, encouraged me to go away and practice yoga again. When I returned from this week, I saw my daughter with a different lens. I no longer saw her as a child I was responsible for shaping and making into the person she may never be, but rather a child with a completely intact soul I wanted to get to know. To view self-care and limit it to external practices that include exercise, a pedicure, going out with friends, time out with our spouse, a massage or reading a book, we are likely to build frustration and resentment when external factors get in the way. Even if a sliver of time can be found, spending money and hiring a sitter to accomplish some of these external self-care practices isn’t always easy or possible. Determined to find a way to extend that feeling, I began to look at ways to make self-care a priority at home, without needing to escape to be restored.

Outsource When Possible As a parent, we sometimes struggle with the notion that no one else can do for my child the way that I do and because it is so challenging to find a good sitter, it is often easier to do it ourselves. For the first several years of my daughter’s life, I wouldn’t dare miss a therapy appointment, and there were several a week. I couldn’t imagine someone else taking her to the doctor. One afternoon, while I was with my son at the orthodontist, I realized I would never make it on time getting with my daughter to her doctor’s appointment. I had a sitter picking up my daughter from school to take her to horseback riding therapy and asked her to take my daughter to the doctor as well. When we allow a spouse, friend or sitter (money required) to take on some of the driving, stretching, feeding, play time or bed time routine, it helps if we can see it from the perspective of what the child is gaining, rather than what we are not doing. The child gains practice in flexibility, as different people work with her in different ways. My daughter cooperates with a sitter during her stretching routine much better than when I wear the hat of therapist. I believe that if I fill every need for her, I will have nothing left to give to my boys. I also recognize that what my boys see in terms of my enjoyment of parenting or adulthood is what they learn to apply and expect in their own future relationships.

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Ask Kids for Help

Time with Our Other Children

Asking children for help with setting and clearing the table, prepping for dinner, putting things away, caring for pets and being responsible for their homework and things that need to go back and forth to school is another way to help lighten our load. Letting them truly take on those responsibilities is a great way for them to build confidence and feel like valuable family members. When our kids are struggling or upset, we are more likely to be able to respond to them in a way that will help versus getting annoyed that they forgot their lunch or that they are complaining about the contents of it.

It took me 12 years before I felt comfortable enough taking our two boys away for a weekend without Mira. There is always a delicate balance between wanting to include Mira in every family trip and wanting to experience some things with our boys that we simply can’t do in the same way if she were with us. In my head, I can justify traveling with just the boys if I know Mira has a great weekend filled with people she adores and activities that keep her happy. That is not to say that the couple of times that we ventured out without her are free from feelings of wishing she were with us and guilt that she is not. I have learned to hold those feelings together with the feelings of freedom that come with being with two typically developing children. As long as I know and accept that these getaways are made up of both feelings, I can continue to make them happen.

Expressing Myself Creatively Think back to activities you enjoyed before having children. Did you sing while you drove? Did you dance around the house to loud music? Did you enjoy reading a good book or doing an art project? When I am involved in some form of creative expression, I feel whole. Going to a dance class or joining a singing group would be wonderful, but we can find ways to stimulate our creativity, even when we are with our kids. Rather than taking care of all the “should do” tasks, see what it is like to have a dance party with your kids. Sing out loud while driving your kids from place to place. Practice yoga while your children can see you. Another wonderful piece of wisdom from my yoga teacher is that there is always enough time to do the things we need to do if we do each of them with intention and presence.

Breathe Taking three to five minutes to focus on breathing an have an enormous impact and is one of the easiest and quickest ways to care for yourself. Most of us come into the world breathing properly and deeply. Around the age of 5, we start breathing less deeply and can even breathe incorrectly. While we can’t often change the stressful situations in which we find ourselves, we can change the way we respond.

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The first step to changing our response is to bring awareness to our breath and alter it. Breathing exercises bring nourishment to our blood, our nervous system and our immune system. By slowing down our breath, we bring calmness to our brain and our entire being. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Allow your inhale and exhale to move through just your nose. As you inhale, either count to three or four, or say to yourself,

Self-Care Tips for Parents In the moment, when our blood is beginning to boil, when we take on the parenting challenge of needing to fix a situation, or when our body starts to tense up in preparation of release, be it through yelling or grabbing our child in a way that is not gentle, we need to have strategies that protect both ourselves and our kids. Below are some concrete ways to take care of yourself so that you can access the bigger picture. • Remove yourself from the situation and lie down on the ground. You don’t need to respond in the moment unless there is a serious safety risk. Connecting to something bigger than us, the floor, can be grounding. • Put on some classical music. An external influence can help to bring us down from the edge. Play the music during times of the day that you can predict will be challenging. It may have a calming effect on your kids as well.

“I am inhaling.” As you exhale, through your nose, count to four or five, or simply say to yourself, “I am exhaling.” Breath is powerful and you can practice it almost anywhere and any time of day. ■ Cindy Kaplan is a family therapist in Newton and is a Parent Coaching Institute (PCI)-certified parent coach; cindykcoaching.com.

• Step outside and look up at the sky. The fresh air can be soothing and looking up at the sky reminds us how big the universe is in which our current moment exists. • Practice saying the phrase, “Wow. He is having a problem, not being a problem.” So much of our reaction is based on the fact that we take what our children do personally. When we observe, we create just enough distance to grab hold of a little compassion. • Give yourself permission to table a discussion for a later time. Be sure to let your child know when you will return to the conversation. If it is coming up frequently, it is clearly important to them. • Light a candle. The sound of striking a match that creates a glow of light is just enough to break the mental chaos and redirect your mind. • Wake up 15 minutes earlier to adjust to the morning by yourself. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy it without distractions.

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2017/18 Edition | BostonParentsPaper.com

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Second chance kids For Zoey and Aidan, Perkins School for the Blind offered a life-changing opportunity for success By Perkins School for the Blind Staff

T

his is a story about second chances. This is a story about Zoey and Aidan. They are blind with other medical challenges. They struggled in public school. This is a story about their parents, who wanted what’s best for their children. And this is a story about Perkins School for the Blind – where those children finally revealed the amazing potential hidden behind their disabilities.

Zoey: the odds were against her

This is a story awbout Zoey. The odds were stacked against her from birth. Zoey has a rare genetic condition called Roberts Syndrome. She was born without eyes and relies on a wheelchair to get around. Zoey lived in foster homes until the age of 2, when Brenda Brashears and her husband adopted her. When Zoey started public school, she didn’t get the specialized academic support or life skills lessons she needed. Her classmates walked away while she was talking, forgetting she couldn’t see them. Her family turned to Perkins – which changed Zoey’s life. “It was exactly what Zoey needed,” said Brashears. “The teachers really get to know Zoey as an individual. Everything is a hands-on experience.” Now, “she’s making friends!” said Brashears. “We know Zoey is going to continue to thrive.”

Federal law says children like Zoey must receive the least restrictive education, as close to home as possible, ideally in a classroom with non-disabled peers. When a child turns 3, local school districts assemble an IEP (Individualized Education Program) team made up of teachers, disability professionals and parents. They determine the right school for the child, said Ed Bosso, superintendent and executive director of educational programs at Perkins. “Every child is on their own individual pathway,” said Bosso. “We should place them where their needs are best met.”

Aidan: a puzzle they couldn’t solve

This is a story about Aidan. He was a puzzle his public school teachers just couldn’t solve. No matter what they did, he couldn’t learn to read and write. Aidan has CVI – cortical visual impairment. It’s a baffling kind of blindness. Aidan’s eyes work, but his brain can’t interpret that visual information. Aidan also has cerebral palsy, which affects body movement. “We had a wonderfully supportive school system, but Aidan’s case was so complex they didn’t know how to really reach him,” said his mother, Debra McNeely. Aidan’s parents transferred him to Perkins, where teachers have experience working with CVI. It’s not a mystery to be solved; it’s a chalZoey lenge they know how to overcome.

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Aidan

After years of frustration, he finally began to read and make progress in math and social studies. “That’s what Perkins has given Aidan: helping him find what his strengths are,” said McNeely.

Public school or Perkins?

For many children, public schools meet their needs, with help from the braille and O&M (orientation and mobility) teachers Perkins provides throughout Massachusetts. For others, Perkins is a better option, said Bosso. “Perkins has such an incredible body of expertise and an accessible campus,” he said. “Every person understands what it means to have a vision loss, or a vision loss with additional disabilities. The opportunities for our students to learn and grow here is unsurpassed.” For students like Zoey and Aidan, Perkins gave them a second chance to succeed. “Parents have to advocate for what’s right for their child,” said Bosso. “For some students, that may be at Perkins.” Article provided by Perkins School for the Blind which offers a continuum of specialized education programs on its campus and in public schoolsfor children with blindness, low vision and deafblindness, including those with additional disabilities. As the first school for the blind in the U.S., Perkins has been teaching the ECC concepts since its founding in 1829, and is today a national and international leader in the field. For more information, visit perkins.org/ecc.


Special Needs Support Groups and Organizations

These Massachusetts organizations offer support, information and/or advocacy for individuals with special needs, their parents and their caregivers. Many of these groups also offer referrals or links to related services. Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts 781-891-6270; afamaction.org – Public advocacy organization offering resources regarding autism spectrum disorder. Click “links” for support centers in your area. Autism Coalition of Massachusetts 781-891-6270, ext. 102; autismcoalitionofma.com – A network of local organizations that support individuals and their families by sharing resources and working as a collective voice on policy change. Autism Society, Massachusetts 781-237-0272; autism-society-massachusetts.org – The local chapter of this national organization is a “point-of-entry” for people newly diagnosed with autism or new to the area and in need of referrals and resources. Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism flutiefoundation.org – Provides family and technology grants through its programs, along with grants to nonprofit organizations that provide services to individuals with autism.

Federation for Children with Special Needs 617-236-7210; 800-331-0688 (in Mass.); fcsn.org – Advocacy, resources and information for parents and professionals. Home Modification Loan Program mass.gov/mrc/hmlp – Facilitated by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, this program helps individuals with disabilities to fund access and safety modifications to their homes. Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston 617-558-6507; bostonjcc.org – Offer a full array of special needs programs for children and adults. Learning Disabilities Worldwide 978-897-5399; ldworldwide.org – This professional organization (for researchers, educators, clinicians and others) has a “parents” section on its website with current articles. Massachusetts Branch of The International Dyslexia Association 617-650-0011; massbranchida.org – Information and links to resources, such as recommended reading for parents and kids, as well as professional development workshops.

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Special Needs Support Groups and Organizations The Arc of Massachusetts 781-891-6270; arcmass.org – Statewide organization advocating on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Asperger’s Autism Network of New England 617-393-3824; aane.org – The Asperger / Autism Network (AANE) works with individuals, families, and professionals to help people with Asperger Syndrome and similar autism spectrum profiles build meaningful, connected lives. Camp Jabberwocky 508-687-0967; campjabberwocky.org – From the end of June to the end of August, Camp Jabberwocky offers children and adults with a wide range of disabilities the chance to enjoy the summer in a small family-like community. Dream Day on Cape Cod 508-896-8949; dreamdayoncapecod.org – Serves families that have children with life-threatening illnesses and or serious conditions by “bringing a ray of sunshine” into their lives through their family camp, Camp Nan-Ke-Rafe, located in Brewster. Massachusetts Advocates for Children 617-357-8431; massadvocates.org – Free legal services for

income-eligible families on educational issues for children 3-22. Advocacy for parents, including Autism Special Education Legal Support Center. Massachusetts Commission for the Blind 617-727-5550; mass.gov/mcb – Provider of services that promote independence and community participation. Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 617-573-1600; mass.gov/mcdhh – Services for deaf and hard of hearing, including interpreting, case management and technology. Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education 781-338-3000; doe.mass.edu – The State’s education website offers information on special education, standardized testing, public schools and related topics. Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress 781-221-0024; mdsc.org – Statewide parent organization holds annual conference, picnic, and workshops throughout the year. Publishes a newsletter for parents. Maintains a list of parent support groups.

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Come see Daily Life Therapy® in action! Visit www.bostonhigashi.org for upcoming Open House dates.


Special Needs Support Groups and Organizations Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change 508-824-6946; mfofc.org – Provides Family Leadership Series and works to educate the community about advocacy, services, and local, state and federal resources for individuals with disabilities. Regional chapters throughout the state.

Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PAL) 617-542-7860; ppal.net – A statewide network of families, local family support groups, and professionals who advocate on behalf of children and adolescents with mental, emotional or behavioral special needs, and their families.

Massachusetts Family TIES 800-905-8437; massfamilyties.org – Statewide information, referral, and parent-to-parent support network for families of children with special needs or chronic illness.

Parental Stress Line 800-632-8188; parentshelpingparents.org – This 24-hour call line is staffed by Parents Helping Parents of Massachusetts and provides a supportive ear for parents. Parents support groups are also offered by staff and volunteers.

Massachusetts Office on Disability 617-727-7440; 800-322-2020 (in Mass.); mass.gov/mod – Information and support concerning community, government and individual services for those with disabilities. Its primary mission is to ensure access.

Partners for Youth with Disabilities 617-556-4075; 617-314-2989 (TT Y); pyd.org -Provides adult mentors, one on one and in groups, to kids ages 6 through 22 with disabilities.

Massachusetts Sibling Support Network 617-807-0558; masiblingsupport.org – Committed to supporting brothers and sisters of people with disabilities by creating welcoming communities for siblings across the lifespan.

Special Needs Advocacy Network 508-655-7999; spanmass.org – Supports professional advocates for people with special needs, offers referrals to Massachusetts special needs advocates, and provides special education workshops and training.

Massachusetts Special Olympics 508-485-0986; specialolympicsma.org – Sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for individuals with disabilities.

Wayside Youth and Family Support Network 508-879-9800; waysideyouth.org – Weprovide a wide variety of mental health counseling and family support services to children, young adults and families in Massachusetts.

Helping children. Protecting childhood. All care is provided regardless of families’ ability to pay. For appointments: 617-722-3000

For urgent referrals: 844-8-LOVE-IS (844-856-8347)

ShrinersHospitalsforChildren.org/Boston 51 Blossom Street • Boston, MA 02114

BURN CARE ORTHOPAEDICS CLEFT AND CRANIOFACIAL TREATMENT PLASTIC, RECONSTRUCTIVE AND LASER SURGERY SPECIALIZED WOUND CARE AND SKIN CONDITIONS

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Special Needs Resource Guide Listing Information Provided by Organizations Below Advanced Neurotherapy 145 Rosemary Street, Entrance J Needham 781-444-9115 AdvancedNeurotherapy.com A wellness clinic specializing in neurofeedback, a safe, effective, durable method of brain training. Supported by a large body of peer reviewed published research, neurofeedback is used to correct and enhance brain functioning for a wide range of intellectual, emotional, educational, behavioral, and neurological deficits. Using our highly rigorous computerized brain mapping methods, we can pinpoint what parts of the brain need to work more efficiently. Additional services include health coaching, talk therapy, BAUD, parent coaching, and heart rate variability biofeedback.

Celebrating 30 years serving students with ASD in both day and residential programs.

Bierman ABA Autism Center 145 Rosemary Street, Needham 978-737-3760 biermanaba.com Bierman ABA provides center based Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy, OT & Speech programs with locations in Needham & Randolph, and Providence RI. Our centers are designed with naturalistic teaching in mind, providing an open environment that maximizes learning opportunities and allows learners to truly engage in the world around them.

Together with families, our teachers, therapists and nursing staff work across disciplines to create a supportive and welcoming environment where every student can thrive and shine.

Boston Conservatory at Berklee 617-912-9153 berklee.edu/ berklee-boston-conservatory Founded in 1867, Boston Conservatory is a fully accredited institution that offers degrees in dance, music and theater, and summer and year-round programs for youth, teens and students on the autism spectrum. Boston Higashi School 800 North Main Street, Randolph 781-961-0800 bostonhigashi.org 34

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The Campus School at Boston College 140 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill 617-552-3460 bc.edu/campusschool For more than four decades, The Campus School at Boston College has recognized the potential in children ages 3–21 with multiple disabilities through its personalized approach to special education. Located on the beautiful campus of Boston College and housed within the Lynch School of Education, The Campus School develops age-appropriate thematic units that align with the Massachusetts General Education Curriculum Frameworks.

Commonwealth Learning Center 220 Reservoir St., Suite 6, Needham 781-444-5193 130 Sylvan St., Danvers 978-774-0094 commlearn.com Commonwealth Learning Center is an independent nonprofit that has served the community for more than 25 years. We provide customized one-to-one instruction to students of all ages, in all subject areas. Our certified educators have special expertise in learning differences, including dyslexia, ADHD and nonverbal learning disabilities. We also provide educational assessments. Community Music Center of Boston 34 Warren Ave., Boston 617-482-7494 cmcb.org With over 40 years of direct service,

the Music Center serves as the longest provider of music therapy in Greater Boston. Our team of board certified music therapists provides assessments and customized treatment plans tailored to meet the needs of children with special needs. Sessions address a number of goal areas including speech and language development, cognitive processing, motor coordination, academic development, building selfesteem and social skills. We at the Music Center believe that building long-term relationships with children and families is the basis for success in serving the music lives of children. Financial aid available. Education Consulting, Advocacy & Legal Services, LLC 999 Broadway, Suite 301, Saugus 781-231-4332 educationandjuvenilelaw.com/ ECALS, LLC. is a private law firm that regularly works with parents and schools on a wide range of special education and regular education issues. We review IEPs and evaluations and attend disciplinary proceedings, Team meetings and BSEA Hearings. Please visit our website for further details. The Federation for Children with Special Needs 529 Main Street, Suite 1M3, Boston 617-236-7210 fcsn.org The Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) provides information, support, and assistance to families of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities. We are committed to listening to and learning from families and encouraging full participation in community life by all people, especially those with disabilities. Fletcher Tilton PC Attorneys at Law 370 Main Street, 12th floor,


Special Needs Resource Guide Listing Information Provided by Organizations Below Worcester 508-459-8059 FletcherTilton.com Legal services for persons with special needs and their families. Whether your loved one with special needs is an adult or a child, we can help. We work as advocates for individuals with disabilities throughout their life. Special Needs Planning - Advocacy - Guardianship & Alternatives - Transition Planning & Adult Services. Franciscan Children’s 30 Warren St., Brighton 617-254-3800 FranciscanChildrens.org We provide excellence in care for children with complex medical, mental health and educational needs in a compassionate and positive environment. Learning Prep School 1507 Washington Street, West Newton 617-965-0764 learningprep.org Learning Prep School provides an individualized language-based program to students with complex learning profiles including dyslexia, expressive/receptive language issues, autism spectrum disorder, and social communication disorder.

Melmark New England serves children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders, acquired brain injuries, neurological diseases and disorders, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and severe challenging behaviors. We provide clinical, educational, residential, vocational, adult day and allied health services. Consultation services and support are available in the home, community or public school setting.

foundation for life-long learning through our developmental, educational and therapeutic programs. With the support from our highly-skilled pediatric professionals, children are able to achieve their potential. Our programs include early intervention, 2x2 toddler groups, regional consultation program, 2x3 preschool, pediatric therapy program and the Developmental Day School.

South Shore Conservatory Hingham, Massachusetts Our Space Our Place 781-749-7565 The Tobin Community Center sscmusic.org/creative_arts_ 1481 Tremont St., Roxbury therapies.html 627-459-4084 South Shore Conservatory’s Creative Arts ourspaceourplace.org Therapies programs provide avenues Our Space Our Place (OSOP) is a nonfor self-expression, inspiration, and profit organization offering a respectful, hope, supporting the mental, emotional, accessible and fun environment for and physical health of some of our elementary and high school students community’s more fragile members. For who are legally blind to participate in those who may learn differently, SSC team sports, the arts, community service offers music therapy and accessible and mentoring. We offer programs for yoga, and classes such as Music students who live in Boston and its and Movement Group, Percussion surrounding communities. Transportation Commotion, SSC Community Voices, is provided. Memory Café, Yoga for the Special Child®, and Adaptive Dance. Perkins School for the Blind 175 N. Beacon St., Watertown The Wolf School 617-972-3434 215 Ferris Ave., East Providence, perkins.org R.I. Perkins School for the Blind has led 401-432-9940 blindness education since 1829. We wolfschool.org educate blind, visually impaired or The Wolf School is a K- 8 special deafblind day and residential students education school that inspires students ages 3-22, and offer community services, with learning differences, attention district school support, infant-toddler issues, and often school anxiety to early intervention, vacation and weekend discover confidence, compassion and Outreach programs and professional a love for learning to reach their full development for educators. Call potential. Our Immersion Model© Admissions today: 617-972-7573. enables children to discover their The Professional Center for Child strengths by meeting their individual academic, social and emotional needs. Development

May Institute Multiple Locations 800-778-7601 mayinstitute.org We are an award-winning nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities, brain injury and neurobehavioral disorders, and other 32 Osgood St, Andover 978-475-3806 special needs. theprofessionalcenter.org Melmark New England The Professional Center for Child 461 River Road, Andover Development is dedicated to providing 978-654-4300 children, of all abilities, with a solid melmarkne.org

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Boston Parent 2017 Special Needs Guide