Thursday, July 13, 2017

Have you read our Summer 2017 Newsletter yet?

Inside this Issue:

  • Resources to Help & Archived Webinars
    pg. 3
  • We Need You!
    pg. 4
  • Book Review
    pg. 5
  • New IDEA Website
    pg. 6
  • Tot Spot
    pg. 7
  • Find Free Audiobooks
    pg. 8
  • Seeking Transition Success Stories
    pg. 9
  • Student Record Reviews
    pg. 10
  • Test Your Knowledge
    pg. 11
  • Summer Learning
    pg. 12
  • A Tale of Two Conversations
    pg. 13

    To Read the Full Edition go to:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Youth Learn Leadership Skills

Youth Learn Leadership Skills
By: Patty Hooper

Upon entering the room, all one could see was youth wrestling with cardboard and duct tape, while laughing and collaborating. It might look like the youth were just joking and playing around, but they were actually learning important leadership skills, like cooperation and problem solving. Their challenge was to work cooperatively to build a structure that at least one youth could fit into. These youth are part of a program Family Matters started in the Fall called Speak Up! Self-advocacy Training Program.
Speak Up! is a training program that staff at Family Matters adapted to teach youth and young adults with disabilities self-advocacy skills. We have worked on cooperation, communication, and social skills, all while having fun. We have discussed how to stand up for oneself without being aggressive and how to deal with having a disability in school and the workplace.
Family Matters applied for a grant from the Siemer Foundation, which was providing funding to organizations to teach youth and young adults leadership and entrepreneurial skills. The Family Matters grant proposal, stated that all students need chances to learn leadership skills, but often those with disabilities are left out of many such opportunities at school because of their disabilities. We stated that though students with disabilities often struggle with these skills, they can learn with the right opportunities and training. Our grant proposal was accepted and we were awarded $5,000 for the yearlong project.
Our group meets monthly where we take part in a variety of activities. Along with these meetings, we have many more things in store, including a mini-conference with speakers about inclusion and participation in our state’s legislative breakfast in Springfield. At Family Matters, we know that those with disabilities have a lot to offer and contribute to their communities. We hope that through this program, the youth participants will learn more about their strengths and how to use them to participate fully in school and the community.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Our 3rd Annual Bowl-A-Thon was a Success!

3rd Annual "Team Up for Children with Disabilities" Bowl-A-Thon a Success!

Over $6,500 Raised!

 There is still time to "Team Up for Children with Disabilities". If you missed this event, you can make an online donation at

Charlotte's Strike Here goes Zoie Kellen Ehrenhardt and family

The aBengers  Turkey Winner at the Bowlathon resized for website Washington Kingpins2 

The Sanders family BowlingJim Einhorn BowlingSilly Patty and Karrie at Bowlathon Photobooth
Little boy bowling

A special thanks to all our bowlers,  those who supported the bowlers, our event committee members, and all the community members who contributed to this fundraiser. All of you were essential to our success and your participation was so important to us!

Thank you to all our active committee members for your gifts of time, creativity, and determination!
Audrey Haney (chair)
Teresa Parks
Deb Fornoff
Emily Chetty
Teri Ehrenhardt
Charlotte Cronin

A special thank you to Audrey Haney for organizing the Bowl-A-Thon. Family Matters is grateful and indebted to Audrey for giving so freely of her time and locating resources and donors who made the Bowl-A-Thon a successful fundraiser.

We also want to thank our Ambassador Families:
The Nauman Family and The Sanders Family

The Nauman Family
Nauman family
"Since welcoming our daughter Charlotte in 2010 we have utilized countless workshops sponsored by Family Matters. Their passionate staff have provided us with education on topics ranging from behavior to transition, school, family and everything in between. We have always been able to count on the workshops, resources, and support to provide us with the tools we need to set Charlotte up for success in all areas of her life. The gift of knowledge that Family Matters has given us the past six years is priceless and we look forward to more top-notch trainings in the future!" ~Nauman family ~

The Sanders Family
Sanders Family

"I first contacted Family Matters in 2015, when my son, Sebastian, was in kindergarten. I didn’t know much about autism at the time. I was overwhelmed and I did not know which way to go. I was so excited when Patty Hooper called me back! I finally found a person who understood what I was going through, another parent just like me. She had so much experience navigating the special needs journey! I have contacted her multiple times and she helped me get familiar with legislation, with the school system, and she also had first-hand experience with a child with autism! I feel like I have a guide for the next steps along our journey and that takes a lot of stress off of me. Family Matters gave me the tools and the knowledge needed to help my son. I feel like I became a strong advocate for my son with the knowledge I gained.  But, most importantly, I learned to see strength instead of weakness, to see an opportunity instead of a challenge, to see ability instead of disability, and to see the value of each person no matter what their level of ability may be. Family Matters gave me a different perspective from their years of experience."
 ~Sanders Family~


A Big Thank You to All of Our Sponsors:

Casual Day Fundraiser

Our Lane Sponsors:
Our T-Shirt Sponsors
Our In-Kind Donors
  • Charlotte Cronin
  • Embassy Suites/Graham Mullett
  • Family Benefit Solutions/Sherri Schneider
  • Deb Fornoff
  • Rachel Martin
  • Emily Chetty
  • Teresa Parks
  • Beth McConnell
  • Debbie Einhorn
  • Karrie Potter
  • Nancy Mader

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Littlest Inventor

I have been thinking a lot about self advocacy lately, probably because I am working on a local program with Family Matters to teach kids how to advocate for themselves.  When I discovered this book "The Littlest Inventor," I was delighted.

"The Littlest Inventor" by Mandi C. Mathis is the cutest book about a little boy who invents an entire costume to help him deal with sensory overload at the store.  He goes to the store with his family, but cannot handle all the sensory stimulation that bombards him.

Upon returning home, he devises a hat with headphones, wears a weighted vest under his lab coat and puts on chewy dog tags.  The story shows how he is able to overcome the sensory difficulties he has at the grocery store and has a successful trip.

The author tells the story in rhyme and includes colorful expressive pictures to accompany the story.  But the best part of the story, in my opinion, is how the boy figures out a way to overcome his difficulties. I love how inventive and proactive he is and I think this sends a fantastic message to kids with disabilities.

I highly recommend checking it out!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Overcoming Anxiety in Children and Teens" Review

I never thought of myself as an anxious person.  Sure, I worry about a lot of things, but doesn't everyone?  I remember at a therapy appointment one day, noticing that my therapist had written the word "anxiety" down in my charts, but I was sure she had made a mistake.  Then, one day, I read one of those ubiquitous facebook articles, titled something like, "Ten Things only Anxious People Will Understand."  I read it on a lark, but soon noticed I could identify with every single point made.

Maybe my therapist was onto something, after all.

As an adult with mild anxiety, I have learned strategies to deal with my worries.  Sometimes they work; other times, not so much.  Those times where my mind is racing and nothing will help, it is extremely difficult for me to get work done and function normally in society. I find myself wishing for something, anything that will turn my mind off.

Knowing that there are many children and teens out there who suffer from even more severe anxiety is a sobering thought.  How do they function at school, with their friends?

I was excited at the chance to read and review Jed Baker's latest book, "Overcoming Anxiety in Children and Teens."  This is such an important topic, one that is a major concern for many parents.  I had already read other books by Baker, who is an expert on the topic of autism, so I felt certain this book would be helpful.

"Overcoming Anxiety" is a very accessible book and easy to read.  The chapters are broken cover topics like the research and treatments for anxiety, what anxiety is and how to prepare for treatment, all things you would expect in such a book.  But what I love is that it actually provides strategies for children in dealing with their anxiety. Baker outlines strategies such as fear ladders, meditation, mindfulness activities, among others.

Another great and unique part of this book is that there is an entire chapter on how to adapt treatment for children who are less verbal and have autism.  He includes information about environmental supports and modifying sensory challenges, which are often a major concern with kids on the spectrum,

The book also covers social anxiety, selective mutism, separation anxiety, OCD, panic disorder, and so much more.  There are a lot of really interesting and easy-to-relate-to examples of ways that these issues may manifest in children.  He also includes a list of apps that can help with anxiety.

This is a must-read for anyone who works or cares for a child or teen with anxiety!    You can buy it at Future Horizons here.  We also have a copy in our lending library that people who live in Illinois can borrow.  Just call 866-436-7842.

Also, if you need help in getting the school to make accommodations or provide support for your child with anxiety, please call Family Matters at 866-436-7842.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration review

When my son, Danny was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder over 9 years ago, I was at a loss.  I wasn't entirely sure how to help him, but I was relieved to finally have an answer as to what was happening with him.   As I researched SPD, I started learning why he was having meltdowns and how to help him regulate his senses.

Building Bridges through Sensory Integration: Therapy for Children with Autism and other PDDs

I read every article and book I could get my hands on, one of which included Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration: Therapy for Children with Autism and
Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders by Ellen Yack, Paula Aquilla and Shirley Sutton.  I loved this book because it explained sensory integration in great detail. It was my go-to handbook on all things sensory related.

Now, they have published a new edition and it's even better than ever!  Building Bridges gives great, easy to read information about what sensory issues are and how to identify whether your child has them.  There is a comprehensive checklist to ascertain what sensory areas your child might have difficulties with. The authors explain that your child could be hyper (over) responsive or hypo (under) responsive, and they provide questions for each category.

My favorite aspect of the book is that there are several chapters on strategies to help kids with sensory needs. As a parent, that was always what I was looking for in the books I read: real-life ideas that I could use at home or that we could implement at school.  This book doesn't disappoint.

The chapter called "Strategies for Challenging Behavior" should be required reading for all teachers.  The chapter outlines different relaxation techniques, as well as information about sensory diets, calming and alerting strategies, and strategies for specific behavior issues.  For example, the authors explain why a child might bite others and what teachers or parents can do to help minimize that behavior.  Other behaviors they target include: running, spinning, or movement seeking, crashing, bumping, and clinging, hitting, slapping, pinching, etc.

Other chapters include information on teaching self-care skills and adapting home, school and childcare settings.  Chapter 8 is a phenomenal resource, as it is chock full of activity suggestions that target the different senses.  Tactile activities include recipes for salt dough, drizzle goo, and super simple sparkle chalk, for example.  This chapter even includes cut-out cards with different physical activity ideas.  They can be printed up to be used at home.

Along with these printable cards, there is a link that you can access to print up the activity cards, sensory checklists, home and school communication sheets, and many other very valuable printables.

I highly recommend Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration: Therapy for Children with Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders for anyone who has, or works with, a child with sensory needs. 

Go to Future Horizons to order it now!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mozart and the Whale giveaway!!

To celebrate Autism Awareness month, we are having an incredible give away!  Enter to win a copy of Mozart and the Whale, a love story between two savants with Asperger's syndrome, a kind of autism, whose conditions sabotage their budding relationship.
But that's not all!  You will also get a copy of the book Talking Together, two social stories that clarify daily routines and explain social rules.
And last but not least, you will receive a set of Understanding Emotions cards.  According to nlconcepts website these cards teach your student emotional intelligence (EQ). "IQ gets you through school but EQ gets you though life!  This emotion set is one of a kind. A superb quality photograph on the front of each card teaches a child to label emotions. The back of each card teaches a child how these emotions feel and when they could occur. There are 30 emotion cards with a size of 3 x 3.5 each. Emotions in the set include happy, sad, angry, frustrated, excited and many more.


There are a few different ways to enter the contest. You are able to get up to four entries per person!

~~One entry for leaving a comment here.

~~One entry for liking us on Facebook:!/FamilyMattersPTIC?fref=ts
Just click on that link and hit the 'Like' button.

  (Please mention in a comment on this post that you have liked our FB page or else I won't know to give you an entry).

~~One entry for blogging about our giveaway. Share your link here in the comments.

~~One entry for sharing this post on Facebook. Share the link in the comments.

***Due to shipping expenses, this giveaway is only for residents of the US.

The giveaway ends on April 13th at midnight!