Thursday, June 27, 2013

Get your kids on the big screen!

Here's your chance to get your kid in a movie!

We here at Family Matters are putting together some videos for our website.  We want to interview children with special needs about school and friendship, and we'd love to include your kid in the video.

If you live in or near Effingham, you can make arrangements to meet with one of our staff to conduct the interviews.

If you do not live near Effingham, there is still a way for you to participate. 
You can videotape your child answering some questions (which are included at the end of this post) and send us the footage. 

Please email the video footage to by August 1st.  We will let you know once the videos are done and posted on our website.

Please consider helping us with this project.  We would like teachers, parents, school staff, and anyone who works with kids with special needs to hear how they can help make school a better experience!

Here are the questions we will be asking:  (you can adapt them to meet the needs of your child)

** What makes school difficult for you?
**What could the people at school do to help you more?
**If you were principal and could change the rules, what would you do?
**If you were an adult at the school, how would you help kids who struggle?
**What would you like for people to understand about you and how you learn?
**What makes a good friend?
**Why is it sometimes difficult to make friends?
**What could your teacher do to help you make friends?
**If you could spend the entire day with a friends, what would you do together?
**What do you wish your friends would do?
**How do you know when someone is your friend?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How To Build Trust (And Why You Need To)

by Bec Oakley of

The misconception that autistic people are overly trusting by nature is, like all stereotypes, a sweeping statement that is only true for some. I am not one of them.

Like most people, as a kid I readily accepted what people told me about themselves and the world, without much reason or desire to question it. Or at least that’s how it must have appeared on the outside.

On the inside I was free-falling, desperately clinging to the belief that people were reliable.

Thinking literally, misjudging situations, misunderstanding the people around me and being misunderstood by them quickly brought the frightening realization that nothing was as it seemed. There was no order or consistency. There were rules, but nobody followed them. Actions hardly ever matched words.

I often missed or misread subtext, so the signs and signals that I thought I was reading from people weren't consistent with their behaviours or emotions. It seemed as if everyone acted randomly, without warning or clues to their motives.

I was taught that even the way my body experienced the world couldn't be trusted. Don’t be silly, that light isn’t too bright. The TV isn’t too loud, that shirt isn't too scratchy, everyone loves parties. When you can’t even rely on yourself to interpret the world around you properly it feels like there’s no solid place to stand. Life was unpredictable and untrustworthy... which only intensified my need to find someone or something to depend on.

But putting my trust in others was incredibly hard for me to do.

I regularly felt let down and betrayed, and it stung my too-open heart every time. Perseveration made ‘forgive and forget’ difficult. When disagreements arose there was often confusion about what happened, whose fault it was, whether I could have avoided it. With no way to resolve or make sense of the situation, I’d just hang on to the fact that it hurt. Building walls became a defense mechanism, and I trusted nobody. Safe spaces seemed hard to find, and as a result I felt overwhelmingly vulnerable.

Every minute of every day.

I still do.
To read more, click here....

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How to teach your child self-advocacy skills

Check out this great video from the National Center for Learning Disabilities.  Children's author and VP of Scholastic Trade, Andrea Davis Pinkney speaks about how she encouraged her two children to be self-advocates.

If you live in Illinois and would like to learn more about Learning Disabilties ot educational rights and laws, please contact Family Matters at 866-436-7842!  We offer many services, including teletrainings, live trainings and consultations with our information specialists--all for free!

Monday, June 17, 2013

IEPs--Dr. Seuss style

Do you like these IEP’s
I do not like these IEP’s.
I do not like them, jeez Louise
We test, we check
We plan, we meet,
But nothing ever seems complete.
Would you, could you like these forms?
I do not like the form I see
Not page 1, not 2, not 3.
Another change,
A brand new box.
I think we all have lost our rocks!
Could you all meet here or there?
We could not all meet here or there,
We cannot all fit anywhere.
Not in a room
Not in a hall
There seems to be no space at all
Would you, could you meet again?
I cannot meet again next week.
No lunch, no prep
Please hear me speak.
No, not at dusk. No, not at dawn.
At 4PM I should be gone.
Could you hear while all speak out?
Would you write the words they spout?
I could not hear, I would not write.
This does not need to be a fight.
Sign here, date there,.
Mark this, check that,
Beware the students ad-vo-cat (e).
You do not like them so you say.
Try again! Try again!
And you may.
If you let me be,
I will try again.
You will see.

I almost like these IEP’s.
I think I will write 6003.
And I will practice day and night
Until they say
“You got it right!”

Friday, June 14, 2013

On Father’s Day…


There’s no question, when it comes to parenting a child with special needs, you moms
out there have it tougher. Often you’re the primary care giver, you’re the one on the front
lines, and you bear the brunt of the child rearing. And you probably have some
legitimate complaints about your hubby. Maybe he doubted your child’s issues at first.
Maybe he thought you were over reacting. Maybe he had a hard time expressing his deep
hurt once the diagnosis was official. Maybe he’s struggled to accept the new situation.
Maybe it has strained the marriage.

Today, on Father’s Day, I want to address the elephant in the room: I want to
acknowledge the dad’s struggle.

First, let’s face it, we’re guys. We don’t have our emotions on standby. It’s ingrained in
us to be strong, stoic, and unflappable. Often, it’s our role in the family to be a calming
influence. So we treat it like part of the job that when you worry, we don’t.

Having a son, I can’t speak for the bond of dads and daughters, though I’m sure it’s a
special one. But there is something about our relationships with our sons that makes us uniquely vulnerable. We live vicariously through them. We remember our own
painful childhood moments, like being too self conscious, feeling rejected by girls, or
wishing we were just a little better at sports. And we want them to have an easier
time than we did.

Click here to read more....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Functional Developmental Assessment: A Tool to Analyze Your Child’s Behavior


By Eve Kessler, Esq.
A child’s behavior is disruptive. Why is she behaving this way? Is she looking for attention? Avoiding a task? Seeking other forms of tangible reinforcement? Being reinforced through the behavior itself? How can we promote more appropriate behavior?
A Functional Developmental Assessment is a tool well-suited to answering those questions, which in turn will enable you to address problem behaviors. Picking up where Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) leaves off, Functional Developmental Assessment (FDA) adds another dimension to the analysis commonly used to diagnose behavior problems: the developmental bigger picture.
Children behave the way they do for “functional” reasons: their actions have a specific purpose. The cause of their behavior is related to what has happened immediately prior to or after the behavior in question. The underlying idea of an FBA is that if we examine and understand the antecedent (prior circumstances) and consequence that sustain the target behavior—the A-B-Cs of behavior—we can change those factors, and that will increase desired behavior. FDA goes one step further, suggesting that we need to look at other factors as well.

To read more, click here.......

Monday, June 10, 2013

Amazing Children's Book Giveaway!

Does your child have difficulty relaxing or managing his/her feelings? We have a series of books written by Lori Lite and illustrated by Max Stasuyk that could help you! And we're giving away all 4 books to one lucky reader! See below to find out how to enter the giveaway!

 Affirmation Weaver: A Believe in Yourself Story by Lori Lite, Illustrated by Max Stasuyk

Children love to turn self-doubt into self-belief. Children relate to the dolphin in this story as the sea creatures show him how to believe in himself. Watch your child's self-esteem grow as the sea creatures weave a web of positive statements. This feel good technique can be used to bolster self-image, manage stress and anxiety, and accomplish goals. This encouraging story will bring a smile to your face and give your child a tool that will last a lifetime.

Children love to unwind and relax with this fun exercise known as "muscular relaxation . Children relate to the angry octopus in this story as the sea child shows him how to take a deep breath, calm down, and manage his anger. This effective stress and anger management technique focuses awareness on various muscle groups to create a complete resting of the mind and body. Muscular relaxation can lower stress and anxiety levels. It can be used to decrease pain and anger. This engaging story quiets the mind and relaxes the body so your child can let go of anger and fall asleep peacefully.

Children love to visualize, or imagine, filling their bodies with the colors of the rainbow. Children join the sea child and turtle as they take a bubble ride into the world of relaxation. Visualization, also known as creative imagery, can lower stress, anxiety, and anger. It can have a positive impact on your child's health, creativity, and performance. It can be used to decrease pain and anger. The colorful imagery in this story quiets the mind and relaxes the body so your child can manage stress and fall asleep peacefully.

Children will love to experience belly breathing with playful sea otters and a sea child. This effective, self-calming technique also known as diaphragmatic breathing can have a positive impact on your child s health. Proper breathing can lower stress and anxiety levels. It can be used to decrease pain and anger. Delightful characters and easy breathing encourage your child to slow down, relax, and fall asleep peacefully.

To Enter the Giveaway:

Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page. (
It's as easy as that! 

And if you share this on your FB page, you will get another entry! (Just be sure to mention in the comments here or on the FB page that you have shared our giveaway).

The giveaway ends June 21st at midnight. And due to shipping costs, the winner must be a resident of the US. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

6 Tips For Surviving Meltdowns

by Bec Oakley at

Helping your child through a meltdown can be one of the hardest parts of parenting autistic kids.

Amidst all the noise and chaos you have to somehow figure out what's causing it, and that can be tricky (if not downright impossible) if they're having trouble communicating.

At those times finding a reason takes a back seat to keeping everyone safe and just getting through it in one piece. So here are some tips for how to do that.

1. Don’t get angry
It’s pointless, it just adds to the noise and it doesn’t solve anything. Plus you end up feeling like crap. Your child isn't doing this to be naughty, stubborn or get his own way so being angry at him won't solve anything. Take a deep breath instead and rally your resources. And remember, no matter how hard it is for you, it's umpteen times harder on him.

2. Take control
Remove your child from the situation or change the thing that’s bothering him. If you don’t know what it is, put him somewhere safe and ride it out.

3. Don’t try reason
He isn’t in control of himself in a meltdown - the system has overloaded and is shutting down. Trying to reason, reprimand or even ask what’s wrong is only giving him more sensory input to deal with and making things worse.
To continue reading, click here....