Upcoming Events and Speaking Engagements
A free 12 week education program for family, partners, friends and significant others of adults living with mental illness
Click for Information
April 18, 2015
Chicagoland Autism Connection
Bogun Computer Technical High School
3939 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60643
10 am-12:30 pm
Over 30 Vendors and Workshops in English and Spanish
April 24, 2015
Center for Independent Future's Annual Gala
May 3, 2015
New Trier High School
Sunday, May 3
Autism Community Resource Fair
May 9, 2015
7th Annual Gala
Honoring Randy Lewis
Four Season's Hotel
Cocktails, Dinner, Dancing and Live Auction
Is your group or organization having an event?
or call our office at 847-926-0101 with the information and
The Child & Family Law Center will be happy to publish it in our newsletter.
he Child and Family Law Center is pleased to announce the opening of a branch office in Lisle, Illinois. Attorneys Micki Moran and Joe Scally will meet with clients by appointment at 5950-E Lincoln, Lisle, IL.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 847-926-0101.
Subscribe to Micki Moran's Blogs:
Hello and Welcome. Each month The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore, Ltd. will provide articles of interest and updates on areas that our office deals with on a regular basis. We appreciate and welcome feedback, so please feel free to send us an email at
with questions or suggestions.
Advocating for your Child with Autism: Perspectives from 20 Years of Practice
This year will mark my 20th year of practice in the special education area. The preschool age students I represented then, to secure evidence based interventions, are now young adults entering the adult disability system. The numbers continue to grow and the wave of children diagnosed with autism continues unabated. In thinking about the newsletter for Autism Awareness Month, I did an inventory of the many things I have learned regarding advocacy for children on the autism spectrum. I have attempted to distill the key factors that are essential. They are as follows:
A good evaluation of your child is essential. It is the cornerstone of your advocacy strategy and will help you develop a road map for planning.
a) Functional levels.
b) Skill sets needed to have success in school and in life.
c) Identification of the services needed to make that happen (e.g. speech, occupational therapy, a trained 1:1 assistant.
d) The evaluation should be comprehensive and objective.
- The creation of a team you trust. This takes time and often includes both outside professionals and school personnel.
- Developing a clear sense of your proprieties for each year for your child. This task can be daunting and requires both data and common sense about what must be done NOW.
Organization. The best parent advocates are those parents who are organized and can convey that message to the school.
a) Binder of current documents including evaluations.
b) Outside reports.
d) Progress reports.
e) E-mail communication with the school.
Develop an Agenda for the meeting. Label it as a proposed agenda and circulate it in advance of the meeting. The agenda should include:
a) Topics to be discussed.
b) Evaluations provided in advance of the IEP meeting. This includes school personnel.
d) Wish list in order of importance. Be clear about what outcome you want.
e) Ideas for goals. Draft goals can be helpful in clarifying the plan.
f) Agreement on the time allotted for the meeting.
- Demeanor. I have been in IEP meetings where I became frustrated and impatient and wanted to lose my cool with the folks on the other side of the table. The key is not to give into the urge to vent, yell or insult the staff. Your message gets lost in the anger. It helps to "practice" this in a role playing with your spouse or friend.
- If you are uncertain about the outcome of the meeting, don't feel rushed. Ask for a day or two to think about the proposal. Schools generally don't like this approach but it is the best way to assure that you are comfortable with the proposed plan.
- You must become an expert in your child's disability. This may and often does include a number of different professionals who will partner with you in this regard. There are several resources listed above that will hopefully be of assistance in this journey.
Divorce and Family Law:
I am a trained mediator and support this approach as a form of dispute resolution in divorce. Litigation is expensive and can drain both the financial and emotional resources of families in the process of divorce and other family law related matters. Mediation also gives clients control of the process and allow for solutions that work best for their family. Sometimes mediation is conducted with attorneys present at the mediation session or more commonly they are in the role of adviser.
How does an attorney assist in the mediation process?
Resource for Information:
As an attorney, one of the most important things that I do with clients is to educate them regarding the legal options that are applicable in their case. Each case is unique and clients may have no idea what the law provides. Oftentimes, the clients have spoken to neighbors, friends or have gone on the internet and may not have accurate information regarding the legal issues .
Every case requires that the parties provide information such as financial information, pay stubs, retirement accounts and other relevant documents. As the attorney, I advise my clients what information needs to be gathered in preparation for settlement discussions or disclosure in each case.
Strategy and Support:
Whether your attorney participates in the mediation or doesn't, it is important that you discuss approaches and priorities within the context of what is legally possible. Oftentimes, I prepare clients for what to expect in a mediation session and help them prioritize desired outcomes. Typically, there are multiple mediation sessions. As a result, this role as adviser is ongoing. If child related issues are unresolved, I suggest that clients start with those issues as a way of clarifying the most important matters first.
At the conclusion of mediation, a variety of documents need to be prepared by reviewing the Memorandum of Understanding to determine if all of the issues have been resolved and that this agreement deals with the parenting, financial, and property distribution in a legally sound manner, fairly and equitably. This information forms the basis for the preparation of the Judgment, Parenting Plan and Marital Settlement Agreement and other documents.
Book Review: THE TEENAGE BRAIN
I try to keep current in my reading on the issues that present themselves in my practice, both out of an absolute need to be current but also because I practice law in this area by intention. These are the things that interest me.
Recently, I read a book titled The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults. The author, Dr. Frances Jensen, is a neuroscientist and was a single mother to two teenage boys who are now in their twenties. I represent a lot of teenagers in my office, primarily because they made impulsive and often poor decisions that landed them in trouble with school or the legal system. For others, this period can be a rocky path where depression, anxiety and substance abuse issues surface.
Marijuana use is relatively common among teenagers. Oftentimes, when a young person presents in my office with dropping grades, depression and anxiety, I ask about marijuana use. Frequently, parents will shrug and tell me that it isn't a big deal that their teen is smoking pot. The teenagers almost always dismiss this as harmless. I share some of my concerns and relay the research that suggests that marijuana use is not without negative consequences. Dr. Jensen's book provides solid support for this position.
"People who are chronic marijuana users between 13 and 17, people who use daily or frequently for a period of time, like a year plus, have shown decreased verbal IQ, and their functional MRI's look different when they are imaged during a task. There's been a permanent cbange in their brains as a result of this that they may not ever be able to recover."
When I mention this to my young clients, they will roll their eyes. Their parents tend to listen. The research also offers explanations for the reason that teenagers can be especially susceptible to addictions including drugs, smoking and digital devices.
There are many other interesting aspects of this book. One of Dr. Jensen's recommendations is to limit your teen's access to digital devices after a certain hour at night.
I recommend the book for parents and professionals.
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore is a unique legal practice that specializes in providing legal services to families and children in the areas of special education, IEP consultations, divorce and custody, parenting agreements, mediation, guardianship and juvenile law, including criminal law, DCFS and mental health. Where possible, we have initiated flat fee billing for appropriate matters.
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore
1950 Sheridan Rd. - Suite 201
Highland Park, IL 60035
We provide representation in the following Northern Illinois counties: Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, and Will. Consultations by appointment in our Lisle, IL office.
For more information about The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore, please call 847-926-0101 or visit our website at www.lawforchild.com.
Representation and Consultation
in the following areas:
- Special Education and School Law
- Juvenile and Criminal Law
- Mental Health and Disability Law
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore