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October 2017

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Evanston Citizens for Appropriate Special Education (CASE) provides Community, Advocacy, Support and Education for families affected by special needs.


CASE is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.



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Haunted By Halloween
Riddle:  What's the difference between Halloween and a vampire?  
Answer:  There is none - they both suck! 
Many families, especially those not impacted with disability, might puzzle at this riddle.  But I suspect there are parents reading this article who "get" my dumb joke because they know exactly what I'm talking about - Halloween is really rough on families with children with disabilities.
First of all, costumes and candy are out in the stores before school even starts in August!  Kids begin obsessing about what they want to be, begging to get their costume and wear it every day -- in September!  If you  insist that they wait to buy the costume until October, they get anxious about them selling out (not necessarily an unfounded worry). 
Then there are the decorations. Our rule was we didn't put them up until after October 1st.  And of course, the more elaborate, gross and scary the better.  Small children wouldn't trick-or-treat at our house because it was just too creepy. 
In the days leading up to Halloween, expectations run wild - as do our children's anxiety (and, honestly, ours too).  Will they be invited to trick-or-treat with the neighborhood gang?  Will they be included in the cool kids' Halloween parties?  What if they get left out?
On the actual holiday, all this build-up and excitement gets super-charged by the large amounts of sugary treats they consume.   Let's just say that no scary movie could hold a candle to what would go down in our house in the hours following the crash from the Halloween booty sugar-high.

Some kids are amenable to handing out the candy at your door.  They can still wear their costume!  I was successful doing this with my son as long as I promised to provide him with candy :) 
You probably have your own harrowing Halloween stories.  Maybe your child with sensory-processing disorder becomes dysregulated from their itchy costume.  Maybe your child has nut allergies that infuse the entire trick-or-treat experience with anxiety.  Maybe you are struggling to design a clever costume around a wheel-chair.  Maybe your anxious child gets freaked-out by all that blood and gore.  Maybe, right this minute, your lonely child is fretting about not having anyone to go trick-or-treating with.
I wish I had easy answers to all these difficulties.
One good idea -- 
Connect with others on the CASE Parent Connections Facebook Page.  CASE families are planning trick-or-treating meet-ups around Evanston  - a perfect way to ensure that your trick-or-treater has a fun gang of kids and parents with which to go around town.  Who knows...perhaps they will make a new friend that night.  Now that would be spooktacular!
I hope you find the information in this newsletter helpful.
Cari Levin, LCSW
Founding Executive Director
Evanston CASE
Alternative Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Brookfield Zoo
Date: Saturdays and Sundays, October 21-22, 28-29
Activities 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Little Beans Cafe
Oct. 22nd 4-6pm
Chicago Botanic Garden
Thursday - Sunday, October 26 - 29, 2017
6:30 - 10:30 p.m.
Halloween Party at the Robert Crown Center for preschoolers10/31/2017 10:00 to 1:00pm.
For adults and teens  over 13 yrs old, make a reservation at the
Dawes House "Haunting History"  event (Oct 27, 28, 29th). 

Don't Miss This!!
Anatomy of an IEP: Dissecting Your Child's IEP Document

Cari Levin, LCSW, Executive Director of Evanston CASE, and Jill Calian, CASE Board President, help explain the individualized education plan (IEP) documents  and how they are best understood and managed. This information can empower parents to better advocate for their child's educational needs and help monitor their child's progress.
Thursday, October 26th 7:00-9:00 pm at the Evanston Public Library downtown branch in the large community meeting room.

Free and open to the public.  No registration required.

 Make the Most of Your Parent-Teacher Conference

Here are some strategies to keep in mind as you prepare for your Parent-Teacher Conference:

1. Whenever possible, both parents should attend the meeting. You could also attend with a friend or other relative.

2. Talk with your child to see if he has any concerns about school.

3. E-mail your questions and concerns to the teacher in advance, if you want a more thorough, thoughtful response.  Prioritize your concerns: too many will get lost in the shuffle.  Bring a copy of your email in case the teacher doesn't receive it.

4. If you run out of time, ask that any unaddressed items or concerns be responded to by e-mail.  You can also ask for a follow-up meeting to continue the discussion.

5. If you feel the teacher doesn't have a grasp on your child's needs, request an IEP review meeting to get things on track.

Use this great template to keep you focused and organized during your discussion:

Join us for Parent Connections Support Group
Thursday, November 9th
If you haven't had a chance to attend a Parent Connections Support Group yet, give it a try!  Meet with others who "get it" and share resources and advice.

From September to May, we will meet on the second Thursday of every month beginning Thursday, September 14th.

We offer two meetings: 
Brown Bag Lunch from 11:30-1:00 and 
Evening from 7:00 to 8:30.
Located at 1940 Sherman Ave. Suite A

For more information, call 847-566-8676 or email

Hope you can join us!