Family Connections Newsletter
Eileen Hawkins, Parent Mentor
December, 2018

Parma Snow LIbrary Sensory Friendly Movie Time

Saturday December 8, 2018
2:30-3:30 PM

Parma - Snow Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library, 2121 Snow Rd., Parma OH

Join the staff at Parma Snow Library for a Sensory Movie event, where the sound is lower and the lights are brighter, and where talking, singing and moving is perfectly acceptable! P.A.L.S. Sensory Movie programs are especially for people on the autism spectrum and/or with special needs (and their families), or for anyone who prefers this type of movie watching environment. Light snacks and covered beverages are welcome.

P.A.L.S. stands for Programs for All Lives, a year-long series of adapted programs created especially for customers with special needs.

P.A.L.S. is open to everyone, and is appropriate for anyone comfortable with adapted programming.

For more information about this event (including the movie title), please contact the Parma-Snow Branch at 216-661-4240.

Sensation Stations at The Westlake Porter Library

Engage your child's senses by scooping, pouring and sorting a variety of materials. For children with special needs (ages 3-6 years) and their typical siblings/peers.

Westlake Porter Public Library, 27333 Center Ridge Rd.

Thursday, December 13, 2018 10:30-11:30 AM

Ages 3-6


 Summer & Beyond Fair 2019
Be a part of the 21st Annual Summer & Beyond Fair for Children and Young Adults with Disabilities. Every year, districts, families and students look forward to this event! This fair has vendors for Summer Camps, Therapies, O.T., P.T., Speech, Social Skills, Dance, Karate, Counseling, etc., all in one place. It is a great resource and time saving event for Parents and Caregivers.

Sat. February 16, 2019, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Woodside Event Center at St. Michaels
5025 Mill Rd. Broadview Hts., OH 44147 

Adapted Story Time
January 5, 2019 11 AM

Parma Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library
6996 Powers Blvd.Parma OH

Children with varying learning styles and abilities learn together in a safe, supportive environment where respect and appreciation for differences is encouraged. This storytime, followed by a time for socialization, is designed for children who may not be successful in a typical storytime experience. Content is geared toward ages 3 to 7 years, but all ages are welcome. Siblings may also attend but must register separately.

Group Recreation Programs
Group Recreation Therapy classes focus on achieving developmental milestones, interacting socially with peers, and acquiring new skills related to leisure and sport while having fun in a positive environment with our team of recreation therapists. 

East Side Group Recreation Classes
Friendship Circle
Tuesdays 1/15-3/19

2:30p-3:30p Toddler Connection (18mos-3)
3:45p-4:45p Group Connection (3-5)
5p-6p Sports Connection (6-10)

West Side Group Recreation Classes
Gemini Center
Wednesdays 1/16-3/20

2:30p-3:30p Toddler Connection (18mos-3)
3:45p-4:45p Group Connection (3-5)
5p-6p Sports Connection (6-10)

Cost:  $375 (10 weeks)

Adult Fitness Connection
Fitness Connection
Ages 15+
1:1 Recreation Therapy Program
  • Standardized CERT Physical to determine areas of strength and need
  • Personalized treatment/fitness plan
  • Weekly established goals
  • Focus on 
  • Strength and endurance
  • Improve muscle tone
  • Fine and gross motor function
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Encourage healthy fitness routine
  • Improve social awareness
  • Increase socialization and community integration

1 hour sessions with 1:1 Recreational Therapist
Flexible scheduling Tuesdays/Thursdays at the Gemini Center
Contact for individualized pricing

Fit Friends
Ages 15+
Small group setting in fitness studio
  • Warm up, alternating between standing and strengthening exercises and cardio exercises followed by a cool down with our recreation therapists. 
  • Personalized treatment/fitness plan
  • Weekly established goals
  • Focuses on
  • Strength and endurance
  • Improve muscle tone
  • Fine and gross motor function
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Encourage healthy fitness routine
  • Improve social awareness
  • Increase socialization and community integration

When:  Thursdays 1/17-3/7
Where:  Gemini Center
Time:  4p-5p
Cost:  $175 (8 Weeks)

Rec2Connect accepts self waiver, NEON funding and insurance reimbursement

$10 discount if paid in full by the first day of the program. 

Payment for classes are billed monthly. 
The first monthly payment is due by the first day of the program registered.

Rec2Connect | 330-703-9001 |  |   Rec2Connect
Join Empowering Epilepsy for our next
Cleveland Support Group with 
Empowering Epilepsy Yoga

December 10, 2018
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
at the 
Center for Stroke and Hand Recovery
5910 Harper Rd #102, Solon, OH 44139
Meet others who understand epilepsy, learn strategies to manage your seizures, and make new friends. 
From 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. enjoy Empowering Epilepsy Restorative Yoga to help reduce stress, restore your body and metabolic system, and lessen seizures. This yoga is personalized for individual participants, so anyone can participate.
Wear comfortable clothing and it is recommended that you not eat anything after 4:15 p.m. that day. We will provide all yoga supplies. 
This event is free and open to anyone who understands epilepsy.
A Holiday Guide to Autism
By:Carrie Cariello

Editor's note: I wrote this post based on some conversations with my son Jack. 

This is Jack.
My mother said we are going to your house for a holiday party this year.

Last time I came to your house it didn’t go so good. It was Saturday, December 14th, 2013.
I was very scared of your  dog  and when he barked I screamed and I accidentally broke one of your ornaments. Then someone ate the last cookie so I got my madness. We left early that day.
I was nine. I had  autism .

I am feeling badly about that party. I remember all the wrong things about it. I thought I could tell you some things about me so this year is better.
I am fourteen now. I still have autism.
My autism means I like my  schedule  very, very much. I like to wrap myself in routine like a soft, cozy blanket.

It means loud noises make me nervous. Do not be surprised if I put my hands over my ears when I walk in the door. I just need to filter out all the different sounds until my ears get used to them.
The doctor says I am very tactile. This means I like to use my fingers to see things, even though my eyes work. It is okay for you to ask me not to touch things that are important or fragile. It is also okay for you to put them away if it feels easier for you.
You see, all of my five senses are turned up extra high and bright. Things sound very loud and taste very strong and smell very smelly. This is not an easy way to live.

Please, don’t be upset if you give me a present but I don’t look very excited.
I love getting a present. I really do.
But after I open it, I have to take my time and look at it carefully and decide how it will fit inside my life. I might be so busy thinking about this in my brain that I forget to say thank you.

Try not to say words that sound like maple syrup drizzled over a bee hive. You know, the kind that taste sweet in your mouth but are meant to give little stings.

Don’t suggest the gluten-free diet when you see me eating a roll with a lot of butter.

Don’t say maybe my autism would get better if I would just learn to stop pacing around the floor so much.

Don’t talk about how the latest research states kids like me who take  medicine  every night will maybe one day get a third eye or the disease of cancer.

Please, don’t insist I pet your dog.

Don’t insist I try your yams.

Don’t insist I sit the whole time for the dinner table.
In fact, don’t insist anything.

My mother and my father will do the insisting if they want. They know how to stretch me like a rubber band—just far enough so I don’t break. They know when is the right time to make me try a new food. They know when to make me sit and when to let me pace the floor.

They know what to do when I get my  madness.
I have to take very big breaths and talk to myself and sometimes, I like to touch my dad's hair.
It can be a help for me if there is a quiet place where I can go and do my breathing. It doesn’t have to be anywhere special—an extra bedroom or your sewing room is good. My dad will probably come with me because he knows how to make me calm.

When it comes to our family, try not to look at your clock too much. Sometimes we are late for parties.
This can be for many reasons. Maybe I took a long time to get dressed because I have to wear my button pants on special holidays and button pants take me a long time. Maybe I had to keep going back and making sure my pillows were straight on bed.

If we are late, don’t sing out about our lateness in a weird voice like this: you’re laa-aate! It makes all of us feel bad. And sometimes, we have to leave early. When we have to leave early, it's because
my mother says I have had enough. I think she means I have had enough of the smelly food and the loud talking. The breaks in the sewing room aren't working anymore. If this happens, please
don't ask why and say we haven't even had pie yet and can't we stay a little while longer.

You see, autism families do not measure time in seconds or minutes or hours like everybody else.
We measure it in sensory overload,  lack of schedule , and broken ornaments. We measure it
in madness.

Another thing is I don’t like hugging. This is because when people touch me I feel like I am drowning and maybe my skin will come off my body.

This doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. I do. My caring just looks different.

Ask me things.

Ask me about cookies and my school and my music.

I love music.

Listen for my words, for I take longer than most to say them.

Ask me. Ask me anything.

I will tell you that my favorite song is by Ariana Grande, and that I tried a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies the other day that said to use Crisco instead of butter.

I will tell you how we went to my brother  Charlie’s  basketball game last week and he made a big basket with the ball and everyone clapped and called his name. He was the center of the attention for the whole gym. And in the car on the ride home, I said very quiet-like to my mother that I am never the center of attention. I don't like basketball. I don't even like clapping so much.
But for once, I would like to feel special. I would like to hear people call my name for something good.

Ask me.

And I will tell you.

Keep your eyes on my face while I search for a way to explain it.

Keep your hands still while you listen to my quiet, halted speech.

Keep my words close to your heart, for they are the rarest of gifts.

Keep me the center of your attention, if only for a moment.

Because inside of our beating hearts, I think we all want for the same things. We want to eat food that tastes good on our tongues, and to feel safe and warm and calm like we are wrapped in a soft blanket.

We want holiday parties with a lot of cookies.

We want less madness, and more quiet smiles.

Meet me where I stand.

Hear me when I speak.

See me as I am.

In case I forget to say it.

Thank you.

This is a great resource to share with family members, neighbors, first responders and anyone who would like to learn more about individuals with autism and keeping everyone safe.

The National Autism Association/AWARE Kit Includes checklists and other information to help first responders search for missing children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Portions of this kit are also applicable to different disabilities, including the 


ICAN  is a Network of parents, residents, and City of Independence employees working together to provide adapted athletic, fitness, recreational, and social activities to individuals ages 10 years and older with physical, sensory or developmental disabilities.

Any individual under the age of 18 or individuals in need of constant guidance or physical patterning are required to have an aide, parent, or caregiver present for one-on-one assistance at all times.

For additional information, contact Jim Wotowiec at 216-524-3262, Ext. 2559 or

EMPOWER Sports Basketball Independence Field House, 6354 Selig Blvd, Independence, OH 44131 On Tuesdays from November 13 thru December 29 from 6-9 pm. An adaptive basketball program where each participants' are appreciated.

Registration: or 216-400-9598
ICAN Christmas Bowling Party
Saturday, December 15th Noon-2:00 PM

Seven Hills Lane 7279 Broadview Rd, Seven Hills, OH 44131

$15 fee Includes Pizza, Chips, Drink & Bowling
Register : 216-524-3262
Holiday Party

Please join The Autism Society of Greater Cleveland, ICAN and the Band of Brothers & Gal Pals for their Annual Holiday Party. No Child Care will be provided at this event. Parents must remain with and supervise their own children, teens or young adults with autism and their siblings.
When: Saturday, December 22, 2018
Time : 12:00 - 2:00 PM
Where : Independence Old Rec Center 6200 Elmwood Drive (Pete Wisniewski Parkway), Independence, OH
Cost : $5 per person (up to $25 per family)
Registration Required Call: 216-524-3262 or stop by the Independence Civic Center
Registration Deadline : December 14, 2018
Nathaniel's Hope Buddy Break

Nathaniel’s Hope Buddy Break is a free kids program where kids with special needs (VIP kids) make new friends, have fun playing games, hear and see great children’s stories, videos, music and more! Siblings have fun too! Meanwhile, their parents/caregivers get a break from their ongoing care-giving responsibilities for three hours.
Buddy Break is a growing outreach to the VIP community done in partnership with churches across the nation. Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church is one of those partners and provides “Buddies” who are screened and trained, then paired one-on-one with a VIP child during Buddy Break.

Every third Sunday of the month ,  Child care will be provided for the kids after opening songs and greeting followed by Buddy Break Respite Program hours: 1:00 – 4:00 PM (parents/caregivers day out – respite). 
(No April Buddy Break due to Easter.)

Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church
11680 Royalton Road
North Royalton, OH 44133
Lynn Ebner, Special Needs Ministry Coordinator

Join Rec2Connect for a Winter Break Open Gym!

Come for an hour and interact with our sensory equipment (bounce house, float balls, giga
ball, medicine balls, trampoline, exercise equipment, parachute, etc.) and sports equipment
(soccer, basketball, baseball, and volleyball).
Our recreational therapists will be on site to assist in activities.

Parents and caregivers assist in engaging in activities provided by Rec2Connect

West Side Open Gym
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Gemini Center
21225 Lorain Rd, Fairview Park, OH 44126
2p-3p: Reserved for ages 3-5
3p-4p: Reserved for ages 6-10
4p-5p: Reserved for ages 11-14
5p-6p: Reserved for ages 15+
Siblings are welcome to sign up
Cost is $20 per participant
Parent and/or caregiver are free
Registration is required by 12.30.18

Building connections and achieving goals through Recreation and Aquatic Therapy 330.703.9001
Locations: Gemini Center//Friendship Circle

Rec2Connect Foundation and the Cleveland State Vikings teamed up to bring a fun family event!

Saturday, January 26th for a 7pm tipoff! 
Tickets are $4 each
RSVP by 1/19/19
-Number of people attending the game
-Number of individuals with special needs
-Seating requests or needs-ADA Seating Available at the Wolstein Cnter

Cash or check made out to:
Rec2Connect Foundation
Mailed to:
Rec2Connect Foundation CSU Basketball Game
23606 Duffield Road
Shaker Heights, OH 44122

Event Includes:
-Free T-Shirt for 1st 500 Fans
-Cheap Eats & Drinks
-Kids Zone with Inflatables, Magician, & More
-High Five Tunnel exclusively for Rec2Connect Foundation

Medicaid - Navigating the Application & Determination Process

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
6:30pm - 8:30pm, 
Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital
Presenter:  Margaret Schade , Medicaid Liaison, 
Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities 

Questions? Contact Amy, or 513-814-0674
Using Compassionate Curiosity to Find Confidence in Conflict Webinar

12 - 1:30 PM EST


Difficult conversations and conflict are often feared or avoided, but they can be growth opportunities. In this webinar, Kwame Christian, Esq., M.A., Director of the American Negotiation Institute, will help you learn new approaches to dealing with conflict. The powerful Compassionate Curiosity Framework is designed to guide you through all of your difficult conversations, at work and at home. You’ll learn what to say, how to say it, and when to say it in order to maximize persuasion while minimizing the risk of destructive dialogue.

Specifically, you will learn how to:
  • Negotiate with yourself in order to gain control over your emotions and understand what you really want and why you want it.
  • Develop a winning mindset.
  • Consistently put yourself in the best position for success.
  • Defuse potentially explosive conflicts before the conversation breaks down.
  • Use the fundamental tenets of cognitive behavioral therapy to help you to overcome fear and anxiety.
  • Use conflict as a tool to increase understanding and strengthen relationships.

Your used computer can help a child or adult who has DD

Computers Again, a program of Goodwill, aims to provide affordable computers to low-income families and individuals as well as non-profit organizations by collecting and refurbishing unwanted computers that would otherwise be destroyed.  
  • This program is a great way to help get computers in the homes of families and individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford it, while also keeping electronics out of the landfill. 
  • Children without computers in the home today are at a great disadvantage to those who do. So much of modern education depends on students being able to access a computer during non-school hours.
  • Having a computer is a prerequisite to connecting to the internet, and anyone who lacks access to these tools is at a great disadvantage in today's world.
By making technology affordable, many people can acquire the education and tools needed to gain marketable skills in computer technology. 

All hard drives of donated computers are wiped, and if they cannot be wiped, the drive is destroyed. The ideal donation is a Pentium 4 CPU running at 1Ghz or better. 

Goodwill accepts donated computers at all its retail and attended donation center locations. 

For more information on donating a computer or receiving a computer, please call (330) 445-1101 or 1-800-942-3577 ext.1101.

For more information and an application to apply for a refurbished computer, please click  HERE
AMC Theaters
@Ridge Park Square
Sensory Friendly Movies
AMC Theaters 'offer unique movie AMCAMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing!

Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month.

Creed II December 11 2018
Spiderman into the Spiderverse December 22, 2018

AMC Ridge Park Square
Sibling Expressions Art Therapy Group

Sibling Expressions is offered to siblings of children who've been affected by medical or mental illness, or a diagnosis that is life changing.

This art therapy group accommodates children ages 6 to 12 years old. 

During sessions, siblings explore various art materials to promote self-expression and foster healthy coping skills.

Free of charge, space is limited. Please RSVP one week prior to scheduled session to  or 216-448-6265.

Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital for Rehabilitation
2801 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
Cleveland, OH 44104
Katie Zaller
Opioid Crisis Fact Facts (CADCA)

The United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis, the impact surpassing annual car crashes, and the AIDs epidemic in the 1990s. Over two million people in the U.S. have become dependent on or abused prescription pain pills and/or an illicit drug. This fact sheet from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) highlights this and other facts about the crisis.


Decisions in Recovery: Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
A handbook to help patients of opioid use disorder better understand their treatment options. The guide explains addiction and challenges to recovery, describes medication-assisted treatment, and addresses some of the barriers to recovery. From the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Behavioral Health Among College Students Information and Resource Kit

This kit discusses the consequences of substance misuse among college students including the misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. It explores various causes, factors such as peer pressure, stress, social norms, and advertising messages.

Please read...

This newsletter is a resource. Cuyahoga Heights Schools do not endorse or recommend any providers, methodologies or services from any of the groups or companies listed. 

We urge you to make independent judgment when selecting a pr ofessional to assist you.