In this Issue: 
President's Message:  Happy Spring!

Q and A's from Webinar

Transition Time

How Learning to Play Music Can Benefit Children with Special Needs


President's Message:
Happy Spring! It IS Spring, isn't it?
Sometimes here in the Midwest, we need to be reminded with our changing weather.
The transition to spring, and then to summer is usually a welcome time in the areas of the country where we have real winters.  But no complaints this year... winter seemed short since our snowfall was light.

The talk of weather transition reminds me of the transition our families go through. The movement through lifecycles for our children  is often a learning process for us, as our children move from early childhood through school years, into the transition program in their  school, and into adulthood. This issue has some resources for the transition stage; I hope these are useful to you.  There is also a fun article on music education in the world of special needs.  And of course more information on the ABLE act.

I always promise to give you an update on the therapy pup training that my Darby and Delaney are going through with me.  Tails for Life and Jake Gruel have been patient trainers, (mostly for me!). Darby and Delaney got their Canine Good Citizen awards and  now we go to the next level of training. They are learning to be around medical equipment without fear, and they love their new  command, "Back Up".  I hardly have to say the command and they do it! 

We will be sponsoring a fund raising event for Tails for Life on September 14. Save the Date! We hope to raise funds so that Tails for Life  can provide service dogs for children with disabilities. We'll share more information about this event next issue.
Have a great transition into Spring and Summer!

Warm Regards,

Mary Anne Ehlert,
President & Founder

Q and A's from ABLE Act Webinar

In February we presented a webinar with Special Olympics, Protected Tomorrows, along with a representative from State of Illinois explaining the ABLE Act. Illinois is ready and has begun the savings plan,  If you have not already watched the webinar please go to our website homepage link and watch the webinar. We have had over 170 questions asked, having to do with Benefits, Assets and Funding, Allowable Expenses, Beneficiaries, Eligibility, Fee, Inheritance and Special Needs Trusts and the ABLE Act, and we are answering them all! We will post these on our website for all to have access to the webinar and Q and A's. 

Here are a couple of the most asked questions with the answers:

Q.  For what expenditures can the money in an ABLE account be used?

A.  Funds in ABLE accounts must be used for "qualified disability expenses". A qualified disability expense means any expense incurred by the beneficiary as a result of living with a disability. These include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health care expenses, financial management and administrative services, daily living expenses and other expenses to enhance the beneficiary's quality of life.

Q. Will ABLE account beneficiaries need approval before spending the money in their accounts? 
A.  No. In November 2015, the Treasury Department issued guidance indicating that states do not have to scrutinize or approve expenditures. However, beneficiaries will be required to maintain documentation to prove that their expenses are qualified if they are audited.
Watch the full webinar here.

Transition Time!!
Life After High School!
After graduating from high school, there are many options to consider for your child's future. Helping your child choose a path is a big decision.  Transition planning should begin at age 14. Work with your child's teachers and be sure your child's IEP includes transition planning.

Some options include:
  • A 2 or 4 year college degree program
  • Attending a college life experience program/no degree
  • Attending a trade or technical school
  • Participating in a job training or internship program
  • Volunteering; or
  • Getting a job. 
To start your child's transition journey, look to your local high school or co-operative and attend a Transition Fair to find options in your area and beyond.

Resources for college/college experience programs:
Find a college by state and/or disability at -
Look for college scholarships for individuals with disabilities at -

Look for organizations specific to your disability condition such as Down Syndrome -
Summer college living/preparation experience such as:  3 week summer program to prepare students for college life -
Look at college consulting that match students with Aspergers and others on autism spectrum with the right college.  Evaluates readiness -
College internship program for those with learning disabilities & autism spectrum -
Read about what accomodations are required and/or available in post secondary and college settings at 

How Learning to Play Music Can Benefit Children With
Special Needs     Contributed by Sally Writes

Musical education is a great medium for promoting brain development and acquiring skills. Learning to play an instrument helps establish a sense of focus, timing, and rhythm while providing an outlet to express their creativity through music. For parents teaching musicianship to their child, this also provides an opportunity to spend quality bonding time.

Ways Learning Music  Helps the Brain
Music helps children in multiple mental areas, regardless of what their special needs may be. Children with cognitive disabilities can experience a musical outlet that makes them feel good about themselves and feel relaxation. This is particularly true when it comes to percussion instruments that require attention to rhythms, such as the piano or drums.

For children with language difficulties, any musical lesson that implements vocalization can be  beneficial. Singing helps a child with ADD or ADHD focus on the musical components of a song and may also help increase attention span.  

Music education can help children with special needs establish a greater sense of logic and organization, as music relies on the implementation of sound and rhythmic patterns. Studies have shown that choosing a musical instrument that requires swift motions (i.e. guitar, trombone, violin, drums) improves motor skills and multitasking skills. In addition to paying attention to their motions, they must also concentrate on the music that's produced.

Creating and playing music gives children with special needs a sense of accomplishment while toning cognitive areas. Studies show that early music education is extremely beneficial to all children, because it increases the development of gray matter in the brain and helps improve memory.

Methods in Teaching Music

Stay positive when  teaching music to children with special needsKids learn best and become more confident in their abilities with positive reinforcement. Teaching note accuracy, matching pitches and playing rhythm are essential to a good lesson.

Children with hearing or speech impairments may be more successful using visual aids and putting an emphasis on lip movements. Remember that children with special needs are not all the same; find out which methods work best for their specific disability and stick with it.

Whichever type of instrument or other musical abilities your child with special needs picks up, they will have a reason to feel good about themselves while doing something they love. A musical, hands-on experience will give your child a sense of structure. If one musical medium doesn't work for them, don't give up. It may be healthy to explore other methods.

We'd Love to Hear Your GOOD NEWS!

Everyone likes to hear good news. Protected Tomorrows wants to hear your good news. Have you, your family, or your child, experienced success with a project, won a recent grant, overcome a long fought hardship or have a personal experience you'd like to share?  
Please submit your story to Protected Tomorrows. Sharing your story of good news can offer hope, excitement and encouragement to others.

Please share your Good News! stories
Send to Barb Gier

Join Us! 

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June 25      Abilities Expo with Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
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July 13      Chromosome 18 Conference
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July 28      CHARGE Syndrome
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Aug 5        5P Minus Society
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Sept 14     'Tails For Life' Wags for Wine Fundraiser
                              Stay Tuned, More to Come on Fundraiser

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