Oops! This is our October Newsletter, not August. We're sorry for the confusion.
In this Issue: Summer Vacation - Where Did It Go?
President's Message
Reading Education Assistance Dog  R.E.A.D.
Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Internet Safety for Children with Disabilities  
Join Us! Speech listing

President's Message:

Oooooocccctttober. Wow!  I can hardly say it! It was just January, wasn't it?  I do love this time of year here in the Midwest. The smell of the final grasses being cut; the colors of the leaves as they blow through the autumn winds. And no snow yet! What a great time of year, isn't it? Along with the fall come other resolves that I hear from friends and clients: Getting in shape by the end of the year; getting cash flows under control; refinancing mortgages before the rates go up; finally learning how to understand the social security system; starting to research residential opportunities.
Whatever it is that Fall encourages you to start, just do it. Pick one thing and take your first step. It will feel great to just begin.

My progress this month with my pups training to become Therapy Dogs has taken some great moves forward. Both Darby and Delaney are now ready to start practicing sitting through my speech with an audience. We are going to practice here in the office, so that in my first speech, they don't decide to take a romp around the room. That would be amusing to them, and a few laughs for the audience I'm sure, but way stressful to me!

In this issue, there is an interesting article about Darby and Delaney's dad, Emerson. He is a Reading Education Assistance Dog. I thought you would enjoy learning more about this.
And this month we also celebrate Down Syndrome Aware Month. Enjoy the articles we have included.

Have a great October. I look forward to hearing from you as how you celebrate this special month!

Warm regards, 
Mary Anne Ehlert, 
President & Founder

R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs)
By Judy Essmann

Meet Emerson, As a puppy, Emerson expressed a keen desire to please. He loved to lear n new thi ngs and caught on very quickly . I enrolled Emerson i n  basic ob edience classes, a nd soon after, I started our training so he could become a therapy dog. Dogs need to have a special temperament to do therapy work. Therapy dogs need to have a calm, measured demeanor. For instance, some dogs are comfortable around senior centers, but uncomfortable around children. Therapy dogs need to be tolerant of many different situations such as wheelchairs, riding in elevators, noisy medical equipment, and energetic children.   After successfully passing the test, we started working with Healing Paws, Inc. and visited several nursing homes and rehab centers on a regular basis. Emerson loved the attention and was always happy to go. 

Emerson's love of children led us in a whole new direction after just a few years. Several local schools and libraries were looking for therapy dogs as part of their reading programs and reached out to Healing Paws, Inc. to provide these specially trained dogs. At the time there were only 4 or 5 R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) who were trained and tested to be able to work in the schools in this capacity through Healing Paws. After completing a test for R.E.A.D., our new journey began. Emerson and I started going to a local elementary school and library where he listened patiently while children read to him. Some struggled with difficulty reading out loud in a class room setting or struggled with speech disorders. Dogs don't judge or laugh when children struggle to read, whether it be with sounding out a word or just the pace at which they read. Emerson really loved his new job and was always thrilled to see the children. Emerson is serious about his work. When I put his blanket down, he immediately lies down as he knows the children are coming. For me, this has been the most rewarding of all his therapy work.

The R.E.A.D. Program started in 1999 in Salt Lake City Utah at the library. In 2000, the program expanded into the schools' in Salt Lake City. Many of the children who participate are selected by their schools reading specialist and struggle not only with reading, but also with social skills. According to the Reading Education Assistance Dog's manual, this new program revealed not only an increase in reading comprehension and skills (as much as two to four grade levels), but in addition, the children began to demonstrate greater self-esteem and started volunteering to read aloud in class. These children also had decreased absenteeism, improved hygiene, and willingness to get involved in other school activities.

Since Reading Education Assistance Dogs first walked into the Salt Lake City library in 1999 thousands of children have awakened to the joys of reading books. This experience has laid the foundation for a life time of discovery and learning through the simple but profound experience of reading to a dog.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month !

"Straight Talk with Chris Burke"        
"...a chance to spread awareness. During the month of October, we celebrate people with Down syndrome and make people aware of our abilities and accomplishments.  It's not about celebrating disabilities, it's about celebrating abilities."                                                                    
Read full article

21 Things You Can Do to Celebrate & Raise Awareness   
Check out this article list and see how you can make your community aware of what Down syndrome is and how you can make a positive difference in your community.  Read full article

National Buddy Walk Program:Walk Together for Down Syndrome    

Find a Buddy Walk near you!           Check it out here

Internet Safety for Children with Disabilities

Where to begin and where to look...it is scary enough for parents to let their children use the internet with everything that is available, and even more so for your child with a disability. We hope these articles give you some insight on how to promote safe internet use. 

Join Us! 

October 19 - PACT Inc.
                     PACT Inc., Lisle, IL 
October 22 - PACE Parent Group NLU
                     National Lewis University, Chicago, IL
October 28 - Illinois Statewide Transition Conference
                     Thelma Keller Conference Center, Effingham, IL 
November 2- Transition for the Future
                     Niles North High School, Skokie, IL 

Look for the next webinar on the ABLE Act coming soon!

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