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The Monthly Connect - Online

Welcome to The Monthly Connect - Online. The Monthy Connect is sent out regularly via email to Connecting for Kids subscribers. This page also contains many of our great articles. To get a copy of The Monthly Connect in your email inbox next time it comes out, Join Us today!

  • 07 Jan 2020 2:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jennifer is from Westlake and has two boys.

    What do you do to relax?

    Sew, cook/bake

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I am a single mom.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    CFK helped me figure out the steps to take to get both my boys a formal diagnosis. CFK helped me find resources to help THEM thrive at school and at home.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    The Resource Fair to find local classes/camps/therapists was invaluable. And the Speaker Series parent education sessions are great too.

    My greatest lesson learned was...

    We are all doing the best we can with the resources available to us. Seeking access to better resources is the key to growth and change.

    How parenting a child who struggles has changed my ideas on parenting...

    Before I had kids. I thought I knew what parents "should" do and how children "should" behave. Then I had kids. The first couple of years seemed to fall in line with my uninformed expectations. My children seemed to grow and behave similarly to those of my sister's and my peer's children. That is, until they didn't anymore.

    I remember vividly going to a preschool concert for my youngest son — he was almost 4 at the time — and all the other children were happily singing along to the Christmas carols. He, however, was sitting on the floor quietly rocking back and forth with his hands over his ears not participating, no matter how the adults tried to coax him to stand up. I was, at first, terribly embarrassed and ashamed. I thought everyone would now know that I was a terrible mother and that I couldn't control my child. It was all my fault. But in that moment, something snapped in me. I was somehow able to shake off my own ego and realize this had zero to do with me, and everything to do with him. It was right after that day I started asking for help. Sarah was just getting CFK off the ground back then and she was a fount of knowledge. She helped me figure out how to get started getting a diagnosis for my son. Then, helped me find therapists for him, get me on the road to getting accommodations at school for him, and help me figure out his second diagnosis a few years later.

    My biggest parenting "ah-ha" moment happened at that concert that winter day. I came to realize that judging yourself or others on how a child "should" behave is 100% rooted in your own insecurities and fear, which does nothing to serve the child. Parenting children who struggle has given me a wealth of compassion for all children who are misunderstood. Surprisingly, it's also allowed me to understand and have deep empathy for those outspoken, judgmental people who secretly live in fear of being judged too.

    The hardest thing for me to learn was...

    The hardest thing for me to learn — and, believe me, I still have to revisit this all the time— is to step back and let my children struggle and grow on their own timeframe.

    Yes, growth comes from overcoming obstacles. Yes, learning through doing is key. Yes, the end goal is having the kids function independently. And yes, change takes time. But that doesn't make it easier for me to sit back and watch them struggle with their issues while having big emotions and not always swoop in to take the weight off their shoulders and make it all better. Because that's a temporary fix. It doesn't make the situation better. It just makes ME feel better in the moment.

    So instead, I've learned to celebrate the small, incremental victories with them. And over time, we've been able to look back and say "WOW!! Look how far you've come!"

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    We loved the books by Julia Cook. Lots of great topics. The Social Detective series was great too. And Whole Body Listening Larry is another favorite.

    Is there anything else about your journey that you would like to share with other parents?

    My kids are growing now and are close to aging out of CFK. My oldest son was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression in 3rd grade. He's 13 now and doing great! And my youngest son was diagnosed with SPD combined with auditory processing issues at age 5, and then ADHD at age 7. He's 11 now and is also thriving. We used a lot of resources found through CFK to get to where we are now. We are forever grateful for CFK's commitment to helping parents who don't know where to turn.

  • 29 Oct 2019 2:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Mario Mastroianni, Sales Executive, Life, Oswald Companies

    For parents with a child who has a disability, securing the financial future of their children is of utmost importance. Government assistance programs can provide some support, but may not provide everything you as a parent would want your child to have.

    With so many other financial challenges, planning for the untimely death of a parent or caretaker could prove daunting.  However, obtaining life insurance and professional advice has become easier and more affordable than ever.   A healthy 45-year-old (male or female) can acquire $100,000 of ten year term life insurance for less than $13 per month. 

    In many instances, healthy individuals can obtain $1 million or more of death benefit in less than 48 hours without a blood draw or other medical requirements.  Technology has streamlined the acquisition of life insurance so that now qualified individuals can complete 100% of the process online.   

    If you think your medical history would prevent you from qualifying for this accelerated underwriting process, full underwriting is still an option.  An insurance broker should have access to many life insurance companies, many of whom specialize in insuring certain medical impairments.  The advances of modern medicine have made it possible to insure cancer and heart attack survivors, and number of other health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. 

    Providing a lump sum benefit to your child with a disability can be easy and affordable.  Do not let health complications prevent you from exploring life insurance as an option.  A qualified life insurance broker with access to many carriers has the tools available to help you acquire term life insurance in a cost effective and efficient manner.   

    Contact Info: 

    Mario Mastroianni

    Sales Executive, Life

    Oswald Companies
    O | 216.367.8787   F   | 216.916.4279

    D | 216.369.8489   M| 216.956.9887

    1100 Superior Avenue | Suite 1500
    Cleveland, OH 44114


  • 29 Oct 2019 1:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kevin has three children and lives in Lakewood

    What do you do to relax?

    Read, play trivia, watch tv

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    We have become a part of a community and family of other parents and children who we would have never otherwise gotten to meet. Because of CFK, we never feel that we’re struggling alone with our kiddo, but rather that we’ve got a whole team of people alongside us with whatever we need.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    Coffee and Chat, Dads’ Nights Out, CFK golf outing, and of course CFK Softball!

    The area where I have grown the most...

    I’m not all the way there yet, still a work in progress, but I’ve gotten much better not caring or worrying about what other people think. My kiddo can look, sound, and behave differently than what a lot of people are familiar with. He can swear in public, be too loud, he’s got some big scars on his head from surgeries, and he’s now in a wheelchair. It’s a lot of things that other people can be uncomfortable with. But the best thing I can tell myself, and the best way I can be present and helpful to him, is to just not care about all of that stuff. Other people will think whatever they want, and I can’t control their experience. I can only control my own.

    I worry most about not knowing what I’m doing as a parent, especially a special needs parent. I worry about my kids or wife needing me in a way that I don’t know how to provide or that I won’t be good enough to be who they need me to be.

    The worst thing about parenting a child who struggles is...

    The way your patience is tested. He can’t control his impulses or his reaction to most things, so his behavior can be very frustrating and difficult to manage. The hardest thing to remember is “he can’t help it” and tell yourself “it’s not his fault.” When your instinct is to “parent” the behavior and yell or scold, it can be really hard to remember to just slow down and be patient.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    Learning about vulnerability from Brene Brown has been game changing!

  • 02 Oct 2019 1:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Beth Mishkind Roth, a licensed clinical social worker/therapist, and owner of Cleveland Integrative Counseling

    As a therapist, I am frequently asked the question, “what should a parent do if their child/adolescent refuses to come to therapy, let alone actively participate?” More often than not, this question comes from the exasperated parents of children with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Up until recently, I would encourage the parents to emphasize the importance of self care to their child, educate them on ways to model anxiety reduction techniques, and find ways that the school system can augment support (if they are not already refusing to attend). Fortunately, I am now able to respond with SPACE.

    SPACE, Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions, helps parents learn supportive ways to respond to their child’s anxiety and communicate their confidence in their ability to cope with their feelings. SPACE is conducted with the parents, not the child, thus bypassing the obstacle of the child’s willingness to attend and/or practice newly learned skills. Over the course of several months, parents work with a therapist to identify ways in which accommodating behaviors (e.g. not inviting friends over if their child has social anxiety, buying more soap if they have contamination OCD, or repeatedly answer the phone if child has separation anxiety) may be perpetuating their child’s symptoms, and develop a plan to reduce these accommodations. Parents are also given problem-solving strategies for responding to their child’s reactions to the changes.

    Through SPACE, parents learn that by changing their own behavior, they can avoid much of the escalation that stems for trying to force their child to act differently. Studies show, not only does SPACE reduce anxiety symptoms in the child just as well as conventional therapy, but parents also report a much better relationship with their children. Moreover, there is an increase in therapeutic engagement, both in attending therapy and practicing skills, amongst the formerly resistant children/adolescents.

    Beth Mishkind Roth is a licensed clinical social worker/therapist, and owner of Cleveland Integrative Counseling, who specialize in evidenced-based treatments for children, adolescents, and families. Beth’s has a strong passion for working with the siblings of children with developmental disabilities, special healthcare needs, and significant mental illness. She also works closely with children/adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, OCD, low self-esteem enhancement, and high-functioning ASD. To schedule an appointment with Beth, please call (216) 600 - 8008 or visit www.clevelandint.com

  • 02 Oct 2019 12:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Angela has one son and lives in Elyria.

    What do you do to relax?

    Read, dinner with friends, mindlessly scroll Facebook

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I'm a stay at home mom, my husband drives a truck, so I am our son’s primary care giver 95% of the time.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    Before CFK we were with an OT who was not a good fit. CFK helped me realize I'm not a bad parent, my kid just struggles. And the organization connected us with our current OT, whom we love.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    My son ADORES Teach Me to Play. And I swear the people who run it are magic - they get my son to cooperate and do things no one else can.

    The best way I asked for support was...

    Messaging CFK. By doing that I was able to join the CFK Families Group on Facebook. I know any time we are struggling to find care providers, or resources, they will help us.

    When my child's behavior gets out of control, I feel...

    Frustrated. I just want to yell at him, "Get it together!" But I know he can't help it.

    I get embarrassed when...

    My son gets over stimulated in public. His behavior becomes erratic and aggressive. He just appears to be undisciplined. CFK and our OT have given me tools to help reduce the times this happens, as well as ways to help calm him.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz and the Sensory Processing Disorder website were a huge help!

    Is there anything else about your journey that you would like to share with other parents?

    It gets better. Sometimes slowly, but it gets better.

  • 04 Sep 2019 2:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Shannon has two children and lives in Wellington

    What do you do to relax?

    Drink coffee, watch favorite shows, paint

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I am a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT), working with children with autism since I was 18.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    I enjoy reading about similar family situations and the education programs in the community.

    Which has been your favorite Connecting for Kids resource?


    The bad habit I picked up...

    being a typical parent using negative punishment instead of positive reinforcement. Knowing the outcomes of both. Knowing I can do better but stuck in parent mode not therapist mode.

    What I worry about most…

    is my child struggling in school and throughout adulthood. Making the wrong decisions, and continuing to argue and fight his way out. I worry for his safety to make responsible safe choices for himself and others. He likes to be super silly, inappropriate to gain a laugh but usually it comes off awkward and annoying. I don't want to see him struggle with social cues. He’s developing attention seeking behaviors that are aggressive to himself or his parents and disruptive to the environment. I worry for his ability to tell himself no, to control his reactions.

    I get embarrassed when...

    my child is having behaviors. Anywhere, in any form. I am a trained RBT, a paraprofessional, and a behavioral therapist. Nothing is more embarrassing to me knowing I am trained in this line of work and I cannot seem to help my son. I know there is an emotional component to it, a parent/child connects. I can’t seem to get over that.

  • 04 Sep 2019 1:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By: Jennifer Blankenship, Licensed Independent Social Worker, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and experienced Food Allergy Mama.

    Her private practice, North Star Family Guidance, LLC, is located in Chagrin Falls 

    When you have a child with any condition that makes eating or swallowing difficult, some level of worry is to be expected and even helpful. However, more pervasive feelings of worry can produce unhealthy amounts of anxiety. Here are several ways to assist your child:

    • Be careful with your words and the way you talk about your child’s condition. There is a big difference between, “It’s so hard for him and I worry all the time.” versus “He does have a lot of options and he knows how to keep himself safe.”
    • Externalize the problem: Have your child think about what her anxiety looks like. Draw it and give it a name. Teach her to talk back to anxiety when necessary. Some kids prefer a stronger approach, such as “Stop it! You are not the boss of me!” while other kids prefer an approach of gratitude, such as “Thank you, Anxiety, for trying to keep me safe but you have done enough. I know just what to do!” Talk over each approach with your child and see which one feels the best.
    • Get your child in the kitchen: Develop lists together of all the foods he can and will eat. Include him in the process of preparing food, creating some excitement if you can. Search new recipes together, try new spices, take a trip to the farmer’s market, pick your own berries, etc.
    • Most importantly, learn to manage your own anxiety. Children are incredibly perceptive, so if you are radiating waves of anxiousness, it is very unlikely that your child will feel calm and in control.

    Remember that anxiety can serve a purpose. It starts as a worry that is designed to keep us and our children safe. However, anxiety is worry that just gets carried away, and the best thing to do is stop it from gaining momentum by refusing to give it control. If you are feeling that anxiety has too much control over the life of you or your child, please seek help from a professional counselor.

  • 08 May 2019 11:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Sara Solet, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech Spot 

    Understanding if and how your child can benefit from school based and/or private based speech and language services can be confusing. As a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) that has worked in both a school setting and a private practice for the past 18 years, I hear many questions:

    The school said my child was OK—do I still need private services?

    To qualify for speech and language services within the school setting, your child’s communication needs to be having an “adverse effect on his/her education”. This means that some area of their communication must fall significantly below that of their typical peers. There are many cases where a child’s communication skills are simply not “low enough” to qualify for school services, but they are lower than their typical peers. This is present most in the younger years. There is a range for all skills to develop. What may fall into an age-appropriate error as a kindergartner will be a delayed skill in first grade. Unfortunately, schools cannot qualify kids on what might happen, so a child that presents in the lower end of the normal will likely not qualify. The problem lies in that if that child does not develop that skill within the next year or two, that skill will now be delayed. Private speech and language services are not bound by these guidelines and can provide intervention for those children on the lower end of the normal range or just below the normal range. Instead of “waiting to see” if a skill develops, a private SLP can work to develop these skills and bring your child more in line with his/her typical peers.

    My child has been going to private speech therapy and now qualifies for school services—should I bother with school services?

    YES! Your private SLP may be wonderful, but s/he is not in your child’s school. The school-based SLP can help your child succeed in school in many ways. The SLP can consult with the teacher and staff so that they are able to understand and teach your child in the most effective way. The school SLP can add accommodations (if necessary) to a child’s IEP allowing your child to better access his/her education. School therapy has many benefits: it shows children that communication is part of learning and can incorporate classroom topics/vocabulary. When done in a group, children often gain acceptance of their struggle because they see that they are not the only one and/or can have a peer model for their targeted skills. The SLP can target the biggest areas of need and support the progress you have already made in private therapy!

    My child qualified for services at school, would my child benefit from private services as well?

    Almost always yes…if your time and budget allow for it, private services will only help your child gain more skills and likely do so in less time than school services alone. A school SLP’s time is in high demand. A school SLP must provide therapy services for MANY students along with testing, report/IEP writing, progress notes, attending meetings, teacher/staff consultations, billing, hearing screenings, and numerous other activities. As a result of this workload, services are often done in a group and the minutes of service may not be as high as you would hope for. As your child changes grades and schools, it is common for the SLP to change as well, but in private therapy you are likely to have a more consistent therapist. Change can be good, because using a skill with various people in various settings demonstrates true mastery; however, long term relationships allow a bond to develop thus allowing a therapist to truly push a child to achieve all they are capable of. Private therapy often allows for more intense therapy (year round) for your child and usually allows more direct contact between the parent and the SLP, allowing for parent education and teaching of skills and thus better carryover of skills at home.

    We were doing private, but now my child qualifies for school—should I quit private?

    If possible, continuing private therapy is usually a good idea. School services have some limitations. Because school SLP’s are bound by the IEP, only a few targeted goals can be addressed on a consistent basis. Private SLP’s have more freedom to address numerous goals, as well as a need that may pop up suddenly. School SLP’s usually provide therapy within a small group setting (which can often be beneficial), but private services tend to be one-on-one. Often private services can provide more minutes of therapy per session. Another point to consider is that most children do not receive services over the summer, so private is a way to continue developing while not in school!

    The school is dismissing my child, should I continue with private services?

    It is best to seek advice from a private SLP. It is possible that a dismissal from school services means that the issue is no longer having an adverse effect on education, not that it is completely remediated. (A good example of this is when a child has a lisp. The issue no longer impedes education, but you may not want your child to have a lisp the rest of his life). Private therapists are able to work with a child until the communication difficulty is completely remediated or has reached a level of maximum success.

    Do school SLP’s and private work on the same goals/needs?

    In an ideal world, the school and private SLP target the same skills. While the private SLP has more freedom to work on many skills, the school SLP can focus on the 3-5 biggest areas of need. While the parent may need to be the go-between or at least give release to communicate, consultation between a school SLP and a private SLP is most beneficial for a child and can provide great results!

    While the SLP’s in both private and school based services are dedicated to helping your child, the nature of the placement dictates many variables of intervention. There are many factors to consider when determining what services to give your child. Communication develops rapidly in early childhood and often the more input the child can receive, the better!

  • 06 May 2019 2:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Annie has a daughter and lives in Lakewood

    What do you do to relax?

    I try to take time for yoga, baths, running, drinking wine, going on walks with my husband, and cooking.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    When we received the diagnosis, I felt like I was driving a car blindfolded and without a map. I didn't know where to start. I didn't know what to do. CFK has been my map, pointing me where to go when I get to the fork in the road and giving me pep talks when I need them, letting me know I'm not the first to travel this road and it's going to be OK.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    The Facebook group - I often find myself searching through old posts. It seems like every question I have has been asked before!

    My greatest lesson learned was...

    (that I'm still learning) is that I can't fix this. I tend to go into "super mom" mode sometimes and overbook our schedule with therapies and appointments and overextend myself by trying to do it all to somehow get to the point where this is suddenly OK or all fixed now. I often need to check in and remind myself that no amount of work or research or therapy will ever totally make this go away. And that's OK. My daughter will get better, and we will get worse at times, and we'll keep climbing.

    If I could go back in time and talk to myself the day we got the diagnosis I would say...

    There will be joy for you too. This is not the end. You will continue being a mom and doing mom things and your beautiful kiddo will continue to grow in her own, unique way. Your life may look a little different than you expected it would be and it's going to take some time to let go of those expectations. Try not to compare her with others, and try to enjoy her.

    The best thing about parenting a child who struggles is...

    Her achievements and milestones are like the highest high! It takes her longer to learn things, so whenever we have a breakthrough, it feels like the greatest gift. The confidence and pride I see she gets in herself for learning something new is one of the best feelings I've ever had.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    Finding Cooper's Voice is a heartfelt and real account from a mom who has a child with autism. Whenever I'm feeling alone, I read through those posts and remember there are many of us struggling and it helps me.

  • 02 Apr 2019 12:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Mary Verdi-Fletcher, Founding Artistic Director of The Dancing Wheels Company & School

    I have had the sheer pleasure of talking to and meeting thousands of children over the span of 38 years performing and presenting in educational outreach programs all over the world through The Dancing Wheels Company & School. I believe firmly that reaching children at a very early age is important while they are impressionable and before they develop stereotypical attitudes and fears.

    When meeting a person with a disability for the first time, the best thing to do is to allow a child to ask questions and to not pull them away if they are staring or are inquisitive. Understand that we are all different in a way, and that is OK. That is what makes for interesting friendships. For example, I use my wheelchair to get around while others use their legs and feet, but we are all able to get where we want to go!

Call, text or email:

Phone: 1-440-570-5908
Español: 1-440-907-9130
Email: info@connectingforkids.org


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Westlake, Ohio 44145

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