Michelle’s Action Angels Community Outreach is happy to provide a new feature to our website and Facebook page. The members of MAACO’s Board of Directors continue to look for ways to Outreach to the community and families. We would like to highlight programs, services and products that benefit the community.
SEPTEMBER: MUSIC FOR AUTISM
Music for Autism is enhancing quality of life and raising public awareness through autism-friendly, interactive concerts developed specifically for individuals with autism and their families. The concerts feature professional musicians, including Tony Award winners, Grammy-nominated classical artists, and Pulitzer Prize winners. To ensure equal access for all, every Music for Autism concert is fully subsidized. Families note that the concerts help fill a major psychosocial void, enabling them to enjoy enriching activities that are inclusive and to experience the joy and power of music as a family.
The goal of Music for Autism is to expose those with autism and their families to high quality, professionally performed music in an environment where individual differences are celebrated and where no one will be embarrassed. Families are greatly challenged to find programming that is appropriate for their family members with autism who may exhibit behaviors that are unpredictable. Families say that Music for Autism’s unique and interactive “autism specific” musical programming greatly enhances their quality of life. In addition, since all U.S. concerts are free for those with autism and their families, anyone affected by autism, irrespective of socioeconomic status, is able to experience Music for Autism’s unique, interactive programming.
No concert near you? Have fun with their online Musical Zoo!
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, LLC (CARD) is the world’s largest provider of top-quality, evidence-based autism treatment, effectively treating individuals of all ages who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). With both domestic and international reach, CARD touches the lives of thousands of individuals affected by ASD and their families. Through a network of highly trained behavior analysts, behavior technicians, and researchers, CARD develops and implements quality, comprehensive, and individualized treatment programs, which lead to success and, in some cases, recovery.
JULY: THE SENSORY CLUB
"This is a very fun place to have some great relaxing fun."
What is a Sensory Gym?
The Sensory Club has an open-gym concept that features various therapeutic swings, a jumping island, a rainbow acrobat, monkey bars, rock climbing wall, cargo nets, crash pads, heavy cubes, a self-cleaning sanitary ball pit and more. Members are encouraged to explore and have fun. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to facilitate and guide members as it best fits their therapists’ recommendations and/or sensory diet.
JUNE: autism service dogs
It has been proven that dogs can be a great addition to the treatment of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The dogs can provide a bridge to social behaviors of children that are often isolated by others because of their behavior. They also may provide comfort and a calming effect to the child. Another benefit of a service animal is found with autistic children who are prone to flight. These children may be more easily found if accompanied with a service dog.
Other advantages of utilizing an Autism Service Dog might include:
- Increased social interaction. It has been shown that service dogs may improve the interpersonal skills of children on the Autism Spectrum
- Redirection of repetitive behaviors. The dog can be trained to interrupt a child who has undesirable repetitive behaviors.
- Improved independence. The service dog can be walked by the child as opposed to holding an individual’s hand
- Increased vocabulary. Interaction, including speech, is an outgrowth of interaction with the dog
- Improved quality of sleep has been shown. The service dog may provide a level of comfort for the child providing more relaxation
Two outstanding resources for more information on Autism Service Dogs include:
This Nonprofit Organization had a huge impact in Michelle’s life by providing her and her family free tickets to a variety of entertainment throughout her life. Variety serves physically disabled children age 21 and younger. Their mission is “Providing life-enriching assistance to Wisconsin children challenged by physical disabilities.” They have six specialized programs to meet specific needs. There are links to each program on their main website where you can get more information and apply to attend these programs.
APRIL: AUTISM SOCIETY OF WISCONSIN
This April marks the 10th year of National Autism Awareness Month with April 2nd being World Autism Awareness Day. In honor of this we decided to spotlight the Wisconsin’s chapter of the Autism Society. Founded in 1979, the Autism Society of Wisconsin works to improve the lives of those affected by autism in many ways. On their website you can connect to the local affiliate in your area and find great resources like support groups, upcoming events, and a local resource guide. The Autism Society of Wisconsin hosts an annual conference every year in April in the Wisconsin Dells where people all over the state gather to learn more about resources and services available in their area as well as the latest research and teaching techniques.
IndependenceFirst is a local nonprofit that began in 1979. In addition to advocating for policy changes within the community IndependenceFirst offers over 20 programs and services to people with disabilities of all kinds, in all age groups and provide programs on disability awareness, employment tips and access to the general community. They offer many different classes, group sessions, and trainings around a wide variety of topics, not only for individuals with disabilities but also family members and caregivers.
The Gardetto Family Community Dental Clinic will specifically serve children and adults with physical or cognitive disabilities that prevent them from being treated in standard private practice or community clinics. Patients must be Wisconsin residents and will need a referral from a dentist or medical doctor. All forms of Medicaid will be accepted.
SEWASP provides adaptive alpine skiing and snowboard lessons for people with disabilities in southeastern Wisconsin and surrounding areas. "Adaptive" refers to the modified equipment and teaching techniques used to enable skiers and snowboarders to participate safely and as independently as possible. Instruction is generally provided at Alpine Valley Ski Resort near East Troy, Wisconsin on Thursday evenings from January through mid-March.
december: it's your guitar
Unfortunately there aren’t many jobs for people with special needs—unemployment rates for autistic adults are close to 90%. This fantastic company, It’s Your Guitar, sells unique, one-of-a-kind instruments, hand-crafted by unique, one-of-a-kind individuals. Guitar-building is about precise adjustments, something many individuals with autism excel at. It also requires hours of repetitive work—sanding, buffing, polishing—that can be calming to special needs individuals. Music. Patience. Mindfulness. Purpose.
NOVEMBER: Creative Community Living Services, LLC
Creative Community Living Services, LLC was formed in 1973 when four men shared a vision that people with disabilities should live in the community and not in institutions. Their vision was realized when eight young women who spent their lives in a state institution moved into a large house in Madison. Today, CCLS provides services and supports for individuals with disabilities, traumatic brain injury, mental health and seniors with aging concerns in more than 20 counties throughout Wisconsin. These services include community supported living, supportive home care, adult family homes, respite services, nursing and day services. They work with clients to build the necessary supports based on individual needs, strengths and wishes. CCLS also provides skills training to help individuals build independence.
This is a great website that can be used many different ways depending on your needs at any given time whether you are in need of a caregiver in your area to looking for advice on a particular subject to sharing your own story with others.
SEPTEMBER: FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE
Meet an organization that provides individuals with special needs of all ages, the support, friendship and inclusions that they deserve. Together, these individuals, with a team of community volunteers, engage in a variety of shared social, recreational and therapeutic experiences.
The focus of the Friendship Circle is to highlight the achievements of individuals with special needs, not their limitations, creating a world of acceptance and inclusion. Focusing on achievements encourages individuals to realize their fullest potential.
AUGUST: WISCONSIN SIBS
Often siblings of individuals with disabilities feel isolated and can get lost in the family’s journey with the individual with a disability. WisconSibs is an organization founded more than 20 years ago that offers support and programs to support to children, teens, and adults have siblings with special needs and long term illnesses. Some of the programs that they offer are sibshops, summer programs, future plannings, social events and much more. Their website offers many resources and the opportunities for siblings to connect with each other.
JULY: WINGS FOR AUTISM
Wings for Autism and Wings for All is an airport “rehearsal” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and people with other intellectual/developmental disabilities, their families and aviation professionals. The programs are one of the Arc’s newest national initiatives. The programs are designed to alleviate some of the stress that families who have a child with autism experience when traveling by air. It provides families with the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane. Wings for Autism and Wings for All also give airport, airline, Transportation Security Administration professionals and other personnel the opportunity to observe, interact and deliver their services in a structured, learning environment. This experience is equally useful for families that have a member with other intellectual or developmental disabilities that are concerned about the ability of their family member to travel. National expansion of Wings for Autism and Wings for All is administered by The Arc of the United States and is available at airports throughout the country.
The Special Olympics of Wisconsin (SOWI) has 7 regions which host competitions in 18 Olympic style sports for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. The organization includes over 10,000 athletes and is the largest sports program in Wisconsin for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, “Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports. It empowers individuals with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, leading to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst as well as programming around health and education, Special Olympics works to end inactivity, injustice and intolerance.”1 In addition to training and coaching sessions and the competition, Special Olympics has several other programs and initiatives. One such program is their collaboration with the Wisconsin Dental Association to provide dental care for athletes at Mission of Mercy events. Since the first event in 2011, over $64,000 in dental care has provided at no cost to athletes or their families. Other programs include Project UNIFY, Healthy Athletes, the Law Enforcement Torch Run, the Final Leg, and many more. More information about these programs and other events can be found at their website: http://www.specialolympicswisconsin.org/. To become an athlete, interested individuals should contact their Regional Athletic Director. Volunteers and coaches are always needed. Sign up through the SOWI website at: http://www.specialolympicswisconsin.org/get-involved/volunteer/.
We are pleased to be developing a partnership with with PreventEducate.org to assist with providing much needed training for first responders. Check out this informative video. If you have questions about assistance with getting training for your company, please contact Lisa at email@example.com.
APRIL: FISHING HAS NO BOUNDARIES
This organization is founded in Wisconsin and has chapters throughout the country. Please visit the Milwaukee Lake Michigan chapter as they have an event this summer August 26th down at Lake Shore Park by Summerfest. We attended this event in 2013 and Michelle and her sisters loved going out on Lake Michigan in the Big Charter Boats. This is a great family event and Wisconsin is bested with the most chapters of any state.
Providing physical and mental healing through equine-assisted therapy for children and adults with special needs. Founded in 2004, Lifestriders is a non-profit organization located in Waukesha, WI, which offers therapeutic riding, occupational therapy, and social skills groups for children and adults with special needs. The friendly and knowledgeable staff consist of occupational therapists, psychotherapists, and PATH International therapeutic riding instructors. Their volunteers are trained to meet the diverse needs of their clients. The horses are an extraordinary herd of therapists, they are very kind, gentle and patient.
LifeStriders Therapeutic Riding Program incorporates elements of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy to address the needs of each client. Physical strength and social skills are just a few benefits achieved through working with horses.
Lifestriders also offers Hippotherapy, which is a physical, occupational and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes. It’s life changing!
This is a great place to start for resources on where you can seek out help. They are located at the family resource center in Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The website will provide you with links for a calendar of events in the area for support groups and information sessions. There is a resource directory by county, great suggestions for reading materials, medical insurance options and programs, respite information, special education information and the list continues. Check it out to help give you some direction to get you started.
JANUARY: CAMP CREATEABILITY
Camp Createability in McFarland, WI is a Video and Entertainment program for individuals 8-25 with Autism or other disabilities. While really fun, the programs were created to increase employment skills and the workshops and camp all end in making a mini film, with film credits for everyone involved. Creating a film is a monumental effort for any group, but for those with Autism or other disabilities, vital skills must be mastered to succeed, including cooperation, negotiation, listening, and taking direction. Participants will learn those skills as well as be introduced to many trades, animation, set design, script-writing, acting, dancing, singing, prop/set building, ward-robe, make-up, budgeting, directing, filming, editing, and other tasks necessary for a film.
DECEMBER: OPEN THE OUTDOORS
The Resource of the Month for December is the Wisconsin DNR website “Open The Outdoors.” This website gives you lists and maps to different State Parks with special accessible cabins and hundreds of miles of accessible trails throughout Wisconsin. Five state parks now have specialized kayaks available exclusively for people with disabilities. These kayaks are equipped with adjustable outriggers which provide incredible stability on the water and a raised back with side supports that offer the user a comfortable and secure seat while paddling. A paddle with hand adaptations is also provided which offers ease to individuals with limited grip.
November: Milwaukee Center For Independence
Since 1938, the MCFI mission is to assist individuals and families with special needs to better live and work in the community. They accomplish this by offering a variety of programs and services for all ages from infancy through older adulthood. Some of these programs are, but not limited to; Birth to Three, which provides early intervention through an educational model working with parents and care providers for infants and toddlers with developmental delays; L.I.F.E. (Leisure, Inclusion, Fun & Experiences) programs, which makes available dozens of activities for teens and young adults; and L.I.F.E. programs designed specifically for adults and older adults.
octoBER: curative care
Curative Care is a resource serving Milwaukee and surrounding Counties. It is dedicated to helping individuals thrive. Beginning in 1919, Curative Care has been a provider of services for individuals with disabilities or limiting conditions.
Purposeful, goal oriented activities are provided to children, adults and seniors to help create independence and improve functionality and quality of life.
Curative offers a variety of services including birth to three, adult day services, senior services, employment services, case management services and medical therapy services. They offer 8 community based sites throughout southeast Wisconsin.
SEPTEMBER: AUTISM INTERVENTION MILWAUKEE
Autism Intervention Milwaukee, also known as AIM, is a company that helps diagnosis and treat children with autism. AIM mainly works with children from birth to five and provides services in the Milwaukee and Waukesha areas.
AIM uses Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy more commonly called ABA therapy. ABA therapy focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Discrete trials are one of the main methods used in ABA therapy. This is when something new is introduced to a client in a way that they cannot fail. For example when learning colors, you will only present one color to the child if they have not learned it yet. Then you will ask them what color it is and if they do not know the answer you will tell them the color. The next time you present the color you will ask them twice before giving them the correct answer, this is known as no, no, prompt, retest method. This gives the child more than one chance to correct themselves but yet leaves them successful if they do not know the answer. By making the child successful, you will increase the likely hood of the child doing the activity and learning the parts of the activity too. All these methods help to increase positive behaviors, to teach new skills, to generalize or to transfer behavior from one situation or response to another, and to reduce interfering behaviors.
Autism Intervention Milwaukee offers many different services from a diagnostic evaluation and assessment to in-home behavioral treatment. AIM also has parent support groups and even a babysitting list with staff that have experience with autistic children. There are many goals AIM has for their clients. Some of these include teaching academic readiness skills, establishing and improving social skills, and strengthening a child’s skills to become independent. AIM is a great resource to start out with if you think your child is autistic or need some in-home/ school support therapy.
august: Art Therapy program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; Madison Art Therapy; Pure Vision Arts (PVA)
JULY: pier of wi AND special needs resource project
Our two resources in the spotlight this month are focused on that first step. The Parents Information and Education Resource (PIER) of Wisconsin and The Special Needs Resource Project (SNRP) are both gateways to becoming connected and involved with a supportive community.
PIER of Wisconsin was founded in 2000. It is a website designed to be a starting place for parents. There are compiled lists of resources, free trainings, educational materials, and support groups. PIER uses several different listservs to manage their resource list and is entirely volunteer based. It is run by families for families. Through PIER you can begin your resource search with the support of other parents, both veterans and new members of our community. PIER has both online groups and meet up events in addition to the trainings and educational materials they offer. PIER's mission is to be an informational and support resource for families/people that care for and/or work with children, youth, and adults who struggle in school, work, and community. PIER can be found at http://www.pierwi.info/.
The Special Needs Resource Project was created by Linda Jorgensen. After a life spent seeking resources for her own daughter and caring for patients, Linda realized that there was a need for a common repository of all the resources she had encountered. She received so many phone calls with pleas for help because resources were difficult to find or mostly unknown. Linda’s unique experiences with the military and as a Licensed Practical Nurse gave her inside knowledge of many state, government, and medical programs. So, she started a website where other parents and individuals could go and find links to resources that would get them started, whether on legal issues and insurance or educational programs and advocacy groups. Although it is based in Utah, the SNRP site has a resource page for each state in addition to several training manuals and informative monthly newsletters. You can also ask Linda questions directly through their email. This site is a great place to start looking and learning. The SNRP web page is http://www.snrproject.com/ and they can be contacted by email at: Help@SNRPro
There are many things that have been around for 60 years. But, how many private schools do you know of that have been around for that long? Now, tell me of a small, private school that has been around for 60 years serving children with mild/moderate intellectual disabilities. Your answer should be St. Coletta Day School of Milwaukee.
Since 1956, St. Coletta Day School has been providing quality educational programming for children with intellectual disabilities. Our students come from the Greater Milwaukee area to learn in an environment of respect. A positive and structured learning atmosphere helps the students to achieve their best academically, socially and spiritually.
We are a “school within a school”. Since our inception, St. Coletta Day School has been partnered with the St. Sebastian Parish Community. Our long history helps to provide the consistency and stability necessary to maintain the strong bond between the two schools. There are opportunities for our students to interact with and participate in the St. Sebastian learning environment as well.
Our program is best suited for students who are at least eight years old and capable of academic achievement and possess sufficient self-care skills to be independent. In addition to our elementary classroom, we have a middle/high school component that was started in the fall of 2010. The school was also fully accredited in 2012 through the Wisconsin Religious and Independent Schools (WRISA).
What sets us apart from other programs that work with students with disabilities is our learn-at-your-own-pace program. We offer a small class setting in a comfortable, safe and respectful environment. Structure and flexibility within the classroom setting ensures self-esteem. We partner with the Urban Ecology Center for environmental education, Alverno College for art and art therapy activities and Mount Mary University as a training site for their Occupational Therapy students.
Finally, our student-centered field trips reinforce all of the classroom lessons and life lessons that we teach. Each activity is turned into a learning experience. The students feel a sense of pride and accomplishment through these “learning beyond the classroom walls” experiences.
You can find out more information at our website: www.scdsmke.org. We could be just what you’ve been looking for! Come and visit us. To set up an appointment please contact “Mr. Bill” Koehn by calling 414-453-1850.
- Bridge The Gap, Inc. provides: Daily Living Skills, Summer Camp, Preschool, Grants, Sensory Swim, Teen Programs, IEP Assistance, Social Skills Classes, Friendship Groups, Employment Support, Community Support. Our purpose is to decrease financially related stress, increase understanding and strengthen familial ties through education and raise public awareness of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
- Buddy’s World and Friends was created with a child’s imagination in mind. We have created a world where characters live out ones imagination within a diverse product base. We have recently become a publisher of Children's Books through Ingram Content Group.
- Family Voices of Wisconsin focuses its work on health care and community supports in three areas: education and information, including trainings, fact sheets and newsletters, Family Leadership activities, including our Advocacy for Change Institute and, public policy and systems change.
- Good Friend, Inc.'s mission is to create autism awareness, teach acceptance of differences, and foster empathy among typically-developing peers.
- Navigating Autism, Inc. was created in February of 2009 as a central place where the families of those recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders can come for unbiased information in easily-understandable terms about treatment options, school expectations, Wisconsin insurance mandates, funding opportunities for uncovered treatments, and more.