wine + design 2015

You are invited to enter the Jazz Age at the

Support For Families Speakeasy

Friday October 9, 2015
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
San Francisco Design Center Galleria
101 Henry Adams Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 

Join us for a great party for a great cause!

Click here to purchase tickets and for more information


AT&T and the San Francisco Giants Present
Support for Families with a $10,000 Grant

Juno Duenas, Executive Director, holding a large check on the field at AT&T Park

Support for Families has been named a Community All Star by AT&T and the San Francisco Giants! We were presented with a $10,000 grant at a home plate ceremony before the SF Giants vs. San Diego Padres game at AT&T Park on Wednesday 5/6. The 2015 Community All Stars program celebrates organizations that provide vital programs, resources, services, and support to those in need in our community. Five organizations were honored in a pre-game ceremony at home plate and dinner with Giants players and coaches. Thank you AT&T and the San Francisco Giants for the tremendous honor and support!

Join us for our Halloween Party!Night of the Swimming Dead Halloween Party

Saturday, October 24, 2015
5:30pm - 8:00pm
Aquarium of the Bay
Embarcadero at Beach Street
at PIER 39

Come dressed in your favorite costume and enjoy fun activities,
exclusive access to the aquarium's exhibits, refreshments
and more! Event is free for families of children with disabilities
and special needs; suggested donation is $5 per person.

To register, call our warmline at 415-920-5040 or register online

PDF Flier


Family with a young boy using a walker while ice skating

Saturday, December 19, 2015
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center
750 Folsom Street
(on the rooftop of the Moscone Center)

Come enjoy an evening of ice skating, refreshments, and fun with your family and friends! Come say hi to Santa and pick up a free book! Event is free for families of children with disabilities and special needs, with a suggested donation of $10 per person (includes entrance fee, skates, book and treats for each child).

Registration opens November 2nd. Due to the limited space, this event is only for families of children with disabilities or special health care needs who have pre-registered.


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What is a Family Leader?


Parents of children with disabilities play a critical role in developing educational policies and practices that help their child succeed. For decades, parent advocates have influenced national, state and local educational policies.

The results? Special classes in public schools; laws that mandate free and appropriate education for children with disabilities; and the establishment of advocacy organizations, just to name a few.

Parents, grandparents and other family members of children with disabilities can become a family leader by gaining the knowledge and skills needed to build positive partnerships with professionals and other families. Working with these constituents, parents have the ability to shape the direction of services for their child and other children with disabilities at the local, state and national levels.

A family leader is also a professional or an organization that empowers parents and educators to raise achievement for children with disabilities.

Why is Family Leadership Important?
Parent involvement in a child’s education is key to success. When parents actively engage in their child’s education at home, their children do better in school. Parents who become advocates and decision-makers at schools and in their community have the power to influence educational policies and practices that shape the future of their child’s education.

Family leaders have the power to affect change in their communities. Because of parental action and community involvement, family leaders have been able to:

Upgrade school facilities
Improve school leadership and staffing
Obtain higher quality learning programs for students
Incorporate new resources and programs to improve teaching and curriculum
Increase funding for after-school programs and family supports

Parents who take a leadership role and achieve success will develop confidence in their ability to influence their child’s future. Parent leaders have opportunities to gain the skills they need to affect change by engaging in leadership activities with other parents and professionals.

In addition to the direct benefit to their child, a parent’s involvement also benefits teachers. When a parent is actively involved in their child’s education, teachers gain a higher morale, which in turn, encourages the parent to volunteer and engage in other activities.

Organizations that support programs and services for children with disabilities can also benefit from family leaders. Parents provide a unique perspective and bring a sense of reality to ideas and tasks. Parents can also help advocate to improve the quality of services and ensure that programs and policies meet the needs of families.

When a parent participates in leadership and advocacy activities, they too benefit. By becoming a family leader, parents can:

Gain management and executive skills they can transfer to their professional and personal lives
Build social networks and connect with people in order to create opportunities for their children and themselves
Develop closer ties to their community and neighbors
Learn how to influence decisions made in the schools and communities

From parents and children, to organizations and professionals, everyone benefits when parents are fully engaged in their child’s education.

Are you interested in becoming a Parent Leader? Support for Families and the Parent Mentor Program offer trainings that will build your leadership skills and prepare you to partner with organizations such as: San Francisco Unified School District Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC), The Parent Advisory Council (PAC), Parents for Public Schools (PPS), Parent Teacher Groups (PTA/PTO/PTSA), your School Site Council, Patient Advisory Councils and more. For more information about these groups or how to get connected to them, call our warmline at (415) 920-5040 and one of our Family Resource Specialists will help!

Reprinted from the Family Leadership Project.

Support for Families strives to present families and professionals with a wide range of views and options in its materials and trainings. The materials and trainings are not necessarily comprehensive, are not meant to be exhaustive, nor are they an endorsement of the author and/or presenter.

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Successful Assistive Technology

Two students in wheelchairs using computers with adaptive keyboards

by Karen Baca, Assistive Technology Specialist

Chris drives up to his desk in his high school classroom. He uses a power wheelchair that he controls with a head array with proximity switches. His AAC device is connected to the laptop by a USB cable, and using an adaptive trackball he is able to open the adaptive software to begin writing his history report. His AAC device acts as a keyboard and also has functions for the computer software.

Joan goes to the board in her middle school math class with her iPad and takes a picture of the “Do Now” word problem. She goes back to her desk and enlarges the photo so she can read it. Using a Bluetooth keyboard with large print keyboard stickers and headphones, she types her response to the question while listening to the words as she writes.

Mr. Jackson has just written tonight’s homework on the board. Four students in his fifth grade class take their iPads to the front of the class and take pictures of the homework assignments. All of the students will do their homework using their iPads with different apps that feature a variety of writing supports. They will be able to complete the reading assignment as all of their books are accessible on the iPad using reading apps and they each have Bookshare accounts.

Joseph is learning to use eye gaze and plays a game on a computer with an eye tracking module where he pops bubbles as they float across the screen. He communicates with his preschool classmates using a PODD book that is facilitated by an aide. During playtime he plays with toys operated by a custom tongue switch. For early literacy he “scribbles” using letters presented in an alphabet flip chart.

Each of these scenarios demonstrates the power of assistive technology(AT) devices for students with disabilities. According to IDEA, assistive technology device means "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.“ A student requires assistive technology if it allows them to do something he or she cannot do without it in order to benefit from their education. Unlike other related services, students do not need to “qualify” for assistive technology devices and services and AT should be considered at each IEP for every student with a disability.

Choosing the right AT device is an important part of the AT process. Parents can request an Assistive Technology Assessment, which is conducted by an AT Specialist. The assessment process is a collaborative approach, and involves all of the IEP team members including parents. Information about the student is gathered and interviews with the student, parent, and staff are conducted to determine the student's strengths and areas of need. The environment(s) where the student will use the technology is considered, and an observation may be conducted to look at the characteristics and physical arrangement. The tasks expected to be performed by the student are analyzed. The final element of the assessment is the consideration of tools which includes devices, strategies and services. A range of devices are considered and trialed to determine the best fit for the student. An IEP meeting is held to discuss the recommendations from the assessment, and the AT devices and services are written into the IEP.

Students who use AT devices receive assistive technology services. Assistive technology service is “any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.” AT services are supports for using assistive technology devices, such as maintenance, technical assistance, and coordination of other therapies. AT services include providing training for the student, the student’s family, and the school staff in the effective use of the technology. AT services are critical as it is not enough to choose the right tool without ensuring the student and team know how to use it and integrate it.

When there is a collaborative effort to choose the right devices and the needed supports and services are provided, successful assistive technology is possible.

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The Power of Positive Messages

Group of students sitting on the rug listening to the teacher

by Special Needs Inclusion Project (SNIP), a Support for Families Program

Scenarios every teacher has experienced and wants to avoid:
1) Students arrive in your after-school class and wander around, chatting, while you repeat complicated directions over and over again, getting louder each time, to no effect.

2) You say, “Don’t run with scissors!” and the child stops running, only to begin hopping with the scissors.

Setting Class-wide Expectations and Routines
Strong classroom management is built on expectations that the whole class agrees upon, ideally with a community contract signed by children and parents and posted visibly everyday. Once you have agreements in place, it is a lot easier to redirect children’s behavior because you can remind them of the agreements that “we all agreed on.” Effective agreements are generated by students and are

Positively worded and specific
5 or fewer (but you can have many examples of each agreement)
Communicate expected behavior (instead of “no” or “don’t”)
Written in child or teen friendly language

For Example:

Be safe
Be respectful and listen carefully
Leave candy and electronics at home
Be kind to myself and others
Try my best

Giving Instructions that Actually Work
When giving directions, nothing else matters if you don’t have the child’s attention. When you mean to give an instruction, be sure you actually give an instruction (“hang up your bag on the hook”) rather than:

make a request (“I wish you’d quiet down”)
ask a question (“can you take out your homework?”)
or offer a choice that you don’t mean (“Do you want me to call your mother today?”)

Food for Thought
Some students need more time to respond to directions, so give them a window. That window -- “I’ll come back in one minute and check on you” -- can also allow students to “save face” and spare you a battle of wills.
Is this an instruction the student must comply with, or can you give them some choice (e.g., “you need to find a game to play, would you rather play kick ball with a group or jump rope on your own?”)?
Give your directions one or two at a time, without interrupting yourself. Avoid long, complicated instructions that sound like “blah, blah, blah.”
Instructions will always be more effective when they are also visual: written on the board or a handout, using gestures, or demonstrating what you are asking students to do.

These principles are most effective when they are part of a program-wide positive behavior support plan.

Find additional Tip Sheets and more information about the Special Needs Inclusion Project (SNIP) at: www.SNIPSF.org. SNIP is a program of Support for Families.

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New: Techsploration Times at Support For Families!

Computer keyboard with "Access" key

Is your child struggling in school and you want to find out if technology can help? Starting this fall, Support For Families will offer a new resource for Assistive Technology (AT). With the development of an AT lab, 30 minute appointments for “techsploration” will be available where parents and children can explore assistive technology equipment. Equipment will include low, mid- and high tech tools to assist with reading, writing, math, organization, computer access, recreation and leisure, and activities of daily living. Techsploration Times will be available 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month.

Contact Karen Baca, Assistive Technology Specialist, at (415)920-5040 or email kbaca@supportforfamilies.org directly to sign up.

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The High Risk Infant Interagency Council (HRIIC) is now Help Me Grow

The High Risk Infant Interagency Council (HRIIC) has a new name and look… in Spring 2014, Support for Families became the San Francisco affiliate for Help Me Grow, joining several other California counties. To date, there are 9 California Help Me Grow counties, and 26 Help Me Grow states. Building on the national momentum of Help Me Grow, Support for Families brings together community partners’ strengths and efforts to ensure at-risk children in San Francisco are connected to the services they need, in the same way HRIIC did for years.

Help Me Grow follows the same four components as the National program: child health provider outreach, community and family outreach, centralized telephone access point, and data collection and analysis.

In San Francisco, we are working with key medical groups to train staff and help conduct Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) screenings. Additionally, the Help Me Grow General Council meets every other month, providing rich information to its members and to the public. The meeting provides professionals and families the chance to network and learn about programs and services in the community. A list serve announces services and community events to the larger network, to provide additional training and support.

Utilizing the existing warmline at Support for Families, Help Me Grow assists families and providers in connecting to the resources and referrals a child may need for success. Friendly, knowledgeable and multi-lingual staff help families decide which programs are right for their child and their family. And, equally important, staff that answer the calls are parents who have children with disabilities or special health care needs, and follow-up with each family to ensure they are receiving or have received the services they need.

To attend a meeting or to find out more about Help Me Grow, please visit:

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Assistive Communication Project Returns With More Resources, Young AAC Kids Group, and AAC Workshops

Child and adult using an iPad

Starting this fall, families can once again particpate in the Assistive Communication Project at Support for Families. "iPads for Communication" workshops will be offered monthly in English, Cantonese, and Spanish. The workshops will focus on the use of iPads as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and families that attend will be able borrow an iPad from our lending library. With the development of an AT mini-lab, the lending library is expanding to include low-tech and mid-tech AAC devices for loan. Alternative access for iPads and AAC will be available to try through the new Techsploration Times, and interested families should schedule an appointment. A new group is forming to support families with young children (ages 3 - 7) who use low, mid, and high tech systems. The group will meet monthly for fun activities that incorporate the use of AAC. To celebrate AAC Awareness Month, the workshop "The Power of Communication: Every Child Deserves a Voice" will be held on October 3rd.

For more information on these events, contact Karen Baca, Assistive Technology Specialist at (415)920-5040 or email kbaca@supportforfamilies.org.

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New Dance Class for Children with Special Needs Ages 7-12

Poise, self-confidence, joy! These are what your child, age 7-12, can find at Steppin' Out Dance Studio in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Angela Rose Dorantes, director of Steppin' Out Dance, is offering a new jazz/creative movement class this fall, on Tuesdays 5:00-6:00, for children with special needs. The class will be taught by Olivia Byers-Straus, Angela's student since 1995 and herself a young woman with Down syndrome. Olivia currently dances in Angela's class for teens and young adults with special needs, and this is the most exuberant group of people you could ever hope to meet! Their dances at the annual spring performance are full of joy and attitude and are enthusiastically received by the audience. They have also been performing for the past several years at the annual Support for Families Access to Adventure in Golden Gate Park (see photos); perhaps you've seen them there.

Olivia began dancing with Steppin' Out when she was 3 years old, together with two other younger sisters of older dance students, in what was then called the Little Sisters Class. What a great way to augment physical therapy, including coordination, balance and exercise. Also to learn left and right, follow directions, work together with a group, and just plain shine! As more and more of Olivia's friends learned about the studio and began dancing there, her class gradually evolved into today's class for students with special needs. Now that these students have grown into amazing teens and young adults, Angela wants to extend this opportunity to a new generation of very special dancers.

Here are the pertinent details about the new class, but please also check out the Steppin' Out website, www.steppinoutsf.com, for more information about the studio:

--jazz/creative movement class for children ages 7-12 with special needs
--Tuesdays 5:00pm - 6:00 pm
--Steppin' Out Dance Studio, 697 South Van Ness Avenue, northeast corner of 18th Street
--no shoes required, barefoot ok or jazz shoes
--registration (see website) opens August 3rd, classes begin in early September

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Reviews from the Joan Cassel Memorial Library

The books below are a few examples of the types of books added in our lending library. The library is open when the Family Resource Center is open (MWF, 9:30am - 4:30pm; T,TH 12:30pm - 8:30pm) and during onsite clinics and workshops.

Helping Children with Down Syndrome Communicate Better: Speech and Language Skills for Ages 6-14, by Libby Kumin

We have a lot of new books about Down syndrome donated in memory of Kathy Darby. This particular book explores an area of speech and language skills that I have not seen covered in Libby Kumin’s  prior books. She is recognized as an expert in the field of communication skills of children with Down syndrome. She does a good job of explaining the differences between the terms: Communication, language and speech.  The format is easy to read, a comprehensive Table of Contents, references, a Resource Guide, Games to Improve Communication Skills, Appendices and an Index. I found the Appendices that contain extra useful information explained speech assessment. Parents of a child in this age range of 6-14 should definitely consult this book if their children have communication problems. It is useful even if your child does not have Down syndrome.

Just Breathe, by Annette Rivlin-Gutman

This award winning book is the result of a request to the author for a review copy. She received a Mom’s Choice Gold Award, a San Francisco Book Festival Honorable Mention  and is a 2015 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist for the above book. It is a children’s book in its composition and writing but is useful to all of us. Children, who suffer fears, anxiety and worry have only to focus and take deep breaths to calm enough to face the challenge. I see it as rebooting oneself and restarting like a computer. It is a good book to read to children as it has bright illustrations and easy to understand text. Discussions about concerns and worries can follow the reading.  

Autism and Me, Sibling Stories, by Ouisie Shapiro

Sometimes the library is included in a grant proposal. I was asked to choose some young adult and children’s books for the collection. It was a wonderful opportunity and now our Sibling Group has some additional books to checkout.  Siblings get to tell short stories about their brother or sister on the autism spectrum. Real feelings shine out in the stories. I am glad that the book is illustrated with color photos of the siblings together.  Diversity is prevalent in ethnicity, ages and abilities.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids,  by Carol McCloud

Another way of expanding our collection is through staff donations. Here is another “ Choice Award Winner.” Our Philosophy/Values section of Children’s books will appreciate this addition. It is a story about how a simple kindness to someone else will not only give the receiving person a big smile but the gesture comes back to the giver. It encourages positive behavior and fills both imaginary  buckets with happiness. It is easy and requires no money. I like the bright colors of the simple but happy drawings. It is an excellent read aloud book.

100 Questions You’d Never Ask Your Parents, by Elisabeth Henderson and Dr. Nancy Armstrong

Sometimes when a child grows up and no longer needs a particular book, it is donated by the parent. In this case, the book, targeting the young adult soon to leave home. It answers those sometimes very personal and embarrassing questions about sexuality, feelings, mechanics, acne and other aspects of adulthood. The ones asked here are answered providing the needed information in concise understandable text. It addresses Stds, drinking and driving, suicide, drugs and whom should I date for additional areas covered by this book. It is amazing how much information is contained in 213 pages. There is a Table of Questions, a Glossary and an Index.



Reviews by Elaine Butler, Librarian

Each of these books has been personally researched and requested for review purposes by me for introduction to you, the reader.

Support for Families maintains the Joan Cassel Memorial Library which is a lending library for families and professionals, comprised of multi-lingual books, reference materials and media related to children with disabilities and special health care needs. The library is open during regular business hours.

If you have the title or author of a book you’d like to read, please go to our website and do a search. Go to this link and enter the title or author or subject and click search. If we have the item, call us and the librarian will hold the item for you until you can come to the office to pick it up. Try the online catalog or come and browse the shelves by category, new items added weekly.

Visist our library online at: http://www.supportforfamilies.org/library.html

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Support for Families gratefully acknowledges gifts from the following individuals, groups and businesses, received May 1, 2015 through July 31, 2015. We apologize for any omissions or misspellings; please contact us so we can correct our records.


Pamakid Runners Club
San Francisco Giants

Larry Baker
Tovah Cook
Marc Gaynor
Babette Holland
Quyen & Calvin Pon

In honor of Joyce Goldstein’s 80th birthday:
Sybil Conn
Laura Werlin
Leslie Gibin
Gretchen & Thomas Worthington

In honor of Chris Dehner on Father’s Day
Nancy Murphy

In honor of Darcy Dehner
Kathy and Peter Ventura and family

Individual Donors for the Kaiser Half Marathon
Subramaniam Aravindhan
Frank Arevalo
Ella Bell
Janine Benedict
Elfega Bergthold
Patrick Bernhard
Anatole Besman
Prissilla Bradfield
Karen Bryant
Joanne Bui
Shani Cameron
Jennifer Caroza
Christopher Cassidy
Mac Castillo
Vanessa Castro
Suzanne Charon
George Chinn
Carolina Chou
Xiomara Cisneros
Drew Corbett
Jack Crowley
Elizabeth Curley
Adetunji Elegbede
Cecilia Fairley
Katy Daly
Rose marie Delgadillo
Payal Dhingra
Stephanie Disano
Melissa Dolinsky
Shella Edejer
Adetunji Elegbede
Edward Esslemont
Cecilia Fairley
Sonny Falk
Margaret Farrell
Laura Feeney
Giovanna Fleming
Matthew Fleming
Chris Ford
Paul France
Geoff George
Lauren Gilstrap
Levi Goltz
William Goodman
Maurilio Gorito
Shera Gurung
Juliana Halloran
Kristin Hansen
Alexis Heathcote
Wesley Hom
Lauren Hunter
June Jardin
Dionne Jirachaikitti
Chase Johnson
Nick Judd
Jennifer Kenzer
Judy Kerr
Amir Khan
Emily Khan
Sheila Kim
Timothy Kim
Beth Kittle
Jae-hyun Klepeis
Eileen Kong
Michael Kronthal
Sunny Lakhmani
Connie Larsen
Natalya Leahy
Jessica Litwin
Laurie Loftus
Steve Lohrer
Tim Luca
Kenneth MacWilliams
John michael Malapit
Jeff Maley
Jessica Maron
Christopher Mazza
Michael McCann
Dylan McGrath
Ingrid Mehlhorn
Rebecca Metrick
Christopher Micklitsch
Justin Mikecz
Michael Mills
Jk Murch


Ashley Murray
Masa Nakamura
Sandy Nguyen
Deirdre O'Bryan
Paul O'Connor
Danielle Papermaster
Kalyani Parulkar
Emelita Pattugalan
Blanka Popovic
Libby Porzig
Ramon Quesada
Larry Quong
Alexander Rafter
Ron Rasing
Erica Rayas
Kevin Reimers
Laura Reyes-wilson
Cindy Riccardi
Tim Rodden
Phil Rothenberg
Karyn Roybal
Peter Ruszel
Gladys Sanders
Heather Schaefer
Marion Schalich
Anne Schier
Stefan Schnabl
Gaurav Sharma
Bill Shen
Purni Siddarth
Michael Silberman
Remedios Solis
Ellen Soohoo
Brian Stannard
Robert Strong
Ariel Taguinod
Lynda Taschek
Stephen Tennis
Krysteena Tolentino
Jonathan Turner
Shashi Upadhyay
Maureen Vermette
Theresa Villarreal
William Voorhees
Barbara Weldon
Madeline Wilson
Hendradjaja Wono
Dag Xarph
Cal Yee
Sergio Zendejas

For the Family Voices of California 2015 Health Summit
Foundations & Organizations
American Academy of PediatricsCalifornia Children’s Hospital Association
California HealthCare Foundation
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Children's Specialty Care Coalition
Disability Rights California
Loma Linda Children's Hospital
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford
Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health
Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach
Patient & Family Centered Care Partners
Together We Grow
Tri-Counties Regional Center

Kevin Blaine
Andrew Cattell
Anand Chabra
Terry Cowger Hill
Gregory Cutcher
Nicholas Draper
Lisa Halperin
Lisa Hayes
Monique Hopkins
Sandra King
Rhonda Levias
Patricia Louie
Maryam Murphy
Karen Nutt
Mike Odeh
Jessica Padilla
Chris Racciato
Jennifer Rienks
Edward Schor
Laurie Soman

California Speech and
Hearing Association Student Drive
Sift Cupcakes and Dessert Bar
Tim Lincecum/Timmy's Giants
San Francisco Giants
The Aquarium of the Bay
Whole Foods Market


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