parents in IRC workshop

Register Today!

2015 Information and Resource Conference

Saturday, March 21, 2015
8:30am - 3:30pm
John O'Connell High School

A FREE conference for families of children with disabilities, concerns, or special health care needs, the professionals who work with them, and members of the community.

More Information


Access to Adventure text in ticket stub

Saturday, May 2, 2015
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Bandshell Music Concourse
Golden Gate Park

A festival of arts & recreation for families of kids with disabilities or special health care needs

After taking a sabbatical in 2014, Access to Adventure is back! Join us to experience & explore:

• music • arts • sports • food
• live entertainment • other fun activities!

ALL activities are accessible and the event is FREE (suggested donation is $5 per person). Presented in partnership by Support for Families and San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department.

Call 415-920-5040 to register!

movie nights

Families and children are invited to watch a movie, munch on yummy snacks, and enjoy the playroom here at our main office.

Movie Nights are held monthly on Fridays in January to June 2015 from 5:30pm-7:30pm.

Movie Nights this Spring at Support for Families

Friday, April 10
5:30pm - 7:30pm
"The Lego Movie"

The Lego Movie

Friday, May 15, 2014
5:30pm - 7:30pm
"Muppets Most Wanted" muppets most wanted
Friday, June 5, 2014
5:30pm - 7:30pm
"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2


clipart of kids in colorful t-shirts holding hands

For 8 - 13 year old brothers and sisters
of children with disabilities or special health care needs

SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 2015 10:00AM - 1:00PM
Support for Families
1663 Mission St, 7th Floor, San Francisco CA 94103

We are excited to announce the kickoff of a pilot sibling group for siblings ages 8 - 13 years old! This recreational group, based on the Sibshop model, will include crafts, games, and opportunities to discuss experiences with other siblings of children with disabilities or special health care needs.

Since this is a pilot project for our agency, your participation and feedback will be very helpful. This groupis planned to repeat monthly on Saturdays.

To register or for more information, call 415-920-5040


Location: Support for Families
Dates/Times: 1:00-2:00pm on Thursdays:
April 9th, April 16th, April 23rd, April 30th, May 7th

Infant massage is a fantastic way to connect with your baby! Studies have shown infant massage can help babies sleep better, gain weight, reduce fussiness, improve health and relax. Parents who massage their babies often experience increased closeness to and understanding of their infants, reduced stress and post-natal depression, and simply enjoy a wonderful experience with their child.

This FREE 5-week series welcomes ALL infants birth to one year and their parents/caregivers. Each week we will be learning information and strokes that build on each other, so attendance at all sessions is ideal.

Advance registration required. Space is limited.

To sign up, call 415-920-5040 or email rhoffmann@supportforfamilies.org


"All Smiles" at our Annual Ice Skating Party

Click here to see photos on Facebook
(you don't need a Facebook account to see the photos!)

Mom pushing child in wheelchair on ice

As one parent told us, it was “all smiles” at our Holiday Ice-Skating Party at the Yerba Buena Ice Skating & Bowling Center on December 20, 2014.

Children of all ages and abilities got the chance to skate on the ice with Santa, enjoy delicious desserts, and take home a brand new book. We were happy to receive so much positive feedback about the event and here is just one comment we’d like to share:

This [event] was beautiful. My son uses a wheelchair and thought that he would not be able to participate, but he was able to participate and it was all very easy for the family. Thank you for this great memory. We will hold on to it!

Thank you to our staff, volunteers, and attendees for helping to bring smiles to the children at our event!


Donor & Volunteer Recognition Party: Thank You!

Group of awardees

Click here to see photos on Facebook
(you don't need a Facebook account to see the photos!)

Support for Families is thankful to know and work with so many amazing people in our community. On Wednesday, February 18th, our staff, board members, donors, volunteers and other community members attended the Donor & Volunteer Recognition Party. We took this time to recognize and honor some remarkable people who have shown extraordinary dedication to our organization and to children and youth with special needs.

Support for Families is pleased to honor the following recipients of the 2015 Donor & Volunteer Award:

Itani Dental, Sponsor
Immaculate Conception Academy, Community Partner
Bonnie Legg, Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center, Community Partner
Winton Tomlinson, Volunteer
Deidra Owen, Volunteer
Maricela Rodriguez, Parent Mentor
Jill Kimbrough, Parent Mentor

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Reading as a Sensory Experience for Young Children

by Becca Eisenberg, MS, CCC-SLP

SF Inclusion Networks (SFIN), a program of Support for Families, provides coaching and training for early intervention and preschool teachers who include children with disabilities in their early childhood programs.

Through this work, we see how important language development is for young children with many of the activities throughout a typical preschool day focused on developing language and literacy skills. Parents play a critical role in a child's language development. Studies have shown that children who are read to and spoken with a great deal during early childhood will have larger vocabularies and better grammar than those who aren't. Early literacy is also associated with higher achievement overall as children progress through school.

Reading to a child is one very important way that parents can help their child develop language and literacy. Your child with special needs may need more than just your voice and the pictures to stay engaged in a story. Reading a picture book aloud can be an active and engaging activity for your child with the use of some simple strategies. Here are five ways how you can make reading a picture book aloud to your child more of a sensory experience

1. Add texture to the book

crafts with textured pieces

Add texture to a picture book by using a hot glue gun to attach material that is appropriate. For example, if adapting the book Old McDonald Had a Farm, use a glue gun to attach a cotton ball to the sheep. As you are reading the book, prompt your child to touch the sheep and describe how it feels (e.g. soft, fluffy, etc.).

As another example, for a classic book like Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? use a hot glue gun to attach a small piece of fur on the brown bear. Attaching texture to a book can be very helpful to those children who are tactile learners and/or visually impaired.

2. Use props and/or visual aids

monkey, elephant, other animal puppets

Visual aids or props can be a felt board set, sequencing cards, miniature objects, etc.

Using visual aids and/or props can be helpful for many reasons. One particular reason for using props and/or visual aids is to help aid your child in retelling the story. Having a child feel and manipulate the visual aids and/or props while you read the story can help make book reading time a more enriched and engaging experience.

3. Use sounds

boy with hand around ear listening

As you are reading the book, have your child create sounds to go with the actions in the book. Are sounds difficult for your child to make? Model the sounds for them.

For example, when reading How to Train a Train, encourage your child to say “Choo Choo.” For Old McDonald Had a Farm, encourage your child to imitate animal sounds.
If your child is minimally verbal or non-verbal, use augmentative and alternative communication for the sounds (e.g. Big Mack or Step by Step Communicator).


4. Use scents and tastes

clipart of boy smelling cookies on plate

This is an interesting strategy when reading a book. This may not work for all picture books but be creative! For example, when reading Penguin and Pinecone I use a pinecone as a prop but also use it for the interesting and woodsy scent.

What does the pinecone smell like? Describe the scent to your child and compare and contrast it to other smells. You can also experiment with taste! When reading Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces, I use a piece of chocolate for both scent and flavor. The chocolate also can be used a prop until it gets eaten up!

5. Get up and move!

clipart of kids dancing

When reading a particular book, get your child to get up and imitate certain movements. If the character in the book is swimming, imitate a person swimming. If the character is jumping like in Five Little Monkeys Jumping on The Bed, get up and jump!

Becca Eisenberg, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, author, instructor, and parent of two young children, who began her blog www.gravitybread.com to create a resource for parents to help make mealtime an enriched learning experience.


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Are You Prepared for Transition?

By Nicole Trickett, SFUSD Special Education Program Administrator, Court/County & Transition

In my work with transition teachers, I often hear that students and families are not prepared for the change of transition. The key to preparing your student for a transition program are to start early and to develop an understanding of transition programming.

Transition programs look a lot different than traditional K-12 education programming – job sites become classrooms, the bus route becomes a lesson, and a purchase at the grocery store becomes an instructional opportunity. Transition programs are designed to support a seamless transition from school to post-school activities, preparing young adults with disabilities for adulthood.

Five things that I wish I had known before my son started his Transition Program:

  1. Daily life activities in the community have more meaning than staying inside a classroom for most of the school day.
  2. Math is more meaningful when paying for lunch, buying an item at a store, and checking time than doing paper-pencil math.
  3. Reading is more meaningful when checking a bus schedule, reading a menu, and reading an email than reading from books only.
  4. Providing a student with opportunities to make decisions about his or her preferences is giving the student tools to live as an independent adult.
  5. It is important to use the years at the transition program to learn life skills, job skills, social skills, and self-advocating skills to prepare for life after exiting the educational system.

Edith Arias,
Mother of a Transition Program Graduate

Transition programs are post high school community-based programs for students 18 to 22 with disabilities. Transition is for any student in the school district who is eligible for special education services, has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), and will not receive diploma upon completing high school. Programs focus on teaching functional life skills – job, independent living, travel, self-care, social, communication, and safety skills – within the community setting. The community is the classroom. Programs offer individualized plans that work with each student’s goals and interests to further develop their skills. Transition helps prepare students with disabilities to enter adult life with the skills they need to be as successful and independent as possible.

Parents and teachers can help students with disabilities become independent, capable adults. And this planning and support should start early. What can you focus on?

  • Offer your child choices
  • Help your child know his/her disability
  • Include your child in the process
  • Work as a team (student, teachers, service providers, administrators, and you)
  • Find a balance between guiding/protecting your child and allowing for some personal freedoms

As your student approaches the end of high school, here are some steps you can take to support a move to a transition program:

  • Talk about the transition with your child
  • Plan the transition early with your child’s IEP team and discuss activities to support the transition (create social stories, schedule a shadow day, increase community outings, etc.)
  • Hold a transition IEP with high school and transition staff
  • Visit transition programs with your child

Transition programs help students learn the skills needed to be safe, successful, and contributing members of their communities. We see students transform into adults as they learn independent living skills, gain work experience, access the community safely, advocate for themselves in real-life situations, and develop their interests and passions. It can be a scary step in a student’s journey to adulthood, but with a little advanced preparation, you can help your student lay the buildings blocks for future success.

adult woman in wheelchair

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New Roles for Parents of Children Born Prematurely

The Preemie Parent as:

little foot
1. Detective
The parent of a child with special health care needs (CSHCN) is faced with a challenging task, constantly evaluating information, issues, and referrals from a variety of professionals to identify individual problems, treatment and long term planning. Thus being a good detective is vital in addressing the needs of your child. Keep at it!

2. Coordinator
As a parent of a preemie, you are likely to discover that you will play a major role in finding and coordinating services after leaving the NICU. Parents will find that they need to coordinate activities across medical specialists, educational professionals, and other support services to ensure the continuity of services.

3. Librarian
Documentation is important for the care and treatment of your CSHCN. Set up a system of folders that become useful for you to document progress and setbacks. These folders can be: Milestones, Services, Diagnosis, Medical History, Medication History, Resources/Contacts.

4. Communicator
After leaving the NICU, parents will become the prime communicator, transferring the child’s progress from one specialist to another. As often as possible, try to connect the different professionals involved. Be sure to follow-up to ensure the connection was made.

5. Monitor
It is essential to monitor your child’s progress, frequent monitoring will allow the parent to change the support situations as the problems arise and the child develops.

6. Cheerleader
A parents support and enthusiasm is crucial to the child’s self esteem, no matter how small the milestone reached. Equip yourself to empower your child to be successful and independent, most importantly when they begin to reach the age of autonomy.

7. Implementer
No matter how big or small the issue, the parent can be sure that they will play a large role in implementing the solution.

8. Nurturer
The most important role a parent of a CSHCN plays for their child is that of a loving nurturing parent. Take time to enjoy your child.

Adapted by Emelyn Lacayo from "New Roles of Parents of Children Born Prematurely" by Allison Martin. Used with permission. www.prematurity.org/coping-roles.html

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SFCD is Seeking New Board Members!

The Support for Families Board of Directors is looking for energetic people who want to ensure that San Francisco families of children with disabilities have the support and information they need to enhance their children’s well being and development.

Although we are specifically seeking board members who have expertise in Media/Public Relations and/or Fundraising, we are very open to hearing from other well-qualified candidates.

To be considered, please contact boarddevelop@supportforfamilies.org for more details.

Support for Families values diversity and we strongly encourage family members, professionals, people with disabilities, language and ethnic distinct communities, and other traditionally underserved communities to apply.

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Stress Less: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Series

Support for Families recently completed a 6-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) series inspired by an article in the New York Times called "When the Caregivers Need Healing."

We used an evidence-based curriculum from Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health, a MBSR approach for families who are caregivers of children with disabilities. These parents often suffer from more stress and trauma than parents of typically developing children. Mindfulness, as described by Jon Kabat-Zinn is “a moment-to-moment awareness, the complete owning of each moment of your experience, good, bad or ugly (Kabat-Zinn, 2005).

Patricia LaCocque, Mental Health Social Worker at Support for Families and the group co-facilitator, says, "I enjoyed co-facilitating this group very much! I learned a lot about myself and about what families struggle with. I think we all went away with an increased understanding of what mindfulness is and how it can be a valuable skill and philosophy to live ones life."

Other group participants had positive comments about the group:

  • [The group was] a place to connect but mostly a place to practice mindfulness. I was ready for this. Thank you.
  • [This group gave me a] feeling of support and opened my mind to other options and sources for info and relaxation techniques. I appreciated the child care services which let me attend the workshop without worrying about my kids.
  • The MBSR group provided me with another valuable tool to put into my self-care belt. With more practice, I hope to develop a good habit of slowing down and taking time for myself.

We hope to offer another one of these series in the near future. Call 415-920-5040 or email info@supportforfamilies.org if you are interested in participating!


Reviews from the Joan Cassel Memorial Library

The reviews column is taking a holiday this newsletter, but we will be back in the summer with more book reviews from our library!

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Support for Families gratefully acknowledges gifts from the following individuals, groups and businesses, received November 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015. We apologize for any omissions or misspellings; please contact us so we can correct our records.

wine and design logo

David Brody, Brody, Walsh & Brody
Christine DeVoto & Terry DeVoto
Thomas Patton

Businesses, Groups and Foundations
Bill Graham Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund
Escher Family Fund
Physicians of Pan-Med Enterprises
Thendara Foundation
Waste Solutions Group, Inc

Anne Marie Siu Yuan
Georganne and John Boerger
Bonnie Bridges
Chiachi Chen
Timothy Chuter
Mabel Gin Dang
Deborah Daniels-Smith
Sandy Feifer
Jill and Joe Feldman
Richard Hobbs
Linda Hornbostel
Roz and Steve Itelson
Susan Jones
David Kobe
Phung Lam
Alvin Lipsetz
Sydney Lu
Ingrid Lusebrink
Barry Milgrom
David Mostny
Gayle and John Podleski
Marni Rosen
Robert and John Seemann
Christina Share
Hayes Sherman
Dorothy Stell
Rebecca Stiewig
Suzanne Sullivan

In honor of Antonio Lucchini’s 10th Birthday:
Cathy Hong
Mary Kloepfer
Joyce Lam
Tuan Nguyen
Julie Pua
Jim Riley

In honor of Avery Dauer and family:
Susan Krist

In honor of Jake Gamboa:
Mai Mai Wythes

In Recognition of Christian Dauer:
Tracy Wheeler & Paul Rauschelbach

InKind Gifts
Aquarium of the Bay
Children’s Book Project
Jane LaPides and Murray Cahen
Jennifer Crayton
McCall’s Event Management
Olive Garden, Stonestown
Trader Joe's
Whole Foods Market

Holiday Ice Skating Party
Children’s Book Project
Costco, San Francisco
McCall’s Event Management
Raising a Reader
Trader’s Joe on Ninth Street
Whole Foods Market on Ocean Ave

Junior League of San Francisco
National Student Speech Language Hearing
Association (NSSLHA)
One Brick Bay Area

Abby Eusebio
Bob Hayden
Breana Marino
Chetan Tekur
Christina Luah
Cyrille Jimenez
Daisy Jimenez
Daniel Sullon
Daryl Bishop
Deidra Owen
Emily Barker
Erika Villavicencio
Geoff Faulkner
Jenny Shao
John Faux
Joseph Menzel
Lisa Faulkner
Lori Nigam
Mai Dang
Mary Rhoades
Nanette Dove
Ramji Srinivasan
Robert Leon
Sandy Ross
Shanshan Ge
Silvana Soleto
Soledad Sullon


Another way to help:

Contact us about donating your vehicle! 415-282-7494, devdir@supportforfamilies.org

vehicle donations

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