Book Review - Fairy Tales of the City Series

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Dorothee Chabas visited Support for Families last November. She is the author of a new series, Fairy Tales of the City. She takes a classical fairy tale and updates it with assistive technology and current values. Her first and current children’s book is: The Princess and the Pea in San Francisco. It is fun to note local references and landmarks throughout her book. Dorothee Chabas does the writing and illustrations. The themes woven through this book are inclusiveness and disability. The focal ages for the story are ages 3-10 years. It begs to be read aloud, and I feel the reader and the listeners will enjoy the story and illustrations. This wonderful princess rides into the story in the rain in her wheelchair. The wheelchair is not mentioned in the story. The reader will be amused by the 21st century version of the pea. I thoroughly enjoyed this new kingdom of San Francisco, and I think you will too. We will be reading more books of this series soon.

I want to give you some background about the author. Dorothee Chabas is a neurologist who cares for adults and children representing many types of disability.  She learned to be a painter and writer. This led to her current career as children’s book author and illustrator. She is delightful. If you’d like to learn more about her website: www.dorotheechabas.com. You will also find more information about her book and the series to follow at: www.FairyTalesOfTheCity.com. We have a copy of this book in our library, and we welcome you to check it out
Elaine Butler, Librarian

Book Reviews from the Joan Cassel Memorial Library

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Jamie Is Jamie; A Book About Being Yourself and Playing Your Way, by Afsaneh Moradian

This is a children’s book about the important lessons that can be learned from free play. Jamie is a new boy in a preschool class. He likes to try everything. The kids are not sure if he is a boy or a girl since he sees no gender in the toys or whom he plays with in the class. As the days pass, the other students started playing with all types of toys and kids they hadn’t played with before during free play. They also begin conflict and problem solving. There are instructions for different uses of this story at the end of the book. I enjoyed the bright colored active drawings that illustrate the book.


Raising Kids with Sensory Processing Disorders, by Rondalyn Whitney, PhD, OTR/L and Varleisha Gibbs, OTD, OTR/L

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This is a book to help parents and service providers to understand and help the child with sensory processing disorder. I did not understand this disorder and how it affected the child until I read this book. It is very reader friendly. I learned that it manifests itself in behavior that causes distress to the child and people near him. There are wonderful and easy activities in this book to help the child learn to cope with his environment. I especially liked learning math facts while doing jumping jacks. I am excited about this book and hope you will be too.


Visual-Spatial Learners, Understanding the Learning Style Preference of Bright but Disengaged Students,  Second Edition, by Alexandra Shires Golon

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 This is a book for teachers, service providers and parents, who enjoy following research in how our brains work to help us learn. There are many strategies that help the students engage their right brains. One of the questions asked of the authors is are boys more visual-spatial learners than girls? You need to find out by reading that chapter. The content of the book addresses strategies for timed tests, handwriting skills, spelling and organization. These students excel in being imaginative, having the correct answer but not knowing how they got it, and being talented artists and puzzle solvers. The teacher readers will find the strategies are easily used with the whole class. Every class has some of this type of learner so check this book out.


School Success for Kids with High-Functioning Autism, by Stephan Silverman, PhD, Lauren Kenworthy, PhD, & Rich Weinfeld.

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Temple Grandin, writes the foreword and sets the themes of the book that follows. The authors refer to the high-functioning autism spectrum disorder and HFASD throughout this book. Its target audience is parents of HFASD children and their teachers. It is easy to read and supported by charts, checklists, worksheets, bibliography, table of contents. The Contents define what will be found in each chapter. So you can read the chapters as needed for your child. There are strategies given for working with your child’s teachers, supportive classroom techniques, working with schools and activities that can be done in your home.


Exposure Therapy for Treating Anxiety In Children and Adolescents, a Comprehensive Guide, by Veronica Raggi, Jessica Samson, Julia Felton, Heather Loffredo, Lisa Berghorst

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 Psychologists and social workers, this book’s for you. It is comprehensive in its approach to Exposure Therapy,  removing it from CBT ( cognitive behavior therapy) explaining how to use it as its own therapy. You can learn how to develop a therapy program and how to adapt it to these conditions: child anxiety, parental involvement, panic disorder, school phobia, selective mutism, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and emotion tolerance, plus more. The reader finds references, author biographies, comprehensive contents and an excellent index.


From High School to College Steps to Success for Students with Disabilities, Elizabeth Hamblet

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Transition eventually comes to each of our children. The reader whether teacher, counselor or parent will find this a useful resource. The transition addressed here is leaving high school for work or college, emphasizing how to get to and find success in college. I find this an excellent resource that starts with the laws, rights and responsibilities, self-advocacy, family coaches, finding the right college and requesting any needed accommodations. It includes a comprehensive Table of Contents, References for further information, Appendices with useful information and an Index. Again it is user friendly with clear printing, notes of explanation in the margins. If you are facing transition issues and want to go to college, this is a good resource.

Designing for Inclusive Community Workshop Given by The Kelsey

Please join The Kelsey on Thursday, November 8th in San Francisco for a free inclusive design workshop. Facilitated by a professor from Stanford's design school, participants will use design thinking to envision their ideal inclusive housing and cities. In the afternoon, participants will be able to "test" and discuss their ideas with leading experts in housing, construction, and transit. 

We will provide breakfast and lunch. Please feel free to forward this invitation to anyone you think may be interested in attending and discussing affordable and inclusive housing, and reach out to Lindsay Johnson (lindsay@thekelsey.org) with any questions. 

Click here to register for the workshop. We hope to see you there! Together we can do more.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

Sometimes parents and caregivers of children with disabilities are subject to violence at the hands of their own children.  Regardless of the intent of the child the struggles many families face, namely violence within their own homes, is not included in the conversation our country has about domestic violence. 

Child to Parent Violence (CPV) is a very real problem and it is critical that legislators hear from families and include CPV in the national domestic violence conversation.  Feel free to send in your own letter or simply send the letter below to your local, regional, and national lawmakers.

For more information about Child to Parent Violence https://www.facebook.com/groups/CoalitionforHealingCD/

Sample Letter:

Dear BLANK, 

My name is BLANK and I am writing to you in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as the upcoming deadline of December 7th, 2018 when the current version of the Violence Against Women Act is set to expire. 

The current version of the Violence Against Women Act is a wonderful start, but as it is written fails to include a great many victims of violent domestic abuse, namely parents and caregivers of children who are violent. 

The violence may be intentional as with children with Conduct Disorder (a precursor to Antisocial Personality Disorder) often with the goal of killing siblings or parents.  The violence might be unintentional as with violent outbursts experienced by those caring for children with Autism or PANDAS (a strep infection of the brain). 

Whether the violence is intentional or not, the fact remains that far too many households across our great nation are subject to violence at the hands of our children. 

As it stands now, nearly all services for victims of Domestic Violence require that the victim be an "intimate partner" in order to access those services.  Parents (usually mothers) are constantly turned away from hotlines, shelters, or other services because the person abusing them is not an adult sexual partner.

 There are countless numbers of children deemed "too violent" for inpatient treatment and are are sent back to their homes to be violent there, where there are no staff members versed in violence and trauma.

 This form of parental hell has a name:  Child to Parent Violence (CPV).

 It is high time CPV was included in the conversation of what we "know"

Domestic Violence to be.  Siblings can be preyed upon by their own flesh and blood.  Parents can be abused and hospitalized by their own children.

Family pets can be purposefully mangled, sexually abused, and/or killed. 

I am asking you to step up the Domestic Violence conversation in this country and ask for clinician and hotline staff training to include CPV.

Domestic Violence is Domestic Violence no matter who the perpetrator. 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration of this matter. 




Book Reviews from the Joan Cassel Memorial Library

News and Reviews from the Joan Cassel Memorial Library, by Elaine Butler, Librarian

For more information about our library, check out our Library Page, call us at 415-920-5040, email info@supportforfamilies.org, or stop by during our open hours!  
MWF 9:30am - 4:30pm, T/TH 12:30pm - 8:30pm

Buckleitner’s Guide to Using Tablets with Young Children, By Warren Buckleitner, PhD

I love this 103 page book. It is so easy to use, with a comprehensive index to help you find a tip quickly. It is illustrated with drawings and colorful photos of children using tablets. You also learn to childproof your child’s tablet and gives information about choosing appropriate APPS. This book lives in the AT Lab so check us both out.


Crazy-Stressed, by Dr. Michael Bradley

If you have a teen, with or without disabilities, he/she is probably sleep deprived, stressed, overbooked, depressed and lacking coping skills. The author is a father and a professional with 30 years of working with teen experience. This book gives strategies on how to build a resilient teen. It also addresses the coping skills of the parents. Help your teen with love, laughter and your own resilience.


How to Advocate Successfully for Your Child, by Greer M. Gurland, ESQ

Here is another 103 page instruction book. It is written for parents to teach them  advocacy skills to help their child. The book is very user friendly and gives the reader the major points of special education law and the legal rights of the child. It will give the reader new confidence.


The Autism Job Club, by Michael S. Bernick and Richard Holden

The authors currently belong to us. Both work in San Francisco in employment statistics and related fields. The large number of people with diagnoses on the Autism Spectrum, who are not employed opened a need to discover how this can be changed. They opened an autism job club in the San Francisco Bay Area. This book documents how they created jobs and placed people with autism into the new jobs. The job applicants are coached to get and keep one of these jobs. Find out how it is done and how to access an autism job club.


Mindful Parenting for ADHD, by Mark Bertin, MD

A lot is said about the use of mindfulness to reduce stress and create calm. The book’s focus is on the parents using mindfulness techniques to create their own self-calm to build a better relationship with their child with ADHD. It goes on to explore how to deal with challenging behaviors, create better communication and much more. There is an excellent Table of Contents that allows you to find that tidbit of information you need quickly. The chapters are easy to use, so borrow it from the library!


It’s not a Perfect World But I’ll Take It: 50 Life Lessons for Teens Like Me – Who Are Kind of Autistic, by Jennifer Rose

The author, is a young adult with autism. She is also a college student and is sharing some of the skills she learned to make her own life happier. There are photo illustrations and short chapters that “get to the point” and give insight into the issue and how to address it. She writes about dream/reality, friends that understand you, family relationships and again so much more. The writer uses humor optimism to show us how to address young adult issues. It would be good to read and discuss this book with your teen or young adult,

Wine+Design 2017!

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On Friday, October 6, more than 450 people came together for the Wine+Design Gala to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Support for Families of Children with Disabilities (SFCD).

It was by far the largest gala that Support for Families has held in its 35 years. For the first time ever, the event sold out weeks ahead of time. So we expanded the space, adding another floor. Then we sold out again.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors by the end of the evening Support for Families had raised more than a quarter of a million dollars.


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Wine+Design is an opportunity for families and supporters to have fun while helping to fund the work of Support for Families. Guests enjoyed fine wine and food, plus a variety of entertainment that included a jazz trio, dancers dressed as Holly Golightly, plus a surprise appearance by the one and only Marilyn Monroe.

One of the undisputed stars of the show was the Galleria at the San Francisco Design Center, with its magnificent four story atrium. The venue was chosen by Jim Riley in 2011 when he came up with the concept of Wine+Design. Over the years, the event expanded from one floor to two. This year, with Jim’s return as event chair, the gala grew again, occupying three stories of the Galleria. Jim led the organization of the event, and also took care of many of the details on the night, including the beautiful tiffany blue décor. The sold out show was a tribute to his vision.

The gala began with a silent auction of more than 120 different packages, generously donated by local businesses. For the first time this year, the silent auction was held up on the third floor, because the second floor was occupied by dinner tables for the guests. 



The main program was hosted by ABC 7 News reporter Jonathan Bloom. The audience was profoundly touched by the personal stories shared by Nersi Boussina and Elizabeth Brogna as they described how Support for Families had helped their families. Nersi received the Bill Lewandowski Memorial Award in recognition of his tireless work to help Support for Families.

The live auction included many wonderful items, such as weekends at luxury vineyards, all donated by local businesses and supporters. But the greatest excitement was for ten cheesecakes made by board member Laura Lanzone. Our expert auctioneer, Keith McLane whipped the crowd into a bidding frenzy that left many gasping.

After a very generous round of donations to fund the work of Support for Families, the formal program ended with Isaiah Riley-Chinn drawing three lucky winners of the raffle. After that, all that was left was the music, as DJ Josh Olds filled the stage with enthusiastic dancers. 

Generous Contributions

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The success of Wine+Design was made possible by the generous contributions of hundreds of people. Our Anniversary Sponsor, the Thoresen Foundation, and our Skylight Sponsor, the Allene and Jerome LaPides Foundation helped underwrite the event, along with more than two dozen other generous sponsors. Hundreds more people donated on the night. While more than a hundred businesses donated items to our auction.


But the event would not have happened without the work and wisdom of dozens of volunteers who helped plan, organize and run the event. Our jazz trio and dancers, many of the staff who were upfront and behind the scenes, our photographer and our celebrity emcee, were all volunteers, giving generously of their time and talent.

All that is left now is to enjoy the photos from Wine+Design 2017 and start preparing for the 2018 gala.

Thanks so much to our photographer, Kevin Wong!  Visit his website here for more of his work!

2 New Groups & the Return of 2 Favorites at Support for Families!

We are so excited to let everyone know about 2 new groups and the return of 2 favorites at Support for Families!  Check out the brief descriptions below, and click Learn More for more information.

New Groups:

Everyday Literacy: A Parent Child Play & Learn Group - Tuesdays in October, 11:30am - 12:30pm

You and your child (4-6 years old) are invited to explore easy, fun ways to bring literacy into your family’s everyday life.  Together, children and their grown-ups will practice reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills through interactive stories, songs, and play. In this nurturing environment there will also be opportunities to make new friends and observe and discuss children’s behavior.  Wherever your child is on their journey (early reader, late talker, pre-verbal, AAC, ASL, etc.), please join us! Caregivers and typically developing children and children with special needs are all welcome.

ASL Support Group - 2nd Thursdays 6pm - 8pm 

Are you struggling with communicating with your child? Do you feel that you need more resources to understand Deaf Culture? How do you make the right choices for your child who is deaf/hard of hearing? Do you want to learn American Sign Language to communicate better with your child? ASL Support Group will help you try to bridge the gap between hearing parents and professionals in understanding some of the strug-gles you face when communicating with your child.

Returning Favorites:

Baby Massage - Thursdays, 10am - 11am (5-week series, beginning October 5th)

Come learn the healing tradition of infant massage, in a supportive and relaxed environment. Parents will learn how to massage their baby, increase bonding and communication, and discover the many benefits of infant massage. Each week we will learn new, nurturing strokes, and ways to sooth and comfort baby. The instructor will teach using a doll and will tailor the class to meet the unique needs and preferences of each parent-infant pair. Everyone will receive a free “starter” bottle of massage oil.
All you need to bring is a soft blanket or towel, so that your baby has a soft place to lay while you provide the massage. We will be sitting on the floor for much of the class, so feel free to wear comfortable clothing.

Play, Learn Connect - Mondays, 11am - 12pm (5-week series, beginning October 30th)

This group will give parents/caregivers an opportunity to step out of busy daily routines, to play and learn with their children ages 0 to 3.  It is an opportunity for your to meet with other families, to explore and discuss what our children tell us through play.  We will watch together, be curious together, and we will learn about areas of children's social/emotional development and consider possible meanings of behavior.

Joan Cassel Memorial Library Book Reviews!

News and Reviews from the Joan Cassel Memorial Library, by Elaine Butler, Librarian

For more information about our library, check out our Library Page, call us at 415-920-5040, email info@supportforfamilies.org, or stop by during our open hours!  
MWF 9:30am - 4:30pm, T/TH 12:30pm - 8:30pm


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A Shelter in Our Car, by Monica Gunning
This is a picture book based on a social issue found in San Francisco and most major cities in the world, homelessness. More than ever today, families find themselves without a home. This mom and daughter find themselves living in their car after the father dies. The family is also an immigrant family. I think this richly illustrated story lends itself to be read aloud to any child or group of children old enough to be aware of this social issue. It lends itself to discussion. The self-reading level is second grade and up.

The Simple Guide to Child Trauma: What It Is and How to Help, by Betsy de Thierry
Here is a purse sized book that defines trauma and gives techniques on how to help children cope with and recover from trauma. Problems of self-regulation is one of the signs as are lying, terror and fear. I found that this little resource just gets you thinking about the signs that may represent trauma and possible treatment and how to find help. It is a quick read and the facts are easy to remember.

I Wish….Dreams and Realities of Parenting a Special Needs Child, by Kate Divine McAnaney
I was so happy to receive this book for the library. It is a classic and especially good for the busy parent, who has 5 minutes to read before he/she is needed. The book is tiny and can be carried in a small purse. If offers inspiration and wisdom in one page bites. Each piece begins with “I wish….” And ends with a helpful tip and an appropriate quote to carry with you for the rest of the day. The second part of the book is looking back and the pieces are written by adults with disabilities. These words of encouragement are good for everyone.

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Going Solo While Raising Children with Disabilities,  Laura Marshak
It has taken a long time for someone to write a book like this for families and the professionals who work with them. It is based on her own and the experiences of 31 people raising children with disabilities alone. She has picked very diverse family situations. They include people losing a spouse, those divorced, grandparents, moms conceiving without a partner, spouses deployed for long periods in the military, fathers alone and adoptions of children with special needs. The author is a familiar writer, thoughtful, a researcher and very easy to read and understand. You will feel you know these 31 people and their families. Each story has an added genius moments and areas to go for support. The words from the parents are in italics. I like the comprehensive Table of Contents, The Conclusion, the References and the Subject Index. It is easy to read the chapter that seems to match the readers’ circumstances or concerns. Note this is equally good for the professional involved with the family.

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The Encyclopedia of Infant and Toddler Activities For Children Birth to Three: Written by Teachers for Teachers, by Kathy Charner, Maureen Murphy and Charlie Clark, Editors
First of all, the book, though organized as a curriculum, is not limited to teachers and other professionals. Each activity stands on its own and is listed by developmental age and the  skill addressed. Parents might want to work on Fine and Gross Motor Skills for an infant. They would find this information in the Table of Contents. The skills are listed by the following ages Infants, Infants and Toddlers, Younger Toddlers and Older Toddlers. Listed under each skill is the activity and the page number with the instructions. Once you locate an activity to try, you will find a materials list, instructions for doing the activity and further activities or more information. A helpful Index is included at the end. The print is easy to read and illustrated when needed. I found it very user friendly so parents and professionals give it a try.

S.E.T. Social Emotional Tools for Life: An Early Childhood Teacher’s Guide to Supporting Strong Emotional Foundations and Successful Social Relationships, by Michelle Forrester and Kay Albrecht
Early childhood development and intervention are addressed here. I would recommend this book to the professionals working with the children. Today’s world often necessitates the young child spending more time with professionals than he does with his parents. The authors are giving guidance for the development of listening skills, self-regulation, language and communication and relating to others behaviors. It is very helpful in understanding social development, the importance of play, child development, language and how to use the classroom as a supportive environment. The Table of Contents is very comprehensive and the Appendices add important additional material.  Though they say it is written for parents too, I think the format and language level puts the book on a professional level as there is much assumed education and experience in the classroom.

Have you checked out our library?

One of the longest-lived programs at Support for Families is the Joan Cassel Memorial Library.  Come by during our open hours (M/W 9:30am - 4:30pm, T/TH 12:30pm - 8:30pm) and check out our extensive collection of books, periodicals, toys, DVDs, and Early Literacy Kits!  Want to browse our collection before you stop by?  Click here to explore our online catalog.

Thanks so much to EAT TRILL and Spark Social SF!

Support for Families had a FABULOUS 4th of July at Spark Social SF!  Thanks so much to our friends at EAT TRILL for putting on such a fun day and night, and for working so hard to provide a fun, inclusive fundraiser for Support for Families!

It was such a beautiful day - we couldn't have asked for greater weather!  We ate some amazing food, danced to great music, and enjoyed the company of our friends and neighbors!  Thanks to everyone who made it out!  

Yoga for Caregivers - Tuesdays at SFCD

At Support for Families, we want to improve access to services for the children you live and work with, but we also want to improve access to services for you!  Every Tuesday (Except for July 4th) until December 12th, Support for Families will host yoga from 4-5pm in our light-filled conference room, free of charge!  Childcare is also available free of charge with one weeks' advanced notice.

Restorative Yoga focuses on slowly and mindfully moving through yoga movements and postures, learning to control our breath in order to focus and calm our mind and body. Guidance and modifications are provided throughout the class in order to be as supportive and inclusive as possible for all abilities and levels.

About the instructor:
Kaira’s journey began in 2007 when she took her first yoga class as an adult. Coming back to it time and time again—and becoming more of a regular yogi throughout the years—she felt the empowerment and healing that naturally came with consistent, mindful practice. She is a proud graduate of Niroga Institute’s Yoga Teacher Training Program, which includes holistic study on anatomy and physiology, yoga postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and yoga philosophy.

More information

Welcome to the New Support for Families Website!


Welcome to Support for Families BRAND NEW website!  We've been anxiously awaiting its completion and we are so so happy that it's finally here!  As our family members and professionals, we are counting on YOU to let us know how it's working.  When you have some free time (haha), please feel free to take a look around and let us know what you think!  What works well?  What's confusing?  Inconsistent?  Pretty?  Boring?  Exciting?  We want to hear any and all feedback.  Our goal for this site is to serve you and improve your access to knowledge to help the children and families in your life.  Please let us know how it's going at info@supportforfamilies.org!

Eat Trill 2017 - A Fundraiser for Support for Families

Support for Families is so excited to be a part of EAT TRILL this year - "a Music, Food and Community festival in San Francisco dedicated to real people, real food, real music and real community. Last year was [the] first annual event and over $4,000 [was raised] for the Homeless Youth Alliance to help them move into a new space."

Join us on July 4th to celebrate our community, eat some great food, listen to music, and raise some money for Support for Families! Thanks so much to SPARK Social SF and EAT TRILL!!! See you on the 4th!