The Child Mind Institute releases a new Children’s Mental Health Report

According to the report an estimated 17.1 million US children and adolescents now have, or have had in the past, a diagnosable psychiatric disorder and two thirds of children with a mental illness do not get treatment. You can view additional statistics and the full report on the Child Mind Institute website.

You also might want to take a look at their additional resources including a “Parents Guide to Getting Good Care“.

“Life in a Special-Needs World”

Parents Magazine Study Reveals One In Four Moms Wonder Whether A Special Needs Evaluation Is Needed For Their Child (via PR Newswire)

“Life in a Special-Needs World” Exclusive Report Explores Health and Happiness of Children of All Abilities NEW YORK, March 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Parents magazine today revealed exclusive results from a study of moms of children with special needs…

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Your Dollars@Work: One Family’s Toilet Training Miracle

Amy Kelly and family

Amy Kelly and family

A mom shares a life-changing insight followed by expert care, thanks to the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network. Read about it over on their blog.

WHYY’s program “Voices in the Family”


Listen as the host of the public radio program “Voices in the Family” Dr. Dan Gottlieb discusses how families of children with autism navigate an often challenging and emotional journey. His guests include Robert Naseef and Eustacia Cutler, mother of noted child with autism, author and speaker, Temple Grandin.

Fathers and Autism


Fathers and Autism

Dr. Robert Naseef (parent to an adult child with autism and a psychologist) sharing insight into the challeges a father faces when raising a child with autism. (YouTube video, 30 minutes)

Robert Naseef, Ph.D. will be the keynote speaker for Devereux’s 2nd Annual Family Resilience Conference

IMG_4216_edited_smRobert Naseef, Ph.D. is a psychologist and father of an adult son with autism.  His newest book released this year, Autism in the Family: Caring and Coping Together includes advance praise from Temple Grandin, “Fathers often have difficulty expressing their feelings, and this book should be required reading for all fathers who have a child with a disability.” Read a sample chapter on autism and fatherhood from this book.

Dr. Naseef is also the author of the book, Special Children, Challenged Parents: The Struggles and Rewards of Parenting a Child with a Disability which has received international recognition.  He has lectured internationally and appeared on radio and television. He is the co-editor of Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People with Autism, and Professionals Share Their WisdomLiving Along the Autism Spectrum (2009) is a DVD which features him along with Stephen Shore and Dan Gottlieb.

In 2008, he was honored by “Variety, the Children’s Charity” for his outstanding contributions to the autism community. You can visit him on the web at

2nd Annual Devereux Family Resilience Conference Program Schedule

Supporting Families with Special Needs Program Schedule 

Saturday, October 19, 2013 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Rosemont School of the Holy Child
1344 Montgomery Avenue
Rosemont, PA 19010

Members of the community who are caring for a loved one with special needs are invited to this conference. You will have the opportunity to speak to professionals in a variety of fields regarding how best to support your loved one. This year’s conference will feature Dr. Robert Naseef, author of  “Autism in the Family: Caring and Coping Together“. This conference is offered free of charge to the community. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Please RSVP/Register.

A free shuttle courtesy of Krapf Bus Companies will be available from SEPTA’s Rosemont Station to the Conference for those taking public transportation. The shuttle will run every 15 minutes from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Supervised child care for children ages 2-13 of all abilities will be available on site*. Please mention any child care needs, including special needs, when registering.

For siblings of children with special needs a workshop will be offered. Sibshop: This workshop is designed for school-age siblings of children with special needs to create a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Trained leaders share information through games, cooking, craft activities and other other creative techniques.

From 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Merrily the Clown will entertain the children with face painting and balloon sculpting.

* Child care will be supervised by Devereux staff, each of whom has had all appropriate screenings including child abuse clearances and background checks. Children should wear rubber-soled shoes so they can participate in activities inside the gymnasium. Arts and crafts will be part of the day’s events, so please have children dress appropriately. Meals will be provided, so please be sure to mention food allergies when registering. A First Aid station will be available in case of emergency.


8:30 Registration Opens
9:20 – 9:30 Welcome – Bob Kreider, President and CEO, Devereux
9:30 – 10:15 Keynote Speaker – Robert Naseef, Ph.D.
“Being Present: The Family Journey to Acceptance and Resilience”
10:15 –10:30 Break
10:30 – 11:50 Workshops:    About the Conference Speakers

  1. Guardianships and Special Needs Trusts – Ira M. Fingles, Esq.
  2. Understanding and Managing Medication – Marilyn Benoit, M.D.
  3. The IEP Process: What Families Should Know – Tanya Alvarado, Esq.
  4. Managing Challenging Behaviors at Home

a. FLIP IT: Transforming Challenging Behavior – Nefertiti Poyner, M.Ed.

FLIP IT is an interactive session that teaches participants to use a four-step strategy that helps young children identify their feelings, learn healthy self-control, and reduce challenging behavior. In this session, participants will learn the importance of the four steps of FLIP IT (Feelings, Limits, Inquiries, and Prompts) as they relate to the healthy social and emotional development of young children. Families who attend this workshop will receive one complimentary copy of “FLIP IT: Transforming Challenging Behavior” by Rachel Sperry.

b. Parenting from Childhood to Adulthood – Barry McCurdy, Ph.D. & Stewart Shear, Ph.D.

This session is designed to provide parents with simple strategies for success across the developmental lifespan, including children and adolescents with and without disabilities as well as adult children with disabilities.

12:00 – 12:50 Luncheon and guest speaker – Vernick Smith, M.S.: “Healin’ the Child Within”
1:00 – 1:50 Town Hall – Building a Support System – Facilitated by Amy Kelly & Paul LeBuffe, M.A.
Community of Hope Award – Frank and Colleen Foti
2:00 – 3:20 Workshops:

  1. Guardianships and Special Needs Trusts – Ira M. Fingles, Esq.
  2. Understanding and Managing Medication – Marilyn Benoit, M.D.
  3. The IEP Process: What Families Should Know – Tanya Alvarado, Esq.
  4. Managing Challenging Behaviors at Home

a. FLIP IT: Transforming Challenging Behavior – Nefertiti Poyner, M.Ed.  *See description above.

b. Parenting from Childhood to Adulthood – Barry McCurdy, Ph.D. & Stewart Shear, Ph.D.  *See description above.

3:30 – 4:00 Resilience Activity – Building Your Bounce – Nefertiti Poyner, M.Ed. The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them. They don’t always remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.  Building Your Bounce: Strategies to Support Adult Resilience is a training designed to explore the importance of taking care of and promoting the resilience of adults. Participants will learn how the social and emotional well-being of adults has an impact on our ability to care for children as well as simple, inexpensive strategies to reduce stress and promote resilience in adults.
4:00 Reception

New campaign to help parents talk to younger children about the dangers of underage drinking


“Talk. They Hear You.” a new national public service announcement (PSA) campaign that empowers parents to talk to children as young as nine years old about the dangers of underage drinking was launched today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The kickoff occurred in conjunction with SAMHSA’s 2013 National Prevention Week—an annual health observance dedicated to increasing awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.

SAMHSA’s latest report on underage drinking shows that more than a quarter of American youth engage in underage drinking. Although there has been progress in reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years, particularly among those aged 17 and younger, the rates of underage drinking are still unacceptably high.

“Talk. They Hear You.” raises parents’ awareness about these issues and arms them with information they need to help them start a conversation about alcohol with their children before their children become teenagers.

Visit for more tips and information.

Autism and Our First Toothache

Amy Kelly is the Director of Family Supports and Services for Devereux Pennsylvania’s Community Services division. She recently shared a story about her daughter’s first toothache.

As any of you who have heard me speak about my daughter Annie in one of my family trainings knows, I often talk about the ‘silver linings’ of autism… my saying before the movie even came out this year! Since last April, Autism Awareness Month, once again our year has proven to be nothing short of small everyday miracles and plenty of challenges. Annie is now 11 years old, and her brothers Danny and Ryan are 12 and 9. Annie can now say “Rynan”, and waits for him every day after his 3rd grade school day to give him a hug and kiss. This is new since last year, and a very big deal. Also what is new is Annie’s ability and desire to express herself and communicate her feelings more effectively. She still must use her iPad since her speech approximations aren’t clear, but she now tells me when she is sad on her iPad, or when she will “C-R-Y” as she puts it in her spelling attempts at speech. She even saw Mr. Kreider at her school, Devereux CARES, and walked right up to him and spelled “M-O-M W-O-R-K”. Perhaps she thinks I’m the boss?? [Note: Mr. Kreider is Devereux’s CEO.]

Recently I had an amazing ‘silver lining’ experience with Annie. She and I were sitting on my couch and she had been complaining of a toothache in her bottom back tooth for a few days by pointing to it, using my hand and putting it on that part of her chin and saying “boo-boo”. Now I must preface this story in that little Miss Annie does NOT like the dentist, even though we have the most wonderful and patient pediatric dentist, Dr. Jeff. She had her first teeth-cleaning only two years ago when I had to have her sedated in a hospital because of her severe anxiety and fears of the dentist. We can’t even drive into the driveway to the dentist without her crying.

So… Annie and I were sitting together having a conversation on her iPad and she types into her iPad “dentist. Dr. Jeff”. Usually her messages say “NO dentist” or “NO Dr. Jeff”. I said “Annie, are you telling me you need a dentist? Does your tooth hurt?” She answered a “yeah”. I said “Do you want to go see Dr. Jeff tomorrow? Mama can call and take you to see him if you really have a tooth ache.” She again said “yeah”. I said “Ok Annie. I will call Dr. Jeff tomorrow and take you to see him. But you have to let him look at your sore tooth to make it feel better. Ok?” Annie answered “Ok” (That’s another new verbal response this year!)

The next day I quietly texted Annie’s teacher at school and asked her to ask Annie if her tooth hurt and if she said yes, to point to which one was bothering her. Sure enough Annie told her yes and pointed to the same tooth. I called Dr. Jeff’s office and they kindly squeezed Annie in, knowing they would need extra time. I picked Annie up from school and she was quite happy, knowing that we were going in Mama’s car. I ran through the scenario again with her to prepare her for what was to come: “Annie, we are going to go see Dr. Jeff for your sore tooth like you asked Mama yesterday. He needs to look at that sore tooth. That’s the only thing he has to look at – no teeth cleaning, nothing else, but you have to let him look at the sore tooth, ok?”. Annie answered “ok”. I had my doubts.

We drove to the dentist office and there was NO crying as we pulled in. I was surprised at how quiet and content she was. We got out of the car and she held my hand and walked in with me, with no real hesitation. I kept watching her for a reaction and there was none. They expected us at the office so took us right back. Annie preferred not to sit in the dentist patient chair, so she sat on the bench that I usually sit in. No big deal. I just couldn’t believe she was so calm and at ease. Dr. Jeff came in and her eyes widened a little bit…. I said “Annie, remember, Dr. Jeff needs to check your sore tooth. Can you show him your sore tooth?” She quickly opened her mouth and pointed to it, but then immediately shut it again. Dr. Jeff and I gently coaxed her into opening it for longer so he could get a better look at it since it was all the way in the back…me modeling “Ahhhhhh” with a big wide mouth open the whole time. Sure enough, Annie was getting her 12 year old molars and there was a small infection around her gums! Dr. Jeff said “Annie….you’re right! You do have a sore tooth, because you are getting new teeth back there. Great job telling Mom, and great job letting me look at them!” He asked for a hi-five and she proceeded to give him THREE hi-fives, she was so proud of herself. The dental hygienist then offered her the reward toy basket and Annie carefully picked what to me, seemed like the oddest thing out of it. She insisted that I open it right away. I did, and she put it on immediately….and wore it the whole way out of the office. Who knew I was raising such a comedian… and such a brave little girl.

Happy Autism Awareness Month!! — Amy and Annie


November is National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month has been celebrated for 17 years. Every November, a Presidential Proclamation launches activities and celebrations to help build awareness of adoption throughout the nation. Thousands of community organizations arrange and host programs, events, and activities to share positive adoption stories, challenge the myths, and draw attention to the thousands of children in foster care who are waiting for permanent families.


In recognition of National Adoption Month the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s All Children—All Families Initiative (ACAF) has just published their 4th edition of,  “PROMISING PRACTICES IN ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE: A Comprehensive Guide to Policies and Practices That Welcome, Affirm and Support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Foster and Adoptive Parents“.

The guide outlines 10 key benchmarks of LGBT cultural competence and provides the framework for agencies that want to become fully welcoming and affirming of LGBT prospective parents. Once an agency has achieved each of the 10 benchmarks outlined in this guide, it will earn the All Children – All Families Seal of Recognition.  Devereux Arizona is the first agency in the state of Arizona to receive the seal.  Devereux Arizona’s Executive Director Lane Barker sits on the All Children – All Families National Advisory Council and is committed to implementing LGBT-inclusive policies and all aspects of welcoming, supporting and affirming LGBT foster and adoptive families.

Current and prospective LGBT foster and adoptive parents will find helpful information in the 4th edition of this guide including what to look for in an LGBT-inclusive agency and a review of LGBT parenting laws for each state.

LGBT families may also be interested in signing up for the HRC Family News to become informed of the latest resources from the HRC Family Project and news and events related to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families in the U.S.


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