A June newsletter brought to you by Rhonda Davis, OSB Parent Liaison
A beautiful view through arches of a cloister  with hanging baskets of geraniums.
~~Have You Noticed?~~
As we go through our days, getting kids ready for school, and ourselves off to work, worrying about another doctor appointment, or what we'll pull together for dinner, have you noticed how the sun looks filtering through the leaves of trees?   And when you do see that light, the way it moves with the breeze,  have you noticed you forgot all the thoughts that were swirling just before?  This simple awareness can help us cope with the difficult experiences and emotions we encounter when raising children with disabilities.  With practice, we can learn to calm the mind and be fully present to deal with the day's challenges with strength and clarity.  This "practice" is called "mindfulness".

This summer, see if you can pause frequently to notice beauty in unexpected moments. In the coming school year, I hope to share ways to take this kind of "pause" as a way to add to our stores of resilience.  We can all use more of that! In the meantime, take a look through the "Mark Your Calendars" and "Resources" sections of this newsletter for some "gongs ons" and "fun to be had" in the coming months! And meet Colton's family in this month's Family Spotlight. Enjoy the downtime that summer often brings, and we'll see everyone come September!


~~Family Spotlight~~

EIO student, Colton, at the Please Touch Museum with one of his brothers on and OSB trip.
EIO student, Colton smiles for the camera                    EIO student and one of his brothers at OSB's Garden Party
~~Welcome to~~ Family Spotlight, a feature of the newsletter where we will learn about a different family each month to help us get to know each other. Please let me know if your family would like join in the fun!

Thanks so much to one of OSB's Early Intervention and Outreach families, for sharing about their family, and about their experiences in one of Overbrook School for the Blinds largest programs!

~~I want to start by introducing our family and how we became part of OSB.  My name is Heather and my husband is Frank. We have 5 kids, for right now!  3 adults - Cassie, 25, Thomas, 24 and Justin,18. We also have an 11 year old named Ryan. My youngest son Colton, 21 months, receives services from OSB's Early Intervention Outreach Program,  both at home and in the community.  He suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury when he was an infant, which left him with CVI (Cortical Vision Impairment).

Colton receives the best care at OSB, but what I think benefits him the most is all the love and support of the entire staff. That also extends to our family as well. The staff have celebrated all the high points with us, and supported us in the hard times too. I couldn't ask for a better team.

One of the things that impressed me the most about Overbrook, is the feeling of love and support that is everywhere at the school. I was most impressed when visiting the campus and seeing the dedication of the staff, and how they care for the students.  It is evident everywhere! There is always a friendly smile and hello to greet you. The hallways are bright and filled with the best artwork. The grounds of the school are beautiful and relaxing, If I had to chose a word to describe Overbrook, it would be - Welcoming!

One of the things I can't stress enough is...please become involved in OSB activities. I know for me, having a child with special needs takes a lot of time and energy. I sometimes lose focus,  but life doesn't always have to be about school, appointments or therapies. We need to have fun too! There are many activities to attend, with a chance to get to know other families. It is a great way to connect with others that are going through the same struggles. You can share resources, positive stories, or even lend a shoulder to cry on. I have made some of the best friends through the different events.

Colton has come so far in his progress, and I know its because of Overbrook. I wish I could better convey just how much I appreciate everything that Overbrook has provided for him. I am incredibly lucky to be a part of the OSB Family!~~

Thank you to Heather and Frank for sharing, and for their very kind words about Overbrook School for the Blind!~OSB appreciates you right back!
Third Thursday Workshops 2018-2019
Be sure to keep an eye out for next school year's "Parent Education and Support" workshops! We will be hosting these gatherings on the third Thursday of most months, for those who can get away for a little break during the school day.  This is meant to be a time to take a deep breath and relax with other  OSB parents. We hope that by sharing information and support, we can more easily face the challenges that come our way! Next school year dates are as follows:
Thursday, October 18
Thursday, November 15
Thursday, January 17 
Thursday, February 21
Thursday, March 21
Thursday, May 16
The workshops will be held from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, and lunch will be served. Check back for location!

OSB parents attend a workshop @ Woodbine House.
Out last workshop of the 2017-2018 school year was, "Addressing Challenging Behaviors," a training brought to us by a partnership of Temple University's Institute on Disabilities, and Elwyn. During the workshop, parents were able to share their experiences and strategies for their very unique situations. They had many good ideas, and even came up with topics for future workshops based on the needs of OSB students!  We hope to see you there!
A Recap of Some Fun We Had!!

In January 2018, OSB hosted Funky Friday Family Game Night!
OSB dancers gotta dance!
OSB dancers gotta dance!

OSB bowlers gotta bowl!
OSB bowlers gotta bowl!

OSB gamers gotta game!
OSB gamers gotta game!

In April 2018, OSB hosted, "A Spring Walk and Roll in the Woods."
Participants of a walk and roll in the woods at Ridley Creek State Park gather under and around a picnic pavilion on a beautiful spring day!
Participants of A Walk and Roll in the Woods at Ridley Creek State Park gather under and around a picnic pavilion on a beautiful spring day!

In June 2018, OSB hosted  Funky Friday Family BBQ and Swim!
OSB students, families and friends gather on the Kappan Aquatic Center patio for an evening BBQ and swim party!
OSB students, families and friends gather on the Kappan Aquatic Center patio!
 What a treat to swim with OSB students and family! Can't wait 'till next time...
What a treat to swim with OSB students and family! Can't wait 'till next time...

~Mark Your Calendars~ 

Transition Aged Families in Chesco-  Chester County Parent/Caregiver Support Group  Kaleidoscope Solutions presents: The Transition Into and Through Adulthood, This will be an open discussion about services and programs available to you in Chester County with plenty of time for questions and answers, to hopefully, create a comfort zone for you and your family regarding life in the real world of post-secondary education, employment and independent living. RSVP to Pam Frebowitz, MS at
Date: Wednesday, June 13th Time: 7:00pm-8:30pm Location: Kaleidoscope Family Solutions 495 Highlands Boulevard Suite 106 Coatesville, PA 19320  Click here for the flyer!

Transition Aged Families in Delco/S. Monto- Family Caregiver Support Group, Kaleidoscope Solutions presents: The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) is coming  to answer all of your questions about supported employment, early outreach and more! This is a good opportunity for transition aged families, as well as waiver participants to see what’s new in vocational rehabilitation and the real world of work.

Date: Tuesday, June 19 th Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm Place: Bethel AME Church 50 S. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010  Click here for the flyer!

*Autism Summit on Navigating Systems- for families, individuals and providers will be held on Thursday, June 14th from 9-3 at CBH (801 Market Street, entry on 8th Street) FREE. See flyer for more info.

*Big Apple Circus- is coming to town (Franklin Mills) on Tuesday, June 15th, 2018 at 11 a.m. and is offering a special sensory friendly program with reduced rates for families with children with Autism. Tickets are $20 with coupon code. See flyer.

*CVI Family Vacation!  This summer, enjoy a weekend of fun and learning for the whole family at Perkins School for the Blind. CVI Family Vacation is a three-day getaway designed to bring families of children with cortical visual impairment (CVI) together to learn from CVI experts like Ellen Mazel while relaxing and enjoying recreational activities on our picturesque Watertown campus.

CVI Family Vacation will be held August 10-13, 2018. 

Our CVI Family Vacation is nearly full. We'll keep a waiting list when we reach capacity, so please apply HERE now if you're interested.

*Surfing for People who are Blind or Vision Impaired- On Saturday, August 18, 2018, the Vision Experience Foundation will present an opportunity for people who are blind and vision impaired to experience surfing at the Long Branch waterfront.  Registration is open to those who are Blind, Legally Blind, and those diagnosed with a severe vision impairment.   ​

This will be an awesome day that will provide each participant to have a surfing experience. Feel the wind and ocean spray on your face, hear the  beach and ocean sounds, taste the salt in the air and burn in your mind’s eye the excitement of riding the waves on a surf board. You will be instructed and have someone with you at all times to assist you as you experience the thrill of a lifetime.  
All is needed is you and your bathing suit. Expert surfers, water certified safety people as well as lifeguards will be on hand. Life jackets and surfboards will be provided. Registration is limited to 100 surfers so apply today.

***To register or for further information contact Michael Benson at: or visit:***
Date: August 18, 2018 rain date August 19, 2018
Time: Registration 8am -11am  Surfing 10am to 1pm
Great Lawn Fest  1pm to 4pm
Location: North Beach, Long Branch, NJ 

*Great Start in Early Intervention: Focus on Young Children with Sensory Needs and TBI- Conference: August 1-3, 2018    This three-day conference will address service needs and programming for young children (birth -age 5) with sensory disabilities, including deafness/hearing loss; deaf-blindness; blindness and visual disability; traumatic brain injury and complex needs. Topics to be discussed include methods of communication; literacy skill development; assessment; brain development; resources for parents and service providers; the role of the family in providing support; current technology and evidence-based practices for teaching these children. For parents and anyone working with children with these needs.  Parent scholarships available.  Applications must be emailed or postmarked on or before June 29th.   Look here for more info!  Get the parent scholarship here!

Carousel House Recreation Center and POOL!! ~~Swim FREE this summer~~ Carousel House, located at Belmont Avenue and Avenue of the Republic, in Philadelphia, is dedicated to providing socialization, recreational and educational services to persons with disabilities who reside throughout the Philadelphia area. Among the many attractions, they have a swimming pool with an adjustable floor. Bring this form to your child's next doctor appointment and take it with you to the Carousel House on your first visit.    A new swim schedule will be available July 1st, but until them, call 215-685-0163 for available swim times. If your child with a disability is swimming, the whole family can swim, too!

Living with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH): An Adult Shares His Personal Experience: ONH presents challenges to children, as well as to their teachers and parents.  Many children with ONH have sensory processing difficulties and may exhibit autistic-like tendencies.  An adult with ONH shares his experiences, including difficulties learning braille initially, as well as behavioral concerns HERE on the website, (Paths to Literacy for students who are blind or visually impaired.)

Family to Family Community Project (F2FC)  Because deaf-blindness is a rare and diverse disability, families may feel isolated or there is no one else who understands their experiences. F2FC offers a unique way for families to connect, share information and resources, offer support to one another, and just talk to someone who “gets it.” F2FC is open to all families, regardless of the age or diagnosis of your family member, because you share similar challenges and triumphs in the journey of supporting your family member with deaf-blindness.  GROUPS ARE FORMING NOW (June/July 2018)  Please click here to find out how to join this unique support service! 

~Previously Shared Resources~ 

Community Autism Network,"CAN”  Based in Mt. Airy/Germantown but serving the whole community of families and individuals in under-served and underrepresented areas of the city to enhance access to accurate information, functional skills training and creating accessible community activities....started by three professionals from the Autism community. Check out their website and mission and get connected!!

Are you ready for your child to transition to adult health care?

The transition from pediatric to adult health care is a critical time in the lives of millions of young adults. Check out resources from the PEAL Center on transition to adult health care. 

Another Transition Resource:  For parents of middle and high school students, take a look at this thorough transition resource:  Autism Speaks announces the launch of a new version of the popular Transition Tool Kit. The Tool Kit was created to serve as a guide to assist families on the journey from adolescence to adulthood.  There are many helpful items that will relate to OSB students with and without an Autism diagnosis!  Their most recent newsletter covers this topic in depth and is worth a read.

Rights Done Right: The Procedural Safeguards in Plain Language

It is important for families of children with disabilities to know and understand their child's educational rights. The PEAL Center created a video series that helps explain the procedural safeguards in plain language. Procedural safeguards represent guarantees for families and their children with disabilities, as well as offers both school and parents a variety of options for resolving any disagreement. Watch the videos here.  

  • Finding Videos With Audio Descriptions

    Check out this helpful New York Times article! 

    Article Link:
    Q. I am blind, and I do not subscribe to any streaming video services at the moment. How would you suggest I determine, quickly, whether a good percentage of the original content and current popular third-party content on Netflix and Amazon Prime, for starters, is audio-described and/or dubbed?
    A. A good place to start is the Audio Description Project page on the website of the American Council of the Blind. The page, optimized for screen-reader software, has a running list of streaming services that offer videos with “audio descriptions” — added narration about scenes, characters, costumes and more — for people who cannot see what is happening. The list, which is updated regularly, is available at
    According to the council, Netflix has more than “500 audio-described TV series, documentaries, original programming and children’s shows in the U.S.A.,” including most of the company’s original productions, like “House of Cards.” Although you must be a member to get access to Netflix’s full list of current videos with audio descriptions, the council’s site has compiled its own alphabetized list of audio-described Netflix content at
  • Caring for Siblings of Sick or Disabled Children
  • Speaking of the NYT, here's another relevant article: right here!
Teen Mental Health: MedlinePlus has pulled together resources related to mental health for families who have teenagers with special health care needs or mental health concerns. Resources speak directly to the teen and are also available in Spanish.    Teen Mental Health Resources

Children’s mental health emergencies, like other emergencies, need prompt assessment and care. Recently,  the place to go for children’s mental health emergencies has changed to:
  • The Philadelphia Children’s Crisis Response Center 
    3300 Henry Avenue, Falls Two Building, 3rd Floor 
    Philadelphia, PA 19129. 
    Phone: (215) 878-2600

    Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week     
For other behavioral health emergencies, please be familiar with these resources:

To sign up for Cap4Kids emails (an amazing resource!), click here 
The NNCC's Safe and Healthy Homes is accepting new referrals! This is a FREE program for low income families with children who could use some support to address issues such as asthma triggers, pests (bedbugs, roaches, mice), fire and lead prevention. If you would like a referral, contact Rhonda Davis at 

Inclusion and Special Needs info:  Check this out!  The California Inclusion Program's "Teaching Pyramid" collection of FREE family and teacher friendly handouts about behavior, special needs and inclusion is AMAZING!! These resources are available in CHINESE and SPANISH.  Really useful info for handling everyday situations w/any child.

Congresso's Family Social Services is a family support program that provides assessment and short-term case management for resource connection. The program is available to anyone, regardless of language or where you  live. Please see this flyer for more info if you feel you could use some extra support!  (or call 215-763-8870  

Looking for help to get the most out of the IEP process? Take a look at at the Wrightslaw  website, and consider signing up for their newsletter.  This issue has "How to" Tips for Parent Input.  Another helpful topic is How to Manage your Child's Documents.  

Did you know you can dial 2-1-1 on your phone for access to resources?

2‑1‑1 SEPA is part of the national 2‑1‑1 Call Centers initiative that seeks to provide an easy-to-remember telephone number, chat, text, and a web resource for finding health and human services– for everyday needs and in crisis situations.

Every day, highly trained 2‑1‑1 call specialists provide referrals to:

  • Basic Human Needs Resources: food banks, shelters, rent and utility payment assistance
  • Physical and Mental Health Resources: crisis intervention services, support groups, counseling
  • Employment Support: financial assistance, job training, education programs
  • Support for Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities: home-delivered meals, transportation, health care
  • Youth and Child Care Programs: after school programs, summer camps, mentoring, protection services
  • Regional Disaster Preparation
  • With one phone number, callers gain free, confidential access to thousands of programs and services that can help improve the quality of their lives. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 2‑1‑1 (or 1-866-964-7922). TTY and language services are available in more than 170 languages and dialects.

    Free Adaptive Fire Alarms for Philly Homes
    The Philadelphia Fire Department announced recently that it's getting nearly $1 million in grant money to buy and install at least 30,000 smoke alarms over the next two years. The funds will pay for about 26,000 traditional alarms and 4,000 adaptive alarms for residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision.  The Fire Department hopes to begin installing the traditional alarms in October and the adaptive alarms starting in December. 

    Adaptive alarms are designed to warn persons with hearing or vision loss about a possible fire. They come in multiple designs, including some that shake beds and others that activate strobe lights - and they can cost 10 times as much as traditional smoke alarms.   

    Need an alarm? Call 311

    **If you need a smoke alarm, please contact 311 and specify if you need an adaptive alarm. For traditional alarms, it could take 60 days from the date of the request until the alarms are installed. The PFD hopes to begin installing adaptive alarms starting in December.

    **Important for any family with a growing child who uses a wheel chair**
    Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) is investigating the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) failure to provide Medical Assistance coverage to children with physical disabilities for medically necessary wheelchair lifts, stair glides and other equipment for their homes.  If you or someone you know has a child who has been denied coverage or could not identify where to send a request for such equipment for a child, please call DRP’s intake line at (800) 692-7443.

    Adding to the list of nifty adaptive clothing: check out these shoes!
    Sensory Friendly Clothing for Kids, list of sources for soft, seamless, comfy clothes: Check it out here~ 

    Target has a new line of clothes that are "sensory friendly."  It is called Cat & Jack and has no tags, smooth seems and  soft fabric.  They have pants with extra room for older children who wear diapers, and they will continue to introduce  "adaptive pieces to help address the needs of children living with disabilities.”

    Here is a resource  for those whose kids who have food allergies:  Right here~  (One of my kids has Celiac Disease, so I will be making use of this.) I especially appreciate how local attractions are covered,  so if you are taking your kids to the Zoo, for example, you can read up on what precautions to take, depending on your situation.

    The Children's Advocacy Project of Philadelphia
    For the most comprehensive list of resources for families in Philly, check out The Children's Advocacy Project, or Cap4Kids, created by a local doctor, Daniel Taylor, D.O.   You can sign up for his weekly email, where he will highlight a single useful item each week.

    Free Tactile Art Kit for kids 2 to 8 years old!

    Offered by The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults This kit will provide tools for young children to create tactile experiences in many different formats. The kit will include:

    **Substrate materials: sandpaper, rubbing plates, embossed grid paper, plastic canvas, and a Sensational Blackboard
    **Drawing materials: ink pen, jumbo crayons, tracing wheel, chopsticks, and a slate and stylus
    **Tools: print/Braille ruler, rounded scissors, basic shapes templates, French curve templates, and a glue stick
    **Papers: Braille paper, parchment paper, copy paper, tracing paper, thermoform paper, tactile drawing film, and tactile pictures
    **Sculpture material: Model Magic

    To enroll in this exciting program, please complete the online application at, or fill out and mail the downloadable version to:

    American Action Fund Tactile Art Program 
    1800 Johnson Street
    Baltimore, Maryland 21230

    PLEASE NOTE:  NEW TIME for Weekly Phone in Discussion Groups 
    Educating Communities for Parenting is excited to announce  phone-in discussion groups for parents of children impacted by blindness or visual impairment Tuesday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. 
    Connect with others who understand the journey.  Ask questions - share advice - complain – brag – or just listen! 
    To participate:    Call 515-739-1015   Access code 821175
    For more information please call or email Anita Kulick   215-496-9780  

    The Free Library of Philadelphia's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) for PA Residents

    LBPH, as part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically HandicappedLibrary of Congress (NLS) serves Pennsylvania residents who have difficulty reading due to a physical impairment, a reading disability, or a vision challenge. Please view the Eligibility page for more details

    If standard print has become difficult to read for you, a friend, or a family member, please call 800-222-1754 or 215-683-3217

    LPBH offers a wide variety of services for customers throughout the Commonwealth. Some are available on site, and many are available free through the mail via our partnership with Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Pittsburgh.

    PEAL Center: Parent Education & Advocacy Leadership Center

    The PEAL Center is a great resource for families with a child who has a disability. From their website: "The PEAL Center is an organization of parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs who educate and guide:

    — Families of children and youth, ages birth to 26, who have disabilities and/or special health care needs
    — Professionals and others who work with children and youth who have disabilities and/or special health care needs
    — Youth and young adults up to age 26 who have disabilities and/or special health care needs"

    Check out their most recent newsletter:
    PEAL Center Newsletter in English 
    PEAL Center Newsletter  en espanol!

    Philadelphia Parent Support Groups

    For families with a child with intellectual disabilities and/or autism, these are "grassroots groups" organized by families, for families receiving are seeking intellectual disability services, and are located in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. 

    If you are interested in joining a Philadelphia Parent Support Group, contact Barbara Nattile, Philadelphia Support Groups Manager at 267-773-5288 or via email:  See more info about PPSG here, and where the various neighborhoods are located here.
Copyright © 2018 OSB, All rights reserved.

Rhonda Davis OSB Parent Liaison Contact Info:

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Overbrook School for the Blind · 6333 Malvern Ave. · Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19151 · USA

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