A January newsletter brought to you by Rhonda Davis, OSB Parent Liason

Can You Haiku?

Just for fun, on a day of bad weather, my brain went to...Japan! Who could not use a little distraction in the form of 17 syllables- five in the first line, 7 in the second line, and five more in the last. No need to rhyme. This is a traditional form of Japanese poetry, and my favorite go to when I am angry with the weather. (This type of poem usually speaks about nature.) 

Cold, hard- surprising
The shock of temperature
Single digit pain.

Okay, a little dramatic I suppose, and may not appeal to most, so here's another idea: Let's distract ourselves by gathering with friends and family for some silliness and fun!  Bring in on~~~Funky Friday Family Game Night is happening, Friday, January 26th, 5:30-8:30 pm!!! (Um, I have to mention, the snow date is February 2, but more snow, please.)  Look for flyers, evites, and info from your kids in the coming days! 

And if you have a few minutes on your hands, why not give Haiku a try? Please share your efforts w/me, and I'll put it in the next newsletter.  Stay warm out there, and read on to meet this month's Spotlight Family!


~~Family Spotlight~~

 January's Spotlight Family is from left to right~ Jim, Maggie, Erica, Kris and Aldo. The newest addition in red is Mo!  

~~Introducing~~Family Spotlight, a new 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!

For January, please meet the Ianieri's!  We can't thank them enough for sharing their insights and family strengths.  There are many wonderful points... not only about life with a differently-abled child, but about life, life! For everyone!  Please read on;)

1) Tell us a little about your family, who is it composed of, extended members living there, pets, etc.

Our family consists of 6 humans and 3 cats.  Mom and Dad are Kris and Jim, the kids are Erica (11), Maggie (9), Aldo (4) and Ramona (5 mo.) The cats are Greyg, Blacky and Meeps.   Erica and Maggie live mostly with their dad (from a previous relationship)  so on a day to day basis, Aldo is usually the big brother. 

While they don't live with us, Aldo's grandparents (on both sides) are a big part of his life almost every day.

2) Can you share a family value that is important to you and how the value is expressed? 

Aldo has really inspired some strong feelings about this question.  There are a lot of values that we hold dear, and having a child like Aldo certainly makes us think about these values more than we would have if we didn't.  I have to say that individuality is the one value that is most important, or at least most relevant to this conversation...

Aldo has taught us that a person's value is not so much in what they can do or contribute, but in who they are.   It’s hard sometimes not to compare your kids to each other, especially when their developmental levels vary drastically.  We learned early on that Aldo would not follow the same path as our other children, but that he would show us who he is in other ways. 

I think this taught us all to be even more patient and forgiving with each other, because we realize that we are all so wonderfully different, and we can all learn something unique from one another when we strive to appreciate each other's individuality.

3) What kinds of things do you do together as a family for fun? 

Our family loves music.  We love to listen to music and sing and dance together.  Some form of musical enjoyment happens on a daily basis in our house.  Everyone loves something different, but Aldo tends to make us listen to his picks most of the time.  He is a big fan of K-Pop and he also really loves Lindsey Stirling.  We call her "Violin Girl" and he even has a sign for her.  We also create music together. Jim and I play guitar and ukulele and we play and sing for Aldo and Mo a lot.

4) Are there any special arrangements or considerations needed to make sure your OSB student is included in the fun safely and securely? 

Certainly.  We recently were given a beautiful gift from our community.  Our local Rotary organization made a financial contribution for Aldo to have a bedroom built on the first floor of our home since he is unable to get up and down the stairs safely. He now has his own room and bathroom off the kitchen (his second favorite room in the house)!

5) What are you most proud of, about your family, about your OSB student? 

Aldo has the uncanny ability to bounce back from anything.  He has been through A LOT.  He has had many difficult hospitalizations, and even made it through cancer treatments and the removal of his kidney, all without losing his spirit.  He is truly a special child, and we could not be more proud of him.  He is so brave, and such a funny, sweet boy. 

I think as a family we have stayed positive, and I am really proud of that.  Jim and I strongly believe that Aldo needs our family to be together and strong for him to live his best life. As a family we need that too.  We also believe that we (as parents) are the backbone of our family, and we work really hard to support and be there for each other. 

Being honest, we have experienced some really difficult times since Aldo has joined our family, but I am proud of the fact that we have come through them with love and continue to face challenges with hope.

6) Do you have any special tricks for coping with the challenges of modern family life? 

Ha!  I don't know about tricks but I think being flexible is what gets us through the challenging times.   Having firm expectations often leads to disappointments, especially with a differently-abled child. 

We try to manage our other kid's expectations (and our own) by reminding them all the time that things can change at a moment's notice, and it’s easier to ride the tide than try to control it.  

7) Anything else you would like to share with other OSB parents? 

I think what has gotten our family through the difficult times more than anything has been our focus on our relationships.  Jim and I work really hard on our relationship because we need each other to lean on.  I know not all families have a traditional parenting situation, but every parent needs someone to lean on. Whether it’s a spouse or a partner, or even a close friend, it’s always OK to accept support. 

We also need things to look forward to.  As parents, you need to take time for yourselves.  Sometimes we focus so much on making sure our kids have what they need, we forget ourselves and each other.  I know that we are always happier and better able to meet challenges when we have taken time to recharge, even if it’s just going to a movie.  

Thank you again to the Ianieri's, for sharing their thoughts and experiences! 

Introducing: Funky Friday Family Game Night!!!
Please, stop what you are doing and put this in your calendar! 

We are hosting a school wide family event on a Friday evening in hopes that each and every family can attend. On Friday, January 26, 2018 from  5:30pm to 8:30 pm, we will have some fun!  This is for all ages, stages and abilities of life, a rare chance for us to gather as a school community . 

No need to cook on this night, because dinner will be served!  There will be bowling, billiards, shuffle board and more in the field house game rooms. Also, a DJ (aka DJ Mr.D, my husband~~unless there is some other volunteer out there...hint, hint!) will be "spinning" old and new funky favorites in the field house gym~~ Is that "line dancing" the kids are up to these days? Lets show them how its done! (he he) And watch how they do it, too. 

Look for more information to come!  If you'd like to volunteer to help out in anyway, from planning to execution (including DJ-ing), please let me know at
Two more excitng, out of school OSB events to Note!
Saturday, April 8, 2018: A Spring Walk and Roll in the Woods- Please join other OSB families for a picnic and "walk and roll" at Ridley Creek State Park in Newtown Square, PA.  More info to come.

Friday, June 1, 2018:  Funky Friday Swim and BBQ- Another chance to gather for a little fun! This time, we'll get to enjoy the beautiful Kappen Aquatic Center, and patio. More info to come.
Third Thursday at Woodbine House

Each third Thursday of the month, I will be available for drop in "visits" from 8am to 3pm at Woodbine House,  6398 Woodbine Ave, corner of Woodbine and N. 64th St., around the corner from the main entrance. From 10:00 am  to 1:00 pm there will be workshops for parents. Check out January's workshop:

January 18, 2018, 10 am to 1:00 pm:  Understanding Evaluations, Lunch provided and childcare reimbursed.

Mark your calendar for future dates:
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Thursday, May 17, 2018
PERC Corner
Where you'll get the latest from your PERC representatives!
A BIG thank you to everyone that donated to our Winter Concert baskets.  The PERC was able to raffle off 24 wonderful baskets between the 2 concerts.  Look for exciting Spring events with the funds that were raised! 

Mixed Bag Fundraiser
The Fall Mixed Bag fundraiser link closed on Dec 31st.  Thanks to all that helped support this fundraiser.  The PERC received such positive responses and further interest from parents and staff regarding this fundraiser that we have enroll in their Spring campaign as well.  We’ve had the opportunity to sneak a peek at the new catalog and there are some exciting new items in there.  Look for the new link and catalog in the coming months!

Mark your Calendars!
We finalized a date of March 14, 2018 for the Staff Appreciation Luncheon.  PERC will need parent volunteers and dessert donations please! Look for further communication regarding the event. Dust off those golf shoes and practice your swings because we have finalized the PERC Golf Tournament date for June 29, 2018.  PERC will also need volunteers for this event – parents, family, friends & staff are welcomed to help.  Look for further communication regarding the event and opportunities to help.

Reminder that Wawa Shorti hoagie coupons are available all year long for $4!  Just send an email to with your request.

January PERC Meeting
The next PERC meeting will be held on January 15, 2018 at 6:00PM.  This will be an offsite meeting. We will be at Ruby Tuesday, 2053 Chemical Road, Plymought Meeting.

There is still a Reporter position open within the PERC board.  If you are interested please contact Tina Pilkauskas, President - or Medea McGlynn, Vice President-

The PERC is on Facebook.  Stop by and like our page -  “Overbrook School for the Blind P.E.R.C.”  
Happy NEW YEAR from the PERC Board, Tina Pilkauskas, President, Medea Mc Glynn, Vice President, Leighann Stone, Secretary, and JD Dougherty, Treasurer. 

~Mark Your Calendars~ 

January 24, 2018, 9am to 12pm-  Not sure how to go about helping a child with special needs or their family with toilet training?  Elwyn is hosting  "Toilet Training to Train the Trainer...Parents Welcome, too."   
Click here for more info or contact: Taralee Galen @ 215-921-7313  Location:  4040 Market Street 1st Floor - Ludlow Street Side,  Philadelphia, PA 19104

The Philly Friendship Circle- welcomes you to bring the whole family (your child with special needs, siblings, and other friends) to develop new connections through this Sunday afternoon series based around Jewish themes.

Come and enjoy movement activities, create artistic masterpieces, and add unique beats to musical jam sessions in an accessible and inclusive environment carefully catered to each and every member. Meanwhile, parents can join our popular networking and information sessions or simply enjoy some free time.

While programming is bssed around Jewish themes, these activities are OPEN TO ALL! This is a unique a unique opportunity to experience "inclusiveness" in more ways than one! 

 *Click the picture below for a Social Story about Sunday Circle you  can share with your child to help them prepare.*

  Screenshot (27).png
Remaining sessions for the school year:
Session 4 : 1/21, 1/28
Session 5 : 2/4, 2/11
Session 6 : 2/25, 3/4
Session 7 : 3/11, 3/18
Session 8 : 4/22, 4/29
  • 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
  • For parents of middle and high school students, take a look at this thorough transition resourceAutism 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.
  • 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 
~Previously Shared Resources~ 
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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