I’m Just His Sister

SIBLING TIES BY PAIGE TALHELM What makes things perfect is when he and I can just sit around and watch TV or listen to music together. We don’t have to talk, or we don’t have to be working on his socialization skills. As the end of the school year approaches, (more…)


Laughing at My Nightmare

Author Shane Burcaw goes against the odds and stereotypes of his disability and shows readers how to be positive and enthusiastic about life. BY ALISA WILLIAMS Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw is a timeline of the author’s life where he walks readers through his experiences while living (more…)


Life with My Brother Sammy

BY PAIGE TALHELM My brother has every right to be in church, the store, or a restaurant • So I do feel bad, not for myself, but for Sammy • He is just being himself • Is he hurt by people’s reactions? • What is (more…)



Autism: A New Theory

BY JOHN J. CANNELL, MD It’s time to look at autism a new way – with a new theory. If the CDC’s worst-case scenario of a 12 percent yearly increase in the incidence of autism proves to be true, we will be in serious trouble in terms of caring (more…)



BY KIMBERLEE RUTAN McCAFFERTY  This past summer my family and I spent a day at Great Adventure. It’s the only place Justin, my severely autistic son, willingly stays for more than an hour (I have often joked with my husband that wherever we live has to be within a 30 minute radius of a (more…)


Are Volunteers the Solution?

BY BARRY WALDMAN, DDS, MPH, PhD; STEVEN P. PERLMAN, DDS, MScD, DHL;  LYNN MA.  MISHA GAREY, DDS Why is it that we, who are living in an advanced country, are so dependent upon the volunteering effort of so many for an array of basic medical care for unbelievable numbers of poor and (more…)



Autism in April

PUZZLES & CAMO BY SHELLY HUHTANEN This April, I’m still going to drag out my autism awareness sign and plop it in my yard… I’ll try not to be as callous and put my best foot forward in the hopes of some good information sharing on our usual media (more…)


Military Onesource Special Needs Consultants

(Military One Source website) MILITARY LIFE Many military families are aware that Military OneSource offers a variety of consultations and counseling options, but did you know there’s a specialized group of consultants that serves families with special needs? Military OneSource special needs consultants are available to families for assistance with (more…)


Birthday Parties and Kids with Autism

BY KIMBERLEE RUTAN MCCAFFERTY I love my birthday. Although I’m rapidly approaching 50 (how did that happen?) I continue to stretch it out for an entire month each year, enjoy being celebrated and eating lots of chocolate cake (a staple for me not only on my actual day.) When I was (more…)

Rick Rader MD



ANCORA IMPARO RICK RADER, MD ■ EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Maybe we should revisit the significance of the iconic BMOC (Big Man on Campus) and decide that it should really mean, “Be Mindful Of Compassion.” The images are forever emblazoned in my memory. BMOC (Big Man on Campus). Lettermen. Varsity athletes. They were tall (more…)



By Rick Rader, MD Patti Wade knew we needed to understand dementia and how it manifests itself in our already vulnerable population. How we have to modify and address our own behaviors, the environment, stressors, accommodations and the way we communicate and react. Pablo Picasso, who knew a thing or two about (more…)


Through the Looking Glass

BY RICK RADER, MD “There comes a time in a man’s life when to get where he has to go – if there are no doors or windows he walks through a wall.” – Bernard Malamud Some things sometimes get the limelight that others deserve. Take the device that enables efficient movement (more…)

ep Special Needs Connect


EP Special Needs Connect

It’s Finally Here! Social Collaboration for Exceptional Parents … for Exceptional People … for Exceptional Physicians … for Exceptional Patients ♦ Providing Information, Education & Connectivity ep Special Needs Connect (epSNC) fosters participation and interactivity (more…)

Ask the Expert

ep Ask the Expert is an online forum in which respected experts and other people like you within the special needs community, can create or participate in support groups and discussions regarding specific topics that interest you. Consult with people like you, and get expert guidance on a (more…)

Parents/Caregiver Bulletin Board

The goal here is to combine content, data and the conversation on the same page in a seemeless way to enable new kinds of connections and relationships that people can have. Comments are welcomed and encouraged on this site, but there are some instances in which comments will be deleted as (more…)

Special Needs Events

ep Special Needs Events  is a powerful gathering of events specifically geared to the special needs community, including educational, promotional, galas, fund-raisers, trade shows, exhibitions, plus unique networking opportunities. Events where our readers can explore the ever-evolving landscape of our community. Click on the calendar below to view (more…)


ep Special Needs Connect “Search & Respond”

ep Special Needs Connect’s Search & Respond enables you to reach out and interact with other families and caregivers who are just like you and can help you, using their own knowledge and experience. As with the people in the following situations, you will be able to post (more…)



Planning Ahead for School Health and Success

GENETIC ALLIANCE BY MONICA KORTSHA AND SHARON ROMELCZYK, MPA Discussing an individualized healthcare plan (IHP) with your child’s school nurse is one way you can prepare for the coming school year and make sure their special needs are addressed accordingly. With the end of the school year and summer approaching (more…)


Genome Sequencing:Hopes And Challenges Of A New Technology

GENETIC ALLIANCE – BY REBECCA DOWNEY & SHARON ROMELCZYK Nearly every newborn baby born in the United States receives screening for certain treatable genetic conditions between 24 to 48 hours after birth. This routine process of newborn screening is a state run public health program that reaches nearly four (more…)


Providing Dental Care For Patients With Disabilities

BY CARRIE STETLER With a shortage of special needs facilities, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine clinic serves a vulnerable population. Dennis Fitzpatrick had 17 cavities by the time he arrived at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine’s special care center seven years ago. Fitzpatrick, 27, who suffers from cerebral palsy, (more…)



Why Physical Activity Counts

HEALTHY CHOICES, HEALTHY LIFESTYLES – BARBARA B. MINTZ, MS, RD Remember, if you embrace a healthy lifestyle yourself, you will become a healthy role model for your child. May is Physical Fitness Month and a good time to understand the importance of being physically active. To start, it is a (more…)


Feeding Your Brain: Food for Thought

HEALTHY CHOICES, HEALTHY LIFESTYLES BARBARA B. MINTZ, MS, RD Since our brain acts as the command center of our body, brain health is very important. If you have suffered a brain injury, it is even more important for the healing process. It is true. You are what you eat. Proper (more…)


Are You and Your Child Coachable?

BY TOM CURRY Colleges today may want to recruit a certain student athlete to fit into their program. But remember that the student and parent must be able to fit in with the program. The other day, we had an assistant college football coach in our athletic department recruiting one of our players. As I (more…)



The Importance Of Early Sibling Support Group Involvement

BY CHRISTY HAWKINS Growing up with a brother that was prone to out of the blue temper tantrums limited family vacations. The evening hours after he returned from school after another day of angst with his peers and all that stimuli would always pose some challenges. Not to mention my brother’s difficulty (more…)


ep 2015 Teachers of the Year

BY VANESSA B. IRA, EDITOR EP MAGAZINE Three outstanding Teachers of the Year are being honored in this edition of EP (Exceptional Parent) magazine, our Annual Schools & Camps Issue. These are teachers whose work requires extraordinary patience, sometimes in the midst of constant emotional outbursts. Teachers who must focus (more…)


Finding Their Voices

Camp Program Helps Kids Who Use Computers To Communicate  Every August, a caravan pulls up at Camp Chatterbox in New Jersey and when the car doors open, campers pile out to begin a fun-packed week of activities. Some are Chatterbox veterans, others are tentative newcomers, but all of them are (more…)

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An Opportunity for a Living Wage for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum? Electronics Recycling & Refurbishing

BY ERNST VANBERGEIJK, PH.D., M.S.W. Without specific job training, individuals on the autism spectrum face rather bleak employment prospects. At best, the employment rate is 45 percent for this population. Anecdotal reports find that only about 10 percent of  individuals on the autism spectrum find employment. Often, employment is part-time, minimum (more…)



Pressure Mapping For Wheelchair Users

BY DR. KIRSTEN DAVIN, OTD, OTR/L, ATP, SMS As a parent or caregiver of a child who utilizes a wheelchair, one understands the constant struggle of incorporating comfort, function and safety within a child’s seating system. The threat of skin breakdown or pressure related wounds is real and can create a life-threatening (more…)

Mobility Ventures Recognized by National Automobile Dealers Association

Mobility Ventures Recognized by National Automobile Dealers Association Oct 28, 2014 Mobility Ventures Proudly Joins NADA’s Long History of Commitment to Quality and Ethics (SOUTH BEND, Ind.) – Mobility Ventures LLC, designer and manufacturer of the acclaimed MV-1, the only American vehicle purpose-built and designed from the (more…)

Designing a Child-centered and Accessible Home

By Deborah Pierce, AIA, CAPS In the accessible home, disabilities become abilities because barriers cease to exist. This is the possibility of the accessible home. Photos by: Kathy Tarantola Every parent is exceptional! Our kids challenge us to expand our limits – to be more patient, more tactful, (more…)



Permanent Change Of Station Season: Moving Tips

BY JENNIFER WOODWORTH, PSY.D Permanent Change of Station (PCS) season is about to begin. Along with the excitement of traveling to a new place come stress and a lot of organization. The planning of the move actually begins the moment you hear the words, “We’ve got orders,” and doesn’t end until every (more…)


Transitioning From Active Duty To Civilian Employment

BY JENNIFER WOODWORTH Beginning with the job search, explore options that relate to your military experience and strengths but also your interests and positive personality traits. Retiring or discharging from active duty can be stressful, and joining the civilian workforce can be intimidating. According to the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of (more…)

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President Message


God’s Rosebud

By Joseph M. Valenzano, Jr,, President & CEO EP For those of you who subscribe to the new “political correctness” in the story and poem that follows, you can replace “God” with Allah or Buddha or the Great Spirit or whatever Supreme Being you believe in. It is the message that (more…)




ANCORA IMPARO RICK RADER, MD ■ EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Maybe we should revisit the significance of the iconic BMOC (Big Man on Campus) and decide that it should really mean, “Be Mindful Of Compassion.” The images are forever emblazoned in my memory. BMOC (Big Man on Campus). Lettermen. Varsity athletes. They were tall (more…)

New Technology & Products


A pioneering facial recognition cane for blind people

A revolutionary ‘smart’ cane enabling blind people to instantly identify friends and family could be available soon, thanks to students at Birmingham City University. The ‘XploR’ mobility cane, being developed by ICT students Steve Adigbo, Waheed Rafiq and Richard Howlett, uses smartphone technology to recognise familiar faces from up to 10 (more…)