Thursday, July 14, 2016

Flight Risk Children with Special Needs

Author: Jeanette Pascoe

My daughter, Anna, has multiple special needs, including Autism. When she was a toddler through the time she was seven years old, she was a flight risk. At home, school, stores, parks, church, and parties, she would suddenly bolt with no explanation. Communicating with her and helping her learn that it was dangerous was extremely difficult. Anna is non-verbal, sensory seeking, and used to be quite a thrill seeker. When she had the urge to sprint somewhere, she would. She disappeared quickly and I had seconds to find her and catch up before she could be in the street or lost. She used to get out of bed multiple times a night. I trained my ears to hear the tiniest shuffle of her footsteps on our hard wood floors so I could leap out of bed and bring her back to safety. I was on constant high alert. Through the years, I learned how to advocate for her, I learned a highly effective therapy, and I learned several resources to aid parents with "runners."

Advocacy began with calling our city streets department to request a speed limit sign and an "Autistic Child at Play" sign. This would create a heightened awareness in our neighborhood and, hopefully, add some caution to how people drove near our home. This could buy me that extra two seconds to catch up with my little sprinter before she got to the street. The department placed 25 MPH speed limit signs one block from either side of our home. They felt that, although Autism is becoming more well-known, drivers may not process quickly enough how important it is to slow down near a child with Autism. They suggested placing a sign stating, "Deaf Child at Play," which more drivers would quickly understand as they pass by and hopefully be watching for running children. I agreed and was very grateful when they put the sign up in my park strip near the road. This, however, did not stop Anna's dangerous flight risk.

Anna began Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy at a premiere preschool for children with Autism. Up to that point, I had been so protective of her that I promptly let the teachers know they would need to close the door from the classroom to the play pod as well as the classroom door which led to the outdoor playground. They reassured me that this was how they ran their program and that they always keep the doors open. I even had the confidence to repeat myself, letting them know that she is a flight risk and that it would be very dangerous to keep those doors open. They again reassured me, telling me that they would teach her not to run. I left nervous and quite speculative.

Over the course of Anna attending the ABA program, Anna sprinted out those doors many times. The teachers let me know every time she ran. They were always right behind her to bring her back and keep her safe.

I came back a week later to volunteer and Anna's teacher took me aside to show me how they were training Anna to stop. They showed me a large laminated paper stop sign thoroughly taped to the floor before each exit. When Anna ran out either of the doors, the teacher took her by the hand and led her back to the classroom saying, "Anna, you need to stop." She then had Anna walk from one end of the classroom all the way to the side where she ran out the door. She helped Anna touch the stop sign on the floor by the exit saying, "Anna, stop." The teacher took time to do this ten times per one time that Anna ran, taking her to the other end of the classroom, back to the stop sign, and helping her touch the sign. Anna's teacher did this every. single. time.

After two weeks, Anna ran away less. I started receiving notes that in mid-sprint, the teachers would say, "Anna, stop," and she actually stopped! A month went by and we saw even more improvement. After two months, Anna completely stopped running out of her classroom door. I was astounded.

So much relief came over me, however, Anna continued to run in other environments like from our yard to the street. It made my heart jump into my throat every time. She was so incredibly fast. I decided, "Well, the therapy at school worked, so I have to do it at home." It would be a lot of work. I completely committed. It would be easier to do this therapy than to watch my precious little girl get hurt someday.

I placed a stop sign at the end of my driveway before the sidewalk on the ground. Every day, I did a session of ten trials, helping Anna walk from our backyard all the way to the stop sign, touch the stop sign while saying, "Anna, stop." Back and forth, we went. After a month of hard work, one day she ran toward the street and I called, "Anna, stop." She actually stopped.

Our children with special needs and autism know more than we think they know. They process information differently. Anna was listening. She was learning. She had to learn a different way where her boundaries stood...and the important thing is - she did it!

As I have connected with many special needs families, I see a high need of safety supports for flight risk children. There are many resources available today that were not around when Anna was my little sprinter. As we share this great information, I hope we see more peace of mind uplift our amazing families.

-Link provided by Autism Speaks

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Free Summer Activities for Families in Weber County

Each year, the Weber County RAMP grant funds free family activities during the summer. The community partners providing these activities are increasing. Most of these activities are adaptable to children and individuals with special needs.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Prescription Discount Card

A lot of our families with children or adults with special needs struggle with the cost of prescription medications. Utah Family Voices shared this resource with us. It is a "NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card" which advertises a savings of up to 80% on prescriptions. The website,, also has free information on over 5,000 programs. Check out the card at this hyperlink:
NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card
Toll-Free Helpline: 800.503.6897

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Children's Mental Health Awareness Week

Special Needs Adapted Zoo Classes

From Utah Hogle Zoo:
"My name is Elise Kelly and I run the special needs programs “Zoo Just for You” and “Zoo Just for Little You” at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. Coming up on Saturday, May 14 is our next early intervention preschool class, “Colorful Crawlies” in which we will learn about invertebrates and colors. The class is developed in partnership with DDI Vantage and is targeted for children ages 2-5 who are working on developmentally appropriate milestones. Cost is $10 per student and includes an accompanying adult. Class will be held from 9:30-11 a.m., and will include visits from live animals and a short guided visit in the Zoo. All students must register online at least seven days in advance. Registration information can be found online"

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Accepting Your Reality

Join Easy to Love for a presentation on
Accepting Your Reality
 presented by Emil Harker, MS, LMFT.  

Date: March 16th
Time: 7:00-8:15PM
Place: Utah Behavior Services
189 South State Street Suite 222

Please RSVP by emailing
Child Care available, you must also reserve a spot in advance ($6/child)
limited spaces.

For more information on Emil, visit

Conexiones Familiares

Spread the word! The Utah Parent Center is having a Spanish Family Links Conference April 16, 2016. Special Education, Effective Communication, Section 504, Transition to Adulthood and Behavior Workshops will be presented. Please inform any Spanish Speaking parents that you know can benefit from this information. 
Entrance will be FREE of charge! Lunch included!
Conexiones Familiares
Saturday April 16, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM MDT

Add to Calendar
Utah Parent Center
230 W. 200 S. Suite 1101

Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Driving Directions

Estimados Padres, 
Esta cordialmente invitado a nuestra conferencia anual de Conexiones Familiares.  
¡Entrada es Gratis!
16 de abril del 2016
Temas a tratar:
  Transición a la Vida Adulta
La Comunicación Efectiva
El Comportamiento
Educación Especial
Sección 504
También tendremos una amplia feria de exposiciones de recursos en la comunidad
como también tendremos premios por sorteo.
Se servirá almuerzo (lunch)
Utah Parent Center
230 W 200 S, Suite 1101
Salt Lake City, UT,  84101
No habrá guardería
Regístrese lo más pronto posible 
llamando al (801) 272-1067 : 
La conferencia Conexiones Familiares esta patrocinando por  el Centro Padres de Utah, Allies with Families, Autism Council of Utah, CHADD of Utah, Division of Services for People with Disabilities, Easter Seals Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain,  Family to Family Network, Fetal Alcohol Coalition, Learning Disabilities Association of Utah, Utah Deafblind Project, Utah Developmental Disabilities Council, Utah Down Syndrome Foundation, Utah Family Voices, Utah Prader Willi Syndrome Association, Utah PTA,  Utah State Office of Education and Utah State Office of Rehabilitation.
Esperanza Reyes y Patricia Vigo
Utah Parent Center

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Apply for Utah Medicaid and Respite this Month

Apply by October 29th for the Medically Complex Children Waiver. Many of us are struggling to get by, drowning in bills. This waiver is an opportunity to utilize services that can truly help many children. It will provide Medicaid and Respite Services for 165 children in Utah.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Medicaid Community Based Waiver

For Utah families with special needs who make just a little too much for assistance, this program may be able to help.

Quoted from Utah Family Voices Facebook page:

During the 2015 General Legislative Session HB 199 was passed. The bill required the Utah Department of Health to apply to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a Medicaid home and community based waiver program. If approved by CMS,
this program will provide services to medically complex children. The bill authorized funding to serve approximately 165 children each year during a three year pilot period. Pending CMS approval, applications for the Medically Complex Children’s Waiver
(MCCW) will be accepted during an open application period that will run from October 1st - October 29th, 2015.
Applications will be accepted online through this webpage, via fax or mail. The application process will require parents to answer some questions about their child’s medical conditions and services. In addition, parents will be required to provide a copy of the child’s most recent history and physical by the Primary Care Provider.
In order to qualify the child must:
Be 0 through 18 years of age;
Have 3 or more specialty physicians;
Have involvement of 3 or more organ systems; and
Have an SSI level of disability determined by the Social Security Administration or the State Medical Review Board.
For more information see:
A ListServ is available for updates about the waiver; you will need to send a BLANK (No subject, no message, no signature or footer) email to:
For questions email

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Special Needs Workshop Open to Entire Family

Now offering "Dynamic Kid's Class" (ages 0-6 and some special needs)


"AD/HD ACTION HEROES" for parents and guardians


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Support Workshop for Families with Special Needs


Registration is open! 

Reserve your spot. Seating is limited.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Autism Carnival Comes to Davis County

Register today for this amazing event especially for families with autism!

Free food and fun for the entire family.

Sahara Cares Autism Carnival 2015
Standard Examiner Story

Thursday, April 2, 2015

2015 Egg Hunts for Children with Special Needs

2015 Northern Utah

Easter Egg Hunts

Accommodations for Special Needs

Marshall White Center, Ogden (FREE)
April 4, 10 a.m.—12 p.m.
222 28th St., Ogden
Optional section for children with special needs.
15 minute open swim for children with special needs at 12 p.m.
(Parents to accompany as needed.)
Friendship Park, South Ogden (FREE)
April 4th, 9 a.m. Activities/ 10 a.m. Egg Hunt
655 E 5500 S, South Ogden
Ages 1-12 (exceptions for children with special needs)
Optional section for children with special needs.
Country Park, West Haven (FREE)
April 4th, 9 a.m. Sharp
2825 W 3300 S, West Haven
Optional section for children with special needs.

Sand Ridge Park, Roy (FREE)
April 4th, 10 a.m. sharp
2100 W 4450 S, Roy
For all children ages 12 and under.
Optional section for children with special needs.
Clinton (FREE)
April 4th, 9 a.m. Sharp
2050 N 1500 W, Clinton
Optional section for children with special needs.
Loy Blake Park, West Point (FREE)
April 4th, 10 a.m. Sharp
550 N 3500 W, West Point
Optional section for children with special needs.
Clearfield Aquatic Center ($5)
April 4th, 10:30 and 1:30
825 S State St., Clearfield
-General Egg Dive into pool
-Children with Special Needs Egg Dive into pool
-Parent/Child Format—RSVP 801.525.2649