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Dental Health Care for Children with Special Needs

Regular dental health care is part of everyone’s health care regimen and is especially important for children. Children with special needs are more likely than children without special needs to have serious dental issues. Early treatment can result in a better outcome. The following article explains some of the dental problems that can be anticipated and suggests where to find a dentist for your special needs child.

Dental Health Care for Children with Special Needs

Health Talk Radio with President/CEO, Raymond G. Baldwin, Jr.

Dr. Frank Scifo welcomes St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services President/CEO Raymond G. Baldwin, Jr. to discuss the programs, participants and staff at SVSNS.

Click HERE to listen to Health Talk Radio: Raymond G. Baldwin Jr.

“They are the most extraordinary people I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.”
Raymond G. Baldwin, Jr., President/CEO SVSNS

Holiday Gifts for Special Needs Parents

Holiday gifts for parents or friends of special needs children can not only be found at the mall. Have you been wondering what gift would be appreciated, relaxing, and/or delicious? Have family members been badgering you for your wish list? Dani Gillman, mother of a special needs child, has 10 suggestions for you. They may even inspire you to think of some ideas of your own to match the perfect gift with its recipient.

What Special Needs Parents Wish Others Understood on Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving, the holiday on which we express our gratitude, we are reminded to include those persons with special needs. By showing empathy and acceptance, we can help parents and special needs children to participate fully in the celebration. While a child’s food choices may not include turkey or mashed potatoes and his or her behavior may be unexpected or unusual, it is a time to be grateful for what we have. If there are behavioral issues, try to be understanding and patient. Discussing medical visits or progress reports are not on the menu. Here are some tips to keep everyone in the holiday spirit.

There Was Magic In The Air At The FEROLETO School This Week!


Sean, a student in our school program celebrated his 11th birthday with classmates on Thursday. Of course we love to celebrate all our students’ birthdays but this particular celebration had some extra special sweetness added.

Through a mutual friend, a young girl named Daniela heard about Sean and the challenges he has faced throughout his life. The story goes that when Daniela was only four years old, she raised her magic wand and made a wish that she could bake cakes for children when they are not feeling well. Daniela and her Mom have been making this wish come true for many children ever since.

Daniela contacted Sean’s family to ask if she could make him a birthday cake. During their conversation Kim, Sean’s mom, told her that their family recently went on vacation and Sean had a wonderful experience swimming dolphins. This resonated with Daniela as that has been a dream of hers. Daniela and her mom got to work recreating that experience with a beautiful dolphin cake and brought it to his school to share with his entire classroom.

Daniela is one very special little girl. The love and compassion she shares, one cake at a time, is truly inspiring. You can read more about Daniela on her Facebook page Daniela’s Little Wish


Signs of Autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by:
•social impairments
•cognitive impairments
•communication difficulties
•repetitive behaviors

Because Autism is a spectrum disorder, it can range from very mild to very severe and occur in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly “regress” and lose language or social skills they had previously gained. This is called the regressive type of autism.

Early Signs:
A person with ASD might:
•Not respond to their name (the child may appear deaf)
•Not point at objects or things of interest, or demonstrate interest
•Not play “pretend” games
•Avoid eye contact
•Want to be alone
•Have difficulty understanding, or showing understanding, or other people’s feelings or their own
•Have no speech or delayed speech
•Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
•Give unrelated answers to questions
•Get upset by minor changes
•Have obsessive interests
•Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
•Have unusual reactions (over or under-sensitivity) to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
•Have low to no social skills
•Avoid or resist physical contact
•Demonstrate little safety or danger awareness
•Reverse pronouns (e.g., says “you” instead of “I”)
•Gives unrelated answers to questions

People with autism may also:
•Have unusual interests and behaviors
•Have extreme anxiety and phobias, as well as unusual phobias
•Line up toys or other objects
•Play with toys the same way every time
•Like parts of objects (e.g., wheels)
•Become upset by minor changes
•Have obsessive interests

Other Symptoms:
•Hyperactivity (very active)
•Impulsivity (acting without thinking)
•Short attention span
•Causing self injury
•Unusual eating and sleeping habits
•Unusual mood or emotional reactions
•Lack of fear or more fear than expected
•Have unusual sleeping habits

This article is reprinted from the National Autism Association website. To read the article in its entirety, please visit:

My Child is Three and Does Not Talk Yet, Does This Mean He Has Autism?

No. There are a variety of disorders that are related to limited speech development but any child that is not talking by the age of three should have a developmental assessment immediately. Most children are babbling before they reach their first birthday and use single words to communicate by 18 months. Any child that does not display these behaviors or who has and subsequently loses a communicative or social skill should be screened for an autism spectrum disorder as soon as possible. For more information, please call (203) 341-4501 to schedule a developmental assessments.

Why ‘Autistic’ and ‘Autism’ Are Not Dirty Words

This article is reprinted from the Huffington Post. The writer, Haley Moss, is a 21 year old with high functioning autism who is an author, artist and autism advocate. Please enjoy:

Health Talk Radio: Learning With Autism


Dr. Frank Scifo welcomes St. Vincent’s Special Needs Service’s Assistant Principal, Karen King, and Manager of Autism Services, Colleen Gorman. Listen and learn about options for school-aged children with autism.

Click link to listen:

Autism and Behavior Change

Let’s face it, coping with a child who has a disability can be very difficult; especially when they display challenging behaviors. It becomes even more difficult if your child is non-verbal, minimally verbal, or experiences other communication challenges. Challenging behavior can involve anything from physical aggression and property destruction to pica (putting inedible items in the mouth) and self stimulatory or repetitive behaviors and anything in between. If the behavior has a negative impact on your child or your family, we would classify it as a challenging or interfering behavior. It’s important to keep in mind that while our children with communication deficits exhibit challenging behaviors, these behaviors do have a function, and there could be a number of reasons why they occur. Information processing difficulties, unstructured time, oversensitivity (hyper) or undersensitivity (hypo) of some environmental or internal event, changes in routines, and feeling unwell, tired or hungry are just a few examples of why challenging behaviors may occur.

When thinking about challenging behaviors, it’s helpful to think about human behavior in general. Behavior can be biologically driven (we put on a sweater when we’re cold) or reflexively driven (we close our eyes if a light is too bright). So, behaviors generally occur because they serve an important function or produce a specific outcome. When challenging behaviors occur, we have to keep in mind that it’s a form of communication. The critical part of addressing such behaviors lies in trying to understand the purpose or function of the behavior. Our behavior is shaped by our environment, specifically what happens directly prior to (antecedent conditions) the behavior and directly after (consequent conditions) the behavior.

As a result of these behaviors being “learned” behaviors, we often see dramatic improvements in behavior by changing the situations and environment surrounding the behavior, or as stated above, the events that come before and after the problem behavior occurs. Gathering this information will assist us in starting to understand why the challenging behavior is occurring. This is part of what is called a functional behavior assessment, and there are many ways to go about collecting such information. This is always the first step in determining how to teach replacement skills that are functional for the child experiencing challenges.

For more detailed information on behavior intervention plans, check out this link to a great PowerPoint presentation on BIPs created by Sonja R. de Boer, Ph.D., BCBA and shared by Autism Speaks: