Issue 7 - December 2012

A Message from the Director

The holidays are fast approaching and schedules are becoming hectic. On behalf of the staff here at Casa Colina Children’s Services and the families we serve, I’d like to wish you all a safe and relaxed holiday season.

I realize that this is easier said than done in many cases, but I hope the ideas we have provided in the Therapy Corner article below will help you find the “joy” in this season.

Also, don’t forget to join us on Thursday, December 20th from 3-5 p.m. The Rotary Club of Pomona will be sponsoring a fun-filled afternoon of crafts, snacks and visits with Santa!

Cindy Sendor, MA, CCC-SLP
Director, Casa Colina Children’s Services and Speech Pathology

Therapy Corner

Waiting in the Waiting Room

Spotlight on Advocacy

Resources & Links

Upcoming Events


Focus on New Year Resolutions

Each year, Children's Services subsidizes treatment visits with resources obtained entirely through fundraising efforts. Consider making a year-end, tax-deductible gift to ensure that these important services continue to be available to families in need.

To make a holiday gift to Casa Colina, please visit:

Therapy Corner

by Susan Stroebel, Family Specialist

Under normal circumstances, the holidays are a stressful time of year. From the time we are old enough to remember, the standard for what the holidays “should be” is set very high. Holiday movies lead us to believe that a “normal” experience includes: mother happily doing all the work; children nicely playing together; dad relaxing; and everyone having a happy ending. If that describes your family, please invite me for your holiday celebration! If it does not, then welcome to the real world!

Here are some suggestions that might bring your expectations and actual experience a little closer together!

1. Lower your expectations and stay flexible. Martha Stewart will not be coming for dinner, so keep it simple. A relaxed host and hostess will do more to promote a fun day than a perfect home and dinner!

2. Keep the decorations simple. Again, remember that Martha won’t be there! A few decorations hung joyfully will provide more meaningful memories than the “Decoration Nazi.” If it isn’t fun, don’t do it!

3. Make it a team effort. Let family and friends participate in preparing the meal or by bringing their special dish.

4. Simplify gift giving. You have so many “helpers” in your life, try to keep the gift giving simple. Hot cocoa mix in a mug, spices for a veggie dip, a gift card, or a picture of your child and/or their artwork is very thoughtful and shows your appreciation.

5. Purchasing gifts. If your child is hard to buy for, provide a “wish list” for people. Most will be grateful for the ideas and it will prevent hurt feelings over gifts that are not appropriate.

6. Gift opening. If your child is easily overwhelmed or is showing signs of distress, open toys in shifts. When they are done playing with one toy, have them put it away and then open another. It is OK if it takes all day or even a couple of days. Just keep your phone or camera on stand-by.

7. Scheduling the day. If your child becomes over-stimulated by too many people or activities, or struggles with meal time, communicate the schedule for the day with family members. Go for the part of the day or period of time when your child will most likely do their best. A shorter time that is happy is better than a long day with unnecessary melt downs. If you are hosting, include some “quiet times” or sensory rich activities in the schedule.

8. Coping with emotions. Somehow, holidays magnify what is lacking in all of us. Review where you are in the grief process so you are prepared for your own emotions or reactions. Avoid the situations or people that make you sad. If you have a close family member or friend whom you can share these emotions with they can be prepared to step in or give you a wink to get you through it.

9. Timing is everything. In the middle of your holiday celebration may not be the best time to educate or advocate. If you feel that needs to be done, try to do it ahead of time, so you can just relax and enjoy the time together.

10. Remember what you know. You have the good fortune to have many “experts” in your life – but you know what is best for your child. Trust your instincts, but also be flexible enough to be open to new experiences.

11. Go with the flow. Try to be flexible and go with whatever is working. If it is different from what you had in mind but people are happy and engaged, let it be...

12. Keep dreaming. If you still long for a Martha Stewart holiday setting, don’t give up on your dream as that day may still come around another year. However, more than likely it will begin to lose its appeal as it is replaced by the happy memories created by doing what works for your family.

Waiting in the Waiting Room

by Kesley Johnston

I wait for the holiday season all year. Our family celebrates Christmas and I am an avid Christmas decorator…snowmen, Santa Clauses of all shapes and sizes, the tree, angels. You name it and it’s somewhere in our home. I can’t wait to see my family, share delicious food, and see my children’s faces when they open their gifts. I look forward to everyone being home and taking a break from the normal routine. But alongside all of the hustle and bustle is worry when you have a child with special needs.

I worry…how will Charlie handle all of the people? How will he deal with the change in his daily routine? Will he sit at the Christmas table with us? Will he let his brother touch his toys? Will he enjoy Christmas as much as the rest of us? As I ponder and worry, I realize that this worry does not fit in with the holiday spirit - whether it be Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, or just some time with family. The thoughts for this time of year should be joy, thanks, cheer, fun, family, and happy. So, this is where all of us need to focus.

Charlie brings me Christmas joy because I finally found someone who loves to decorate as much as I do. He looks at me with sparkling eyes and asks, “Mommy, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” This is my cue. He is always thinking that we should open another box of decorations to place around the house. I am thankful to be in a country and a time that provides for my child. As hard as this road is for all of us, we must be thankful for places like Casa Colina and the wonderful staff that cheerfully cares for our children day in and day out. Our children are so blessed to be here. I must find fun in the craziness of Christmas. It is fun to be with my children and share in their wonder…if they can’t find the wonder, I must find it for them. I am grateful to have a family that accepts and loves my child just as he is…I know that not everyone is so fortunate, so remember that family can be found at Casa, at school, at church, in friends, and in those who see that our children are the most beautiful Christmas blessings. Finally, we all experience heartaches and pain as we continue on our journeys, but I propose a challenge to all of us. Between now and January 1, 2013, write down three things everyday that made you happy. Who knows? Your list just might bring you joy, thanks, and cheer. So, Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Happy Kwanza! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Kesley is ‘Waiting in the Waiting Room’ every month for Connections.

Spotlight on Advocacy

by Lisa Lockwood

As we enter the holidays we celebrate with friends and family, but this is often the time that parents and students meet with the school for the purpose of reviewing their child’s IEP and 504 Plan and this can cause anxiety. In the first six issues we broke down the six framework principles of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). One of these, Individualized Education (IEP), helps to provide the framework around which special education services are designed and provided. Often, one will hear the IEP and the 504 Plan used hand in hand. However, they are not the same.

What is a 504 Plan?

Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act that protects the civil rights of persons with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination against a person with a disability by an agency receiving federal funds. Students who are defined as “handicapped” but do not require special education services (such as those students served under IDEA) can be provided with a 504 plan.

The Specifics of Section 504

· Covers individuals who meet the definition of qualified "handicapped" person -- for example, a child who has or had a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity or is regarded as handicapped by others. (Major life activities include: walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.)

· Does not require that a child need special education to qualify. Note: Students who are ineligible for services or are no longer entitled to services under IDEA (e.g., kids with Learning Disabilities who no longer meet IDEA eligibility criteria) may be entitled to accommodations under Section 504. Evaluation draws on information from a variety of sources and is documented.

· Decisions about the child, evaluation data, and placement options are made by knowledgeable individuals. Such decisions do not require written consent of the parents, only that the parents are notified.

· Requires "periodic" reevaluation.

· No provisions made for independent evaluation at school's expense.

· Requires reevaluation before a significant change in placement.

· Does not require an IEP, but does require a plan.

· Placement is usually in a general education classroom. Children can receive specialized instruction, related services, or accommodations within the general education classroom.

· Provides related services, if needed.

· Must provide impartial hearings for parents who disagree with the identification, evaluation, or placement of the student.

· Requires that parents have an opportunity to participate and be represented by legal counsel -- other details are left to the discretion of the school.

· A hearing officer is usually appointed by the school.

· No "stay-put" provisions.

· Does not require that parents are notified prior to the student's change of placement, but they still must be notified.

· Enforced by U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.

The major differences between IDEA and Section 504 are in the flexibility of the procedures. For a child to be identified as eligible for services under Section 504, there are less specific procedural criteria that govern the requirements of the school personnel. Schools may offer a student less assistance and monitoring with Section 504 because there are fewer regulations by the federal government to instruct them, especially in terms of compliance.

The criteria for identification, eligibility, appropriate education, and due process procedures under IDEA and Section 504 vary. It is important for you and your child's teacher to understand how these laws differ, and how those differences could affect your child's education.

To continue your education on your own, visit

LD Online. (2010). Understanding the Differences Between IDEA and Section 504. In LD Online. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from

Lisa explores advocacy issues of special needs parents every month for Connections.

Resources and Links

by Dr. Sandra Zaragoza-Kaneki
Claremont Community School of Music and Youth Theatre Works at Claremont United Methodist Church
In collaboration with “The Miracle Project”
“Miracles Happen" Drama Workshop for special needs youth
951 West Foothill Boulevard
Claremont, CA 91711
Contact: Barbara Durost
Mission Inn Hotel and Spa
Festival of Lights
3649 Mission Inn Avenue
Riverside, CA 92501
(951) 784-0300
Thoroughbred Christmas Lights
8287 Thoroughbred St.
Alta Loma, CA 91701
Sandra provides helpful links and resources for the special needs community every month for Connections.
This publication is produced by Casa Colina Children's Services and the parents of the children it serves. It is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice or the endorsement of specific products or services by Casa Colina.


Annual Holiday Party
Sponsored by The Pomona Rotary Club
December 20, 2012 3:00PM - 5:00PM
Casa Colina Children's Services

Come visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy live carolers. Participate in face painting provided by students from Pomona Catholic School. Light refreshments will be served. We hope to see you there!

RSVP to Teri Andres at 909/596.7733 x4202 or to receive your Photograph Coupon!


11th Annual Trends in Autism Conference
April 6, 2013
Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA

An opportunity to learn about the latest developments in the research and treatment of autism from some of the leading authorities in the field, including Margaret L. Bauman, M.D.

For more information, visit

255 East Bonita Avenue
Pomona, CA 91767

Toll-free 866/724-4127
FAX 909/593-0153
TDD-TTY-Q 909/596-3646