Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Family fun at Bay Beach

July 28

More information at https://www.autismgreaterwi.org/event-cal/celebrating-autism-at-bay-beach/

Bay Beach is just over three hours away from Marquette.  It makes for a great day trip.  I like it as it has both quiet spaces and noisier spaces.  Stay clear of the bathrooms in the main lodge are very loud if you have a child who can't stand loud echo-y places and head for the ones in the green spaces.  

Wildlife center across the road is also great free fun for kids. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Read before you sign

 Just a word of caution if you are at the farmers market and are asked to sign a petition in support of special education scholarships as tax deductions.  This is not a helpful proposal! 

 Petitioner I spoke with did not know what IDEA was and told me she does not live in Michigan and was here to work as a petitioner.  I crossed my name out and came home to get more information.  Found this blog post from the department of education:  https://www.michigan.gov/mde/news-and-information/press-releases/2022/06/15/state-board-of-education-urges-voters-to-not-sign-ballot-initiative-petition

Saturday, March 19, 2022

How to be an effective Parent Advocate --Free online workshop in April

Sally Beauchamp, our regional U.P. parent representative for Michigan Alliance for Families will be presenting.

This free workshop explores skills parents can use to become more effective advocates for their child with a disability.

• Understand your child's disability
• Know your school district
• Know your rights and responsibilities
• Clear and effective communication
• Understanding the special education process
• Know the dispute resolution process

If you need an accommodation to attend this event, please send your request to info@michiganallianceforfamilies.org two weeks prior to the event.

Apr 12, 2022 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Autism Family Camp at Bay Cliff in April


Happy Groundhogs Day!

Several days ago I heard there are plans underway for a family camp weekend at Bay Cliff, April 8-10.  Last week, I spoke with the camp director, Seth Rowles, and he was able to answer some of my questions.  The target age range is 5-17 and the plan to is to try to keep it fun and keep it structured yet flexible to meet the needs of individual families.  Bay Cliff has offered family camps for other groups in the past and they have some ideas of how to do this, but this will be a first for the autism community.  One of the features Seth said he was planning on was a breakout opportunity for siblings. 

If you would like to know more, Seth will be hosting a google meet on Thursday, February 17 from 5-6 pm: 

Virtual Q&A for Autism Family Camp
Thursday, February 17 · 5:00 – 6:00pm
Google Meet joining info
Video call link: https://meet.google.com/pfq-pwko-hzz
Or dial: ‪(US) +1 502-309-4351‬ PIN: ‪152 780 397‬#

Parents will have the opportunity to ask questions, express concerns, and learn more details.  

If you would like to call the camp directly, here's the number I used:  906-345-9314

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Autism Conference in Wisconsin

 Early bird registration closes on Friday.  

I went to this conference about a decade ago on the advice of another parent.  My daughter was in first grade and I got a lot out of it.  I am going again this year with my teenager.  I think she will get a lot out of it too.  

Registration information 


Monday, December 20, 2021

Another year ends

 Hello out there...

I recently got a response to a post so I am know I am not the only one who is feeling the isolation.  I tried to track down what has happened to SEPAC, the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee that used to meet monthly at MARESA.  I know they were meeting virtually up till last March, but after that I don't know what happened.  I didn't get any response when I tried to contract the group through MARESA.  For years they were the best option for parents of school age children who were looking for a support group.  

For what it's worth, I'm on the reference desk Wednesdays from 4:30-8:30 pm, and it is generally quiet, and it would be totally appropriate for me to point people to whatever available resources I can drum up.  Feel free to stop by Peter White those hours or call the reference desk at 906-226-4312 and ask for Ellen.  

Michigan Alliance for Families has been running a lot of online workshops.  I catch them when I can; they are usually pretty good.  Get on their mailing list, if you aren't all ready.  https://www.michiganallianceforfamilies.org/upcoming-events/

I'm a member of the Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin as I've benefited from some of their programs.  Their online teen hangout is the only autism-centered group I know of for teens that takes place in real time.  

Monday, May 10, 2021

Kids Cove Playground Input sessions

Kids cove image of children in the sun, one in a wheelchair

 As you may already know, plans are underway to update the playground at the lower harbor in Marquette.  The goal is an inclusive playground that can be universally enjoyed.  If you are interested in having a say in what happens, you may want to attend one of several planning sessions scheduled for next week.  

The following opportunities are available:

  • Monday, May 17, 2021
  • 12:30-2:30 p.m. Meet the Team, Imagine a New Playground
  • On-Site at Kids Cove Playground, Mattson Park

Meet the design team, Marquette Playgrounds For All and City Staff. This informal session will provide an opportunity for the community and the design team to begin to imagine a new playground at the park.

  • Monday, May 17, 2021
  • 5:30-7:30 pm Inclusive Design Presentation
  • Lakeview Arena – Russell Arena (or Zoom)**
  • Mara Kaplan of Let Kids Play will present the background of inclusive design and play specifically to playgrounds.
  • Tuesday, May 18, 2021
  • 11:30-1:30 pm Drop-In Design Day Workshop*
  • Lakeview Arena – Russell Arena **
  • Potential playground elements will be presented and participants will vote for favorites using a cell phone app.
  • Tuesday, May 18, 2021
  • 5:30-7:30 pm Design Presentation and Workshop*
  • Lakeview Arena – Russell Arena (or Zoom) **
  • Formal presentation and workshop on possible design aspects. Participants will vote for favorites using the cell phone app.

All participants in the Tuesday events are encouraged to bring a picture of children who will use the new playground. These will be incorporated into a collage at the end of the project.

COVID-19 safety protocols for events at Lakeview Arena will require all attendees to wear a mask and maintain at least 6 feet of distance. Attendees will be limited to 100 persons. Additional participation will be available via Zoom and the cell phone app.


See more information on the Kid's cove website

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Annual StART conference May 3, scholarships available for families

 I've never been to this conference, but have wanted to go.  It's a decent deal even if you don't get a scholarship-- $30 for parents and no travel costs as the whole conference is virtual due to the lingering pandemic.  

Emily Rubin, one of this year's keynote speakers, helped develop the SCERTS model with Barry Prizant.  (Barry Prizant wrote one of my all-time favorite books about Autism:  Uniquely Human.)

The other key-note speaker is a behaviorist, Gregory Hanley.  I found an article published in January 2021 that he wrote that gives A Perspective on Today's ABA.  It's interesting, apologetic, but not yet ready to let go. 

Here are some links if you are interested: 

Conference Info


SCERTS model

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Personal Curriculum webinar, noon April 26, 2021

This webinar, hosted by Michigan Alliance for Families, will be most relevant to parents of high school and maybe middle school-aged children.  Registration required.  

(I plan on attending this one.)

Friday, April 16, 2021

Autism in the Marquette, MI area -- Spring 2021


Hi all. 

This post is destined to be a bit of ramble/personal reflection but also a "How things stand now (as best I can tell)" statement, in terms of local resources.   I seem to have lost all the SEO I had with this blog before I moved to Facebook. Hopefully by posting semi-regularly, it will come back.  If you want to contribute to the conversation or alert me to something that is going on, leave a comment. Comments are posted after after I read them, unless they are marked private, or deemed irrelevant to other readers, or if the message is angry*.    

Things that have changed since I started this blog 11 years ago:  I now work full time, my child is a teenager, and there is this global pandemic that effects just about everything.  

A couple of things haven't changed: 

 SAIL (Superior Alliance for Independent Living) is still the best local place for resources for adults or soon to be adults (that I know of).  There's also Aktion Club, which usually offers fun stuff to do, ways to be involved, and camaraderie.    Their FB page is pretty quiet at the moment.  Still a good place to reach out to.  They are supported by the Superiorland Kiwanis, which helps give the group some stability.  

For babies, toddlers and kids and teens and their educational/developmental stuff there's MARESA, (Marquette -Alger Regional Education Service Agency).  They provide birth to three services, including playgroups (when safe to do so), and they provide special education services and oversight to all the local ISD's in Marquette and Alger Counties.  There are two Autism specialists working for MARESA. If you aren't already working with one of these two dedicated people, I recommend you seek them out.  They have the same human limitations as the rest of us, but they will try.  

MARESA also hosts a Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC).  According to the last set of minutes posted online, they were to meet in March via zoom.  Not sure if the meeting got cancelled or where things stand.  They also have a Facebook page.  Meetings do get cancelled or rescheduled, but they do meet fairly regularly and they are the most stable support group I know of for parents of special needs kids (most regular attendees are parents to kids on the spectrum).  MARESA will pay you an honorarium for participating to help with transportation and child care costs.  Sometimes child care is provided, sometimes not.  

For professional help outside of school, everything becomes trickier (as if it weren't tricky already).  Pathways provides comprehensive support for families that qualify for Medicaid.  Their exact limitations change with the whims of public funding.  But they do offer comprehensive help.  I've never been able to use their services myself.  

If your family doesn't qualify for Pathways services, there are two other options for ABA** help locally that I know of.  The BEAR center at NMU and Functional Behavior Services.  I believe both options work with a sliding scale and or insurance. 

Other useful services:

OT (Kirsten Matthews at Bell helped us a lot when my daughter was young and we've recently discovered Laura Alexander, who's located closer to us (UP Rehab) and seems to be able to connect well with my favorite adolescent.)

Speech:  I've worked with Kate Kenney who conveniently works with Kirsten the OT.  I can speak highly of her.  We've also had some success with keeping "speech" in my daughter's IEP.  SLP's tend to have different strengths.  Different kids have different needs.  On a good day we get a match.  

Other therapists.  In recent years we've had more success working with therapists than we did when my daughter was younger.  ABA wasn't the answer for us.  I now shrink at the words "behavior modification" and now seek our "developmental support."  Not locally supported, but highly useful is the "Lives in the Balance website."  Lots of free resources for parents.  If you've ever heard someone say "Kids do well if they can" and thought that made sense, you will like these resources.  I wish I could direct you to someone in the community who could really support you with this approach, but I don't know of anyone.  

We have found some good people who use a CBT approach with anxiety and who just connect well with kids and teens.  For us it's been a journey of trial and error.  


I get a little sick in the gut when I think about the lack of fun stuff to do for kids on the spectrum.  (Covid makes it all harder.)  I'd really like to find something that is age appropriate, will appeal to my picky child, will get her outside and moving, will help organize her brain, will get her eating healthy, and above all help her make friends.  I've been looking for this for over a decade.  It's not easy, it's not great, but there are glimmers of potential for checking some of the boxes.  

Moosewood Nature Center has been trying to make itself an "autism friendly" destination.  We like it there.  Like the board walk.  

Michigan Audubon Young Birders appeals to my kid's special interest.  It's not perfect:  no other local kids, it's online, but it's something other than playing on her phone.  Try to find things that appeal to special interests.  I got this advice from the young man who wrote "Funny, you don't look autistic."  Manga club, Lego club, stand-up comedian club.  Highly specific interest clubs appeal to other quirky kids who might be able to connect with your quirky kid. 

Wisconsin Autism Association hosts monthly online teen hangouts.

Other Michigan Resources:

StART, or Statewide Autism Resources and Training is based out Grand Valley State University.  They bring autism training to Marquette from time to time, mostly offered to schools.  Nag your principal to send their staff to this.  It's not perfect, but it's good.  

Michigan Alliance for Families provides support to families that includes stuff like IEP training and transition programs.  It's nice having materials that focus on Michigan specific resources and legislation.  Our regional rep, Sally Beauchamp (sally.b@michiganallianceforfamilies.org) is located in Iron Mountain, but she will return your calls and emails. 


*Go ahead and be mad if that's how you feel.  I am sure your anger is justified.  I find it's best if I can write it out in a journal-- that helps defuse the anger.  Then the goal is to get to the raw energy behind the anger to fuel constructive conversations and help create change.  Please don't scream at me or your kid or their teachers.  Yes, I've done this, and it's never helped the situation.

**ABA is another can of worms.  You might find that this particular supposed solution to all kids on the spectrum just isn't right for you and yours.  It's also quite possible that it's not right for anyone.  I don't know.  ABA doesn't make sense to me, but I know too many people who I respect who swear by it so ...

Saturday, March 27, 2021

IEP Training, Wednesday, April 7, 2021


Our regional Michigan Alliance for Families rep, Sally Beauchamp, will be offering an online IEP training workshop.  I've attended this workshop with Sally the first time she offered it in Marquette and it was useful to me.  (I've gone through at least 11 IEP meetings now, I think, and they don't get easier.) 

Workshop is at 7:00 pm
Eastern.   Zoom sign-up:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUodOyspjgpGtbFA8HfRWCVp44FOGCvgY7v

Return of the blog

 Hi I've had enough of Facebook.  I still like to share what information I can find about resources, activities, what have you that might be useful or at least appreciated by those living in or near to Marquette, MI and who's lives are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

See you on Facebook

I've made the decision to no longer try to maintain this blog.  I see that I am posting less and less frequently, and I think the Facebook page is getting a bit more notice and is easier to share and maintain, so I will try to make a better effort to keep that up.

Until I become aware of a better site out there, I'll leave this blog up.

I still think the SEPAC meetings at MARESA (That's Special Education Parent Advisory Council) is the best thing going if you are looking for a support group.  They meet every third Thursday at 321 E. Ohio Street in Marquette from 6-8 pm.  Childcare was being provided the last few meetings I've attended, and if you join the group formally, you are paid a $25 stipend to help cover travel and childcare cost.  I know they will not meet in December. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Community Stakeholder meeting in Marquette Oct 5

Two meetings:  1:30-3:30 or 6:30-8:30 at MARESA on E. Ohio St.

This stakeholder meeting will bring together families with children receiving special education and/or early intervention services for networking, dialogue, and planning and the members of the community that support them.

Online sign-up at http://www.michiganallianceforfamilies.org/upcoming-events/

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Summer Activity Series sponsored by MARESA

What we've all been looking for...fun stuff to do with our kids this summer that is just right for them.

Included in this series are six opportunities to meet with other school-age children and their parents.

The kick-off event is this Saturday between 1 and 3:00 at Williams Park, across the street from MARESA.  Kids can play on the playground, the tennis courts or the basketball court.  Snacks will be provided. 

Other events are as follows:
  • Mon., June 29, 10:00-12:00:  Activity Day at MARESA (321 E. Ohio St.):  Legos, crafts, chess, origami...and more
  • Mon., July 6, 7-8:00:  Marquette Planetarium (attached to Marquette High School)
  • Tues, July 21, 1:00-3:00:  Hike and ice cream at Presques Isle.  Meet near the break wall pavilion at 1:00
  • Tues., August 4, 4:40-6:30:  Demonstration by the Raptor Center at MARESA (321 E. Ohio St.)
  • Sat., August 15, 1:00-3:00:  End of the summer get together at Lakenenland, 15 miles east of Marquette on highway M-28.
 This is a brand new program developed for students with disabilities of all ages and their general education peers.  Please make it a success by spreading the word and participating. 

I created an event on the Facebook page for this site, if you'd like to send FB invitations to your FB friends.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

Get involved in special education

I recently got the following from Lisa Casper about a Michigan Alliance for Families workshop in Munising:

The MAF workshop called Serving on Special Education Committees registration deadline is this Friday 5/8.  In order to host the workshops, I need to have a minimum number registered.  I’ve only met that number in one of the three workshops that I am offering around the W. UP next week.   

The presenter, Jessie Morton is a wealth of information.  She has had 20+ years of personal experience serving on special education committees from the local to the state level.  She has tips for both parents serving and the chairs running the meetings.  Serving on special education committees is a way that parents can have a voice in special education systems at both a local and state level.  Parent who are concerned about time, need not worry about the commitment level as each ISD or RESA has a Parent Advisory Committee for Special Education and any parent is welcome to attend whether or not they are officially on the committee. 

Come to the workshop and find out more!  Free pizza will be served.  I have childcare for the Houghton workshop.  Gas cards are available for parents who are driving long distances.  I hope to see you there.

Please e-mail me at lisa@michiganallianceforfamilies.org or call at (906) 483-0442, if you are interested in attending.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Brainstorm Session for Summer Activities

Got the following from Barb Potts at MARESA:

Are you looking for something for your child to do this summer?

Parents and caregivers of students with disabilities.

Brainstorming ideas for activities and gathering during the summer for students with disabilities (of ALL ability levels) and their families.

When:  May 7th and May 21st at 7:00pm

Where:  MARESA, 321 East Ohio, Marquette

I'm pleased to have to have this opportunity.  Let's see what we can get going. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Community Conversation in Marquette with MI Developmental Disabilities Council

Here's an opportunity to have your voice heard by a statewide agency: 

The DD Council wants to hear from YOU!
Are you a person with a developmental disability, a family member of a person with a developmental disability, or an advocate for people with disabilities?
The Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council is gathering information for its next 5-year state plan. This is your chance to tell us what’s important to you and what you want the DD Council to do about it
Join us to share your story, explore the challenges that affect your life and talk about the issues that are important to you.  

More information can be had at their website.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Competition for Artists with Disabilities

From the Legacy Trust facebook page:

Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 23, 2015 – Adult artists with disabilities have a chance to win $500 and have their artwork displayed in the Grand Rapids Art Museum and entered in ArtPrize 2015 – thanks to the Legacy Trust Award Collection.

Back for its sixth year, the Legacy Trust Award Collection is soliciting artwork from Michigan artists with disabilities for its popular mini-competition in advance of ArtPrize.  Four winning artists will each receive $500 and sponsorship in ArtPrize, the radically open art competition scheduled this year Sept. 23 through Oct. 11 in downtown Grand Rapids.

The statewide competition is open to all Michigan artists with disabilities and seeks paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, collages, mixed media and other works for art.  Four winners will be chosen by popular vote, a panel of celebrity judges and the LTAC Advisory Committee.  

Artists must register with LTAC by Friday, April 3 to be considered for the 2015 competition.

Sponsored by Grand Rapids-based investment advisory and wealth management firm Legacy Trust, LTAC will be held this year in the Grand Rapids Art Museum May 5-6.  A private reception for all artists, judges and LTAC supporters will be held on the evening of Monday, May 4.  

The public will have a chance to view and vote on the art on Tuesday, May 5 and Wednesday, May 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the GRAM, which is located in downtown Grand Rapids. On Tuesday, May 5, Meijer sponsors free general admission to the GRAM. 

Winning artists will have their work displayed during ArtPrize at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.  Last year, 88 artists from around the state submitted artwork to LTAC, nearly triple the number from the previous year.

“We are incredibly pleased LTAC will partner with Grand Rapids Art Museum and DeVos Place for a third year,” said William Walker, CEO of Legacy Trust.  “Our artists value the opportunity to display their work at one of Michigan’s leading art museums and at one of the highest-traffic ArtPrize venues in the competition.

“Over the past years, artists from Lansing, Detroit, Northern Michigan and the UP, as well as the greater Grand Rapids area, have entered their works in the Legacy Trust Award Collection.  We expect this year we will again showcase art and artists from all corners of Michigan.”

LTAC debuted in 2010, the brainchild of Walker and his wife, Deborah.  Like others in the community, the Walkers were swept away by the magic of ArtPrize and wanted to find a meaningful way to join the dialogue.  As the parents of a daughter with special needs, the Walkers decided to launch LTAC, an art competition designed to remove barriers for participation in ArtPrize for adult artists with disabilities.

In 2013, Legacy Trust established an advisory committee of those in the business, arts and disability communities.  This LTAC Advisory Committee established the Lillian Perry Walker Award, a special juried award to honor the young woman whose spirit was the spark that brought LTAC to life in 2010.

Winners of LTAC 2015 will be announced on Monday, May 11.  Along with having their artwork entered into ArtPrize, the winning artists will each receive a cash prize of $500.  All entry fees and promotion expenses for ArtPrize will be paid by Legacy Trust, which – for the third year – has secured the high-profile DeVos Place venue for the winning artists during ArtPrize.

Artists from all genres are invited to participate in the competition. All artists must submit an artist registration to Legacy Trust by April 3.   All artwork must be completed and available for showing in Grand Rapids by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10.

Following is a list of guidelines for submitting artwork:
  • All participating artists must be a resident of Michigan and at least 18 years of age by April 3.
  • All artwork must be original, attributable to the applicant and completed within three years prior to September 23. 
  • All artwork is subject to the “Official Rules for Artists-ArtPrize,” which can be found at www.artprize.org
  • The four top artists will retain ownership and all rights to their artwork, subject to the rules and restrictions of ArtPrize 2015. The artists agree to make themselves and their artwork available to LTAC and all partnering agencies and sponsors prior to and during ArtPrize for promotions and marketing efforts.
  • The top four artists who receive the award will be entered into ArtPrize 2015 as a Legacy Trust Collection Award winner. 
  • LTAC artists agree that if their artwork wins any ArtPrize award, they will donate 25 percent of any award to create a special Legacy Trust Endowment Fund to continue arts programs for adults with disabilities in greater Grand Rapids. 
  • Winning artists will be notified by Legacy Trust by May11 and will be entered into ArtPrize.
  • There are no restrictions on artists who are not part of the Collection from entering ArtPrize on their own. 

Artwork may be delivered by mail, UPS, FedEx or in person to Legacy Trust, 99 Monroe, Suite 600, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49503 by 5 p.m. on April 10. See the registration form for additional rules and details at http://legacygr.com/getattachment/Blog/March-2014/What-is-the-Legacy-Trust-Award-Collection/Registration-Form.pdf.aspx.

ArtPrize, an international art competition that draws tens of thousands of people to West Michigan each fall, returns to Grand Rapids for its sixth year on Sept. 23 through Oct. 11.  It debuted with much enthusiasm in 2009 and participation has soared the following years.  This year is expected to see a continued increase in community engagement and entries. 

More information on LTAC is available at http://legacygr.com/Blog/February-2015/2015-LTAC-Registration-Form.aspx. Join the conversation on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LegacyTrustAwardCollection and on Twitter with #LTAC. 

LTAC is also sponsored by Meijer, Sabo Public Relations, Kantorwassink, Gilson Graphics, Kitchen Sage and Andrews Hooper & Pavlik.
About Legacy Trust
Legacy Trust is an independent, locally owned, Michigan-chartered bank that specializes in providing investment and wealth-management services to individuals, families, foundations and non-profits in West Michigan.  Legacy Trust delivers highly customized financial and investment solutions tailored to meet the unique situation of each client.  For more information, visit us at www.legacygr.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Transition: How to Plan, Implement & Succeed

Sorry for the late notice, but those of you whose children are progressing through school may want to catch this program tonight at MARESA.

Here's the information I got this morning:

Registration is still open and drop-ins are welcome
(A head-count is appreciated for planning purposes)

Michigan Alliance-PTI in Western Michigan Upper Peninsula is offering a free workshop, hosted by Lisa Casper, on March 24, 2015 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm EST at MARESA321 E. Ohio Street, Marquette, MI. Sign-in opens at 6:00 pm. Pizza will be served.

Transition is a required part of the IEP process for students. This workshop will help parents/families plan for this process.

Topics include: Reducing duplication of work by learning how the transition IEP requirements can draw from other mandatory planning tools for students; Collaborative opportunities; and Assessment instruments to provide a framework for robust conversations around transition planning students. 
Who should attend: families of children/young adults with disabilities or learning challenges, school staff, community members and organizations.
For more information, see the flyer at http://www.michiganallianceforfamilies.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Transition-2015-03-24-Marquette.pdf
Please remember to RSVP onlinelisa@michiganallianceforfamilies.org, or call Lisa at
(906) 483-0442.