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Last Updated: 08/20/2015

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Bridges4Kids - Helping parents and professionals with Michigan's most comprehensive source of information on education news and resources for special needs and at-risk children from birth to transition to adult life.

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Welcome to Bridges4Kids!  We are a non-profit organization providing an internet-based system of information and referral for parents and professionals seeking help for children from birth through transition to adult life.

Breaking News

starWhat's New on our Website? You Can Find Out

starLooking for Goals & Objectives for an Upcoming IEP? Click

starBridges4kids Featured Resource: An Overview of Simple Machinesstar

This great new resource was developed by 12-year-old student, Marcus Kirby

starBridges4kids Featured Resource: Cerebral Palsy Guidestar

starPath For Expelled Students to Get Back in School Could Become National Modelstar
For most students, being caught in the fall of their senior year with prescription pills that appeared to be packaged for distribution would dash any hopes of graduating with their class. They likely would face a 180-day expulsion, not to mention charges in juvenile court.
starMI Mental Health - Legislation Allows Help Before a Major Incident Occursstar
Requested change to Kevin’s Law to protect both the public and persons with mental illness by making it easier for friends and family members to obtain a court order for outpatient treatment. Michigan Representative Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt Township) has introduced new legislation to help family members help loved ones struggling with mental illness. Leonard’s legislation, House Bill 4674, would amend the assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) provisions of the Michigan Mental Health Code to make it easier for friends and family members to intervene on behalf of loved ones before a major incident occurs. Many persons with severe, uncontrolled mental illness do not recognize their condition or critical need for treatment. AOT law permits intervention before severe consequences result from untreated major mental illness.
starMI Legislation Would Provide Coverage for Wigs for Children Suffering Hair Lossstar

(MIRS 6-11-15) On the 11th floor of the Michigan House Office Building, Jaeleen Davis told reporters and Democratic Party personnel about the time she lost the will to live after losing every inch of hair on her body at age eight. After being diagnosed with alopecia universalis -- a condition that causes universal hair loss, she went from dreaming about being a Broadway star to being told to "go fetch my hat like a dog" by elementary school classmates, Davis said. "What they don't tell you in the diagnosis or when you're at the hospital wondering why your hair is falling out, is that you're also going to lose your self confidence," Davis said at a press conference today, hosted by Rep. Sarah Roberts (D-St. Chair Shores). "You're gonna lose your self-esteem, and you're gonna lose the dreams that you've held onto, and you're gonna lose that thing that matters most, and it's the drive and passion to live." Roberts described what she called "the absolute need" for her soon-to-be-introduced bill, which would mandate insurance companies to cover the expensive cost -- anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 -- of child wig-construction. Retailers don't mass-produce kid wigs. They have to be custom made, stitched together with real hair by sensitive wig makers with subtle hands, a deft touch for technique and a soft-spot for children suffering from hairlessness. Luckily, Davis found a nonprofit group to stitch her a custom wig at age 10. It turned her life around. "I am now able to say that I can step up on a stage in front of thousands and a panel of five judges that are ultimately judging me, describing me based on a physical beauty that they see," she said, wearing a plastic tiara atop her blond wig while grinning. "And that physical beauty involves my hair, whether or not it be mine." Founder and CEO of the nonprofit group, Maggie VARNEY with Wigs 4 Kids, installed the new wig for Davis free of charge, as she did for all of the other 2,000 patients who lost their hair from cancer, alopecia universalis or another illness. Varney said she gets the raw hair from donations, then she ships it to a California-based company called Tailor Made to have it stitched into wigs, shipped back to Michigan and installed onto children. Davis was noted with resounding applause during the House session, during which she even received a recommendation from Gov. Rick Snyder for joining the Miss Michigan beauty pageant competition.

starMI Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Appointments for April 2015star
Michigan: Governor Appointments to the Advisory Council on Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing: Ann LIMING, of Lansing, now retired, most recently worked as a hard of hearing specialist for the Michigan Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She represents deaf or hard of hearing persons and replaces Mel WHALEN, who resigned. K.T. MAVIGLIA, Miss Michigan 2014, of Dundee, is the founder of the KT Maviglia Foundation for Hearing Disabilities and the co-author of a bill aiming to improve services and insurance coverage for children with hearing loss. She replaces Freida MORRISON. Liming will serve the remainder of a three-year term expiring Jan. 18, 2016. Maviglia will serve a three-year term expiring Jan. 18, 2018.

starMiss Michigan KT Maviglia Brings Attention to Hearing Lossstar
Michigan Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Ida) and 2014 Miss Michigan winner KT MAVIGLIA have introduced legislation in the Michigan Senate meant to assist children with hearing disabilities. The legislation, a reintroduction, would guarantee children suffering from hearing loss would have hearing aids covered under their health insurance until age 21. Maviglia was diagnosed with hearing loss at age nine and has two hearing aids, leading her to advocate for other children faced with similar hearing disabilities.

starVideo: Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Julie Calley recognize Autism Awareness Monthstar
"Different is not less. Different is beautiful." Click here to watch a new video where Lt. Gov. Calley talks about the importance of raising both awareness and acceptance for autism.

starLet's Get to Know: Kendra Garciastar

Take a moment to support one of the most promising young ladies we've come across in a very long time. She has passion and drive, not to mention she's practically a genius! She is only 21 and is about to finish her first year of medical school (if you do the math, that's 5 years of college studies under her belt). Talk about a go-getter! Help make her dreams come true...oh, and she's a sibling of an adult with autism. Who better to work in the medical field than someone who knows what it's like to be one of us? Go Kendra! (We never post things like this but we're making a one-time exception since we have known her for almost 15 years.)

starBridges4kids Featured Resource: The Arya Foundationstar

Mission: Even the smallest actions can impact a life. With this belief in mind, The Arya Foundation was inspired to become what it is today. It motivates us, moves us, and provides the principles for the vision we believe in. Not everyone can afford the medical supplies and equipments that are necessary in a child’s life. Sometimes, sadly, the costs are too high. By giving small financial aid to these families, the costs become lower and easier to afford. The Arya Foundation was created so that more than 95% of the money donated would go to families who need help paying for medical supplies. Providing the financial aid is our way of alleviating some stress from the families we help. It is our way of improving lives. But most importantly, it is our way of bringing a smile to the faces of children who really deserve happiness. ***Applicants must live in St. Louis, Missouri or the surrounding areas.

starMI Michigan Gubernatorial Appointmentsstar

(MIRS March 11, 2015) Gov. Rick SNYDER announced the following appointments and reappointments to the Developmental Disabilities Council: Andrea SARGENT, of Ludington, was appointed to the Developmental Disabilities Council for the remainder of a four-year term expiring Sept. 30, 2016. Jane REAGAN, of Williamston, was appointed to the council for the remainder of a four-year term expiring Sept. 30, 2016. Marnie WILLS, of Lansing, was appointed to the council for the remainder of a four-year term expiring Sept. 30, 2016. Paul PALMER, of Lansing, was reappointed to the council and will serve a four-year term expiring Sept. 30, 2018.

starMI Dome Magazine: Michigan's Mental Health Failurestar

Wayne County Chief Probate Judge Milton Mack is deeply frustrated with the mental health system in Michigan. He’s seen a lot of mentally ill people pass through his courtroom in the nearly quarter-century he’s been on the bench. Many show up again and again. Some are jailed, treated for a brief time and then released, only to start the cycle all over again. Soon after Judge Mack got to the Bench, Michigan closed most of its mental hospitals, part of a wave of “deinstitutionalization” that swept the nation. Unfortunately, arrangements were never made to ensure adequate facilities for outpatient care. “Legally, we still have an inpatient system in an outpatient world,” he told me during an interview in his chambers last week.

starMI Michigan's Contentious Special Education Proposal Haltedstar
The issue: The MDE had proposed changes that the department said will simply align Michigan's rules with federal rules. But some advocates for special education students have raised concerns, saying the changes would have an adverse effect: among them, giving districts flexibility to overload classes and giving parents less input. MDE officials have said those conclusions are based on misinterpretations of the proposed changes.

starHere Are 14 of Attorney John Brower's Latest Special Ed Q&As In One Convenient Spotstar

starMI New Report Released: A Healthier Youstar

Using the National Core Indicator and state data to understand health status and the experiences of persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities served by the Michigan public mental health system (Feb 2015).

starMI Lt. Gov. Brian Calley: Advances Made in 2014star
Significant progress was made in 2014 to improve the lives of citizens facing mental health issues, substance use disorders and developmental disabilities, according to a new report issued today by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on behalf of the Mental Health and Wellness Commission.

starMI Legislation Introduced to Replace the Michigan Traumatic Brain Injury Servicesstar

and Prevention Council Introduced on January 27, 2015 - Click here.

starBlind Man Teaches Blind and Disabled Kids To Hunt and Fishstar
Mike Gates can recall — achingly, painfully — the day he lost his sight. But, "from where I was to where I am today is pretty unbelievable," he says.

star10 Things I Thought I'd Never Say...Until I Had Boysstar
Since being a mother to boys has to have some sort of anthropological distinction to it, I've decided to compile my very own list of observations of things I never thought I would say until I had boys.

starThis Story About a Mother's Love Brought an Entire Middle School to Tearsstar
If you know anything about middle school, you know that young teenagers can be hard to motivate and inspire. For former professional wrestler Marc Mero, however, it only took four minutes to bring an auditorium full of middle school students to tears with his personal story about his mother, her passing and his regrets about pushing her away. His speech is a must watch, but be'll need a box of tissues by the end.

starMI Drama Students Meet Real-life Inspirationstar
Chad DeKatch hopes every production he leads as director of the Okemos High School theater department is a learning experience for his students. But for the school's latest play called "The Boys Next Door," DeKatch also wanted the experience to be life-changing.

starMI Murky Future For New Michigan Special Ed Rulesstar

(MIRS. Jan 13, 2015) The future is unclear for the Michigan Department of Education's contentious proposed rules governing special education in Michigan. This much is clear though: Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY will continue to be involved and plans to meet with MDE officials about the next steps. The proposed rules had to be withdrawn after they failed to sit in front of the Legislature for 15 days. This came after Calley urged the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to not grant the rules passage. Michelle Fecteau, arguably the State Board of Education member who is the most vocal special education advocate, tried to get more details out of MDE officials about what's next for the package. When Fecteau asked MDE spokesman Martin Ackley about the next step for the rules, he said MDE is still surveying its options, which could include re-submitting the same rules or going back to the drawing board and starting anew. He wouldn't say if the rules would be re-submitted as is or with changes at this point.

starCongress Approves Sweeping Legislation to Help Disabledstar
Congress gave final approval to the most sweeping legislation to help the disabled in a quarter century, allowing Americans with disabilities to open tax-free bank accounts to pay for needs such as education, housing and health care. The bill, called the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE), now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. Modeled after tax-free college savings accounts, the ABLE bill would amend the federal tax code to allow states to establish the program. The ABLE accounts would be able to accrue up to $100,000 in savings without the person losing eligibility for government aid such as Social Security; currently, the asset limit is $2,000. Medicaid coverage would continue no matter how much money is deposited in the accounts.

starBecause...Who is Perfect, Anyways?star

starMI Michigan Diversion Council Expanding Efforts to Helpstar

Mentally Ill, Developmentally Disabled
The state of Michigan is expanding its efforts to divert the mentally ill and developmentally disabled from incarceration and get the help they need by approving an additional six sites for pilot programs focused on innovative solutions and expanding two existing efforts.

starSix Healthy Habits to Teach Kids Who Worry Too Muchstar

starMI Gov. Must Lead By Example in Hiring People w/Disabilitiesstar

Also see the Executive Directive

starClaims of Abuse are Outside of IDEAstar

and Administrative Remedies Do Not Have To Be Pursued

The district court erred by dismissing plaintiffs' § 1983 and breach of contract claims, which arose from allegations that the defendant-school district's (MCS) aides physically, sexually, and verbally abused the plaintiff-child, because the § 1983 claims did not arise under the IDEA. In an issue of first impression, the court also held that the claim for breach of a settlement agreement need not be exhausted before filing suit.

starFeatured Resource: Math Blasterstar

starFeatured Resource: Special Education Guidestar

starFeatured Resource: Jumpstartstar

Jumpstart offers free grade and subject based worksheets, printables and educational games for kids. Hiccup’s Science Workshop features science experiments, free printables and worksheets with a focus on the scientific method.

starComputer and Software Accessibility for the Disabledstar

starMI "Progress" Being Made On Mental Health Issues in Michiganstar
"Michigan has made great strides in improving how mental health and wellness issues are handled since a special commission created by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013 released its recommendations in January. That Executive Order and commission resulted from a special message on health and wellness the governor presented in the fall of 2011."

starList of 125 Twitter Pages Related to Disabilitiesstar

starCourt Throws Out Mental Retardation: Columnstar

starLooking for Summer Camps? Try Bridge Center in MAstar

starHelmets Do Little to Help Moderate Infant Skull Flatteningstar
Luke Reissig wears a helmet that is supposed to correct for skull flatness. A new report says, however, that these helmets are ineffective. Pediatricians have long urged parents to put newborns to sleep on their backs to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome. While the practice undoubtedly has saved lives, it also has increased the numbers of babies with flattened skulls.

starChildren’s Mental Health Disorder Fact Sheet for the Classroomstar

This document gives information regarding symptoms/behaviors, educational implications and instructional strategies/accommodations broken down by disorder. A very useful resource for use in preparing IEPs.

starCould These 'Smart Scales' Cure Anorexia?star
75% of patients who used device were free of symptoms a year later.

starSaving Elizastar
Last July, our 4-year-old daughter Eliza was diagnosed with a rare terminal genetic disease called Sanfilippo Syndrome-Type A. In one terrifying instant, we were told that we would have to watch her fade away before our eyes.

starPA Teen Reported to Police and Fined for Secretly Filming Bulliesstar
Christian Stanfield, 15, made a seven-minute recording of alleged bullies at Pennsylvania's South Fayette High School in February. The ADHD sufferer said he did it after months of harassment. School officials accused him of wiretapping and called police. A court found Stanfield guilty of disorderly conduct and fined him $25. His family is suing the school district and appealing the judge's ruling. Stanfield's mom is furious that her son, and not his alleged bullies, has been punished.

starAuthor Details How Disney Movies Helped His Son With Autismstar
In his new book, “Life, Animated,” Ron Suskind tells the remarkable story of how Disney movies unlocked his autistic son’s emotions. Owen Suskind was a typical toddler until age 3, when his developing language and social skills vanished. He was diagnosed with regressive autism. Gradually, Owen became fascinated by Disney movies, watching and re-watching them endlessly. One day, at his brother Walter’s ninth birthday party, Walter became a bit teary. “Walter doesn’t want to grow up, like Mowgli or Peter Pan,” said Owen. Comparing his brother to Disney characters was the most sophisticated thing Owen, then 6, had uttered in years.

starEnvironmental Exposure Linked to Autismstar

Three decades ago, when I was still in medical school, autism affected one in 10,000 children. What changed between then and now to cause one in 50 children to become autistic? Mounting research—not to mention plain logic—indicates that brain disorders are the result of excessive exposure to toxins from multiple sources—including the mother, while in utero. One 2005 study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that blood samples from newborns contained an average of 287 toxins.

starMI 7th Annual Living with Autism Workshop in Aprilstar

Metro Parent is very excited to host our 7th Annual Living with Autism Workshop on April 25th. At, you can get all the details!

starMI Stabenow's Effort to Expand CMH Services Signed into Lawstar
President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday legislation sponsored by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow that would expand access to community mental health services. The legislation has been a personal crusade for Stabenow, D-Lansing, whose father went undiagnosed with bipolar disorder for about a decade as she was growing up in Clare. The bipartisan legislation would set up a pilot program in eight unspecified states to fund comprehensive community mental health, such as 24-hour emergency psychiatric services. “It’s really a landmark step forward in community mental health funding,” Stabenow said Tuesday.

starNY Restrained Boy at Leake and Watts in Yonkers Diesstar

starMI Michigan Alliance PTI Now Offering Free Webinarsstar

Join Michigan Alliance for Families as they present a series of webinars focusing on specific parts of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process.

starBridges4kids Featured Resource: Michigan Law School Programstar

starMI Highly Recommended! The Education Law Centerstar

A one-stop resource for information on the laws that apply in a school setting. ELC lawyers have years of practical experience and include John Brower, Bridges4Kids’ resource attorney.

starSketchUp: Kids With Autism Love This Softwarestar
A program from Google, created for architects, is an unexpected hit with children on the autism spectrum.

star10 Tips for Good Advocatesstar
Wrightslaw's Pat Howey says parents need to understand that the law gives them power to use in educational decisions for their children. Parents should not be afraid to use their power. But, there are better ways to obtain positive results than to roar through IEP meetings in a Mack Truck. Here are Pat's newest tips for effective, successful advocates.

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starMI Standards for the Emergency Use of Seclusion & Restraintstar
The document, Supporting Student Behavior: Standards for the Emergency Use of Seclusion and Restraint is now available on the Office of Special Education Web site. The document summarizes how a positive behavior support approach uses proactive strategies to reduce or eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint; defines the terms "seclusion" and "restraint"; outlines procedures for emergency use of seclusion and restraint; and provides a framework for training.

starResource Sites for Parents and Studentsstar
FunBrain, Scholastic Kids, Homework Spot, PBS Kids, Game Goo, Learning that Sticks,! This web site was developed to help students improve their math skills interactively. S.O.S. Mathematics - for high school math support., and University of Cambridge.

starHow to Resolve Special Education Disputesstar
In drafting the provisions of IDEA, Congress clearly contemplated that, at times, there would be disagreements between parents of children with disabilities and the school districts providing special education and related services to their children. When such disagreements occur, parents and school districts can turn to IDEA’s dispute resolution options. Find out what those options are---there’s a new one. NICHCY, the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, has posted a training module covering Options for Dispute Resolution which includes PowerPoint slide shows to use in training sessions, a detailed discussion of IDEA for trainers, and handouts for audience participants.

starMI Michigan Seclusion and Restraint Standards (PDF)star

starMI Bridges4Kids Parent Resource Guide (PDF)star
Find out where to find help for children in Michigan at all ages and stages. Includes toll-free numbers and websites, early childhood-specific resources and school age resources. Updated March 2008.

starMI Free Mediation Servicesstar

Free services to help schools & parents communicate before battle lines are drawn. Call (800) 873-7658.

starSpecial Education Law Questions and Answersstar

Link to Important Programs, Partnerships, and Websites Related to the Education of Children

Connect For Kids Education News No Child Left Behind Wrightslaw
U.S. Department of Education (DOE) U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
Families and Advocates Partnership for Education (FAPE) National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER)
National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC) National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (NCPIE)
Disabled Action Committee for Virginia (DAC4Virginia) AUTCOM: Autism National Committee

Link to Important Programs, Partnerships, and Websites Related to the Education of Children

  Michigan Department of Education (MDE)

Michigan Chapter of the International Dyslexia Association

Michigan Alliance for Families Michigan Public Schools Online
Michigan Special Ed Law Center VSA Arts of Michigan Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council (DDI) Partnership for Learning
Center for Educational Networking (CEN) Michigan Disability Rights Coalition (MDRC) The Education Law Center Michigan PTA
 Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) The Arc Michigan

Michigan 4C Association



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