Winter Brings Opportunities for Inclusive Recreation

Winter Brings Opportunities for Inclusive Recreation

Making winter recreation accessible to all, local organizations are offering a wide array of opportunities for community members of all abilities to participate in inclusive recreational opportunities. From sled hockey and skiing to basketball and bowling, children and adults of all abilities can find activities to match their interests!

‘Tis the season for winter sports here in western Massachusetts – and thanks to a wide array of local resources, opportunities for recreation are available to all. Taking advantage of community resources and the local landscape, organizations from all across the state have worked to create a large network of recreational opportunities that are truly accessible to all – both indoors and out.

Western MA families can take advantage of opportunities to participate in active recreational activities within groups with diverse abilities, and can learn about and/or utilize adaptive technology through special events held by local organizations and athletic leagues.

Participation in recreational opportunities that are truly inclusive to all is a great way for families to experience diversity and to learn from the skills and life experiences of others; additionally, inclusive recreational environments help to provide opportunities for folks of varying abilities to enjoy recreational activities together.

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Anthologies on Parenting Kids with Special Needs

Two Groundbreaking Anthologies on Parenting Kids with Special Needs

In "My Baby Rides the Short Bus," non-conformist parents telling their subjective stories with humor and grace.

I recently received two fantastic anthologies on parenting kids with special needs to review, My Baby Rides the Short Bus and Gravity Pulls You In. Most nights since receiving these two treasures I end the day by reading a chapter or two — finding myself  choked up with tears as I read a parent’s complicated, heartbreaking story; or laughing with parents on the fringe navigating life with a special needs child.  These are stories for everyone.  Parents with special needs children will relate to the stories of these contributing writers, and community member will better understand the parenting experience of raising a child with autism, Asperger’s or other differently-abled children.


In lives where there is a new diagnosis or drama every day, the stories in My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities provide parents of “special needs” kids with a welcome chuckle, a rock to stand on, and a moment of reality held far enough from the heart to see clearly. With over 30 contributors from professional writers to novice storytellers this assortment of authentic, shared experiences from parents at the fringe of the fringes is a partial antidote to the stories that misrepresent, ridicule, and objectify disabled kids and their parents.


In 33 essays and poems in "Gravity Pulls You In," parents raising children on the autism spectrum explore their lives inthe context of autisum's own special gravity, discovering what's important and what they find centering.

Within the accounts of fierce love and keen regard for their unique children in Gravity Pulls You In: Perspectives on Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum lie moments of exceptional clarity and transformation. These pieces are sure to resonate with parents, caregivers, and anyone who’s interested in the world of autism. Their slice-of-life depictions are a refreshing departure from the usual diagnosis/grief/acceptance arc of many autism accounts, and serve as a reminder that life is lived in the many small, everyday moments.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Saturday, November 6th, 2010

There will be a reading on Saturday, November 6th, 2010, 2pm at Food for Thought Books (106 North Pleasant St.) in Amherst, MA, by contributors from both books: co-editor Jennifer Silverman and essayist Sierra-Marie Gerfao of My Baby Rides the Short Bus, and co-editor Kyra Anderson of Gravity Pulls You In.

  • Jennifer Silverman is an optimist in a pessimist’s clothing, and “mama” to two boys, one of who has autism. She lives, writes and agitates in New York City.
  • Sierra-Marie Gerfao (“Maria June”) lives in New England with her wife, their son, foster daughter, and one sweet old dog. Vocationally she serves full-time in a family ministry at a church.
  • Kyra Anderson chronicles life as a homeschooling mom and writer in New England on her blog, Her work has appeared in several small presses. Her memoir, How My Son’s Asperger’s Saved My Ass, is in progress.

Medical Equipment for Children with Special Needs

Pass It On

Last year my son, Ivan, was in dire need of a special stroller for kids with low muscle tone. He was using a mainstream stroller at the time, but it just wasn’t giving him the support he needed. The poor guy was slumped over whenever he was in it!

We tried going through our insurance, but because Ivan was small (less than 30 pounds), the insurance company felt he was fine with the stroller he had. Our PT then told us about Pass it On, a charitable organization in Mashpee, MA that provides gently-used medical equipment to families with special needs kids. We gave them a call, got on their
waiting list, and in less than a month Ivan was strolling about town in his new (at least for us) Convaid Cruiser. And all it cost us was the small delivery charge of $25!

If you’re looking for medical equipment, definitely give these guys a call. They’re always happy to help and if they don’t have the item you’re looking for they’ll put you on a waiting list. If you have an old wheelchair or gait trainer that your child no longer uses, consider donating it to Pass it On so another family can use it. And they always accept money donations to keep the operation going, too!

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Free Access to National Parks

Free Access to National Parks

Summer is a time for exploring, and what better day trip than to explore a national park right here in Massachusetts? It’s local, it’s educational, and it won’t bust your budget!

For families with disabled kids, visiting a national park can be a real nice adventure. You can expose your child to all sorts of new experiences (from outdoor scenery and sounds to historical monuments), plus, since the parks are here in our state, you don’t have to worry about traveling too far or spending the night in a hotel, which can be tough for some families.

There are many parks in Massachusetts. Just check their website to locate one near you. Over here in Boston, we love the Harbor Islands which includes an exciting boat ride out to the islands. And on August 1st the Toe Jam Puppet Band will be playing a set of free environmental concerts on Georges Island. That sounds like a fun day!

And here’s even better news: It’s possible for you to obtain a free pass to all the National Parks in the U.S.!

Here’s the info:

The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is a lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities.

Documentation is required to obtain the pass. Acceptable documentation includes: statement by a licensed physician; document issued by a Federal agency such as the Veteran’s Administration, Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income; or document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency.

The pass provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity. The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee
areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas (children under 16 are admitted free).

The pass can only be obtained in person at the park. The Access Pass provides a 50 percent discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and specialized interpretive services. In some cases where Expanded Amenity Fees are charged, only the pass holder will be given the 50 percent price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires.

Visit their site for more info:

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Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy.

Summer Resources for Children with Special Needs

Summer Resources for Children with Special Needs

Summer is just around the corner and you’re probably looking forward to getting outside with your family. Kids are all about the summer activities: summer camp, swimming, hiking, sailing, you name it!

If your child is physically or intellectually disabled you’ll still certainly feel just as much need to get outside, but you may be worrying that there aren’t as many programs available that will cater to your child’s needs.

Look no further! There is an entire world of outdoor events and programs designed for special needs kids and, believe it or not, Massachusetts is home to many of them!

Every year the Physical Therapy department at the Franciscan Hospital for Children compiles a comprehensive guide to organizations and programs providing physical activity opportunities for children with special needs in Massachusetts and New England. All you need to do is check out their guide, find an activity suitable for your kid, and sign up!

Here is the Franciscan Hospital for Children: Physical Activity and Recreational Guide.

And if your child is visually impaired you may also want to join MAPVI, The Massachusetts Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired. They organize all sorts of fun family events too. Our favorites are the assisted sailing event and the Fishing Derby.

Have a fun and adventurous summer!

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Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy.

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