NSMC Family Resource Center

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Family Rounds

Free Lectures for Parents and Professionals, every third Thursday of the month 12 noon - 1:30 p.m.

If there are any topics that you would like see presented, please contact ithomson@partners.org for suggestions. Talks have included:


February 19 "Almost Depressed - Is My (or My Loved One's) Unhappiness a Problem?" Jefferson Prince, MD Director of Child Psychiatry MassGeneral for Children at NSMC, Vice-Chair Department of Psychiatry NSMC, Staff Child Psychiatry MassGeneral Hospital Harvard Medical School
March 19 "Opioid Use Disorders in Youth and Medication Assisted Treatment" Amy Yule, MD Staff Psychiatrist in the Addiction Recovery Management (ARMS) MGH Center for Addiction Medicine
April 16 "Eating Disorder's Among Adolescents" Seda Ebrahimi, PhD Founder and Director, Cambridge Eating Disorder Center; Instructor in Psychology, Department of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School at Cambridge Health Alliance
May 21 "Families in Transition: Supporting the Families of Transgender and Gender Variant Youth" Melissa MacNish, LMHC, The Meeting Point Consultant for Greater Boston PFLAG
September 17 "Culitivating the Emotional and Relational Health of Your Family" Jefferson Prince, MD Director of Child Psychiatry MassGeneral for Children at North Shore Medical Center
October "Raising Cain with Michael Thomspson, PhD: A TV Producer and a Psychologist Collaborate on an Award-Winning two-hour PBS Special about Boys" Tug Yourgrau, YMP LLC and Your-Voices,com
November 19 " Interpreting Neuropsychological Evaluations" Julie Morgan, PsyD, Staff Psychologist at the Neurodevelopmental Center, MassGeneral for Children at NSMC
December 17 "An Overview of Evaluation and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders" Michael Levy, PhD, Director of Substance Use Services, Clinical Coordinator Highland Hall, Department of Psychiatry NSMC


January 15 "Supporting Children through a Parent's Life Threatening Illness" Cindy Moore, PhD Associate Director, Majorie E. Korff Parenting at a Challenging time (PACT) Program
December 18 "School Phobia" Corey Meyer, MD Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist OPMH MassGeneral for Children at NSMC
November 20 "Always Picked Last - Conquering the Bullies: A Guide to Finding Your Way in Life" Coach Kevin Kearns, Anti-Bullying Specialist
October 16 "Divorce and its Impact on Children's Development" Madeline Segal, LICSW & Rosalyn Dunn, LMHC
September 18 "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Young Children" Gail Arnold, M.Psych, LMHC Preschool Team Coordinator, Clinical Director, Parent Child Trauma Recovery Program, OPMH MassGeneral for Children at NSMC, National Trainer in Child Parent Psychotherapy
January 16 "Joy Worthy: A Mother's Guide to More Joy, Less Stress, and No Guilt" - Julie McGrath,LICSW and Founder of the Joy Source
February 20 "Chicken or Egg: Understanding the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Connection in Youth" - James Howland, Ed.D., LICSW
March 20 "Let's Get Organized" - Debra Candeloro Northeast Parent Coordinator, Family Ties of Massachusetts
April 17 "Room to Breathe" Mindfulness in the Classroom Screening of Film & Discussion Stress Reduction Clinic Programs Staff, MassGeneral for Children at NSMC
May 15 "Cutting" Michael Tsappis, MD, Medical Director MassGeneral for Children at NSMC

December 19 "Life Coaching for Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome and Related Conditions" - Laurie Cohen, BS, MBA Linkage Coaching
November 21 Massachusetts Department of Children and Families: "An Overview and Updates on How to Better Support Families" - Pamela Gray, LICSW, Area Clinical Manager DCF
October 17 Grandparents Parenting Again (Part II): "Strategies for Successful Parenting" - Families First Parenting Programs
September 19 Grandparents Parenting Again (Part I): "Your Role in Raising Your Grandchildren" - Families First Parenting Programs
May 16 "Shut Up About Your Imperfect Kids!, the Best Medicine for Parents of Imperfect Kids Without the Side Effects" Patricia Konjoian and Gina Gallagher, Co-Authors and Sisters
April 18 "Family Caregivers: Supporting the Social Development of Children while Promoting Positive Communication" Heath Gianatassio, CCLS, Child Life Specialist MassGeneral for Children at NSMC
March 21 "Assessment and Treatment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders" Rebecca McNally Keehn, PhD Licensed Psychologist Neurodevelopment Center MassGeneral for Children at NSMC
February 21 "An IEP for My Child: A Workshop for Parents and Professionals" - Clare Vann, Private Special Education Attorney, Federation for Children with Special Needs
January 17 "If I Could Just Snap Out of It, Don't You Think I Would? - A Nine Month Plan for Smashing your Depression" Cathy Goldstein Mullin, MSW, LICSW MassGeneral for Children at NSMC

December 20 "Mindfulness for Young Children: Playful Practices to Promote Health and Happiness" Jefferson Prince, MD & Marguerite Roberts, MS, NP MassGeneral for Children at NSMC
November 15 "Beyond Words: Supporting Grieving Children Using Creative Arts" - Maureen Forbes, MS, CCLS Children's Program Coordinator, Hospice of the North Shore & Greater Boston
September 20 "Adaptations that Help Young Children Develop Hand Skills" - Barbara Smith, M.S., OTR/L, Occupational Therapist and author of "From Rattles to Writing: A Parent's Guide to Hand Skills"
May 17 "Parenting as Partners: Engaging Dads" - Haji Shearer, Director of the Fatherhood Initiative
April 19  "Working with Traumatized Children and their Caregivers" - Gail Arnold, M.Psych, LMHC
March 15 "A RAW Approach to Youth Arts on the North Shore - Mary Flannery, Founder and Artistic Directors; Jason Cruz, Clinical Supervisor and Expressive Therapist
February 16 "Navigating the Children's Behavior Health Initiative (CBHI): An introduction to community-based behavioral health services provided by MassHealth" - Jessica Berry, Staff Attorney, Children's Law
January 19 "A Woman's Story of Determination: Understanding the importance of self advocacy and Provider Support for people with Disabilities" - Sheila Radziewicz, Self Advocate, Motivational Speaker

December 15 "Becoming familiar with (CHINS) Child in Need of Service" - Jessica Berry, Children's Law
November 17 "Stop Bullying Before it Starts: A Bullying Prevention Program" - Juvenile Justice Unit
October 20 "Sexualized Behavior in Children: Normal of Abnormal" - Edward Bailey, MD NSMC, Salem
September 15 "Trapped Inside the Beast of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" - Cathy Goldstein Mullin, LICSW, MassGeneral for Children at NSMC
April 21 "Attachment & How it is Affected by Trauma" - Jami Zarella, LICSW; Heather Ingham, LICSW Adoption Journey's
March 21 "That's So Gay: Creating Safe Communities for LGBT Youth" - Pam Garramone, Exec Director
February 17 "Adoption: Post Legalization Speed Bumps and How to Maneuver Them" - Jami Zarella, LICSW; Heather Ingham, LICSW Adoption Journey's
January 20 "Inspiring Girls to be Strong, Smart & Bold: An Overview of Girls Inc of Lynn (Ages 6-18) - Catherine Dhingra, MS Director of Prevention Programs, Girls Incorporated of Lynn

December 16 "Childhood Obesity: What's the Big Deal?" - Edward Bailey, MD Chairman of Pediatrics, MassGeneral for Children at NSMC
November 18 "Cool Minds TM: A Mindfulness Based Teen Program" - Jefferson Prince, MD; James Howland, Ed.D., LICSW; Marguerite Roberts, MS, NP; Ivette Thomson, Research Coordinator
October 21 "Think Before You Send: Using Digital Communication Responsibly" - Mariellen Fidrych, Juvenile Justice Unit, Essex District Attorney's Office
September 16 " Hospital and Doctor Visit: Preparing your child for Healthcare Experience & Utilizing Developmentally Appropriate Coping Techniques" - Heather Gianatassio, CCLS Certified Child Life
May 20 " Pediatric Bipolar Disorder: Presentation, Assessment, Diagnosis & Treatment of Bipolar in Children & Adolescents" - Jefferson Prince, MD Medical Director & Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist
April 15 "Navigating the Social Maze: Discussing the Strengths and Weaknesses that Children with Asperger's & PDD NOS bring to Social Interacting" - Shalini Bhalla, Psy.D., Psychologist & Coordinator
March 18 "Promoting Positive Social Experiences for your Child int he Summer at Home and Camp" - Chris Anderson, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist; George Marinakis, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist
February 18 "Bullying Prevention: What Parents and Advocates for Children Need to Know" - Robin D'Antona, Ed.D.
Janaury 21 "Adolescents, Anger and Defiance: Normal Development, When to Seek Help" - Freddy Herreria, LMH MassGeneral for Children at NSMC

December 17 "FamilyWorks: Child and Adolescent Wraparound Services of the North Shore" - Deborah Casey, LMHC
November 19 "Head Start: The Early Childhood Collaboration of the North Shore" - Diane Curtin, MSW & Miranda Navarro
October 15 "Helping Parents Navigate the Rocky Road of Adolescents" - Marsha Finkelstein, Founder
September 17 "Drugs 101: What Adults Need to Know" - Mariellen Fidrych, Special Projects Coordinator, Juvenile Justice Unit, Essex County Attorney's Office
May 21 "Sibshops: Recreational Peer Support for Children with Brothers and Sisters with Special Needs" - Marguerite Roberts, MS, NP; Mary Dean Calnan
April 16 "Breaking the Cycle: A Former Little Wanderer" Shares her Story - Sherri Raferty, M.Ed
March 19 "Literacy Support in the Home Environment" - Kathryn Kohl, Ph.D., Literacy Specialist
February 19 "Language, Speech and Hearing: When to be Concerned" - Patricia Mauceri, Au.D.; Pamela Doring, M.Ed., CCC-SLP; Barbara Grizell, M.A., CC-SLP
January 15 "Adolescents in Recovery from Substance Abuse" - Students and Principal, Michelle Lipinski, North Shore Recovery High School

December 18 "Current Trends in Autism" - Lorraine Lacotucci, ME.d.
November 20 "NetSmartz: Educating Children on Internet Safety" - Juvenile Justice Essex District Attorney
October 16 "Neurodevelopmental Evaluations: Understanding a Child's Learning Style and Area of Strength and Weakness" - Barry Skoff, Ph.D.
September 18 "Effective Communication: Skill Building and Conflict Resolution for Parents as Members of IEP Team Federation for Children with Special Needs"
May 15 "Basic Rights - Introduction to Rights and Responsibility" - Federation for Children w/Special Needs
April 17 "Health and Wellness: Caring for the Caregiver" - Marc Fountain, SDS
March 20 "Learn to Cope: Unique Solution-Based Support and Advocacy Group" - Joanne Peterson, Founder and Executive Director
February 21 "Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid!" The Movement of Imperfection - Patricia Konjoian/Gina Gallagher Co-Authors & Sisters
January 17 "Mediation: Uses for Families in Conflict" - Rosalind Cresswell, NS Community Mediation

December 20 "Listening: The Foundation of Change" - Nancy Connolly, MS
November 15 "How to Break the Teen Cycle of Silence: SOS Suicide Prevention Program" - Lindsay Taylor, Med Program Coordinator
October 18 "Divorce: The Effects on Children" - Jeanna DeLeo, Med, LMHC Outpatient Pediatric MH
September 20 "Choose to Refuse: A Heroin and Oxycontin Prevention" - Juvenile Justice Unit Essex DA
May 17 "Dating Violence: Defining Harmful Dating Behavior in Teens" - Christopher Hall, Domestic Violence Counselor
April 19 "Educational Rights" - Bridget Kennedy, Staff Attorney Children's Law Center
March 15 "Adolescents: Gay, Straight or Questioning?" - Guy Croteau, LICSW
February 15 "Foster Care: Fostering Connections" - Carla King, Foster Parent Recruiter
January 18 "Lynn Police Department Gang Unit Education Program" - Detective Robert Hogan

December 21 "Teens Substance Abuse" - Dan Jacobs, Ph.D. Partial Hospitalization
November 16 "Bullying" - Chris Anderson, Ph.D.,  The Academy
October 19 "Confidentiality in Minors" - Rebecca Brendall, MD, JD Law & Psychiatry Service MGH
May 18 "Not Just Kids Stuff: Understanding Children's Grief and Loss" - Maureen Forbes, MS, CCLS
April 20 "Developing Social Skills in Children with Different Types of Disabilities" - Steve Kotsakis, Ph.D.
March 16 "Addressing Self-Inflicted Violence in Adolscents" - Dan Jacobs, Psy.D
February 16 "Childhood Sexual Assault: Trauma and Recovery" - Paula Stahl, Ph.D.
January 19 "Adoption: Understanding the Multifaceted Impact of Adoption on Children" - Clancy Paul, LICSW, Adoption Journey's

December 22 "Parenting Wisely: Parenting Skills Workshop" - Essex District Attorney's Office
November 17 "Communicating with Teens" - Patty Gardner Goodof, LICSW
October 20 "Domestic Violence and It's Effects" - Peg Tiberio, NSMC Crossroads/HAWC & Gail Arnold, LMHC
September 15 "Educational Rights" - Bridget Kennedy-Pfister, Staff Attorney Children's Law Center



Summer, 2015

Given the demand on teens and families' schedules, its been difficult over the years to provide MBSR training in eight consecutive weeks. Therefore, the consensus was to turn the Mindfulness for High School and College program into four workshops throughout the year: Perception, Conditioning, Communication/Stress and Integrating Mindfulness into Daily Life.

At the teens request, the sessions are held on Friday evenings 6:30-9 p.m. Each session does have a theme but can be taken independently. Join us Friday, July 24, for the last of the four part 2014-2015 series.


A Friday evening three hour workshop "An Introduction to Mindfulness" was held for HS and college-age students this summer. The response was very positive from the participants! Mindfulness, and what is stress with real life examples were discussed, the biology of the stress response was presented with physical sensations in the body. Several meditation practices were done together. Supporting videos were viewed with opportunities to snack and chat. Typical responses were compared with healthy choices. Everyone took away new perspectives and many asked for follow-up sessions.


Inward Bound Meditation Education (iBme) staff Jessica Morley and Doug Worthen led a very special afternoon retreat as an Introduction to Mindfulness for 26 teens from all over Massachusetts at the NSMC Healing Atrium at Lynn Hospital. The teens tried many different practices and communication techniques with opportunities to share experiences. Thank you Jessica and Doug for a wonderful day!  "A Daylong Introduction to Mindfulness for Teens (13-19 Year Olds) February 23, 2014 12-6pm $45

An Introductory session offered pre-teens a taste of mindfulness, learning practices to direct and focus attention. They followed guided practices and interactive activities to help recognize stress and emotions and promote their own inner strength. All of the tweens appreciated getting to know each other and themselves a little better through kindness. This program may be repeated in the future with sufficient interest. "Introduction to Mindfulness for Adolescents" (Ages 11 and 13) Sunday, October 26 2:30-5:30 p.m. $25.


Summer, 2015

When asked what our Spring, 2015 graduates would tell other children about the program - "happy class", "awesome books", movements like yoga", "mindful eating snacks", "lot of activities", and a "cool pond with new stuff each week"

November, 2014

Eleven families came together for the Mindfulness for Children in Everyday Life program. Over the past eight weeks each child was introduced to mindfulness tools that they could use in everyday life. At the end of each class, parents and siblings joined their children and practiced these tools together. Recordings explaining the use of these tolls are available for home practice.

A REUNION for all graduates of the Mindfulness in Everyday Life (8-10 year olds) was held on July 18, 2014. The past participants met other students and compared class and home practice experiences, shared mindful eating of pizza, mindful movements and a body scan, listened to new story book "Have you filled your bucket today?" and then sent friendship wishes to each other before leaving with a bucket of kind wishes for summer fun!

Mindfulness is paying attention to experiences here and now with kindness and curiosity. Learning how to direct and focus the flashlight of your attention ~ Supports Schoolwork, Test Taking, Athletics, Creativity and Friendships. This eight week session program is based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction curriculum for younger children. Twelve spaces available per session.

Participants find the mindfulness program cool, magical, calming, peaceful and fun! Parents and siblings are practicing at the end of each class too.

2015-  SPRING 4/2-5/28; FALL 10/1-11/19
2014 - SPRING 4/3-5/29; FALL 10/2-11/20
2013 - WINTER 1/24-3/14; SPRING 4/4-5/23; FALL 9/25-11/13
2012 - FALL 9/26-11/14

New Program On Mindfulness for Children in Everyday Life (8-10) Years Old  - Fall 2012

Eight boys began the pilot class on September 18, 2012 with lots of energy, enthusiasm and expression! The boys are curious and and open to trying new practices for life experience, guided by Marguerite Roberts and Jeff Prince. Tremendous energy was brought each week; developing skills in directing attention and focus. They supported each other while learning practices to work with challenges. Some comments shared about their self discovery through awareness and mindfulness: "a place that you think of as your own... a place where you find peace... "to find a quiet place inside you", "a place where you can forget stuff", "it helps me calm down when I'm really mad or sad", "it mean calmness". In comparing brief questions after the program to that before the program, the participants stated that: "It was easier to concentrate; better able to deal with painful feelings; OK with things just as they are with something that cannot be changed; more comfortable with thoughts; and better able to focus on the present moment"

A new community-based program has been developed for latency aged children and will be piloted this summer.  The four week 8 session program is based on the Still Quite Place TM: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction curriculum for young children - learning how to direct and focus attention.  Playful practices to promote health and happiness will be introduced along with making choices in difficult situations. 

We are extremely grateful to Todd and Deborah Burger for their generous donation and selecting this innovative project targeting a younger population.  Their gift will be appreciated by many families in the North Shore.

This eight week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course is designed to direct and focus your attention in awareness. Based on the foundation of Mind Body and Integrated Medicine, MBSR focuses on the development of mindfulness. MBSR will help you access strengths you already have and may enhance your well being through the development and refinement of your own resilience.

2014 - SPRING 4/2-5/29
2013 - WINTER 1/23-3/13; SPRING 4/3-5/22; FALL 9/25-11/13
2012 - WINTER SHS; SPRING 4/4-5/23
2011 - WINTER 2/9-3/30; SPRING 4/7-6/15; FALL 9/28-11/16 and SHS

The teens come from towns all over the North Shore and bring a great deal of diversity and experience to learning and practicing with other high school students. They are open to recognizing life difficulties and challenges, patterns of reacting and trying new practices to promote calm, awareness and presence with kindness and curiosity. Students may experience inner peace by following the breath, attention brought to the senses, sitting meditations and mindful movement.

A few examples from past TEEN participants describing what the Stress Reduction Mindfulness Program means to them:- Feel I have developed some new skills for better managing anxiety,

- Struck by the Simplicity of it all,
- Time well spent,
- Much more aware of my physical and mental states,
- Enjoyable and Beneficial. Appreciative of "focused" time to practice with group for support,
- Benefit from listening to other teen participants,
- Learned how to live relaxed when a situation becomes overwhelming,
- Wish I had done this a long time ago,
- Learned to slow down and focus on sight and sound,
- Learned to more conscious and live in the moment,
- Discovered my shortcomings and strengths.

"aware, alert and accepting all at once" "noticing everything" "taking the time to stop and thin, take a breath and listen to the sounds around you" being aware of how you feel and why, but not fighting against it" "ability to accept something that is present and work with it, rather than try and change it or push it away" "it changed my life, it saved my life"

The First Class on Mindfulness for Salem High School students - 2011

The pilot class was held at the High School helping students to recognize physical, emotional and thoughts associated with stress and developing strategies for stress reduction through meditation and movement practices and adapting principles through group discussion. The students found it "awesome", "relaxing", and "cool". 


Due to an abundance of interest, we ran two full classes on Wednesday evening this fall. Check website for spring start date.

This eight week, 9 session MBSR course is based on systematic and intensive training in mindfulness meditation and mindful hatha yoga. Developed in the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in 1979, this program is designed to teach program participants how to integrate and apply mindfulness in their everyday lives and to the range of challenges arising from life stresses.

2015 - SPRING 4/1-5/27; FALL 9/30-11/18
2014 - SPRING 4/2-5/28; FALL 10/1-11/19
2013 - WINTER 1/23-3/20; SPRING 4/3-5/22; FALL 9/25-11/13
2012 - SPRING 4/4-5/23; FALL 9/26-11/14
2011 - WINTER 2/9-3/30; SPRING 4/27-6/15; FALL 9/28-11/16
2010 - SPRING 2010 4/26-6/16; FALL 9/28-11/16

Many parents of the enrolled HS teens have taken the classes in the same cycle since both start at 6pm. The shared experience has enriched families' experience.

The adults are also cultivating awareness, recognizing habits and strengths, and deepening their practices while understanding the possibilities for stress reduction. They are committed to practices in class and in every day life at home.

All adults: whether caregivers of partners, aging parents, parents of children with special needs; or anyone living with their own chronic disease or pain; dealing with life's challenges or losses or simply looking to enrich their lives...are welcome to participate in the Adult Program. None of us can control the stress in our lives but we can control how we respond to stress and support our own health and well-being. You may ask yourself as Mary Oliver the poet has "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Offered to present as well as ALL past Adult and Teen MBSR participants at the Healing Atrium, Union Hospital 500 Lynnfield Street, Lynn SPRING and FALL. A $10 donation is appreciated, all Teen graduates are FREE.

Guided Yoga and Meditation Practices - OPEN to ALL, NO EXPERIENCE necessary

We will be offering "Maintain Your Practice" Sunday sessions at the request of and for any past graduates of our MBSR program interested in refreshing mindfulness practices. Both yoga and guided meditation will be supported. Classes take place at MassGeneral North Shore Outpatient, 102 Endicott Street, Danvers 6-7:30pm.

2015 January 7, February 4, March 4, June 3, July 1, August 5, September 2 and December 2.

2014 January 26, February 23, March 30, April 27, June 29, July 27, August 17, September 28 and October 26.

2013 January 27, April 7, June 23, September 8, October 27 and November 24.


We are extremely grateful for the Merry Mixers (pictured) visit to the Family Resource Center and their commitment  to supporting our programs. In an effort to help raise funds for the Family Resource Center, the Merry Mixers graciously hosted an event in April.

We are extremely grateful to the Mixers for your efforts to help enhance and expand the services provided by the Family Resource Center.  Your contributions will truly make a difference in the lives of children and families who look to MassGeneral for Children at NSMC for support with challenging issues.

We are also appreciative of donations from the Burger Family, the Colorusso Family, the Roberts Family Trust and Dunkin Donuts (left), NSMC Community Benefits, several individuals, Salem Food Tours, Learn to Cope and a recent donation from the DPH. Thank you all for your support!

Relapse Prevention Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation  awarded the Family Resource Center the initial three-year grant to implement two innovative evidence-based techniques: Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) with the target population of adolescents with substance abuse disorders at the Recovery High School in Beverly.Parents of the teens in recovery were also included in the MBSR project.  The program was planned collaboratively with Jefferson Prince MD, Mass General for Children at NSMC Department of Pediatric Psychiatry; Michelle Lipinski M.Ed., Principal and Jim Howland, Ed.D, M.S.W., LICSW, School Social Worker, North Shore Recovery High School and Marguerite Roberts MS, NP; Director of the Family Resource Center at Mass General for Children at NSMC.

These remarkable programs for teens and parents and the training for the staff has been made possible due to the generosity of the Tower Foundation. We are all extremely grateful for the three years of program development, training, and implementation. 
Staff training began in the spring of 2009 with an intensive five day silent retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre. Click here to learn more about the Insight Meditation Society or about the Center for Mindfulness. The second phase of training was completed in June when our team participated in a 7 Day Professional Training Retreat on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli, at the Omega Center in Rhinebeck, New York, with several hundred other professionals from all over the world.   


The 10th Annual International Scientific Conference "Investigating and Integrating Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society"

Our team presented a research poster from our work with "Cool Minds TM: A Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program for Adolescents" on Thursday, March 29th.  There was tremendous interest from conference participants from all over the world in our results and the adaptation of the MBSR program for teens.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Learn 2 Cope

January, 2014

If you weren't tuned into WBZ-TV Boston on December 11 and 12 then you missed out. The 11 p.m. newscasts featured segments on the North Shore chapter of Learn to Cope. Lisa Hughes and her team sat in on our November 20th meeting and also interviewed five parents and a recovering addict for a closer look. To watch the first segment click here and for the second segment click here.

Learn to Cope North Shore meets every Thursday from 7-8:30 p.m. at NSMC Salem Hospital in the Davenport 102A conference room. For more information please call 978-354-2670 or email ihomson@partners.org.

November, 2014

We are excited to announce that WBZ-TV Boston will be filming our November 20th meeting and interviewing a few families You are welcome to come to our regular meeting, and know that you will not be filmed unless you choose.

At our December 11th meeting, Dr. Jefferson Prince, Director of Child Psychiatry, will speak about "Dual Diagnosis". The meeting will start at 7 p.m. and be held in the Davenport 102A conference room at North Shore Medical Center, Salem Hospital.

Our new twelve-step meeting for parents and children with addictions that are currently in recovery, will be held Saturday mornings. For more information about the meeting or to register please call mroberts2@partners.org.

A donation from Learn to Cope to the Family Resource Center is tremendously appreciated!!

Joanne Peterson, Founder of LTC allocated $5,000 to the Family Resource Center for the Salem Chapter.  

The money was raised at the LTC 5K race in Melrose last month. These funds will further support the efforts of LTC through the Family Resource Center.  

Joanne Peterson is the Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope (LTC), which was started in 2004. She is also a parent of a son in long-term recovery from opiate addiction which begin with OxyContin. LTC, is a nonprofit organization, is a unique solutions-based support, advocacy and educational peer lead organization for family members of those addicted to opiates and other drugs. LTC has a website which provides a support forum with over 4.500 registered families locally and nationally as well as 12 chapters in Massachusetts. LTC provides peer support and education with the focus on coping with the danger, stress and emotions related to this situation. LTC provides informational resources regarding the disease of addiction and realistic strategies for treatment and recovery based on the real-world experiences of members. LTC is the first parent network to provide the overdose reversal Narcan (Nasal Naloxone) at each chapter.

The presentation had a tremendous impact on the many professionals in law enforcement, policy makers, clinicians, educators, first responders, health officials, addiction treatment providers and parents from all over the country. LTC parent facilitators participated in the follow-up discussion.

Intra-nasal narcan and training in its use is available to families every Thursday night at the LTC meeting at Salem Hospital at no cost.


Thousands rally at State House in Boston protesting the release of the potent drug Zohydro ER without an anti-abuse deterrent. The event was organized by Joanne Peterson, Founder of Learn to Cope and former Senator Tolman to prevent another drastic rise in overdose deaths expected if distributed as currently formulated easily crushed capsules.

Learn 2 Cope at Salem Hospital featured on Today Show - Click Here for Video

Learn to Cope (LTC) families were featured on the Katie Couric show on Opiate Addiction in the Suburbs which aired in June,2013. The program was very comprehensive, educational and a heartfelt depiction of how addiction can affect any family the the entire family. Joanne Peterson founder of Learn to Cope in 2004, also eloquently contributed. Joanne has supported prevention, awareness and education for families while advocating for treatment and harm reduction. Lives have been saved through education and Narcan training of parents. Countless families and loved ones no longer struggle alone with the disease of addiction. The Salem chapter of LTC was started in 2007. There are no words to express the gratitude that thousands of families on the North Shore have shared. www.learn2cope.org

You are Not Alone - Parents' Support Groups and Support for Families - Learn to Cope - www.learn2cope.org

Meeting Schedule - All Meetings begin at 7:00 PM (Look for signs or ask reception at each location to find the meeting room)

Independence Academy,460R Belmont Street

Spaulding Hospital, 1575 Cambridge Street, Free visitor parking: Lot E on Hovey Avenue

Eastern Nazarene College, 180 Old Colony Avenue

Tewksbury Memorial High School, 320 Pleasant Street

Yarmouth Polic Station, 1 Brad Erickson Way, Use Address; 340 Higgins Crowell Road in GPS

St. Luke's Hospital, White Home, 101 Page Street

Saint Medical Center, 1 Hospital Drive

St. John's Episcopal Church, 48 Middle Street

Salem Hospital, 81 Highland Avenue, Davenport Conference Room 102A

Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital, 309 Belmont Street

Longwater Place, 141 Longwater Drive, Blue Entrace Cafe (This meeting is held on the 1st & 3rd Thurs of every month)

Providence Behavioral Health Hospital, 1233 Main Street (Route 5)

Family Anonymous
Wilmington                                    Medford
Thursdays ~ 7pm                             Tuesdays ~ 7pm

87 Wilmington Street                     121 Washington Street
United Methodist Church               Community Family
(978) 973- 5645                              (781) 322-5140 or (781) 999-0760

The Partnership AT drugfree.org
"We help parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children." 
Parent Website: www.drugfree.org        ~     Parent Help-line: 1-855-DRUGFREE

Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, MOAR

Selected Internet Resources

World Health Organization (AUDIT and ASSIST, Guidelines for Use in Primary Care http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/activities/assist/en/

MA Substance Abuse Helpline:  http://www.helpline-online.com/
Essex County District Attorney's Office:  www.ma.gov/essexda
Support Groups:

Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration:  http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
National Institute on Drug Abuse:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcholism: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/
NIAAA Clinicians Guide:  http://pubs.niaaaa.nih.gov/publications/Practitioner/CliniciansGuide2005/clinicians_guide.htm
Medical Management (MM) Manual:  http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/combine/Combine%202.pdf

You Are Not Alone from BMOOPC on Vimeo.

Learn to Cope North Shore - Narcan Training
Narcan is an opiate agonist, which will reverse an overdose until health care is sought. There have been over "100" saves in Massachusetts. The Department of Public Health recently trained Learn to Cope parent facilitators from all the chapters. We are grateful to Cheryl, Susan and Barbara for taking the all-day training and making this life saving drug available.  Narcan training is now available at most Learn to Cope meetings.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Behavioral Health Library at MassGeneral for Children at NSMC Family Resource Center


The Family Resource Center is happy to announce our 10th Year Anniversary.  We are grateful for all who have supported and continue to support our programs.   Please visit our wish list and consider donating a book in honor of your child and/or family member.  Thank You!

Our Behavioral Health Library is open M-F. Our hours are 10–12 for groups or by appointment, and from 12-4  for walk-in appointments. Our fax is 978.354.3777.

Marguerite Roberts, MS, NP Director  
mroberts2@partners.org  978-354-2660    

Ivette Thomson, Program Coordinator
ithomson@partners.org 978-354-2670

The family resource center would welcome a donation of a color copier for our groups and children's classes. Please contact us at numbers above.

Topics covered:
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Asperger's Syndrome
  • Attachment Disorder
  • Autism
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Child Abuse
  • Depression
  • Divorce
  • Eating Disorders
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • General Parenting and Child Development
  • Grief and Loss
  • Learning Disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Seizure Disorder
  • Self Injury
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sibling Issues
  • Substance Use and Abuse
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Tourettes Syndrome
  • Violence and Trauma
Resources available:
  • Internet access
  • Reference books
  • Children’s books
  • Brochures and fact sheets
  • Videotapes
  • Current medical articles
  • Neuropsychological testing information
  • Information on specialty schools & colleges
  • Information on specialty camps
  • Education programs for parents
  • Programs for educators and health care professionals
  • Parent Support Groups
  • Sibling Support Group
  • Grandparents Support Group
  • Parent Mentoring Program
  • Newsletter/Calendar of programs
  • Health education consultations
  • Newsletters from local and national organizations

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Family Programs

Behavioral Health Library - comprehensive literature and resources, special collection of over 1,000 books for children, families and professionals.
Conferences and Workshops - are planned throughout the year in the area of children's behavioral health.
Family Rounds - monthly educational series for parents and professionals on family issues, held the third Thursday of each month 12-1:30 pm in the Davenport 4 Board Room, NSMC Salem Hospital. Registration is required (FREE).

Family Education and Support Programs in Behavioral Health

ADHD Parent Support Group - parents support and guide one another through the challenges of parenting children with behavioral, social and educational issues; meets in the FRC, four week series Spring and Fall with sufficient interest. Nominal Fee

Bipolar Parent Support Group - parents share strategies, resources and support with other parents who have a child or adolescent with Bipolar Disorder; meets 1st Wednesday monthly 12-1:30 p.m. in the FRC. (FREE)

Depression Group for Teens - to talk about issues of depression, without judgement. Three part series, meets Tuesday's 5-6 p.m. Facilitator Cathy Goldstein-Mullin, LICSW. Nominal Fee

The Problem With Anger - by Cathy Goldstein Mullin, MSW, LICSW
The problem with anger is that you have to figure out what you're going to do about it. Feeling sorry for yourself is one thing, blaming the world is another. Some people are so angry, feeling their lot in life is so unfair, they hat the world. They don't blame themselves; they blame everyone else. You know these people. You've read about them. They beat their wives, their kids, spend money on alcohol or drugs.

Other people stuff their feelings. Maybe they don't take their anger out on others, but they are so stuck, they don't help themselves. They give into their depression. They find excuses. "It's all too hard", they say. "I'd fight it if I could, "I've tried, but nothing works, The Med's are lousy, The Therapist doesn't get it, The doctor's a jerk, What am I suppose to do?

Still other people take their intense feelings out on themselves. They hate being depressed. They feel like cowards. They say things like,"I'm taking up space, sucking up air", They stockpile razors, They cut themselves, They think about suicide.

All of these reactions are understandable. People who are depressed didn't get to pick their battles. But no one else does either. Some people's fights are bigger than others' Children's cancer wards are full. Life takes bravery and courage. Life's about putting your butt on the chair and doing the work. People often die from cancer with chemotherapy. People who are horribly injured in automobile accidents only learn to walk and talk again by suffering through months and years of rehabilitation.

What you do with your depression is up to you. How hard you fight is your choice. But think about this. You only get one shot at this life.

Try this exercise. Imagine you are on your death bed. Your breathing is labored. You only have a few minutes left in this world. Reflect on your life. What was good? What wasn't? Did you give it all you had? Would you change anything if you could get more time to do so? Then remember, it's just an exercise. You've been given a gift. You have the time to change things, What will you change>

A person once said, "The best defense against death is a life well-lived, How well are you going to live yours?"

Depression Group for Adults - a support and skills group for depressed adults ready and willing to fight the beast of Depression; meets in the FRC Thursday's 6:15-7:15 p.m., three week series with sufficient interest. Nominal Fee.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Group - a support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren, meets the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. in the FRC. (FREE)

Grief Recovery After a Passing (GRASP North Shore)- peer group open to anyone who has lost a family member or loved one to fatal overdose; meets first Thursday of every month 7-8:30 p.m. at 55 Highland Avenue - Highland Hall Auditorium (ground floor) GRASPNorthShoreMA@gmail.com VM 781-593-5224 or 978-354-2660. (FREE)

G.R.A.S.P. Beginning it's third year January, 2012.  Thanks to our two parent facilitators, Kenny and Paula for making this invaluable support group available to other families Click here for ItemLive Article.

Learn to Cope North Shore is a parent to parent peer support group for families living with the drug addiction of a loved one. Weekly support group meets Thursdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Davenport 102A conference room at North Shore Medical Center's NSMC Salem Hospital. Contact Joanne Peterson at 508.801,3247 or go to http://www.learn2cope.org/

Narcan is an opiate agonist, which will reverse an overdose until health care is sought. There have been over "100" saves in Massachusetts. The Department of Public Health recently trained Learn to Cope parent facilitators from all the chapters. We are grateful to Cheryl, Susan and Barbara for taking the all-day training and making this life saving drug available. Narcan training is now available at most Learn to Cope meetings.

NEW - OCD Monthly Series and Adult Support Group - Developing in collaboration with the OCD Foundation and McLeans Hospital; Will meet 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in Davenport 102A, Salem Hospital (FREE)

Parents Helping Parents - Parent to parent peer support, followers statewide model; meets weekly on Tuesday's 10:30 am - 12 noon in the FRC. Confidential, Anonymous. Call 1-800-882-1250 or the Family Resource Center for information (FREE)

Sibling Suppport Program - Sibshops are a recreational peer support program for siblings with a brother or sister with any developmental, medical or behavioral health disorder. Groups are available for 8-12 year olds; meeting with sufficient interest. All Sibshops are held at the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers. Nominal Fee.

Stress Reduction Clinics - Mindfulness for Children in Everyday Life 8-10 year olds (FEE) 4:30-6pm - eight Thursday's; Medical Library, Salem Hospital. Adult MBSR (FEE) 6-8:30 p.m. - Training and practice in mindfulness, meditation and mindful hatha yoga. Group education on how to integrate mindfulness everyday with life stresses and challenges, meets Wednesday's for 8 weeks "Introduction to Mindfulness Workshops for College and High School students (FEE) TBD.

  • All Day Retreats offered two times per year 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Healing Atrium, NSMC Union Hospital, Lynn
  • Maintain or Begin your practice sessions (guided yoga and meditation practices) 6-7:30 p.m. Drop in class rate $10 each. Graduates of Mindfulness Teen program - FREE

Collaborative Community Projects

Read Family Trust Pediatric Behavioral Health Grant 

Our team of mindfulness teachers: Jeff Prince, Jim Howland, and Marguerite Roberts previously taught the program at North Shore Recovery High School in Beverly for two semesters; the first in 8 weeks then a full semester long course four days a week.  The Mindfulness program was also taught to two more classes of teens at MassGeneral /North Shore Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers. It is currently offered at NO COST for teens (14-17 years) for 8 Wednesday's.  Adolescents have been referred by parents, pediatricians and providers.  Many referrals come from School Adjustment Counselors. An additional benefit is for the many parents of teens taking the adult class in another area of the center; coming in together at 6:00pm on Wednesday's and learning mindfulness as a family.  

The Read Family Trust has awarded the NSMC Family Resource Center another pediatric behavioral health grant, in collaboration with Salem Public Schools.   The focus of the program will be to analyze YRBS results (youth risk behavior survey) and implement an SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program with Salem High School educators, ninth grade students, and their parents.

The focus of the  project over the past few years had been twofold: first to provide analysis for previous YRBS results (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) from 2009 and 2010 which was done this year and then implementing an educational program  for faculty on signs of depression and risks for suicide with the Salem High School educators and staff, ninth grade students and their parents this school year.  

August 31st A professional development program was provided for faculty of the Salem High School "Depression in Adolescents" by Jefferson Prince MD. 

September 22nd "Signs of Depression in Adolescents and How to Help" was presented by Jefferson Prince MD to the parents of the incoming 325 freshmen at the "Parent Back to School Night" at the High School. Resources were  made available to all participants.  A presentation on Bullying Prevention was also given by Robin D'Antona.

This project has been coordinated with Andrew Wulf, Headmaster of the Freshman House, David Angeramo, Principal at Salem High School and Jeanna Deleo and June Marie Kershaw, Adjustment Counselors.  Given the greater awareness of students' concerns and behavioral health problems in the current environment and revealed through the YRBS, the onsite class in Mindfulness will be held Friday morning to better support the students.  The pilot class is comprised of HS students either self-referred or referred by the Adjustment Counselors.  

Physician Trainings in Opiate Use and Overdose Prevention

Specialized programs, available through the Lynn OD Prevention grant, are in development and will be provided to Emergency Departments, community physicians and related providers through NSMC North Shore Children's Hospital Pediatric Grand Rounds, and through Medical Grand Rounds this Fall at the Salem and Lynn campuses at North Shore Medical Center.   

Smoking Cessation Program for Danvers High School Students

A pilot smoking cessation program for high school students,  in collaboration with Danvers Cares and Danvers High School, is actively being designed and is sponsored by North Shore Medical Center.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What are Sibshops


Sibshops are held at Danvers Library. If you have 7-12 year old children with siblings with any special needs; medical, developmental, or behavioral health, they may be interested in participating in a special event just for them. Siblings can be the forgotten family members. At Sibshops they are able to meet other siblings that know what it is like to share joys and worries. They are welcome to join us on Satruday 9:30-1 p.m. next to the Children's Library for recreation-based peer support, fun and activities, making a craft, lunch and making new friends! New sibs always welcome.

For the young people who attend them and the energetic people who run them, Sibshops are lively, pedal-to-the-metal celebrations of the many contributions made by brothers and sisters of kids with special needs. Sibshops acknowledge that being the brother or sister of a person with special needs is for some a good thing, others a not-so-good thing, and for many somewhere in between. They reflect a belief that brothers and sisters have much to offer one another--if they are given a chance.

The Sibshop model intersperses information and discussion activities with new games (designed to be unique, offbeat, and appealing to a wide ability range). Sibshops are as fun and rewarding for the people who host them (the adults who plan them and the agencies that sponsor them) as opportunities for brothers and sisters of children with special health and developmental needs to obtain peer support and education within a recreational context. They reflect an agency's commitment to the well being of the family member most likely to have the longest-lasting relationship with the person with special needs.

Sibshops also seek to provide siblings with opportunities for peer support. Because Sibshops are designed (primarily) for school-age children, peer support is provided within a lively, recreational context that emphasizes a kids'-eye-view.

Sibshops are not therapy, group or otherwise, although their effect may be therapeutic for some children. Sibshops acknowledge that most brothers and sisters of people with special needs, like their parents, are doing well, despite the challenges of an illness or disability. Consequently, while Sibshop facilitators always keep an eye open for participants who may need additional services, the Sibshop model takes a wellness approach.

Who attends Sibshops?

Originally developed for seven to thirteen-year-old siblings of children with developmental disabilities, the Sibshop model is easily adapted for slightly younger and older children with other special needs, including cancer, hearing impairments, epilepsy, emotional disturbances, and HIV-positive status.  Children who attend Sibshops come from diverse backgrounds

The Goals of the Sibshop Model
  1. Sibshops will provide brothers and sisters of children with special needs an opportunity to meet other siblings in a relaxed, recreational setting.
  2. Sibshops will provide brothers and sisters with opportunities to discuss common joys and concerns with other siblings of children with special needs.
  3. Sibshops will provide siblings with an opportunity to learn how others handle situations commonly experienced by siblings of children with special needs.
  4. Sibshops will provide siblings with an opportunity to learn more about the implications of their sibling's special needs.
  5. Sibshops will provide parents and other professionals with opportunities to learn more about the concerns and opportunities frequently experienced by brothers and sisters of people with special needs.

In the United States, there are over six million people who have special health, developmental, and mental health concerns. Most of these people have typicallydeveloping brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters are too important to ignore, if for only these reasons:

• These brothers and sisters will be in the lives of family members with special needs longer than anyone. Brothers and sisters will be there after parents are gone and special education services are a distant memory. If they are provided with support and information, they can help their sibs live dignified lives from childhood to their senior years.

• Throughout their lives, brothers and sisters share many of the concerns that parents of children with special needs experience, including isolation, a need for information, guilt, concerns about the future, and care giving demands. Brothers and sisters also face issues that are uniquely theirs including resentment, peer issues, embarrassment, and pressure to achieve.

Despite the important and lifelong roles they will play in the lives of their siblings who have special needs, even the most familyfriendly agencies often overlook brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters, often left in the literal and figurative waiting rooms of service delivery systems, deserve better. True “familycentered” care and services will arrive when siblings are actively included in agencies’ functional definition of “family.”
The Sibling Support Project facilitated a discussion on SibNet, its listserv for adult siblings of people with disabilities, regarding the considerations that siblings want from parents, other family members, and service providers. Below is a discussion of themes discussed by SibNet members and recommendations from the Sibling Support Project:

1. The Right to One's Own Life. Throughout their lives, brothers and sisters may play many different roles in the lives of their siblings who have special needs. Regardless of the contributions they may make, the basic right of siblings to their own lives must always be remembered. Parents and service providers should not make assumptions about responsibilities typicallydeveloping siblings may assume without a frank and open discussion. "Nothing about us without us"— a phrase popular with selfadvocates who have disabilities — applies to siblings as well. Selfdetermination, after all, is for everyone — including brothers and sisters.

2. Acknowledging Siblings’ Concerns. Like parents, brothers and sisters will experience a wide array of often ambivalent emotions regarding the impact of their siblings’ special needs. These feelings should be both expected and acknowledged by parents and other family members and service providers. Because most siblings will have the longestlasting relationship with the family member who has a disability, these concerns will change over time. Parents and providers would be wise to learn more about siblings’ lifelong and everchanging concerns.

3. Expectations for TypicallyDeveloping Siblings. Families need to set high expectations for all their children. However, some typicallydeveloping brothers and sisters react to their siblings’ disability by setting unrealistically high expectations for themselves — and some feel they must somehow compensate for their siblings’ special needs. Parents can help their typicallydeveloping children by conveying clear expectations and unconditional support.

4. Expect Typical Behavior From TypicallyDeveloping Siblings. Although difficult for parents to watch, teasing, namecalling, arguing and other forms of conflict are common among most brothers and sisters – even when one has special needs. While parents may be appalled at siblings' harshness toward one another, much of this conflict can be a beneficial part of normal social development. A child with Down syndrome who grows up with siblings with whom he sometimes fights will likely be better prepared to face life in the community as an adult than a child with Down syndrome who grows up as an only child. Regardless of how adaptive or developmentally appropriate it might be, typical sibling conflict is more likely to result in feelings of guilt when one sibling has special health or developmental needs. When conflict arises, the message sent to many brothers and sisters is, "Leave your sibling alone. You are bigger, you are stronger, you should know better. It is your job to compromise." Typicallydeveloping siblings deserve a life where they, like other children, sometimes misbehave, get angry, and fight with their siblings.

5. Expectations for the Family Member with Special Needs. When families have high expectations for their children who have special needs, everyone will benefit. As adults, typicallydeveloping brothers and sisters will likely play important roles in the lives of their siblings who have disabilities. Parents can help siblings now by helping their children who have special needs acquire skills that will allow them to be as independent as possible as adults. To the extent possible, parents should have the same expectations for the child with special needs regarding chores and personal responsibility as they do for their typicallydeveloping children. Not only will similar expectations foster independence, it will also minimize the resentment expressed by siblings when there are two sets of rules — one for them, and another for their sibs who have special needs.

6. The Right to a Safe Environment. Some siblings live with brothers and sisters who have challenging behaviors. Other siblings assume responsibilities for themselves and their siblings that go beyond their age level and place all parties in vulnerable situations. Siblings deserve to have their own personal safety given as much importance as the family member who has special needs.

7. Opportunities to Meet Peers. For most parents, the thought of "going it alone," raising a child with special needs without the benefit of knowing another parent in a similar situation would be unthinkable. Yet, this routinely happens to brothers and sisters. Sibshops, listservs such as SibNet and SibKids, and similar efforts offer siblings the commonsense support and validation that parents get from ParenttoParent programs and similar programs. Brothers and sisters — like parents — like to know that they are not alone with their unique joys and concerns.

8. Opportunities to Obtain Information. Throughout their lives, brothers and sisters have an everchanging need for information about their sibling’s disability, and its treatment and implications. Parents and service providers have an obligation to proactively provide siblings with helpful information. Any agency that represents a specific disability or illness and prepares materials for parents and other adults should prepare materials for siblings and young readers as well.

9. Sibs’ Concerns about the Future. Early in life, many brothers and sisters worry about what obligations they will have toward their sibling in the days to come. Ways parents can reassure their typicallydeveloping children are to make plans for the future of their children with special needs, involve and listen to their typicallydeveloping children as they make these plans, consider backup plans, and know that siblings’ attitude toward the extent of their involvement as adults may change over time. When brothers and sisters are "brought into the loop" and given the message early that they have their parents' blessing to pursue their dreams, their future involvement with their sibling will be a choice instead of an obligation. For their own good and for the good of their siblings who have disabilities, brothers and sisters should be afforded the right to their own lives. This includes having a say in whether and how they will be involved in the lives of their siblings who have disabilities as adults, and the level, type, and duration of involvement.

10. Including Both Sons and Daughters. Just as daughters are usually the family members who care for aging parents, adult sisters are usually the family members who look after the family member with special needs when parents no longer can. Serious exploration of sharing responsibilities among siblings — including brothers — should be considered.

11. Communication. While good communication between parents and children is always important, it is especially important in families where there is a child who has special needs. An evening course in active listening can help improve communication among all family members, and books, such as How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk and Siblings Without Rivalry (both by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlich) provide helpful tips on communicating with children.

12. OneonOne time with Parents. Children need to know from their parents' deeds and words that their parents care about them as individuals. When parents carve time out of a busy schedule to grab a bite at a local burger joint or window shop at the mall with their typicallydeveloping children, it conveys a message that parents "are there" for them as well and provides an excellent opportunity to talk about a wide range of topics.

13. Celebrate Every Child’s Achievements and Milestones. Over the years, we’ve met siblings whose parents did not attend their high school graduation — even when their children were valedictorians — because the parents were unable to leave their child with special needs. We’ve also met siblings whose wedding plans were dictated by the needs of their sibling who had a disability. One child’s special needs should not overshadow another’s achievements and milestones. Families who seek respite resources, strive for flexibility, and seek creative solutions can help assure that the accomplishments of all family members are celebrated.

14. Parents’ Perspective is More Important than the Actual Disability. Parents would be wise to remember that the parents' interpretation of their child's disability will be a greater influence on the adaptation of their typically developing sibling than the actual disability itself. When parents seek support, information, and respite for themselves, they model resilience and healthy attitudes and behaviors for their typicallydeveloping children.

15. Include Siblings in the Definition of “Family.” Many educational, health care, and social service agencies profess a desire to offer familycentered services but continue to overlook the family members who will have the longestlasting relationship with the person who has the special needs — the sisters and brothers. When brothers and sisters receive the considerations and services they deserve, agencies can claim to offer “familycentered”— instead of “parentcentered”— services.

16. Actively Reach Out to Brothers and Sisters. Parents and agency personnel should consider inviting (but not requiring) brothers and sisters to attend informational, IEP, IFSP, and transition planning meetings, and clinic visits. Siblings frequently have legitimate questions that can be answered by service providers. Brothers and sisters also have informed opinions and perspectives and can make positive contributions to the child's team.

17. Learn More About Life as a Sibling. Anyone interested in families ought to be interested in siblings and their concerns. Parents and providers can learn more about “life as a sib” by facilitating a Sibshop, hosting a sibling panel, or reading books by and about brothers and sisters. Guidelines for conducting a sibling panel are available from the Sibling Support Project and in the Sibshop curriculum. Visit the Sibling Support Project’s website for a bibliography of siblingrelated books.

18. Create Local Programs Specifically for Brothers and Sisters. If your community has a ParenttoParent Program or similar parent support effort, a fair question to ask is: why isn’t there a similar effort for the brothers and sisters? Like their parents, brothers and sisters benefit from talking with others who "get it." Sibshops and other programs for preschool, schoolage, teen, and adult siblings are growing in number. The Sibling Support Project, which maintains a database of over 200 Sibshops and other sibling programs, provides training and technical assistance on how to create local programs for siblings.

19. Include Brothers and Sisters on Advisory Boards and in Policies Regarding Families. Reserving board seats for siblings will give the board a unique, important perspective and reflect the agency's concern for the wellbeing of brothers and sisters. Developing policies based on the important roles played by brothers and sisters will help assure that their concerns and contributions are a part of the agency's commitment to families.

20. Fund Services for Brothers and Sisters. No classmate in an inclusive classroom will have a greater impact on the social development of a child with a disability than brothers and sisters will. They will be their siblings' lifelong "typically developing role models." As noted earlier, brothers and sisters will likely be in the lives of their siblings longer than anyone — longer than their parents and certainly longer than any service provider. For most brothers and sisters, their future and the future of their siblings with special needs are inexorably entwined. Despite this, there is little funding to support projects that will help brothers and sisters get the information, skills and support they will need throughout their lives. Agencies would be wise to invest in the family members who will take a personal interest in the wellbeing of people with disabilities and advocate for them when their parents no longer can. As one sister wrote: “We will become caregivers for our siblings when our parents no longer can. Anyone interested in the welfare of people with disabilities ought to be interested in us.”

© The Sibling Support Project of the Arc of the United States. All rights reserved.

About the Sibling Support Project
The Sibling Support Project, believing that disabilities, illness, and mental health issues affect the lives of all family members, seeks to increase the peer support and information opportunities for brothers and sisters of people with special needs — and to increase parents’ and providers’ understanding of sibling issues.

Our mission is accomplished by training local service providers on how to create Sibshops (lively communitybased for schoolage brothers and sisters); hosting workshops, listservs, and websites for young and adult siblings; and increasing parents’ and providers’ awareness of siblings’ unique, lifelong, and everchanging concerns through workshops, websites, and written materials.

Based in Seattle since 1990, the Sibling Support Project is the only national effort dedicated to the interests of over six million brothers and sisters of people with special health, mental health and developmental needs.

For more information about Sibshops, sibling issues, and our workshops, listservs and publications, contact: Sibling Support Project of the Arc of the US

Don Meyer, Director 2976368
6512 23rd Ave NW #213 Seattle, WA 98117