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Starting the New Year with Special Support

January 20, 2020

As winter break winds down with Chanukah and all the holiday fun behind us, we welcome 2020 with new wide eyes, new resolutions, and a renewed hope for a wonderful fresh year. With this also comes the return of our little ones to school for another trimester and a return to our day to day routines.

For those of us with special needs kids, the return to school after a long break can definitely be a challenge. Below are some helpful hints to help you navigate through the transition back to school, as well as some great resources to look into to better support your kiddo(s) throughout the year.


Helpful Hints:

  • Always remember to prepare your special needs kiddo prior to the first day back to school by letting him/her know exactly what the schedule will look like that day. This can be in a verbal conversation or a written schedule that you can go over with your child the night before. 
  • Involve your kiddo as much as possible in decision making for the first day of school. For example, have your child pick out his/her clothing for that day or help pack his/her lunch for the day.
    * Very Important – Build in extra time in the morning to manage meltdowns when/if they occur. Oy Vey, this can be stressful!


  • Autism Community Store (14095 E. Exposition Ave., Aurora, 80012) – This is a great place to visit not only for sensory gifts for Chanukah, Birthdays, etc., but also for general, as well as school specific sensory friendly items for kids, such as pencil grips, fidgets, chew stixx and wiggle cushions for sitting.
  • Beyond the Blackboard (Southlands Mall) – Also has great sensory friendly items for kids and definitely worth exploring.
  • Developmental Pathways – If you have not already become a member of or received qualification for a waiver via Developmental Pathways, please go to and see if you qualify. If you qualify, your child can receive free classes, therapies (Music/Movement therapy, OT, Speech Therapy etc) and resources that he/she may need. DP is also a great resource for connecting you to the special needs community and to information pertaining to respite, transportation resources and community outreach programs.
  • Autism Speaks – This is also a great website ( to explore for resources and information. You can also participate in an annual Autism Speaks Walk/Fundraiser if you are interested and raise money for the cause. I have participated in 2 walks to date and plan on doing it annually going forward! Who wants to join me?

Hopefully some of this information will help support you in having a much smoother and less stressful transition into 2020 and carry you throughout the year. I wish you all health and happiness this year and thank you for continuing to support my efforts in contributing One Piece of the Puzzle to making a better and more inclusive world for our kids!


Bernadette Gien has been a stay at home mom for the past 13 years to two wonderful kids and just recently became a single mom. Prior to becoming a mom, she was a Massage Therapist and worked in various medical facilities in one capacity or another. She is currently pursuing her CNA license to enhance her skills in taking care of her special needs son and is constantly looking for new opportunities to volunteer and be involved in our special needs community. Berna moved to Colorado from Southern California almost 5 years ago and absolutely loves it here (even the snow!). She enjoys tapping into her creative side and has a hobby/side business making fused glass jewelry. She is an active member of the Jewish community and loves spending time with her kids, traveling when possible, and socializing with friends.

Additional posts written by Bernadette Gien
Chanukah and Chappiness
Giving Special Thanks
Navigating Halloween and Seasonal Changes With Special Needs Children
One Piece Of The Puzzle – High Holidays

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