SPARK = Special Education Parents Accessing Resources and Knowledge

SPARK meetings are designed to give parents information to help them in their current and future steps of the journey of parenting children with unique needs. As parents, we guide and make decisions for our children and their development.

The task can be overwhelming and we want nothing more than to be as informed as we can be when we set the course we believe our child should take. The SPARK committee and District 15 are grateful to have you and desire to serve you such that your journey is successful!

At SPARK we realize the importance of providing:

  • Relevant programs and resources related to special education
  • Opportunities to network, receive support and help
  • Connections for parents with outside sources

The above are primarily accomplished at the district level through evening programs with outside speakers. We have SPARK representatives at each school who are a local contact and resource to the individual schools. We also have an online support group. If you would like to subscribe to this group:

Visit or send an email to

SPARK will be meeting monthly for the 2018-2019 school year.

This year we will be focusing not only on empowering and caring for your children, but also caring for yourself. Please see the reverse side of this flyer (2018-2019 SPARK Meetings) for the meeting dates and topics. Our meetings will take place in the District Board Room (unless noted otherwise) at:

Walter R. Sundling Junior High School
1100 N. Smith Street, Palatine, IL 60067
7:00–8:30 p.m.

If you would like to be contacted by or connected with SPARK, contact Orenza Jaske at

SPARK is a Northwest Suburban Council of PTA/PTSA committee serving families of children with special needs in Community Consolidated School District 15 and beyond. SPARK is proud to be in partnership with PTA!

SPARK Program Calendar
2018-19 School Year

Monday, September 17th: Special Education Help for Special Needs Parents                                                                                       

Catherine Whitcher, MEd, Founder of the Online IEP Help Center and Special Education Advocate will join us. Bring your child’s IEP to review. Ask questions about your child’s education services, placement, IEP goals, and more. Find out how to be an equal member of the special education team. Receive an IEP checklist. Create an action plan for your child’s education.

Monday, October 22nd:   Anxiety in Children

Helping children stress less is difficult in today’s high pressure world. Kim Rapach, LCSW at Bending Birch Counseling, Barrington, will be our guest to discuss what is normal anxiety is versus anxiety disorders. She will address common anxiety disorders in children and adolescents and their causes, signs and symptoms. Co-occurring disorders will also be reviewed. Parents will leave with practical recommendations on helping your child cope, available treatments and examples of accommodations for IEP/504 plans.

Monday, November 26th:  Executive Functioning Skills and Related Disorders

Julie Fanning, LCSW of Holding Hope Services, West Dundee will shed light on the sometimes confusing topic of Executive Functioning. Julie will explain what exactly executive functioning is. Why is it so important? What causes problems with executive function? How to identify if your child has problems with executive function? What are related disorders of executive function? (ie. Executive Functioning Disorder, ADHD, etc)

What are ways to help with Executive Function Deficits?

Monday, January 28th: DIR/Floortime                                       

Floortime’s premise is that adults can help children expand their circles of communication by meeting them at their developmental level and building on their strengths. Brittany LaCursia, MS,CCC- SLP and Elena DiSanto, MA-CCC  from In2great Pediatric Therapy, Buffalo Grove will present basic concepts of Floortime. They will explain DIR and Floortime. They will talk about how Floortime works and how they incorporate it into their therapy. In addition, they will describe benefits of Floortime and the use of Floortime with both younger and older children.

Monday, February 25th:  Social Thinking                               

Lara Kowalski, LCSW, school social worker from Marion Jordan Elementary School will be our guest. All day long we use social thinking, as we think about others and their perceptions and feelings.  Often students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social Communication Disorder, ADHD, behavior concerns, NVLD, etc. have difficulties noticing and interpreting the perspectives and actions of others.  Social Thinking® is a theory and set of curricula created by Michelle Garcia Winner (, focusing on improving social competencies in our learners with social cognition challenges.  This presentation will cover the basic concepts and curricula of Social Thinking®, giving ideas for implementation.

Monday, March 18th:   Planning for Summer Fun

The Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA) and Mary Alice Gilgunn from We Rock the Spectrum in Palatine will join us to talk about their summer programs and all their organizations have to offer.

Monday, April 22nd:  Interoception: The 8th Sensory System                       

Meribeth Cassidy, MS OTR/L of Step Forward Therapy, Arlington Heights will discuss with us what interoception is and how the interoceptive system works. She will talk about why interoception is so important. She will help us understand the following questions: How does interoception affect other sensory systems? How does it influence self-regulation? How does it connect to our emotions? What can be done to improve interoception?