Special needs resource fair set for Feb. 10 in Chicago


By Tamara L. O'Shaughnessy


Chicago mom Melanie Schlachter is passionate about helping parents with children with special needs find the help they need.

And she knows first-hand how tough it can be.

"As the parent of a child who was recently diagnosed with a developmental difference, I've just been absolutely amazed by all of the extraordinary resources that exist to help kids with different challenges," says Schlachter, Neighborhood Parents Network's associate executive director and point person for this month's NPN Developmental Differences Resource Fair.

"As a parent it's just a matter of finding those resources," she says. "I think (the fair) gives people the opportunity to explore some of those and make connections so they can find the right resources for their family."

Chicago Parent, which has a huge interest in helping special needs families find the information they need through its semi-annual Chicago Special Parent magazine and throughout the year, is one of the fair's sponsors again this year.

More than 50 exhibitors are expected for the second annual event, including schools, businesses, speech and occupational therapists and other therapeutic services.

The fair is aimed at families of children with a wide variety of special needs up to eighth grade, she says.

Multiple workshops are planned throughout the day, including one on health insurance, one on navigating the IEP process and one by LEEP Forward on how to set a child up for success.

"It's the only fair of its kind, so it is just such a unique offering," Schlachter says.


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