Find help at Developmental Differences Resource Fair

Transitions are big when you have a child with special needs, something Ellen Sternweiler and Melanie  Schlachter understand very well.

NPN Developmental Differences Resource Fair

  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 8
  • DePaul College Prep, 3633 N. California Ave., Chicago (formerly known as Gordon Tech High School)
  • Free, register at to expedite check-in

So when organizers met to plan this year’s Neighborhood Parents Network Developmental Differences Resource Fair, of which Chicago Parent is a sponsor, they knew they wanted to help the growing number of parents with older children prepare for those big transitions, rather than just young families.

“This year we’re trying to highlight topics that will help with early, middle and older age-range families,” says Schlachter, NPN’s executive director.

That means parents with children with special needs will walk away from this year’s fair with plenty of tips for managing challenging behavior, handling transitions and insight on collaboration.

In its fourth year, the fair draws nearly 100 exhibitors with information and services parents really need.

“I think we have grown from the early intervention type of atmosphere to more encompassing of the journey. Early intervention is just the start of it all. For parents like us, it’s forever,” says Sternweiler, a Chicago mom and owner of The Sensory Store.

The workshops are always hugely popular with parents.

“Every time I walk away with a new trick up my sleeve,” Schlachter says about the workshops.

This year’s includes an expert panel discussion on the types of support for families and how to get everyone working together.

A second workshop promises immediate takeaways as a panel of parents talk about managing challenging behavior with a focus on tools, tactics and practical tips, Schlachter says.

The third workshop focuses on the transitions, encompassing everything from school transitions to social and emotional transitions.

“We want our fair to be relevant,” Sternweiler says.

“The reality is I’m just a mom with kids with developmental differences and I’m looking for answers the same as everyone else. If they are not there, I’m going to make the fair encompass it.”

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