Cookies with Santa 2015 an Event for Children with Special Needs

Santa had contacted AiN’s Executive Director, Autumn Green explaining that he couldn’t make it to Breakfast with Santa this year. Autumn was disappointed she had already planned on making Green and Ham for the Dr. Seuss Christmas theme.  She understood the schedule conflict, so she agreed to have Santa join the kids on Saturday, December 12, 2015 for Cookies with Santa.



What a hit! 30 plus kids registered one of the two 45 minute sessions.  Kids rotated through four stations: Cookie station, art station, sensory station and Santa station. While they waited to see Santa they were able to look at books.logan2

With donations from Maggie Wolf each child received a stocking stuff full of goodies, and of course Santa had presents for each child. (2 books) which was possible by the sponsors of this event. Santa, Mrs Claus and Karen De Jager at Spectrum Photography worked extremely hard to make sure every child had a positive interaction with Santas Claus.  Santa was even willing to pop out from behind a chair so that the family had one photo with Santa and their daughter.


Thank you to all our sponsors: Matt Rinn at State Farm, Debbie Smith at AHA Movement, Margret Miner at VinoCruising, Joe Stokely at Stokely Properties, and Michael Bronies at J. Rockcliff Realtors. We cannot forget all the other 1volunteers that put hours into preparing for this event. This event wouldn’t have been successful without you. A special thank you to Jen Tipton, who made dozens and dozens of cookies for this event.

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AiN Trunk or Treat 2015 for Families who have Children with Special Needs

DSC_0074Our first Trunk or Treat was successful! We  had 56 children registered who might have otherwise not been able to enjoy the traditional trick or treating experience that many children take for granted. Though we aren’t sure how many secretly entered without letting us know they made it to this special event. We do know at least 45 kids did show up, and some from the other side of the Bay! The skeletons, the princess, the policemen, the butterflies, minecraft skins, and so many more stopped by at least 30 trunks at Oak Park Christain Center in Pleasant Hill on October 24th. Support came through various people within our community. We had sponsors from local business, AiN board members and volunteers, Diablo Valley College staff and students, and Oak Park Christian Center church members  setup their trunks for this special event. Kids seemed to flock to the trunk who brought a live chicken, though their was a fortune teller, fire fighter, fishing, and so much more there!  As kids had a blast parents enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere and a time to socialize with other parents. Here is what one parents said.

Thank you so much for this wonderful event, not only did my daughter have a great time but me and my whole family did as well. For me, I get very stressed out when I feel I have to explain my daughters behaviors to people (why she doesn’t say trick ortreat, or thank you, or hello) for me not having the pressure of having to explain that or worry that people think she is being rude was priceless to me. What you do is amazing, and I would love to help support the all in need organization in any way I can. Thank you again. Xx -Danette Schmidt Niblett

A special thank you to Ally’s Girl Scout Troop and Oak Park Christian Center Youth Group, and AiN volunteers and their families!


This event was successful because of our sponsors and volunteers!
A huge thank you to the following our Gold Sponsors!

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Julie McCoy Team Realtor®/

Broker Associate BRE Lic. # 01260930 Remax Accord

We Make things Happen!
Serving Buyers and Sellers
with Passion and Compassion



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Silver Sponsors

Sue Wood Photography
Skin Deep
Pam Green Keller
Williams Realty
Dr. Dietzen
Jennifer Voss
Active Reading
Goals for Autism
Other Sponsors
Mark Gebhardt Photography

IMG_1664Make sure you visit our facebook page to see all the fun photos!

Parent Interview with Rachel Shirley

bridgeWhy are you thankful for All in Need? 

“I am thankful for All in Need because of the break I get during the couple of hours and the time I get to spend with my husband.” – Rachel Shirley

Did you have plans tonight?

“Me and my husband went out to dinner and went on a nice walk.” – Rachel Shirley

How long have you been a part of All in Need?

“This is my second month being a part of All in Need and I love everything about the program.” – Rachel Shirley


Interviewed and written by: Fatima Ali

Photo by Jacob Green

Animal Planet at Revive!

DSCN2851Autumn Green, founder of All in Need, hosted her June event on Saturday June 20. The theme of each event varies from month to month, and this month was “animals near and far”.

   On Saturday, there were about 10 children and 10 volunteers who came to support the event. Autumn hosts all the events herself by organizing different activities for the children.

   The activities began with animal racing between all of the kids. They did ape walks, frog jumps, bear crawls, and crab crawls.

    After each kid participated, they moved on to arts and crafts.

    The arts and crafts are divided up into two groups consisting of one for the smaller children and another for the youth. They do one activity which could either be painting or drawing. These crafts require the children to use basic skills such as cutting, gluing and painting.

    Following the arts and crafts, the kids did yoga, had story time and watched a series of educational videos. Then, they danced a long to some songs and ended the program with some more interactive games.

    All the children participated in these activities and had fun interacting with all of the other kids.

     The next event will be on July 18.


Written by: Fatma Ali

Photos by: Ally Tipton

Science Fun at Respite

May 16th’s Revive theme was Science.  We came up with a fun ways to incorporate science into our obstacle course! We decided to have the kids walk on eggs to see if they break them. We even had a little girl try to run over an egg with her wheel chair to see if the egg would hold up. Check out the fun!



Disneyland and Our Child with Special Needs

Disneyland Family Trip

I have heard nothing, but complaining from the parents in the special needs community about Disneyland’s recent policy change for families that bring their child with special needs. First, I should say my son has Aspergers and is high functioning and we took a family trip to Disneyland the first week of June 2014.

yaakov carryHe wanted to try Disneyland without using the disability pass, and we supported his desire to be like his brotherand cousins. Though, I should have taken him in to get it first thing and if he didn’t want to use it would have been available if needed. Waiting in the line to go into Disneyland, he turns white and says I am getting a headache which is his first sign of being overstimulated. He still refused to go get the pass, and then he and cousin took off on their own I received a call saying he has a migraine and he was in line for the Cars ride. I happened further up in line on for same ride, and asked if he wanted me to come back and get him. He said no. As we loaded onto the ride we saw him and his coloring was bad. When he got off I offered to go get the pass again. It wasn’t until he was upset by a lady who started yelling at my sister, my mom, and me that he gave in and got the pass. The lady had him so scared, because of her behavior that I couldn’t get him calmed down and I finally told him lets go get the pass. (Thank God, he didn’t hear the lady threatening us; otherwise, I would have never gotten him to ride on another ride.)

At this point, I still had no idea how the pass worked. I just knew we were on the first day, he had rode on two rides and he already had three different issues. I went to the customer service area with my son and told them what was going on. The lady was amazing! She asked me if I knew how the pass worked and then explained it.

1. You signup for a ride with a long wait for example Splash Mountain had a 90 minute wait. They write down 80 minutes instead of 90.
2. You DO NOT have to wait in line those 80 minutes.
3. They recommend eating, shopping, or go on the rides that have ten minute waits or less.
4. They asked how many were in our party. In our case there was 10. They asked to see all 10 people to verify.

They took his picture and put it on the front of the pass with how many were in the party. They also told us they had customer kiosk booths throughout the park where we could add the next ride on to the pass AFTER we finished the ride. We would find a kiosk and I would tell them the ride he wanted to go on next. Then they sent us on our way.
The only thing I found annoying about the whole things is the kiosks were not always easy to access. They were small and far apart so they were not easy to find; however, the customer services was friendly and very helpful.

Day 1 had a few more meltdowns. I met my cousin who lives in Southern California for drinks and left the boys with my mom and sister. The older son’s phone died, so the younger one had a meltdown because his brother was lost. (He was in the meeting place waiting patiently with his cousin for an adult to come find them.) Then after his brother was found he had another meltdown because his brother was lost because he didn’t get the message on the phone in time. (Can you tell I waited too long to get the pass?)

Day 2 was better and Bubbie and Papa (grandma & grandpa) rented him a scooter to ride around on. Now it may sound stupid, but let’s think about this. I walked 20+ miles on the first day which means my boy wasn’t too far behind me in distance walked. His feet were hurting bad and he was already overstimulated. This took one thing out of the equation which really did help. Day 2, myself, hubby and our youngest did our own thing on his schedule. He chose to sign up for a ride and set and wait a lot on day 2.

Men in the familyDay 3 we hung out with family that day, but Bubbie took Yaakov on some of the more quiet rides like canoeing and that sort of thing. But, of course we had to have one last melt down. Family pictures and the photographer had him tears. It never fails; pictures with the whole family and he ends up in tears.

We as a group of ten only used the pass once with all of us there. The rest of the time, family members did their own thing. I felt Disneyland allowed our family to enjoy Disneyland as a whole group. Supported my son and his disabilities, but mostly I felt it was fair that my son had to wait like every other kid that goes to Disneyland, but I appreciated that we didn’t have to wait in line. We have worked hard teaching our son that even though he has a disability it doesn’t mean things in life will be handed to him. I think the staff at Disneyland did a very good job at trying to balance the experience for families with children with special needs.

Thank you, Papa and Bubbie for the fun and Disneyland thank you for making this vacation possible!

Children with Special Need’s Some Bunny Loves You Egg Hunt

Some Bunny Loves You - 1It has always been the founder’s dream to hold an Easter Egg Hunt for children with special needs. Of course this dream came from watching her youngest son, many years ago, try to pick up Easter eggs and having issues with his gross motor skills he would drop the plastic eggs and spill them out of the basket around him and other children would grab them all. Of course, he was younger so he didn’t grasp what was happening but being a mommy it just broke her heart to watch.

Togos-MedallionFor several years it has been a goal to offer this event to children with special needs, and finally this April AiN offered Some Bunny Loves You Egg hunt. It was successful due to ToGo’s and Dave at Prudential’s donations which allowed each child to bring home their own Easter basket! Dr. Tanner and Dr. Reichhold Orthdonics also donated to make sure we could fill over 500 eggs! Colorful plastic eggs came from Ann at Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, Sherly, Cathy, and we even had 250 of them donated by a supporter from New Jersey! But, that isn’t even close to being all that helped out in this event. We had local boy scouts come in and volunteer, AiN volunteers, and two board members came in and helped out, Erica who did registration and Emily who took the pictures. We had five local businesses that partnered with AiN to giving children the opportunity to participate in an Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt: Slow Hand BBQ, Safeway, Ann’s Sunshine Café, Encounter Music, and Round Table Pizza. Of course, we cannot forget the Easter Bunny that was there, thank you Austin Green for taking on this role, and the bunny costume was made possible by a supporter in Oregon!PRU_TAG_LOCKUP_SM_042511

We had about 8 kids all younger children or children who needed more support to start the morning off with the field egg hunt where the Easter Bunny gave the go to hunt eggs. Many of the children filled up their basket and dumped it out on the side lines and went back for another basket full! The event was calm and children took their time hunting their eggs and with 8 kids having the opportunity to grab more than 20 eggs each they were sure to get their sugar rush and miniature toys.

egg hunt rath 8The photographer, Emily, took pictures of the event but also took pictures of the children with the Easter Bunny. Also, children could get their face painted by Ka’ae and have balloon animals made for them by Yaakov after the field event.

slow handsunshineAt 9:45 the older kids headed down Oak Park Blvd with volunteers. Where their first safewaystop was Slow Hand BBQ. First the children had to outline their hands with chalk then go ask Maureen for their egg and the next clue. The next clue sent them to Safeway where the kids had to purchase something under $2 and thenrequest their eggs and get next clue. Next they went to Ann’s Sunshine Café where the children had to wait patiently for Easter eggs and the next clue which sent them to Music Encounter. The children had to perform their best air guitar while the owner played his guitar for them. He made sure each child got an egg and then gave the next clue. The last stop was Round Table Pizza where the children had to make their own pizza with play-doh and have the staff judge which one of these play-doh creations they would serve. The kids then headed back up to the field where they started where 100 eggs waited in the field to be grabbed up and put in their Easter encounterround table

As the children left the event they grabbed the baskets that ToGo’s and Dave at Prudential made possible.
It was a calm successful event that couldn’t have been done without so many supportive community members, and Autumn, the founder, was in heaven being able to offer this event to the community!

Taking Care of Yourself While Taking Care of Others

I Run Because I CanIf I haven’t asked before, let me ask now. How do you take care of yourself? At AiN we want to make sure you are doing things that are taking care of yourself. I know for myself being able to leave my son, who has special needs with anyone wasn’t the easiest thing. Yet, I tried to make sure I made it to the gym knowing if there was a problem them would call me. They called me more than once and they quickly learned that Yaakov didn’t like to be touched.

I have wrote before, that I know one thing I have to do is exercise to make it through my daily up and downs with having a child with special needs, working, and now let’s adding schooling on to it.  Even though I know that working out keeps me balanced yet it is what goes first. (Then my clean house) I was cross country runner and long distance runner in school and even when I start exercising at the gym it doesn’t take me long to start running. It is imbedded into who I am. So, imagine my delight to find out about a nonprofit called Irun4. Irun4 partners runners with a person with special needs. You log miles for your partner and send encouragement throughout the week on Facebook. This being my opportunity to make sure I am taking care of myself, yet in the meantime I am going to make sure I get my workouts in because I am doing it for someone else not just myself anymore.

A night run for my buddy!
A night run for my buddy!

It took months before I was placed with my buddy, but it was well worth my wait. I was thrilled to find out that my buddy was nine years old and like my own son on the Autism spectrum. The best part of the adventure is our whole family runs 4 Jahdiel! My oldest tumbles for him and target practice with him in mind. My husband dedicates his miles he walks to and from work and then when he runs he makes sure I have the miles to add to my buddy’s mom’s Facebook page. As I learn more about my east coast buddy. I decided how I will dedicate my runs and workout for him. For example he loves Dr. Seuss so I am thinking I may have to get Cat and the Hat’s hat so I can where it on my 10K!

Even more as a parent of a child with special needs there is time I feel overwhelmed and my spirit is just crushed. Wishing that someone was there to help me encourage my son throughout the week I wondered why I hadn’t requested a buddy for Yaakov. I felt guilty considering it because Yaakov does fairly well in soccer and baseball and it very competitive. Yet, with some support from the Facebook group, I applied for a runner for Yaakov. Though my wait for a buddy was months; Yaakov, was placed with buddy within four hours.

Yaakov’s buddy is on the East Coast and her name is Stacy and like Jahdiel Yaakov received an additional buddy, whose name is Aaron I wasn’t sure how my eleven year old would feel about having a buddy, but during Christmas vacation he wanted to make cookies for Stacy and Aaron.  He messaged her on Facebook (through my page) just the other day complaining that his school was making him dance and he couldn’t remember the dances. So, she said her and her friend would make a video and post it on my Facebook page so he could practice.

Why carry all the burden when their others who want to encourage you! Sign up your child to get a running buddy. While you’re at it why don’t you take care of yourself and get a workout in and let benefit another person out there. See how you can support someone who uses  Irun4 or how they can support your family?


Santa Came to Town!

Erin & SantaThough Santa has come and gone, he and Mrs. Claus made a special stop to visit and have breakfast with some of our AiN children and their families on December 14th.
Twenty-five participants in all. Mrs. Claus had made a special batch of candy canes just for the visit and Santa brought gifts for each child.  Both Mrs. Claus and Santa graciously took time to have their pictures taken with the children and volunteers. Brittany Erin Photography was nice enough to come out from San Francisco and fight the chill in the air to capture our event on camera. (I heard that she has a deal on Living Social)AiN and santa

Santa and Mrs. Claus even checked our returning Christmas tree. That is right, the Dr. Seuss themed tree returned from last year; topped with The Cat in the Hat’s Hat. The decorations were done by two wonderful ladies in the South Bay last year for the Christmas Tree contest done at Westfield Valley Fair Mall. It was a great delight to be able to pull the decorations out again for such a wonderful occasion.

This special Social Club still offered families a break from their special needs child to finish their shopping or just take an hour and half of alone time, but even with the offer many parents stayed to watch the excitement of their little ones conquering the fear of sitting on Santa’s lap and not having to wait in those long lines at the mall.

Breakfast was made by two amazing girls scouts and their mothers; while The Boy Scouts, Troop 22, served breakfast and made sure our participants had someone to talk to.  Of course we had several of our AiN volunteers on hand to help setup.

A special thank you to all volunteers who helped us out! I want send a warm thank you to Trader Joe’s in Concord and Trader Joe’s in Walnut Creek, Sprouts, Safeway on Contra Costa and Safeway on Patterson who helped make this event possible.  We must not forget to send a great big hug to Santa and Mrs. Claus, so they will return next year! (Thank you, Tom and Dorothy!)girl scout

I received an email from the Easter Bunny and he was thinking about hopping on by in April! Who is in?





Care Parent Network Newsletter

We are in The Link, The Care Parent Network Summer Newsletter. Make sure you check us out, we are on page 18!