Jewish Family Service Special Needs Awareness Month

Jewish Family Service Special Needs Awareness Month 1

February is Special Needs Awareness Month and Jewish Disabilities and Inclusion Awareness Month!

The Special Needs Partnership at Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas works with many partners in the Dallas area to help provide an inclusive community for individuals with special needs and their families. We are proud to share with you several events that will be taking place in the Dallas area during the month of February.

Learn more about Special Needs Partnership Programs at or visit our calendar of events.

Upcoming Events

Jewish Federations of North America’s Jewish Disability Advocacy Month Activities

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Join us in participating in a full month of FREE virtual education, awareness, and empowerment opportunities in support of people with disabilities through JFNA programming. There are a variety of different webinars to choose from on different days and times throughout the month. Read the guide attached to find a compilation of accessible communication and streaming technology, national events, program ideas, and resources.

PERK Meeting

Jewish Family Service Special Needs Awareness Month 3

Thursday, February 10, 2022
8:00pm, Zoom

The endeavor of PERK is to create social and support connections between adults who are raising children with special needs. PERK events are facilitated by professionals from the JFS Special Needs Resource Team and are designed to give parents tools and support for everyday challenges.
Topic: Tea With The Teachers

We provide the teachers, you provide the tea! This open discussion will allow you to ask all your school-related questions to our qualified school intervention specialists and receive honest, insightful answers.

Speakers: Lori Sasson, Tova Reifman, and Stephanie Hochstein

Lori Sasson M. Ed. has worked in the field of special education for over 25 years. She has taught in multiple settings, working as a teacher, as a diagnostician, as a behavioral specialist, as an advocate, and as an academic intervention specialist.

Tova Reifman M. Ed., M. SpecEd. has been working in the field of special education for over ten years. She has taught in many integrated settings from preschool through high school. She is currently working as an Academic Intervention Specialist for Jewish Family Service.

Stephanie Hochstein is a former Dallas ISD middle school English teacher of four years and is currently a proud JFS Academic Interventionist. She has a master’s degree in Secondary Literacy and Specialized Instruction. Stephanie has a passion for using creativity to create memorable learning experiences that meet students where they are while fulfilling diverse learning needs.

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To be added to the monthly distribution list for PERK, email

Jewish Disability Advocacy Day featuring JFS Dallas CEO Cathy Barker

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Wednesday, February 23, 2022 (Opening Ceremony)
6:00pm / Thursday, February 24, 2022 (Advocacy Day)
12:00pm – 3:00pm

Unite with thousands of compassionate community members in fighting the societal stigma surrounding individuals with disabilities. There is strength in numbers. Together, we can make a powerful impact – advancing the public policies that support the health and well-being of those with disabilities in our hometowns and nationwide.

Together, we’ll learn about promoting national legislation and implementing grassroots strategies that will we hope will help lift millions of people with disabilities out of poverty and receive the tools and coaching to advocate for disability rights in real-time. We’ll take concrete action at this event – individually yet together.

Be sure to tune in at 12:00pm CST on February 24 for the “Barriers to Inclusion: Understanding and Addressing the Challenges” panel, where JFS CEO Cathy Barker will serve as a panelist.

Book Club and Movie Night

Thursday, February 24, 2022, 7:00pm
Temple Emanu-El: 8500 Hillcrest Rd, Dallas, TX 75225

Join Temple Emanu-El for an in-person book discussion and a screening of the movie The Reason I Jump.

Written by Naoki Higashida, a thirteen-year-old boy with autism, The Reason I Jump is a memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Through a series of questions and answers punctuated with other bits of insight and a short story that illustrates the isolation he feels, Higashida provides readers with a unique look into the mind of a person with autism.

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?”

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How to Help Young Children Self-Regulate

Jewish Family Service Special Needs Awareness Month 7

Wednesday, February 23, 2022
7:00pm – 8:00pm

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Learn practical steps for teachers and parents to support children ages 3-10 during difficult times. Join Simone Martens for this 1 hour presentation on methods of teaching self-regulation with a live question and answer session.

Professional Presenters:
Simone Martens, MS, LPC, RPT is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist. Simone obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of North Texas where she specialized in Play Therapy. Simone has worked for JFS Dallas since 2018; her experience includes proving counseling services to children, parents, and individual adults dealing with trauma, depression, and anxiety.

Resource Guide

The Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas Special Needs Partnership has compiled a comprehensive list of local, state, and national resources for those with special needs.

Please note that the following resource guide is an accumulation of our own research and is not an endorsement of any particular organization. This list is non-exhaustive and will continue to be updated as more resources come to our attention.

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The Special Needs Partnership was founded by a group of local families to advocate more strongly on behalf of their special needs children. The partnership is a grass-roots initiative that furthers awareness and inclusion through education and support for individuals and families through community programming. To learn more about the Special Needs Partnership, please visit our website or call (972) 437-9950.

To have your event added to our online Special Needs Awareness Month Calendar, please email

Jewish Family Service Special Needs Awareness Month 9

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