Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year's Eve!

2014 was a year full of memories and milestones for Unicorn as we are celebrating our 20th Anniversary.
2015 is going to be even bigger and better!
Join us on January 15, 2015 for a Community Conversation on Special Needs and Disability, and on February 28, 2015 for Emerald Ball. For more information, visit
Thank you to all of our supporters who have made Unicorn Children's Foundation what it is today. We can't wait for all of you to continue with us on our journey in 2015...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

There is Still Time to Make a Difference

We're hoping you'll help us start our 20th year off right by making a year end tax-deductible donation!
Unicorn Children's Foundation envisions a world where all people, regardless of their neurological differences, can be fully engaged members of society who are given the opportunity to...
- Obtain and sustain employment,
- Pursue continued academic endeavors,
- Enjoy social/recreational activities, and
- Live independently in communities of their own choosing.
Your gift will help us to continue our mission to provide leadership, education, and funding to ensure the success and inclusion of individuals with neurodiversity in everyday routines, activities, and places.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Unwanted Holiday Gifts?

Don't run straight to those return lines to give back any holiday gifts!
Consider donating them to Unicorn Children's Foundation for our Auction at our 2015 Gala, Emerald Ball on February 28, 2015 at Boca West Country Club.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Different Gene Mutations May Determine Severity, Type of Autism

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter
MONDAY, Dec. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Different types of gene mutations may play a role in the severity and type of autism, new research suggests.
The findings could lead to improved diagnosis and treatments for the disorder, the researchers added.
No two people with autism have the exact type and severity of behaviors, according to background information from the study. Investigators analyzed hundreds of autism patients and nearly 1,000 genes to determine how gene mutations influence autism symptoms.
They found that more damaging genetic mutations usually result in more severe autism symptoms, that autism patients with little or no verbal skills often have mutations in genes that are more active in the brain, and that those with less severe autism symptoms were less likely to have mutations that completely shut down genes.
The researchers also found that gene mutations play a role in gender differences in autism. While autism is far more common in males, females with autism are more likely to have severe symptoms.
The genes that are mutated in females with autism have greater activity in the brain than those that are mutated in males with autism, according to the study published Dec. 22 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
"If we can understand how different mutations lead to different features of [autism], we may be able to use patients' genetic profiles to develop accurate diagnostic and prognostic tools, and perhaps personalize treatment," senior study author Dennis Vitkup, an associate professor of systems biology and biomedical informatics at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, said in a university news release.
More information
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about autism.
Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Mark Your Calendar for a Community Conversation on Special Needs and Disability

Sunday, December 21, 2014

15 College Programs for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues

By Understood Editors

While all colleges must provide basic supports to students with learning disabilities and ADHD, many go beyond that. Some even offer fee-based programs to help build learning and executive functioning skills. Check out this list of 15 from Lauren Sagat, director of college guidance at Purnell School in Pottersville, New Jersey.

Read More:

Friday, December 19, 2014

In Loving Memory of Howard Holmes

It is a very sad day at Unicorn today. Our long-time volunteer and supporter, Howard Holmes passed away. Thank you for all of your help, hard work, and laughs over the years. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Holmes Family.

In Loving Memory of Michael Taylor

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing our beloved benefactor and community philanthropist, Michael Taylor. Thank you for everything you've done for Unicorn. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Taylor Family.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Center for Independent Living of Broward (CILB)

Leadership The Center for Independent Living of Broward sets out to create future advocates among the disability community. Eight to 10 individuals with disabilities will be selected to participate in a 10-month program through which participants will commit to work on specific disciplines related to: transportation, healthcare, employment, cultural arts, economic development, education, housing, and government. Participants meet once a month from 9:30-4:30. Corporate sponsorships fund participants’ completion of the program (so, there is no cost to the participants).

Applications are available online at: The application contains much more detailed information about the program.

Please feel free to share this information with anyone you think might be interested. Applications must be received by December 31, 2014.

The profile of the applicants we’re looking for include:
• Have a documented disability.
• Demonstrate a commitment to improving the community for persons with disabilities.
• Commit to full participation and active involvement in the program.
• Arrange for his/her own transportation to and from program day sites and other program meeting locations.
• Be willing to be an ambassador of CILB and spokesperson for disability issues

For more information contact:

Jené Kapela Leadership Solutions, LLC
Developing leaders who create change and achieve success!
Website: Phone: (305) 332-6688

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Hanukkah from Unicorn Children's Foundation!

The next frontier in workplace diversity: brain differences

We are on the cusp of a civil rights movement for workers on the autism spectrum and those who have conditions like ADHD and dyslexia. Companies and managers at many companies have already begun to take note.

A burgeoning civil rights movement is poised to change the workplace, and it revolves around differences in brain function. Advocates for neurodiversity say that it’s just as critical to business success as gender or racial diversity in the labor force.
A growing number of companies actively recruit candidates on the autism spectrum for tasks that are suited to their strengths, such as those involving large amounts of data or rigorous attention to detail. They include SAP, Freddie Mac, ULTRA Testing, as well as specialized recruiting and placement firms for people with neurological differences.
Given that an estimated 70% of disabilities aren’t obvious to the casual observer, it’s a certainty that even more organizations already employ people with a brain difference, whether it’s autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette’s syndrome, disfluency, or a mood disorder. Many companies have employee resource groups and networks to support workers with their own or a family member’s neurological difference.
“We see differences in physical, cognitive, and mental health as differences in the human condition,” says Lori Golden, abilities strategy leader for EY. “The most relevant challenge for business is to bring in the very best talent for the work we do and create an environment that can unleash the full abilities of every person.”
Individuals with a neurological disability often possess a strength associated with their condition, in the same way a blind person may enjoy a keen sense of smell, hearing, or taste. For instance, people with ADHD tend to be innovative, curious, and active. “There are a huge number of jobs that are open to people who are super creative, energetic, and information seeking,” notes Karin Wulf, a William & Mary history professor who spearheaded the college’s neurodiversity working group.
About 2% of the population has an atypical neurological structure, the same percentage within the U.S. as the Jewish population, a group that no recruiter would consider discounting in a talent search, points outs John Elder Robison, author and neurodiversity scholar-in-residence at The College of William & Mary.
“Neurodiversity, from the standpoint of a human resources department, is poised to be the next civil rights frontier that will have to be dealt with,” says Robison, who realized he was on the autism spectrum as an adult. “One in 50 is not small.”
This revolution poses challenges for both neuro-atypical individuals and employers. Workers must learn to understand and manage their own brain differences and how and when to disclose it to colleagues and supervisors. Companies must create inclusive cultures that encourage openness about how each person works best, not to mention screening and recruiting the best talent without being blinded by neurological conditions that aren’t relevant to a job’s requirements.
“In the autistic community you have a significant number of people, often with substantial technical skills or education, who are systemically undervalued by the job market as a result of not interviewing well or not making eye contact,” says Ari Ne’eman, president and co-founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and the first openly autistic presidential appointee.
In partnership with ASAN, Freddie Mac established a paid internship program that places candidates with autism in three areas: information technology, enterprise risk management, and the single-family mortgage business.
“This is an untapped reservoir of talent that we have discovered,” says Megan Pirochukoas, a senior diversity specialist at Freddie Mac, who warns that other employers ignore autistic candidates at their peril. “You’re overlooking someone who is highly analytical, very focused, and very task-oriented, who likes to be in that space.”
Adults with autism tend to be underemployed because they often face challenges with social interaction. So Freddie Mac coached hiring managers to dig deeper if they received a resume with a spotty work record and to be open to adapting the screening process so autistic candidates could shine, such as giving interview questions in advance. Managers and employees who would be working with interns also received neurodiversity training ahead of time and participated in a buddy system to pair interns with neurotypical employees in their group. The housing finance company brought in ASAN about halfway through the 16-week internship for a pulse check, so interns would have a safe place to address concerns or problems they might be experiencing.
Now in the fourth year of the internship program, Freddie Mac has hired several interns as permanent full-time employees. Managers have discovered that some of the tools they developed for working with autistic adults—such as being extremely clear with instructions and asking how people prefer to communicate—are actually useful practices for all employees. Some Freddie Mac employees even came to realize that they themselves might be on the autism spectrum.
Outside of an internship program aimed at a neurodiverse population, it’s tricky for an employer to hire inclusively. For one, it’s illegal to ask a candidate whether he has a disability. So instead, employers must be sensitive and responsive to differences that may relate to a neurological condition.
“It’s very hard for us when somebody hasn’t disclosed [their condition], so our recruiters have to be thinking about it but they can’t be assuming,” says Barbara Wankoff, director of workplace solutions at KPMG.
For individuals with a brain difference, neurodiversity at work can seem even more fraught. It’s important to focus on what skills and value you can bring to a workplace, not on the accommodations you may need for your disability, says Scott Sonnon, a Bellingham, Wash.-based author and tactical fitness instructor for the federal government who was institutionalized as a child and deemed unteachable.
“If I view my dyslexia and dyspraxia as a disability that must be endured, I put myself in the worst position neurologically,” says Sonnon, who finds that the more conscious he is of having trouble with word access, the longer the pauses in his speech. “It’s so therapeutic and healthy to be able to laugh at the tradeoffs and embrace the fact that you have advantages.”
When he gives a speech or lecture, Sonnon says he trades off every 15 to 30 minutes with an assistant, “usually someone who has a rapid intensity and more rapidly firing brain organization like ADHD,” he explains. “It’s great for the audience. They get the rapid infusion of many topics at once. Then they come back to the slow, big boom.”
Jean Winegardner, 41, loved her work as a copy editor and excelled at the job, but struggled to fit into the workplace in the years after graduate school, before she was diagnosed with autism. “The social aspects always got to me after a time and I would find a reason why I needed to quit,” Winegardner writes in an email interview. “I think that if I had understood my neurological makeup earlier, I could have found ways to help myself cope with the way workplaces work and how I could fit into them.”
Autistic employees can be more focused, waste little time socializing, and persevere until they complete their tasks, she notes. “I think it is wonderful that some companies are actively seeking out autistic people because of their strengths. I only hope that this acceptance and understanding spreads,” writes Winegardner, who now works as ASAN’s office manager and writes a blog calledStimeyland.
Everyone interviewed for this article agreed that disclosing an invisible disability like autism or ADHD is a challenging personal decision.
“Every person has to decide, is the risk of severe social isolation greater than the possible greater social acceptance?” says Robison. “This is much like coming out and saying you’re gay in a straight workplace or you’re Jewish in a Christian workplace. Some people will say, ‘I can’t relate to that.’ It may drive you apart from your coworkers and it may bring you together.”
First, consider whether you can manage your condition—or find a workaround— without naming it. For instance, EY’s Golden says she helped a colleague on the autism spectrum develop scripts to give colleagues and clients a heads up that he lacked some social graces. He told them he had a habit of sometimes saying the wrong thing and asked them to do him the favor of pointing it out, if it happened.
“That way, he accomplished several things: he took away the surprise factor, he made himself vulnerable and therefore more likable and approachable, and he invited people to be part of the solution,” Golden recalls. “An individual with any kind of disability needs to—above all—know him or herself, what his strengths and weaknesses are, and be able to make … decisions on that basis.”
Similarly, San Francisco lawyer Louise, 40, manages her bipolar disorder with humor and discretion. If her medication causes her to stutter or have trouble accessing a word, she says she’ll make light of it, saying, “I really can’t talk today!”
She manages her trial schedule in keeping with her mood cycles, using the manic energy for her benefit in the run up to a hearing or trial, and then telecommuting when she inevitably crashes afterwards. “Being medicated and watching myself as I do, I use periods of high intensity and high energy to get a lot done, knowing there’s always going to be a period that I don’t have any energy and I have to work from home,” she says. “Sometimes it’s very useful for me to be manic when I’m a litigator, so long as it doesn’t tip into the panic range. I have a lot of energy; my brain moves very quickly.”
Out of fear of losing her license to practice law, she keeps her condition a secret at work, and asked that her full name not be used in this article.
Educator Beth Baker, 62, says she must constantly remind herself to listen 60% of the time and speak 40% of the time, to compensate for her self-diagnosed Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. “All of us develop strategies and tactics for making it through the day and dealing with life, and dealing with the rough edges and approximations,” says Baker, a coach and facilitator based in Richland Center, Wis., and director of the International Trauma Abatement Project.
If your invisible disability may affect your work performance, you should consider disclosing it at least to human resources, where it will stay confidential. For instance, if you have epilepsy, your employer would benefit from being prepared in case you have a seizure. The discussion with human resources should revolve around the tools, equipment, and environment you need to do your best work, not about the disability itself, Golden notes.
Neurotypical employees can learn from and benefit from the advances made by neurodiversity advocates. An increased awareness of differences in people’s brain function and communication preferences could improve the work that everyone does.
“Can you imagine if you went into a workplace and everyone had a sense of their abilities and their mode of interaction?” William & Mary’s Wulf says. “We’re right at the beginning of the wave. It hasn’t crested.”

20th Anniversary Luncheon & Boutique Video from Eye on South Florida

Check out some great footage from our 20th Anniversary Luncheon & Boutique at Mar-A-Lago on Thursday, December 11, 2014 by our friends at Eye On South Florida!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thank You for Supporting Our 20th Anniversary Luncheon & Boutique

Thank you to everyone who helped make our 20th Anniversary Luncheon & Boutique yesterday afternoon at Mar-A-Lago such a success! To our Chairperson, Angela Fisher, you are incredible. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. Thank you to our Mistress of Ceremonies, Erin Guy WPBF for your time and generosity. We would also like to thank our Opera Singers, Carlos De Antonis and Kristen DiNonno Noffsinger and pianist Sergio Salani for their enormous talents. To our sponsors and supporters, we couldn't do it without you!! Thank you for making a difference.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2 Days Until our Luncheon!

2 days until our 20th Anniversary Luncheon & Boutique and there are many reasons 2 be excited!!

We have incredible auction items for you 2 bid on, perfect for your holiday gift list! 

Tickets are limited, so secure yours today!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Don't Miss Carlos De Antonis and Kristen DiNonno Noffsinger!

We are so fortunate to have Opera Singers Carlos De Antonis, tenor, and Kristen DiNonno Noffsinger, soprano, perform at our 20th Anniversary Luncheon & Boutique at Mar-A-Lago on Thursday, December 11th accompanied by pianist, Sergio Salani. Thank you all for graciously donating your time and talents.

Purchase your tickets here:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bid on a Malaysian Vacation!

We are just 8 days away from our 20th Anniversary Luncheon & Boutique atMar-A-Lago on December 11, 2014!

We have amazing auction items that you won't find anywhere else.

Join us for your chance to bid on a one-of-a-kind Malaysian Vacation! Experience the 2015 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, and spend 3 days, 2 nights stay inclusive of daily breakfast at Contango at The Majestic Hotel YTL Kuala Lumpur and 4 days 3 nights stay inclusive of daily breakfasts and roundtrip scheduled speedboat transfers at the Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa Village.

Thank you to Sepang International Circuit and YTL Hotels for your generous donations.

Purchase your tickets:

Unicorn Children's Foundation Featured on Cover of Society Scene Tomorrow

Make sure to pick up the Sun Sentinel Society Scene tomorrow, because we are on the cover!!!

Last Day to Submit Program Ads

Today is the LAST DAY to submit your Screen Ads for our 20th Anniversary Luncheon & Boutique!

Let our Honorees know how much you admire their hard work and dedication to Unicorn over the past 20 years.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What is ‪#‎GivingTuesday‬?

A day TUE give!

Help Us Raise Our Goal of $20,000
In honor of our 20th Anniversary, your donation of $20 or more will help us provide leadership, education, and funding to ensure the success and inclusion of individuals with neurodiversity in everyday routines, activities and places.

Your Support Makes a Difference:
To date, we have awarded in excess of $3,100,000 to support various initiatives around the world, including:

$1,000,000 Endowment to the Mailman Segal Institute for Early Childhood Studies at Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to promote research on best practice interventions for clinicians, educators, and parents.

$1,000,000 in grants for research and education at universities and organizations:
  • York University, Toronto, Canada
  • Angels Reach Developmental Enrichment Centers, Hialeah, Florida
  • University of Maryland
  • Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.
  • Ann Stork Center of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Florida State University
  • B'Nai Torah, Boca Raton, Florida
  • Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida
  • Commission Scolaire English-Montreal, Montreal, Canada
  • University of Miami, Miami, Florida
  • Dimensions Therapy Center, Davie, Florida
  • Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton
  • Florida Federation CJA, Montreal, Canada
  • Amapei, Monaco
  • Mission Enfance, Monaco
  • Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders, Washington, D.C.
  • Peter Blum Family YMCA, Boca Raton, Florida
  • Sulam, Jerusalem, Israel
  • Miriam Foundation, Montreal, Canada

Over $800,000 to fund the development and construction of Unicorn Village Academy, an innovative high school where youth who think, communicate and learn differently can develop life-long personal, social, and career skills based on their own strengths, interests, and preferences. This safe, non-threatening, and supportive learning environment will provide students with an opportunity to prepare them to live independently, obtain and sustain employment, pursue continued academic endeavors and participate in the communities in which they live.

Over $200,000 to fund Unicorn Children's Foundation Mobile Community Developmental Clinics that promote awareness of the early warning signs of developmental, communication, and learning disorders by providing developmental screenings and parent consultations at no charge to families, especially those in traditionally undeserved areas. Currently these clinics are operated in partnership with University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University.

Over $50,000 to fund 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast Special Needs Hotline, the first call for help, connecting families with available resources and service organizations in the community.

Nearly $25,000 in grants to community organizations to promote awareness and education as well as provide opportunities to participate in community activities.


Collaborative Community Needs Assessment and Build Data Warehouse - capture data on the “state of special needs” in the community and streamline data sharing data amongst organizations
Social Capital Conference – introduce the concept of interdependence to the South Florida community
211 Special Needs Hotline – the first call for help, connecting families with available resources and service providers in the community
Training - develop a series of online pediatric trainings to educate on the importance of early screening and resources for referral
Fund innovative and emerging programs 
  • Unicorn Village Academy
  • Mobile Developmental Clinics
  • Mobile Phone Applications

  • 20 percent of children who have older siblings with autism also develop autism spectrum disorder (2015)
  • About 6 percent of U.S. children use stimulants, up from about 2.4 percent in 1996
  • Approximately 1 in 25 US children is taking medication for ADHD (University of California, Berkeley, 2007)
  • Use of drugs to treat ADHD has more than tripled worldwide since 1993 (University of CaliforniaBerkeley, 2007)
  • 5% of US children aged 6-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD (Center for Disease Control, 2008)
  • There has been a 3% average annual increase in childhood ADHD diagnoses from 1997 to 2006 ADHD (Center for Disease Control, 2008)
  • Most recent statistics indicate that the percentage of children with learning and communication disorders has steadily increased over the past decade.  Specifically, a 31% increase for infants and toddlers and a 46% increase for preschool-aged children (U.S. Department of Education, 2005). 
  • Approximately 17% of children have some type of developmental disability, including more mild conditions such as speech and language disorders, learning disabilities, and ADHD, which appear to be more common than the Autism Spectrum Disorders (
  • 1 in 150 children have an ASD (
  • 1/3 of youngsters diagnosed with autism are prescribed psychotropic drugs to control their symptoms. (, April 19, 2007)
  • From 1993-2003, there was a 657% increase in autism cases nationwide according to the US Department of Education and a 435% increase in Florida
  • 4 million children are born in the United States every year, approximately 24,000 of these children will eventually be diagnosed with an ASD. (

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.
It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Congratulations Pam!

Congratulations to our Director of Development, Pam Calzadilla who has been elected as the Program Chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Palm Beach County!

Give Back on Cyber Monday

It's Cyber Monday!

When you do your Holiday shopping at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Unicorn Children's Foundation. 

Bookmark the link and support us every time you shop.