Best Buddies

Best Buddies

The song I Am So Like You is dedicated to our daughters, Carla Mirabella and Chloe Lipton.

Song: I Am So Like You  ©1977, Lenny Lipton & Mike Mirabella

Watch for the upcoming book I Am So Like You, from Mirabella Books and Songs


Carla and Chloe met in special education pre-school classes and remained the “best of buddies” all through their school years, including high school. Their unique friendship blossomed, although both girls were disabled and struggled with speech impediments. Carla, born with Down syndrome and Chloe, with cerebral palsy, both found happiness in each other’s company. They would act silly and make each other giggle for hours on end.

We believed that perhaps one reason for Carla’s and Chloe’s unique friendship was that their physical contact didn’t just begin and end during the school hours, as with most children. Lenny and Mike (their dads) knew that close friendships are difficult to maintain among special needs children and must be encouraged and nurtured. So, both dads went out of their ways to find time so that the girls could interact together outside as well as inside of school.

Weekend Fun

Saturdays and Sundays were special times for the girls, regardless of weather conditions. Lenny and Mike would take the girls to the mall on inclement days, or let them play on their front room rugs. On dry days, they would go to Tilden Park in Berkeley to a ride on the carousel or to the Oakland Zoo for the steam train. What fun we all had together.

Eventually, family dynamics changed and the Liptons and the Mirabellas grew apart. But both girls remained the best of friends until Carla’s untimely death in 2008.

Do you have any stories to share about friendships among special needs children? If so, comment here, we’d love to hear about them.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

We are almost at the end of Disability Awareness Month (October). So, we would like to talk about a key legal right of special needs children in school, the Individual Education Plan, or IEP.

Does your special needs student (birth to 22 years old) have an IEP?

What is an IEP?

Here is an article that gives an overview of what an IEP involves. It also explains how to obtain an IEP from a school district.

In the 1980’s, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) lawyers assisted us in supporting our Carla’s IEPs. This meant Carla could mainstream into a traditional Kindergarten. Fortunately, both the teachers and administrators were helpful and encouraging.

As Carla progressed through her schooling, it was clear that her learning disabilities were being addressed. We could see she was learning to read and write. She also had access to speech therapy for which the Oakland Children’s Hospital was a resource to help guide the teaching staff. Then, during junior high school and high school, Carla focused on life skills. When she graduated from high school in 1993, Carla was selected to represent her special needs schoolmates as one of the speakers at her graduation. Next she continued on to Contra Costa Community College where she focused on the culinary arts.

Carla’s IEP fostered inclusion and life skills to prepare her to live independently in Napa for 14 years. And so, she paid her $400 a month rent and went to work every day. Both the Napa Regional Center and Community Connections Supported Living Services supported her Individual Service Plan, a program similar to an IEP.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

How Audiobooks Support IEPs & Personalized Learning

“Audiobooks are for everyone. But for students with mental, physical, behavioral and emotional disabilities, audiobooks engage them in new and essential ways.”

For more detail, read the case study done by Rakuten Over Drive Education.

Let us know if this information was helpful, or if you have any comments or questions. In the future, we will bring you other tips and information to increase Awareness, Advocacy, and Action for special needs children.