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The Monthly Connect - Online

Welcome to The Monthly Connect - Online. The Monthy Connect is sent out regularly via email to Connecting for Kids subscribers. This page also contains many of our great articles. To get a copy of The Monthly Connect in your email inbox next time it comes out, Join Us today!

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  • 20 Jan 2021 11:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Melissa lives in Parma and has two children.

    What do you do to relax?

    I love to craft and read a good book.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I am married to a wonderful man, Joe, who I consider a gift from God. We are a blended family. I am a mom to my bonus son, who is 17, and a younger son who is 10. We have two rescue dogs who are spoiled even more than our children. I’m a nurse by trade but a stay at home mom by choice. My youngest was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD at age 4. We received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder at the age of 8.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    It has given us other families to relate to, vent to and to celebrate the victories!

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    We have really enjoyed the newsletters and the Coffee and Chat support group.

    My greatest lesson learned was...

    Don’t sweat the small stuff. Celebrate every victory no matter how small. Letting go of what I thought my son would be growing up.

    What I worry about most…

    Is if someone will be there for him when I’m no longer here. I know this is a huge concern to every parent. It just seems to weigh heavily on our minds.

    When my child's behavior gets out of control, I feel...

    Completely helpless. My son engages in frequent self-injurious behaviors. We go into survival mode to get through it. It’s exhausting

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy I cannot express enough the importance of knowing your child educational rights and your rights as their parent!

  • 05 Nov 2020 10:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Christine lives in Euclid and has two children.

    What do you do to relax?

    Ways I relax are the following; I use aromatherapy (such as candles and burning scented oils), I find shows on television to take my mind away from my everyday life (such as cooking or mystery shows, and action films), and do things around the house which allow me to nurture and cultivate my creativity (such as gardening).

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    Over the years, Connecting for Kids has offered a number of different workshops that I have had the pleasure to attend. Both my children and I have attended family workshops offered at Euclid Public Library. The workshop offered childcare so the parents could meet without having to tend to our children at the same time.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    Two of my most recent, favorite workshops I had the pleasure of being a participant were both online. One class titled Healing from the Trauma of Institutional Racism, led by Anna Jones, was a six-week online interactive course, which allowed mothers to express their personal concerns of raising children in a society with various issues such as racism, politics, and mental health concerns. The class allowed time for each participant to express her views concerning what individuals face and ways she (the mother/guardian) can make adjustments to make sure her mental well-being takes priority. Mrs. Jones added different ways to approach different situations, allowed each participant to vent her frustration(s) on that particular topic if need in the meeting, and receive positive feedback on how to approach the situation if it occurs again.

    The second online course I had a pleasure to be a participant was titled Families Building Partnerships for Success, led By Nikki Montgomery. The class focused on ways mothers (or/and guardians) can find alternatives to better service their children effectively and make a positive impact in both their children’s lives and continue to be a bridge for other families and communities.

    Both of the classes helped to remind me that I need to take time out for myself and schedule pockets of time to take a breath for things that are important to me as I do for everyone else in my life. In addition, both zoom meetings were private and confidential. It was an extra bonus to receive all materials for the class before the zoom meeting started to interact with the other participants.

    My greatest lesson learned was...

    Being a mother is hard and worth every tear. Being a mother is not an easy position, but worth every year, every birthday, and every smile. Being a mother is one of the best gifts I could have ever received. I thought when I had children that I would teach them everything there was to know about life, but I learned my best lessons when I became their mother. My children have been my best learning grids.

    The bad habit I picked up...

    Procrastination is okay. It’s okay to be human. It’s not the best feeling to succumb to procrastination, but once you realize that you are human and your mistakes build your character, being a parent with flaws is okay.

    The best way I asked for support was...

    Mentally telling myself it is okay to ask for help and seek out resources. You will be surprised what a resource another parent can be for you and your family. It is important to reach out to others not only for the social interaction, but to allow your family to see the importance of connecting with others.

  • 23 Sep 2020 11:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Brianne lives in Brunswick and has two children with her husband, Dave.

    How are you and your family dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

    We take the pandemic day by day. My husband jokes that our son taught us quarantining before quarantining was cool! It's hard not being able to take the kids places, not only for ease of grocery shopping (now it has to be planned a bit better, we are not a fan of the grocery pick up services and still like to go ourselves). We are sad for the social exposure our kids are missing, but they are resilient and have taught us quite a bit, too.

    What do you do to relax?

    Read and spend time in parks.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I love to make other people happy and give surprises. It helps relieve stress to see my friends, family, or a stranger smile!

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    Connection, knowing we're not alone in our journey. I enjoy being part of the CFK Moderate-to-Severe Disabilities Facebook group and also follow the Connecting for Kids page on Facebook. Over the summer, I loved looking up resources via the Virtual Resource Fair.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    My favorite was the How to Apply for Grants for Children with Special Needs program in February of this year. It was an amazing wealth of information. Before that program, I didn't know how many resources were available to our kids that weren't just "therapy." Now, with COVID, I love the virtual resources now.

    The bad habit I picked up...

    Spending too much time on my phone mindlessly scrolling thanks to the time spent in the hospital with our little guy.

    I get embarrassed when...

    My Gtube dependent kiddo pukes in front of someone who is not myself or my husband!

    The best thing about parenting a child who struggles is...

    Is seeing him reach milestones in his time! And being able to create the next set of goals, however far developmentally behind he is, we are always looking at his own goals/development, and not a typical toddler's development.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    I use Facebook for a lot of my Gtube /blending food questions - Blenderized RN page. I also recently went back to the basics and reached out to my county library looking for ideas to occupy my little guy during tube feeds. The children's librarian responded back right away with a list of available resources/ideas to check out that were extremely helpful!

    Is there anything else about your journey that you would like to share with other parents?

    It's a long journey and not to forget the memory stops along the way - even the medically fragile deserve the special memory milestones and not just the ones that haunt the parents. Find the joys in each day.

  • 24 Aug 2020 1:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Racheal is the mom of a son with ADHD, anxiety, depression and several other medical conditions.

    When you look at my 12-year-old son, you see a happy, goofy boy that is carefree and full of personality. What you don't see is his mental illness or his inner struggles to navigate and try to fit into a world that is not always understanding and accepting of him, especially his peers.

    What you also don't see is how hard he has to try to make friends, to complete schoolwork, to control his emotions, to participate in physical activities, to engage in conversations, to control his impulses, to stay organized, to manage tasks, and to just be a kid.

    His whole life has been doctor's appointments and therapies since he was 8 weeks old. He is great 1:1, in highly structured settings and with adults. But, he has absolutely no ability to generalize skills and strategies with his peers.

    We have been struggling with extreme, aggressive meltdowns for some time. They are more frequent, lasting for longer periods of time, and his aggression had intensified. We had a plan of action to start new and fresh by switching his whole care plan for more intensive counseling and social skills groups, but it wasn't in enough time.

    A broken phone charger was enough to set him into a rage that we could not deescalate on our own. It required police intervention. He had some minor self-inflicted injuries and destroyed his room. He made threats, became physically aggressive towards his dad and I, screamed obscenities, and cried because he couldn't stop himself.

    We made a decision to have him transported and treated in a child and adolescent psychiatric unit. He spent 4 days there. The psychiatrist at the hospital was absolutely amazing, very methodical in his treatment plan and matter of fact. He validated our parental concerns. My son's medications were no longer effective and needed to be changed.

    His ADHD, anxiety, depression, and lack impulse control are very extreme. He is always on edge and highly reactive. His maturity and social ability are that of a 5- or 6-year-old. He has very limited executive functioning skills. Now add in hormones and being in middle school and it's a combination for disaster.

    We have a new team for mental health treatment. He will be continuing outpatient psychiatric follow up care with a partial hospital program.

    ADHD is more than just hyperactivity and attention difficulties. It interferes with every aspect of functioning. It is highly misunderstood. It does fall under the umbrella of mental illness diagnosis and often coexists with other disorders.

    His biggest complaint to his care team while there was his difficulty with communicating to make and keep friends. He said he notices other kids getting invited to go places or that they have their "groups.” He doesn't belong and he knows it's because he's different and other kids are mean to him because of it. He just wants to belong to a group. Broke this mama's heart.

  • 05 Jun 2020 2:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Amanda lives in Parma and has three children.

    How are you and your family dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

    It has been a hard couple of months, I was teaching from home, which made it very difficult to also be a parent at the same time. I have been trying to give myself a little more grace than normal. My boys have been doing okay, we have seen a few behaviors that we thought had left behind but we are working through them. We are thankful that we all remained healthy.

    What do you do to relax?

    During the summer, I love to be outside with my family, going for walks, kayaking, going to the beach.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I’m an intervention specialist.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    It’s made me feel less alone and that it is truly okay to have all different emotions throughout the process of the evaluation and then the diagnosis. And that the battles won’t last forever and just keep faith that things will get better.

    Which Connecting for Kids resources have you tapped into to help your child?

    I am on the Connecting for Kids Facebook group and we have attended a Coffee and Chat as well as Music Therapy & More classes. My husband is a part of the dad’s Facebook group. He also enjoys being a part of the softball team with the dads as well.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    Being able to chat with other families that are going through similar paths and being able to chat and not feel like you are being judged for your child’s behavior good, bad or ugly.

    If I could go back in time and talk to myself the day we got the diagnosis I would say...

    It’s just a diagnosis, it won’t change anything about our son. It will just help get him the resources he needs to be successful in years to come.

    The hardest thing for me to learn was...

    That this process is long and an emotional roller coaster but even after you have the diagnosis you have to learn what’s next and how to move on with life. Will life ever really be the same? I wanted to fix it. I didn’t want my son to struggle but in reality, was he really struggling? I was upset and thinking why my son. It took me a long time to realize that everything was going to be okay. That autism didn’t change our family in a negative way, yes things are harder at times but it makes us see things in a beautiful way we never did before. And when things are bad it’s only a season and it won’t last forever.

    The worst thing about parenting a child who struggles is...

    Is the way the world views him, even though they have no idea what is really going on. That the world is not kind to people who are different.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    Just communicate with the CFK group and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • 22 Apr 2020 1:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rasheena lives in Euclid and is the mom of two boys ages 2 and 7 years old.

    How are you and your family dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order?

    We are coping the best we can. My older son has ASD, ADHD and sensory processing issues so getting him into a routine and used to doing his schoolwork from home has been a challenge. It is difficult for him to understand that although he is not physically at school, he still needs to be doing the work. In school, he has an aide who works with him but at home I feel like I am a drill sergeant trying to get him to stay on task. The school is doing a combination of Zoom and pre-recorded video lessons so it is a lot of time sitting by the screen which is hard for him. I am working 40 hours a week from home so I’m trying to get my work done and manage him too. I’m getting anxious about our summer plans. He usually attends camp five days a week and participates in a reading program. I am not sure what I am going to do if those are canceled.

    What do you do to relax?

    I take deep breaths, long bubble baths and drink tea. Since I work full-time, I really try to relax and regroup at night after the kids are in bed so I am ready to take on the next day.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I love traveling, cooking, gardening and reading. I also love being a mom and an advocate for my son.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    We really love the Music Therapy & More program. We originally attended in Westlake but were thrilled when it was offered at the Euclid Public Library near where we live. I am very grateful that I can bring both of my kids at the same time. Even though they are five years apart, they both love the program and get something out of it.

    Which Connecting for Kids resources have you tapped into to help your child?

    I have found great support on the CFK Families Facebook group. Through Connecting for Kids, I have been able to find east side resources to help my son including an occupational therapist and adaptive aquatics program.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    My favorite Connecting for Kids program is Teach Me to Play. My son has been able to socialize with other kids, play games and participate in fun activities. It is a judgment free zone. Also, I have been able to ask questions and get suggestions from the program facilitators of things we can work on at home.

    My greatest lesson learned was...

    That this is a journey with different phases as my child gets older. I also have had to learn patience and understanding for the times he struggles and makes mistakes. He learns differently so it is up to me to provide learning experiences that work well for him.

    The area where I have grown the most...

    Learning about the IEP process. At first, I was really resistant to the idea of an IEP for my son but that is mostly because I didn’t understand what it was and how it could help him. Now, I know that the IEP is there to give him what he needs to be successful. Today, I love to advocate for him and be involved in the IEP process, helping to set goals and watching his progress.

    The hardest thing for me to learn was...

    No one knows your child better than you do so trust your instincts. I also learned that you can’t do it all by yourself and you need to ask for help. I’ve had to take my “cape” off and let others help care for my child. At first, I had a lot of fear letting others help but it has been wonderful having family members engaged with him and part of the process.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    The Understood.org website provides lots of tips and helpful advice on how to deal with his ADHD and sensory processing issues. I also feel it is a great resource when I have questions or need clarification on something pertaining to his IEP. A book that has been helpful for my son to deal with a few school situations has been “What is Empathy?: A Bullying Storybook for Kids” by Amanda Morin and John Joseph.

  • 22 Apr 2020 12:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    While we are at home trying our best to implement distance learning and also attempting to work on IEP goals, we thought we'd pass along a technology tool that is helping one of our CFK staff members. Today, we feature a tech tip from Joellen Podoll, Connecting for Kids Professional & School Liaison.

    Joellen’s children have both been able to take advantage of Messenger Kids from Facebook during the stay-at-home order. According to its website, “Messenger Kids is a free video calling and messaging app for smartphones and tablets. Parents control the contact list, and kids control the fun.”

    Joellen’s Kindergartener struggles with anxiety and social skills issues. For her, Messenger Kids has been a great way to work on social skills from home using the video calling feature. Joellen’s daughter is very shy and quiet in the classroom but by using this app, she has become more comfortable with her classmates and has been able to connect on a level that she never has in person.

    Messenger Kids has even been a great tool for keeping her daughter in touch with an out-of-town grandmother. Every day, the two of them talk using the app and do activities together. Most recently, grandma was escorted via the app through her granddaughter’s obstacle course. Not only has the time together been great for Joellen’s daughter and helped to boost her confidence, but grandma is also enjoying the conversations and the ability to stay connected.

    Joellen’s typical, third-grade son has also taken advantage of the app. Being an extrovert, the time at home spent away from friends has been difficult for him. He uses Messenger Kids to stay in touch with classmates both one-on-one with friends as well as in group settings.

    Before signing your child up for Messenger Kids, Joellen relayed two pieces of advice. First, she recommends that your child watch this free BrainPOP video about internet safety. Second, she suggests you snooze the Messenger Kids app at night. She learned that the hard way when classmates were calling early in the morning before her kids were out of bed.

  • 22 Apr 2020 11:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by: Cate Brandon, Psy.D., Kenneth A. DeLuca, Ph.D., & Associates, Inc.

    Meeting a counselor for the first time can be intimidating for both parents and children. Knowing what to expect in a first session can help you and your child to feel more comfortable.

    Often, your child’s counselor will want to meet separately with parents first, to gain a thorough background and reason for your visit. This allows the adults to talk openly, without making the child feel uncomfortable or embarrassed and giving the parent an opportunity to ensure the counselor will be a good fit for the family.

    Typically, the child will meet independently with the counselor in their first session. Often toys, games or crafts are used to set your child at ease. Some of the session will be spent establishing a relationship, by talking about your child’s interests and activities, friends, family and school. Once the child appears comfortable, some of the concerns that initiated counseling can be discussed, and your child may learn some techniques to try at home. The counselor may meet briefly with parents at the end of the session to review these strategies.

    One way to introduce the idea of counseling to your child is to describe the counselor as an emotions coach or teacher. These are labels that are more familiar to children and establish the counselor as a helpful adult who will teach them something new. Be specific about how the counselor may be helpful to your child (e.g. “She can help you learn to calm yourself down when you are upset” or “He can help you to feel less worry about going to school”). It is normal for your child (and you!) to feel anxious about a first visit, but your counselor will be well equipped to help everyone feel at ease.

  • 31 Mar 2020 10:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by: Meghan Barlow, Ph.D., Meghan Barlow and Associates

    Telemental health is the term used for mental health sessions that are conducted via phone or video conferencing.

    Research on telemental health suggests that it can be as effective as in-person therapy in terms of clinical outcomes. Clients engaged in telemental health report high levels of satisfaction and rapport with their clinicians. It’s actually the clinicians who tend to be more hesitant to engage in telemental health. The legal, technical, and practical aspects of offering telemental health can be daunting and many clinicians report that it’s harder to pick up on nonverbal communication during virtual visits. Clinicians who work with younger children may find it hard to develop rapport with kids over video conferencing.

    Mental health clinicians should be specially trained to deliver telemental health. There are ethical and legal considerations that need to be understood by a clinician. Additionally, there are also clinical issues to consider.

    Under normal circumstances, platforms like Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime should not be used to deliver telemental health. These systems are not HIPAA compliant. However, during this pandemic, some rules have been “relaxed.” Clinicians are encouraged to make every attempt to comply with the usual regulations, but are given some leeway to use their best clinical judgment in order to make sure that their client or patient’s mental health needs are being met while we are all being asked to stay at home.

    Telemental health sessions are not always covered by insurance or Medicaid/Medicare. You should check with your carrier to see if your sessions will be covered. In the past, video conferencing sessions were more likely to be covered than phone sessions because they are considered “face to face” care. During this pandemic, it is acknowledged that not everyone has access to the required technology for video sessions and, therefore, phone sessions may be covered.

    One aspect of telemental health that clients and clinicians need to be aware of is confidentiality. It is sometimes difficult for a clinician to know whether or not a session can be overheard by someone else and therefore, clients share some responsibility in making sure that they are in a private area. Clinicians working from home during the pandemic have a responsibility to make sure sessions can not be overheard by others in their home.

    While we’re all getting used to using video conferencing platforms, we have to be prepared for technology related glitches. If the internet connection is poor, clients and clinicians should have a back up plan for how to get in touch.

    If you’re going to engage in telemental health, your clinician (or your child’s clinician) should provide you with an informed consent form. This document outlines the potential limitations of telemental health and the roles and responsibilities of the clinician and client/family.

    If a child is already working with a therapist who can offer telemental health, I would encourage the parents to talk to their child’s clinician. A clinician should be able to make a recommendation for a specific client regarding the utility or need for televisits. If parents are looking to begin therapy for their child, I would encourage them to call the clinician they have in mind to get some information and give some information. There isn’t necessarily an age criteria for when and if a child could participate in telemental health. If it is determined that the child might not benefit from telemental health sessions, there is still a possibility for the clinician to work with the parents through televisits.

    Personally, I would make a decision about whether or not I thought we should have a virtual consultation - an initial visit where the parent or caregiver would give me pertinent background information, share their current concerns, and answer any questions I have related to their child’s development, behavior, or emotions. I might “meet” the child during the televisit and try to gauge the child’s willingness and ability to interact over the video conference. For a very young child, I may be observing their play in the background while I talk with the parent. I would be able to give some recommendations about how to move forward. That might include parent coaching (me working with the parents who would then adjust or modify their approach with their child in order to achieve the identified and desired outcome), me working with the parent and child together, or me working with the child individually. I also might make recommendations about involving other specialties or services. It would depend on the questions and concerns the parent brings to the table and the information and observations that I could glean from the televisit.

    Clinicians can utilize telemental health in ways that are innovative and convenient with children. Using creativity, clinicians can find ways to engage with younger clients in a playful way. Screen sharing can help clinicians use visuals in therapy, as they would if they were meeting in person. My colleague, Dr. Dukes-Murray, recently attended a training in assessing autism in toddlers using telemedicine. In one of the telemedicine webinars I attended, the psychologist leading the training mentioned that she runs groups for children as young as 8 years old through video conferencing.

    Transitioning my practice to telemental health has been eye opening for me. Until a few weeks ago, I only engaged in telemental health on a very limited basis and only under certain circumstances (an established patient away at college, phone sessions with a parent whose work schedule prohibits attendance at in-person sessions, etc). As I adapt to the need to stay at home and keep others at home while still being able to meet the needs of my patients and families, I’ve been able to stretch my own skill set and learn new approaches. I’m excited about the possibilities that will open up for me and the families I work with now that I’ve had training in telemental health and the necessity to become comfortable with the technology.

  • 03 Mar 2020 2:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Linda M. Gorczynski, Attorney, Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A.

    If your child has an IEP, he may be entitled to receive special education or related services in the summer, at the school’s expense. This is called ESY or Extended School Year services and you’ll see it in section 4 of the IEP form.

    A student should qualify for ESY IF the IEP team determines that the services are “necessary” in order for the child to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”). The most traditional way to qualify is if the student has a history of regression after long breaks, as can be seen with behavioral needs. Another common qualifier is if the student is on the cusp of mastering a particular skill (such as reading) and the extended break would curtail that progress. But it all comes back to whether ESY is necessary for THIS particular student to receive a FAPE.

    ESY looks different for every child, and it must be tied to a specific goal(s) on the child’s IEP. The school cannot limit the “type, amount or duration” of ESY services. So if you’re told that the house ESY program is the only option, this is not supported by the law. The team needs to find or develop an ESY program that meets the child’s unique needs. Wilson tutoring? Social skills camp? Small group math? The team can get creative to meet the need.

    If you think your child may qualify, ask for an IEP team meeting to discuss eligibility. Always put your request in writing so there is a record, and include your reasons for making the request. It takes time to locate or develop an appropriate program, and sometimes there is a dispute as to the child’s eligibility, so you don’t want to wait until the last week of school to start the process.

    If you want to read Ohio’s legal guidelines on ESY go to OAC 3301-51-02(G).

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