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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!

  • 28 Dec 2015 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Joe Little, President
    The Five Horizons Foundation

    Most people worry about losing their keys, their phone, or their bag.  Many in the special needs community are more concerned about losing a wandering child.  There are several options on the market for “tracking” devices.  The biggest difference is typically whether the device is truly GPS enabled or just works off of WiFi or Bluetooth.  The variance drives a difference in cost and accuracy.

    GPS trackers will typically carry a monthly fee but are also accurate without the dependency on a WiFi or Bluetooth network.  This gives the device the ability to be tracked anywhere out in public.

    One application I’m testing out now is called TrackR.  It has an iOS and Android application and works off of WiFi and Bluetooth.  If the tracker gets in range of WiFi or someone else with the active app on their phone, it registers the last known location.  I’ll look forward to sharing more about its functionality in a few months.

  • 28 Dec 2015 8:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you would like to be featured in an upcoming Faces of CFK column, please fill out the online form.

    Name: Laura

    Do you work outside the home?
    I am a stay at home mom and student.

    What do you do to relax?
    I spend time with my family (preferably outdoors). We like exploring new places and parks, and going to restaurants.

    I also enjoy watching sports and HGTV since having children has completely deleted my attention span for in depth stories and hour long dramas.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?
    For my family, CFK brought resources and contacts for agencies to help us. CFK held Family Discussion Groups that seemed like they were designed specifically for us with our current issues. The organization provides a safe and very friendly environment to learn, play and socialize.

    For me, CFK provides sanity. It is a community of parents just like me who can almost perfectly relate to our struggles. This is invaluable in a world where I suddenly felt like an outcast and bad mother. I have made connections that have talked me down from the proverbial ledge on the worst of days and celebrated with me on the best.

    Simply having a mother or two (in this case, CFK has several within easy reach) to talk to about struggles, confusion and frustration is so wonderful. Friends with no knowledge of these issues are nice, but it's not the same as someone who is walking or has walked in your shoes. I no longer feel isolated and insufficient.

    The best thing about parenting a child who struggles...
     It has opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed. As a mother, I am so much more sympathetic. I had never heard of sensory disorders or occupational therapy. I sympathize with parents of children who struggle and I tell my story to anyone who feels like he or she is the only parent in this situation. 

    The hardest thing for me to learn was...
    He is not a bad kid.  He is not a bully. I am a good mother. I had to learn that this is his battle and I am his coach and not a player. I constantly have to remind myself these things.

    The worst thing about parenting a child who struggles...          
    Isolation. Bad situations are unavoidable, even though we try. When my son acts out, it always seems like he is the only one. It seems that every other child can sit still, play nicely... whatever the case may be. So, he is isolated (I think), and so am I as the parent of "that kid." It really breaks my heart to think he may feel isolated or ostracized.

    We'd love to know if you have any go-to resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share with other parents. 
    216-UH4-KIDS. This is the number for the UH Rainbows Autism Diagnostic Clinic. 

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  • 28 Dec 2015 8:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Paula C. Papp
    MA Ed from Baldwin Wallace College in Reading Instruction
    Early Intervention Specialist

    "No individual is too disabled to benefit from experiences with written language."
    Karen A. Erickson

    This is one of my favorite quotes, and a belief I have held for almost four decades of teaching.  Over the next few months I will be offering ideas on how you can enrich and support language learning in your home. 
    I know I should be reading more to my child at home.  How can I make it happen?

    Here are eight tips:

    1.    Make reading with your child part of your daily routine. 

    Family life is busy, but finding time each day to share a book with your child is invaluable.  Try to find a more relaxed time that you will not feel pressured or rushed.  Chances are if you are feeling stressed about reading, your child will pick up on that.

    2.    Find a special spot, but be willing to go with those teachable moments. 

    Having a designated "spot" will help your child embrace the routine and understand that it is book time!  Also, if your child settles into that "spot," he or she may be telling you that they would like to read with you.  On the other hand, sometimes a moment presents itself, and you need to go with it.  If your child is having a meltdown, it could be a good time to read, "When Sophie Gets Really Really Angry."  What better time to read a book about trucks than when your son is on the floor playing with his favorite dump truck? 

    3.    Turn them off--the TV, the computer etc. 

    Many children have difficulty with auditory and visual attending.  They may not be able to focus on the book and your voice, while filtering out all the other things to look at and listen to.  Help your child out by quieting the environment as best you can. 

    4.    Start short and sweet if need be, and go from there. 

    Researchers in early literacy suggest reading with preschoolers and early elementary aged children at least twenty minutes a day.  You need to start where your child is--which may be twenty seconds!  Reading should be something you both enjoy, so gradually increase your expectations as your child settles into the routine.  Singing the "ABC Song" can be used as the signal that book time with daddy is over. 

    5.    Spice it up in different ways once your routine is established. 

    Have another person join in and take turns reading a page.  Get a flashlight to read by and turn off all the lights, or huddle under a blanket.  How about reading in a whisper voice, or a squeaky mouse voice?

    6.    Keep your child's books in the same place so they have access to them. 

    Having a few books readily available gives your child the opportunity to experience them on his or her own, or to communicate to you that he or she would like to read with you.  Be mindful about the books that are accessible, and how many.  If you are upset by ripped up pages or fifty books dumped on the floor, then books are not as much fun as we want them to be.

    7.    Provide opportunities for your child to make choices. 

    Throughout every daily routine it is important to provide your child with choices.  Who does your child want to read with today?  What two books (from this group of three to five) does your child want to read?  Which book does your child want to read first?  Does your child want to hold the book, or who is going to turn the pages etc.?

    8.    Trust in that old saying, "Monkey see, monkey do!" 

    If your child sees you reading, and enjoying it, they are more likely to want to pick up a book.  Children can learn the different reasons why we read by observing you.  So, enjoy a book or magazine, read over that recipe, follow the directions on how to put that shelving unit together--and hope that monkey of yours is watching!

    You are your child's first and best teacher.  I can't say that enough.  The home literacy environment you create is critical to your child's learning.  Keep it fun, be responsive to your child, and if you miss a day--there is always tomorrow! 

    Happy reading, Paula

  • 30 Oct 2015 9:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rebecca Shook
    Special Needs Resources Librarian
    Westlake Porter Public Library

    Understanding that it is important to remember and follow all sorts of rules in social situations, both at school and at home, can be a difficult task for any child. “Why Do I Have To? A book for Children Who Find Themselves Frustrated by Everyday Rules” by Laurie Leventhal-Belfer offers a look at why rules exist and how following them ultimately helps the child succeed. Leventhal-Belfer attempts to answer questions such as why kids play games the wrong way or why you can’t always talk about what you like. She illustrates this through short essays, suggestions and tips. Meant for both parents and children, this book would be a good resource to use when needing to explain the “why” behind seemingly arbitrary rules. See the collection by searching “Connecting for Kids” in our catalog at www.westlakelibrary.org.

  • 30 Oct 2015 9:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Joe Little, President
    The Five Horizons Foundation

    There was some discussion in the CFK Facebook Group about a program called GemIIni. This is a program that is geared toward teaching speech and reading skills to people with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs. It is a web-based product with a large library of high quality videos you can watch with your child. The videos use a variety of visual and audio techniques to keep the audience engaged. There is also a great deal of repetition, allowing a student the chance to repeat a word or phrase multiple times.

    The interface is relatively intuitive and they have good tutorials on how to use the program whether you’re a professional or a parent. At $98 per month it is definitely not an inexpensive proposition.  They do offer scholarships if money is your barrier to using the software.

    For one user’s detailed review of the product, click here.

  • 30 Oct 2015 9:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you would like to be featured in an upcoming column, please fill out the online form.

    Name: Khalida

    What do you do to relax? I love to spend quality time with my family and friends.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself? I have three beautiful children. In 2006 my middle son was diagnosed with autism. The journey has been a learning experience for our family and we continue to grow and develop each day. We try to participate in community events and gatherings but always put our son’s needs first. We are open about our son's diagnosis and willing to help anyone new to autism.

    Are you an active member of Connecting for Kids?
    I look forward to serving in the Parent Match Program at Connecting for Kids. My hope is to help families within our Cleveland community.

    If I could go back in time and talk to myself the day we got the diagnosis what would you say? I would say that there is no quick fix. This is a journey for life. As stated by President Obama, " Progress is not a straight line." Once I got the diagnosis, I was searching for ways to help my son, but it wasn't until later that I realized that each child has different needs and each child will develop in his own way. As a parent, my job is to love and nurture that child every day.

    What do you worry about the most?
    I worry about preparing my son for survival in this tough world. As a parent I want to protect my son but the reality is that I have to help him learn to live in this world. I am his advocate, but I wonder whether I am doing enough.

    In which area have you grown the most?
    My son's diagnosis has helped me become a better person. My son has shown me that you don't always need words to show love.

    Do you have any go-to resources that we can share with other parents?
    I believe connecting with other parents of children with special needs is the best resource. There is an immediate bond. You can share stories and experiences that only a parent of a child with special needs would understand. I have laughed and cried with these parents because only they can truly understand my feelings.

    Is there anything about your journey that you would like to share with other parents?
    When my son was first diagnosed I was always looking to "cure" him of his autism. I tried many different therapies, essential oils, diets, etc. I would be heartbroken when he would not show progress. However, things improved only when I realized that autism is part of his identity and it is my task to help him navigate through life with this diagnosis.

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  • 30 Oct 2015 9:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Q: "My son doesn't get invited to birthday parties or asked on play dates with his peers. Should I be concerned?"

    A: There is no reason for concern. Many times, due to time, financial, or space constraints, every child in the class may not be invited for every birthday celebration. As children get older, they also may express preferences to celebrate with a smaller group of friends that they share similar interests with on a daily basis.

    If your child appears upset, talk with your child, and explain that the friend may have been limited on the number of people they were able to invite to this particular party, and that there will be other opportunities to spend time with the friend at a later date. Also explain to your child that there will be many opportunities to be invited to events and celebrations in the future by other friends or family members. You can brainstorm together about other fun events coming up on a later date that your child will attend (the idea is to give the child something positive to look forward to). You and your child can also think of a time to invite one friend—or a few friends— for a playdate or special outing. This will give your child additional opportunities to build fun, positive social relationships with peers. (There is a great Psychology Today online post by Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., Growing Friendships: Children’s Play Date Guidelines, that offers helpful tips for planning successful playdates.)

    If there is concern about a deeper question—the level and quality of social interaction your child has with peers—start by talking with your child’s teacher. Find out whether the teacher shares similar concerns about your child’s peer interaction behaviors in the school setting (remember, they see lots of kids interacting with one another consistently on a daily basis). If, after talking with the teacher, you both see a pattern of concern, it may be helpful to consult with a psychologist or therapist for further exploration of additional questions.

  • 15 Sep 2015 10:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Joe Little, President
    The Five Horizons Foundation

    I’d like to tell you about an app called First Then Visual Schedule HD (FTVS HD). The cost is $15 and it is available today in the app store. This app is best used for anyone who would benefit from a visual schedule, social story, choice board, or video models. What I love about the app is that it is not only easy to use, but it also works across multiple platforms including your iPhone and iPad.

    It’s also great because it is so easily customized. Need a choice scenario for milk or juice? Quickly snap a pic of each right from your own refrigerator so it’s accurate right down to the brand. You can also record your own voice, or your child’s voice right in the app to make it even more immersive.

    There are many visual schedule apps available but this one is the best I’ve come across. You can try it before you buy it by checking out the iPad at the Westlake Porter Library for free. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me!

  • 15 Sep 2015 10:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rebecca Shook
    Special Needs Resources Librarian
    Westlake Porter Public Library

    Routines and predictability are often the cornerstone of a successful school year but social situations can be difficult. “Make Social Learning Stick! How to Guide and Nurture Social Competence Through Everyday Routines and Activities” by Elizabeth A. Sautter is a resource for families and schools to help children navigate social situations when often the hidden rules are at least as important as the stated ones. The book includes many tips and tricks for finding teachable moments in your child's day for all sorts of social situations like playing at the playground, meal times, during transitions and even celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving. See the collection by searching “Connecting for Kids” in our catalog at www.westlakelibrary.org.

  • 15 Sep 2015 10:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you would like to be featured in an upcoming column, please fill out the online form.

    Name: Erin

    Number of Children: 2 children

    Do you work outside the home? Yes.

    What do you do to relax?
    Spend time with friends, watch TV with the girls, and garden.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?
    Connecting for Kids has educated us about local resources, and given us a caring and compassionate perspective regarding supporting our children, ourselves, and each other through unanticipated and difficult circumstances. I am feeling less isolated since finding the organization.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?
    I love the Facebook Chat Group. I also recall Sarah Rintamaki calling me the day I signed up and being so inquisitive and reassuring. She has introduced us to other families in similar places in life and this has been a true gift.

    What is the best thing about parenting a child who struggles? It allows you to learn what you're made of and how flexible you can be. I was a "because I said so" mom to my older, typical daughter. This is how I was raised, and it worked (or has so far and we are approaching 13!). She is an amazingly kind, smart, respectful kid. When my younger daughter came along everything turned upside down and I felt completely out of control because things weren't working "my way."

    At 4 she was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and I was feeling like a very unsuccessful parent. I then learned to better understand what was setting her off, where the anxiety was coming from and that she wasn't being obstinate but needed a different approach from me. This was not indulging poor behavior but supporting her in making better choices and interacting more successfully with others.

    Her dad picked up the new parenting approach right away so naturally. It was humbling to observe her interactions with him and learn how to parent my own child from the therapists’ with whom she worked, but our relationship is so amazing now. She is so sweet and brutally honest. I can't imagine life without her.

    What do you worry about the most? I worry about my child's safety. She is so trusting and still can't interpret people's true motivation. I fear daily that she could be easy prey for any person with poor intentions, whether a peer or an adult. When the Bay Village Ice Bucket Challenge fiasco occurred, my heart broke into a million pieces, it was my worst nightmare coming true on national television from my own backyard.

    I look at her at age 8 and wonder if she will go to college, have a boyfriend or live on her own. Part of me believes that she is capable and the other part of me wants to hold her hand through her whole life because she is so vulnerable. What I worry about the most is the world not caring about her as much as I do, and anyone ever taking advantage of her sweet, innocent heart.

    If you could go back in time and talk to yourself the day you got the diagnosis, what would you say? I would say that once she has the communication skills, things will get better. There used to be so much yelling and screaming in our world. Now she might frown or stomp but she will talk through the issue and generally will listen to reason and this has made all the difference. Sometimes now we understand that what we thought the problem was has nothing to do with her objection.

    Is there anything else about your journey that you would like to share with other parents? Your journey is unique to your family. It was not likely what you expected when you started out, but you will learn that there are special and profound joys to come. Connecting for Kids is a great resource for supporting your whole family.


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