Special Needs Mini Conference

mini conference

Susan King, author of Optimism for Autism, will be returning to Partner’s In Learning’s Special Needs Mini-Conference as keynote speaker on May 3rd for an encore presentation. She is a wife and mother of four adult children and she will be sharing her journey as the mother of a young man with Autism. She will talk about the challenges and joys of raising a child with Autism.

The conference is a free event for both parents and teachers; child care credit will be given to teachers needing continuing education hours. The Arc of Rowan will provide free child care at Partners In Learning to participants attending the conference. This annual event is a wonderful networking opportunity for the early education and special needs community in our area. Local agencies will be available throughout the conference to share and discuss the services that they provide for individuals, families, professionals, and members of the community.

optimism for autismThis year’s breakout sessions promise to be captivating and will inspire parents and professionals with ideas and hope! You will leave the mini-conference ready to try (and make) new things, with knowledge on your child’s development, and excited to not only be your child’s parent, but their number one advocate!

Participants will be able to attend two breakout sessions. Topics included are (1) use Pinterest to boost your child’s development; (2) hear from parents who have been there and done that and who are willing to share their journeys; (3) making shoe box activities; (4) how to make, or find cheaply, toys and tools that encourage fine motor skills and sensory play; (5) learn from and put yourself in the shoes of a retired Rowan County schools special education teacher; (6) how to have a passion for advocacy; and (7) discipline tips and how to determine triggers of behavioral problems in order to intervene and correct behavior in children with and without special needs.

If any of these topics sounds interesting to you or if you wish to network with the early education and special needs community in our area, please join us for our Special Needs Mini-Conference. The conference will be held in the Ketner building on Catawba College’s campus on May 3rd, 2014. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. If you need childcare, please drop your child off at Partners In Learning before arriving at Ketner for registration. For more information and to sign up for the mini-conference, please call Partners In Learning at (704) 639-9020. We look forward to seeing you there!

Katie Zink, Infant-Toddler Family Specialist

Katie Zink, Infant-Toddler Family Specialist

 

 

Katie Zink is a graduate of Catawba College and serves as a CBRS therapist for Partners In Learning. Prior to her role as a therapist, Katie served as a teacher beginning in 2009.  Working with children is her life’s passion.

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Starting The New School Year Off On The Right Foot

The summer of 2013 is quickly coming to an end, and a new school year is about to begin.  New beginnings offer a wonderful opportunity for families to establish and implement new tools to support good family habits and academic success.

If you intend to make changes to last year’s way of managing the family’s daily routine or behavior expectations, a good strategy is to hold a family meeting.  You can open the meeting by pointing out one or more of the challenges that were faced during the previous year and ask for input.  For example, you could say, “I noticed that last year we were always scrambling to get out the door on time, and everyone seemed grumpy in the car on the way to school.  I wonder what we could do so that we don’t have to experience that daily unhappiness this year.”

You’ll be surprised to discover that even very young children can actively participate in problem-solving and offering ideas for a solution.  Though the adults are ultimately guiding children toward an appropriate solution, when a solution is determined, children tend to feel invested in the new behavior because they took part in developing the change.  For instance, deciding that getting up a half an hour earlier during school mornings might be the arrived at solution.  When resistance is offered later on, children can be reminded the “waking up earlier” rule was agreed upon by every member of the family.

During the family meeting, when changes have been agreed upon by every family member, the new family policy or rule should be written down and reviewed often.   Young children, in particular, have not yet developed the memory capacity we take of granted as adults, and a rule they may remember one day, might be forgotten the next day.  Post the amended routine changes where they are visible to everyone in the family, and invite children to embellish the borders of the document by drawing artwork around it.  This will further invest the child in the new routine. As a family, don’t forget to celebrate the successful transition to the new rule or routine.

When my children were growing up, we held family meetings, and they were usually awful, with someone inevitably stomping out of the room in a dramatic demonstration of theatrical talent.   At these meetings, though, it was more about two parents dictating new rules to children instead of collaborating solutions as a family.   Live and learn.

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.

Addressing Challenging Behaviors in the Classroom

Challenging behavior in an early childhood classroom can significantly erode the learning environment and can even pose safety issues for classmates, teachers as well as the child who is unable to appropriately regulate his or her behavior. I have been working as the Community Inclusion Specialist for Partners In Learning for almost five years.  I serve the early childhood classrooms and home childcare facilities throughout Rowan County, and I am often referred to a classroom because of an individual child or several children with challenging behaviors.

All behavior is a form of communication. Challenging behavior is generally used to obtain or avoid something. Often a child will use misbehavior because he or she has not yet learned appropriate ways of interacting in particular situations. For example, on one occasion, I was asked to observe a three-year-old child who I was told hit and kicked other children throughout the school day. The class was on the playground when I arrived.  A teacher prompted the little girl I was there to observe to go and play in the sand with another child who was playing by himself.  She did as instructed, walking over, casting a large shadow over the other child. The child playing in the sand looked up and said something to our little girl and then returned to his sand project.  After standing over the little boy for several more seconds, the little girl proceeded to kick the child.  “See,” the teacher said.  “See what I mean.”  After discussing the situation with the teacher, what occurred to us was that this child lacked social skills and that her social emotional development was lagging behind those of her typically developing peers, so her teacher and I developed a plan to give her more opportunities to interact with peers, to use teacher-modeling appropriate behavior and partner this child as often as possible with a peer who has strong social-emotional skills.  We paired these strategies with consistent consequences, and within a few weeks we began to notice growth in the little girl’s social development.

The consequences attached to challenging behaviors are very important. If you observe a challenging behavior that continues over time, you can bet that the behavior is having the desired result, at least some of the time.  So, if you are consistent 80 percent of the time with a consequence that the child does not desire, the child understands that the behavior is effective 20 percent of the time and the child will continue using the behavior.  It is when the consequence is implemented every time the behavior is exhibited that you will see the behavior quickly diminish.  Do this along with problem-solving and modeling the appropriate behavior with the child. The formula is very simple. If the behavior gets you what you want, you’re going to use it.  If the behavior does not meet your objectives, you’ll adopt a behavior that does.

Katherine Generaux, Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.