After a year that was anything but normal, it's not surprising that many parents and educators are mentally exhausted from all things school-related. The entire world has been under an enormous mountain of stress for the past fourteen months and teachers, parents, and children all need a well-deserved mental break.
For many parents, the end of their child's school year can often bring about a huge sense of relief, because it means getting a break from the morning hustle, packing lunches, and having to sift through mountains of papers and emails every evening. However, for parents of children with special needs, it can also be a time of worry, especially when you consider that daily routines will be upended and relationships with certain teachers or administrators may be coming to an end. A reminder for parents and caregivers who may be limping towards the finish line this year: You are all superheroes!
Notwithstanding the pandemic, IEP goals and 504 plans were still in effect for the 2020-21 school year, despite the seismic shifts to virtual or hybrid learning environments. Now is the time for you to get answers to these important questions: What worked for your child this year? What was left out or failed because of virtual and hybrid learning models? How were the goals affected or amended by constant change and a year of uncertainty?
To help you finish the year strong, we've compiled some articles to guide you through gathering and organizing information about your child's progress in preparation for next year. Check these items off your to-do list so you can finally put a lid on the 2020-21 school year. Then, relax and enjoy the summer!
Remember: NOW is the best time to get clarification from teachers and administrators, while everyone is engaged, dialed in, and has your child's progress at top of mind.
5 Survival Tips for the End-of-Year IEP Meeting
Your Child’s Educational Rights While Crisis
Planning for 504 and IEP Success in a Post-Pandemic World
How to Work On Your Child’s IEP Goals Over the Summer
Breathe and Relax
Times are stressful. We’re all living with a pandemic, many of us have grossly adjusted our work schedules and many have lost work all together. We have been thrust into new roles as teachers, caregivers, and online facilitators. In addition to the increased time we are spending with families, we are feeling the stress of the circumstances. As counter-intuitive as this may sound, we can find relief from yes, our cellphones. Today there are a myriad of apps out there to help us learn to breath and relax all the while connecting us to a larger online community. Today I’d like to share three apps to get you and your whole family started in managing your stress, one breath at a time.
The first app I’d like to share is Insight Timer. I’ve been using the timed portion with the kids I work with to help guide us in a “Mindful Minute.” I let them choose the bells they want to start and end with as well as the music that plays during the space between the bells. They enjoy having that control and they are more willing to relax for a few minutes knowing they set it up. This free app also has meditations for parents and children focusing on relaxation, managing stress, concentration, and sleep.
The second app to get you back to feeling relaxed and in control is Calm. The visuals are beautiful and the natural sounds are like you’re completely immersed in nature. I like the Mood Check-In that allows you to log how you’re feeling and then you receive a recommendation for a meditation based on your response. They too have body scans and sleep meditations to take advantage of. Calm is also a free app.
And lastly, a little detour from the others, I like the app Colorfly. This app provides a variety of free pictures that you can color with a tap of your finger. They provide you several beautiful palettes to choose from. There’s a showroom where you can upload your finished item to share with others around the world. So go on, express yourself!
I hope you’ll take a few moments to check out these three wonderful apps. They are all free and easy to navigate through. They provide a variety of opportunities to step away from it all and relax the nervous system a bit. Feel free to share your thought on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!
Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant
By Kinera Foundation
You may have heard of people-first language, but what exactly does it mean? In the Macmillan online dictionary, people-first language or person-first language is “language about disability that deliberately puts the person first before the disability.” According to the U.S. Office of Disability Rights, "People First Langage" (PFL) or "Person First Language," puts the person before the disability, and describes what a person has, not who a person is. PFL uses phrases such as “person with a disability,” “individuals with disabilities,” and “children with disabilities,” as opposed to phrases that identify people based solely on their disability, such as “the disabled.” Easy enough, right? Yet there still seems to be confusion about how to describe a person’s disability while remaining compassionate and respectful to the person.
And this seems to be prevalent when adults talk about or refer to a child with a disability. So, let’s take a closer look.
Why is people-first language important?
How we address someone—anyone, and everyone—is important because it affects the way that person feels. How we talk and write about someone influences the image we form about the individual, which in turn leaves behind an impression, either positive or negative, for others. This is why it is so important to put an individual first before his or her disability. It also stresses that each individual has equal value, and that no one person or child is better than another. By using people-first language we avoid isolating an individual. When people-first language isn’t used and the emphasis is placed on an individual’s cognitive, emotional, learning, physical or other difference, the individual may not feel accepted or included, which doesn’t support community-building efforts or inclusion.
Why use people-first language?
Just like the term applies, people-first language refers to an individual first and the disability second. So instead of saying a “Down’s child”, the most respectful way to describe a child’s diagnosis or disability (or any other descriptive trait) is to say “a child with Down Syndrome.” A child’s disability is something he or she has, not who he or she is. This is so important for children to ensure the development of a positive, healthy self-image. The emphasis should always be on the person first because the disability should not define the individual. And by using people-first language, we avoid making generalizations and perpetuating stereotypes. This helps to create a compassionate and empathy-rich environment for our children to learn and develop in.
We all play a role in changing the language used to describe children with disabilities and differences. Remember: each and every child is a unique individual; every child is a child first—those without a disability and those with a disability. And when we collectively use people-first language, we are then moving toward creating an inclusive world for all!
Here are some helpful examples of people-first language:
She has Down Syndrome.
He is a child with a seizure disorder.
She uses a mobility chair or wheelchair.
He has an intellectual or developmental disability.
She has a visual impairment.
He has a hearing impairment.
Typical instead of saying “normal”
He has quadriplegia (not he is a quadriplegic).
People with disabilities.
People without disabilities.
Person who is unable to speak/person who uses a communication device
Students who receives special education services.
Accessible parking (not handicapped parking)
Here are some more resources about person-first language:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.