Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Parent Education Seminars

This winter and spring, the Collaborative Outreach & Training Committee will present several free educational seminars for family members caring for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

January 5—Waiver Programs: Speakers will discuss overviews, eligibility, technical criteria, and services for several waiver programs.

February 2—Cybersafety: Presentation to discuss strategies and tips to help keep loved ones with developmental disabilities safe while using the internet. Shelly Lipton, program specialist from the Montgomery County Police Department, will discuss predators and other dangers found on the internet and how to avoid them.

March 2—Camps and Recreation: Presenters will discuss various camp and recreational resources for individuals with special needs and provide information about scholarships and other available funding sources.

May 4—Guardianship: Attorney Barry Fierst will speak on the topic of guardianship. Yolanda Mazyck, Executive Director of Shared Horizon, Inc., will speak on the topic of guardianship and future planning.

Each program takes place from 6:45-8:45 p.m. All seminars will take place in the 1st Floor Meeting Room of the Rockville Public Library (21 Maryland Avenue) in Rockville. You must register for the seminars by calling 240-777-1216 at least one day in advance. Leave your name, phone number, and the title of the seminar you wish to attend.

Visual and Behavioral Strategies in the Home for Children

The Diener School will host a presentation on Visual and Behavioral Strategies in the Home for Children with Developmental Disabilities and Challenges.

The workshop, held January 23 from 1-4 p.m., costs $75 before January 15 and $85 after the 15th or at the door.

The session will be held again on February 17 from 5-8 p.m.

The workshop will cover environmental modifications, schedules and routines, chores and daily responsibilities, self-help and grooming skills, setting expectations, reinforcement and rewards, consequences, and family rules and expectations.

For more information or to register, call 301-299-4602 or email info@thedienerschool.org. The workshop will be held at the Diener School (11510 Falls Road) in Potomac.

Sensory Friendly Movie: Yogi Bear

Enjoy a screening of Yogi Bear in a sensory friendly environment on January 8 at 10 a.m.

AMC Entertainment and the Autism Society have teamed up to provide a mellower setting for families affected by autism and other disabilities. The movie auditorium will have its lights brought up and the sound turned down, families can bring in their own GFCF snacks, and no previews or ads will be shown before the movies. Audience members are also welcome to get up and move or vocalize. (Unless the safety of the audience is questioned.)

Tickets cost between $4 and $6 depending on the theater. The AMC Rio Cinemas 18 in Gaithersburg (9811 Washingtonian Blvd.) is one of the theaters that participates.

Transition to Kindergarten Process

If you have a child moving on to kindergarten soon, think about attending the Transition to Kindergarten Process meeting on January 20 from 7 to 9 p.m.

The Arc of Montgomery County Education Committee; Autism Society of Montgomery County, Maryland; and the Down Syndrome Network of Montgomery County will collaboratively host this presentation and discussion.

Presenters will include David A. Patterson, MCPS Special Education Supervisor, Placement and Assessment Services Unit; Lil Kilgallen, MCPS PEP Coordinator; Rebecca Reitz, Instructional Specialist, Division of Early Childhood Services; and a panel of experienced parent-advocates.

The meeting will be held at The Arc of Montgomery County (11600 Nebel Street) in Rockville. For more information or to register, call Haydee de Paula at 301-984-5792 ext. 1275 or email haydeed@arcmontmed.org.

2011 Accessibility Summit

The 2011 Accessibility Summit will be held this year on April 1st and 2nd in Vienna, Virginia. This national conference is designed to offer a broad range of information and resources to individuals, families, and caregivers, faith-based organizations, educators, and other professionals impacted by disability.

Temple Grandin will be the keynote speaker at the summit, on April 2nd at 9 a.m. The conference will feature more than 30 workshops on disability topics.

You can register online for the conference, with early-bird registration ending February 18. Early-bird registration for an individual is $100, regular registration is $125. After March 22, registration will be $149.

The conference will be held at 8925 Leesburg Pike in Vienna. For more information, call 703-770-2918 or email accessibilitysummit@mcleanbible.org.

Winter 2011 Parent Academy Workshops

The MCPS Parent Academy has published their winter schedule and is offering several workshops applicable to special needs parenting. Check the Parent Academy schedule for a full list of workshop offerings. Selected information is below.

Find registration information for all workshops online.

January 27, 7-8:30 p.m.—Breaking the Bullying Cycle: Learn how to recognize the signs and effects of bullying, along with tips and strategies to help your child. Presented by the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County. Held at Eastern Middle School (300 University Boulevard East) in Silver Spring.

January 27, February 3, February 10 & February 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m.—Special Education: Parent as Advocates and the Family-School Partnership (4-part series): Attend any number of these four workshops about the special education process. Learn about the special education process and how to advocate for your child. Topics include the Individual Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Individualized Education Plan (IEP), resolving issues, community resources, and support. Learn, network, and share tips with other parents. This is the first of a series of four Parent E.A.S.E. workshops facilitated by the Montgomery County Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. Held at Francis Scott Key Middle School (910 Schindler Drive) in Silver Spring. *Editor's note: As a two-time attendee of this series, I have found it to be one of the most worthwhile I've been to.

February 3, 7-8:30 p.m.—Anxiety in Children and Adolescents: Do your children or adolescents suffer from anxiety? An NIH psychologist will take you through the biology behind both normal and excessive anxiety, and discuss interventions that can be used at home and in school. Held at Tilden Middle School (11211 Old Georgetown Road) in Rockville.

February 10, 7-8:30 p.m.—Breaking the Bullying Cycle: Learn how to recognize the signs and effects of bullying, along with tips and strategies to help your child. Presented by the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County. Held at Rock View Elementary School (3901 Denfeld Ave) in Kensington.

February 11, 8-11 a.m.—Ask MCPS: Coffee and Conversation: Drop by and talk with MCPS central office staff. Bring your questions, find out about programs and services in the school system, pick up resources, and take home tips on how to help your children succeed in school. Facilitated by the Department of Family and Community Partnership. Held at Carver Education Services, Room 50 (850 Hungerford Drive) in Rockville.

February 17, 7-8:30 p.m.—Breaking the Bullying Cycle: Learn how to recognize the signs and effects of bullying, along with tips and strategies to help your child. Presented by the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County. Held at North Chevy Chase Elementary School (3700 Jones Bridge Road) in Chevy Chase.

February 23, 7-8:30 p.m.—Let's Get Organized!: Assignments, projects, schedules, papers, activities, and more—good organizational skills are important for learning. Help your child develop organizational skills that will increase academic success. Presented by Peer2Peer Tutors. Held at Sligo Middle School (1401 Dennis Avenue) in Silver Spring.

March 2, 7-8:30 p.m.—Can We Talk? Speaking up for Your Children to Help Them Succeed (in English and Spanish): Developed for parents by the MCPS Parent Advisory Council, this workshop offers information on how to talk effectively with teachers and principals and advocate for your children. Separate workshops will be presented in English and Spanish. Held at Neelsville Middle School (11700 Neelsville Church Road) in Germantown.

March 9, 7-8:30 p.m.—Let's Get Organized!: Assignments, projects, schedules, papers, activities, and more—good organizational skills are important for learning. Help your child develop organizational skills that will increase academic success. Presented by Peer2Peer Tutors. Held at Rockville High School (2100 Baltimore Road) in Rockville.

IACC Full Committee Meeting

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) will hold a full committee meeting on January 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the purpose of reviewing and approving the final 2011 update of the IACC Strategic Plan for autism spectrum disorder research.

The meeting, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Neuroscience Center Conference Rooms C and D (6001 Executive Boulevard) in Rockville. Pre-registration is recommended to expedite check-in. Seating in the meeting room is first come, first served.

Public comment at the meeting is welcome. Members of the public who want to present oral comments, must contact Ms. Lina Perez at IACCPublicInquiries@mail.nih.gov by January 10 at 5 p.m. Written comments can be submitted by January 14 by 5 p.m.

You can also view a webcast of the meeting or listen in via conference call. The conference call number is 888-577-8995, with the access code 1991506.


In addition, there will be an IACC Subcommittee on Safety Conference Call on January 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern time and an IACC Services Subcommittee Conference Call on January 7 from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern time Both calls use the dial-in number 888-456-0356 and the access code: 1427016.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NCC's Respitality Program Seeks Donors for Respite Weekends

Amy and Seth Werbin have not taken a vacation since 1996. That was the year their son Jacob was born. Jacob has Down syndrome and his care, along with that of their other three children, has kept at least one parent home virtually every night for the past 14 years.

The Werbins got a much-needed complimentary night out together last year from the National Children's Center's Respitality Program, which gives primary caregivers of individuals with developmental disabilities a night in a hotel after dinner and an entertainment option, ranging from plays to comedy clubs.

"This is an incredible gift," says Amy Werbin. "With [special needs parenting] comes a lot of exhaustion."

Respitality is a National Children's Center (NCC) program in its third year. It combines the concept of respite—a temporary short-term relief for caregivers of individuals with disabilities—with hospitality. Respite is an essential service that some caregivers get, which offers relief from the extraordinary and intensive demands of providing ongoing care in the home. NCC's Respitality takes respite one step farther by not just paying for childcare, but by providing a hotel room and entertainment options for the caregivers—all at no charge.

Respitality is a donor-supported program open to anyone in the Washington, D.C. region who is caring for children and adults with developmental disabilities and receives services from NCC partners. The NCC began their "52 in 52" program last June, the goal for which is to provide a Respitality weekend for 52 caregivers in a year. Thaiia Reynolds of NCC reports that, through donations, the organization is about two-thirds of the way to its goal.

Many organizations and businesses have donated goods, services and money to the program, notably Marriott International, which pledged 52 Saturday nights in the D.C. area. The program is still searching for entertainment and restaurant packages to be donated in order to reach their goal, in addition to cash donations that are needed to cover caregiving costs.

NCC's Respitality lets the recipient of the weekend choose the caregiver for their child, be it a friend, neighbor or a professional. This lets parents find someone they trust to care for their loved one, at the same time providing payment for that service.

Rossene Minard, the very first recipient of the Respitality program, says that she had difficulty finding people to watch her two teen-age children with disabilities. "No one wanted to take care of them because it was too much of a hassle," she says. Consequently, it had been 12 years since she'd been away from them, until Respitality helped her by paying a caregiver while she was away.

Annie Alatishe, mother to a disabled 21 year old with schizophrenia, paranoia, traumatic brain injury, insomnia and seizures, says that she was initially resistant to the idea of Respitality. A single parent, she didn't trust anyone to take care of her child. Because she could choose the caregiver, Alatishe felt comfortable enough to go away for a night. Afterward Alatishe reports, "I felt great and revived. I felt very uplifted. I wish I could have done it over and over."

For families of typical children, the idea of respite may seem odd. Often the greatest obstacle for typical families is simply finding a babysitter, but for parents of children with special needs, it can be difficult to find a caregiver qualified to take care of their child. Even once such a professional is found, the added cost of paying for that expertise is often too much for parents already cash-strapped from the extra costs associated with parenting a special needs child or adult. It is typical in this community to find parents that haven't been out of the house for an evening in years.

As a consequence, husbands and wives don't have time together and single parents have no time to relax and take a breath. Sleeping in is often unheard of. Respitality aims to change some of this by not just giving these parents and caregivers a night off, but offering them some pampering in the form of flowers and a show. NCC customizes the Respitality weekends to the recipients as much as possible within the constraints of the donations.

"Most of the families have jitters about having a night off," says NCC's Reynolds. "For many, it has been years—if not a decade—since they have been out for simple enjoyment."

These weekends give parents and caregivers a chance to recharge and return to their children with new energy. Many of the parents who go on a Respitality weekend report coming home re-energized, rested, and ready to take care of their kids again. These parents dearly love taking care of their children, but need a break now and again.

Sharon Harris is a single mother to Lauren, a 27-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy. She appreciates that NCC is looking out for parents. "It's not often you hear of people thinking of the primary caregiver," she says. Lauren has a caregiver during the day, but at night, after the caregiver goes home, Sharon and her boyfriend, Dennis Young, don't have the opportunity to leave the house.

Harris and Young spoke about the program last June at a reception for NCC. After Harris spoke to a room of board members and donors about Respitality, Young took the microphone to say, "I served in Iraq." He paused before pointing at Harris. "This is my hero."

NCC's Respitality Program is seeking donations to help them provide this essential service to parents and primary caregivers of individuals with developmental disabilities. To donate, go to http://52in52campaign.eventbrite.com/. Potential donors of cash, goods or services can also contact the NCC directly by calling Thaiia Reynolds at 202-722-2364 or emailing giving@nccinc.org.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pause.

You may have noticed that the end of December is fast approaching. As is typical for this time of year, there are not a whole lot of autism-related events scheduled. Ergo, there may not be a lot happening on AutMont until 2011.

You may see some posts here and there before then, but there won't be any event summaries between now and New Year's. Per usual, you can check the calendar to see what events are happening.

I hope you're having a wonderful month!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sports Plus Swim Meet and Fundraiser

Sports Plus will hold their second annual swim meet and fundraiser on December 11 from noon to 3 p.m.

Swim meet events will be open to all current and past participants in any Sports Plus program and their siblings. Food and drinks will be available as well as live music from the Rick Umbrecht Band. There will also be a silent auction to support Sports Plus programs.

Cost for a family to attend is $15. Cost for a family to attend and take part in the swim meet is $25. Swim meet participants must register by December 7.

The event will be held at The Quince Orchard Swim and Tennis Club (16601 Roundabout Drive) in Gaithersburg. For more information, contact Sports Plus at 301-452-3781 or sportsplus@comcast.net.

Panel Discussion: Choosing a New Superintendent

The Montgomery County Civic Federation will host a panel discussion about choosing a new MCPS superintendent on December 13 at 7:45 p.m.

The purpose of the discussion is to host a wide-ranging, open and frank discussion including audience participation.

Confirmed panelists include Lyda Astrove, Special Education Advocate; Emily Barton, Executive Director, Teach for America, DC Region; Phil Kauffman, Board of Education, member of the BOE ad hoc group, Superintendent Search Process; Neal McLuskey, Associate Director, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute; and Fred Stichnoth, President, Montgomery County Gifted and Talented Association.

The forum will be held in the first floor auditorium of the County Council Office Building (100 Maryland Avenue) in Rockville.

Nutritional Approaches to ADHD and Autism

TLC's Katherine Thomas School will present a lecture by Dr. Pamela Compart called "Food for Thought: Nutritional Approaches to ADHD and Autism" on December 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

You can register online for this event, which costs $10 in advance or $15 at the door. The lecture will be held at the Katherine Thomas School (9975 Medical Center Drive) in Rockville.

For more information, call 301-424-5200.

Social Security Disability Benefits

The Montgomery County Government Community Support Network and the Collaborative Outreach and Training Committee will sponsor a presentation about social security disability benefits on December 7 from 6:45-8:45 p.m.

Diana Varela, Public Affairs Specialist for the Social Security Administration will present the eligibility requirements and the application process for social security disability benefits, including SSI and SSDI.

The presentation will take place in the second floor meeting room at the Rockville Library (21 Maryland Avenue) in Rockville. Please RSVP by December 6 by calling 240-777-1216.

Sensory Friendly Movie: The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Enjoy a screening of The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader in a sensory friendly environment on December 11 at 10 a.m.

AMC Entertainment and the Autism Society have teamed up to provide a mellower setting for families affected by autism and other disabilities. The movie auditorium will have its lights brought up and the sound turned down, families can bring in their own GFCF snacks, and no previews or ads will be shown before the movies. Audience members are also welcome to get up and move or vocalize. (Unless the safety of the audience is questioned.)

Tickets cost between $4 and $6 depending on the theater. The AMC Rio Cinemas 18 in Gaithersburg (9811 Washingtonian Blvd.) is one of the theaters that participates.

Sunday, December 5, 2010