More colleges are putting together options and programs for students with Special Needs. This list seems to be growing on a regular basis, which is wonderful. We have compiled a list of those schools, some are closer in proximity to the Virginia area than others. We will highlight additional in a future issue.
by Hanna McGrath
Susan Lacy has volunteered with many organizations in the Richmond area, but volunteering with River City Inclusive Gymnastics (RCIG) is a very different kind of experience. For the better part of a year, she has been assisting Coaches Mike McGrath and Fletcher Hamblen with kids’ classes that meet on Saturdays at River City Fitness in Manakin-Sabot. “It’s a hands-on experience,” Lacy said. “You just have to jump right in.” On a typical day she might be dragging mats from one side of the expansive gym to the other, lending a shoulder to a balance beam walker, or demonstrating how to crawl under a foam arch at the end of an obstacle course. After two hours, she’s had as much of a work-out as the kids.
This month we focus on books that are geared to the siblings of the kids with special needs. There is so much to write about with this, the siblings carry burdens and have lots to share. Days can be extra stressful when their sibling does things in a “different” way. Sometimes there is shame, fear and many other emotions.
Here are some books covering this geared to all age groups.
I started a “Get To KNOW Me” form last year for Back To School time.
I decided that I stress so much each start of the school year when it comes to our son not being able to share the details that really matter in the day in/ day out happenings. I added some cool facts about him, so the staff can also get a sense of who he is, what he likes and hope to engage him during the academic year.
Virginia Rep has added dates for sensory friendly performances for the rest of the current season and they are taking reservations! How exciting is this!
Missing Piece Awareness is working with businesses to create judgement free zones.
Shortly after receiving a diagnosis of autism for their children, many families find themselves alone. Feelings of isolation and segregation are often experienced. As OT, PT, Speech, intervention therapies and behaviors begin to take over, getting out to enjoy the community you were once part of becomes a task too daunting to even consider. However, the voice of reason takes over and you somehow manage to get out the door only to find that the community places you once enjoyed and even took for granted, no longer seem to welcome you. Meltdowns are not understood. Simple accommodations for sensory processing issues are denied before you even get a chance to explain why your child needs it. Let’s not mention the stares and the eye rolls and the under the breath comments of poor parenting. It is probably more comfortable to just stay home while never fully understanding the unfairness that is happening here. Why does this happen when only a short time back you and your family were welcomed as customers and patrons.
Imagine a world of “judgement free zones”. Being able to walk into any community establishment whether it be a restaurant, a doctor’s office, a hair dresser or child entertainment place to name a few, and the employees and staff not only welcome you but they willingly support you. This is the vision and mission of Missing Piece Awareness.’
On March 16, 2014 at the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, sixteen-year-old Cameron K. Gallagher passed away as she crossed the finish line from an undiagnosed heart condition. On that day Cameron struggled to finish a race that she had set as a personal goal for herself—and was victorious. But that was not the only hard fight that Cameron fought. Cameron suffered from severe depression and anxiety for several years. The ever-smiling teen was growing tired of keeping her struggle a private battle. She knew that like her, many teens were in great pain behind closed doors. As she trained for the half marathon, she took it upon herself to address the misplaced stigma held by so many about teenage depression. Her dream was to create a 5k race in her community to help raise awareness of teenage depression. She had titled that race the SpeakUp5k in order to draw attention to the issue of teen depression and to let other teens like herself know that it was okay to “Speak Up” about their personal battles. Unfortunately, Cameron did not see her dream come true but Cameron’s dream is now a legacy far greater then she ever could have imagined.
St. Mary’s Hospital has served Central Virginia since 1966. They know that a stay in the hospital is stressful for children and parents. That’s why they do everything we can to make the process more comfortable for your child and you. Their staff of medical professionals is focused on making your child well and doing it with compassion and kindness. They will stay in close contact with you and your child, and will consult with your child’s physician through frequent updates and communication.
With the ending of the school year for many and the arrival of days without all the structure, Summer can be a challenging time for children with special needs and their parents. With more leisurely days can also come the need for our children to have some structure and outlets to keep busy. Parents and caregivers with extra time to fill during the day.