The Power of Empowerment

We’ve previously talked about what type of advocate we are.  Assume Positive Intent.  We  have sat on all sides of the “EC table”. Please Don’t Say “It Will Be Okay” We both are parents of children with special needs, we both have worked in the school system as EC coordinators, special education teachers, regular education teachers, speech/language therapist, and Dean of Students.  We know the EC paperwork, the laws, school, state, and federal policies.  We have sat as advocates for families, teaching them about the paperwork, EC processes, and where to find information.  So why tell you all of this?

We want you to know that all of this has been creating what type of advocate we are. We believe in collaboration with other professionals.  We have yet to find one person who knows everything regarding EC.  We have experienced how important it is to ask questions, be involved, and listen carefully to how and what people say.  We believe in empowering families to be advocates for their children. We want to teach and encourage parents first.  We will coach you, guide you, teach you what we know so you are knowledgable and ready to communicate with your child’s school.  We want to help bridge any gaps between a school and a family.  We believe in the focus being on the child.  This is what we always come back to.  What does the child need? How can we help? How can the parents help? How can the school help?  After empowering the family, if you need additional support from us, we’re there.  We can sit as advocates for your child at meetings and help bridge those gaps where needed.  We also try to have open communication and collaboration first.

Advocate-noun. One that supports or promotes the interests of another.

Empower-verb. To enable or permit.

Mindful-adjective. Attentive and aware.

We support the interest of the child by empowering families first.  We are attentive and aware of the way we communicate with schools, families, and other professionals.

empowerment

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Social Learning

Recently, we read an article where a physician was quoted as saying kids do “what they can.”  This is very true whether we’re talking about children utilizing good social skills, reading on their grade level, or learning math facts.  It’s not a child’s “fault” that they are not understanding or implementing good social skills naturally.  However, as adults, we tend to have those expectations when it comes to social skills and then try to manage those “behaviors.”

If a child is struggling  learning to read, we teach that child unique ways to learn maybe through phonics, or blending patterns. If a child is struggling with concepts in math, we offer ways of support such as tutoring and breaking down the concepts until they understand the steps. Social skills really are the same.  In school a student will typically have to pull a card, lose a buck or sit at the quiet table. Teachers and administrators report that a child is struggling understanding and utilizing good social skills but the actual skills are not being taught or supported.

Just like special strategies can be implemented to teach a child to read, there are curriculums and specialists who can teach your child social skills. Both types of teaching express the importance of having a strong support network for your child as well as practicing the skills that are being taught.  When we are teaching a child phonics, we would then expect and set up situations where they are practicing the phonic skill. Social skills are the same in that, as children are learning how to “think” about thinking, having a support network of parents/guardians and teachers to help them practice the skills is necessary.

Our social skills classes are called Mindful Thinking for Social Expectations.  Our classes run six-week sessions with each session having a unique focus.  If this is your first time joining a social skills group or if your child has specific “behaviors” that you are unsure how to teach, we recommend beginning with our self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control classes.  We currently are teaching a session on “play” which includes how to enter and engage in play, how to read nonverbal language, and beginning to understand other people have thoughts and perspectives.  We keep our class sizes small so the students have the ability to interact and practice the social skills they are learning. This also enables us to offer more individualized instruction.

We also believe empowering parents is important. In conjunction to the student class, we have a parent group that meets at the same time.  The parents are learning information on the importance of reinforcing and practicing the skills their child is learning.

We also offer a teacher letter each week so we can connect with your child’s teacher. We feel this is an important piece so he/she can help reinforce the skills your child is learning.

This is a slow and deep process.  The focus of our classes are not about “managing” behaviors but rather teaching skills that begins to create a shift for students and parents.  Once these skills are learned, the students will be empowered to problem solve social situations that were once difficult for them.

We welcome any questions you have! If you would like to talk with us more about our classes, please reach out to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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Middle School Group Tonight

Happy Friday! Our Middle School OTB Club is meeting tonight from 6:30-7:30.  We are very excited! The kids will help create and form the type of group they want/need while working on necessary social skills.  The mini lessons will be imbedded within their groups of play and interactions.  If you’re interested in joining us, please check out our original post here Middle Schoolers OTB (Outside The Box) Club or check out our tab of “Upcoming Events” found at the top of our website.  If you are paying at the time of dropping off your child, we will have extra registrations forms printed for you to fill one out.

We’re looking forward to seeing you tonight!

With Appreciation,

Christina

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Communicating with Your Child’s Teacher

This morning while drinking my morning coffee, I was reading an article from Additude magazine that I thought you may be interested in as well.   This magazine, can be found either online here http://www.additudemag.com/index.html/ or you can order a copy of the magazine to be delivered to your house.  Personally, I struggle visually navigating their website but they do have some really good articles and tips on how to help with ADD/ADHD symptoms for children and adults.

The article I was reading this morning talked about writing a letter to your child’s teacher expressing your child’s strengths and needs.  You can write a letter like this anytime of the year.  Who else knows him/her as well as you?

Here’s a copy of the article I was reading. You can download a copy of the template and individualize it for your child….http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/12267.html

 

With Appreciation,

Christina

 

Upcoming events 

 

 

Flyer for Upcoming Holiday Session

Mindful Thinking for Social Expectations

Confident Solutions, LLC

We empower children, families, and schools through mindful connections.

For some students, obtaining and utilizing good social skills does not come naturally. They move through their environment having a difficult time communicating and understanding more than just direct language-based interactions. For example, good social skills include sharing space with others and learning to regulate one’s behavior to other peoples’ thoughts or expectations. For some students, these skills need to be taught.

We are offering a 4-week session beginning on November 13th. This session will focus on teaching techniques that will help reduce stress around the holidays and will provide tools to use based on the Social Thinking curriculum. Parents and caregivers will learn how to shift their thoughts and vocabulary while helping their child at home.

Your child does not need a diagnosis to attend. This class is designed for any child needing to learn how to “think” about thinking as well as understand more about the complex social world in which we live. While times of movement will be available, students must be able to sit in a room with a small group for one hour.

Parents will meet in a separate room and are required to attend each session so true integration can occur at home. We are also offering a corresponding sibling class during this time. To register, please visit Registration for Holiday Session  or email us confidentsolutions7@gmail.com

Groups are separated depending on age/grade. Group sizes will be kept small with no more than four to five children in each group.

Dates for the classes:

November 13th, November 20th, December 4th, December 11th

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We look forward to seeing you on November 13th!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

Guest Blogger on Mindful Meditation

We are fortunate to have a guest blogger provide information about the importance of mindful meditation.  Maria Hartemann will be teaching a short mindful meditation  at the December 4th social skills classes.  If you would like more information about the classes or how to register, please click here Registration for Holiday Session

 

There are countless studies these days that laud the benefits of meditation. From medical (lowering your blood pressure), to educational (increasing your ability to focus), meditation is now being acknowledged and recommended by experts in various fields.

When I first started meditating, one of the most significant differences that I noticed was the fact that I was finally able to calm my “monkey mind” and fall asleep at night in under an hour! That had been a serious issue for me for as along as I can remember (even as a child!). I was a night owl, not because I found myself to have an incredibly sharp mind in the late hours, but rather because I couldn’t seem to gain control over my thoughts! A night owl by default, I guess you would say. However, with continued practice, that hour became forty-five minutes, then thirty minutes, and down and down. These days, unless I have a pressing issue on my mind, I am usually asleep within ten minutes of hitting the pillow.

As if this wasn’t enough of a reason, I also have experimented with using meditation or conscious calming of my mind, to lower my blood pressure. Always one for conducting a good experiment, I have tested the “meditation can lower your blood pressure” theory in 2 ways. The first was at the doctor’s office. I can’t say that I love going to the doctor, so when I go, I must admit that I am not my most peaceful/best self. I get nervous and my blood pressure has been elevated on occasion during the initial exam. After having one questionable reading, I used a few breathing and centering techniques that are a part of my meditation practice. When they took my blood pressure a second time (yes, it was alarmingly high the first and warranted another reading), they were shocked to see how different the second reading was! To the point where the nurse asked if I had been nervous when I first came in 🙂 Ummmm, yes. The other method that I used to try quite often, was to go to the pharmacy area and use their armband to test myself. I would sit down, not nervous, just a regular person, take my blood pressure and then take it again while using centering and breathing. Even a slight decrease was consistent. Try it! It’s actually quite amazing.

Check out some of these links and see how schools have integrated “mindfulness” or meditation into their school days.

https://www.edutopia.org/stw-student-stress-meditation

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/01/should-schools-teach-kids-to-meditate/283229/ (this one is long and does talk about meditation/mindfulness in conjunction with yoga, but it has some great insights).

http://www.mindfulschools.org/about-mindfulness/research/

Meditation/mindfulness, whether it’s 3 breaths a day or 30 minutes a day, can be beneficial to you no matter your age. I look forward to meeting you at the December 4th social skills class to help teach you and your child how to do quick mindful meditations in any setting.

Maria Hartemann

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Registration for Holiday Session

Registration is now open for our next session of our social skills groups.  The time around the holiday seasons can be stressful for children and families.  The focus of this session will be teaching children how to effectively communicate at home around family and utilize tools to help reduce stress.  As your child learns new vocabulary and skills, you will also learn more about teaching and reinforcing social skills at home to help support your child.  We are aware that siblings can sometimes feel confused, left out, or even frustrated.  This is why we are including a sibling class with this session so they have time for questions and develop their own “toolbox” of strategies that they can use at home as well.

Your child does not need a diagnosis to attend these classes. However, this class is designed for students with diagnoses such as Asperger Syndrome, ADHD/ADD, or any child needing to learn how to “think” about thinking as well as understand more about the complex social world in which we live.  While times of movement will be available, students must be able to sit in a room with a small group for one hour. If you have questions if your child would benefit from this session, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com. We’d love to help answer any questions!

The dates and agenda for the classes are as follows:

November 13th: Children will learn tools how to effectively communicate at home and around extended family, friends, or school. They will learn how to get their mom/dad/caregiver’s attention when multiple people are around.  The focus of this class will be self-awareness and communication tools.

November 20th: Children will be learning how to start and continue a conversation with a relative/parent/caregiver whether they are talking on the phone or meeting together for the holidays.  They will learn skills to have a “peaceful” holiday and begin learning how to “catch” themselves doing something well.  The focus of this class will be self-awareness, self-monitoring, and communication tools.

December 4th:  All groups will be led for a short mindful meditation in learning how to center themselves and be able to utilize this tool as a way to reduce stress or anxiety.  Children will begin to recognize the first signs of  when they are feeling overwhelmed and when they need to utilize a tool or ask for help.  The focus of this class will be communication, self-awareness, and tools for reducing stress or anxiety.

December 11th: Children will learn how to set up a space for himself/herself at home that he/she can use when feeling overwhelmed or need a break.  The children will review how to communicate to parents/caregivers when they need help or use a tool.

For this session, there will be three groups that will meet.  A sibling group (which is optional), a parent group (required with the session), and your child registering for the social skills group (up to five children per group).

K-2 meets from 2:00-3:00

3rd-5th meets from 3:30-4:30

6th-8th meets from 5:00-6:00

The cost for the child and parent classes is $150.00.

The cost for the child, parent, and up to two siblings is $200.00.

All classes are held at 8401 Medical Plaza Drive, Suite 120, Charlotte, NC 28262.

To register, please fill out the attached registration form registration-for-holiday-session and e-mail it to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.  Please be sure to indicate on the form whether you are signing up for the sibling portion as well.  Once we receive your registration form, we will e-mail you a PayPal link to reserve your spot in the class.  The classes will be kept small to benefit children and families with no more than five children for the main class.

 

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

What Schools Can’t Tell You In Meetings

When attending a meeting to discuss your child’s needs, there are a few phrases you should never hear. Below are just a few:

  1. ANY word regarding money. Never, never, never should an employee of the school say anything about what services can and can not be offered because of monetary concerns.  IEP Team members make decisions for a child based on the child’s need and the data to show that need.
  2. “We can’t test your child until we have tried RTI (or MTSS)”. This statement is false. Take a look at our blog What Can I Do if My Child is Struggling in School?
  3. “This meeting will only be an hour because (insert any reason here: the general education teacher has to leave, we have another meeting scheduled, etc).” The meeting should last as long as necessary to address the concerns of every member of the team.  Who Is On Your Child’s Team?
  4. “We aren’t going to add your statement to the DEC 5 because we don’t agree with you.” As a member of your child’s team, you have the right to add any statement regarding your child and the meeting, even if they don’t agree. The Importance of a DEC5
  5. “We can’t make that decision today.” At every meeting, there should be a person who has the authority to make decisions. This person is called the LEA representative. They should know and understand laws regarding special education, policies within the school and district, and have knowledge of the budget.
  6. “We don’t accept outside evaluations.”  In North Carolina, all evaluations must be considered by the IEP Team.  If you offer an outside evaluation documenting  your child’s needs, the Team needs to discuss it and see how and if it is is relevant to the over all data for your child.

These are just a few of the statements we have had parents tell us members of their child’s team have said. There are a few statements that we have experienced at IEP meetings for our own children. These statements are not shared with you to cause anger toward your child’s team, but instead for you to know where to establish boundaries with the team as you reach a consensus about what is in the best interest of your child.  When you have a question or concern, always start by going to your child’s case manager or EC teacher first.  If you are not able to get your question answered, you can then ask the EC Coordinator or Director next for your school or district.

NCDPI has an excellent website with information http://www.dpi.state.nc.us .Under “departments” click “exceptional children.”

Another fantastic resource for parents is the ECAC (Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center).  http://www.ecac-parentcenter.org

You are also always welcome to e-mail us with any questions at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.

 

With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina