4/24/2020

Weekly News Covid-19 Resources

 Families Working Together 

News During the Coronavirus Crisis

   Information You Need

Resources and News at WVPTI!

Our Mission

Our mission is to inspire, educate and empower parents through information, training and support to become informed, effective partners and advocates in planning appropriate educational, transitional and medical healthcare outcomes for their children and youth.

As a result of our assistance to parents, families, and professionals, children and youth with disabilities will lead rich, active lives and participate as full members of their schools, communities, post­secondary career choices and independent living.

                                             Message from Director!
       

Greetings Friends of West Virginia Parent Training and Information, Inc.,

WVPTI is taking COVID-19 seriously, and we wanted to let you know how we are handling the situation to keep families and staff safe. Many of the families we are privileged to serve have medically fragile children, and WVPTI is committed to doing its part to protect our community.

Please watch your e-mail,  WVPTI social media accounts, and our website for updates with the latest information on the status of WVPTI programs and services. Also, contact us at our main number, 304-472-5697, if you need services or information.

Be well, and we will get through this together.

Brenda Lamkin,
Executive Director

 

 
WVPTI Website

    How are families surviving during the crisis? 

  Is your family surviving or thriving during this time of social distancing with spending more time with family members in social isolation and the general uncertainty of Coronavirus? We need to remember our children and teens can sense when adults feel anxious or nervous in our current situation. After hearing the nightly news reporting the coronavirus' effects, it may add to everyone's stress. Paying too much attention to things that you cannot change can leave family members feeling constant worry. Mental health is essential as much as physical health at this time.
   In troubling times, it is crucial to comfort your child or teen. It is essential to talk to your children about how you are feeling and how they are feeling. When communicating, it is useful to come down to their level, both verbally and physically. Be honest with them that you may or don't have all the answers to the coronavirus situation. While expressing your concerns, you need to instill hope mentally, too.
   Teens, children, and people are missing their relationships with peers and group relationships  On any weekday in schools across West Virginia before March 16th, many students exchange warm greetings with teachers, then perhaps move on to a morning check-in, followed by a quick mindfulness exercise to start the day grounded and mentally focused. They were surrounded by peers they’ve known for months, or perhaps even years—and a teacher they see daily—kids felt connected.
     Now, schools are closed, and the children feel cut off from their peers and teachers. According to one study, “Simply talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone we trust can be profoundly healing—reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress.” Communication helps with coping and healing.
   We need to seek new avenues for our children who now do not have direct access to school-based services, counselors, and social workers. It might be the process of connecting via video conferences, apps, and phone calls or working directly with teachers. These options need to embed social and emotional practices into their remote communication.
    Yes, there are apps that we can start using to provide everything from breathing exercises, and journaling prompts to quick options to check on a students’ mental health. There is SuperBetter app, which uses digital games like “fulfilling a quest” or “recruiting allies” to teach kids social and emotional skills like cooperation and persistence. The popular Calm app, which focuses on relaxation, also features activities just for kids. 
  Another concern for both parents and caregivers is keeping students on track to reach their individualized education program (IEP) goals and objectives as they are tailored for each student. Every partner involved, teachers and parents/caregivers, are working together to support this learning at home for the children. In some cases, students are accustomed to having aides, in addition to teachers, in the classroom. It is a lot of responsibility for parents/caregivers to bear, but luckily some of the digital tools now available can help.

FREE APPS OR APPS WITH A FREE TRIAL

My PlayHome is a free app that gives kids a digital doll family of up to 15 people in various skin tones with whom they can explore, play, and share stories with other people. These shared stories help to increase student verbalizations, provide a place for social and emotional learning, and teach necessary early language skills.

SoundingBoard is a free mobile augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app designed for children who are unable to speak (or who have limited speech) to help them communicate. To meet the needs of this particular population, the app comes with preloaded boards using symbols with recorded messages. Students select and press images on the board to prompt a verbal message.

LetterSchool promotes early literacy and numeracy skills by guiding children to tap, touch, and trace colorful animations. Children learn letter formation, letter sounds and names, spelling, counting, and other preschool and primary skills. This app, which offers a free trial, also does an excellent job of developing fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.

Tales2Go, an audiobook service that offers a free one-month trial, helps students who struggle to read while boosting their listening skills. This app has an extensive collection of stories and books for all ages, with scores of splendid narrators who bring stories from every genre to life.

Epic! is an e-library that is great for supporting reluctant or struggling readers. It provides access to more than 20,000 high-quality children’s books and educational videos and includes an assortment of both fiction and nonfiction books from prominent publishers. Epic is offering free access to schools that can extend it to parents during this time.

We hope that you, your family, and the children are thriving and keeping well during the coronavirus crisis.  


  Source:  Clare, Edutopia, March 2020. 
Connect with our family engagement specialists if you need information or resources. 
Phone: 1-304-472-5697
Region 1:  Cara Price, carapricewvpti@gmail.com 
Region 2: Hazel Manns,Hazelmannswvpti@gmail.com 
Region 4: Tammy Taylor-Lane, TammyTLanewvpti@gmail.com 
We are only one call or email away! We are here for you!

 
Covid-19 Expert Panel, March 2020





Questions and Answers
The WVPTI office has been communicating with special needs parents during the crisis. There have several questions asked by the parents or caregivers. We are going to include some of the issues and the answers we have given to our community.

Question: What should a day look like when my children are at home?
It all depends during this time what you can provide. If you are still working and one parent is home, here is a sample schedule you could provide for your children. 

However, it all depends on your situation and what you can provide. 

Question: Should I talk to my special needs child about coronavirus?
While the level of details that you provide should undoubtedly vary from individual to individual or child's mental or physical level, the simple answer is yes; you should be talking to your children about the virus. What we know from anxiety research, is that keeping your children in the know can help to ease anxiety. Giving your child facts and allowing them to ask questions — and for you to debunk any myths or irrational fears – will help your child feel safe and know what to do to keep themselves safe. It is your decision how much and the level of depth of the details of the crisis. 

Question: How do I explain social distancing to my autistic child? Do you have anything to help me?
As you discuss social distancing, find a comfortable place for you and your child to talk. It is important that your child understands germs can spread from person to person. In this video from PBS, Curious George learns this very concept. For more advanced teenagers and adults, the CDC provides helpful documentation of how COVID-19 spreads. Your child needs to understand that the reason we are staying home is to not only protect ourselves but to protect others who may be at higher risk of getting sick. Because we can spread our germs to other people, staying home helps to keep other people safe, even if we do not feel sick. After you and your child look at the video or the paper image, we suggest taking the time to review the process with the child by measuring out the 6 feet which people will the physical space in a crowd. Be calm and reassuring to your child it is a practice to keep the germs away. 

Question: Do you have any picture cards to help explain the process of washing correctly? It would help my child to have the steps in his visual schedule.
Answer: Yes, we found some picture cards to explain the process. As a parent, you can model behaviors such as hand washing and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Break down steps using pictures or short phrases, use this link from Star Autism Support:
https://www.starautismsupport.com/sites/default/files/Hand-Washing%20Routine_0.pdf

Question: What about my child's IEP during this crisis?
Answer: Your local school is closed to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. If it continues to provide educational opportunities to the general student population during school closure, the school must ensure that students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE. Your local special education teachers should be connecting with you and your child to continue the plans as much as possible. We suggest connecting with your local school and your child's teacher to discuss the matter. Together, you will work out a plan to help your child during this time. 


Please connect us with your questions. We are here to help you and your special needs child. Call us at 304-472-5697.  We are here for you!
 West Virginia Department of Education's information is below about timelines and people to contact.

Timelines:
.https://mcusercontent.com/3c36ac673ffed80d99968fd3a/files/3cdb3c47-abbc-4fc6-bd95-7f2b82ac1296/WVDE_Supporting_Student_with_Disabilities.pdf

 People:
 https://mcusercontent.com/3c36ac673ffed80d99968fd3a/files/960ea772-c6e5-4f72-bbc9-d2e7c00f0694/WVDE_Virtual_School_Counseling_Resources.pdf

Remember, we will all get through this together. Keep in the perspective of what you can control.

Need information? Questions? 
We are here to help you.
Call 1-304-472-5697
or wvpti@aol.com
Hope to hear from you soon!
      
WVPTI wishes everyone good health, calmness, and peace as we grapple with this crisis. If you would like information or resources, please call and connect with us. Phone: 1-304-472-5697. We are here to help you with your questions. 
 
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