Easterseals is your partner in your child’s development

Being a kid is fun – running, biking and seemingly endless playing. Well, if your child needs help manipulating his muscles, those fun activities are more difficult for him. In our early intervention program, Babies Can’t Wait, we have physical therapists whose goals are to get kids moving. In October we are celebrating physical therapists and all they do, especially for our kids. Jacob worked with a physical therapist to realize his dreams. Here’s his story: jacob-griffith-1

 

When her son Jacob wasn’t hitting his developmental milestones at a year old, his mom, Susan, was getting very concerned. Luckily, a social worker at the hospital where she works as a nurse suggested contacting Easter Seals North Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program for an evaluation.

In January 2014, at 15 months old, Jacob started physical therapy with Aimee. He was only able to roll over. Aimee worked with him and his mom one hour a week. Every week, Susan learned something new from the in-home therapy sessions. What she learned, she would implement the other six days of the week. “We worked on arm strength by laying him across my lap. I’d show him books at a level that would require him to push up on his arms,” said Susan. Continue reading “Easterseals is your partner in your child’s development”

16 Ways to Prepare Children with Autism for Holidays

The following blog post was originally posted on Easter Seals’ National website.

16 Ways to Prepare Children with Autism for Holidays

by Cathy Pratt, Ph.D., BCBA-D

While many happily anticipate the coming holiday season, families with sons/daughters on the autism spectrum also understand the special challenges that may occur when schedules are disrupted and routines broken.

The following tips were developed with input from the Autism Society of America, the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, Easterseals Crossroads, Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at Logan, and the Indiana Autism Leadership Network. We update our list of suggestions annually, and our hope is that by following these few helpful tips as the holiday approaches, families may lessen the stress and anxiety created by the holiday season and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Continue reading “16 Ways to Prepare Children with Autism for Holidays”

2016: A Year in Review and A Look Forward

The theme of 2016 at ESNG was expansion. We expanded our programs, reach, events and accreditations. Let’s take a look back at what we did as we get ready for a fun and exciting 2017.for blog

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Last year, we piloted the innovative STEM in early education at our Brookvalley location. Thanks to funding from the Sibley Award and Frances Hollis Brain Foundation, we are expanding the program to our Guice, Mansell and Warsaw locations.

20151112_143926_resized Continue reading “2016: A Year in Review and A Look Forward”

Today we celebrate the progress of Special Education!

What exactly is special education? Special education features instruction and interventions designed to meet the individual needs of each child with a disability. While this doesn’t seem like such a dramatic idea to us now, it is fairly new. In fact, in 1975, the U.S. Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. This landmark law – together with subsequent amendments in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – protects the rights of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Before IDEA, too many children were denied access to education and opportunities to learn. Providing appropriate education to youngsters from diverse cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds was especially challenging. Further, most families were not afforded the opportunity to be involved in planning or placement decisions regarding their children, and resources were not available to enable children with significant disabilities to live at home and receive an education at neighborhood schools in their community.”

The IDEA has four main purposes: Continue reading “Today we celebrate the progress of Special Education!”

Family Support: The difference in success

089Recently I’ve been thinking about what makes Easter Seals North Georgia’s programs unique. Okay, lots of places provide early education, early intervention and/or support services. I realized almost immediately that the thing that makes us unique is our commitment to FAMILY. We cannot fully educate, support or provide therapies to children with special needs if we do not focus on their families too.

As Thanksgiving approaches, let’s talk about family and their importance on a child’s development.

Easter Seals North Georgia’s overarching goal is that parents will be their children’s first and most important teacher. How do we do that? Continue reading “Family Support: The difference in success”

ESNG is thankful for our heroes

As we all know, November is a month of being thankful. So, this month we are going to meet some members of the ESNG family that we feel are our heroes. To get us started, we talk to Laura Moncada, who is the service coordinator for our early intervention program, Babies Can’t Wait. (To read more about the beneficiaries of the program, check out this previous blog post.)

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  1. How did you come to work at Easter Seals North Georgia?

In 2009, I finally finished my Bachelors in Early Childhood Care & Education (Birth to 5) and was looking for a position. I saw the Service Coordination position posted on a job website and applied.

Elias Cloer now Continue reading “ESNG is thankful for our heroes”

#SuccessStartsHere: Ethan’s Story

Ethan Tumale

At 18 months old, Ethan wasn’t speaking. His mother’s friend told her about Easter Seals North Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program. Although Ethan’s parents were concerned about Autism, Babies Can’t Wait service coordinator believed that Ethan would progress with speech therapy.

For the next year and a half, speech therapist Mary Ann came to Ethan’s house once a week for thirty minutes. It took several months, but May Ann was able to engage Ethan in activities. She made learning fun for him as he was a high-energy child.

Ethan’s learning didn’t stop when Mary Ann left, though. “We would see what Ms. Mary Ann was showing him. Then, over the six days that she is not with him, we would continue,” said Ethan’s dad, Jay. She would also recommend activities. For example, moving little pom poms by blowing on a straw was a fun way to work on the mouth muscles needed to form words.

Continue reading “#SuccessStartsHere: Ethan’s Story”

Monthly wrap up – June & July

Don’t get mad at the messenger, but summer break is almost over! We did a lot in June and July and here’s a quick wrap up of our activities:

Awareness:

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We hope you are enjoying the lazy days of summer. When we say lazy, though, we hope you don’t forget the importance of safety during the season of pools, beaches, sun, trips, insects, and heat! Just to help you out so you can go back to enjoying the fun, we’ve put together some quick safety tips.

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They say that parenting is the hardest, yet most rewarding job. Dads play an equally important role in parenting as do mothers, but sometimes their importance gets overlooked. How do Dads make a difference? Here are just 5 of the many reasons why.

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Don’t forget that it’s very important to make sure your kids continue to learn even though they are not going to school in the next couple of months. Here’s a look back at our tips to help you and your kids prevent summer brain drain.

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At ESNG, we believe in inclusive learning. That includes summer camp. Meet Nicholas, who has spina bifida, who attends a fun and engaging summer camp – with just a few accommodations.

Around ESNG:

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This month two of our centers, Brookvalley and Mansell, joined Premier Academy, Madison County, and Warsaw in receiving the prestigious Quality Rating from the Department of Early Care and Learning: Bright From the Start. According to Bright From the Start, “Quality Rated is Georgia’s system to determine, improve, and communicate the quality of programs that provide child care.” We are thrilled to be recognized for our staff’s hard work to educate vulnerable children in Atlanta and northeast Georgia.

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Children at our Mansell location had an exciting visit from local emergency workers. Firefighters and paramedics came by and showed kids what they do to keep us safe. They also talked about what kids need to do to be safe in our communities.

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Our STEM consultant, Garry Harris, was recognized by President Clinton for his achievements in STEM and early education. ESNG is excited to partner with Mr. Harris and have his expertise as we prepare our children with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful in school and life.

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Office Depot Foundation generously donated 300 sackpacks filled with school supplies to us earlier this month. This donation ensures that our children will be ready to learn come August! Thank you, Office Depot.

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Even though it’s summer time, that doesn’t slow down our volunteer program. We had six groups of corporate volunteers from Frazier Deeter, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Kabbage, Cox Automotive, Salesforce, and UPS. These volunteers played with and read to our kids or painted and sanitized classrooms to get them ready for August!

Thank you to all these groups!
Here are photos from the events.

Raising healthy children – inside and out

Successful early learning and development systems must include a strong and well-financed Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health component. – Zero to Three

When most people think of addressing mental health issues, we often think of disorders that affect older children and adults. However, we cannot ignore the importance of the social and emotional well-being of our youngest children.

According to Zero to Three, “Infant-early childhood mental health, sometimes referred to as social and emotional health, is the developing capacity of the child from birth to 5 years of age to form close and secure adult and peer relationships; experience, manage, and express a full range of emotions; and explore the environment and learn – all in the context of family, community, and culture.”

How can we help foster  healthy social and emotional well-being of our children?

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For newborns:

  1. Spend as much time as possible with your baby by wearing her in a sling or carrier, rocking her on your lap, or singing her a song. Your voice and touch can be very comforting.
  2. Try making skin-to-skin contact with your newborn. This practice, called “kangaroo care,” is often used in premature babies, but studies are finding that it’s also calming to babies born full-term.
  3. If a few months have passed and you’re worried that you still haven’t bonded with your baby, talk to your pediatrician. He or she can determine whether a psychological or health issue may be the cause of the problem.

Courtesy of Webmd.com

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For toddlers:

  1. Encourage pals and playmates – A good place to start when helping your children to foster social skills is to encourage them to make friends and to bring them over. A toddler may require you to deliberately organize play dates where he can meet andplay with kids his age.
  2. Keep talking to your child – Proper communication, expression of feelings and thoughts are essential social skills. A family where children are encouraged to talk, express their feelings and to openly air their opinion is likely to bring up confident children and adults. Ensure that your kids feel safe talking to you about anything and more so, about their experiences with their peers. Encourage conversations at dinner time, ask your children how their day was, and tell them stories. Just keep the talk going in the house so your children learn good communication skills. At the same time, be a good listener and encourage them to listen to others.

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For older children:

  1. Teach How to Solve Problems- Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., author of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential asserts that teaching social skills entails showing your child how to evaluate other people’s behaviour. Children usually end up in conflicts with their peers and other people because they misunderstood the other person’s behaviour. In teaching your child how to relate with others, encourage her to empathize and look at issues from a different perspective. ‘Why did Erika refuse to play with me?’ Could it be that she was in a bad mood, could it be that she has not forgiven me for shoving her yesterday? Could it be that she just wanted to be alone? It is also important to teach your child to focus less on the problem and more on finding solutions to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
  2. Foster an Environment of Tolerance – To get along well with others, it is important to have a sense of tolerance. Teaching tolerance starts in your home and with you as a role model. Do you make discriminatory remarks about others? Do you use harsh remarks such as “I hate people who…”; do you discourage your children from playing with other children because they are “different” from them? The world, and indeed, local neighbourhoods are cosmopolitan, filled with people from different walks of life. It is important to teach your child how to accept these differences, to look beyond them and to relate courteously with people regardless of their differences.

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For all our children:

From ESNG’s very own Mental Health Manager, Dr. Juanita Brigman, “During the day today, if you can remember, reach out to our little ones and give them a hug. You never know, you just may be healing an emotional pain in their little hearts, or instilling confidence and courage they did not have, or giving them hope for another day, all because you took the time to give them a hug.”

For more information on ESNG’s early childhood mental health program, click here.

Monthly wrap up – April

Awareness: 

April is a month in which we shine a light on autism spectrum disorder. We learn the signs and symptoms in young children, learn about therapies that can help children play and communicate, and meet children who received therapies to help them start school healthy and ready to learn. One of those children is Jacob. Read his story here.

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In April, we also recognize the importance of volunteers. We spotlighted the work of one particular group, SIG, and the recycling project they helped implement at our Mansell center. Read that story here.

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Around ESNG: 

This month two of our centers, Warsaw and Madison County, joined Premier Academy in receiving the prestigious Quality Rating from the Department of Early Care and Learning: Bright From the Start. According to Bright From the Start, “Quality Rated is Georgia’s system to determine, improve, and communicate the quality of programs that provide child care.” We are thrilled to be recognized for our staff’s hard work to educate vulnerable children in Atlanta and northeast Georgia.

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Families at our Madison County center had a great time at the Home Depot’s Build with Dad. We love to incorporate fun ways to foster family time and to learn through doing. This is yet another great example of putting that into action.

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One of the groups that came out to volunteer at our centers in April was Comcast NBC Universal. On Saturday, April 23, a day that they dedicate to volunteering in our community, a large group came to our Warsaw center. They cleaned, sanitized, and decorated the center since the children were out for the weekend. They also built a much-needed shed! Thank you, Comcast NBC Universal, and all the volunteer groups that helped us this month.

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Thank you: 

Speaking of Thank You, we wanted to dedicate a special shout-out to this year’s sponsors for Topgolf. A huge woot to the following companies on behalf of the entire organization!

Comcast, CVS, Mitsubishi Electric, Century 21, US Foods, Jones and Kolb, PNC Bank, Creative Mischief, Fraternal Order of Police, Insperity, Cox Automotive and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

It’s not too late to sign up for the event. Check out topgolfevent.com for more information and to register.