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  • 2021 K-2 Science Camp

    Posted by Rachella Moore and Hannah Torres on 2/15/2022 8:50:00 PM

    Summertime is when most kids look forward to a break from the monotony of a classroom. They trade in their No.2 pencils for sidewalk chalk and some of life’s most memorable moments ensue.

    At the Statewide Outreach Center (SOC) at Texas School for the Deaf (TSD), we take pride in our Summer Camps & Programs, which is one of our flagship offerings. For over 40 years, we have hosted a variety of programs. In the earliest years, we offered computing classes and have since expanded our horizons to include driver’s education, space camp, a classic camp experience, and much more.

    In 2021, we took on the challenge of offering our programs safely despite new challenges. We collaborated with STEMSign to provide a camp for kindergarten through second-grade students.

    STEMSign founder, Gabriel Arellano, led the pint-sized scientists in engaging activities using the Smithsonian Science Education Center's curriculum, How Can We Change an Object's Motion? Swing sets became an example of the push-pull principle. The monkey bars and ladders brought the lessons of gravity to life.  The campers were able to see the world around them through new lenses.

    Four elementary students writing on a whiteboard about Aloe A student is hanging from the monkey bars.

    Deaf Clinical Herbalist, Michelle Mansfield-Hom taught our campers about herbs, showing them the practical uses of nature. “Art-repreneur” Monique Capanelli, a Botanical Designer, got creative wheels spinning with her lesson on the many ways that plants and flowers are used.

    This was undoubtedly a week that campers will remember for years to come. Fun was had and friendships were formed as campers got to “think outside of the textbook.”

    Thinking about sending your kid to our summer camp in 2022? We offer Kindergarten through 2nd grade LEGO© STEM Camp this summer and more! Visit here to learn more.

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  • More Tips for Creating Social Stories – Part II

    Posted by Dr. Linda Miller on 2/4/2022 10:15:00 AM

    Along with a few tips, I previously talked about social stories, created by Carol Gray as a visual aid for students with autism, and shared how my family used social stories at home to help our son, who has autism, plan for and manage our daily lives. Here are more tips for incorporating social stories into your home or classroom.

    Tip #5: Use pictures to support the goal  

    When it comes to using images, the type of image matters. Photographs are almost always better than graphics and are especially beneficial for younger children. Using photos of the child will make the story more personable. 

    If it's possible, have the child "act out" the social story while you take pictures--almost like role-playing. In many cases, after posing for the photos, the child will only need the social story as a reminder. 

    When photos aren't available or suitable for the story, try to find graphics with which the child can connect. For instance, if Cindy has red hair, use an image of a character with red hair. 

     

    Tip #6: Include thought bubbles

    Students benefit from social stories that show positive, desirable thoughts. For instance, you might have a thought bubble above Johnny's head and the text "I shouldn't squeeze the tube too hard." Thought bubbles can also contain pictures.

     

    Tip #7: Find the right time.

    Introducing the social story too early or late will garner less than optimal results. You want the child to have enough time to process the story, but not so much time as they will forget. 

    A social story about a field trip can be shown the day before, an hour before, and then we will stand in line for the bus. A social story about not hitting can be shown at the beginning of each day and followed up just before going to the playground.

     

    Tip #8: Involve the child (if possible)

    Children enjoy creating stories about themselves, so why not get them involved? Once, after weeks of trying to get my son to put his things away after school (his idea of putting them away involved flinging them at me as he ran past), I created a social story using him as the model for the pictures. I printed the pictures out, and he helped me put them in order and glue them into a booklet. 

    When he came home from school the next day, I met him at the door, prepared to go over the story with him. He pushed it away, hung up his backpack, put his lunchbox next to the sink, and sat down for a snack. Win!

     

    Tip #9: Repeat, repeat, repeat 

    Sometimes you will only need to show a story one time. Hurray! Unfortunately, it may take several readings before the goal is reached. Even after the goal is reached, the child may revert to old, familiar behaviors. Keep the social story in a prominent place where it can serve as a reminder.  

     

    Tip #10: Make it easy on yourself

    While each story will be dependent on the child, there are cases for universal stories. I had students every year who had trouble entering the class and settling down to work. I created a social story with a bald main character and made copies to keep on file. Each time I needed it, I pulled it out, colored the hair and skin to match the child, and I was good to go.

    Creating social stories demands an investment of time and energy. But once you've seen that investment pay off, you will find countless ways to use them. You will also find that in using them, you are helping your student achieve success and accomplish goals like never before!

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  • Tips for Using Social Stories at School and Home – Part I

    Posted by Dr. Linda Miller on 1/21/2022 1:00:00 PM

    Social stories are short, visual stories that can be used at school and home to help children plan for and manage their daily lives.

    Created by Carol Gray as a visual aid for students with autism, social stories have benefited many children - whether developmentally disabled or not - who struggle with communication skills or undesirable behaviors.

    Created by combining text and images into a "story," social stories are incredibly adaptable and useful for many reasons:

    • To develop self-care skills like washing hands, 
    • Teach social skills like taking turns, 
    • Teach behavior strategies like how to cope when they're upset or angry,
    • Communicate changes to routines and schedules. 
    • Prepare for significant events like a family move,
    • Calm anxiety before high sensory situations such as shopping malls and zoos. 

    Social stories work by taking something that would require long explanations or complex steps and breaking it down into short, simple steps with accompanying pictures. 

    Stories can be printed in booklet form to resemble storybooks, but there is no single way to design a social story. They can be created in presentation software like PowerPoint, in the form of a comic strip, or whatever means is suited to the child and the situation. In a pinch, even drawings on a napkin will suffice!

    Social stories can be life-changing for teachers, parents, and the child. I speak from experience. For the past 20+ years, I have been using social stories to help my autistic son navigate the world around him. I also used them extensively as a teacher. They range from storybooks to hand-drawn comics, and I've even made a few videos. And yes, I've also drawn them on napkins.

    I am still not perfect at creating social stories. There have been some failures. To keep you from repeating those failures, here are four tips that will help make your social stories--and your child--a success.

    Tip #1: Decide on the goal first.

    First, decide on the end goal--and like all goals, it must be measurable. "Behaving better" is not a measurable goal. "Keeping your feet still during story time" is. 

     

    Tip #2: Break down the steps

    What steps will the student take to achieve the goal? Be specific, even with processes you think are implied. 

    If, for instance, you are using a social story to teach teeth brushing, you wouldn't start with "put toothpaste on the toothbrush." That assumes the child knows how to take the cap off and squeeze the tube gently. 

     

    Tip #3: The title must reflect the goal.

    Every story needs a title, and in this case, the title needs to be specific to the goal. If the purpose of your story is learning to take turns, the title would be "Taking Turns" or, more specifically, "Taking Turns on the Playground." Stories should also be personalized for the student, for instance, "Johnny Takes Turns on the Playground." 

     

    Tip #4: Use as little text as possible.

    The text takes up space and can be distracting--especially for struggling readers. The child should be able to use the images as a reminder of the goal and not have to depend on the text.

     

    Be sure to check back for part II and more tips for using social stories to help you.

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  • A Day In the Life of a Parent Advisor

    Posted by Dori Butts, Guest Writer on 1/7/2022

     

    When I think about what exactly it is that I do, it can be hard to explain because a Parent Infant Advisor wears many hats. First of all, I have a habit of calling them “my babies,” and no one ever knows if I am talking about my own children or the kids I see through the Regional Day School Program. I also have two boys that are deaf, so that has created a passion in me to help and support other families and educators. 

    As a Parent Infant Advisor, my biggest goal is to help educate parents on the importance of early intervention while supporting them throughout their journey. We help provide direction and guidance through the unknowns and serve as their advocate as needed.

    At the RDSPD (Regional Day School Program for the Deaf), I see children under the age of three years old. I also collaborate with ECI (Early Childhood Intervention). Sometimes our visit is at the family’s home, sometimes at the daycare, sometimes it’s virtual (due to the pandemic), and sometimes we may even make a trip to the grocery store.

    Communication is key, and I want to help families learn the best way to communicate with their children. I also want parents to be comfortable communicating with me regarding their concerns. If a parent tells me that their child has a meltdown or screams every time they take them into the grocery store, I suggest we spend a session at the grocery store and see what kind of tools or strategies are needed to make daily routines and experiences more manageable and enjoyable.

    I have also had daycare teachers explain to me that the child refuses to put on their hearing aids after a nap or the teacher doesn’t feel comfortable with the equipment. In that case, I make sure I visit at that specific time to help educate and support the teachers. I’ve also had parents ask, “What can you do for a newborn—they can’t sign?” In this case, I explain that I am here to help them navigate the appointments, find resources, and whatever else might come up. If the family wants to use sign language, I suggest we start working on their sign language skills and build their vocabulary so the child will eventually learn and understand sign language as well.  

    When the child is coming up on their 3rd birthday, I work on helping the family transition into the next step of their child’s education journey. Once the child turns three years old, they have many different options. They will no longer receive my services as a Parent Infant Advisor and ECI services also end. Some of our children go to the RDSPD program, while others may choose to stay in their current district for various reasons. Whether I see the babies for a few short months or the first few years of their lives, I have a strong bond with each and every baby and their families. Not only do I have the opportunity to see them in the Parent Infant Program, but I also see them if they enroll in the RDSPD Program.

    With the Pre-K aged kids, I work on language intervention and building their communication skills in addition to reviewing what they are working on in class. Once they transition to kindergarten and up, I get the opportunity to be their Reading Intervention Teacher and see them multiple times a week. I feel like this continuity of care helps parents have peace of mind knowing a familiar face will be there with their child and collaborating with their teachers.  

    Every day is a new day in the life of a Parent Infant Advisor, and I feel so fortunate to work with such wonderful kids and their families!

     

    A brunette holding two young boys. One is dressed in a ninja turtle costume, the other army outfit.

    Dori Butts, Parent Infant Advisor, Ector County RDSPD, Odessa, TX

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  • One Dad’s Journey into Deafness

    Posted by Lia Ulrich, Instructor and Clint Carlile, Parent on 9/10/2021 10:15:00 AM

    Family Signs instructor, Lia Ulbrich, had the opportunity to sit down with Clint Carlile, a hearing father of a 3 year old son, Waylon, who is deaf. Clint recently graduated from the Family Signs program offered by the Statewide Outreach Center to families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Lia asked him about his journey diving into the world of ASL and raising a child who is deaf.

    Caucasian male with long brown beard holding a toddler

    Lia Ulbrich: Can you tell me how you found out Waylon was deaf and about the start of your ASL journey?

    Clint Carlile: My ASL journey began about two months after Waylon was born. He was having trouble passing the hearing screening at the hospital. Though we were sent home just three days later after being told “sometimes C-section babies have trouble passing the hearing test due to fluid in the ears.” Well, this didn’t sit right with us, so we immediately set up an appointment with an audiologist. When Waylon again did not pass the hearing test, we then set up a second appointment with another audiologist/ENT. Then, we got the news that Waylon was “profoundly deaf.” We immediately jumped into action and began our research and hunt for resources and dove in to learn sign language.

    Lia: So literally from the day of the diagnosis, you started your journey?

    Clint: Yes, we started our research immediately.

    Lia: How has Family Signs impacted your family?

    Clint: Family Signs has made a HUGE impact on me and my family. There are a LOT of resources online, but it makes such a difference to have a teacher to interact with on the other side of a Zoom meeting. Lia was able to teach us and answer all the questions one might have as a person entering the world of sign language and deaf culture for the first time.

    Lia: What would you like to tell other dads about learning ASL? Or about raising a child who is deaf?

    Clint: Learning ASL is definitely a challenge but I believe anyone can learn over time. Also, don’t get overwhelmed thinking you have to be fluent in sign language on day one. You’ll be growing and learning with your child. The most important part is that you are able to communicate with your child. If you’re concerned about raising a deaf child, don’t be, they can do anything any other child can do except hear. Also, you get the privilege of being a part of this amazing deaf community.

    Lia: Since graduating from Family Signs, what do you plan to do next to continue your ASL learning?                      

    Clint: There are so many resources online now and we live in the best time for technology, so I’ll definitely be online looking to continue my education in ASL. I think one of the best things I can do is go to meetings, gatherings and retreats - anything that will allow me to practice my signing skills. I have found the best way to practice is with another deaf person. They are always willing to help someone learn and practice their ASL. 

    Lia: Have you attended Family Weekend Retreat (FWR)? Or will you be attending Family Weekend Retreat?

    Caucasian male with long brown beard on screen with a Caucasian female signing father

    Clint: We did attend FWR in 2018 right after Waylon was born. He was only a few months old at the time, but it was so great to be around other people who were in the same boat as us. FWR was able to answer all our questions and it was wonderful to be able to see deaf kids of all ages just being kids. It really helped put our minds at ease.

    Lia: Have you attended Communications Skills Workshop (CSW)?

    Clint: Yes, I have been to the workshops and they are an amazing resource. It’s a great place to go to get a ton of information, resources, and signing practice.

    Lia: If you could go back and give “Clint on day 1 of diagnosis” any advice, what would you say/do?

    Clint: I’d say take a deep breath, you got this. Then I would contact the nearest deaf school/community and reach out and start asking questions.

    Lia: Thank you, Clint, for taking the time to talk with me. Sounds like you and Waylon are doing amazingly well. Continue doing what you’re doing. Best of luck and please keep in touch!

    Clint: Thank you again Lia for all you’ve done with Family Signs…I definitely will!

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  • PAUSE 2021 With a Twist…

    Posted by Michaela Hamaker, Texas Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side Program Coordinator on 8/13/2021 9:15:00 AM

    Stronger Together! Mom to Mom, Caregiver to Caregiver!

    The Importance of Parent-to-Parent Connections Through Annual Mom’s Retreat!

                                                               

     

    Each year, Texas Hands & Voices (TXHV) and Guide By Your Side, along with support from the Statewide Outreach Center at Texas School for the Deaf, host a retreat for moms and female caregivers who have children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Traditionally, the event takes place in-person at a venue overnight, Friday-Saturday.

    With the pesky pandemic still looming over us, we knew we’d have to approach 2021 a bit differently. We know the impact of this retreat is life-changing for our parental community, and we did not want to cancel when so many come to expect and anticipate it. So, we went to work and got creative!

    Rather than overnight, we decided to host in-person events Friday night at local painting venues around the state with appropriate safety protocols in place in order to protect everyone who wanted to join in all around Texas. We’d then come together on Saturday morning – virtually via Zoom - from our own homes for some learning with a variety of guest presenters.

    Well, once again that pandemic had other plans, causing us to cancel the in-person events. So, we pivoted and revised the plan to include a Friday night online painting session that everyone could join, led by Painting With a Twist in New Braunfels, Texas. We quickly mailed painting kits to everyone, along with everything needed for PAUSE 2021 -- With A Twist, fully online!  

    Though we know online meetings are not always the most conducive for developing relationships and close connections, we made lemonade out of lemons, and opted to consider the benefits.

    With 55 moms and caregivers registered, we expanded participation across the state more than we ever had before. Many are from areas across the state where PAUSE events are still hours away. Thanks to TXHV and several generous donors, 15 scholarships were distributed. For the first time ever, we had 11 Spanish language users in the group, and we were excited to have members of the deaf and hard of hearing community join us too. With CART, ASL, and Spanish language interpreters, all attendees had communication access.

    Everyone had a wonderful time painting the Texas state flower - the bluebonnet – on Friday night. With door prizes and the fabulous instructor, one mom shared at the end of the night what we all felt.

    “I just wanted to say that this is SO MUCH FUN! …this happiness is something I’ve needed through this rollercoaster of a journey!”

    THIS is the exact reason why parent-to-parent support is so critical, and we at TXHV are thrilled to be a part of this family’s story! 

    Saturday, the group was treated to two very interesting presentations.  Karen Putz talked about “Unwrapping Your Passion in Difficult Times.”  Putz is co-director of DHH Infusion at Hands & Voices, and co-founder of Illinois’ chapter of Hands & Voices.

    Dr. Lilach Saperstein, an audiologist and creator of the podcast All About Audiology, shared “The F-I-G Method of Advocacy.”

    Before adjourning, a Facebook page was created for all PAUSE 2021 attendees, so everyone can continue to connect and build community.

    Some comments shared from those who attended PAUSE 2021:

    “Thanks so much for this great event! It was fun, informative, and well run.”

     “Amazing presenters, with information that I could relate it to my journey!”

    “Very inspiring and motivational. I felt very welcomed and supported. It is a great feeling to know you are not alone and share the same journey with other moms and families who are similar, and different.”

     We are already looking forward to next year’s event and hope that we can gather in-person, though after seeing the benefits, we are planning to continue to hold some portion of PAUSE 2022 virtually.

                To quote Tom Seaver, “you have the honor and privilege of being in position to do something amazingly special. If you have the chance, you must do it.”.  

    It is my honor and privilege to get to be a part of the lives of families with children all across Texas who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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  • Avoiding the Summer Slide

    Posted by Linda Miller on 7/2/2021 9:15:00 AM

    Avoiding the Summer Slide

    Every kid looks forward to summer. As that last day of school winds down, students can't wait to grab their backpacks and head for home, leaving behind all thoughts of homework, class assignments, quizzes, and tests.  

    And what happens when they get home?

    For many students, summer means days spent watching TV, playing video games, hanging out with friends, and avoiding anything that even implies it's educational.

    For most kids, this probably sounds like a perfect summer. But in reality, it can also be detrimental to their education.

    The Summer Slide

    During the summer, many students lose some of the educational gains they made during the school year. Known as the "summer slide," this phenomenon is even more dramatic with students of lower socioeconomic status (SES).

    In a   conducted by the Partnership for Children & Youth, researchers found that almost all participating students experienced a decline in math skills. However, when it came to reading fluency, children from higher-income families often still progressed, but at a slower pace. While the literacy skills of their peers, from lower-income families, actually decreased.

    These losses contribute to and increase the achievement gap - the difference in academic performance between upper and lower SES students.

    An Ounce of Prevention

    Learning doesn't have to stop just because school is out. But forcing kids to sit down with a workbook or flashcards isn't the answer- not while the sun is out and begging them to run and play.

    Instead, try some of these ideas to incorporate learning into their activities.

    Video Summary

    After a fun day at the park or the beach or wherever their adventures take them, have children summarize their day for a family member who wasn't involved. Video their summary while encouraging them with questions like "Who else was there?" and "What did you like the most?" The more detailed their descriptions, the better they will become at summarizing. Younger kids may enjoy drawing a picture first, and then describing what is going on in the picture. Note: this idea works well for movie reviews too. Just remind kids not to give away the ending!

     

    Obstacle Course

    Strengthen problem-solving skills by having kids create an obstacle course using hula hoops, pool noodles, rope, or other items found around the house. They might incorporate chalked activities on the driveway, use scrap lumber as a balance beam, create a "tunnel" from an empty box, or use toys as hurdles. Older kids can research more DIY ideas. First, have them run the course themselves to troubleshoot any issues, create rules for participants, and develop modifications that might work for younger children or older adults.  

    Board Game

    On bad weather days, ask kids to create a themed board game around a favorite topic, like baseball, insects, or dinosaurs. They'll need to sketch their design, write down the rules, research the subject, and finally create the board - all of which is learning in disguise! Have fun playing the game with them once they're done.

    Field Trips

    Being mindful about the activities you plan outside the home can turn an outing into a learning experience. Take in a factory tour, check out an animal sanctuary, explore a botanical garden, visit your local fire or police station, ask your favorite restaurant for a kitchen tour, or your usual grocery store for a behind-the-scenes look at the operations. Search out a "You-pick-'em" farm and let kids harvest their own fruits or veggies. Search online to find more ideas specific to your area.

    Take a Hike

    Hikes are ripe with educational opportunities. For example, kids can learn to use a compass and play the "Find North" game by stopping every once in a while and having everyone try to guess which way is north. Borrow a plant identification book from the library, or use an app like Picture This. Then have kids record their findings in a pocket-sized journal or notebook. A hike is also the perfect opportunity to teach Leave No Trace principles, which help minimize our activities' impact on nature.

    Backyard Camping

    Have kids take the lead to plan and carry out an overnight campout. From figuring out how to pitch a tent, or how to create their own, to deciding on food and games to play, this hands-on adventure will strengthen organizing and problem-solving skills.

    Get Cooking

    Have kids make muffins and double or half the recipe to reinforce math skills. Teach them to make their own popsicles using healthy ingredients. Let them help you create meals, try new dishes from various cultures, or find something to make that is from a different time in history. Allow them to research a recipe and make a list of the items needed. They can shop with you and compare prices. Then at home, either prepare the recipe together or supervise while they read, measure, and follow the recipe's directions.

    Outdoor Experiments

    Science skills involve observation, communication, measuring, and predicting. Reinforce these skills by having kids conduct experiments. Encourage kids to predict what might happen, measure results, and communicate their findings to you or other family members. Some ideas might be to try to sprout seeds in different media, like water, dirt, coffee grounds, etc., or conduct gravity experiments with toys, try dying flowers using food coloring and water, build a solar oven from a shoebox and foil to make s'mores, make ice cream in a bag, construct balloon rockets or paper airplanes. Find countless ideas online or at your library.

    Volunteering

    Foster compassion and responsibility by involving your kids in volunteer activities. You can seek out opportunities in your area or organize something close to home. KIds can clean up an area of your nearest park, collect canned goods from neighbors and go with you to deliver them to the local food bank, make birdseed suet cakes for your backyard friends, conduct a paper towel drive and donate them to a local animal shelter, go through their closets and choose clothes and shoes they can't wear anymore or toys that no longer interest them to donate.

    Read

    Probably the single most important thing you can do to reinforce your child's learning is to have them read. Make sure to model reading yourself since children take cues from your actions. You can also help them construct cozy reading nooks - one for outside as well as inside.

    To make sure that reading is a part of your summer, and year-round, experience:

    • Plan activities themed from a recently finished book, like visiting a farm after reading Charlotte's Web or making cookies after reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Use our recipe in this lesson plan.
    • After reading a book that's been made into a movie, host a family movie night to watch the film version.
    • Keep books visible around the house, not just on the shelf where they can't see the cover. Check out books from the library based on favorite topics and leave them lying around the house and in the car.
    • Help kids sign up for their own library card and visit the library regularly. It's an excellent resource for summer activities.
    • Let older readers use a headlamp and stay up an extra 30 minutes to read before going to bed. The headlamp makes it fun, and the kids get a sense that books are special when they get permission to stay up late.
    • In addition to books, offer your kids magazines, comic books, newspapers, and even blog posts you find about their favorite subjects. Reading can be found everywhere - restaurant menus, product specifications, song lyrics, poetry, travel brochures, game instructions, and even on the back of a cereal box.

    These activities will help keep learning going during the hot summer months ahead and hopefully combat the "summer slide." Your child will have fun without realizing the activities are educational.

     

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  • Keeper of the Flame of the Future

    Posted by Guest Writer:Alexandria Rutowski on 6/18/2021 1:15:00 PM

    On March 25, 2021, the Junior NAD Chapter at the Texas School for the Deaf was the first in the U.S. to host its first-ever virtual Keeper of the Flame of the Future (KFF) award ceremony via Zoom with Dr. Frank Turk. The purpose of this honorable award ceremony is to recognize and show appreciation and gratitude for individuals who have had an impact on our deaf community with their contributions and services. 

    The event began with Jr. NAD members: Kiara Diaz, Rosalia Fraychineaud, Jacylyn Kelley, Zarek Nathanson, Zara Thompson, Jayne Taylor, Alyssa Glennon, Saul Penda Orellana, Za’Bella Tomlinson, and Anahit Tadevosyan in attendance, along with our Jr. NAD sponsor, Jennifer Campero, the Director of the Statewide Outreach Center at Texas School for the Deaf (TSD), Bobbie Beth Scoggins, and the six award recipients: Dr. Steve Baldwin, Claire Bugen, Jennifer Campero, Julian “Buddy” Singleton, Bernice Singleton, and Christopher Soukup. We also had the honor of having Gallaudet’s Director of Youth Programs, Chanel Bonheyo, join us, too! The Jr. NAD members from TSD were ecstatic for the opportunity to award every recipient. There were breakout sessions held with five leading questions the Jr. NAD members asked the recipients. 

    Screenshot of Participants

    What drove those leaders to make a difference? And, what were their challenges? 

     

    Of course, words of wisdom were shared. 

    Students thought the discussions during the breakout sessions were engaging, and they learned a lot of great tips from the recipients. We learned that they each recognize the importance of involving community members of all ages, as that is what leads to success. The students appreciated that they have a responsibility to be skilled in mingling and develop opportunities for coaching, mentoring, and networking, with people of all ages and rather than keeping within the same age group. 

    Regardless of our recipients' careers and spheres of interests, these individuals have something essential in common - they love their jobs and each has goals to do their best to serve the community. They are role models for the younger generations. Like Turk emphasized on several occasions about the importance of the five generations: teenagers, millennials, parents, retirees, and seniors - we, young people, also have the responsibility to aim to remember to include five generations of people in all of our committees’ work. Generations of people with experiences will contribute to the growth of our successes. 

    I would also like to emphasize that the teachers, staff, and professionals deserve our gratitude for their hard and honest work, strong efforts, and support in promoting personal development and preparing young people for a successful future. And most importantly, for upbringing each unique young personality and instilling a determined mind and open heart in our changing world. 

    I am confident that our student leaders will progress in the future and contribute to the common well-being of the whole community. 

    We must always remember that when we are looking up to our older generations for guidance, there are younger generations looking up to us. Embrace the knowledge shared by your mentors, and pass on what you have learned to others. 

     

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  • Coping Tips For Big Emotions

    Posted by Trish Grooms on 6/4/2021 4:15:00 PM

    This past year, the coronavirus pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the mental health of kids of all ages, and continues to do so to this day. The good news is, that children, even young children, can learn to cope with the mental health challenges that come their way. 

     

    Here are some tips to help your child cope with those big emotions and build confidence. 

     

    • Model managing difficult feelings of your own. If your child sees you angry, scared, or nervous, bring them into the conversation. Tell them what you are feeling, why, and how are you going to handle it. This helps them learn how to do the same.

     

    • Support and identify feelings. It is important for young children to know that big emotions are normal and can be manageable. When you see your child angry or frustrated, let them know that you “hear” them. “It looks like you are really frustrated right now. I feel that way sometimes, too.”

     

    • Use positive attention. When your child takes an action - even a small one - to cope with a hard or big emotion, praise them right away. For example, if you see your child take a deep breath in the middle of a tantrum or breakdown, immediately say “I like that you took a deep breath! Let’s do another one together.”

     

    • Solve problems together. Talk over what is bothering your child and brainstorm solutions, rather than telling them what you think they should do. Lead with curiosity and ask open ended questions to get them talking.

     

    • Model positive self-talk. Try to avoid criticizing yourself in front of your child. You can even show kids how to correct critical thoughts in real time.  “I called myself stupid when I forgot my wallet, but I know I am pretty smart most of the time. Forgetting something from time to time is not a big deal.”

     

    • Praise perseverance. Praise your child for their efforts as much as their accomplishments. This helps them internalize that their work matters and that they don’t need to be perfect.

     

    • Show the love!  Let your child know that you think that they are great, whether they do great things or not. That means a lot of affection and affirmation when they win, when they lose, and even when they drive you nuts!

     

    • Look out for signs of a bigger problem. If your child consistently has low self-esteem that does not improve over time and gets in the way of their daily life, consider getting support from a mental health professional. 



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  • Sharing Fears, Dreams, and Journeys: Guides Can Make a Difference

    Posted by Michaela Hamaker on 5/21/2021 8:15:00 AM

    A partner of the Statewide Outreach Center since 2010 working with families across the state, Texas Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side (GBYS) is a family support program providing unbiased guidance and information to families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing through peer-to-peer support, matching “guides” directly with families. 

    Research shows there are positive outcomes for children when educated and involved parents receive information and support, parent-to-parent guidance, and exposure to other adults who are deaf and hard of hearing. 

    A natural comfort level exists when relating to another who has walked in our shoes. These guides have been there, and can help to understand and navigate a system of resources. 

    One family who was matched and received support from a guide shared this feedback.

    “I wanted to make sure you knew how thankful I am for your guidance and support over this past year. You were there for me through some tough times with my son’s school situation and for that I will always be grateful.  We were at the height of our stress and frustration when I was connected with you and it really, really helped us get through it. Having your support made the difference. 

    Our son has been doing so much better at his school. He has shown improvement and is growing in ways we haven't seen before., and he is supported so well by all the staff.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for always being there for me and for keeping me informed along the way. You were wonderful for our family and we were blessed to be matched with you. 

    We are so thankful to our guide and for your wonderful program. Having her by my side was what I needed. Advocating for our children can be very difficult especially when we felt we were being pushed aside. She helped my husband and I find our voice for our son., and I saw a side of me emerge that I didn't know was there. Standing up to a district when you know your son's needs are not being met, even in the most basic ways, is a sure to get the “mama bear” instinct to kick in! Without her lending her ear, guidance, and encouragement, I don't think our ARD meetings would have been as successful. I am SO thankful we are all at a better place now!”

    This family’s experience is what the GBYS program hopes for all families. With guidance and support, families experience a sense of empowerment in the choices they make, and learn to position their child for success.

    Are you a family who could use support? Are you a professional who knows a family who could benefit from the interaction with a guide? 

    Reach out to us and we can connect you!

    It’s quick and easy to enroll in the GBYS program,  in English or Spanish

     

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