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  • PALS

PALS February 2018 - Open Forum Schedules, Social Skills Groups, Wrap-Arounds

PALS Meeting Minutes

February 28, 2018 9:15 a.m.

Roots of Faith

800 Main Street Pittsburgh, PA 15215

Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.

Time Management: Working Within Our Child's Pace

We all know mornings can be tough in general and we all want to know how to make them better. We discussed how some children require extra time to make it through their morning routine, while others may struggle at different times of the day. The key was paying attention to the individual child's needs while setting a routine in place for both child(ren) and parent(s). We discussed how scaffolding is important in getting a grip on family time management to slim down the time it takes for everyday routines, like getting ready for school in the morning. The idea can accommodate a variety of activities and routines.

At some point or another we have all repeated these words to the point we feel like a robot; "time to get up", "time to take a bath/shower", "get dressed", "time to eat", "please eat", "PLEASE eat a little more", "go to the bathroom", "brush your teeth", "don't forget your book bag". Even with all devices off in the house, children can become distracted leaving parents feeling like a broken record. Sure there are plenty of Apps, graphic organizers, motivational boards, timers, and schedulers available, but at the end of the day, parents are left to motivate the change. Persistence is key. The willingness to hang in there and take time back can be doable, it just takes patience. Whether it's in increments of one minute, five, ten or fifteen, it may be possible to turn a two hour morning routine into an hour without creating anxiety in your child.

Every child is different in how they respond and reading your individual child's needs are key. For instance, one parent mentioned her eight year old uses an Amazon Alexa to remind her of everything from when to eat breakfast and brush her teeth in the morning to eating that last snack before bed. Another mentioned changing the time their child woke up in the morning by fifteen minute increments over a three year period until the child could accomplish everything in his morning routine in an hour without anxiety; including showering, getting himself dressed, eating, brushing his teeth, going to the bathroom, and doing a quick ten minute study drill before heading out the door to school.

Social Skills Groups

We discussed social skills groups in the surrounding Pittsburgh area and other ways parents have helped children socialize with their peers. Ideas included; getting them outside with other children in the neighborhood by taking them to a local park or in the summer a sprinkler park, local pools, play areas in the mall for young children. Other ideas include places like Skyzone or Lazer Tag. Scaffolding and helping to build your child's confidence is key. First by being your child's voice and introducing the children to each other and asking the other to play and slowly backing away and encourage your child to do this on their own over time. Just like with Time Managment, reading your individual child's level of anxiety in a situation is important.

Some social skills groups for children we touched on were (click on the image for more information:

Wesley Family Services: WonderKids

The Friendship Circle Pittsburgh

Best Buddies

Make Friends Now! Program

Support Coordinators, Medical Assistance, and Wrap-Around Services

Support Coordinators can be vital in navigating the world of Medical Assistance, Wrap-Around Services, while also helping with information on grants and scholarships. We talked about the role of a Support Coordinator, filing for Medical Assistance, and how difficult it seems to fill those prescribed Wrap-Around Service hours. The primary responsibility of a Support Coordinator is to coordinate support service for people with disabilities and their families. This can include locations, coordinating, and monitoring supports for clients. Some of the organizations mentioned are (click on the image for more information):

Family Links

Wesley Spectrum Services


Take a look at our May 2017 Meeting Minutes for important information we gathered by attending the most recent Medical Assistance Training. There are downloadable PDF files with notes that provide information on everything from filing, to waivers, and into transition.

Many families in the area have struggled to fill their Wrap-Around Service hours. There is a shortage of providers statewide. Persistence seems to be the key to success. Checking back frequently with a number of providers can often help.

Next Meeting: March 21, 2018, 9:15 a.m. Market District Café (Atrium) 910 Freeport Road Pittsburgh, PA 15238

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