PALS Meeting Minutes
January 23, 2022 9:30 a.m.
Virtual Meeting using Zoom
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.
Helping children overcome triggers.
How can families help children learn to work through environmental triggers to offset things like anxiety, OCD, and meltdowns? We talked about the importance of learning how to help children see that they're anxiety, OCD, or meltdown may have a trigger, how to address it, and overcome it. Children can benefit from recognizing when they are faced with a trigger, how it makes them feel, and how work with strategies that address the trigger head on in an effort to overcome the anxiety, OCD, or meltdown.
Taking the time to sit-down and communicate with your child once they have calmed down is key. The first reaction may be to hide from the triggering environment. Taking the time to discuss the origin of the trigger and how to move forward, through the trigger to a positive, safe space.
Triggers can be defined as, “external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.” So what can we do to help?
Be Self Aware - Help your child identify the trigger.
Face The Triggers - Once identified gradually help your child face the trigger head on. Call it out when it happens. This is an opportunity for positive self-talk.
Seek Treatment - You and your family are not alone, professional help is out there.
Realize The Trigger Is Not The Problem - Help your child understand that avoiding the trigger won't take away the anxiety, obsessive or compulsive behavior, or meltdowns.
Learn Relaxation Techniques - Mindfulness, mediation, and visualization are all techniques that may help calm the your child when faced with a trigger.
Consider Distraction Techniques - Help teach your child that when faced with a trigger taking the focus off it and in a different direction like exercise, a craft, or another activity can be helpful.
Helping children take control.
How can families help children learn to take control of their anxiety, OCD, meltdowns or other feelings that leave them overwhelmed? We talked about giving children the tools to take control of overwhelming feelings or situations.
Exactly like overcoming the triggers above, it's important to sit-down and communicate with your child once they have calmed down. Helping a child learn the strategies that best suit them in taking control of overwhelming feelings and situations so they feel more positive and safe.
Ways to take control;
Call It Out - Help your child understand that their feelings are valid and addressing the feelings can help move forward in a positive manner.
Breathe - Find a breathing technique that works best for your child and practice the method with them to start.
Refocus - Help your child learn how to refocus their energy, moving from the anxiety, obsessive or compulsive behavior, or meltdown, to a calmer mental space.
Practice - Work with your child on learning techniques that work best.
Taking care of yourself as the caregiver.
In all of this, it is vital that the parent take care of themselves. Taking time for yourself is a must and should be done as often as possible. Just as children need the opportunity to positivity confront their triggers and take control of overwhelming situations, parents need time for themselves.
Notes on the subject from the December 2021 meeting:
Often it can be easy to put everyone else first, especially a differently abled family member. Outbursts and meltdowns can be especially draining. Avoiding parent burnout is REAL and according to the Child Mind Institute experts believe consistent self-care, a strong support network, and a trustworthy therapeutic team for the family member are key. And don't forget about respite care! The Arc, which forwards to Achieva for the greater Pittsburgh area and Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Developmental Supports (ODS) can be helpful in finding respite care providers.
504 Testing Accommodations
A reminder to collect and present the data when looking for a particular accommodation for your child's 504 Plan or IEP. Just because a particular accommodation was not provided the first time requested doesn't mean you shouldn't try again. If you believe the accommodation is warranted and is in the best interest of the child, gather the documentation and re-present. It may take several tries, however with documentation, like gathering tests, including state testing requirements, can help. Visit our May 2021 Meeting Minutes for more on 504 Plan Basics with Cindy Duch from The PEAL Center.
Next Meeting: February 23, 2022 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum.
**Log-in and Password for this and all upcoming meetings will be sent in all upcoming newsletters. Become a subscriber in the footer of this web page.