The Donegal Dyspraxia Support Group is doing great work raising awareness of dyspraxia and you can find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Donegal-Dyspraxia-Support-Group Here is some information taken from the dyspraxia.ie website which explains what dyspraxia is and how it may impact on your child. You can find more information at http://dyspraxia.ie/
Here is another excellent piece from “Parenting through Covid-19 – helpful hints to keep family life happy” produced by the team at Finn Valley FRC and Springboard Family Support Project. This time they have called upon the expertise of Wendy McCarry, manager of The Bluestack Foundation who is herself mum to a child with additional needs.
Parenting a child with additional needs through Covid 19
Make Self Care a Priority
On an aeroplane, the air hostess tells you; that if the pressure falls in the cabin, to put on your own oxygen mask before you attend to your child’s mask. The key message here is that if you are not ok, you will not be able to help your own child.
We DO have a bigger load
As parents of children with additional needs we know how very much more attending to their needs can take from us as carers, than that of non-disabled children. So, you are not being selfish, or self-obsessed by practicing strict SELF-CARE routines. Be kind and generous with yourself remembering you are doing the best you can within the circumstances. You don’t have to do everything by the book, you just have to survive. When you get the first inkling that you are not managing or not in a positive headspace, seek help. Help is out there.
You are not alone
Try to Stay connected with yours and your child’s network. Check in with their
therapists, doctors, teachers, social worker, and any social networks they are in. While the traditional ways of staying in contact like face to face meetings are no longer possible, most organisations are offering virtual connections through whatsapp, zoom, and other social media platforms.
Address the Elephant in the room
While many of our children with additional needs may have compromised expressive communication skills their receptive skills can be excellent. They may be overhearing and exposed to lots of new information on COVID 19, talk of people getting sick and dying and may be afraid and confused. So, while it is important to stay up-todate with what is happening, it is important that a balance is gained between discussing the issues around COVID – 19 and not becoming over obsessed with social media and too much information.
Expect increased Anxiety
Anxiety often comes from a place of loss: our children have lost their routines, their traditional connections and the familiar, stable faces they are used to. An increase in anxiety can often lead to an increase in behaviours that challenge; meltdowns and shutdowns. You are the one consistent feature they have now. Try to be consistent in your approaches/responses. You are their anchor for stability. Your strength is paramount.
Embrace the opportunity
In the greater scheme of things, we have a choice to see this as a huge burden, which is justifiable or see this as a unique opportunity for creating deeper and stronger bonds with our children. We have fewer external distractions, an opportunity to really focus on our families, on being present, on creating an environment that can really strengthen our familial relationships. Play the games, dance to the music, sing the songs, plant the flowers, bake the cakes, take the time to embrace and enjoy the unique interests, gifts and abilities of our children with additional needs.
This too shall pass.
Wendy McCarry. Manager, Bluestack Special Needs Foundation
You can read more of the articles about Parenting through Covid19 here
Here is a great resource offering tips and advice on how to support someone with additional needs during this Covid19 pandemic
As well as practical ideas about daily routines there are relaxation exercises, easy read information sheets about Corona Virus and much more.
Donegal Down Syndrome Association together with Financial Wellbeing are running a workshop for parents of children with additional needs. This workshop aims to show parents how they can go about setting up a trust fund to provide for their child into the future.
Financial Wellbeing also provides useful informtion in booklet form available here – just click the link
Do you want some help with school, home, friends, worries, loneliness, family? Maybe a Meitheal could help.
Meitheal is an old Irish word that describes how neighbours come together to support each other in times of need. Our Meitheal can support you and your family to get the help you need.
Here is a video made by other young adults which will help you understand what a Meitheal is and how it works. Just click the link:-
Meitheal is a way of working with you and your family to encourage your strengths and to identify your needs.
Meitheal brings together people and services that can help you to make the changes you want in your life. The kinds of services that might be involved in Meitheal are schools, youth services, family resource centres and medical services.
If you are facing challenges that are difficult to overcome and you need someone in your corner, Meitheal could help.
Here are some of the challenges that Meitheal could help you with:
- Problems at school
- Feeling down
- Not getting on with your parents
- Problems at home
- Worrying a lot
Maybe you are already getting support from different services but finding it hard to deal with all of them at once. Meitheal brings everyone together. It’s a bit like having a whole team looking out for you.
How does Meitheal work?
- You will work with a supportive person called a lead practitioner. This may be a youth worker, counsellor or teacher. The important thing is this is someone you trust and are happy to work with.
- Your lead practitioner will help you think about your strengths and needs
- The next step is your lead practitioner will arrange a Meitheal support meetingfor you and your parents or guardians where they will help to put a plan in place for you. This may include a youth worker, a youth club leader or teacher
- The Meitheal team will help you follow the plan and make the changes you want in life, thought regular meetings for as long as you need it
- You and your family will decide how long you want this support for
It is very important that you and your family understand every part of the plan.
What have young people said about Meitheal?
I had a say about what was happening for me, all the people who worked with me, coming together for me, was good
Meitheal changed how I thought of myself, who I thought I could be in life and just gave me a goal
If you think Meitheal could help you contact your local office here in Donegal on 074 9123783
As part of Bike Week 2018 (June 9th-17th), Bluestack Sports Hub will be hosting 2 events in Donegal Town. These events are open to children/teenagers with an intellectual disability or autism. BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL, the links to book each session are attached below. Places are limited and refreshments will be provided. Feel free to spread the word. 🚴♂️🚴♀️
Session 1 – Balanceability Session for children with an intellectual disability or autism aged 3-5 years, 6-7pm Wed 13th June.
Session 2 – Cycling Skills for teenagers with an intellectual disability or autism, 7 – 8pm Wed 13th of June
Look what is happening in the Bluestack Foundation this month
The Saturday Club runs from 10:30 – 12:30 every Saturday in the Bluestack Foundation. It offers a wide range of activities, from messy art and craft to computer games and music. The children are able to gain and build on their social skills, make new friends and have a great time. A variety of healthy snacks are provided during the session. If you want to book a place for your child/children contact the Bluestack Foundation on 074 9740828. The cost is €3 per child.
The Bluestack Foundation Teen Club is on from 7 – 8:30pm on Thursday 12th and Thursday 26th October. This is a Club for young people with special needs in the community. The club is run by teenagers themselves with support from adult volunteers. There will also be a Hallowe’en Teen Club Disco on Friday 20th October.
Wednesday 11th October is Sports Inclusion Day in the Bluestack Foundation and on 18th October there will be a Football for All event.
There is a Parent & Toddler Group on Friday mornings from 10:30 – 12:00 for parents of children who may have additional needs. This is an opportunity for children to play in a supportive environment and for parents to have tea/coffee and a chat.
For information on any of the Bluestack Foundation events and programmes please contact them on 074 9740828 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bluestack Foundation Parent Support Network meetings will begin again on Tuesday 5th September in the Bluestack Foundation, just opposite the Abbey Vocational School in Donegal Town. Running from 7.30 – 9.30pm the theme for this month is ‘Social Stories’ and the speaker is Yvonne Shovelin. This group meets on the first Tuesday of every month during term time.