Michelle Smith, Fund Developer & Communications Officer
SAVE THE DATE
Plan to Join us on a date not so far, far away…Saturday May 4, 2019 at Tacoma’s Landmark Convention Center as we support families of children with special needs and become One with the Force! This fun and exciting night is our largest fundraising event of the year! Silent and Live Auction, Dinner and Drinks, Character Photos…a night not to be missed!
Visit asapc.org and our Facebook site in January for more information.
Recently released our 2018 Annual Report
Recently we featured a beautiful girl with Downs in our Annual Report. Sammy has been receiving services with A Step Ahead since she was four months old. Today, she is bubbling with joy and her bright eyes are as captivating as her smile is contagious. Sammy’s parents wanted to share their experience to help other parents:
“You are not alone. Having a child with special needs can be challenging but it’s what you make of it! We know – it’s easy to feel isolated, but there is hope and help. Sammy fills our days with love and life, we couldn’t imagine our lives any other way. Truly a blessing” – Aaron and Patricia
Did you know that parents/caregivers can be inspired by your story? Learning about challenges that other families face can be a source of inspiration for parents with similar experiences.
We are currently interviewing families, if interested please email Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 253-471-2727.
Jenn Black, Early Intervention Teacher
Share vs. Wait
The holiday season often brings many gatherings with family and friends. For toddlers, the holiday season can bring many tantrums due to difficulties related to sharing with family and friends. Sharing is a very difficult concept for toddlers to understand and accept. Well-meaning adults often try to help when a sharing struggle happens; however, it can backfire, and the toddlers learn the exact opposite of what we intend! Consider the familiar scenario:
Two children want to play with the same toy. Both have their hands on the toy and are pushing, pulling and yelling “mine!” This escalates until one child has the toy and the other is empty-handed; which leads to hurt feelings and the unspoken new roles of “possessive child” and “insulted child.” A nearby well-meaning adult witnesses the sharing struggle and wants to help the insulted child. The adult takes the toy from the possessive child while saying, “You have to share the toys!” and gives it to the insulted child. Both children respond to the well-meaning adult’s intervention, but neither is satisfied with their new understanding of the word “share.” A simple construction of the new meaning might be: “share means not mine.” As sharing struggles are replayed this way, the new meaning of “share” becomes learned as a negative concept which causes the toddlers to continue the struggle when told to share their toys.
Adults who want to help toddlers cope with the expectations for sharing can try changing their own words and actions. Try to replace the word “share” with the word “wait.” Waiting is a more concrete concept than sharing because “wait” is learned to mean “I get a turn, but not right now.” The adult can demonstrate what to do WHILE waiting by talking about waiting and distracting the toddler with another toy. Use the child’s name and describe what is happening, for example:
“Jack is playing with the red truck, so Jill has to wait. Waiting is hard, and you can do hard things! Jill can play with the bus while waiting for the red truck.”
The adult that talks about waiting and distracts Jill by remaining close will send unspoken messages to both Jack and Jill that the wish to play with the red truck is equally important. Jack will understand the message that he gets a turn to play with the truck. Jill will probably not like waiting but she may be distracted by the adult’s attention. The adult can help the toddlers trade toys and shift attention to Jack, so he gets a turn to wait and be distracted. It might be said like this:
“It’s now Jill’s turn to play with the red truck. Let’s trade – that’s right, Jack gives the red truck to Jill and Jack can have a turn to play with the bus.”
Waiting, taking turns and sharing are LIFELONG skills! Consider how many times a day you wait while at stop lights, in the grocery line, at the post office or for an appointment with your doctor. We can help our children by showing them how to wait as toddlers so that they can eventually become developmentally appropriate preschoolers who learn to share!
MEET OUR STAFF
Harmony McNelley, Early Intervention Teacher
Maurene Kosko, Family Resources Coordinator
Maurene is a Family Resource Coordinator (FRC) with A Step Ahead. Maurene earned her degree in Early Childhood Education and worked as a preschool teacher for over 17 years. She has run and operated her own preschool, had positions as a teacher in Headstart and ECEAP as well as working in Special Education Classrooms for Local area school districts.
Through working with children with special needs and their families, Maurene grew more passionate about this population. One of her main goals is to teach, encourage and support families so that they are able to advocate for their child’s learning and get their needs met.
Transitioning into a role as an FRC was the perfect opportunity for her- she is still able to be involved with children by watching them succeed and grow. In her spare time, she loves to hike, travel and explore, and spend time with her family and friends.
Amber Fessler, Occupational Therapist
Amber graduated from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND and has worked as a pediatric OT for 13 years. She has been with A Step Ahead Pierce County for one year and loves to help support families and children to be the best they can be. She has special interests and extended education in sensory processing, vision rehabilitation, vestibular rehabilitation, feeding and reflex integration. In her spare time, she enjoys camping and fishing with her family, playing with her kids and knitting. TIP: You yourself can often be the best therapeutic tool. By adjusting your arousal state, or state of being, you can help another person feel more calm and secure or you can wake their body and mind up. Self-awareness of your own energy level is key to knowing how it can affect others.
Jenn Black, Ed.D., Early Intervention Teacher
Jenn is a Washington State licensed special education teacher who has served families of children with disabilities for 20 years. Her professional interests include: hearing loss, language development, play skills and parent education. She is grateful to all the families who invite her into their lives and feels blessed to play with infants and toddlers as her work.