Category Archives: Children with Special Needs

“Shoe Box” Activities

1“Shoe box” tasks are one unit activities that are designed to teach a child a variety of skills from basic put in/put on tasks, to finger dexterity and eye-hand coordination, bilateral hand skills and pre-academic skills (matching, sorting, patterning, size, shape, colour). The “shoe box” includes all of the materials to complete the task.  As learning progresses, the child learns to complete the task independently including getting the box, bringing it to the table and replacing it when finished. Continue reading

Uncertain Beginnings to Endless Possibilities

My daughter Zoe who we fondly call Chip was referred to Children’s Integration Support Services (CISS) when she was around 3 years old. She has a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). She is now a thriving 19 year old young woman who is attending college and lives a busy active life.

The Early Years
Chip started child care at around two years of age. It was there that the staff noticed that she was having some challenges that should be investigated further. Her first diagnosis identified her as being developmentally delayed and I was told she would require full support for her entire life. A second diagnosis identified her as having PDD-NOS. Chip needed a significant amount of support during the preschool and school age years. She had difficulty communicating and became easily frustrated which would often lead to meltdowns. However, I always saw a great deal of potential in her and always pushed her to reach that potential. Continue reading

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

We all know the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”. For those of us in child care, this can be put to use and proven in many ways. Some programs use real pictures to welcome parents/guardians, children and visitors and to remind them that they belong and are valued members of the community. Others use pictures to introduce new toys and equipment and to provide suggestions of how to use them safely and creatively. Dramatic play can be greatly enhanced when real pictures of children using props and play materials are posted. This provides children with examples of how they can incorporate the use of props to extend their play. Pictures can also be used to enhance the daily log, parent/guardian notice boards as well as providing information regarding staff changes and upcoming events. They can be used to track curriculum planning and to document what the children did during the day at child care or while on an outing offsite. In addition, pictures can be used to help the children recall recent events and past experiences and to build the children’s understanding of their community and their world.   Continue reading

WANTED: a Voice and a Friend

WANTED....a voice and a friendA mother’s story about the challenge of having a child with Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Voiceless….to have no voice. To be unable to effectively tell others how you feel, what you want or what you are thinking…this is how my 8 year old son feels, each and every day. He’s not silent. He tries so very hard to communicate and we listen. We try to understand and respond. Often, he’s not understood. Not even by us, his loving parents who want so much to connect with him. Many times he just gives up or shrugs and says “I don’t know” when asked a question during a conversation. It’s just too hard for him. My son has Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) and his name is Ewan. Continue reading

Journey of an Active Young Man

Hard to believe Denis recently turned 19 years old. He’s a very happy young man regardless of his challenges such as being non-verbal, and yet he has no problem communicating his wants and needs.

It all started many, many moons ago when Denis was a baby. We knew there were issues but when he finally had his CT Scan at the age of one, they discovered hydrocephalus (an accumulation of fluid within the cranium) and he had a shunt installed within weeks. At 3 years of age, he was diagnosed with Autism and started school on a full-time basis at 3 and a half. That’s when we crossed paths with Children’s Integration Support Services and were matched with an amazing Resource Consultant, Sylvie Giroux, to whom we still send Christmas cards. We were blessed to have her in our lives at that time. Continue reading

Fostering Connectedness in your Centre

The Children’s Village at Bridlewood is one of four licensed school age programs operated by the long standing and respected Children’s Village of Ottawa-Carleton. I am the program supervisor and I get to experience the best of both worlds by splitting my time in both the office and on the floor as a team teacher. Our agency takes pride in its programs, the fostering of connectedness between staff, parents, colleagues and most importantly the children. We also value the overall impact of connectedness on learning and behaviour.

A colleague of mine recently brought to my attention a discussion she had with one of our children, a seven year old boy. He had counted the hours he was at school in a day and compared it to how many hours he spent at home with his family. “Miss, did you know I’m at school for ten hours? That is more time than I am with my family and more time than I am asleep”. Educators and operators of before and after-school programs know this realization all too well. For me, working under the motto “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” means we aren’t just educators, we are a family away from home to these children.

The Children’s Village at Bridlewood 2014-2015

The Children’s Village at Bridlewood 2014-2015

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Where Are They Now – Following Your Heart’s Desires

Pic-Ben1When Benjamin was born he looked just like his older sister, Emily, as far as we and our doctor were concerned. The nurses in the nursery, however thought he looked like he had Down Syndrome and so genetic testing was done. When we received the call that the testing was positive for Trisomy 21 we were in shock and asked for him to be retested. As soon as the results from the second test confirmed the diagnosis, I called the Down Syndrome Society of Ottawa Carleton and the Infant Development Centre. This was where Heather Jones, an Infant Development Worker, came into our lives and was a godsend.

Heather told us to look at Ben as our child not as “Down Syndrome”. She told us he would be able to do anything anyone else could; he just may have to be taught the steps instead of coming by them naturally. At that time there were family support groups and play groups we attended. Communicating with other parents and interacting with them and their children normalized everything. Ben had many people in his life to help him and who supported us. He was lucky to have benefited from occupational, speech and vocational therapy as well as sign language. Continue reading

A Home Away from Home: the Infant and Toddler Programs at Elizabeth Park Child Care Centre

GCCS2Elizabeth Park Child Care Centre is one of seven child care centres operated by Global Child Care Services. We serve infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and are located in a renovated wing of the Uplands Catholic Elementary School on the CFB Uplands military base. We are surrounded by many playgrounds, walking trails and a water park.

Our Infant and Toddler Programs have been in operation since 1987. These programs are the first stepping stone on a long journey for the children, their families and the staff providing care.

The staff at Elizabeth Park Child Care Centre work hard to create a “home away from home” environment where all families and children feel welcomed and safe. The first initial phone call to parents starts the journey, by providing important information about our programs, and extending an invitation for families to come and visit our centre. Continue reading

Positive Transition to Preschool

September is always an exciting time for children and parents starting preschool. Along with all the fun associated with new surroundings, new friends, new adults in the child’s life, comes the anxiety about parent and child separating from one another. It’s a very emotional time for parents to leave their child but can be equally scary for some children. This is especially true for children whose first language is not English or for a child with special needs who has not been separated from their parents before. Here are some strategies that we have used to ease the transitions for children, parents and educators.

1. Prior to starting in the program, hold an open house for children enrolled in the group and their parents so that they may meet the other children, parents and educators. Plan your open house so it happens when your centre is in operation. This will provide an opportunity for everyone to experience a preschool day. Continue reading

Preparing for Separation Anxiety

September is a very busy time of year especially for educators and providers as they prepare to receive many children. Some will be returning but many will be new. This means many children along with their parents/guardians will experience Separation Anxiety. Here are some considerations to help with this short lived anxiety.

Create a small booklet with pictures of your centre or home child care setting that you can give to parents/guardians so they can read it with their children.
Post and use a visual schedule not only in each classroom or playroom in a provider’s home but also next to the schedule posted for parents/guardians. Continue reading