You*ve Got a Friend - Vermont Family Network

You’ve Got a Friend
Helping Your Child with
Special Needs Develop
• Welcome
• Introductions: Tell us a little about yourself and your
child: what would you like to get from this
• Preview, Including Samuel from UTube (open
captioned, audio described version- 12 minutes) and
Lincoln Slide Show
• Friendship: Strategies and Tips for Home, School
and the Community
• Discussion and Ideas from Participants
• Evaluation: Feedback and Suggestions for the
Speaking Up for Change
Sometimes social inclusion is easy. Often it
is not. The challenge- and the power- of
speaking up and reaching out, making
belonging safe. It is hard to do alonerecognize the challenge and find allies.
Montpelier- Ben’s Story: “The four loneliest
Begins at Home
• You know your child: his or her interests,
loves, strengths, fears, abilities and
• Our social life and values begin at home and
our ability to believe in ourselves and see
ourselves as a potential friend to others often
starts at home:
• What values and ways of building
relationship are important in your family and
how these help your child find friendships?
Owning Our Gifts & Challenges
• As individuals and as families- we have
gifts as well as challenges. Recognizing
them can help us help our child develop
the skills and habits of friendship.
• The biggest thing we can give our child is
respect, recognition and self esteem, the
recognition that he or she has things to
give and share with others.
At School
• Most parents are the first to recognize that
social inclusion is as important- and
sometimes even more important- than
academic inclusion.
• We want our child to be able to be part of his
or her social group: in class, at sports events
and art or drama activities, and in the larger
• Belonging is a shared concern of students,
not just affecting (but including) students with
What Has Worked for You?
• Do you have a strategy to suggest
• Have you tried something that did not
work? What obstacles did you face?
• The SODA strategy for planning and
problem solving (situation, opportunity,
disadvantage and advantage)
• Finding allies: The power of group
action: together we can do things we
can’t do alone
School Strategies:
Find Your Allies
One Story, One Class, One School
• The last photo and the hearts painting on the
cover of this PowerPoint come from Lincoln
Community School. The picture was done by one
of the students in the 5th/6th grade class in honor of
their classmate and friend, Jesus Rosa-Ivey Jr. as
part of the class’s Disability Rights and Awareness
Work: Here's a link to the article and slide show on
the Lincoln Town website:
Allies Who Can Help Create a Culture
of Belonging
• Other parents: inclusion
committees, unified
sports program, service
• Teachers open to and
passionate about
inclusion and disability
and diversity
awareness in the
culture of the school
• Principals and other
administrators who are
willing to try new things
• Students who get
excited about creating
a culture of belonging
• Disability advocates
• Friends, families,
mentors from the
Guilford, 4/2011
Guilford, 4/2011
Guilford, 4/2011
Resources That Can Help
• Disability Awareness Curriculum: Both Teaching
Tolerance and the Vermont PRIDE (Promoting
Respect and Inclusion through Disability Studies
Education). PRIDE includes a book collection
available through loan- books to stimulate classroom
and school dialogue.
• Both focus on changing classroom culture, creating
ground rules that respect differences and support
belonging- Many teachers have built student
development of similar “classroom norms” into their
Barnes, 3/2011
Sports- For Many, a bridge to belonging:
of Patrick the team knows what is
important. “ Coach “Bubba” Ritchie, Colchester
Guilford, 4/2011
Other Strategies
• Social Inclusion Committees: partnerships
between school teachers and administrators
and concerned parents to build disability
awareness and a culture of belonging in a
school: the power of parents coming together.
• Reading for Inclusion, Unified Sports, Service
Learning mentoring programs, Circles of
Support, Camps, Others? What works for
Stories from Families and Schools
Montpelier: Learning from Ben’s Assembly
Lincoln: Friendship and Change
Harwood: Films and Writing for Change
Brattleboro: new mentoring program
Champlain Elementary: Reading for
• Colchester: One coach and inclusive
Transition and Adult Life
• Build on interests and strengths, natural
connections in the community, service agencies,
social networks.
• Peer Support : Sometimes It is helpful to be with
people who know what it is like to deal with
disability and can help you feel safe to reach out
for friendship and new opportunities in work and
social connections. Examples:
• GMSA, VCIL, VFFCMH’s youth programs include
both learning and social experiences as well as
peer support. Global Campuses activities are
available in some communities.
Friendship and Self Advocacy
"Self-advocacy has changed me. It helps
you be yourself, to have friends, to realize
you’re not alone, that their fight is yours.
What would I say to others? Have fun. Be
yourself. Learn from new experiences- be
everything you can possibly be. Even
though we have our challenges, we can
work on ourselves, learn from new
experiences, just like anyone else.”
(Taylor, Living Connections Interview)
Websites & Resources: Sports
• Northeast Disabled Athletics Association
• Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports:
• Students with and without disabilities:
Websites: Disability Awareness
Materials for Schools
• PRIDE Curriculum: and
Teaching Tolerance:
• Thanks to Colchester parent and her son (Lisa Maynes
and Patrick Bushey, and to Barnes Elementary, Guilford
Middle School, and Lincoln Community School for
sharing photos, In the last two years teachers and
students in 20 schools have participated in PRIDE and
other disability awareness activities. The leadership and
creativity of participating students, teachers,
administrators and community members is helping to
build a new culture of belonging in some classrooms and
schools throughout Vermont. Our hope is to see this
cultural transformation grow.
Websites: Peer Support Examples
• Young Adult Peer Support at Vermont
Federation of Families for Children’s Mental
Health: http://www.
• Green Mountain Self Advocates/Voices and
Choices Conference and Peer Support Groups:
• Global Campus: globalcampuses. org
• VCIL Youth Leadership Program:
Family Support/School Engagement
• Vermont Family Network:
• Vermont Federation of Families: www.
• Vermont Center on Disability and Community
Inclusion (CDCI):
• Other parent support organizations
Contact Information
Deborah Lisi-Baker, Associate Director
Center on Disability and Community Inclusion
Mann Hall, 3rd Floor
208 Colchester Ave.
Burlington, VT 05405
CDCI Website and PRIDE page