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The Monthly Connect - Online

Welcome to The Monthly Connect - Online. The Monthy Connect is sent out regularly via email to Connecting for Kids subscribers. This page also contains many of our great articles. To get a copy of The Monthly Connect in your email inbox next time it comes out, Join Us today!

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  • 03 May 2021 2:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Carly lives in Strongsville with her husband, Bill, and their two sons.

    How are you and your family dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Although the pandemic has been challenging, we have taken the time to reconnect but also to set boundaries and learn to take time to ourselves.

    What do you do to relax?

    Yoga, watch TV, spend time in nature, date night.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I'm also a kindergarten teacher and I like to learn strategies to use with my own children as well as my students.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    I learned about NEON from the Connecting for Kids Facebook group. Before things shut down, I attended several events, including the resource fair and a behavior speaker

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    I like the Facebook groups and live events, especially the Speakers Series.

    If I could go back in time and talk to myself the day we got the diagnosis I would say...

    You can do this. No matter what happens your child with special needs will be ok and you will be ok.

    What I worry about most…

    What my son's future holds. Will he be able to drive? Go to College? Hold a job? Live on his own?

    The hardest thing for me to learn was...

    To be vulnerable, to share our diagnosis and story with family and friends. I kept it a secret for a long time and just shouldered it all alone and I wish I would have reached out for help sooner.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    I love finding books to read to my children and students to explain coping strategies. Some of my favorites are the Julia Cook books and the What Should Danny Do series.

    Is there anything else about your journey that you would like to share with other parents?

    My son has epilepsy and ADHD. He also struggles with gaining weight.


  • 09 Apr 2021 8:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Catie lives in Amherst and has a daughter.

    What do you do to relax?

    Walk the dog, read, stay in touch with friends.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    We moved back to the area last year to be closer to family. Connecting for Kids has been a great resource for us and our daughter.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    Since COVID, I’ve participated in a few webinars with other moms. It was wonderful hearing from others who were experiencing similar stresses and to gather ideas on how to cope. My daughter also uses a wheelchair to get around and so I’ve really appreciated all the information Connecting for Kids has about accessible parks in the area. Cascade has been our favorite so far. It can feel lonely being a parent to a child with special needs, especially this past year. Connecting for Kids reminds me that I’m not alone.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    Webinars for caregivers, parks info, personal connections to families with children with similar disabilities.

    The area where I have grown the most...

    In the last year, I’ve learned to do a better job of taking small amounts of time for myself and doing something that helps recharge me. The Coffee and Chats helped me realize that while I don’t have big blocks of time to myself-I do have small ones. And finding a way to get the most of these moments-even if they are only a few minutes-has helped me feel like I have a little more control in what goes on in my day.

    What I worry about most…

    Is that I’m going to fail my daughter as a parent. It’s such an important job, and because she has a disability, I feel like there are even more ways than normal that I can screw it up. I think Connecting for Kids is really important in this regard. By offering community and resources and support, it makes the task of raising a special child feel less like a burden and more like a membership into a pretty awesome club.

    The best thing about parenting a child who struggles is...

    That feeling of pride and awe that comes when they achieve a milestone they’ve been working towards. My daughter gets physical therapy twice a week, and I am constantly inspired by how hard she works, even as a three year old. Sometimes I hate that everything is harder for her-but she gets there on her own time, and it makes every milestone that much more special.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    In addition to CFK, I am part of several Facebook groups for spina bifida.

    Is there anything else about your journey that you would like to share with other parents?

    For some background, my daughter is 3 years old. She has spina bifida, and uses a wheelchair to get around. We found out about her diagnosis when I was about 20 weeks pregnant, and together we underwent fetal surgery to repair her spine in Cincinnati. She is such a fun, sweet and spunky child. I grew up in Lorain, and we moved back to the area last year. We love it here, and are so grateful for organizations like Connecting for Kids who have helped make this transition easier.

  • 02 Mar 2021 11:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Erin lives in Fairview Park and has two children.

    How are you and your family dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

    As a family, we did have a lot of changes with the pandemic. My husband is an essential worker so he was working overtime every week and was not home a lot. My daughter struggled for several months to get used to it. With her sensory issues, she had a difficult time not being around people because she definitely needs the contact with others for her sensory input. But we finally found a comfort area for her and us that worked after lot of phone calls with her OT. After a year of the pandemic, I feel like as a family we are all just getting into the swing of things.

    What do you do to relax?

    Crocheting

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I am very active in many of the school PTAs.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    When we found out my daughter had sensory issues, Connecting for Kids helped us to set up services. It was a huge relief after years of trying to figure out what we could do to help her.

    Which Connecting for Kids resources have you tapped into to help your child?

    Music Therapy & More. Before the pandemic, we attended in person at Westlake Porter Public Library and recently have been doing the virtual Zoom sessions online.

    If I could go back in time and talk to myself, I would say...

    I am so glad I advocated for my child. I was a special needs kid and my mom is my strongest advocate. When my daughter was born I knew something was up because she needed a little more than her sister and everyone kept telling me to wait that she’ll just get through it and be fine. I had a dear friend, Elizabeth Malik, who I talked to many times because she was very active with Connecting for Kids and she told me to make the call and see how they can help us figure things out for Emma. I am so glad that we spoke up because she is thriving now with the help she received and I do not know where we would be without it.

    When my child's behavior gets out of control, I feel...

    Very frustrated. I want to help her but somehow it just seems that she is in so much pain there is nothing I can do to help her get to the other side. Because Connecting for Kids helped us find Abilities First for OT services, we have found some ways to cope and help her but there are still good and bad days.

    The hardest thing for me to learn was...

    That her behaviors and response are not my fault. Sometimes there’s just nothing we can do to help and that’s OK because we will get through them either way.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    The Connecting for Kids newsletter and Facebook page


  • 20 Jan 2021 11:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Melissa lives in Parma and has two children.

    What do you do to relax?

    I love to craft and read a good book.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I am married to a wonderful man, Joe, who I consider a gift from God. We are a blended family. I am a mom to my bonus son, who is 17, and a younger son who is 10. We have two rescue dogs who are spoiled even more than our children. I’m a nurse by trade but a stay at home mom by choice. My youngest was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD at age 4. We received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder at the age of 8.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    It has given us other families to relate to, vent to and to celebrate the victories!

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    We have really enjoyed the newsletters and the Coffee and Chat support group.

    My greatest lesson learned was...

    Don’t sweat the small stuff. Celebrate every victory no matter how small. Letting go of what I thought my son would be growing up.

    What I worry about most…

    Is if someone will be there for him when I’m no longer here. I know this is a huge concern to every parent. It just seems to weigh heavily on our minds.

    When my child's behavior gets out of control, I feel...

    Completely helpless. My son engages in frequent self-injurious behaviors. We go into survival mode to get through it. It’s exhausting

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy I cannot express enough the importance of knowing your child educational rights and your rights as their parent!

  • 05 Nov 2020 10:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Christine lives in Euclid and has two children.

    What do you do to relax?

    Ways I relax are the following; I use aromatherapy (such as candles and burning scented oils), I find shows on television to take my mind away from my everyday life (such as cooking or mystery shows, and action films), and do things around the house which allow me to nurture and cultivate my creativity (such as gardening).

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    Over the years, Connecting for Kids has offered a number of different workshops that I have had the pleasure to attend. Both my children and I have attended family workshops offered at Euclid Public Library. The workshop offered childcare so the parents could meet without having to tend to our children at the same time.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    Two of my most recent, favorite workshops I had the pleasure of being a participant were both online. One class titled Healing from the Trauma of Institutional Racism, led by Anna Jones, was a six-week online interactive course, which allowed mothers to express their personal concerns of raising children in a society with various issues such as racism, politics, and mental health concerns. The class allowed time for each participant to express her views concerning what individuals face and ways she (the mother/guardian) can make adjustments to make sure her mental well-being takes priority. Mrs. Jones added different ways to approach different situations, allowed each participant to vent her frustration(s) on that particular topic if need in the meeting, and receive positive feedback on how to approach the situation if it occurs again.

    The second online course I had a pleasure to be a participant was titled Families Building Partnerships for Success, led By Nikki Montgomery. The class focused on ways mothers (or/and guardians) can find alternatives to better service their children effectively and make a positive impact in both their children’s lives and continue to be a bridge for other families and communities.

    Both of the classes helped to remind me that I need to take time out for myself and schedule pockets of time to take a breath for things that are important to me as I do for everyone else in my life. In addition, both zoom meetings were private and confidential. It was an extra bonus to receive all materials for the class before the zoom meeting started to interact with the other participants.

    My greatest lesson learned was...

    Being a mother is hard and worth every tear. Being a mother is not an easy position, but worth every year, every birthday, and every smile. Being a mother is one of the best gifts I could have ever received. I thought when I had children that I would teach them everything there was to know about life, but I learned my best lessons when I became their mother. My children have been my best learning grids.

    The bad habit I picked up...

    Procrastination is okay. It’s okay to be human. It’s not the best feeling to succumb to procrastination, but once you realize that you are human and your mistakes build your character, being a parent with flaws is okay.

    The best way I asked for support was...

    Mentally telling myself it is okay to ask for help and seek out resources. You will be surprised what a resource another parent can be for you and your family. It is important to reach out to others not only for the social interaction, but to allow your family to see the importance of connecting with others.

  • 23 Sep 2020 11:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Brianne lives in Brunswick and has two children with her husband, Dave.

    How are you and your family dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

    We take the pandemic day by day. My husband jokes that our son taught us quarantining before quarantining was cool! It's hard not being able to take the kids places, not only for ease of grocery shopping (now it has to be planned a bit better, we are not a fan of the grocery pick up services and still like to go ourselves). We are sad for the social exposure our kids are missing, but they are resilient and have taught us quite a bit, too.

    What do you do to relax?

    Read and spend time in parks.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I love to make other people happy and give surprises. It helps relieve stress to see my friends, family, or a stranger smile!

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    Connection, knowing we're not alone in our journey. I enjoy being part of the CFK Moderate-to-Severe Disabilities Facebook group and also follow the Connecting for Kids page on Facebook. Over the summer, I loved looking up resources via the Virtual Resource Fair.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    My favorite was the How to Apply for Grants for Children with Special Needs program in February of this year. It was an amazing wealth of information. Before that program, I didn't know how many resources were available to our kids that weren't just "therapy." Now, with COVID, I love the virtual resources now.

    The bad habit I picked up...

    Spending too much time on my phone mindlessly scrolling thanks to the time spent in the hospital with our little guy.

    I get embarrassed when...

    My Gtube dependent kiddo pukes in front of someone who is not myself or my husband!

    The best thing about parenting a child who struggles is...

    Is seeing him reach milestones in his time! And being able to create the next set of goals, however far developmentally behind he is, we are always looking at his own goals/development, and not a typical toddler's development.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    I use Facebook for a lot of my Gtube /blending food questions - Blenderized RN page. I also recently went back to the basics and reached out to my county library looking for ideas to occupy my little guy during tube feeds. The children's librarian responded back right away with a list of available resources/ideas to check out that were extremely helpful!

    Is there anything else about your journey that you would like to share with other parents?

    It's a long journey and not to forget the memory stops along the way - even the medically fragile deserve the special memory milestones and not just the ones that haunt the parents. Find the joys in each day.



  • 24 Aug 2020 1:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Racheal is the mom of a son with ADHD, anxiety, depression and several other medical conditions.

    When you look at my 12-year-old son, you see a happy, goofy boy that is carefree and full of personality. What you don't see is his mental illness or his inner struggles to navigate and try to fit into a world that is not always understanding and accepting of him, especially his peers.

    What you also don't see is how hard he has to try to make friends, to complete schoolwork, to control his emotions, to participate in physical activities, to engage in conversations, to control his impulses, to stay organized, to manage tasks, and to just be a kid.

    His whole life has been doctor's appointments and therapies since he was 8 weeks old. He is great 1:1, in highly structured settings and with adults. But, he has absolutely no ability to generalize skills and strategies with his peers.

    We have been struggling with extreme, aggressive meltdowns for some time. They are more frequent, lasting for longer periods of time, and his aggression had intensified. We had a plan of action to start new and fresh by switching his whole care plan for more intensive counseling and social skills groups, but it wasn't in enough time.

    A broken phone charger was enough to set him into a rage that we could not deescalate on our own. It required police intervention. He had some minor self-inflicted injuries and destroyed his room. He made threats, became physically aggressive towards his dad and I, screamed obscenities, and cried because he couldn't stop himself.

    We made a decision to have him transported and treated in a child and adolescent psychiatric unit. He spent 4 days there. The psychiatrist at the hospital was absolutely amazing, very methodical in his treatment plan and matter of fact. He validated our parental concerns. My son's medications were no longer effective and needed to be changed.

    His ADHD, anxiety, depression, and lack impulse control are very extreme. He is always on edge and highly reactive. His maturity and social ability are that of a 5- or 6-year-old. He has very limited executive functioning skills. Now add in hormones and being in middle school and it's a combination for disaster.

    We have a new team for mental health treatment. He will be continuing outpatient psychiatric follow up care with a partial hospital program.

    ADHD is more than just hyperactivity and attention difficulties. It interferes with every aspect of functioning. It is highly misunderstood. It does fall under the umbrella of mental illness diagnosis and often coexists with other disorders.

    His biggest complaint to his care team while there was his difficulty with communicating to make and keep friends. He said he notices other kids getting invited to go places or that they have their "groups.” He doesn't belong and he knows it's because he's different and other kids are mean to him because of it. He just wants to belong to a group. Broke this mama's heart.




  • 05 Jun 2020 2:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Amanda lives in Parma and has three children.

    How are you and your family dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

    It has been a hard couple of months, I was teaching from home, which made it very difficult to also be a parent at the same time. I have been trying to give myself a little more grace than normal. My boys have been doing okay, we have seen a few behaviors that we thought had left behind but we are working through them. We are thankful that we all remained healthy.

    What do you do to relax?

    During the summer, I love to be outside with my family, going for walks, kayaking, going to the beach.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I’m an intervention specialist.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    It’s made me feel less alone and that it is truly okay to have all different emotions throughout the process of the evaluation and then the diagnosis. And that the battles won’t last forever and just keep faith that things will get better.

    Which Connecting for Kids resources have you tapped into to help your child?

    I am on the Connecting for Kids Facebook group and we have attended a Coffee and Chat as well as Music Therapy & More classes. My husband is a part of the dad’s Facebook group. He also enjoys being a part of the softball team with the dads as well.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    Being able to chat with other families that are going through similar paths and being able to chat and not feel like you are being judged for your child’s behavior good, bad or ugly.

    If I could go back in time and talk to myself the day we got the diagnosis I would say...

    It’s just a diagnosis, it won’t change anything about our son. It will just help get him the resources he needs to be successful in years to come.

    The hardest thing for me to learn was...

    That this process is long and an emotional roller coaster but even after you have the diagnosis you have to learn what’s next and how to move on with life. Will life ever really be the same? I wanted to fix it. I didn’t want my son to struggle but in reality, was he really struggling? I was upset and thinking why my son. It took me a long time to realize that everything was going to be okay. That autism didn’t change our family in a negative way, yes things are harder at times but it makes us see things in a beautiful way we never did before. And when things are bad it’s only a season and it won’t last forever.

    The worst thing about parenting a child who struggles is...

    Is the way the world views him, even though they have no idea what is really going on. That the world is not kind to people who are different.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    Just communicate with the CFK group and don’t be afraid to ask for help.


  • 22 Apr 2020 1:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rasheena lives in Euclid and is the mom of two boys ages 2 and 7 years old.

    How are you and your family dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order?

    We are coping the best we can. My older son has ASD, ADHD and sensory processing issues so getting him into a routine and used to doing his schoolwork from home has been a challenge. It is difficult for him to understand that although he is not physically at school, he still needs to be doing the work. In school, he has an aide who works with him but at home I feel like I am a drill sergeant trying to get him to stay on task. The school is doing a combination of Zoom and pre-recorded video lessons so it is a lot of time sitting by the screen which is hard for him. I am working 40 hours a week from home so I’m trying to get my work done and manage him too. I’m getting anxious about our summer plans. He usually attends camp five days a week and participates in a reading program. I am not sure what I am going to do if those are canceled.

    What do you do to relax?

    I take deep breaths, long bubble baths and drink tea. Since I work full-time, I really try to relax and regroup at night after the kids are in bed so I am ready to take on the next day.

    What else would you like to tell us about yourself?

    I love traveling, cooking, gardening and reading. I also love being a mom and an advocate for my son.

    What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?

    We really love the Music Therapy & More program. We originally attended in Westlake but were thrilled when it was offered at the Euclid Public Library near where we live. I am very grateful that I can bring both of my kids at the same time. Even though they are five years apart, they both love the program and get something out of it.

    Which Connecting for Kids resources have you tapped into to help your child?

    I have found great support on the CFK Families Facebook group. Through Connecting for Kids, I have been able to find east side resources to help my son including an occupational therapist and adaptive aquatics program.

    Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?

    My favorite Connecting for Kids program is Teach Me to Play. My son has been able to socialize with other kids, play games and participate in fun activities. It is a judgment free zone. Also, I have been able to ask questions and get suggestions from the program facilitators of things we can work on at home.

    My greatest lesson learned was...

    That this is a journey with different phases as my child gets older. I also have had to learn patience and understanding for the times he struggles and makes mistakes. He learns differently so it is up to me to provide learning experiences that work well for him.

    The area where I have grown the most...

    Learning about the IEP process. At first, I was really resistant to the idea of an IEP for my son but that is mostly because I didn’t understand what it was and how it could help him. Now, I know that the IEP is there to give him what he needs to be successful. Today, I love to advocate for him and be involved in the IEP process, helping to set goals and watching his progress.

    The hardest thing for me to learn was...

    No one knows your child better than you do so trust your instincts. I also learned that you can’t do it all by yourself and you need to ask for help. I’ve had to take my “cape” off and let others help care for my child. At first, I had a lot of fear letting others help but it has been wonderful having family members engaged with him and part of the process.

    Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?

    The Understood.org website provides lots of tips and helpful advice on how to deal with his ADHD and sensory processing issues. I also feel it is a great resource when I have questions or need clarification on something pertaining to his IEP. A book that has been helpful for my son to deal with a few school situations has been “What is Empathy?: A Bullying Storybook for Kids” by Amanda Morin and John Joseph.


  • 22 Apr 2020 12:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    While we are at home trying our best to implement distance learning and also attempting to work on IEP goals, we thought we'd pass along a technology tool that is helping one of our CFK staff members. Today, we feature a tech tip from Joellen Podoll, Connecting for Kids Professional & School Liaison.

    Joellen’s children have both been able to take advantage of Messenger Kids from Facebook during the stay-at-home order. According to its website, “Messenger Kids is a free video calling and messaging app for smartphones and tablets. Parents control the contact list, and kids control the fun.”

    Joellen’s Kindergartener struggles with anxiety and social skills issues. For her, Messenger Kids has been a great way to work on social skills from home using the video calling feature. Joellen’s daughter is very shy and quiet in the classroom but by using this app, she has become more comfortable with her classmates and has been able to connect on a level that she never has in person.

    Messenger Kids has even been a great tool for keeping her daughter in touch with an out-of-town grandmother. Every day, the two of them talk using the app and do activities together. Most recently, grandma was escorted via the app through her granddaughter’s obstacle course. Not only has the time together been great for Joellen’s daughter and helped to boost her confidence, but grandma is also enjoying the conversations and the ability to stay connected.

    Joellen’s typical, third-grade son has also taken advantage of the app. Being an extrovert, the time at home spent away from friends has been difficult for him. He uses Messenger Kids to stay in touch with classmates both one-on-one with friends as well as in group settings.

    Before signing your child up for Messenger Kids, Joellen relayed two pieces of advice. First, she recommends that your child watch this free BrainPOP video about internet safety. Second, she suggests you snooze the Messenger Kids app at night. She learned that the hard way when classmates were calling early in the morning before her kids were out of bed.


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