If you can’t remember what happens when you give a mouse a cookie, or why the pigeon wants to drive the bus, you may need to brush up on your reading – children’s book reading, that is.
Reading to children ages 0 to Pre-K is a fun and effective way to help them develop their literary skills. Reading aloud to youngsters offers them numerous benefits, including building their imaginations and learning about their world and worlds they have yet to explore. In even the youngest children, reading supports social skills, basic speaking skills and increases their vocabulary. Books help children increase empathy too.
All of these are some of the reasons Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida is recruiting readers for its 100 Leaders, 100 Readers program, which is kicking off soon in Daytona Beach and DeLand as part of Easterseals 100-Year Celebration.
As part of 100 Leaders, 100 Readers, members of the community will be making guest appearances and reading aloud to students in Easterseals Charter Schools classrooms. (If you’re interested in this volunteer opportunity, please email Susan today!)
If you’re out of practice reading books aloud to little ones, fear not. Check out these tips on how to keep your audience of youngsters captivated while you share your time and talents to support and encourage children’s literacy and Easterseals:
Pick up a children’s book today and read to a child you love, or join our 100 Leaders, 100 Readers program. As J.K. Rowing knows all too well, “…something very magical can happen when you read a book.”
Sources: Pre-KPages.com, Pearson.com, ReadBrightly.com, ChildDevelopmentInfo.com, and Rasmussen.edu.
Everybody's fighting some kind of stereotype, and people with disabilities are no exception. The difference is that barriers people with disabilities face begin with people's attitudes — attitudes often rooted in misinformation and misunderstandings about what it's like to live with a disability.
Myth 1: All persons who use wheelchairs are chronically ill or sickly. Fact: The association between wheelchair use and illness may have evolved through hospitals using wheelchairs to transport sick people. A person may use a wheelchair for a variety of reasons, none of which may have anything to do with lingering illness.
Myth 2: Wheelchair use is confining; people who use wheelchairs are "wheelchair-bound." Fact: A wheelchair, like a bicycle or an automobile, is a personal assistive device that enables someone to get around.
Myth 3: All persons with hearing disabilities can read lips. Fact: Lip-reading skills vary among people who use them and are never entirely reliable.
Myth 4: People who are blind acquire a "sixth sense." Fact: Although most people who are blind develop their remaining senses more fully, they do not have a "sixth sense."
Myth 5: People with disabilities are more comfortable with "their own kind." Fact: In the past, grouping people with disabilities in separate schools and institutions reinforced this misconception. Today, many people with disabilities take advantage of new opportunities to join mainstream society.
Myth 6: Non-disabled people are obligated to "take care of" people with disabilities. Fact: Anyone may offer assistance, but most people with disabilities prefer to be responsible for themselves.
Myth 7: Curious children should never ask people about their disabilities. Fact: Many children have a natural, uninhibited curiosity and may ask questions that some adults consider embarrassing. But scolding curious children may make them think having a disability is "wrong" or "bad." Most people with disabilities won't mind answering a child's question.
Myth 8: The lives of people with disabilities are totally different than the lives of people without disabilities.
Fact: People with disabilities go to school, get married, work, have families, do laundry, grocery shop, laugh, cry, pay taxes, get angry, have prejudices, vote, plan and dream like everyone else.
Myth 9: It is all right for people without disabilities to park in accessible parking spaces, if only for a few minutes. Fact: Because accessible parking spaces are designed and situated to meet the needs of people who have disabilities, these spaces should only be used by people who need them.
Myth 10: People with disabilities always need help. Fact: Many people with disabilities are independent and capable of giving help. If you would like to help someone with a disability, ask if he or she needs it before you act.
Myth 11: There is nothing one person can do to help eliminate the barriers confronting people with disabilities. Fact: Everyone can contribute to change. You can help remove barriers by:
What does 100 years look like? Does it look like wisdom, celebration, and more than a few birthday candles? This year, the national Easterseals organization is 100 years old, and it looks like all of that and more!
In this centennial year, Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida is joining Easterseals affiliates across America in celebrating all abilities and limitless possibilities.
Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida was founded 68 years ago, and at the time was named the Junior Service League Orthopedic Center in Daytona Beach. Though its name changed to Easter Seals of Volusia Flagler Counties’ and then Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida, its purpose has remained: To change the way the world defines and views disability by making profound, positive differences in people’s lives every day.
In 2019, as we reflect upon Easterseals’ 100 years of national impact and nearly seven decades of local service, we honor our legacy and anticipate our future. We encourage YOU to be a part of the centennial celebration; here are a few ways you can enjoy it with us:
Share your Easterseals story. You are an important part of our mission. Do you have an inspiring Easterseals story to share? We want to hear it! Email Susan Moor at email@example.com with your experience. Your experiences could help others in myriad ways, from encouraging them to seek support to changing their attitudes about disabilities. You never know how someone could be changed for the better by reading your Easterseals story.
Expand the local Easterseals network. Do you follow Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida on Facebook or receive our email updates? Share our social posts and e-newsletters with your friends and family. Educating others about the services we provide for young and old, and no matter their abilities, can open doors for others’ advocacy and action. You can sign up for our e-mail updates on the right side of our homepage.
Take our survey. We invite you to help Easterseals look into the future and its next 100 years. What do you think Easterseals’ goals should be for the next 100 years of serving the disability community? Take this short survey and share your thoughts.
Gear up and get out. Join us for an Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida event this year. Our two hallmark, local fundraisers include Walk With Me (April 26, 2019) and Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA (November 2, 2019), both in Daytona Beach. Walk With Me is a fundraising event to raise awareness and support for families living with disabilities. Individual walkers and teams join hundreds of other passionate people in their communities for a day full of entertainment, fun and, of course, our signature walk. Over the Edge at ONE DAYTONA invites you to catch your breath, step up to the edge and rappel down the famed International Motorsports Center. Rappelers raise funds and earn their spot on the ropes in this unique event.
As we celebrate 100 years of national impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities, their families and communities throughout America, and nearly 70 years of local service, we invite you to join in the conversation, events and everyday mission of Easterseals. We embrace the future with a renewed commitment to enhance possibilities for people of all ages and abilities, and we thank you for journeying with us.
by Beth Finke (The Easterseals Blog)
A friend sent me a text the other day that said this: “Wishing you a prosperous new year excited face with money symbols for eyes and stuck-out tongue excited face with money symbols for eyes and stuck-out tongue excited face with money symbols for eyes and stuck-out tongue excited face with money symbols for eyes and stuck-out tongue. You guys free tonight? Give me a call.”
I never got to the part where I was supposed to give them a call. The emojis got in the way.
Five years ago I published a post here about how some people who are blind access a program called VoiceOver to use an iPhone — VoiceOver parrots every letter we type into a text, and a key next to the space bar on the iPhone keypad lets us choose from lists and lists and lists of emojis to use with texts. VoiceOver reads the images out loud for those of us who can’t see them. Let me show you what I mean. Here’s a sampling of what I hear when choosing from the list of “Smileys and other people” emojis:
You get the picture.
Some of the blind people I know tweet and text using emojis, but usually just one per message. Multiple emojis might be easy to ignore if you see them all the time, but listening to multiple emojis? It’s time-consuming, and if you want to know the truth, kind of a pain.
If you are texting a friend who uses a screen reader, or if you want your tweet to be accessible to all, including those of us with visual impairments, here are some simple tips:
If you use texts or tweets to market your business, your blog, your YouTube channel, remember that each of your tweets and texts sends a message out to your community. Approximately 300 million people in the world are visually impaired, and over 50 million of us are totally blind. Go easy on the emojis, and we’ll get the message too!
Today’s disabilities are different from what once were. Children with autism, school-age children and young adults with invisible, social, education and emotional challenges, or adults who need durable medical equipment are some of those living, working, playing and learning with disabilities.
A staggering 1 in 5 people face a disability in America today. It is our mission and purpose at Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida to change the way the world defines and views disabilities by making profound, positive differences in people’s lives every day.
YOU are a valuable part of that mission.
Easterseals stands for all possibilities and limitless possibilities. Will you join us in this commitment in 2018? Your gift supports autism diagnosis, early intervention, early childhood education and much more for our most financially vulnerable families.
Your gift can directly impact individuals. Here are some examples:
Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida is a qualified charitable organization, and your gifts are tax deductible. For your records and in appreciation, we acknowledge in writing your gift of any amount.
Thank you for considering giving to Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida by December 31. You may give online here, or mail your contribution to Easterseals Northeast Central Florida, Attn: Susan Moor, Vice President – Gift Planning, 1219 Dunn Ave., Daytona Beach, FL, 32114. Or, contact Susan to discuss additional giving opportunities at 386-944-7820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you from all of us at Easterseals! We are proud to be “Taking on Disabilities Together”…with YOU!
The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that more than 43 million caregivers in the United States provide unpaid care to an adult or child annually. And, according to the National Respite Coalition Task Force, family caregivers are more than twice as likely than non-caregivers to report "usually or always" feeling stressed.
If you’re a caregiver, maybe it’s time you took a healthy break. Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida wants to give you that gift of time.
Joey’s Gift Respite, an Easterseals program, is designed to care for your child with special needs between the ages of 1-18. Joey’s Gift Respite offers four-hour breaks on designated Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The next session will be Saturday, January 19, at the Easterseals Child Development Center, 1219 Dunn Ave. in Daytona Beach.
Trained staff and volunteers care for children in a safe and fun environment. Siblings are welcome, too. Plan to pack a lunch for all children attending, and if needed, include personal hygiene supplies or medications.
Complete the enrollment form for Joey’s Gift Respite if it’s your first time attending. All caregivers must sign up online in advance or call Easterseals at 386-944-7816 at least five days before the scheduled program.
Take a break, with confidence, with support from Joey’s Gift Respite. Take time to take care of you.
Just last month, researchers published a study in the Pediatric Blood & Cancer academic journal about children’s perceptions of others’ understanding of their disability: Sickle Cell Disease. Among the findings, children with Sickle Cell Disease voiced concerns that their school teachers and administrators didn’t understand the disease very well and suggested the adults in their lives and had much room for improvement.
Like any disability, Sickle Cell Disease is better understood with education. And, with that education comes empowerment.
Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait are genetically inherited conditions that are passed down from parent to child. Sickle Cell Disease affects one of every 500 African-American births and about one out of every 36,000 Hispanic-American births. Individuals with Sickle Cell Disease are susceptible to complications such as a crisis (pain that can begin suddenly and last several hours to several days), infection, eye disease and/or stroke.
Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida’s Sickle Cell Program provides case management services and education for residents of any age who have this form of anemia; residents who may be at risk for Sickle Cell Trait in Volusia County; or those who live, work or play with individuals with Sickle Cell.
Easterseals offers residents and those diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease educational sessions through its Sickle Cell Program to help them understand the implications of Sickle Cell Trait and how it may impact lifelong health and well-being. Individual case management, provided by a registered nurse, works to increase an individual’s (or their parent’s) understanding of the disease, too. This understanding leads to a healthier life and improved self-care.
Community groups, health fairs, schools and other interested organizations are invited to receive Easterseals’ educational information about the Sickle Cell Program, which can include materials and/or presentations.
Erika Wynn, a 2019 Honorary Ambassador with Easterseals’ Walk With Me spring fundraiser, is a local Sickle Cell Disease advocate who is actively involved in Easterseals’ Sickle Cell Program. Her experience with Sickle Cell has been supported by the Sickle Cell Program since she was a child.
“Sickle Cell has been an experience, and sometimes it becomes a big fear in my life, but this support group is here to help us understand each other’s situations,” said Erika. “Every case of Sickle Cell is not the same…and having Sickle Cell is not about being sick. It’s about knowing how to deal with things.
Said Erika: “I don’t want people’s sympathy, I just want them to understand.”
To learn more about Easterseals of North Central Florida’s Sickle Cell Program case management or educational offerings, call 386-589-3892 or read more about them online.
It’s the most wonderful time! Twinkle lights are strung, cookies are baking, and holiday song are on repeat. It’s also time to shop for the prefect gifts for young and old.
Often, special considerations can and should be made when gift-giving to children with autism spectrum disorder. What toys will stimulate without overwhelming? Which toys are simultaneously fun and educational? What toys can parents feel good about giving?
Shoppers have many options, but they’re not all equal. So, we put together a list of some of the most popular educational, calming, and sensory gifts that children with autism spectrum disorder will enjoy…as will every young one on your list!
For ages 0-4
Simple First Words: Let’s Talk (Priddy Books)
By pressing the buttons and matchings the sounds to the pictures again and again, children will enjoy learning simple first words and developing their speech with this interactive book.
Sound Puzzles (Melissa & Doug)
Match the puzzle piece on the puzzle board and your child’s favorite pet will “speak” with a meow, woof, or tweet! With seven different themes, there’s bound to be one to match your child’s interests while encouraging problem-solving and independent play.
Wiggly Giggly Ball
Your child will be rewarded with a giggle every time they move or shake it! With bright colors and indentations to make grasping easier, the Wiggly Giggle Ball encourages gross motor movement while reinforcing cause-and-effect and hand-eye coordination. Your child will be rewarded with a giggle every time they move or shake it! With bright colors and indentations to make grasping easier, the Wiggly Giggle Ball encourages gross motor movement while reinforcing cause-and-effect and hand-eye coordination.
For children ages 4-8
Jumpsmart Trampoline (Diggin Active)
For kids who enjoy physical activity or need to work on their balance, an indoor trampoline is an excellent option. The Jumpsmart Trampoline’s fun learning games and silly songs will keep them active and learning all day long.
One of the most popular toys among children, LEGO® blocks not only encourage creativity and imagination, they assist in the development of fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and sensorimotor skills. LEGO® blocks are available in a variety of sizes appropriate for all developmental ranges.
Give a Flip (Fun and Function)
Stomp and catch! Physical play can help improve hand-eye coordination while working off excess energy. With Give a Flip, your child places a beanbag on one end, stomps their foot on the other end, and catches the beanbag in the air. This coordination game is perfect for encouraging visual tracking, motor planning, and persistence.
For ages 8–12
Weighted items make great gifts. Whether you choose a weighted blanket or even a weighted stuffed animal, these items offer deep pressure therapy—helping calm down the nervous system and reducing anxiety. While they tend to be on the more expensive side, they are designed to hold up to years of use. (If choosing a weighted blanket, you’ll want to get one that is 10 percent of the child’s body weight, plus a pound or two.)
Socially Speaking Board Game (Didax Educational Resources)
Children with autism spectrum disorder can find it difficult to interact with others. Teaching basic skills like listening, greeting someone, and giving a compliment, this game provides a way to practice social interactions in a fun format.
Glittering Vortex Lamp
Similar to a traditional lava lamp, sparkly glitter swirls around as the lamp cycles through enchanting colors. This lamp is a soothing visual sensory tool for calming kids before transitions, for sensory breaks, or before bedtime.
Want more ideas? Look at these guides from other notable autism organizations to help you choose the best gifts this season:
Autism spectrum disorders are the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the world today, affecting 1 in 59 children. Receiving the right support at the earliest stage of life can help a young person gain the skills they need to live, work and play to their highest potential.
Early Intervention matters! We suggest three steps in helping parents and caregivers identify autism as early as possible. It starts with knowing what to look for.
Dorothy Lefford, OTR/L, Vice President – Clinical Services at Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida, offers the following insight to help families navigate autism:
Step 1: Learn about signs associated with autism spectrum disorder and corresponding ages. The timing and severity of autism’s first symptoms can vary widely. Some children with autism show hints of future problems within the first few months of life while, in others, symptoms may not become obvious until 24 months or later.
Some children with autism appear to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then stop gaining new skills and/or start losing skills.
Step 2: Identify specific red flags your child is exhibiting. The following red flags suggest a child is at risk for autism. Some children without autism have some of these symptoms, and not all children with autism show all of them. Thus, further evaluation is crucial. (If your child exhibits any of the following, please see Step 3: Get your child screened.)
Possible signs of autism in babies and toddlers:
• By 6 months, no social smiles or other warm, joyful expressions directed at people
• By 6 months, limited or no eye contact
• By 9 months, no sharing of vocal sounds, smiles or other nonverbal communication
• By 12 months, no babbling
• By 12 months, no use of gestures to communicate (e.g. pointing, reaching, waving etc.)
• By 12 months, no response to name when called
• By 16 months, no words
• By 24 months, no meaningful, two-word phrases
• Any loss of any previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills
Possible signs of autism at any age:
• Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
• Struggles with understanding other people’s feelings
• Remains nonverbal or has delayed language development
• Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
• Gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings
• Has highly restricted interests
• Performs repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning
• Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
Step 3: Get your child screened. Talk to your pediatrician about the red flags/signs you observe in your child. Autism screenings should be routinely done at a well care visit for your child at 18, 24 and 36 months. Ask your pediatrician for a free autism screening.
Easterseals Autism Center of Excellence offers free autism screenings for children of all ages and walk-ins are welcome: 1219 Dunn Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32114. Or, make an appointment by calling 386-944-7856.
Autism is a lifelong challenge that affects individuals differently and in varying degrees. Easterseals Autism Center of Excellence ‘s early diagnostic and functional assessment clinic assists parents and physicians in obtaining a definitive diagnosis for children who exhibit warning signs and delays related to autism spectrum disorders.
Individual treatment plans are developed and assistance with specialty interventions, respite and community resources are available. Contact Easterseals today and get started. We are here to help. Learn more about the Autism Center of Excellence online.
MassMutual’s SpecialCare: Helping caregivers make life-care planning decisions for dependents with special needs
Michael Sousou, SpecialCare Planner with MassMutual Southeast Coast, shared his expertise with families attending Over the Edge At ONE DAYTONA earlier this month in Daytona Beach.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual)’s SpecialCare was a sponsor of the annual fundraising event benefiting Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida and The NASCAR Foundation. While cheering on rappelers, Sousou distributed information about MassMutual’s SpecialCare program for people with disabilities and other special needs and their families.
A financial professional, Sousou has received special training in estate and tax planning concepts, special needs trusts and government programs. He explained that through SpecialCare, parents’ and guardians’ dreams for their loved one with disabilities are put in place in the event they are no longer able to care for their dependent.
“We assist parents who have children with special needs, or adults with special needs, by helping them maintain their government benefits like SSI and Medicaid and by assisting them in establishing special needs trusts,” said Sousou. “A special needs trust allows parents (or any donor) to put assets in the trust for the child with special needs. And, no matter how much is in the trust for the dependent’s benefit, they can still qualify for their government assistance, too.”
SpecialCare helps parents and guardians by educating them about things such as how to maintain benefits for their children with disabilities from birth through adulthood, and a special needs trust is a key strategy. The trusts are created to supplement – not supplant – government benefits.
Another popular product offered by SpecialCare Planners is life insurance.
“One of the unique products we offer is life insurance for the parent or guardian of the child with special needs, and in those policies, we include the special needs trust as the beneficiary of the policy,” he said. “So, if something happens to the parent or guardian, the life insurance policy pays into the trust and it’s used to cover expenses for the benefit of the dependent with special needs.”
“These policies can give parents and guardians a feeling of confidence,” said Sousou.
Sousou holds workshops throughout the region to educate parents and guardians about MassMutual’s SpecialCare offerings. He simplifies the perceived complexities and walks hand in hand through the program with families.
“In the end, it’s well worth it to many families because they have the confidence of knowing that, no matter what happens to the parent or whomever is taking care of the individual with special needs, they can be taken care of for life. It’s about more than lifetime care, which is what government benefits provide; it’s about maintaining a desired quality of life for their loved one.
SpecialCare Planners like Michael Sousou help clients:
To learn more about MassMutual’s SpecialCare program, contact Michael Sousou at email@example.com or call him at 904-621-0445.
Easterseals thanks MassMutual SpecialCare for its continued support and sponsorship of Over the Edge At ONE DAYTONA.
Local firms are sales offices of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), and are not subsidiaries of MassMutual or its affiliated companies. Easterseals is not a subsidiary or affiliated of MassMutual or its affiliated companies. CRN202011-239998