#HereToHelp – What’s Next?

OCALI Now – May 2020

Do these faces look familiar?

If you’ve been joining OCALI on Facebook for our daily 4 Minutes at 4:00 p.m. video series, Patty, Rachel, Maggie, and Kelli should look familiar. For the past six weeks, they have been newscasters sharing tips, resources, strategies, and funny stories in short, easy-to-understand video clips on a variety of topics—from learning about accessibility features in Zoom and how to use descriptive language using alt text and audio description to establishing routines and sharing self-care tips.

The 4 Minutes at 4:00 p.m. video series was part of OCALI’s larger virtual #HereToHelp campaign designed for families, caregivers, educators, and other professionals who support people with disabilities.

“With the rapid and unexpected transition to remote learning and families working from home, the OCALI team was looking for innovative ways to connect people with accessible materials, online learning, and other resources,” said Shawn Henry, executive director at OCALI. “When we launched the campaign, our goal was to ensure that people with disabilities and those who live with, love, and care for them were supported during this pandemic. It’s been exciting to see so many people accessing and using our resources, many of which are free.”

“We also wanted the campaign to provide something fun for people to look forward to each afternoon—with quick, easy, and approachable strategies and resources to access live or at your leisure,” shared Kelli Yeagley, community engagement and project specialist.

ICYMI

In case you missed the videos or resources, you can still access everything on the #HereToHelp webpage. There, you will find 100+ resources specifically curated for educators/professionals and families/caregivers, including tips to support accessible, remote learning environments and strategies.

#HereToHelp Video Gallery

#HereToHelp for Professionals

#HereToHelp for Families & Caregivers

Bringing People Together

In everything we do, we are striving to connect a community of people—from educators, service providers, parents/families, people with disabilities, community leaders, policy makers, and more. When we collaborate and work together, we bring new ideas and diverse perspectives that benefit our collective thinking, practices, work, and ultimately, impact.

“Our staff has always been good at collaborating,” said Jan Rogers, program director, Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center. “Planning and developing this campaign virtually provided our staff an opportunity to think differently about how we work together and communicate with each other in new ways.”

“Google Meet and Zoom became great friends during the past few months,” adds Jen Bavry, program director, Family and Community Outreach Center. “It truly was an amazing effort by our staff to quickly gather the information needed for educators and families and organize those into an easily digestible format.”

What’s Next?

Our last new 4 Minutes at 4:00 p.m. video will air on May 20. If you missed an episode or want to watch one again, check out our video gallery. We will also be re-running all episodes throughout the summer. The team is also busy planning for the next phase of the campaign, so stay tuned for more information!

OCALI is #HereToHelp!

HereToHelp

“I think there are folks who are hungry for hope, and a vision for what is possible…” — LeDerick Horne, OCALICON 2019 Keynote Speaker

We couldn’t agree more. In a time when things look different—from the way we deliver school and learning, to the way we do business and work from home, and the way we go about our daily lives—we believe we are all hungry for hope and want to be inspired.

Like most of you, our staff has been looking for innovative ways to work, learn, socialize, and connect. As we all do our part to maintain the health and safety of our families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and those we support by staying home, OCALI is even more committed to being a source of support and inspiration. 

We Are #HereToHelp
Starting April 14, OCALI will launch a new virtual campaign, #HereToHelp. This new campaign is designed for families, caregivers, educators, and other professionals who support people with disabilities. We believe they are critical parts of the equation to ensuring people with disabilities have the opportunity to live their best lives for their whole lives—especially during these unprecedented times.

From tips and ideas, to specific resources and strategies, and inspiring quotes and funny stories, our team is excited to connect with and support you in new ways. Information will be shared in short, easy-to-understand video clips from our staff members through OCALI’s social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and our website. Resources from OCALI and various partners are also on our website to help you stay informed, connected, healthy, and supported.

We don’t want this to be a campaign where we’re sharing things AT you. We want it to be WITH you. That’s why we will be encouraging you to ask questions and share your own personal ideas and experiences with us. Our staff, who are all working remotely, will be monitoring our social media and email channels to respond to your comments and questions.

While we’re all navigating our new ways of life, our staff remains committed to supporting and encouraging everyone who lives with, loves, and cares for people with disabilities. We’re all in this together.

Celebrate With Us

White text on a rainbow colored background “Know More. Do More. Ohio Autism Awareness & Acceptance Month 2020”

Throughout the month of April, we will be sharing resources for people with autism, their families, and those who work with and support them through our social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Along with our friends at the Ohio Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA), we will be using the hashtags #KnowMoreDoMore, #AutismAwareness, and #AutismAcceptance.

Our Policy Team and IWGA are working to promote April as the time for people to better understand, to accept, and to take action to inspire change and promote access for individuals with autism and those who love, work with, teach, and support them. The Know More. Do More. theme encourages Ohioans to actively seek out resources and information to become better informed about the challenges and opportunities related to autism. By moving beyond just being aware to acceptance and taking action, we can ensure we are all doing our part. 

New Resources for Early Childhood Professionals Available!

Decades of research shows the importance of early experiences on brain development and how early intervention can reduce the effects of developmental delays. For professionals working in early childhood, it is important to have an understanding and knowledge about how to identify a child who may have developmental disabilities. From knowing what signs to look for, how to effectively talk with parents, understanding the steps to take for timely referrals for interventions, and more, early childhood professionals need information and access to high quality, affordable professional learning resources.

To meet this need and build confidence and competence in early childhood content and approaches, the Center for the Young Child (CYC) at OCALI is excited to launch two new resources, the Suite of Resources for Early Childhood and Early Care in Education Seminars. This cross-agency effort provides consistent professional development to all early care and education professionals, whether someone works in healthcare, childcare, or early education.

In order to meet the needs of the whole child, we must look at early biological, psychological, and social-emotional development, which are critical elements of lifelong health and wellbeing,” explains Laura Maddox, CYC program director. “Our Center grounds its work in the latest brain science, policy, and research, and our new resources reflect that research and include evidence-based strategies that are easy to understand and practical to implement.”

Whether you’re an early childhood professional who needs hours toward your credential or you just want to build your knowledge about early childhood, check out the following resources: 

A young boy and an infant

Suite of Resources for Early Childhood Professionals

Ideal for early care and education professionals, these modules will build your knowledge about a variety of early childhood topics. Each module provides information and resources you can immediately use and put into practice. Users have the opportunity to earn a certificate and Ohio-approved credit. 

This Child, Each Child Will Grow and Learn
This one-hour module emphasizes the importance of understanding and noticing the development of each children. Users will explore using developmental monitoring and screening tools to learn about each child’s strengths and areas of concern, effective ways to share information with families, and how to identify resources to support all children.

We Can Do This, Right Where We Are
This one-hour module is a first step in building the confidence and competence of early care and education professionals to welcome all children into various settings. Evidence-based strategies and approaches that create success in inclusive early care and education are presented, demonstrating that practice supports can be used with intention and purpose.

Coming Summer 2020: Responding to Trauma and Supporting Resiliency

“These modules were developed to align with Ohio’s Early Learning and Development Standards, which were created through a collaborative effort of state agencies,” explains Maggie Gons, CYC early childhood professional development manager. “Each module supports the continued growth and learning of early care and education professionals to promote learning and development as part of Ohio’s quality program standards, Step Up To Quality. In turn, this leads to improved outcomes for children.

Infants/Toddlers in a classroom

Early Care and Education Seminars

This seminar will provide comprehensive information about working with and empowering families, respecting cultural and family systems in professional practice, and using adult learning principles with a focus on existing strengths and capacities to strengthen parent competence and competence. Additionally, content will focus on strategies in natural learning opportunities so that families learn to support their child’s development.

Infant and Toddler Growth and Development
This seminar will build users’ knowledge about infant and toddler growth and development information from prenatal and fetal development, with information and resources related to human development, developmental milestones, growth and development domains, and integrating skills across domains within natural environments and activities.

This seminar meets the requirements for Early Intervention content area E01 (Infant and Toddler Growth and Development) and is approved seminar work for Ohio Developmental Specialist certification. The seminar includes six units of instruction and takes approximately 30 hours to complete.

Coming Spring 2020: Disabilities and Risk Factors from Birth
This seminar provides in depth information and resources related to physical, medical, developmental, sensory, and mental health conditions and risk factors in young children. The six units include specific content on genetic syndromes, diagnosed conditions, special procedures for children with extraordinary physical and medical needs, and prevention and management.

Coming Summer 2020: Family-Centered Services and Supports

 To learn more about the Center for the Young Child and other resources available, visit https://www.ocali.org/center/cyc.

We All Count, So Let’s Be Counted!

Census_2020-1050x525

Later this month, all households in Ohio and across the country will be receiving packets from the US Census to complete. The census data is used to allocate one and a half trillion dollars every year, by formula.

It is critical that all households report this data, and especially households with children with disabilities. When we fail to complete the Census accurately, we lose funding for Ohio’s programs – and lost dollars mean overcrowded classrooms, underfunded services, hungrier children, inadequate health care — big problems for most communities, and particularly for children with disabilities. Our kids lose when vital community resources dwindle – and these resources are critical to the success of all children.

If we get it wrong in 2020, today’s preschoolers will lose needed resources for a decade–the majority of their childhood. And the amount of dollars lost would be staggering. We now know that following the 2010 Census, so many young children were missed that states collectively lost over half a billion dollars a year in funding from just five programs: Medicaid, CHIP, foster care, adoption assistance and child care. On average, school districts lost $1695 per year for every child they missed.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg: more than 300 federal programs use census data to determine how federal funds are allocated to state and local governments. These programs cover necessities such as schools, child care, children’s health insurance, roads and highways, school meals programs, housing assistance, and a variety of other areas. There are other consequences too. New schools may not be built because of a lack of accurate data. Businesses may choose not to open grocery stores in underserved areas. Families and communities will not gain their fair share of political representation in elected bodies ranging all the way from school boards to Congress.

There is more information available on the State of Ohio’s website (https://development.ohio.gov/census2020/), but the bottom line is – encourage everyone you know, and especially those with children or children with disabilities to complete the Census  – we all count, so we should all be counted!

From an Idea to a Proposal Submission: How One Educator is Supporting Teams of Teachers to Submit Proposals to Present at OCALICON

IMG_20200311_114230397

“I’m not doing anything magical.” 

That’s the typical response Barb Gentille-Green from State Support Team Region (SST) 7 hears when talking with teachers and other instructional leaders about what they do in the classroom to promote inclusivity and empowerment for all students.

As a consultant with SST 7, Barb has the opportunity to work with hundreds of educators to provide professional learning and support around special education, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), assistive technology (AT), and more.

Over the years, OCALICON has been a favorite personal and professional learning opportunity for Barb, where she has participated as both an attendee and presenter. Because of her many positive experiences, she wanted to inspire others to not only attend, but also present. So Barb hosts an annual proposal planning workshop.

“For teachers who are interested in presenting at OCALICON, I want to encourage them and help them to submit a strong proposal,” shares Barb. “During our time together, we talk about what makes a great proposal, what they’re doing in the classroom that they think others might benefit from, and the details of the proposal process. Often times, teachers don’t think they’re doing anything special, so it’s really powerful to talk with them about what they’re doing and how it’s both valuable and worth sharing.”

Support doesn’t stop with the proposal process. Once proposals and presenters are selected, Barb invites teachers back together for a day to develop their conference presentation.

“Teachers don’t get much planning time,” shares Barb. “When we are able to dedicate a day to work on their presentation content, the teachers are thankful for the time. We dive into how to make their presentation engaging, interactive, and more importantly, accessible.”

IMG_20200311_094827395

Hear more from Barb in this brief audio interview.

Barb has seen the workshop grow over the years, hosting nearly 20 teachers last year.

“It’s been fun to watch this process and to see the growing interest from teachers,” says Barb. “When teachers have the opportunity to present and share with others, it really empowers them, not only as teachers, but as leaders. They’re often surprised that other teachers learn new ideas and strategies from what they’re sharing.”

Barb’s Top 3 Tips for Submitting an OCALICON Proposal

  • Capture student voice. As you develop your proposal, consider the student voice. Attendees love to hear what students think is helpful.
  • Make your proposal applicable to the classroom. Teachers or leaders need to be able to see specific ideas and strategies that can be replicated in their own classrooms, buildings, and districts.
  • Be confident. Have confidence in yourself and in what you have to share. When you do, that will come across in your proposal and when you present.

It’s Time to Get Creative

Since getting colleagues together face-to-face to do a workshop isn’t possible at this time, consider getting creative and gathering a team virtually through online platforms like Zoom, Go to Meeting, or Google Hangouts. Meeting and brainstorming virtually is a great way to stay connected.

Want to Submit Your Own OCALICON Proposal?

Deadline to Submit is March 31!

No matter what field you’re in – early childhood, mental health, adult services – gather your colleagues, and submit today!

Do something magical.

Share your ideas, strategies, and research with a passionate and energized audience of 3,000+ leaders, professionals, parents, self-advocates, and more from across the nation and around the world.

OCALICON 2020 seeks proposals from professionals, scholars, family members, self-advocates, researchers, service providers, educators, and leaders in the fields of autism, sensory disabilities, low-incidence, and other disabilities.

The best proposals typically highlight the implementation of session content through engaging discussions, real world examples, new perspectives or various points of view, new technologies/innovations, and/or interactive manipulatives. OCALICON attendees are eager to engage and want to learn principles and strategies they can take back to apply and implement in their own work, home, school, or community setting.

Get the details at ocalicon.org. Don’t wait too long. Proposals are due March 31!

Celebrating Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month: Promoting Acceptance and the Platinum Rule

A young child holds their hands in front of their face, peering through fingers. Their hands are covered in bright paints.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

As children, many of us were taught the Golden Rule—do unto others as you would have them do to you. More or less, treat others the way you would like to be treated. In theory, this ‘rule’ seems like a good lesson to live by, but what it doesn’t account for is that we are all different and we may want different things—including the way we are treated.

As we celebrate Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, consider embracing the Platinum Rule, which implies that we treat others the way they would like to be treated. Acceptance exemplifies the Platinum Rule, which accounts for accommodating the feelings of others and accepting and celebrating our differences. While the concept may seem simple, it’s not always easy to put into practice. To truly treat others the way they want to be treated requires learning about a person and engaging with them to understand their likes, dislikes, perspectives, and more.

Acceptance requires taking conscious action and shifting from not only seeing and recognizing that autism exists, but seeking to listen and learn, and then adapting our perspectives and behaviors. Just being aware of autism facts and information will not necessarily lead to acceptance or creating inclusive and supportive environments in our schools, communities, and relationships. By intentionally moving toward acceptance, we can inspire confidence and a vision for possibilities that motivate us to continue to ensure that people with disabilities can live their best lives for their whole lives.

At OCALI, our mission is to inspire change and promote access to opportunities for people with disabilities. Over the years, we have been committed to working hard to promote and embrace a culture of awareness and acceptance—with our staff and with those we serve around Ohio. While we have made significant progress, we have more work to do and we continue to explore and learn new ways of listening, understanding, and modeling.

As leaders and practitioners, parents, and family members, we ALL play a role in inspiring the change we wish to see. Throughout the month of April, we encourage you to seek out opportunities that promote acceptance and the Platinum Rule—for yourself and within your own communities.

For additional autism resources, visit OCALI’s Autism Center and Lending Library.

 

Elevating Families’ Voice and Vision: The Family and Community Outreach Center at OCALI

A smiling family sitting on a pier - to young boys sit in their parents' in their laps - everyone is smiling.

The voice of the family is powerful. And when used to share stories about inspiring change and the possibilities of people with disabilities, families play a critical role. Equipping and empowering families with knowledge, information, and resources to support the whole family, including the person with a disability, is at the heart of the work of the Family and Community Outreach Center at OCALI.

“We believe that families are an important asset in the equation of ensuring people with disabilities have the opportunity to live their best lives for their whole lives,” shares Jen Bavry, program director at the Family and Community Outreach Center. “We strive to build families’ confidence and encourage a vision for the possibilities and opportunities for the whole family.”

While new to this position, Jen has been with OCALI for five years, originally joining the team to support the development and implementation of ASD Strategies in Action. In addition to her professional background, Jen also brings personal experience and a passion for working with families.

“As the mother of a son with autism, I have a deep understanding of the services, resources, and community opportunities that are valuable to families and the person with autism. Because of this, I bring a unique perspective to my role—one I hope will inspire and encourage others.”

Connecting Families and Communities

“We support families by connecting them to information regarding services, training, and resources to ensure they understand what supports and opportunities are available to them,” explains Jen. “When families are equipped with reliable information, they are better able to navigate the journey with their family member.”

Over the years, the Center has been instrumental in keeping families informed, as well as making sure families are included and their voices are represented. This is a “must” for Jen as she takes on her new role. Although not a new focus for the Center, more attention will be directed to community outreach—raising awareness and acceptance to enhance the experience of people with disabilities and their families in their communities. Efforts will focus on building awareness, knowledge, and inclusion to create meaningful experiences and social opportunities. By doing this, the Center will continue to play an important role in informing policies that benefit families and the person with a disability.

Inspiring Change

Inspiring change is part of OCALI’s mission and each Center contributes to that mission in its own way. Jen shares how the Family and Community Outreach Center is inspiring change.

“I wear two hats—one as the director of the Center seeking to equip and empower families and professionals with knowledge, information, and resources to support the whole family. The other as a mother to a young man with autism. I have been in the shoes of the family just receiving the diagnosis, the one seeking services, the one working with a school for educational support, and the one advocating for access and acceptance. Having the opportunity to share experiences with and hear from others has always given me the strength to make the change I want to see. I can only hope that through my role at OCALI and my experience as a parent, I can provide the same for others—either by sharing my personal story or by sharing the stories of others—inspiring them to make the change they want to see.”

Resources You Can Use

To learn more about the Family and Community Outreach Center, visit https://www.ocali.org/center/family.

OCALI’s Office of Policy: State budget, Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, Multi-System Youth Legislation and More

Office of Policy color

April is a busy month at OCALI, as it is Autism Awareness and Acceptance month. In fact, the team put together a communications toolkit for various agencies within the Interagency Work Group on Autism to use to raise awareness and acceptance within their key audiences. Additionally, there will be a joint meeting of the Interagency Work Group on Autism and the Employment First Taskforce that will be attended by agency Directors in April.

In addition to work around Autism Awareness and Acceptance month, there are several key pieces of legislation at the Ohio Statehouse that OCALI’s policy team is engaged in, including the state biennial budget.

Governor DeWine introduced his proposed state budget on March 15, and informal testimony by members of his cabinet and others began on March 20. On March 25, the official “budget bill,” House Bill 166 was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives, and was referred immediately to the House Finance Committee, where formal testimony began.

If you’re interested in seeing the budget, related documents, or understanding the budget process, check out these resources:

The Office of Policy has been keeping up with the budget process by attending informal and formal testimony; conducting a thorough review of the budget provisions; attending meetings with key members of Governor DeWine’s administration and state legislators; and participating in key stakeholder/coalition meetings. In every meeting, the team’s goal is to ensure research, evidence-based best practices and the real-life needs of individuals with disabilities and their families are at the forefront of conversations about services, programs and policy decisions.

The team is also keeping an eye on three key pieces of proposed state and federal legislation, including including House Bill 166, which focuses on funding for services for multi-system youth, autism and early intervention; the Ohio Fair School Funding Plan; and the Autism Cares Act.