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Family Resource Center

at Community Gatepath

Serving San Mateo County

Blog

October 2018
October 2018
 
 
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Classroom Inclusion Enhances Community and Prevents Bullying

By Ana Gomez, Family Resource Center Support Group Leader

I’m the mother of two amazing boys who are 3 and 10 years old. Both were diagnosed with speech delays, and my oldest was also diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and mood disorder. Finding appropriate services for my oldest son was a difficult task, particularly when support and information were lacking in my community of East Palo Alto. But having children with special needs has given me the opportunity to learn the real meaning of inclusion.

For me, inclusion means that my child is welcome to play, learn, and explore in any setting. As a parent, inclusion means the world to me. For my oldest son, however, he doesn’t recognize or understand what the word "inclusion" means. He’s a shy little guy who prefers to stay alone rather than be part of a big group. When I once explained to him the meaning of inclusion, he just answered "Mom, I don’t get it. Why shouldn’t people include others? It doesn't make sense."

Creating a truly inclusive community starts in the classroom. It benefits both children with special needs and those who are typically developing.  It sets a precedence for acceptance and respect for people of all abilities, despite their differences, and can prevent bullying in schools by building a solid foundation of compassion in children.

Inclusion in the community has been a big challenge for us, because my son has often been overlooked. He isn’t at the same level as the other kids. For example, baseball teams have had him sit on the bench for more than half of the game, and Taekwondo classes have turned him away because he distracts other kids.

In some classrooms, my son has experienced challenging situations when it comes to inclusion. He has been placed in segregated classrooms. He has also been placed at a separate table away from the rest of the kids and has been labelled as lazy by teachers. When this happens, it is not only ...



August 2018
August 2018

Going Above and Beyond to Support Families in our Community

My role as a Family Resource Center Coordinator at Gatepath is to offer support, provide information and connect families of children with special needs with local resources, which is immensely rewarding. Raising a child with special needs can be complex, especially for families who are struggling to meet basic needs. Recently a family with twin boys was referred to me because they were struggling to make ends meet. This lovely family told me about their challenges trying to obtain diapers from another provider and being told their children didn’t meet the age criteria. I wanted to help this family in any way possible.

As I was thinking about potential resources, I recalled the organization Baby Basics of the Peninsula, which is located near our new Family Resource Center office in East Palo Alto. I reached out to their director, Lisa Moody, and told her about this family. Baby Basics of the Peninsula graciously provided a one-month supply of diapers for each of the twins. Since the family only speaks Spanish, I asked my colleague Ana, who is bilingual, to share the great news and arrange to drop off the diapers. Mom graciously welcomed us into her home and expressed her deep appreciation for the support during this difficult time.

All of the Coordinators at the Family Resource Center try to be creative and collaborate with other team members as well as community partners to assist individuals and families. I am so happy we can provide a myriad of services for families so they can better support their child’s development.

To connect with our Family Resource Center Coordinators, call our free support line at 650-259-0189, email us at info@smcfrc.org or frcespanol@smcfrc.org, or visit our website at ...



July 2018
July 2018

Top 10 Tips on Bullying Prevention by a Parent of a Child with Special Needs


Each month, I moderate a support group for caregivers of children with special needs and developmental disabilities in San Mateo County through Gatepath's Family Resource Center.  One of the most common re-occurring topics from parents is bullying.  According to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, ten different U.S. studies have found that children with special needs or a disability are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their peers. It’s something parents will have to face, if they haven’t already, and it’s one of the hardest things to deal with when raising any child, whether the child has special needs, or not.

My son began 6th grade this year. He has some special needs and is visually impaired. He found the transition to middle school difficult as the school encourages the students to be more independent and act on their own, which increased his anxiety levels. In addition to the overwhelming transition to greater independence, he began to mention that other kids excluded him. He can be very persistent on his opinions, which some kids take as pushy. However, he wants friends just like any other kid! Feeling excluded because of how he carried himself or behaved as an individual hurt his feelings. I talked with him about what bullying is, how to be an advocate for himself if he does not like another child's tone or language, and to carry himself with confidence and awareness. I reached out to the school to ensure he was paired up with a buddy to sit with at lunch. I am happy my son brought the issue to my attention so we could problem solve together. Many children are ashamed, embarrassed or fear retaliation from the bully and will hide what is happened from authority figures.  However, every individual's experience is unique.

I have compiled a list of tips and suggestions from personal experience and research to help parents and caregivers support their child ...



June 2017
June 2017

As staff at Gatepath’s Family Resource Center, who are also parents of a child with special needs, we ask ourselves each summer, “What are the best activities for our kids?”  Like most parents, the answer is always -- summer camps! They offer a variety of options, locations, themes, and times, including day-only activities and overnight stays. I have been sending my son August to summer camps for several years now.  August, who is a teenager, has autism.  So, from one parent to another, I’ve collected camp ideas and tips to help you get the ball rolling.

1. Start with Your Kid’s Interests and Preferences: As parents, we each have unique insight into our children’s preferences, triggers, and strengths. Instead of jumping into an overwhelming list of potential camps, start with these introspective questions to reduce the options, helping you find a good fit for your child.

  • “What does my child like to do? What is he or she really interested in?” This question fits all children, including those with special needs. Kids are more likely to participate when they like the topic/theme! Sometimes, I’ve had parents stop and say, “Whoa. I hadn't thought of it that way.” Start with your child’s preferences, such as art, space, horses, or the outdoors. If you need more insight, ask your kid!
  • “Is it possible for my child with special needs to attend this camp/activity?” I have an older son who attended a specific camp, and I later asked the staff if it would be an option for my younger son with special needs to attend. Honestly, many camps are open to the idea and you’d be surprised how often staff have experience/training that enables them to support your child. Don’t limit yourself to just camps that have a focus on helping children with special needs.If your child would enjoy a specific theme, like an art camp, ask.
  • “What kind of setting does my child prefer?” Does your child do better in large or small groups? Does he or she need one-on-one assistance? Do ...


July 2016
July 2016

At Gatepath, countless families have benefited from Watch Me Grow developmental screenings. We’d like to share with you Sarah and Susana’s story about how the screening helped them to not only strengthen their relationship with each other, but to connect in meaningful ways with others in their community.


Watch Me Grow in Action

Upon a referral from her family pediatrician, Sarah brought her daughter Susana (age 16 months) to Watch Me Grow for a developmental screening. Sarah had been concerned that her daughter wouldn’t walk on her own without additional support.

After reviewing the screening results with Sarah, our Watch Me Grow care coordinator assisted her with a referral to intervention services as well as community activities for parents with young children. One of the programs was the Watch Me Grow Tu y Yo parent-child group. Sarah loved the name and saw possibilities for her own personal growth as well as the development of her daughter. “The name ‘Tu y Yo’ (or ‘You and I’) helped me think about the love story and special relationship I can have with my daughter,” she said.

Through Tu y Yo, Sarah received new tools to grow as a mother and ensure that Susana reached developmental milestones. Susana was very timid in the class with other kids at first, but she eventually grew more comfortable and began to explore her environment away from her mother.  “I found the developmental screenings to be helpful to me as a mother in order to learn about Susana’s development, including her areas of strength as well as how I might support her in areas where she needed more support,” Sarah said.

A child with ANY type of developmental delay is at risk for falling behind. That’s why intervention before the age of five is so important. It gives children the best chance for entering school with the same skills as their peers, which can help them succeed in their long term education.  Sarah continues to monitor Susana’s development through screenings at Watch Me ...



June 2016
June 2016

Our Family’s Journey with Gatepath

I first learned about Gatepath in 2001 when our nine-month-old son, Liam, was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delays. At that point, we were referred to Gatepath’s Early Intervention (EI) services and immediately realized it was the right place for us and Liam.

From the time he was nine months old until he was three, Liam attended Gatepath’s EI services, which included speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and inclusive special education classes. These services made a significant difference in Liam’s developmental progress all the way around. We also attended a weekly parent training class with other parents in Liam’s class to talk about what works and doesn’t work for our kids, as well as other subjects related to raising a child with special needs. This became an important outlet for meeting parents who could tell us what to expect on our journey as we navigated the complex system of care for our child. We also had the opportunity to meet Teresa from Gatepath’s Family Resource Center (FRC) who guided us through the process for transitioning to preschool and who has helped us ever since.

Before starting a family, my wife Lee and I decided that I would be the primary caregiver for our kids, because Lee’s job paid more and I had the better temperament for staying at home. Throughout my years as a stay-at-home dad, I have used the FRC as an important resource for meeting the everyday challenges of having a child with special needs. Talking to other parents with similar experiences has given me the tools to be a better parent.

About four years ago I had the opportunity to join the FRC as a parent coordinator, which has been incredibly fulfilling and informative. In this role, it’s been great to assist other parents, especially dads, by sharing my personal insight into what they can expect on their journey as a parent. It’s rewarding to pay it forward.

A Place for Families

At the FRC, we typically work ...