A Special Parent Information Network Indeed!!!!

On Saturday April 13, 2019 I had the pleasure of attending the 33rd Annual SPIN Conference. The mission of SPIN (Special Parent Information Network) is to provide parents and caregivers of children with disabilities (and the professionals who serve them) with timely and useful information about the special education process, parenting a child with special needs, specific disabilities, special events and community resources.

This year’s conference had 3 time slots for workshops and16 different topics to choose from. I was able to attend the following workshops:

“The Wonderful World of Reading” was presented by Dr. Kim Mendenhall Brennan, Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, University of Hawaii. Early Literacy is the foundation of learning. In the beginning, children learn to read so that later they can read to learn. The CSC offers a program called “Read To Your Deaf Keiki.” The focus of this program is to teach families how to read books aloud in ASL. Trained Deaf adults will come to your home, or another location, to work with the families. Every week they will receive a new book with instruction on how to sign the book. The CSC has a lending library with more books, videos, games and more for families to take advantage of to continue early literacy development at home.

“Munchkin Land- Transitions: Early Intervention to Department of Education” was presented by Clifford Villareal an Early Intervention Section Care Coordinator Team Leander, Wendy Li an Early Intervention Section Care Coordinator Team Leader, and Kerry Shiroma from the Department of Education. The focus of this workshop was to help families of young toddlers and preschoolers understand what to expect from the Early Intervention Transition to Department preschool services. The process of transitioning from an IFSP to an IEP can be scary and overwhelming, but your care coordinator is there to support you and help facilitate this transition. Be open and honest about your feelings and know that your team is there to support your child. For those families who have children close to the transition age and are interested in a workshop with DOE representatives please contact me as I am planning to host a Transition Workshop this summer (my email will be listed at the bottom of this article).

“The KEYS to Self Determination” was the final workshop for the day. This workshop was presented by Eric Folk from the Center on Disability Studies at University of Hawai’i Manoa. While this presentation focused on postsecondary supports, I still felt the “Keys” to “self determination” would benefit parents, families, and professionals working with our keiki. “Self Determination” is when you have the awareness, skills and power to make the right decisions for yourself and your future. They came up with the acronym “Self AREA.” First is, “Self AWARENESS.” People need to know their preferences, strengths, challenges, values and habits in order to develop a self- determined vision for their lives (or your child’s life). Next, “Self REGULATION” is a person’s ability to manage their thoughts, behaviors, and actions in support of achieving their goals (or the goals for their child). Then comes “Self EFFICACY” which empowers people to take chances and aim high. Finally, “Self ADVOCACY” is key to a person’s ability to find allies and support and he/she works toward identified goals. “A GOAL is a DREAM with a PLAN that you will actually DO!” Work with your Early Intervention team to set goals for your child and don’t forget to aim high and dream big!

In addition to these wonderful workshops, the SPIN Conference had over 60 resource booths including the CSC. It was truly and inspiring conference that I encourage all parents to attend. If you have more questions please do not hesitate to contact me at kimduncan.csc@gmail.com.