Opportunities – December 2021

Advocate Sensory-friendly vaccine clinic The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM), Multicultural Autism Action Network (MAAN) and Spero Academy are partnering […]

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Sensory-friendly vaccine clinic

The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM), Multicultural Autism Action Network (MAAN) and Spero Academy are partnering with Hennepin Healthcare to offer a sensory-friendly COVID-19 vaccine clinic for children and families 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat, Dec. 18 at Spero Academy, Mpls. The clinic will include private vaccine areas as well as other accommodations to make the vaccine experience go as smoothly as possible. “Vaccines can be hard on kids under the best of circumstances, but for an autistic person there are many other factors that can make vaccines truly challenging: sensory overwhelm, a history of medical trauma, crowded clinics, and numerous demands can make it feel almost impossible,” Maren Christenson, MAAN administrator, said.

During the clinic, first vaccines will be available for children ages five and older. and their family members as well as boosters for those who qualify. Walk-ins welcome; appointments available.

Partners are there to serve all with autism and sensory sensitivities; all ages are welcome. A second sensory-friendly vaccine clinic will be held on Jan. 8, 2022. More information about the January clinic will be available soon. FFI: www.ausm.org/events/vaccine-clinic/

Children and families

PACER workshops sampling

Be aware of new law

A new Minnesota law requires school districts and charter schools to invite parents/guardians to an IEP team meeting to discuss the unique educational impacts of the pandemic on their child. The child’s IEP team must send parents/guardians an invitation to this meeting before Dec. 1, 2021.

PACER has developed a set of resources to help parents and guardians prepare for the meeting, participate actively, and advocate effectively. Understanding Minnesota Special Education Recovery Services and Supports provides useful information on the meeting and law, as well as questions parents should ask. FFI: FFI: PACER, 952-838-9000, 800-537-2237, www.pacer.org

PACER workshops sampling

PACER Center offers many useful free or low-cost workshops and other resources for families of children with any disabilities. Workshops are online and livestreamed at this time. Advance registration is required for all workshops. At least 48 hours’ notice is needed for interpretation. Check out PACER’s website and link to the newsletter of statewide workshops that allows participants to pick and choose sessions designed for their needs.

Working Toward Positive Educational Outcomes: Mental Health and Special Education

6:30-8:30 p.m. Tue, Dec. 7. The workshop will provide parents and others with information to help prepare for a positive IEP team approach to supporting a child’s mental health needs in school and during distance learning. The webinar is made possible by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Navigating the Ins and Outs of Community Resources

1-2:30 p.m. Wed, Dec. 8. The workshop for families of transition-age youth and young adults will provide information on the Disability Hub, a free statewide resource network that helps you solve problems, navigate the system, and plan for your future. Co-sponsored by Disability Hub MN

Tech for Girls Club : DNA: The Blueprint of Life

10-11 a.m. Sat, Dec. 11. Learn about what role DNA plays in living organisms. The virtual workshop will explore the functions of DNA and then participants will construct, using candy, a DNA model.

The ABCs of the IEP: Making the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Work for Your Child

6:30-8:30 p.m. Thu, Dec. 19. The workshop will help parents understand how to use the Individualized Education Program (IEP) to benefit their child. Participants will learn how each required part of the IEP can be developed to meet their child’s needs and how to participate effectively in the annual IEP meeting.

Tech for Teens Club : Coding Websites

10-11 a.m. Sat, Dec. 18. The workshop will introduce teens with disabilities to the basics of coding for the internet with HTML and CSS. Students will create their own unique website and publish it on the Internet using a free online tool at Glitch.com. Students will be able to experiment with code and see the results online in real-time. FFI: PACER, 952-838-9000, 800-537-2237, www.pacer.org

Info & Assistance

Online and In Person Support Groups for Families in Washington County

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) sponsors free support groups for families and friends of individuals living with a mental illness. Led by trained facilitators who also have a family member with mental illness, the support groups help families develop better coping skills and find strength through sharing their experiences. An online Washington county support group meets on the second and fourth Wed of each month, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. FFI: Dan, 612-341-8918.

NAMI also offers an in person family support group that meets on the first and third Mon of each month,  from 6:30-8:00 p.m., at the Bayport Public Library, 582 4th St. N., Bayport. Group members are required to wear masks and follow COVID-19 protocols. FFI: www.nami.org

New website announced

The System of Technology to Achieve Results (STAR) Program has a new website for its library of loanable devices. Visit Minnesota Assistive Technology for All (MNAT4ALL) at https://mn.at4all.com/ and check out the new database. The STAR Program team has developed a site which features images of devices and links to manufacturer websites. MNAT4ALL allow users to create their own account, track the history of items they have borrowed, request loans, request demonstrations, and complete surveys. Feedback is sought on the new database. FFI: 651-201-2640; 1-888-234-1267; MN Relay: 711 or toll free at 800-627-3529

Online mental health support

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) offers a variety of free online peer support groups for adults and young adults living with a mental illness, their families, friends, spouses/partners, as well as parents of children and teens. Led by trained peer facilitators, the support groups help individuals and families learn coping skills and find strength through sharing their experiences. The groups are specifically for those individuals suggested by the group’s title. For example, Family Support Group is only for family members and NAMI Connection is only for those who live with a mental illness and are over 18 years old, etc.
Three new groups are offered:

BIPOC Connections Support Group

A peer-led support group for people in BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) communities who live with mental illness. Meets 10-11:30 a.m. 2nd and 4th Sat.

Young Adult Family Support Group: A young adult peer-led support group for families and friends of a person living with a mental illness. Meets 5-6:30 p.m. the 4th Wed.

BIPOC Family Support Group: A peer led support group in BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) communities for families and friends of a person living with a mental illness. Meets 5-6:30 p.m. 1st and 3rd Sat.

Find a complete list of NAMI Minnesota support groups, meetings and how to join in by going to namimn.org and clicking on support group. FFI: https://namimn.org/support/nami-minnesota-support-groups/

Calendars are available

Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota’s 2022 calendars are available and will ship in November. Two formats are available. The wall calendar has the most pictures of DSAMN’s community. The calendar is 12 by 18.5 when opened. Cost is $20. The desk calendar is the perfect gift. Cards are 8 by 5.5 inches and includes display easel. Cost is $24. proceeds support activities for people with Down syndrome. FFI: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/DSAMNCalendar

Classes offered online

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has set up a wide variety of free online mental health classes. Choices include Hope for Recovery, Transitions, Ending the Silence, Understanding Early Episode Psychosis for Families, In Our Own Voice, Family to Family, Positive Psychology, Creating Caring Communities, a suicide prevention class called QPR – Question, Persuade and Refer, a special QPR class for Agricultural Communities and many more.

The classes are designed for family members and caregivers, persons living with a mental illness, service providers, and also the general public. Find a complete listing of these classes and how to join in by going to namimn.org and clicking on “Classes” or go straight to https://namimn.org/education-public-awareness/classes/scheduled/

Centers for independent living statewide

Minnesota centers for independent living statewide have gone to more in-person operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically centers offer an array of classes, training programs and other services tied to independent living. Centers that proving PCA, homemaker and other staffing for clients continue to do that in person. Check with a local center for open hours. FFI: www.macil.org/

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