Monday, May 16, 2016

Growing Awareness Month: SUCCESS! By Diana Patterson

Hi Star Families,
I am happy to announce that Growing Awareness Month was a complete success and the committee is jumping for joy!  We began the month with a Blue Spirit Day. Both students and teachers wore blue to support Autism. During the month the committee read to each class about the different “invisible disabilities”. We accomplished this by choosing age appropriate books on the topic. This is our third year reading to the kiddos about Autism and we can see they are grasping and understanding the information.  We had wonderful discussions and breakthrough moments.  

Star Academy 3rd Grade Class. Photo Credit: Susie Steinlein

Star Academy Kindergarten Class

Emily Shane, Star Academy’s art teacher joined in our committee and pitched in by incorporating our theme “Growing our Awareness”  into her art classes and creating a beautiful display in one of our halls.  She has written the following:
“In art class, we touched briefly on each of the disorders and watched short video clips about each one. Our focus in Art was primarily on how artwork and public displays can help bring awareness to any cause. We discussed the traditional symbol for Autism and the colors most associated with it, and how color and symbols are used to help our brains make connections with specific words or concepts. Students were so excited to have their individual artwork on a puzzle piece as contribution to the collaborative art display.”


To help our parents stay informed and learn more about each disability we posted 5 facts on our school Facebook page every Monday in April.  Additionally, our school counselor Caroline Heins created a Growing Awareness checklist to help get our students making outside connections.  Below is a poster one student created to describe what acceptance means.


This year we created an anonymous form to give other parents a way to share their experiences.  We had a great post written about #Anxiety and #ADHD from a teacher, click here to check it out!  Jenifer Pearsall wrote a post about getting an #Autism diagnosis,  click here to see it!  Diana Patterson shared a post about her son’s #Autism diagnosis, click here to read more about it.  
Also new this year was our movie night! We donated all the proceeds to our local UC Davis Mind Institute!  It was such a great success. We fundraised $225!!!! Can I get a round of applause?! Thank you so much! These funds will go to purchase toys to use during therapy sessions. If you want to read more about the Tadpole study please click here.

Last but not least we had a successful toy drive. We had 54 donations which included toy sets, sensory balls, legos, books, art supplies, and puzzles. Here’s a picture of some of the toys!


2016 was an amazing year for Growing Awareness Month.  Thank you so much Star families for all your support and compassion.  Please don’t hesitate to contact Jenifer Pearsall and Diana Patterson if you have any comments, questions, or concerns.  Lastly, if you would like to join our committee please let us know! Next year we will have more classes and we also want to expand this to the main campus.  Thank You!!!

Jenifer Pearsall: jeniferpearsall@yahoo.com
Diana Patterson: eli.irie.taliyah@gmail.com

Left: Caroline Hines, Center: Jenifer Pearsall, Right: Diana Patterson

Parent Training April 2015

My Story: Our 7 Year Old and ADHD (anonymous)

What were the signs that prompted you to look into it?
Lack of impulse control. Lack of concentration. Hyperactive behavior.

What kinds of treatments have you tried? Were they successful?
Essential oils, diet change, behavior therapy, vitamins, and eventually medication. Everything we tried only worked temporally. All except diet change and medication. We removed almost all additives and all dyes and saw great improvement. Especially with taking dyes out! That made the biggest impact. We started medication about 6 weeks after being diagnosed and it took 6 weeks to see behavior improvement.

What kinds of changes have you seen since starting treatment?
The biggest change has been impulse control and concentration. We have also just started to notice that since he now has a chance to think things through, now has to deal with emotions that weren't there before. Also more compassionate and can read peoples emotions better.

What has been your biggest struggle?
Understanding that this is something that they can not control with out help. The frustration of having to stay calm when they can't complete something that seems easy .

What has this experience taught you?
Every child is different. Don't judge a book by it's cover. ADHD can make the sweetest kid seems difficult and uncaring, when they just can't slow down long enough to see whats going on.

My story: ADHD (anonymous)

What were the signs that prompted you to look into it?
Poor academic performance despite high IQ, behavior issues

What kinds of treatments have you tried? Were they successful?
Medication, yes

What kinds of changes have you seen since starting treatment?
The ability to focus, no more behavior problems, better academic performance

What has been your biggest struggle?
I never wanted to medicate my child, and it is so hurtful when parents declare, "I would NEVER medicate my child..." as though we are harming our child or are bad parents for doing it. We did it to help our child when nothing else did. We were tired of watching our child struggle, so medication was worth a shot and it has helped. That's all that matters. But the criticism still stings.

What has this experience taught you?
You can have lofty ideals about parenting before you have to face these hard realities about your children. Once you've lived the struggle, those ideals go out the window and you have to do what's right for your child. I am so much less judgmental about other parents' choices. We are all doing the best we can with the information we have. We should support each other and the choices we have to make.