As the COVID Social Distancing continues, many families are finding
themselves feeling very stir crazy.  Because almost all therapeutic services
to include in home OT, PT, ABA and Speech therapies are halted, parents are
calling saying that they feel regression is imminent and anxieties are
rising.  Please be aware all of these feelings are normal and school Special
Education Administration officials are attempting to deal with the obstacles
to progress that are developing daily.  Please note that this situation is
not the fault of any school system or government.  It is simply a result of
a massive group of professionals doing what is best for the masses.  Sadly
special needs populations often are the exceptions to the norm and their
situations can be worsened by actions taken to protect the masses.  If
school does not resume this year and children are shifted to cyber
education, your child may not be a good candidate for the available programs
offered.  This is not necessarily a desired outcome but next year schooling
can be adjusted to adapt to newly developed deficits or stagnated learning.
Try not to be discouraged.  Focus your efforts on 1-2 hours a day of
relevant education that may supplement daily growth and learning.  Use
resources available on the web and find activities that are experiential and
stimulating.  Focus on communication and reading- remember the more you read
to any child the more they learn.  Try taking a walk and pointing out things
of interest or teach daily living skills like cleaning, laundry, cooking and
yard work.  Set your expectations lower and kids will rise with graduated
expectation increases.  If you have coloring books color together and work
on fine motor skills, or string beads or macaroni for fine motor
development.  Try making slime (Don't use Borax- CDC warns it burns kid's
skin) and experiment with sensory input.  Or try making homemade salt dough
(the kind you bake)  and paint the figurines you craft.  Now is a time to
explore your creative side and make a mess with your kids, helping them help
you to clean it all up!  If you find yourself overwhelmed with cabin fever
EFMP is here to support you with supportive telephonic counseling
(717)245-3775.  And the CHADD website, Autism Speaks and JDRF are all home
to interactive chat rooms. 
For those of you with medical special needs children please be advised that
I am tracking almost all the special needs websites like JDRF and there are
no indicators that medical supply chains for Diabetics or tube fed children
are expecting any interruptions. If you have questions about any of these
issues please do not hesitate to ask.  I am here to support you.  If you
need an ear, reach out, and we will brainstorm solutions together.  I am
currently tele-working but am checking voice mail daily and will return your
call.
Warm regards,
 
Kelly Villalobos MSW, LCSW, LCSW-C
Exceptional Family Member Program Manager

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The EFMP serves family members of all active duty personnel that have specialized medical and/or educational needs. Sponsors who have physical custody of a parent or relative over age 21 are also eligible for the program. Enrollment in the personnel tracking portion of the program is available only to active duty military but all resource linkage and other services via ACS are available to active duty, retirees, guard, reserves and DOD /NAF civilians.

Some examples of special needs can include: Attention Deficit Disorder, Diabetes, Asthma, Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and many mental and psychiatric disorders.

The EFMP has a resource library of videotapes, books, pamphlets, brochures, and handouts on various special needs and disabilities. The EFMP manager can also assist families with individualized education plan (IEP) implementation/maintenance and also offers education on various diagnoses.

You do not have to be enrolled in the program to be able to access the resource library or IEP advocacy services. The EFMP Manager can help in providing you with resources in the local area such as location of local support groups.