Thursday, July 31, 2014

*** Chirp's NEW YouTube Channel! ***

I'm thrilled to finally announce the super-secret project I've been working so hard on -

If you don't know what a YouTube channel is, think of a specialized TV channel where all the programming is by the same person or same team of people.

The Chirp channel's target audiences are 

1.  families of children with developmental or acquired disabilities (including ADHD, sensory integration difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, behavior challenges, communication delays, cognitive delays, and much more!)  


2.  church leaders who want to make their churches more welcoming for people with special needs.

Here's the back-story . . .

For the last three years (!), I've been working on writing a curriculum that teaches the main tenets of Biblical Christianity at a level appropriate for very young children and people with cognitive and communication disorders (such as Down Syndrome, Autism, etc.)  This curriculum is now complete (hurrah!), but my job of supporting families of children with special needs AND equipping churches that wish to welcome people with special needs is just getting started!  

The first issue I see is that many families have questions about their children's development or behavior and don't know who to ask or where to look for answers.  Most families want to educate themselves on how to support their children's emerging communication skills, how to help their children develop good social skills, how to manage their children's challenging behavior, and how they might better meet their children's sensory needs . . . but where would a family find this information unless they had the time and money to meet with Behavior Specialists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Psychologists, and Occupational Therapists?  Most families do this only when their situation becomes desperate.  Books are available, but do busy families have the time to read those heavy books filled with professional jargon?  How do they know which books or theories will work for their families without professional guidance?  How can they find practical ideas they can immediately put into practice?

A second problem is that most churches WANT to provide support for people with special needs and their families, but they don't know HOW.  It's challenging to train volunteers appropriately, manage students' behaviors, teach in a way that students can access, provide a classroom environment that's welcoming, understand students' communication and sensory needs, and help students assimilate new information.  Churches know that Jesus loves these precious people, but most of us aren't equipped to provide a welcoming, safe, and educational environment for people with special needs.  Sadly, most churches feel as if it's too risky and we'd be better off not trying.  

My prayer is that the Chirp YouTube Channel would be an answer to these challenges!  

Families need creative and loving ways to help their children develop to their full potential, and I want to offer support, education, and encouragement in a free online format.  I have many years of experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in communication, behavior, and sensory disorders.  I have worked primarily with families in their homes to address the dynamics that make these diagnoses so difficult for the entire family unit.  I will share valuable strategies that can help children learn to better regulate themselves, communicate their needs and desires, and manage their behaviors more successfully.

Churches need that sort of support, too!  Most don't have the budget to hire a special education consultant, so I want to offer video similar training in a way everyone can afford - YouTube!  I have personally founded and developed two successful, thriving special needs teams at two different churches in Arizona (and have supported many other churches as they have done the same), so I know the challenges churches face as they strive to meet the needs of their volunteers, students, and families.  I will share tips on how to structure your classroom, tools you definitely need, how to support minimally verbal students, how to incorporate sensory supports into your routines, and much more.

At this time, all of the training and resources available on the Chirp YouTube Channel are completely free.  At some point in the future, there may be paid subscriptions available, which would allow me to provide extended training in certain high-demand areas (I'm planning a seminar for new parents on early childhood development and how to support emerging skills - you'll want to be around for that, for sure!)  God-willing, I plan to post a new video weekly.  I recommend subscribing to my channel to make sure you're up to date on the latest videos.  

If you are a parent of a young child who frequently has tantrums (meltdowns), you might want to start with this video (it's a long one, but a good one - it's one of my favorite topics!):

If you want to find out more about the Chirp Curriculum, check out this video
it's an introduction for churches that have recently purchased their first binder):

(Don't worry if you're not into Jesus; there isn't much theology or God-stuff in these videos.  The videos are meant as tips and resources recommended by a professional in the field of special education, communication, and early childhood development, not as proselytizing!)

Please pass these links (or this blog post) along to anyone you know who might benefit from the information (e.g. parents of children with behavior challenges or communication delays OR church leaders you know!).
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me!

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