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Exploring Your Genes

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Exploring Your Genes

May 21, 2020 | Carla Easter, Dr. Seth Shaffer and Mariela Puentes
girl exploring genes toy Show Notes:

This webinar featured Carla Easter on Exploring Your Genes and discussed how to explore the human genome with your family members. The webinar continued with the Question Corner with child psychologist Dr. Seth Shaffer and education expert Mariela Puentes.

Megan: [00:00:00] Having some special guests today and participating with you another week in a row.

For those of you who have not been on The Family Room before, my name is Megan Waters and I’m the director of program and DC for Turning the Page. We are so excited to have Carla Easter here with us to explore our genes. And we also have Mariela from MAEC with us today as our cohost.

Mariela, as summer is about to begin and Memorial weekend is right around ...

Megan: [00:00:00] Having some special guests today and participating with you another week in a row.

For those of you who have not been on The Family Room before, my name is Megan Waters and I’m the director of program and DC for Turning the Page. We are so excited to have Carla Easter here with us to explore our genes. And we also have Mariela from MAEC with us today as our cohost.

Mariela, as summer is about to begin and Memorial weekend is right around the corner. I’d love to hear what your favorite ice cream flavor is? And anyone who is logging in, chat in the chat box and tell us who you are and what your favorite flavor is too.

Mariela: [00:01:01] Hey, everyone, welcome to the family room. I would say my favorite dessert that I’m looking to enjoy the summer is Thai iced tea ice cream.

Megan: [00:01:12] Ooh, I have not tried that, so I’ll definitely have to put it on. And maybe Dr. Shaffer, do you have a favorite flavor that you’ve been jumping into recently or looking forward to this weekend?

Dr. Shaffer: [00:01:25] Cookie dough, hands down.

Megan: [00:01:28] [laughs]

That’s definitely a fan favorite for sure. Anyone else? A cookie dough fan out there? I’ve recently been very into a honey vanilla bean. I’ve been trying out and even adding my own extra bits too. But everyone as you’re joining, please chat in the box. Tell us who you are, what flavor you’ve been craving recently, and might be trying with your family this upcoming long weekend.

Again, welcome. Welcome to The Family Room. We’re gonna be exploring your genes today with Carla Easter. And we again, are Turning the Page, as well as MAEC in partnership. And on today’s agenda, we are gonna share a little bit more about us, which you may already know.

We’re going to talk about what’s on the top of our minds, and this is a new part that we’re adding in weekly as we’re seeing questions come in that tend to revolve around the same topics. So Mariela or Dr Shaffer, will be addressing them just as we kick off the event.

And then we’ll be diving in with our featured guests, Carla Easter. We’ll be having some question and answer time with her, as well as our question corner as always. And we’ll be wrapping up and having a survey for you to fill out.

But before we jump into that, obviously, logistics. Mute your microphone while you’re not speaking to avoid background noise. Use the question and answer feature to ask questions. If your questions aren’t answered today, we want to answer them in future webinars, so please don’t be shy. You can also use the chat feature to introduce yourself again, share your flavors of ice cream cause we’ll be looking at those throughout the call.

And then you can choose the gallery or speaker view. When you’re on speaker view, you’ll be able to see who’s talking. So during those question portions of the call, you’ll be able to see Dr Shaffer, Mariela, and our featured guests, Carla Easter. And I’ll pass it off to Mariela.

Mariela: [00:03:26] Thank you Megan, and thank you everybody for joining us today in The Family Room.

We are happy to continue being part of this collaborative effort between MAEC and Turning the Page. Part of this is to provide support to families as things on the ground are changing. So MAEC was founded in 1991 as an educational nonprofit dedicated to increasing access to high quality education for culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse learners.

Our vision is a day when all students have equitable opportunities to learn and achieve at high levels. And MAEC’s mission is to promote excellence and equity and education to achieve social justice.

So who we are, the Collaborative Action for Family Engagement, CAFE, is a project of MAEC. We apply an equity lens to family engagement by building relationships among schools, parents, community organizations. We improve the development and academic achievement of all students. CAFE is the statewide family engagement center for Maryland and Pennsylvania.

And we are funded through a federal Department of Education grant for statewide family engagement centers. And I’ll pass it back to Megan.

Megan: [00:04:47] Great. So Turning the Page, similarly does like to connect people. Specifically, we love having our families connect with resources in the community and in public schools.

We are based out of Chicago and DC. And love to get to do this work, to bring in guests, to talk to our families, to educators, and to each other. And we are going to pass this off now to Dr. Shaffer to address what’s on the top of our mind. Stay motivated right now.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:05:16] Oh my goodness. Staying motivated. For many of us, this is the home stretch in the school world, virtual learning, that is. And school’s going to be out, I think in DC, the schools are going to be wrapping up their year in a week. I think you said earlier, Megan. I myself am in California. And in California the schools here I think in a couple of weeks. So there also is a fair amount of just feeling cooped up at home.

If your child or your kids are doing some kind of virtual learning, maybe some kind of COVID burnout on some zoom classrooms. If that is what your child is doing. So being that this is the home stretch, I think one thing as a caregiver to remind yourself of is, resiliency. Being there for your child, being there for your children.

Reach down deep inside of you and think about in terms of you motivating yourself to advocate for your child or your children. That think about what it means to really be resilient when it comes to kind of things like acceptance, adaptability, and adjustment.

Whille things are really hard right now, I think it’s okay to kind of express any feelings in front of your kids. But I think it’s also good to do some kind of self-talk. I love self-talk. So it would be something like, even in front of your kids. We got one more week left. You know, we can do it right. Let’s get, let’s get finish this year strong and things like that.

So self-talk I think is a good one. A lot of the families I work with use that. So that can help you as a caregiver to motivate yourself, but also to model that for your kids. Positive self talk, positive self talk.

In terms of children, in addition to encouraging them, I’ll just speak to two things. More younger children, like, you know, I want to say maybe nine, 10 and younger, and then teens and tweens. So those are the two populations I’ll mention. If you want to try and motivate your kids with something that’s more kind of behavioral or even reward based, for younger children, when it comes to reward, the name of the game is really the younger they are, the more immediate, the reward should be.

So if you have stickers in the house that your kids like, that might reward them. They get a sticker when they’ve focused on a particular task at home for a few minutes. Or if they’ve cleaned the dishes or helped you, or something along those lines that they’ve done. Boom, you get a sticker and  nice job getting a sticker.

Things like that. I also like non-material rewards. So like you get 10 extra minutes with grandma reading tonight because you focus so well, while making your bed. For example. The younger they are the more immediate, the reward. Older children like teen and tweensm in terms of motivating them if they have access to a smartphone or internet.

I read some recent statistics, it’s something around maybe 75 or 85% of the population in the country has access to the internet. So if you do, that’s fantastic. And if your kid has access to it, maybe delay access to the device, that might motivate them. So like if they’re, if your kid is a gamer or they want to be on social media, let’s delay that until they finish their daily routine.

And those are some quick tips for motivation. Hang in there. We’re wrapping up this school year. We can do it.

Megan: [00:08:33] Thank you so much for that. I mean, I know definitely a reward and one way I stay motivated to try and get outside every day is actually to have that ice cream in there at the end. And it sounds like some folks are fans of chocolate.

A shout out to gelato. Definitely more cookie dough fanatics as well, dr. Shaffer, so you’re not alone. Some tropical flavors were in there, which is perfect for warm weather. Mango, and watermelon.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:08:59] I’m channeling my dentist right now. I just went and full disclosure, I just went to the dentist and so, just be mindful with the sugar stuff, but if you’re okay with it, you know, go for it, in terms of rewards.

Megan: [00:09:10] I think yes, moderation is still key right now. Even when we tend to turn to indulgence during times of crisis.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:09:18] Absolutely

Megan: [00:09:18] I think every day a little bit is okay, but maybe not too much.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:09:23] Absolutely.

Megan: [00:09:25] So now we’re so thrilled to have Carla Easter from the National Institutes of Health. And she’s the branch chief of education and community involvement of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

So a lot of words, that she’s going to dive right into when she starts talking. But we are going to kind of explore genes a little bit more, and here a family friendly way to talk about them.

Carla: [00:09:53] Wonderful. Thank you, Megan. And thank you so much for the invitation. I guess I’ll first start off by saying my favorite summer ice cream is actually raspberry sorbet. It’s something I look forward to, and I did see in the chat that somebody also put cheesecake. And so I would put that my second is a nice raspberry cheesecake.

So thank you for inviting me to give this talk. And we’re just going to talk a little bit about DNA and genes. And so first let me just, while you all are out there, and maybe in the chat you can put what you think of, when you hear those three letters, DNA. And

I just put a couple of things up here.

You know, one of my favorite entertainers is Kendrick Lamar, who has an awesome song, called DNA. And you all might recognize Lizzo who did a really cool song with, I would call it an iconic line about taking a DNA test. And then there are a lot of other things that are happening around DNA, including what we call direct to consumer testing. Where you can go out and now spit in a tube and find out your ancestry or all sorts of things.

And then for those of you, I’m going to date myself, but certainly thinking about Jurassic Park. Which was, again, one of those iconic movies. That really started people off thinking about what we could do with manipulation of DNA.

And then of course, there’s our family trees. And then certainly, I think for many people on this call, you know, the CSI’ have been a way to introduce people through the use of DNA and forensics.

So again, there are many things you can think about, when you think of DNA. But on the next slide. I’m just going to dive right in and just start my little lesson here. So all living things have DNA. We may not think about it, but they all do. I’ve just put some examples up here. Some of my favorite organisms, including up here, bacteria and mold, they too have DNA.

But really, DNA is just a chemical. But what’s really unique about DNA is that it creates, it causes us to be unique. And so it really is the instructions that make us a koala bear. If you are a koala bear, a sunflower a sunflower. A puppy and later dogs. A guinea pig, one of my favorites, or even a goldfish.

But it’s really the DNA that makes all these organisms unique. And in turn, it makes each of us as humans unique. I’ll let you in on a secret. As humans, we share more than 99% of our DNA. That basically means that, you know, we are much more like than different. But I’m going to talk a little bit about what makes us different.

So if you think of, people always wonder where is the DNA? So this is just a very quick breakdown. Inside each of your cells, there’s something called this nucleus. It’s kind of the brains of the cell. And inside of that are these chromosomes. And if you’ve ever had a chance to see these pictures, this is kind of the image we think of of chromosomes. But each of those chromosomes is made of billions of strands, or excuse me, billions of pieces of DNA.

And as I said before, it’s within that DNA that makes us each unique. And on the next slide, we can see that there are genes and you all might think about genes, you know, not the jeans we wear, but the genes that provide us with particular traits, which I’ll talk about in a minute, but those genes can be found on chromosomes.

And these are the things that we passed from parents to children and they basically are what makes each of us unique. And you can kind of see, again, my cartoon here of this chromosome. If we were to unwrap the chromosome. It would come out to this little, thin strand, thinner than a strand of hair. And the DNA would be what makes up that strand.

And we could say a segment of that DNA would be where we find genes. Another fun fact in each of yourselves, if we were to take out all the chromosomes and untangle that DNA, it would measure more than six feet in length. And so think about the fact that you have trillions of cells and many of those cells containing six feet worth of DNA.

It’s like phew. It’s pretty amazing to think about how much DNA each of us contains. But as I said before, each of those traits on the next slide, basically, is what makes us unique. And what I’m going to do here is pause for a moment and ask that we play the video for a cool little cartoon about traits.

Okay.

Video Playing: [00:14:58]

We are all unique. Each of us has a combination of characteristics or traits, but it’s different from anyone else. Some traits are easy to see, like eye color, height and freckles.

Others are less visible, like asthma, musical talent and disease risk.

Some traits are inherited and some are shaped by the environment. Eye color and nose shape are inherited traits. They are controlled by genes, which we inherit from our parents. The language we speak and the music we like are shaped by the environment, which includes our culture, our experiences, and our physical surroundings.

Most traits are influenced by both genes and the environment. For example, tall parents tend to have told children, but height is also influenced by nutrition. And while diabetes tends to run in families, sometimes can be controlled by diet and exercise. Even when someone is born with a body type suited for dancing or playing basketball, it takes training and practice to learn these skills.

Together our genes and our experiences make us who we are. We are all…

Dr. Shaffer: [00:16:31] Great video. Well done.

Carla: [00:16:38] Well, thank you. I wish I could take credit for that. That was made by a wonderful group called the Genetic Science Learning Center. So now that you’ve learned a little bit about traits, as Megan mentioned, are you all, they’re going to have two afternoons with me.

This is part one. And what I’d love for you all to do is to take some time as we’re in, as Dr. Shaffer said, we’re in that home stretch. You’re almost done with school. So one last, fun homework assignment. So what I’d like for you to do is to explore particular traits. And so I have a trait tree. That I’ve given you the link to. But just to walk you through this again, as you saw in the video, traits are all kinds of things from your nose shape to how tall you could be, to your hair color.

And what I’d like for us to do is to go around and interview family members, friends to actually take a survey of their traits. But what we’re going to do is we’re going to group people into different trait groups. So the first question you’ll ask, if someone has dimples? If they have dimples, then you’ll follow this side of the trait tree.

If they don’t have dimples, you’ll follow the right side of the trait tree. The next question you ask is about attached or unattached ear lobes and you can look up pictures. So attached ear lobes are those ear lobes that kind of come right into the side of your head and are not great for having pierced ears.

Mine are attached, so I can have very, I can’t wear very big earrings cause there’s not much ear lobe to put there. And then you have folks that have fantastic ear lobes, that tend to be unattached. And then you can ask the question to someone, can they roll their tongue. That would be rolling your tongue. And some people can get very creative with that.

And then the last trait to ask about is do they have a Hitchhiker’s thumb? And you can see my thumb sort of curves. That would be great for hitchhiking. So once you figured out where people fall into those categories by asking yes or no, whether they have the traits, you can then create these, you can put them into the various trait groups.

And when I visit you all in two weeks, if I’m correct, we can then look at where everybody falls within these treat groups. And so it’s just, again, a fun way to take a survey of the traits. And I’d be really excited to find out what you have discovered about friends and families and some of the traits that they possess.

So again, I want to say thank you. That’s all I have for now, but we’ll have, there’s more to come when we chat. There are a few other, links that you can visit. This first one is just about the group that I’m with at the National Human Genome Research Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. You’ve probably been hearing a lot about the National Institutes of Health in the last couple of weeks.

And then a couple of other fun activities that you might want to do with your friends and family. And so I think with that, I hopefully have given us enough time for us to, for me to answer a couple of questions.

So I will let you guys take it away from here.

Megan: [00:20:11] Yeah. Thank you so much. I, and I agree with Doc with what Dr Shaffer said, that video is excellent. And really easy to understand, especially when we know that sometimes science and things that are inside our body are more difficult to talk to kids about.

And one question came in that’s asking, is there an easy way to explain recessive versus dominant genes to kids.

Carla: [00:20:38] No, that, that’s really a great question. You know, for most of us who have learned biology, you know, back in the old days, there was really this sort of push, especially if you learned about Mendel and his peas, to think about things being either dominant or recessive.

And the reality is there are probably fewer things that fall into the trait of being dominant or recessive. Things tend to be kind of in between, which we’ll find out when you do the trait tree. But I would say that probably one of the easiest ways to teach that, would be to do things like look at different experiments that Gregor Mendel did with like peas.

You can do various things, talking about coat color, for instance, with cats. Or a different animals that there are particular colors that tend to be more dominant or more prevalent. But as I said before, the idea of dominant and recessive traits gets a little sticky depending on the type of traits that you’re referring to.

And especially with humans, because we find that there are many traits that go into. I’m sorry. Many genes that are involved in traits. So for instance, height. There are probably more than a hundred genes that are involved in what makes us a particular height. But in addition to that, it also is influenced by things like nutrition, how much sleep we get, various types of things.

So I’m not sure if I answered the question. But there are some traits. And looking at particular organisms where you can look at things that are very dominant versus recessive. But then there are things that many things fall into those areas that are much more gray, that it’s sort of a blending and they’re caused by traits that are caused by multiple genes and not just one or the other.

Megan: [00:22:30] Yeah, no, that’s really helpful information. And you kind of referenced like Mendel’s experiment and also even looking at cats, are really practical applications for kids and for families to even just Google online and see all around them.

Carla: [00:22:45] Yup.

Megan: [00:22:45] And you know, knowing that, and this is another question that came in.

That there are a lot of blended in the families and also families that have, children that are not biological. How is there a way, you’ve seen, how can you address genetics in a positive and exciting way if that is the case?

Carla: [00:23:05] Yeah. And I think that’s a wonderful question. I mean, as I started off with my top, we are much more alike than different.

And so, even one of the fun things about the trait tree is that even if you look across, and again, I will use the example of my family, you know, we have people who live with us who others might consider cousins, but we consider them siblings. And so we don’t necessarily distinguish or have a, what I would say, a traditional family tree.

But if you think about things, like doing the trade tree, where you can look at particular traits that you share with someone, even if they’re not related to you. And so I think when we start to think about genetics and sort of taking a very positive spin. The idea is that we share much more in common with other people than we don’t share with them.

So about 99% of our genes and all of those genes together we refer to as a genome. So about 99% of the DNA in our genome, is the same as another human. So again, much more alike than different. But then if you look at other organisms, there are things that we share even with things as small as fruit flies, which is kind of freaky when you think about it.

So again, I think when we start to talk about genetics and DNA, it’s nice to say that across the earth that there is, everything pretty much shares something. And that even goes for humans. And so even though we may look very different, again, if you were to look inside of us, we’re much more alike than we are different.

Megan: [00:24:45] Okay. I do think having that 99%, I did not know that number and fact. And it is just a reminder that we are all, we’re very similarity even if we don’t know it. And so this is one more question that’s coming in our last question for today, but any other questions that are coming in during the chat box or Q and A or that come up for Carla, she’ll be back on June 4th and be able to cover some other topics too. So what, how do you figure out which genes control a trait?

Carla: [00:25:18] Oh, how do you figure out which gene to call a trait? That’s excellent. Typically, you know, we think of traits as being things that we can physically identify. And so when we think about most of the genes in your body are responsible for making proteins, although there is some discussion about how we define a gene because you have a lot of DNA that’s doing things that may not be physically apparent to us.

But typically when we think about traits, we think about things that are identifiable. And most often things that we can see. But I don’t want to give the impression that the genes in your body are doing nothing, or that the DNA in your body is doing nothing but creating, you know, these traits. It’s doing a lot of pretty amazing stuff. And some of those things may not be designated as genes or traits, and we can get into this on the fourth, but are doing a lot of pretty cool stuff that all makes, that goes into making us human.

It helps us, our body function, and it basically, you know, makes us unique as humans. But again, a trait typically is something that is identical. We think of them as something that we can see. That is a parent.

Megan: [00:26:33] Great. Thank you so much for answering those questions. It’s fantastic to have you, and we are so excited to have you back on June 4th. So anyone who’s on today, look at that trait tree, go around, ask questions. Talk to your kids about it. Talk to your family members, talk to people that might not be your direct family members, but you consider family. I think it’s awesome to continue exploring this, especially as STEAM and STEM are so integral to what’s going on in the schools. And having interactive ways to dive into it is really key during this time of being at home with everyone.

So thank you again, Carla, and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Carla: [00:27:14] Thank you.

Megan: [00:27:16] And we are going to jump into our question corner next, so again, keep them coming in the chat box and Q and A. We are thrilled to have back Dr Seth Shaffer and Mariela Puentes to answer some questions that have been coming in.

So I’ll pass it over to you all.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:27:37] Okay.

Mariela: [00:27:38] Going to go onto the next slide Megan? Oh, there you go.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:27:41] Yeah, Mariela, take it.

Mariela: [00:27:47] So one of the questions that came in, was how do you encourage families that have children who are English learners and are receiving special education services, but that are not familiar with resources? So, I think you first want to make sure that families are central to the conversation and have all the information that they need.

So there are a variety of school responsibilities around translation and interpretation. So you want to make sure that families have access to the school documents and meetings in the home language. This is in fact, a legal requirement. And to assist you in communicating with families, there are lots of apps and technology that is already created and available for you to communicate with families in their language.

One example of an app is called Talking Points. So you basically texted this app in English, if that’s your dominant language and the language you want to communicate in. And then families can communicate back with you in their own language. In their home language. And then you are having a conversation and you’re both seeing the language that you need to see.

So another suggestion would be to invite families to share their needs and priorities regarding their children’s learning. And to help families understand the services their child is receiving as a part of the IEP or as a part of the language learning needs. Or, the services that they’re entitled to receive as well.

Next slide. So you also have to be mindful, especially with this intersection of special education and English language learner needs, that English learners have very specific academic and language learning needs, they need a language rich environment, they supports to meet their current level of language proficiency. And learning experiences that activate prior experiences and content knowledge.

And then you also want to talk with families about their children’s disability and language learning needs, right? So they have to be able to process what needs are for one, and what needs are for the other. And if there are things that sort of overlap.

And with this one, you want to be really mindful if you’re using language or interpretation services, that whoever is doing the translation or interpretation is mindful of cultural nuances. And that whatever they’re translating is actually, helpful to families. One such example is, like a learning challenge, or learning disability because that translates in Spanish to like, Oh, there’s an issue with learning, but not necessarily that the children, that the child has special needs that need to be addressed through an IEP.

You also want to get to know what abilities the child displays in using their native language and where you can bridge to the target English language. You also want to talk to families about FAPE, or the right to a free and appropriate education. And this is regardless of immigration status or anything, families should feel comfortable with knowing that they are protected under the law, for a free and appropriate education.

You also want to make sure families are connected to resources through your school, district or state. So a few resources, that help address this question regarding special education and English learners, one of those resources is a resource I was created by vice president Maria Basterra, in collaboration with the lawyers committee for civil rights under law.

This document is available in both English and Spanish and can be downloaded from the MAEC website. It’s called Adelante Moving Forward. It’s a guide to empower parents of English learners who advocate for their children. It has a lot of very user friendly language and accessible information, around both English learning needs and special education. Also there are immigrant students legal rights, from Colorín Colorado.

And then lastly, you want to help families get connected to localize support in their state through both parent training and information centers and community parent resource centers as well.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:32:00] Yeah. That all that sounds like it could be extremely helpful. I found one more, that I’m going to throw into the chat room, Mariela. This one is from the autismspeaks.org website and, it’s for non English resources, but specifically for kids who are on the spectrum. So I just wanted to throw that in there as well.

A lot of great resources here. I think the only thing that I might want to add to this great question is just some maybe approaches, in general, to working with kids who have special needs at home. I think when it comes to technology, that’s like those are the main source of kids learning these days and interacting with others if you have access to it and assuming that you do. I think there’s some, there’s like some guidelines that I want to just offer here quickly. I mean, one would be okay for your special needs kid is to kind of limit the time that they’re on screens or on devices. I think it’s important to set those limits. A

lso to have rules, right? Like, you know, there’s an educational component and I think setting limits around rules related to use of technology when it comes to kids with special needs, but also just children in general.

Like for example, you should be monitoring what your child with special needs is looking up on the internet. If they, you know, they have access. You should be checking their browser history, et cetera. Also it lends itself to good social communication practice. So talking in your own native language or you know, English or Spanish or whatever the case may be, with your child about online time. Right.

How was your online time today? And using similar language to kind of cue your child is, is really important, to have those conversations and practice communication skills. I would also block websites that you think are inappropriate for your child. I think that’s important.

And then specifically, I think if you’re, if you notice that your child with special needs might be gravitating towards a specific kind of video. My experience in working with kids with special needs and really even children’s in general, they love videos. YouTube is like their thing. And there can be a lot of stimulation that can come from that.

So one thing to look out for that I’ll mention, I know this happens with the 16 year old clients that I work with. He’ll watch this video. I can’t remember what it was about, and it doesn’t really matter right now, but he’ll rewind it. Right, and rewind it and rewind it and rewind it. And so that might be something that you want to look out for. And maybe try to encourage your child to move on or let the video play in full.

And you might need to do some physical prompts, like you hold the device or you have access to the device. Let him watch it once. And my client responded pretty well with his mom consistently setting that limit. So that was another thing.

The final thing I want to mention about working with kids with special needs for today anyways, is that ultimately tech has really meant to supplement social interactions. Now we can’t physically, safely, more or less, we’re supposed to be staying at home basically. So we’re not, we’re limited in how we can socially interact. So there might be more tech right now, but I think it’s still something that’s good to keep in mind, because one day things, there’s going to be a new normal, but you know, when they find a vaccine and things are going to kind of get back to us being able to socially interact and be more social with each other.

So keeping that in mind. And sorry, finally, there are some resources here that are going to be posted in the chat box by Jen, there’s four. Text safety guideline for parents of children with ASD or autism. So there’s one, one link there. They’re all actually all four here. The second one is how technology can help.

So this is another link to the autism speaks website, a great resource, and then, and very importantly, tech safety. Right? So being mindful of cyber bullying and things like that. So you really want to be monitoring with your child with special needs. There’s a link there for some tech safety guidelines. And then MAEC has some fantastic guidelines for parents of children with special needs. So there’s that final link there.

I know from my experience in working with children with special needs, that there’s a lot of patience that’s required. And there are also tools, right? So the internet and access to it can be seen as a tool. And I think it’s important to model that. So one thing would be like, you know, I know like one other client that I work with, I think he’s maybe 13 or something like that, that there is a speech, like related to communication.

So there’s like apps out there and there’s like a speech generating device. One of them is Go Talks. Go Talks, so that can be maybe an app that can be downloaded to your computer where the computer can kind of talk to your kid. And at least, I mean, it might be what we have right now. You know, it’s a resource where at least your child can then have some kind of interaction verbally. Right?

But then they’re also, for those who are nonverbal, there are apps that are for that, that are out there and on the resources provided. So I’m going to maybe turn it Mariela. Was there anything else you wanted to add about that?

Mariela: [00:36:56] No, I think that was it on that question.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:36:58] Okay. What’s that?

Megan: [00:37:03] Yeah. So we want everyone to continue to connect with us.

I mean those were but with such great information. Cause I think right now there’s a ton of things out there. And again, it’s figuring out which resources are going to be opportune for you and what’s going on with your family and your house. And thank you both for sharing, some really new information that we’ve been getting questions about.

And we also, as new developments happen every day with the COVID-19, you can go on MAEC’s website and kind of figure out state by state what is happening, as some restrictions are beginning to look like they might be rolled back. And we kind of are getting some, some more answers, as well as probably some more questions that come up.

So if you sign up for our newsletter Learning At Home, we’ll be continuing to share some information and you’ll also be able to submit questions. And next week for our newsletter question of the week, given how COVID-19 has affected the world and the way we live, we want to know what is one hope that you have for your child, when things get back to normal. You can submit your words, artwork, scan letters. To be included in our weekly newsletter.

And we’re also gonna want to introduce some of you who have been on these calls with us. So if you are a parent, educators, even if you’re just tuning in to get this information and you have a tool or something that you’ve done to stay resilient during this time, we’d love to hear from you.

Dr Shaffer, maybe you can share a little bit more about what we might be looking for in the resiliency corner for next week that we’re going to be adding in.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:38:42] Yeah. So we’re hoping to add that in, and I think it would be great to hear or really see how things are going for you guys. So if you yourself have a short maybe video clip, like 30 seconds to one minute.

Or if you’re a parent and you have one that you think shows that you’re that resiliency parent that we know that you can be. We’ll be working on creating that component to the family series here so that you can submit them and then maybe we would show up. So we’re working on that.

Megan: [00:39:12] And as we kind of think about what’s next, Dr. Shaffer, would you also kind of address maybe some thoughts you have, parents have been asking about summer, it’s around the corner. Maybe give one or two tips about how to help with that transition. Kind of like you mentioned at the beginning of our webinar. But anything that you think they might find helpful as that is certain that it’s happening [laughs], not school, but maybe something to help with that shift.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:39:41] This is the big question, right, that’s weighing on our minds. Like, what do I do with my kids for the summer? Right? So, we’re limited, you know, and so what I’m going to be saying and these couple of tips is really speaking to these kinds of safe at home orders, right? As things open up, you know, then the open up. But let’s, let’s work with what we have right now.

Of course, finishing up the school year strong is important. And I touched on motivation earlier. One thing I’ll add that I know, there’s a specific kid that I see, one kid, where he was really struggling to finish some last minute assignments. He’s got like a week to two weeks left and he just is like unmotivated and burnt out.

And one thing that I suggested is working backwards. And it’s really important that as parents or as caregivers that connect with your child. And so in addition to self-talk, like, okay, there’s one week left or there’s two weeks left, you can do it. I’m here to support you. And things like that. You can actually take the calendar, count how many days are left at school, work backwards. And if you have some assignments, take it one bit at a time.

I’m sure many of us can connect and relate to that when there’s like this big project we have to work on or some big task at work or something, it’s like, Aw, it seems daunting, but when you break it up into parts, right, then it might seem a little bit more manageable.

The summer question. So summer. Okay. Tip number one, keep a routine for your kids. Kids generally operate best and thrive best with some kind of structure. So keep your routine. Maybe instead of like with school, maybe not being in the picture there, you might look up some do it yourself videos on YouTube.

And take on a project. I know one, some of my younger kids will do like, you know, big drawings, right? But even teen and tweens, they might like make things related to household, you know, safe things in the house or in the home. You can maybe build something, things like that.

I had another idea too. I just thought of this. Have a sleepover, right? And the sleepover is, you know, you’re in your apartment. I know that you know a lot of bodies potentially, and not enough personal space by any means. But maybe one night, you know, on the weekend you have a sleep over in another part, like outside of your bed, but in another part of the apartment.

And if you have a flashlight, you have a flashlight with the kids. Depending on their ages and what floats their boat. Maybe you do like some roasting of marshmallows over the stove safely or something like that, if you’re able to do that. That’s another fun way. And then finally, I’m just gonna add a third tip, and then I will, pass this back to you, Megan.

I just did a quick Google search here and there’s on Washingtonparent.com. I think I’m going to post this. Oh, I already did. All right, I’m prepared. I just posted it. Washingtonparent.com. So this is specifically to DC, but there are some virtual camps out there. So you can do a Google search. If you’re in DC, you can click that link, do a Google search for virtual camps and maybe look into those.

And my, I imagine that, camps, like they, they need to feed themselves, right? And it’s jobs for them too. And under these circumstances, you know, they might be willing to work with you if price is a thing. I don’t know. Like, and there also might be boys and girls club and YMCAs that you can look into contact your child’s school.

But, if you communicate about what your needs are and your family’s needs, you get someone on the phone and you call them and you tell them what’s going on. I would hope that they would be willing to work with you, but there are a lot of resources out there for that to kind of see in kind of virtual camps that are going on.

Quick tips right there.

Megan: [00:43:09] Yeah, those were perfect. And that’s an awesome thing to think about with camps not being open, or in the past, if you weren’t able to sign up for camps or, get involved, having them online and virtual is another way that you access that and connect with other kids, as we get into the summer months.

So those are super helpful dr. Shaffer, thank you so much for sharing.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:43:31] Absolutely.

Megan: [00:43:33] So again, next week we hope to see you and every week after that, on our Thursdays at 3:00 PM. Where again, we’ll be talking about top of mind things as you send in your questions, which is a new part that we’re putting in because we’re seeing some parents just having similar themes in their responses to us, and we want to make sure that we can address them weekly, what’s on the top of their mind.

And we will see Carla back actually on Thursday, June 4th. But in the meantime, yeah, we’re, we’re thrilled. So come with your trait tree that day. And then next week we’ll be talking with Ann Caspari from the National Air and Space Museum around Flights of Fancy, a book series for kids that they can also tune in live on Tuesdays at 11:00 AM Eastern. That’s in the newsletter as well. And then the following Thursday, June 11th we are going to get creative during COVID, with an educator from the Hirshhorn museum as well.

So we’re thrilled and we hope to see you back here.

Before you do leave, we’d love for you to take our survey and we want to hear more. We are taking all your responses to heart, so if you want to see something, if you want to hear something, don’t be shy in sharing it with us. But again, thank you all for being here, for taking the time today.

Thank you, Carla. Thank you. Mariela. Thank you. Thank you, Seth. Thank you. Everyone who has used this afternoon with us. Have a great rest of your week and a long Memorial Day weekend.

Dr. Shaffer: [00:45:05] Stay safe.

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