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Workshops to help parents with special needs children
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While the holiday season is typically a time of joy it can also present its own set of stresses, especially for parents and caretakers who have children with special needs returning home for holiday breaks.

The Turlock Unified School District Special Education office is hosting its second annual “Coping during the Holidays” event to provide useful tools on how to best assist children at home during the school break. For students who are used to specialized attention and structure, such as emotionally disturbed or autistic children, the transition to home life can be frustrating. TUSD aims to make the change as smooth as possible for these children and parents by hosting an informational workshop next week.

“It’s common for kids to have issues over breaks because their typical schedules are interrupted. It’s very important to keep expectations consistent for the children, even if that’s just keeping the same bed time,” said Matt Devins, program specialist at the TUSD Special Education office.

At the beginning of the school year Devins and his coworkers conceived of the idea to host the event which was spearheaded by the Director of Special Education Jeff Santos. The department pooled their experience and expertise to bring in mental health clinicians and school psychologists so that parents could have direct access to knowledgeable sources. Presentation highlights include how to travel with a special needs child, coping with loss during the holidays, developing tools for a special needs child to transition back to school, and working creatively to make each personal situation work to its full advantage.

“Last year was a good turnout, but we would love to see more,” said Devins, who hopes to bring in 100 parents a session.

The department is also looking into ways to launch the workshop electronically so that parents can access the information at anytime from their own homes.

The “Coping during the Holidays” workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Dec. 5 in District Office Room 102 and from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at District Office Rooms WW5 and WW7. The event is free, refreshments will be provided and child care is available for the evening session. Those interested can RSVP to the Special Education Office by calling 667-8519 and indicating which session they would like to attend. Translators are available upon request.