Special Programs & Services News

December 2020

Message from the Team:

Hello LISD families!

I think we can agree that this year has brought us many challenges! During these difficult times, our students and teachers continue to impress me every day with their resiliency. It has been a joy to see students excited to engage with peers, demonstrating amazing work and enjoying learning. Thank you for supporting our staff and for sharing your students with us.

Special Programs & Services is excited to see what 2021 will bring!

Wishing you a safe holiday season!

Kimberly Waltmon

Ex. Director of Special Programs & Services

Dec. Parent Education Nights

Special Programs & Services have upcoming Parent Education Nights for the month of December! Come learn with us! Please check your Remind accounts for invitations and RSVPs.

Dec. 3rd: Autism Parent Support Group 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 8th: Parent Education Night - Inclusive Practices 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16th: Autism Parent Education Q&A Night 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 17th: Assistive Technology Chat 6: 30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Inclusive Schools Week (Dec.7th - 11th)

Inclusive schools week is celebrated across the nation to acknowledge diversity in the school system. It also allows for introspection on how we can continue creating practices that allow inclusion for all. In Special Programs, our mission is to collaborate to provide a continuum of services for the whole child using specialized instruction to achieve meaningful progress and independence. We strive to create plans and goals that serve our students in the least restrictive environment so that they can exercise their right to be a part of the greater LISD community. LISD is working as a whole to ensure that we include our students in special programs in all activities that are meaningful to them. Click here to access resources from the Inclusive Schools Network.

Staying Active at Home

Here are a few fun activities to keep the family active during winter break:

  • Go Ice Skating on Paper Plates (works on carpet or hard floors).

  • Reindeer Run: Walk 5 minutes. Jog 1 minute. Walk 5 minutes. Jog 1 Minute. Wear some Jingle Bells to make it fun!

  • Do 1 Jumping Jack for each day in December.

  • Find a flight of stairs, then walk up and down the stairs 8 times.

  • Have a snowball fight with newspaper snowballs or socks. Here’s an interactive snowball fight game.

  • Bundle up and play outside with friends or take a walk around the block or park.

  • Rake leaves for 30 minutes. Then, jump in the leaf pile!

  • Do 10 muscle stretches. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds.

  • Turn on some holiday music and dance for 10 minutes.

  • Make cut-out snowflakes and hang them around your house. Set a timer and see how long it takes you to touch every snowflake. You can turn it into a contest with your family!

Speech Therapy Tips for Early Communicators

Top 10 Language Strategies

*While there are MANY ways to help kids with language skills, these are the easiest and most effective strategies to help kids in a variety of settings throughout the day.

1. Before starting a task…Be on your child’s level: Be in front, face-to-face, establish eye contact, use physical touch to gain attention, or verbal cues such as “ready.”

2. Offer Choices: “Do you want a book or car?” You can also offer a choice between a correct and incorrect answer to lessen language demand.

3. Use simple directions: Break multi-step directions into individual directions.

4. Narrative: Talk about what your child is doing, about what the caregiver is doing, or activities that your child is interested in. Keep it about what is going on in the environment as it is occurring.

5. Observe non-verbal communication cues: facial expressions, head nods, eye gaze, body language, gestures, signs, pointing and reaching

6. Wait for Responses: Give your child 5-10 seconds to reply before asking the question again or prompting.

7. Limit extra questions: When you ask too many difficult questions, children shut down as the demand increases. Instead, use commenting (i.e., “I see your fast trains”) and give choices (i.e., "Do you want milk or juice?”).

8. Wait expectantly: Start a sentence, then pause, giving your child a chance to finish a familiar sentence or song (i.e. "Old MacDonald had a _____," "Twinkle twinkle little ____").

9. Taking Turns: Turn-taking in play is a precursor to turn-taking in conversation. Practice this by rolling a ball back and forth or taking turns with a preferred toy.

10. Slow but Natural: Try slowing down your rate of speech.

Student Highlights!

One of our Cedar Park High School Timberwolf football players has recently made headlines! Colby Norwat, a Junior on the Cedar Park football team has some big shoes to fill, in more ways than one! This star athlete sets an example on and off the field and represents athletes everywhere who have visual impairments. You can check out Colby's news story here:


Another Timberwolf sophomore, Kylie Schafers, has learned to make friends outside of her home in this unique virtual-learning time. Kylie participates in a telegroup for teens who are blind and visually impaired and she reports that this group has meant a great deal to her during the pandemic. "It has made me speak up more in school, and I advocate for myself on my Zoom calls." Kylie participates in the group once a week, with high school students from all over the United States. She would love to have more group chats with students with visual impairments and hopes to begin her own Texas Chapter of this Lighthouse Guild group.


Keep Your Distance

With the recent surge in COVID cases in central Texas, we're especially mindful of how the pandemic continues to affect our community and potentially our schools. Our goal is keeping our campuses open so that our students can learn and our families can thrive. We can't do it alone. Please do your part to celebrate safely during the holidays so that we can continue to support and safeguard our students and teachers. To minimize the spread of COVID-19 and ensure everyone has a safe and healthy holiday season, Austin Public Health is offering risk guidance for gatherings. Enjoy a safe holiday season!