Special Programs & Services News

May 2022

Message from the Team:

I want to kick off the last month of this school year with an enormous shout-out to our amazing teachers, instructional assistants, and related service staff! Their dedication, creativity and love for learning is evident and much appreciated as we have navigated these challenging times. As I visit classrooms, I continue to be impressed by the individualized instructional strategies utilized! Seeing happy and engaged students as they learn, is truly the best! Thank you for your support of our staff and for sharing your students with us each and every day!

Kimberly Waltmon

Executive Director of Special Programs and Services

In This Issue

The May Newsletter contains information about Parent Education Events, Better Hearing & Speech, Student Highlights, Parent Resources and Important Notes.

Mark Your Calendars!

Be sure to save the dates for our upcoming meetings! We will send out weekly reminders in our Special Programs Remind classes.

  • Friday, May 6th Coffee Chat

  • Wednesday, May 11th Parent Workshop Night

  • Wednesday, May 12 Transition to Adulthood

  • Wednesday, May 18th Autism Parent Training & Support Group

You are now able to see past and upcoming parent night presentations on LISD Special Programs Webpage under the Leander Parent Support Meetings Tab!

Parent Education Feedback

As we close out another school year, we want to give a shoutout to all of our families that attended our parent events throughout the year. You all have helped spark life-changing conversations with other families. Please take 5 minutes out of your time to let us know your thoughts on the events by completing this feedback survey by May 26th. All submissions will be anonymous.

Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Did you know that speech language pathologists (SLPs) work on more than just the /r/ sound? SLPs work on expressive and receptive language, voice, and fluency/stuttering! Here are some ideas for promoting speech and language skills at home:

Walk and Talk

When you take a walk outside and encourage your child to point out things they see and to talk about them. Ask open-ended questions (who, what, why, where, when, how) and add your own observations to encourage conversation. During the walk you could stop and say, "Listen, what do you hear?" Or if you hear a familiar sound, stop and say, "Do you hear that knocking sound? What do you think that could be? Maybe it's a woodpecker — let's look up and see if we can find the bird."

Put on a play/Act it out

Read stories such as The Three Bears or Three Billy Goats Gruff. Act out the stories using different-sized stuffed animals. This is a great opportunity to talk about the concepts of "small, medium, and large." Go on a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood to find other objects of different sizes (books, water bottles, etc.) and ask your child to classify the items by size. You might also ask your child if they know another word for small and large.

Listening games

Play "I Spy" with your students using words that describe an object's position. ("I spy something on the carpet, in front of the chair, next to the door.") Play games such as "Red-Light Green-Light," "Teacher, May I," and "Simon Says" that require talking, listening, following directions, and giving directions.

Classroom/Library/Art Room literacy

Position words are used every day at home and in school. Use the items on your shelves to give your child practice finding something above their nose, below their nose, on the bottom shelf, and between other items on a shelf. Opportunities to use superlatives, those little endings that help describe size, are all around. Have your students find a big book, a bigger book and the biggest book in the library. What's the smallest item on the shelf? The largest item?

Adventure Map

Ask your child to draw a map of an imaginary place they would like to explore. Have them tell you a little bit about the setting and who might live there. If you like, you can dress up (sometimes a hat or cardboard tube spyglass is all you need) and set out on your adventure. Encourage your child to tell you all about the journey and what they're experiencing. Your student will love it if you are "all in" for this imaginary journey!

Active reading

Model active reading when you read with your child. Talk about what's happening as you're reading. Stop and discuss any interesting or tricky vocabulary words. Help your child make pictures of the story in their mind. Ask your child, "What just happened here? How do you think that character feels? Have you ever felt like that? What do you think will happen next?" Not only will this develop your child’s comprehension, but critical thinking skills as well.

Snack and Share

This is a wonderful activity for a picnic (snack and share!) or for a rainy day when you're stuck inside. Ask probing questions such as “What is the funniest dream you’ve ever had?” Use vivid language and details about people, places, and things. Your child will probably have lots of questions, which keeps the storytelling alive.

Click here to learn about identifying the signs of a Communication Disorder.

Leander Independent Vocational Education (LIVE)

Last month we gathered to celebrate our community business partners, transportation staff, vocational students, job coaches and teachers supporting our students during the annual LIVE Celebration. We are very proud of their skills and goals for employment. Those in attendance had a chance to see and hear what our students are doing in the workforce. You can watch the playback here.

Student Highlights

We Rise By Lifting Others

Carver McDonald is a Cedar Park High School student who is shining a bright light on CPHS students and staff through his interviews. He hasn’t done it alone! Amy Wilson, Booster Club Chair for the CPHS PTSA, has been right by his side cheering him on. According to Carver’s mom, Amy has always thought outside of the box. When Amy joined the PTSA she wanted to figure out a way that her role would be valuable and provide impact for the community. Everyone at CPHS this year has definitely been impacted by Amy’s Motto “We Rise by Lifting Others”. The Principal even put it on the back of the staff shirts!

Amy believed that Carver possessed the skills to shine as a great interviewer and could help spotlight local clubs. When others couldn’t see the vision, she persisted. Conducting these interviews has helped boost Carver’s own confidence. Recently, Carver had the opportunity to pitch a program ad space to a company and successfully landed the spot! Everyone at CPHS can agree that Carver and Amy are a dynamic duo! You can catch Carver’s videos on his Instagram channel @cphs_watch_carver or during the Timberwolf Spotlight segment on the Wolfcast!

Parent Resources

Best Buddies Walk - May 7th

The Best Buddies Friendship Walk will be held May 7th from 10am - 3pm at Westlake High School. The Best Buddies Friendship Walk is the leading walk in the country supporting inclusion for individuals with intellectual & developmental disabilities. Learn more about Best Buddies at bestbuddies.org/texas.

DSACT Lunch & Learn - May 10th

The Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas (DSACT) is hosting a FREE lunch and learn webinar focusing on how to foster your childrens’/students’ social development. They will also talk about the barriers to meaningful social relationships and strategies to break those barriers. It will be held from 12:00-12:45 on May 10. The presentation will be recorded and sent out to those who have registered here.

#IPSEDay - May 15th

Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) Day was created to raise awareness about inclusive college options for students with intellectual disabilities. Currently only 6% of the US colleges and universities offer options for students with intellectual disabilities. To learn more about #IPSEDAY, visit their Think College Webpage.

You can also learn about local postsecondary options by checking out the Alternative Post-Secondary Chart created by our Transition Team.

Vela Courses

Vela offers courses for families of students with disabilities. These courses promote parent learning in understanding your child's IEP, caregiver wellness, and much more. To learn more about the courses and connect with other families please visit https://velafamilies.org/forfamilies/.

Summer Reading Boards

Did you know that reading could be fun? Our SRP team has recommended these choice reading boards for your families to utilize over the summer:

Important Notes

Summer Learning Opportunities

Please visit the Leander ISD website for more information on our summer learning opportunities.

Self-Determination Skill of the Month

The Self-Determination skill of the month is Self-Efficacy. Self- Efficacy is the belief that one can accomplish their goals. View the poster of the month to learn how you can help your child develop self-efficacy at home. You can also visit our Self-Determination page for more information.