Communication the Focus of Conference for Parents of Children with Disabilities
The ability to communicate clearly and effectively with one another is essential to an individual’s happiness and success. Yet, it’s a basic human need that children with disabilities often struggle with. These difficulties can impact their ability to socialize, make friends, interact with family members, demonstrate skills, and get their needs met, experts say.
For this reason, the Kern County Consortium SELPA’s bi-annual conference will focus on a variety of communication topics. The event is scheduled for March 15 at Hodel’s in Bakersfield. Registration is just $10 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch.
“The conference is called Specially Yours and is designed to provide parents of children with disabilities an opportunity to hear current, cutting-edge information about important topics which impact their children and families,” said Kern County SELPA coordinator Roberta Brown.
Board-certified behavior analysts Karlyn Farber and Saul Gonzaga are this year’s keynote speakers. Parents will have ample time to ask questions, network with other parents who have similar experiences, and interact with a variety of community agencies that can provide needed supports and services.
“Communication challenges are very common for children with disabilities and are not limited to only one or two disability categories,” Brown said. “And it’s not always a problem with the inability to speak.”
Issues can manifest in many other ways. For instance, the inability to recall words, a problem understanding or hearing what others are saying, problems remembering what is said, difficulty understanding non-verbal cues, and problems controlling verbal outbursts.
Brown says it is also important to remember that what can look like inattention, boredom, willfulness, defiance, noncompliance, and a host of other inappropriate behaviors, may be the result of a communication problem instead. These can cause the child to be confused, frustrated, or even frightened.
Renee Gonzalez is a parent of a child with special needs and has seen this first hand.
“Since preschool [my daughter’s] communication has been limited to where she will only answer with one word or one sentence,” Gonzalez said. “She was assessed and put in a special day class to assist with her academically and with her communication skills.”
Outside of the classroom, the Gonzalez family has applied other strategies to help improve communication barriers. Outings to social events, grocery stores, restaurants, and family gatherings are frequent. They provide her daughter with time to communicate with others and opportunities to practice asking for things she would like, Gonzalez says.
Gonzalez is a past attendee of Specially Yours conferences and found it so helpful she now helps organize it.
“It’s a great opportunity to network with other parents who may also be having similar issues and talk about strategies that have helped them,” she said.
HOW TO GO
March 15, 2024
8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Hodel’s County Dining
$10 per person
By Robert Meszaros
Rob Meszaros is Director of Communications for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, where he has served since 2012. In his role, Meszaros oversees media relations, internal and external communication strategies, publications, Marcom, branding, and multi-media content creation. Before joining KCSOS, Meszaros was the PIO for CSU Bakersfield and earlier worked for seven years at The Bakersfield Californian.