Inside this Issue:
- Welcome Note
- MCSN Programs
- Vocational & Transitional Services
- Article of the month (Developing Social Skills)
- The Month in History
- Summer Camp
- Upcoming Events
1. Welcome Note:
Welcome to WONDER – your monthly updates on all things special needs, education, community development, and ideas to support you and your family coming straight from Mind Center for Special Needs (MCSN). MCSN is dedicated to providing transformative care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families and promoting social inclusion. Its mission is to enable children and young adults with disabilities to achieve their maximum functioning potential with the ultimate goal of being successfully integrated into society. It is your BRIDGE to access evidence-based special education and psychology services as we guide you to navigate academics, daily life skills, and transition to adulthood through customized assessments and programs. The center provides an all-encompassing range of educational and therapy services as well as respite and family support. Here is a look at the different multi-disciplinary programs we offer at MCSN
2. MCSN Programs:
1. Early Intervention Program – EIP (0-6 years)
- 5-hour program daily
These early years are the most critical period of a child’s growth and development. Receiving support as early as possible can create opportunities to maximize a child’s potential and empower them to achieve their milestones. Therefore, experts at Mind Center use this as an opportunity to work with children targeting key areas of development by providing a holistic multi-disciplinary action plan. The program focuses on 5 domains; Communication, Socialization, Cognitive, Daily Living Skills, and Pre-Academic Skills.
2. Daily Living Support Program – DLS (ages 6 – 13)
- 5-hour program daily
The Daily Living Support program is an extension of the 5 learning domains introduced in the EIP. Students will receive intensive training on social, communication, cognitive, academics, and daily living skills with opportunities to work in groups and on a one-on-one basis. In addition to the domains, DLS will also focus on learning technology, music/movement therapy, and life skills activities based on student’s interests.
3. DLS and Transitional Program (ages 14 – 17)
- 5-hour program daily
The Daily Living Support and Transitional Program work with students to help them achieve their academic and life skill goals while also preparing them for their transition into the ‘real world. In order to have a significant presence in a competitive world like ours, students need to have the skills required to be responsible and independent adults. The program will focus on equipping students with such knowledge and aid their transition from the classroom to a more independent and functional world.
4. Bridge Programs (ages 17 and above)
College bridge gives our students access to resources, opportunities, and mentorship to help him/her start and finish their education journey. This bridge;
- Focuses on interpersonal challenges and soft skills such as studying, time management, and social demands.
- Finds a college that is a good fit for the student and his/her family
- Guides the student in selecting a major or area of study that speaks to his/her specific needs and interests.
The objective of the Inclusion Bridge is to break down the existing barriers and support our student and adult clients in feeling valued. This bridge works to encourage and support people with disabilities to engage in public spaces such as dinners with friends or family, going to the cinema, or any public event.
See information on Vocational Programs and Transitional Services
3. Vocational Program & Transitional Services
At MCSN, we commit to ensuring that our clients have access to appropriate academics and life skills with a focus on preparing them to lead independent lives. Therefore, along with our education and therapy services, we proudly introduce Vocational & Transitional programs that are student-centric and are catered according to our student’s interests, keeping in mind their abilities and family’s expectations. Our programs provide a productive, meaningful, and safe training to students which can lead to a better and more independent future.
So Why is Vocational Training Important?
Vocational education provides invaluable opportunities for students to develop and apply skills in real-world settings. It provides opportunities for students to demonstrate skills and aptitude that teachers and parents might not previously be aware of.
Benefits for Students:
Students enrolled in our vocational program will benefit in ways that would increase their confidence and independence, improve their communication, language, and social skills and help them be productive citizens of their communities. We aim that students are met with a holistic nurturing and learning environment that would help them succeed in their life goals.
We aim to prepare students;
- to be out in society
- to explore their talent
- to contribute to a more inclusive society
- to increases their confidence
5 reasons to Consider Our Vocational & Transitional Programs;
- Greater Independence: Students gain greater independence during their time at our vocational program. By attending classes and completing assignments, they learn to take charge of their education.
- Increased Confidence: Students with disabilities often struggle with self-esteem issues. By completing our vocational program, they will gain a set of skills that allows them to get a job and have a regular income. They also gain a sense of pride in their accomplishment, which often gives them the confidence to explore further personal and professional goals
- Earning Stable Income: Students graduating from our program can acquire skills desirable to the job market and can be able to earn a stable income. This can help them lead an affordable independent life.
- Focus on Social Skills: Our vocational program offers ample opportunities for students to interact with one another both inside and outside the classroom. Students develop useful communication skills when they interact with their peers, teachers, and employers.
- Provide Structure: Our program follows a rigid class schedule that may benefit students with disabilities, many of whom function better with a predictable routine
4. Developing Social Skills
Social skills are an important part of functioning in society. Developing social skills guide a child to respond appropriately and form healthier interactions with the world around them while preparing a child to succeed in all aspects of his/her life. From our homes, schools, and to the workplace, it is how we bond with others and make positive contributions to people in our environment.
What comes to mind when you think of a child with good social skills? It probably maybe a child who loves to talk, one with lots of friends, and who enjoys playing with others. Although these things may seem to occur naturally in some kids, some, as in the case of children with special needs, might find it hard to express themselves and communicate with others even if they have the desire to do so. They may struggle to make eye contact, ask and answer questions, or respond appropriately in different situations. These struggles may result in the feeling of being overwhelmed at social situations and result in them wanting to keep to themselves instead. The skills of inclusive play, empathy, and forging new friendships is something children with special needs require a little extra help with. The good news is these skills can be achieved and learned easily in many fun ways.
Learning Social Skills:
So, why is learning social skills important? Humans are social creatures and need the skills required to function effectively in society. According to Vanessa Van Edwards, bestselling author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, good social skills are necessary to become part of most social groups, and belonging to a social group can reduce or eliminate feelings of isolation, and promote overall improved social, mental, and emotional well-being (Edwards, 2017). Also, people who learn social skills early in life tend to be more successful in all aspects of life. According to a study published by the American Public Health Associating that collected data spanning 20 years has found that kindergarten students who exhibited traits such as being more likely to share, cooperate, or be helpful with other kids were also more likely to be successful as young adults (Damon E. Jones, 2015). Therefore, teaching our children social skills early is important for them to have a chance at a meaningful and successful life ahead.
Let’s talk about 3 aspects of social skills that you can teach your child in order to encourage them to overcome their barriers in expressing themselves, and help them gain confidence in creating and maintain positive relationships
Emotions are usually the non-verbal kind of communication that takes place between people. Children with special needs often find it hard to understand the emotions of others as well as to express their own. Since emotions are an integral part of any social interaction, here are some activities to help your child to learn to better regulate them;
- Emotional Charades – It is a guessing game of emotions where children can guess which feeling is being portrayed by your facial expression. It will help them identify different feelings and also learn their corresponding expressions
- Story Time – While reading stories, have your child guess how the characters in the story are feeling.
- Labeling – Throughout the day, help your child learn to label their own emotions, e.g., “it looks like you are feeling mad that we can’t go outside; what can we do to help you feel better?”
2. Effective Communication:
Children model what adults do. Therefore, we need to incorporate good communication skills when talking to them, listening and showing interest being the most important. Some activities to build good listening and conversing skills in your child are;
- Staring Contest – Since most kids with special needs may find it difficult to maintain eye contact, having a staring contest ending in fun rewards can be a way to encourage them to look at people while communicating
- Story Time Q&A – While reading your child a book, stop in between frequently and ask them what they understood about the story or anything specific about the characters. This will help them pay attention to details and improve listening skills.
- Simon Says – Yes, good old Simon Says to the rescue! While playing Simon Says, children must listen carefully to a set of information and follow through.
3. Community Involvement:
One crucial aspect of social skills development is preparing our child to have a positive place in society where he/she can play a productive role as responsible members. With community involvement comes meeting people and building relationships, which may not come easy to someone with additional needs. Here are few activities that can help break the ice;
- 1-1 Peer mentoring or Playdates – It is easy for a child with special needs to interact with one person at a time. 1-1 mentoring and playdates will provide plenty of opportunities to learn different aspects of social skills likes turn-taking, reading emotions, conversing, listening, sharing, etc. by observing and copying behavior.
- Team Sports – Team sports are revered as one of the best ways to help kids foster a sense of community and friendship. Team sports teach cooperation, discipline, and acceptance (Rules, 2020), which are key to any community involvement. However, it is essential to ensure that the team sport you are looking for is not overly competitive and stressful. Its main goal should be to assimilate a sense of community among its members.
- Pet Ownership – Pets are a great way to help your child practice proper interaction, empathy, and responsibility. Having a pet is one of the safest ways to encourage your child’s social skills as the risk of being judged and rejected is lowered to non. It is a great way to build confidence and a sense of worth among children, especially those who have previous negative encounters with fellow peers.
Finally, social skills development should revolve around your child being happy and content with her/himself and fostering their self-esteem. Whichever activities you plan on doing with your child, make sure it is a means of strengthening your bond with them and enjoying themselves fully.
Damon E. Jones, M. G. (2015). Early Social-Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness. American Public Health Associations, 2283-2289.
Edwards, V. V. (2017). Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People. New York: Portfolio Penguin.
Rules, P. b. (2020, February). Developing Life Skills Through Sports. Retrieved from Healthdirect: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/developing-life-skills-through-sports
5. The Month in History
On June 14, 1951, the world’s first commercial electronic computer – Univac 1, was unveiled in Philadelphia.
On June 16, 1963, 26 years old Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space as her soviet spacecraft, Vostok 6, took off from the Tyuratam launch site in Kazakhstan.
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the most sweeping affirmation of rights for the disabled in American history at the time, into law.
6. Summer Program
Do you know what time of the year it is? Yes, that’s right. It’s time to enroll in our Summer Program! We can’t wait to welcome you to a fun-filled and proactive summer at MCSN & Mind Institute.
Our summer program has always been a hit with families as children and adults, both enjoy our exciting indoor and outdoor (shaded) activities along with one-on-one sessions with teachers and peers.
Children have some interesting themes lined up for this summer, including color wars, swimming activities, camp Olympics, and much more!
Adults can join us and be part of our ‘Creative Camp’ that includes various workshops like culinary arts, board games, reading club, creative writing, 1:1 counselling sessions, and physical activities.
Please note that reservations are required. Book your spot now!
Please visit our website for more information or call us to book.
7. Upcoming Events
Join us for our visual Therapy Talk Time – TTT session on Thursday, July 15.
Our team of behavioral therapist and Speech & Language therapist would be going live on Instagram at 3 pm Doha time to answer all your questions and have a general discussion. This is your chance to chat with us and get to know more about our centers and services.