Spotlight: Parents in Toto on learning with Autism & supporting those in need
Quality of life is increased when we have a sense of community around us and understanding from our loved ones. A good life at home can bring many positive outcomes for people afflicted with disorders.
Autism is no easy matter for any family to deal with. It’s estimated that 1 in 59 children born in the United States, about 1/6, are identified as being on the autism spectrum. Mary Limbacher is the executive director of Parents in Toto: autism resource center in Zelienople, PA. A small but strong staple in the community providing free resources, support, social engagement, and skill learning for individuals and families living with the disorder.
“I think when we [become] part of a support group, we find that we are more alike than we are different, really,” Mary explains. “Everything seems to go away when our families are together. And I think here especially, to bring about the sense of family, the understanding. We accept. There is hope. We have a lot of support, a lot of successes that have come through the center.”
Quality of life is increased when we have a sense of community around us and understanding from our loved ones and the people we care about. A good life at home can bring many positive outcomes for people afflicted with disorders.
The word “Toto”, in Parents in Toto, is latin for “total” or “altogether”. The name represents parents being brought together for a common cause.
“Not only do the families learn how to mentor each other and share where they get care and learn new services and where there’s opportunities and therapies. But we also have children who have, for the first time, had friendships where they get together outside the center. Or they’ve had their first birthday party where they invited friends.”
On June 26th, as part of Remake Learning‘s rural outreach efforts, Allie Mullins coordinated a lunch & Learn at the space. 2 teachers from the Seneca Valley school district came to speak to educators about their methods for helping students develop vital social and emotional skills as well as techniques they use every week in their classroom to help students feel more at ease and calm.
“A large part of this stemmed from our curriculum that we utilize in the Seneca Valley school district across all of our buildings and that is the zones of emotional regulation curriculum. And this teaches students how to self regulate their emotions using common language. So, a big thing that our initiative at SVSD, when we developed this, was tailoring everything to this curriculum within our sensory room and to eventually extend the reach beyond our emotional and autistic support students. This is something that, beginning this year, all of our general education teachers will be trained in so that we can broaden our reach to all students and all children and how they also need to learn to regulate their emotions. Because often, we throw around feeling words that we don’t teach students what they actually mean and how they affect our bodies.” explains Chelsea Miller, short-term enhance placement teacher at Seneca Valley School District.
Below is our recap from our Lunch & Learn session.
Remake Learning’s mission
Recently, Parents in Toto was the recipient of Remake’s Ignite grant: $1,000 grants awarded to over 100+ schools, museums, libraries, nonprofits, and more throughout the region. The project submitted is called “The Tangle & Drum for Life” program, it will last 4 weeks and plan to teach teenagers and young adults how to use drumming and the art of “Zentangle” to let go of life’s pressures and ease anxiety. Each week, participants will alternate between either learning to drum from a professional percussionist or drawing with certified instructors. In addition, meditation, breathing techniques, and journaling will be practiced throughout the program.
Remake Learning’s mission is to ignite engaging, relevant and equitable learning. Today, it’s for learners with autism. Are you an educator, school, or someone who wants to make change? Head on over to remakelearning.org/grants to find out opportunities available to you and your community.
Published August 08, 2019