The indoor play area for kids with special needs – exciting updates!

I’m way beyond ecstatic to share with all of you the latest updates on our project: the mini-therapy area or the indoor play area for kids with special needs who are enrolled in the Special Education program ( RECS-SPED ) at the Romblon East Central School  in Romblon, Philippines.

This mini-therapy area is dedicated only to these kids. It is at the back of their resource room and only these kids will have access to it, plus their teachers and maybe the parents or caregivers.

We started from a dream and a vacant lot!

Construction started in December 2017, almost 13 months ago.

This was how the vacant lot looked before- just an idle space waiting for something to blossom.

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The vacant lot started our dream to build the indoor play area for our special kids

Please read here for more information on how we started the project.

Fundraising Activities

We only had big goals then, but no finances.

So, we brainstormed ideas on how we could raise funds.

Two major fundraising were done locally in Romblon, Philippines to help out with the expenses plus a much bigger and still ongoing fundraising at Go fund me, which we started during my birthday 2 years ago in October 2017.

Click the image below to view the page.

Go fund me page for indoor play area

The very first local fundraising was done last year on January 2018 with the Bingo Social,” where teachers, parents and the community enjoyed playing the bingo and hoped that their cards will fill with stones with the called numbers and follow the pattern that was announced each time.

Bingo social to raise funds for the indoor play area

Fundraising for indoor play area for special kids

Bingo board used for fundraising for indoor play area for special kids

There was tremendous financial support from the townspeople including the teachers, parents, and the whole community, as well with cash donations in response to the solicitation letters that we distributed.

Our most recent fundraising was last month- the Christmas show where the special kids showcased their talents in dancing, singing, modeling and acting. We had also silent auction and door prizes for this event. Solicitation letters were sent out as well to the community, and again, with overwhelming response.

Click here to read the full post about the Christmas show.

Starting the project

Building started in December 2017 after we got substantial amount from the Go fund Me page.

Starting to build indoor play area

Starting the construction of the indoor play area

Starting the construction of the indoor play area for the special kids

Workers prepared the vacant lot and eventually got busy constructing the flooring of the indoor play area.

We really got excited and very hopeful that finally we are living our dreams and somehow we will have something to offer our children with special needs to enhance their social and motor skills.

Indeed, if we strive to do something and don’t hesitate to ask for help, nothing is impossible!

And the workers did really good in their tasks and worked fast.

All the while, the SPED teachers were there to supervise and observe the ongoing project while continuing their jobs to teach the students with their academic needs.

After a few weeks, look at what they have accomplished!

Stairs of the indoor play area for special kidsThe future sensory path for the indoor play area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point of the project, we got more excited and hopeful that it will be done soon.

The flooring was done, so what’s next?

The website-panggataikaw.com

Unfortunately for several months, the project stopped for lots of reasons- from the teachers being busy with school activities and seminars or conferences, to summer vacation, to not being able to find suitable and dependable workers, to name a few.

But our excitement was still there.

During this quiet time with the project, I started to build this website, panggataikaw.com, to raise more awareness that special kids are part of our community and need our love and support.

I also wanted to reach out globally for more donors.

If you are one of those with generous hearts, please donate through our Go fund Me page here.

Continuing the project

As of last month, the work was again actively ongoing.

Posts were put in place in preparation for the roofing.

Funds that we collected in the ” Bingo Social ” and the extra from the “Go fund Me ” page were all put into use.

Foundation for the roof of the indoor play area

Building the post for roofing foundation for indoor play areabuilding the roofing for indoor play area

The roofing for the indoor play area for the special kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the workers were busy at the back of the resource room, the SPED teachers were all hands preparing for the ” Christmas show,” the latest fundraising done last month on December 15, 2018.

The latest update

Can you imagine that in just a little more than two weeks, these roof foundation were put in place?

We are so happy that our efforts and your donations are all taking shape!

The mini-therapy area is almost done!

See our big smiles?

We are all excited to continue what we have started and we feel that soon, we will be seeing our special kids play and romp in this mini-playground slowly being built just for them.

Again, our big thanks to all the donors and supporters, from the local fundraising and to the Go fund Me page.

Our project looks almost done with all your help, but we still need more donations.

Please consider sharing your blessings through our Go fund Me page.

Future plans

Once we’re done with the roofing, we will start improving the walls and finish the sensory path so it will look like this one:

 

Then we will start buying play equipment like these.

Swing for the indoor play area

 

 

Trampoline for gross motor skills

Would you believe we can now vividly hear the laughter and the squeal of the kids?

We imagine our children with Down Syndrome develop their best motor skills!

And the children with physical deformities and those struggling with social and communication skills will get to bond with their classmates and eventually show improvement in their gross motor and social skills.

And they will always look forward to being in school everyday because during recess and after school, they can play and share giggles and bouts of laughter with their friends and classmates.

We still need your support

And of course, your support is still much appreciated.

I have always felt that generosity is all around us.

We are always ready to support worthwhile endeavors.

Our hearts are always open to share our blessings.

I’m sure we have all experienced pure joy when we give.

And blessings come back a hundred fold.

If we have stable jobs, complete family, good health, happy relationships, giving to people in need is so easy to do.

It’s our way of thanking GOD for all these graces-SHARING because our BLESSINGS are bountiful.

Our children with special needs at the Romblon East Central School in Romblon, Philippines say THANK YOU for pouring and sharing your blessings to them!

May your tribe increase!

 

Are you willing to help the special kids reach their fullest potential? Please share your blessings and support our ongoing project by clicking here.

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The Christmas show-our special kids in action!

We just did the Christmas show, starring the special kids at the Romblon East Central School.

The Christmas show staring the special kids

 

This was not a regular program; it was a fundraising event to raise money so we can complete the mini-therapy area that we started a year ago.

And it was a big success!

Click here to read how we started the project for our children with special needs.

I know, you will ask, how is it possible to put up a show and train children with special needs to perform on stage? It was really a challenge for the teachers, but they did it!

And to think that they only practiced for 2 weeks!

There were challenges along the way, like asking permission from the school head to do the show, to looking for a venue, to conceptualizing the format of the show, etc.

Plans were put in place only 2 weeks before the event, which coincided with the last day of classes before the Christmas break and the day of the Christmas party.

We were tempted to put it on hold for later, but then finally decided to push through because our project still needed lots of funds to be completed.

This also coincided with my visit to my parents in our hometown, so this is really the best time to push this, because it’s always good to work with the teachers personally.

We actually had another fruitful fundraising only in January of this year, and I was also visiting then. It is mentioned close to the end of the above post if you click the link.

These activities made my vacation busier, but more productive and fulfilling. I am so thankful that I have family and friends who are so supportive of this project and helped me to make our plans easier to accomplish.

Of course, with the big push of the 3 very responsible SPED teachers, how could this event be not a big success?

Talents in singing and dancing

Children who had talents in singing were tapped to do solo and duets ( one of them with a parent ) and surely, they were a hit!

By the way, kids who started with the Special Education program, but moved up to the regular classrooms, were also invited to perform.

It is amazing to watch these kids show off their talents and see their confidence in doing their thing. All because they were started early on with special education and were guided and supported to be the best that they are now.

Fashion Modelling

Another amazing number in the program was letting the children with special needs show off their party attire by walking the ramp or modelling.

Most were happy to oblige and confident to walk, but some needed their teacher’s “push ” to walk on the stage. It was so heartwarming to see them do this.

You couldn’t imagine that these kids have developmental disability or physical deformities to start with.

Look how they did their thing!

A special child modelling her party attire

Our special kid with Down Syndrome showcasing her modelling talent

The Nativity

The highlight of the show was the pantomime of the birth of Jesus.

You could feel the pride of the kids doing their part in the drama. There was Joseph and Mary knocking on the doors looking for the place to give birth to our Saviour.

Later on, with the baby Jesus in their midst, the three kings paid homage, as well as the shepherds with their sheep.

 

The birth of baby Jesus

As the play progressed, you would notice the teachers popping in and out of the stage to guide the kids, some of whom seemed not to know where to place themselves or what to do while in the stage.

As an audience who is familiar with the Christmas story, and guided by the kids’ costumes, you will just realize what their parts are and what they need to do.

Such patience and efforts from the teachers!

Those are our Special Education teachers, dedicated to their pupils with special needs.

Did you see the 2 teachers going in and out of the stage to place the kids where they should be?

Chorus

The final part of the show, was the chorus of all the participants and the teachers, who sang the Christmas song popularized by the artists in the local television channel.

Again, you could feel the Christmas spirit in the air and the excitement that the holiday brings.

For the parents, I saw in their faces that they were so elated of the accomplishments of their children.

And of course teachers Bing, Law, and Nots, I know deep inside they were so thankful that the program was a big hit and their efforts were not wasted.

Kudos to all three of you, I’m so proud of what you have accomplished!

Next time, we have to put up the show in a bigger venue.

A big thanks to our teachers and parents for putting up this beautiful Christmas show !

Silent Auction and Door Prizes

To give more excitement to audience participation, Pangga ta Ikaw donors and friends prepared gift items as prizes for this.

Tickets were sold at the entrance and the venue.

This was really a big hit. People anticipated that their ticket numbers will be called for each gift item. Silent Auction was done to add excitement to the program Silent auction items

Prizes for silent auction

 

It didn’t matter if the gifts were big or small, everyone were excited that their numbers will be picked.

These prizes were donated by members and supporters of Pangga ta Ikaw. These gift items were regular daily needs of everyone.

Congratulations to all the winners! Here are some of them with their big smiles.

Silent Auction winner Silent Auction winner

 

 

Some did not only win once but twice or even three times. It was their lucky day indeed!

Generous donors

Days before the Christmas presentation, the SPED teachers and the regular teachers with the help of the parents of the special kids distributed solicitation letters to potential donors with the aim of collecting funds to complete the mini-therapy area.

Included was this awesome invitation to the Christmas show.

The Christmas show starring the special kids

 

There was overwhelming support in response to the letters. The school community and the whole townsfolk felt our need and responded favorably to our appeal.

BIG THANKS to all the donors and supporters!

For sure and we hope that with your big help, our project, the mini-therapy area will be finished soon!

The project

Here’s a glimpse of how our mini-therapy area looks now.

The mini-therapy area is almost done!
With the full support of SPED teachers Bing, Law, and Nots, the mini-therapy area is almost done!

We think it’s almost done, but it still needs a great amount of money.

Nevertheless, I believe, we’re almost there and again, my heart bursts with joy with all your help.

Watch out for the next article about the progress of this project.

Donations

We still accept donations to finish the project and for purchase of future equipment. Please give your donations in cash or in kind to any one of our three teachers or you can visit our Go fund Me page.

Go fund me page for donations

 

Please click here to donate.

Big Thank You

Again, much appreciation to everyone who have given their financial support and to the future donors.

The Christmas show held on December 15, 2018, at the Romblon East Central School – SPED Romblon, Romblon Philippines was indeed a great success, of course with lots of support from the teachers and the principal, Mr. Joseph Menorca and the donors from the community.

GOD will always give back a lot more for your generosity.

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How to help autistic children – become an autism tutor!

How to help autistic childrenThis post contains affiliate links. Please read the full affiliate disclosure here.

I wanted to be an autism tutor.

When I was a new immigrant a decade ago, I thought it was awesome to be teaching kids with autism.

I believed I could do it because I had clinical experience with kids.

I knew it did not pay much, but being with kids again would let me use my medical skills on how to help autistic children.

I tried to apply once, somebody called and asked me if I was willing to relocate. Little did I know that the job as an autism tutor that I applied with is a few miles away from where we lived and would make it impossible for me to commute daily.

Of course, I couldn’t move to another place, having arrived only a few weeks back.

I just accepted that it’s not meant for me.

So, I worked at a call centre just to earn something while I prepared to do exams to hopefully get a license to practice my profession in a foreign land.

Until one day, I was out of job again. Thinking of applying as an autism tutor for the second time, I did a first aid course hoping that I could be hired easily if I had this requirement.

Still, no luck!

With perseverance in looking for a healthcare-related job, I landed employment in Clinical Research.

This is where I met Rachel. We now work in the same department.

I know she recently graduated from a Psychology course and I learned that she used to work as an autism tutor.

One day, I introduced her to my website and while reading one of the posts, she exclaimed, ” This is also what I did! “

I got excited and encouraged her to share her experiences tutoring children with autism and she gladly accepted my request.

Here goes Rachel’s story.

 

Be an autism tutor and help children with autism spectrum disorder be the best that they can be.

How many years did you work as an autism tutor?

I worked as an Autism tutor for a year and a bit, approximately from May 2017 to August 2018. This is when I switched to my new job as a Research Coordinator.”

What motivated or inspired you to become an autism tutor?

While I was completing my undergraduate degree in honors psychology, I had an opportunity to volunteer with a school division, tutoring a young man who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and Tourette syndrome.

Through this experience I found a passion for working with individuals with disability. Following this, I started doing respite for an adult with autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy, and decided I wanted to focus my undergraduate research in this area.

I met with a professor whose PhD is in the area of Applied Behavioral Analysis and we settled on thesis research looking at the results of a short-run early intervention program on skill acquisition in children diagnosed with autism.

The organization that I completed my research out of ended up being where I got my job as an autism tutor after I finished my degree. “

Can you describe your job? How old were the kids with autism whom you cared for?

” My job involved one-on-one program delivery for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

I worked with both families and children teaching a variety of individualized skill sets and goals in all facets of the child’s life. It heavily involved creatively finding new and interesting ways to deliver the needed programming within a variety of settings (e.g., daycare, pre-school and homes).

This also involved organizing and recording both data and notes on the progress of the child.

I had three clients during my time as an autism tutor; the age range was 3-5 years old.

I worked under both a senior tutor and an autism consultant; every child had a team of one or two tutors, one senior tutor and one consultant.

The consultant was responsible for providing and creating the programs for the children and the senior tutor was responsible for professional development of the tutor and assisting in program delivery where needed.”

Can you explain more on what you did as an autism tutor? What was your typical day like?

” Typically, I would have two clients over a year. I would spend one full day with one client, then the next day with the other client.

I shared my clients with another tutor so we would alternate days.

I would arrive at the client’s home early in the morning and look over the previous tutor’s notes from the day before. From there I would set up all my stimuli for the programs and skills I would be working on that day. An example of this would be setting up sorting stimuli for a program that requires the child to sort different colors of objects into piles.

The programs were all based on Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) principles and theory which focuses on positive reinforcement strategies. ABA focuses on the principles of learning in order to alter behaviours and improve skills.

Throughout the day I would run the programs provided by the autism consultant in between breaks of play and fun!

It was very important to keep things fun for the child and make the programs not feel like work, but like play as much as possible.

The child was able to work for play activities (e.g., playing in the backyard on the bike) or edibles (e.g., skittles).

We would take a lunch break as you would if you were in school and then at the end of the day I would write notes in our communication book for the tutor who was coming in the next day.

Sometimes my days involved attending preschool or daycare with the child and helping them work on their social skills. While I was in the home, the parents were there so we were able to collaboratively work as a team with the parents, senior tutor and autism consultant. “

 Did you have any struggles or challenges in your job?

” Overall, my experience as an autism tutor was extremely rewarding.

However, working one-on-one with a child who struggled behaviourally could be very exhausting and I experienced some days where I felt extremely burnt out.

A significant challenge would be the independent and isolated aspect of the job. If the child had a particularly hard day, it was only me who was in the home and I had to be the one to figure out how to handle it and make the day more positive for the child.

Mostly, I enjoyed every day I spent with my clients and they had a very positive influence in my life and taught me so much.”

How did you handle a very difficult child?

” Every child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is so different.

Difficult or challenging behaviours manifest in a variety of ways. For the most part, if a child had any difficult behaviours the consultant would have a behaviour plan in place which had consistent steps on how to handle this behaviour.

Having a team consisting of the parents, senior tutor and consultant made for a very supportive environment and we would figure out how to handle challenging behaviour together in the most positive way for the child. ” 

 

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How did you involve the parents in teaching their kids? 

” I believe I discussed this question a little bit above. However, yes the parents were heavily involved in teaching the kids. In fact, they had their own programs that were sometimes similar, or different, to the programs the tutors were running.

Parents worked privately with the senior tutor and consultant in order to learn how to deliver programs and were expected to work on these in their spare time with the child.

As well, the parents were able to speak with me before sessions, as well as after, with any concerns or questions they had about the progress of their child.

It was a very collaborative environment. In this type of early intervention it is so important that parents and tutors are all on the same page and keeping consistent expectations for the child.

If everyone is consistent with programs and expectations, the child will learn so much more! ” 

 

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How did you feel at the end of a workday? 

” I usually felt pretty tired at the end of the day, but at the same time I left work feeling fulfilled and happy.

My clients made me laugh and smile every day!

Some days were harder than others but these just meant I had to
change what I was doing as a tutor in order to help the child have a
more positive day next time! “

What made you happy or fulfilled on a certain day ?

” So much! 

The most fulfilling thing was when you were working with a child on a certain skill for a long time and then it finally clicks and they learn that skill!

An example would be one of my clients struggled with verbal skills, in particular greeting others when getting to school. We worked on saying “Hello” and making eye contact for months and then one day when I walked in to the house they looked up at me and said “Hello, Rachel!”.

This was so rewarding because they had struggled with this skill for so long, and the child was so excited when they finally mastered it. “

What is your best advice on those who plan to pursue a career as an autism tutor?

” My advice would be to make sure you are okay with independent work.

One-on-one program delivery with a child, who is not always verbally able to communicate with you can be very isolating.

But if you are passionate about a career in helping people then it is an amazing and rewarding job. “

 

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How did you de-stress after a difficult day?

” After a particularly stressful day, I would try my best to go home and not think about it.

What helped would be taking time for self-care, whether that is having a bath, going to a yoga class, or spending time with friends and family.

When you are doing a job that involves being very attentive to others’ needs it is important that you are able to disconnect and take time to focus on your own needs as well!

Balance is everything. “


How have you made a difference in the life of an autistic child?

Within this job, there were many moments where I took time to reflect on the positive impact I was having on my client’s lives.

Typically, a child goes through a year of the program and then begins Kindergarten.

Probably the most rewarding moment is before kindergarten when as a team, we reflect on the child’s gained skills and how much they have learnt.

Doing this helps you realize all the things you taught the child and how much of an influence you had on preparing them to have success in Kindergarten and their later school years! “

 

What is the best lesson that you learned from a child with autism?

” This is a hard question because I have learnt so many!

My clients taught me just as much as I taught them.

The things I felt or thought before I started working as an autism tutor were only strengthened from this job.

If anything, I learnt the importance of appreciating every person’s individual differences and how everyone is special in their own way.

We have to accept people for who they are and celebrate these differences!

Like I mentioned above, every child with autism is so different, and this is what makes them special.

We have to focus on the balance between helping people live their lives to the fullest, and also not forcing them to conform to society’s expectations, we have to remember to celebrate what makes them special and unique! “

 

Becoming an autism tutor is very rewarding

 

Rachel, from your stories, I know that doing this job made you a better person now. More open to everyone’s differences and more patient with people’s shortcomings and inadequacies.

I may have been unlucky to do this job and not experience the feeling of fulfillment after a day’s physically tiring job, but the encounters that you shared, made me realize that being an autism tutor is one of those professions where money may not be great, but the rewards to yourself is so great having contributed to a special child’s well-being and preparing him to become the best version of himself.

Given the chance, I would still want to experience working as an autism tutor.

 

Have you recently engaged with an autism tutor? Or do you know anyone working as one? Try to give them a big hug for the awesome job that they are doing.

 

If you are a parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder and he is taken cared of by an autism tutor, please share with us how your child is being helped and how he is developing and trying to evolve to be the best that he can be.

 

 

 

 

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