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  • 21 May 2020 2:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Education Advocacy in the time of COVID-19 Return to School


    Miranda and I from the AV Board met online with Sharon and Allan and their inclusive Education Division team at the Department of Education (DET) yesterday about our community’s concerns about education during COVID-19 times and its impact on our Aspergers students. Miranda and I both have lived experience with our own Asperger students. 

    They outlined how they have been focused on getting schools ready to support students with additional needs throughout this COVID-19 period and how they recognise many of our cohort’s challenges with change, the system, as well as mental health. Their team are keen for feedback and keeping the discussion open about how to improve. 

    The team outlined some key pointers they thought would support our student community including: 

    • Ensure your school has your Student Support Group (SSG) ready for the student to help with their transition back into the next stage of iso-schooling: more details about your SSG how-tos arehere. A key part of this as a parent is being co-operative and yet determined so the school will listen and you can gain traction for your student’s needs. Being aware of what helps your VCE child will be critical. 
    • Hold SSG meetings soon and then weekly: the school should do this as part of transition, though they may be time-poor try so try and schedule these in. 
    • Critical here is building your students feeling of capability and strengths as well as an understanding that many students have got behind, they are not the only one and that it is ok. Many of our students have a greater fear of failure which is amplified especially in VCE
    • Reasonable adjustments will be critical for our students in this period of transition. Refer to the  Autistic Inclusive educationsection of the DET website with information about reasonable adjustments – it also has suggestions for parents with at home learning. 
    • How schools go about the level of ongoing online learning vs at school learning will be an individual school decision depending on their resources. Maybe this can be a transitional phased approach for your student. You need to ask your school for what you think will best suit your student and see what they are able to deliver for them. Again use your SSG to support your child back into the learning approach that suits them. For some this may be graduated. 

      Sharon and her team confirmed they realise that for some of our students there will be a struggle to re-engage with at school learning. We talked about how this COVID-19 period has caused such change and stress about their future learning, especially for Aspergers/ASD students. It will be important to track your student’s mental health through this and be ready to ask for additional support from the school as needed, as well as your students ancillary health team such as psychologists and therapists. 

      We discussed our community's concern that some students may want to drop out or refuse to attend now, and Sharon & Allan's team are open to ways to help support our students to remain in school – and find ways that work to keep them engaged in some way. Sharon emphasised they welcome feedback, tips and dialogue about our students. Please contact them if you are facing school refusal and your school can't help. 

      Sharon outlined that for some students they saw the period from 26thMay when the first students return until 9thJune is a time that can be used as a period of transition in some way for the students if needed. You need to discuss options around this with your school. 

      We specifically covered the issue of VCE for our Aspergersat length which is already a time of stress and anxiety without such enormous change to their schooling. The team had included Karen Underwood, previously a VCAA team member, who is now with the DET who advised a few things:

    • The SSGs are even more critical for our VCE students: and weekly would not be unreasonable for transition time
    • VCAA are likely aware many of the broader students cohort have dropped behind for Unit 3 this year: to get any special consideration from here with your SEAS and other applications you need to be tracking the mental health impacts and have evidence of negative effects where possible for your application. This could include additional psychology supports you required, issues with completing SACs, whatever is unexpected and beyond what an average VCE student is dealing with for COVID times.
    • VCAA has advised schools that the date for entering Unit 3 school-based assessment scores has been extended to October. The extension of this due date for Unit 3 SAT and SAC scores until October is to provide schools with as much flexibility as possible to deliver on their learning and assessment programs. You can use this information as parents to support your students needs. 
    • Where possible encourage the student to talk to the school student mentors or wellbeing support team about which aspects they can’t manage. This is so difficult for many of our cohort who are reluctant to express their difficulties or cant capture the words about their feelings and stress, but if there is someone there who they trust and discuss it with that may open doors. See if you can find someone for this role if not already. (Also their therapists or counsellors could support this)
    • Possibly keep a parent journal or list of events that have impacted your students’ mental health now so you can refer to it when you need later in the year (this may help all students) for their SEAS application. 

    Sharon confirmed the DET policy that schools should be a safe, happy and healthy workplace for everyone, including teachers. Also their key objective is that school needs to be a positive experience with a nurturingenvironment to build student confidence. Sharon reminded us that if you are having issues they have made sure ​​Parentline is ready to support parents at this time. This is a phone service for parents and carers of children from birth to 18 years old that offers confidential and anonymous counselling and support on parenting issues. 

    Sharon also reminded us about the new DET Regional Inclusion Consultants to support autistic and other additional need students with their health and wellbeing in regional & rural areas. There are two in each of the four educational regions of the State and they have been liaising with and supporting school staff and leaders in best practice for autistic students.  Sharon has made sure the schools are linked in with their Consultant. 

    We also touched on the issue of therapists going into schools and opened that conversation. As well as helping the students in their environment, therapist support directly can improve teacher knowledge and school capability. The NDIS has changed the landscape for this considerably for students and the DET are working with schools around how to approach this with some guidance. However COVID-19 will limit access to schools for external visitors for the interim. 

    It was a very positive call with Sharon, Allan, Karen and team all being very willing to offer support and welcome feedback. They understand the schooling system can be overwhelming for parents with kids that needs supports and we will keep the conversation and our feedback flowing.  Thank you to Sharon, Allan, Karen and team for listening to our community needs with such keen ears and willingness to help with a readiness to offer support.

    As always with your student our community sees the best way to engage students with education is to empower them in their education choices where you can. It is about using a coaching approach, not a deficit-fix them mindset. Give them a direct voice where you can depending on their age- with you or their support team to help them advocate their needs.  Even with little ones, they often know what helps them learn so empower those abilities if you can.

    We see how you are doing a wonderful job as parents in these tough and uncertain times - please make sure you get time to look after your needs as well so you can continue to support your loved ones.  Please email us if you need support here or attend one of our Parent & Carer groups with 3 running this month.  Thank you to Roo for helping with this advocacy meeting. 

    Tamsin Jowett - President Aspergers Victoria 

    UPDATE: THIS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CAME FROM THE DET: 28th May 2020

    You will have heard that the Premier announced the revised dates for 2020 VCE external assessments. The General Achievement Test (GAT) will be held on 9 September, and VCE written examinations will be held from 9 November to 2 December. Hopefully this confirmation of dates will provide relief for some students and families, and give them something more concrete to work towards. 

    DET followed up with VCAA to pass on the concerns raised by members of your community, and see if there was any additional information to add to our discussion from last week. 

    The VCAA expressed that educational disadvantage from the impacts of COVID-19 was at the forefront of their thinking and planning around analysing and finalising results, and that they are working closely with VTAC to ensure a fair approach for all Victorian students. VCAA’s immediate response in addressing the impact of COVID-19 on VCE students has been the review of VCE Study Designs, in particular Unit 4 learning requirements, which has led to reductions to learning and assessment requirements for the majority of VCE studies. These changes either have been or are in the process of being communicated to schools.

    The DET would encourage all families to work with their student’s schools to establish student support groups (if they are not already in place), to support the transition back to face-to-face learning, and address any fears that students have about their capacity to continue with their studies. The VCAA outlined that there are a range of existing strategies that schools can apply in relation to supporting students in their classroom learning and school-based assessment, which include:

    • rescheduling classroom activities and/or an assessment tasks
    • allowing the student extra time to complete work or an assessment task
    • setting a substitute task of the same type
    • replacing a task with a different type
    • using a planned task to assess more outcomes, or aspects of outcomes, than originally intended
    • using assistive technology, aides or other special arrangements to complete classroom learning and/or undertake assessment tasks
    • deriving satisfactory completion of outcomes from other assessments or work completed by the student
    • deriving scores from other assessments or work completed by the student

    I hope that this information is helpful to you in supporting your community in the transition back to face-to-face learning. 


  • 1 Apr 2020 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE AFDO NEWSLETTER FROM THE AFDO CEO 31ST MARCH 2020 - by Ross Joyce. (AV ARE MEMBERS OF AFDO). 

    'In this newsletter, we have included links to reliable information and resources on COVID-19, including information and resources on how we can look after our mental health when we are being flooded with so much negative news on a daily basis.

    It's important that we give ourselves permission to switch off from the "noise" around COVID-19 and continue doing things we enjoy each day, such as reading books, listening to music, chatting to friends, and doing meditation.  It is also essential that we stay connected with our friends, families, colleagues, and our community during this time, whether it's by connecting with them online, by text, or simply picking up our phones and calling someone. 

    I hope you enjoy reading this edition of AFDO eNews.  

    CoronaVirus information and resources

    NDIS information and updates

    CoronaVirus information on the NDIS website has moved to a new Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and support section, with lots of new questions and answers about recent changes. Below are some key changes from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).  Please remember that new information is updated regularly and we encourage you to check the NDIS website often.

    A few key changes of interest:
    • To ensure participant plans don’t end, on the day a plan is due to expire, it will be automatically be extended by 365 days. 
    • If a participant has a scheduled plan review, the NDIA will contact them by phone or email to undertake their review. 
    • As part of this plan review process, a participant can discuss having a new plan in place for up to 24 months. 
    Updated Price Guide and Support Catalogue
    To help providers continue to deliver supports to participants through this time, the NDIA is introducing a number of changes. Below are some links for more information on the NDIS website about the following:
    The NDIS website has been updated with Frequently Asked Questions

    Reminder on how to contacts the NDIS
    If participants would like to continue to visit an NDIS office, they can do so.  All NDIA offices remain open. For Local Area Coordinators and Early Childhood Partners, check the Partner office operations page for the latest office operations.
     
    Participants can call 1800 800 110 if they need to talk to a planner, make changes to their plan or if they are having trouble getting services due to COVID-19 (CoronaVirus).
     
    You can also contact the NDIS by: 

    Government information and resources

    • The Australian Government has created a new website with all the latest COVID-19 information and resources from government agencies across Australia.  This new website includes topics such as government directions, health, travel information, and financial support for individuals and businesses.  You can visit this new website at www.australia.gov.au
       
    • The Australian Government is also publishing information and resources about COVID-19 on the Department of Health website.  This website includes daily updates, health information, factsheets, and other resources.
       
    • You can also gain access to a new messaging service on WhatsApp by typing oz.gov.au/whatsapp.  You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government’s CoronaVirus Australia app, available on the App Store and Google Play store. 


    AFDO information and resources 

    We have developed a webpage with links to the latest news, information, and resources for people with disability and their families.  We are regularly updating this webpage to make sure it has the latest information.  You can visit the webpage at https://www.afdo.org.au/coronavirus-covid-19-information/

    This webpage includes links to accessible information such as Auslan and Easy Read information.


    Mental Health resources

    The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on an international scale.

    It is understandable that during times like this, people might feel afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed, especially with the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of COVID-19.

    While it is important to stay informed, Lifeline has put together some mental health and wellbeing tips to help us all look after ourselves during these difficult times.  They have also included some strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine. 

    Isolation and stress can make it harder to take care of your mental health.  Beyond Blue has some tips on looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

    Contact
    If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or sad, please reach out for support - talking to someone can help.  If you would like to talk to someone, you can contact:

    If you are Deaf, or have a speech impairment, you can talk to Lifeline and Beyond Blue through the National Relay Service (NRS).. 

    Here are some options:

    • TTY (teletypewriter) users phone 133 677 then ask for Lifeline or Beyond Blue
    • Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for Lifeline or Beyond Blue
    • Internet relay users connect to the NRS by clicking  here then ask for Lifeline or Beyond Blue

    Centrelink news and information

    Support Payment

    The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to people who receive the Disability Support Pension, Sickness Allowance, Age Pension, Newstart Allowance, Jobseeker Payment, Carer Allowance and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

    The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 and the second payment will be made from 13 July 2020. The Government has produced a Fact Sheet on $750 payment

    Over the next six months, the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of:

    • JobSeeker Payment
    • Youth Allowance Jobseeker
    • Parenting Payment
    • Farm Household Allowance
    • Special Benefit.
    The $550 fortnightly supplement does not extend to people currently receiving the Disability Support Pension.  AFDO and other disability organisations are asking the Government to extend the CoronaVirus supplement to people receiving the Disability Support Pension. 

    Mutual obligation requirements for job seekers

    Due to the high demand for government services, job seekers have experienced difficulty in reporting their mutual obligations.

    During this challenging time, the Australian Government is lifting all mutual obligations for JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance as a job seeker, and Parenting Payment until 27th April 2020.

    This means that your payment cannot be suspended and you cannot receive any demerit points or have your payment reduced or cancelled for not meeting your mutual obligations.

    If mutual obligations are reinstated after 27 April 2020, you may still be able to obtain an exemption.  If you are receiving a Centrelink payment that requires you to complete mutual obligations and you’re affected by COVID-19, Centrelink may grant you a Major Personal Crisis exemption for a period of 14 days.

    This will mean you will not have to complete your mutual obligations, including:

    • attending appointments
    • looking for work
    • doing any of the activities in your Job Plan.
    You can apply for a Major Personal Crisis exemptions by calling Centrelink on your regular payment line and telling them why you are isolated. 

    Centrelink Payments

    With the long queues for Centrelink recently, as well as MyGov crashing due to so many people trying to access it, below is some information from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) about contacting Centrelink at the moment.

    • If you already receive Newstart or another payment, you do not need to contact Centrelink to receive the extra support payment announced. The extra payments will come through automatically.
    • If you are still working and have an income coming in - try to wait a day or two to connect with Centrelink or MyGov, if you don't need payments urgently.

    However, for people who have lost their jobs and need to apply for a payment urgently:

    Please tell Centrelink you "intend to claim".  Because of long queues for Centrelink at the moment, you can tell them your "intent to claim" by logging on to MyGov or by contacting 132 850.  If you decide to attend a Centrelink office and need to line up, please practice social distancing. 

    You will be back paid to the day you lodged your "intent to claim".

    COVID-19 and Centrelink Fact Sheet

    Economic Justice Australia (formerly the National Social Security Rights Network NSSRN) has published a COVID-19 and Centrelink Fact Sheet.  The Fact Sheet provides information on what Centrelink can do if you have been affected by COVID-19.  You can download the Fact Sheet here, and you can visit the new website for Economic Justice Australia here.  

    Disability Royal Commission

    The Disability Royal Commission has suspended all public hearings, community engagements, and face-to-face private sessions due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 CoronaVirus.  

    However, you can still tell your story by making a public submission to the Royal Commission.  There is a page on our website with more information on how to make a public submission.  You can visit the page at https://www.afdo.org.au/royal-commission/making-a-submission/

    Please be aware that your story will be public.  If you would like to make a private submission, you will need to wait until the Disability Royal Commission can hold face-to-face private sessions again."


    THANK YOU TO AFDO FOR COLLATING THIS INFORMATION -

    More at the ADFO website link: https://www.afdo.org.au/news/current-news/  AND https://mailchi.mp/afdo.org.au/afdo-enews-5031101?e=54bc5ee4fd 

    Share this issue of ADO eNews

    Visit AFDO online
  • 27 Mar 2020 10:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     Eileen Feliciano is a doctoral level Psychologist in NYS with a Psy.D. in the specialities of School and Clinical Psychology. Eileen shared this on her Facebook on 21stMarch 2020: 

    After having thirty-one sessions this week with patients where the singular focus was COVID-19 and how to cope, I decided to consolidate my advice and make a list that I hope is helpful to all. I can't control a lot of what is going on right now, but I can contribute this. I will share a mental health tip of the day until quarantine is over! I will also be posting useful mental health articles related to the pandemic, as well as general mental health.

    1. Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.

    2. Dress for the social life you want,not the social life you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Take the time to do a bath or a facial. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.

    3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.

    4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!

    5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too!

    6. Stay hydrated and eat well. This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!

    7. Develop a self-care toolkit.This can look different for everyone. A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure). An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted blanket. A journal, an inspirational book, or a mandala coloring book is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolor on paper through a straw are visually appealing as well as work on controlled breath. Mint gum, Listerine strips, ginger ale, frozen Starburst, ice packs, and cold are also good for anxiety regulation. For children, it is great to help them create a self-regulation comfort box (often a shoe-box or bin they can decorate) that they can use on the ready for first-aid when overwhelmed. 

    8. Spend extra time playing with children (with right distance).Children will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for attention and communication through play. Don’t be surprised to see therapeutic themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation play through. Understand that play is cathartic and helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve, and there’s a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the now.

    9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth.A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

    10. Everyone find their own retreat space.Space is at a premium, particularly with city living. It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.

    11. Expect behavioural issues in children, and respond gently. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioral plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on emotional connection.

    12. Focus on safety and attachment.We are going to be living for a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work deadlines, homeschooling children, running a sterile household, and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement. We can get wrapped up in meeting expectations in all domains, but we must remember that these are scary and unpredictable times for children. Focus on strengthening the connection through time spent following their lead, through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you will be there for them in this time.

    13. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance. This idea is connected with #12. We are doing too many things in this moment, under fear and stress. This does not make a formula for excellence. Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback. You cannot fail at this—there is no roadmap, no precedent for this, and we are all truly doing the best we can in an impossible situation. 

    14. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything, and can become very frightened by what they hear.

    15. Notice the good in the world, the helpers. There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to counter-balance the heavy information with the hopeful information. 

    16. Help others. Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control. 

    17. Find something you can control, (and control the heck out of it).In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

    18. Find a long-term project to dive into. Now is the time to learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read the Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal Crossing. Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.

    19. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements. Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.

    20. Find an expressive art and go for it.Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for release of feeling. Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all. See how relieved you can feel. It is a very effective way of helping kids to emote and communicate as well!

    21. Find lightness and humour in each day. There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.

    22. Reach out for help—your team is there for you. (AV is here too) If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a distance. Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the best you can. If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help for the first time. There are mental health people on the ready to help you through this crisis. Your children’s teachers and related service providers will do anything within their power to help, especially for those parents tasked with the difficult task of being a whole treatment team to their child with special challenges. Seek support groups of fellow home-schoolers, parents, and neighbors to feel connected. There is help and support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically distant, we can always connect virtually.

    23. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment. We have no road map for this. We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. Often, when I work with patients who have anxiety around overwhelming issues, I suggest that they engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable. Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what feels doable for you, and set a time stamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry. Take each chunk one at a time, and move through stress in pieces.

    24. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.

    25. Find the lesson.This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through said trauma is to help them find their agency, the potential positive outcomes they can effect, the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction. What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis? What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?

    You can follow the author on her Facebook. 

  • 14 Mar 2020 8:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Community Members,

    Aspergers Victoria Coronavirus Outline

    The safety and health of our community are our number one priority at Aspergers Victoria. We are monitoring closely the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and have attended the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) briefing for organisations and so we are following some common-sense measures that are consistent with current guidelines issued by the DHHS

    At this moment we have had no reported cases of any of our staff, volunteers, members or related family members being exposed to the virus. All of our activities have been running as usual with more hygiene awareness. 

    • With DHHS we recommend we all focus on personal hygiene management and social distancing. Regular hand washing is currently the best hygiene approach with alcohol-based sanitisers as an alternative, avoiding touching your face unnecessarily, and using a tissue or your elbow for coughing or sneezing. Shaking hands is a part of life and is optional with clean hands - or use feet/elbows. 

    • In line with the DHHS guidelines we ask that  anyone not feeling well, experiencing flu, cold and/or cough symptoms, do NOT attend groups, meetings and events, even if it is known not to be COVID-19. If you are taking pain medications such as panadol these can mask illness. 

    • We also ask you If you or your child has been exposed to this virus or if someone you live with is required to self-isolate, you must also self-isolate for 14 days. If you attend a group and later develop COVID-19 please let us know. 

    • If you have travelled recently we request you follow the government guidelines for travellers

    Country:

    Upon arriving back from international travel:

    Higher Risk Countries

    We ask that you do not attend any AV groups or events for 14 days following arrival back into Australia for the countries classified as High Risk by both the Australian Government and World Health Organisation (WHO).(Based on the Australian Government list of countries of concern (www.health.gov.au/covid19-countries). This list will be updated periodically.

    All other countries

    We ask that you do not attend any AV groups or events for 7 days following arrival back into Australia for all other international travel

    • Some of our Group Leaders, who are volunteers, may decide not to run their Group, and we will notify you if you have registered or on that Group email list. Some volunteers may also decide to hold other meetings online instead. We do have technology options we are investigating for our Groups and other meetings as an interim measure during any group closure but that may depend on suitability for our Leader and the Group. 

    • At this stage Power Neighbourhood House and other groups venues are open with the DHHS additional hygiene measures in place but may get a DHHS directive at some stage to close for a period of time and in that case our activities held there will be cancelled. 

    We also recommend avoiding reading or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed. It is also important to gather information from reliable sources such as the DHHS to help you distinguish facts from rumours. Continue healthy habits by engaging in physical exercise, keeping hydrated, eating healthy foods, getting adequate and consolidated sleep. DHHS has a thorough website outline of how to manage your hygiene plus virus information at:  https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-disease-covid-19

    The situation is evolving and our position may change at short notice from DHHS. A significant change in position will be communicated to current members. 

    Thank you for respecting our imperative to minimise the risks within our community,. Please email me if you have any feedback about this.  Here is one article about helping children manage the anxiety around this virus : How to talk to your child about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and one from Harvard Business Review for adults: Coping with coronavirus anxiety - Harvard Health Blog Please stay well. 

    Tamsin Jowett, President Dated 13th March 2020

      Here is the DHHS hygiene approaches poster:Ten ways to reduce your risk of coronavirus 


  • 17 Feb 2020 7:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    When I was first diagnosed with "mild Aspergers syndrome" in Year 9, at the age of 14, I told people on a "need to know" basis. After getting panic attacks in the school assembly hall in Year 12 (2000 & 2001), I recognised that lecture theatres at uni would be a similar environment.  By the end of 1st year uni, my panic attacks were common knowledge among my fellow students - thanks to it being relevant to learning about "fight or flight"...

    After studying at uni for 8 years (Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Honours, and Masters of Biostatistics), I started working in April 2010. I'd always planned to tell my immediate supervisor Robin... Approx 7 weeks later, I was in her office in tears, mid-anxiety meltdown.  I realised I had to tell her - RIGHT NOW!!  A month or so later, I told the "big boss" of my research unit - she'd already figured it out!

    Later that year, my Gma gave me the book "All Cats have Aspergers Syndrome" by Kathy Hoopmann for my birthday. That book lived in my bag for 6+ months, and was a great disclosure tool. There are lots of cute pictures of cats, and the words ring true - I showed many friends, cycling mates and work colleagues and told them as they were reading it that I was diagnosed at age 14.

    My work calls for items in eNews - by the end of 2013, I'd written a few articles about the talks I'd given for Aspergers Victoria and the start of the I CAN Network. So my autism was "common knowledge" at work.  In August 2014, I attended my first autism conference - as Chris Varney was giving the closing keynote.  At the Victorian Autism Conference, I was asked if I was happy to be interviewed and photographed by The Age. (They wanted a personal story to go with A/Prof Amanda Richdale from OTARC's research on students disclosing to their university.)  I said "Yes" straight away.

    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/students-with-autism-worried-about-discrimination-at-university-20140810-102e1n.html

    When the article came out on the Tuesday, I barely got any work done - cos work colleagues kept on coming past my desk to tell me they'd seen me in the paper. I wondered how the students would perceive it - I didn't need to be worried, cos the 2nd student who arrived at my first tute on the Thursday bounded into class and excitedly told me "Penny, I saw you in the paper!!!"  

    Several months later, I Googled "Penny Robinson Monash" - the second item in the search (at the time) was my article in The Age. I decided to add my autism - and all the autism advocacy I do - to my CV at that point, as otherwise it might look like I was trying to hide it.  In fact, last year, Robin asked me to send her my complete CV - research (30+ publications), teaching (900 + 300 students in Semester 2) and autism advocacy.

    The advantage of my autism being "common knowledge" at work is that my quirks are embraced - I'm well known for my live tweeting of seminars, wearing my (Monash Uni) cap.  I've been able to adjust my start & finish times to avoid peak-hour crowded trains in the morning.  Often its the simple adjustments that make a huge difference.  

    This resource by Amaze on 8 things to help in the workplace may also be useful: http://www.onethingforautism.com.au/8-workplace-things/

    Note: Thank you to Penny for joining our AV lived experience Panel on Tuesday 18th February.. For more go to @PennyRobaus on Twitter and Penny Robinson - speaker on FB

  • 16 Nov 2019 6:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In writing up my AGM report for tomorrow’s event I am just reflecting on the wonderful contributors we have had this year. I want to say thank you for all you have done. 

    Thank you to Gayle Vermont who has dedicated herself to crafting programs and support that our Members need and cannot get elsewhere, especially in employment. Also to her sidekick Kathryn and Tim who are quietly delivering employment support. Elisa volunteering her expertise for our surveys towards measuring outcomes and Elena with our support systems. 

    Our Events team who have provided six major events across the year seamlessly as volunteers. Anna and her team who have contributed the lovely and conveniently located Bayview Eden Hotel for our events and tomorrow.Emma who supports everyone with no fuss. Our Group Leaders who spend time each month leading our peer groups and social fun. Our calm Help team who share their knowledge of lived experience with those needing guidance and support. 

    Thank you to our supporters such as those who provide grants to our social change organisation. This includes the free tickets from the Arts Centre’s First Call Fund to some amazing eventsand Variety for their Children’s Christmas Party which is such a highlight for our Primary kids. Also Tim and his team at DHHS supporting us and the Autism Advisory Group to help deliver change in our sector. Thank you to AFDO as well for their support and guidance. 

    Then there are those who provided bequests and donations– you know who you are and we appreciate your thoughtful contribution to our resource-stretched not for profit. Thank you. 

    Almost finally our Board who drive our not for profit with such passion and determination to empower our members, contributing time when they have none. You have all delivered the changes we were seeking and provided thoughtful and impactful hours of dedication. 

    Finally our Members who are why we exist. Our community give us the energy and collaboration to help change our world for the better in our small way. Thank you for being you with all the strengths you have and your challenges. We try hard to see and hear you. Thank you to anyone I have missed! Aspergers Victoria is such a community effort. 

    I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow to celebrate this past year and what is to come.  Tamsin

  • 27 Aug 2019 7:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Carol Owen : I wanted to send you a little poem I wrote, hope that is ok? 

    Sometimes :

    Sometimes I want you to see All the love, inside of me Sometimes I want you to see Inside my soul, inside of me Today as thoughts twist and twirl I wander through a foggy swirl As I travel through daily mist Fighting each turn, feeling each twist Sometimes I just want you to see What my life was meant to be Sometimes I need a helping hand Sometimes I need you to understand That what I really need from thee Is to really see, to really see me Sometimes I want you to see What my soul fights hard to be Sometimes I want you to hear All the thoughts, confusion and fear Sometimes I want you to see How different my life could really be Sometimes I want you to see But now you turn and run from me Now it is too dark too see As I run from life, not meant for me Now you cannot possibly see I simply can’t bear the thought of me I close my eyes to what could be As hurt grows strong inside of me I close my eyes, don’t want to see How cruel and cold the world can be Sometimes I don’t want to see The loneliness inside of me All I want to do is rest Life moves on, it’s for the best Leave me be in this place This life is cruel I cannot face Who is this species, the human race Where life is easy to replace Wrap my soul inside of lead Quiet my brain, the heart is dead Once I wanted you to see Really see, simply me

  • 19 Aug 2019 8:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     ASPERGERS VICTORIA have again been invited to submit a request for invitations to attend this year’s SPECIAL CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY at the Melbourne Showgrounds on Saturday 7th December between 9:30am until 1:00pm.

    The event is in its 24th year and is a completely FREE Christmas Party just for children with special needs. A 3.5hr stage show featuring many artists will keep the children entertained as well as activities such as merry go-rounds, jumping castles, face painting, free food and drinks and much more! Of course no Christmas party is complete without Santa and after his arrival the toy room will be open and each special needs child will receive two beautiful presents.

    The basic eligibility to submit a request for an invitation are:-

    • You have a current membership with Aspergers Victoria. Not a member? Click here to join now; and

    • The child must be 12 years or under and have Aspergers

    Please also consider the following criteria from the event organisers before submitting a request:

    • Entry to the Melbourne Showgrounds to attend the event is for invite holders only. No Invite, No Entry. No Child, No Entry.

    • Only one child can attend on each invitation and must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Each child’s invite entitles one adult entry.

    • The child must be accompanied by a parent/carer at all times – there are no child minding facilities.

    • Catering will be provided to children only. Parents/carers may purchase refreshments or bring a picnic lunch.

    • Siblings (under 12 years) are also welcome to attend and join in on the fun of the day, go on rides and enjoy the food but they won’t be allowed to go through to the Toy Room to receive a present.

    • This is an alcohol free event and smoking is in outside designated areas only.

    • Each year the organisers receive more requests than they can supply. Therefore requesting an invitation is NOT a guarantee of receiving an invitation and is subject to the number of invitations issued to Aspergers Victoria by the organisers.

    To request an invitation, please email the secretary@aspergersvic.org.auby Sunday 25th August with the following details:-

    1. Child’s age (must be 12 years or under)

    2. Age appropriate gift for child’s ability. (Eg. a 10 year old may be suited to a gift for a  6-8 age group

    3. Child’s gender: (Male / Female

    4. Name of Parent(s)/Carer(s) attending:

    5. Currently an Aspergers Victoria member? (Yes / No) Requests can only be submitted for current AV members.

    6. Parent/Carers email

    7. Parent/Carers phone

    8. Postal address for invites to be sent to (if successful).

    On behalf of Aspergers Victoria, good luck!


  • 10 Aug 2019 3:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our AGM date has been agreed to be Sunday 17th November. We are planning a creative celebration for our members and community. This means we welcome you to submit your art, sculpture, perform, entertain or maybe even display your best LEGO creations. Whatever your creative desire may be we want to showcase our Aspergers community talents and celebrate them. More details coming about how to book your spot for your creative contribution. 

    Also our wonderful Board secretary Amanda is leaving our Board so this Board position will be vacant and we need someone with Board level skills. You can look at details of this role at the ACNC website here

    We look forward to celebration our year and your talents!


  • 8 Apr 2019 3:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Please go to this link here to buy your Entertainbook Book that will support Aspergers Victoria's team. Thank you for your support of our volunteer services. 

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