Auslan resources

Hannah and I have been attending Auslan classes at Deaf Services Qld this term.  I’ve always loved watching people communicating using Auslan- it’s so expressive!  Abi is learning Key Word Sign (which uses Auslan signs, but only signs the key words in each sentence) at school and in speech therapy, and is starting to use a few of the signs herself.  Generally by about an hour and a half into the class, Hannah and I are quite tired from concentrating so hard!  But we are happy with what we have learned, and feel that we are making good progress.  It’s great that we are doing it together, as we can practise at home between classes.  We use Auslan Signbank if we can’t remember the sign, and the pictures in the book aren’t clear enough.

I was looking at something on Youtube tonight, and as I was browsing, I found a clip of Advance Australia Fair in Auslan.  Not only that, there was a tutorial before the song, demonstrating every sign used!  Hannah and I were thrilled with how many signs we recognised.

BrightonSigningChoir, who uploaded that video, has numerous other Auslan clips on their channel, including Happy Birthday (with tutorial), Rainbow Connection, Roar, What a wonderful world, Fireflies, Aussie Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Santa Claus is coming to town.

We enjoyed them so much, that we began searching on Auslan songs on Youtube.  Here are some more that we found.

Sing a Rainbow is an excellent opportunity to practise our colours, though some of the signs used in this clip differ slightly from those we were taught.  May just be Northern/Southern dialect.

RangaRyan6 has several clear and expressive songs on his channel – Lean on me, What a wonderful world, Imagine, and some nursery rhymes and popular contemporary Christian songs.

Dan Jarvis also has some lovely clips on his channel, including Lean on me, I will always love you, and I have nothing.

There are a couple of songs signed by a little girl called Yu Ri- her expressiveness was fantastic!  She signed Fireflies and Advance Australia Fair.

Mrs Klaproth signed Silent Night slowly so that the signs can be seen easily for practise.

Darren Kirkegard has a great clip of Amazing Grace.

User Liz Eux has a clip of a little girl signing Do you want to build a snowman?

I think Hannah and I may have just found a good option to keep practising our signing over the Christmas holidays!


Pave the Way info session

Focal are hosting a free information session for parents and carers, on Sat 14 Nov, from 10am-1pm at their Ipswich office.  Focal arrange multiple different information sessions throughout the year- I have attended several, and have found them to be very well-organised and helpful.  I recommend joining their email list to keep up-to-date with what’s on.

This information session is run by Pave the Way, and is called “Planning for Now, Tomorrow and the Future”.  This presentation is available frequently throughout the year, in different places as listed on their website.  I found the information shared to be very useful- rather than playing ostrich about our loved one’s future, it is possible to plan a good life for them, and Aimee explained about some of the tools available to help with this, including normal and Enduring Powers of Attorney, Guardianship and Administration, wills, trusts, Special Disability Trusts etc.

Full information available in the flyer below.

Pave the Way Flyer _2015-10-14

Three upcoming events

Carers Week 2015 events – various locations, 11-17 October. My local ones sound great!

Free NDIS Community briefing with Dr Bruce Bonyhady AM, hosted by Montrose – Darra, 4 November.
A wonderful opportunity to hear from the leader and thinker behind the NDIS, Bruce Bonyhady AM.
In a relaxed atmosphere Mr Bonyhady will discuss:
Changes to the social service sector nationally
Impact the NDIS will have in Queensland
What this means for people with a disability.

Young Families Taking Charge, presented by CRU – Chermside, 10 November. This workshop is for families of young children with disability (0-8 years) who are interested in hearing about the NDIS and what they can do now to develop a vision and a plan for the future. We will talk about how families can be thoughtful about using paid supports to build a good life, how to maintain strong family and community connections, and where to start in being prepared and informed in the lead up to the NDIS.

Autism and SN Guides Qld and beyond

One of the incredibly resourceful ladies I’ve had the privilege of “meeting” through Facebook has put together two very indepth resource guides that she is keen for people to share wherever they would be useful.

A Resource Guide & Ideas for Therapists, Teachers, Parents and Carers working with people with Special Needs- covers a multitude of topics, and is well worth checking out.

The Queensland Autism Parents Handbook is 101 pages and is a comprehensive guide to autism services, support, tips and ideas for Qld. The book is most relevant to Qld but is a valuable source of info wherever you live.

Church and disability inclusion

When Church Hurts, by Shawna Wingert (Not the former things blog), and Why Church Is a Burden for Special Needs Parents, by Sheri Dacon. This is a subject not often discussed, but it needs to be! People with disabilities often struggle to find churches that are willing to accommodate, accept, engage with, integrate and welcome them. Shawna writes a very descriptive account of her son’s sensory overload at church- crowds of people, various smells, loud and louder sounds. She also gave examples of judgment for non-attendance, judgment of parenting abilities, and exclusion from Sunday school. Sheri recounts her tears, when her son’s new Sunday school teacher treated him as a child, not a problem- and she learned that it was okay to expect love and acceptance.

We have not often attended church as a family, since our youngest, “Abi”, was little. She finds the noise and quantity of people difficult- we have spent several services walking circuits around the carpark, or laps up and down the stairs. She’s not always quiet and still, so although I did monitor her noise/activity level, I’ve been “invited” to spend the service in the creche, which had no video/audio input, more times than I’d care to remember. I’ve accompanied her to Sunday school, but there was nothing in the lessons that she could participate in. In the end, we figured it would be more comfortable for one parent to stay at home with her- because neither she nor her accompanying parent were actually participating in the service.

These experiences were across multiple churches. Two of the churches we’ve been to were very willing to work with us to include Abi- but weren’t the right fit for other members of our family. In particular, our older daughter, “Hannah”, is wanting solid teaching and discussions and connections with likeminded peers- yet the Sunday children’s/youth ministry at many churches ends as children finish primary school. Those churches were a great source of healing to me- to know that there were churches where we were welcomed, and could attend as a family.

The last few years have been an intensive immersion in learning about autism, for me. As evidenced by this blog, I’ve done a lot of reading, and have also attended numerous courses. And I’ve come to the realisation that just as Abi has the right to an academic education, she also has the right to a spiritual education. But more than just an education- I believe she has the right to be loved, accepted and included as a member of God’s community. However, in order to access that for her, I will need to advocate and educate.

While I can’t speak for all Christians or all churches- in most cases, I don’t think that the exclusion that many people with disabilities have experienced is deliberate. I think that many Christians/churches simply don’t know how to engage with and integrate people with disabilities. They may not be aware that their programs/services aren’t disability-friendly. Sadly though, there are some churches that are unwilling to integrate people with disabilities- therefore they’re not places I’d want to be, anyway.

The problem is, I don’t have the energy for education or advocacy of this magnitude at the moment. If I’m going to do it well, it will be a big job. I don’t want to start, then it all end up a failure because I wasn’t able to follow it through. There’s a lot of big things that have happened in our lives- some related to autism, some not- but we have learned that we can’t do everything immediately, so we’ve had to prioritise.

In the meantime, as I ponder the specifics of what inclusion could look like for Abi, I came across a wonderful program run by Christian Blind Mission in Australia, called Luke14. Luke14 is a CBM Australia initiative equipping churches to be places of welcome and belonging for people and families living with disability.
“When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind… and you will be blessed.” (Luke 14:12-13)
I could easily link to every page on the Luke14 site, because there is so much good information! It’s nice to know that there are programs available to help churches learn how to welcome people with disability- and really integrate them.

I hope to see such programs implemented in many churches in the not-too-distant future.

Brave program online

The BRAVE Program is an interactive, online program for the prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent anxiety. The programs are free, and provide ways for children and teenagers to better cope with their worries.

We were quite impressed with it, as it used many of the same effective strategies we’d seen in our daughter’s OT sessions- and is online and free!

Disability Expos

There are two big disability expos coming up soon in Brisbane/Ipswich.

Ipswich Fresh Futures Market (“Connect with local resources and support for your future”) is on Wed 26 August, with over 60 stallholders, workshops etc.

Disability Awareness and post school Expo is on Wed 16 September at Chandler Theatre & Arena (Brisbane), with over 100 exhibitors, plus workshops and demonstrations.