A Letter from a Trellis Parent

Trellis means home to me…

I remember the first day I came into visit the school, two months after Max was diagnosed with Autism. For the two months before walking through the Trellis doors, I felt lost and, honestly, sad every time I met with an ASD service provider. The approach was “we know best” and “your son has this laundry list of limitations” … as a result my expectations were low and actually misguided.

When I walked through the door of Trellis, children were laughing, teachers were smiling. It was a school not a “treatment center”. I was asked all about Max and said “he sounds great” and I felt proud of Max for the first time after his diagnosis. I will never forget that moment. I have never stopped feeling proud of Max since then.

Thank you. All of you. Thank you for ignoring behaviors, counting and manding, working patiently when Max’s sensory needs carry him away and make him unavailable for a while and even taking a right hook or two.

Today, Max is soaring – he is talking. Yes talking. At one point in time, that was not clear he would talk. You all did that. You pushed him. You coached me and you never, never, never gave up on us. Max’s behaviors are manageable. Before Trellis, Max had broken my nose, and more things at home than I care to remember. Now he says “no” when he is unhappy at home. If he has behaviors, I know the ABCs and can manage them along with the latest protocol that we are generalizing at home. You did that. You implemented the protocol. You coached me and you never, never, never gave up on us.

When you are the parent of a kid on the spectrum you feel like you are either fighting or apologizing with everyone in your child’s path. When Max started at Trellis, for the first time that feeling changed. Now I feel like I have a team of people in my corner. From the front desk, the program managers, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists and Instructors on our team.

At the end of the day, Trellis means home to us. Max is known and loved for his whole self. You accept him for who he is and at the same time push him to reach his potential. Thank you for teaching my son with love and respect. You will never know what you mean to Max and me. He and all of the children you serve will reach their potential thanks to you.

– Audra Jones

Welcome Back To School Trellis

 

-Submitted By Allison Barnes, Trellis Lead Instructor

The new school year is underway and the Trellis staff is so excited to see our leaner’s smiling faces once again. Jumping back into a routine after vacation is hard for any child, and can be especially difficult for a child with autism. Adjusting back to school after a summer break can feel frustrating and overwhelming for anyone. Fortunately, our learners have remained motivated to learn and are happy to be back.

Exciting changes have happened inside Trellis, making it more fun than ever to be back at school. Our NET space has been revamped with newer and more functional toys, allowing our learners to increase manding and pretend-play more appropriately and functionally.

“I love the new NET space. My learners need to use more communication to get what they want and it’s exciting to see them more motivated by functional play.” -Allison Killion, Early Intervention Instructor.

Additions to the NET include a play grill set, pretend laundry station, a brand new Dora The Explorer kitchen, improved train sets, and many more new toys. New items keep our learners MO high and promote functional play with peers. The staff is just as excited as the learners for these new additions and the opportunities they bring to teach new skills.

Inside the classroom, learners are adjusting enthusiastically to new curriculum and working hard with their teachers and instructors.

“We’re integrating the Baltimore County curriculum to incorporate ELA components of the Common Core. It’s exciting that I’ll be teaching the same concepts and using some of the same materials that a typical peer uses in public school,” explains preschool teacher Jessica Volz.

Guided by the Baltimore County curriculum, our learners get the opportunity to learn and interact with peers in groups of 3-4, in addition to our usual 1:1 instructor-to-child ratio.

Setting up the stage for success in social engagement is Julia Miller-Iarossi. Julia worked in the Love 2 Learn program from 2010-2014, and has recently rejoined the Trellis team as Social Skills Specialist this school year. We are so excited to have her back!

“I’m looking forward to meeting all the new students and getting to know them. I am excited to make our learners motivated by peer interaction, and to make social interaction as meaningful as possible so that they are still motivated in their homes and communities.”

Social groups at Trellis incorporate sensory strategies, gross motor movement, and academic skills to motivate each learner and fit their individual needs. Interactive peer play is essential to our students’ progress and independence, both in school and in the community. Our learners have happily jumped back into their social groups, focusing on skills such as greetings, sharing with friends, asking questions, high-fives, and other appropriate attention skills.

We’re off to a great start of the new school year. Our learners have had a successful transition back and we can’t wait to see the progress to follow. We hope everyone had a fantastic break, and that everyone is just excited for the fall as we are!

Back To School

Getting ready for the new school year can be a hectic and exciting time. For children with autism (and their parents), all this change can feel overwhelming.

Here are some suggestions for how to help ease your child’s back-to-school anxieties:

Get a sneak peak
Scope out the school and classroom in advance. If your child is going into a new classroom, visit it at least once before the first day of school. If transition has been a struggle in the past, consider taking as much time as your child needs to explore the classroom. Make it as much fun as possible, playing in each of the new areas.

Check out seat assignments
For older children, ask the teacher if a seat assignment has been made. Do some enjoyable activities in that seat. If familiar classmates will be in the room, show where they will be sitting, too.

Rehearse new activities
Find out from the teacher what new activities are planned. Then, prepare your child by performing, practicing, and talking about them. This rehearsal will reduce anxiety when the new activities come up in the first week of school.

Anticipate sensory overload
The noise and chaos of a typical classroom can sometimes be a bit much to handle. Establish a plan for what to do in this situation – perhaps there is a quiet room where your child can “take a break” for a short time. The Trellis School has several quiet rooms for learners to “take a break” and instructors are able to provide the positive supports that may be needed.

Volunteer in the classroom
Most teachers welcome assistance from parents. Your presence may be a source of comfort to your child during those challenging first weeks. The Trellis School needs volunteers to assist with creating experiential learning environments for our learners. If you are interested in participating or donating supplies please send an email to info@trellisservices.com.

Establish regular communication with your child’s teacher

Create a daily communication plan that works best for you and your child’s teacher. This plan will assist with smooth transitions from the classroom to home.

Going to school can pose many challenges for children with autism, as well as countless opportunities for building crucial social, language, and academic skills. Be positive and encouraging, and your child will be off to a great year!