Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Spectrum of Services



There are many types of autism and understanding of its causes and diagnoses have changed over time. In 2013, four diagnoses that were once separated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) were combined into the umbrella diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the DSM-5. These four diagnoses were autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive development disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. ASD in more prevalent in boys; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the prevalence of ASD as 1 in 68 children in the United States.

Autism is a complex brain-based disorder that affects a person’s behavior, social and communication skills. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and no two children with autism are exactly alike. Each person with autism, like all of us, has unique strengths and differences. Common problems exhibited by those with ASD are difficulty in social situations; some never learn to speak, while others speak, but use language in unusual ways. Others are sensitive to loud noises or bright lights. There is no single treatment for autism, though many benefit from highly structured educational programs and other services. You can visit our website for more information about these services.

If a child is diagnosed with autism, early intervention is critical to gain the maximum benefit from existing therapies. In addition, after children have been diagnosed by psychologists, developmental pediatricians, psychiatrists and neurologists, the need for treatment and services are abundant.

At NCSS, there are several programs designed to serve individuals with autism. The School-Based Autism Program assists local schools in providing effective, strengths-based interventions and programming for students with ASD, intellectual and developmental disabilities and/or Down Syndrome. The program is based on the principals of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); students typically need a behavior support plan to help decrease maladaptive behaviors while increasing prosocial and coping skills. 

We, at NCSS, believe that students, regardless of their abilities, belong in their local community schools. The school-based services include behavioral interventionists, available on a one-on-one basis; individualized services like this provide opportunities for students to maintain positive relationships with peers and access their education on a level that works for them. Behavior specialists, autisms specialists, service coordination and case management are also available.  The programming is flexible and the child drives the program, making service delivery unique and individually tailored.

The Program for Adaptive &Expressive Arts (PAEA) offers therapeutic and recreational music, art and sensory exploration experiences to children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities as well as communication supports and socialization opportunities. Like the services within the School-Based Autism Program, PAEA sessions—private and group—are consumer-driven, allowing individuals to explore personal goals set by them and their support teams. Music, art and sensory exploration offer emotional, social, and physical benefits by facilitating creative expression, fine and gross motor skill practice, and stress reduction.
The PAEA music and art room at The Family Center is brightly lit and filled with instruments and art supplies; the space invites creativity! The newly upgraded sensory room provides a relaxed space with a variety of sensory stimulators that can enervate or calm depending on the participant’s needs.  At NCSS’ various events, such as the Buddy Walk and the Autism Walk, you can find the PAEA Team at their station, a large table full of instruments and sensory items. PAEA also offers workshops in cooperative play, family life and sexual health, American Sign Language (ASL) and Alternative and Augmentative Communications (AAC). There are seasonal concerts and recitals and art shows where everyone can show to the community-at-large what they’ve accomplished!

Camp Rainbow, a creative summer camp for children with autism or other developmental disabilities, provides stimulating activities such as swimming, singing, crafts, outdoor play and more. Camp Rainbow incorporates sensory exploration, fine/gross motor skills, communication skills, academic skills and social skills into the activities each day. This year, Camp Rainbow will run from August 7-August 11, 2017 and be held at the Soar Learning Center. And who knows…there might be some surprises in store! You can find registration information here by visiting our website.

The Applied Behavior Services team of Northwestern Counseling & Support Services provides treatment in the home, community setting, and in our new building, the Applied Behavior Center. Services are provided to children of all ages diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This team adheres to best practices and ethical guidelines of ABA.

Each program is tailored to meet the needs of the individual child and their family, with a strong emphasis on specific skill acquisition, behavior, and communication. These skills are taught through ABA and B.F. Skinner’s model of Verbal Behavior. Individual acquisition and behavior management programs are created from individual assessments.

Skills are reassessed frequently and progress is monitored and measurable via weekly data tracking. Teaching strategies and content are modified as needed to fit each child’s needs and all teaching techniques are based on what research studies have proven to be the most effective.

Program Components:

  • Functional language skills: vocals, sign language, picture exchange communication system
  • Consultative model consisting of parent training in ABA procedures
  • Self-care: toilet training, tooth brushing, dressing, shoe tying
  • Reductive procedures for non-desired behaviors
  • Video modeling
  • Skill acquisition
  • Social stories
  • Social skills

 

NCSS believes daily programs for people with autism or intellectual and developmental disabilities should also be unique and individualized to each person’s specific needs.



we’re here for you

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Winter's Effect



Vermont is a wonderful place to live for many reasons—clean air, open space, small town charm—but it also offers its challenges, especially in the winter.  Anyone who has spent considerable time in Vermont and lived through a winter can recognize the trouble! It’s frigid, windy, dark, wet, and long.

While many of us might feel a bit starved for sunlight or warmth during the winter months, for some people, the seasons can have a dramatic effect: seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a condition that can have a tremendous impact on a person’s well-being. SAD is a form of depression that comes and goes depending on the time of year. Spring-onset SAD—a type of SAD that starts in the spring and goes away in the fall and winter—can truly impact someone’s life, though it is much less common than the most common form, fall-onset SAD, a type of SAD that starts in late fall and goes away in the spring and summer.

Individuals with fall-onset SAD might notice increased appetite, especially for starchy and sweet foods; low energy; increased sleep; weight gain; hypersensitivity to rejection; feeling of heavy arms and legs; and irritability. Dr. Steve Sobel of NCSS says that individuals experiencing these symptoms often have to distinguish their feelings from other possible triggers in the season, such as the holidays, which can be a real stressor for many. There are plenty of things in everyday life that can make us feel blue from time to time, or make us want to indulge in carb-heavy meals and sweet treats; but if an individual experiences these symptoms for days at a time, they should not be tempted to brush them off. Like with other forms of depression, SAD can worsen if not treated.
A primary care provider can be a great resource; depending on the severity of the symptoms, varying treatments are available. For mild symptoms, phototherapy (light therapy), talk therapy, and lifestyle changes can be effective. Talk therapy can be helpful in managing symptoms, and individuals might be less likely to experience SAD in the future. Being diagnosed with depression with a seasonal pattern might indicate that an individual is more likely to experience SAD year after year; it doesn’t guarantee it. For those whose symptoms are having a pronounced and significant impact on daily life, medication, along with other treatments, might be considered.

There are several lifestyle changes—some of them small—that can improve symptoms associated with SAD.

1.       Try to go for a walk during the day. Even if it is cloudy and cold outside, outdoor light can help.

2.       Expose yourself to as much sunlight as possible. If you have a window in your office, open up the curtains or blinds. If you work on a desk at home, try to move your desk closer to the window to soak up as much light as possible.

3.       Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Exercise is beneficial on so many levels; it can increase self-esteem, relieve stress, and help you sleep, all of which can reduce SAD symptoms.

It’s not always easy to work up the energy to go for a walk or get outside when it’s blustery and cold. Good news is, spring is right around the corner!
 
Check out these links for more information about SAD:

Written by Meredith Vaughn

Friday, December 23, 2016

When Something Isn't Right


Heather Wilson, Early Childhood Support Team Leader at NCSS, notes that many expectant mothers feel thrilled about the upcoming birth of their child; they expect motherhood will be fulfilling and sublime, but when the baby is born, they might not feel that way at all. Mothers may experience depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following a traumatic birthing experience. Feelings of depression, compulsion, or anxiety do not mean someone is a bad mother and they do not mean she doesn’t love her baby. Every mother has her own story, says Heather. “We want [expectant and postpartum mothers] to know we’re here to help. We want to be a source of light during a time of darkness and provide comfort to unsettling distress.”   

Anna Gabaree knew throughout her pregnancy that she was at risk for postpartum depression and anxiety, and she knew what signs to look for. As soon as her baby was born, she felt a change instantly, like something wasn’t right. For Anna, the symptoms didn’t manifest in depression—as most people might associate with struggling new mothers—rather, she feared for her baby’s safety to a degree that was harmful. She would sit awake and stare at her daughter through the night fearing that something would go wrong and her baby would die. After feeding, Anna wouldn’t allow herself to leave her baby’s side for even a moment, worrying that something terrible would occur in her absence. As her daughter grew a bit older, she felt intense anxiety that she was doing everything wrong: she hadn’t read to her daughter enough; she hadn’t cleaned up enough; she hadn’t completed enough puzzles with her child. Like many mothers, Anna held it together at work and with her friends—people who saw her every day didn’t even know anything was wrong—but on the inside, she was bubbling over with anxiety. On the day she found herself screaming into a pillow to release, she knew she needed to seek help.

As supervisor of the Northwestern Medical Center Birthing Center, Anna was in a knowledgeable position; she knew she was at risk and she also had an understanding of symptoms and the kinds of resources that could help. For expectant or postpartum mothers who are not as familiar, there are screening tools to help identify troubling feelings, like the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) that is used at Northwestern Medical Center (NMC). The EPDS is a 10-question screening tool that asks mothers to consider their feelings over the week leading up to the test. It is intended to be administered with the mother privately; this way the mother has the best opportunity to feel comfortable being honest. The EPDS can reveal results that are then reviewed with the mother’s provider, and referrals can be made from there.
While referrals can come from anywhere, a majority of the referrals to the NCSS Perinatal Mental Health Counseling program come from NMC do to their thorough screening process. The EPDS is conducted after delivery; in the two-three days that a mother stays in the NMC Birthing Center; two weeks after delivery; and again six weeks postpartum.

Sometimes a mother in the birthing unit might feel like something is wrong, but she can’t identify it. These upsetting thoughts or emotions can start during pregnancy. “It can be easy to brush off,” Anna says. “But it’s okay to say that. It’s okay to say ‘something isn’t right. I’m not okay.’” When a woman does say this, Anna and the other nurses in the Birthing center might follow up with questions like, “Can you tell me more about that?” “What are you afraid of?” “What does it look like?” Expectant or postpartum mothers can speak with any of the nurses in the Birthing Center; the nurses can help attach vocabulary and understanding to feelings and also connect mothers with programming at NCSS that can offer further supports. It’s important to have quick access to programs and support, says Anna. A mother experiencing these unsettling and forbidding feelings does not want to wait days to hear from a provider. Within hours, a mother can be referred to the Perinatal Mental Health Counseling program and feel like support is on the way.

The Perinatal Mental Health Counseling program is a unique one at NCSS. Expectant mothers or new mothers who may be experiencing troubling symptoms can receive counseling in their homes from a traveling counselor:  Jessica Dewes, Early Childhood Specialist. Packing up the car and driving to NCSS might not feel feasible for new mothers just adopting a routine at home. Jessica will sit amidst a pile of laundry, or push aside diapers and rattles to engage in a conversation. “Messes don’t matter,” she says, laughing, as though she is recalling messes in her own home that might invite judgement. Jessica can work with families and mothers to reduce symptoms so motherhood can feel enjoyable and fulfilling. Jessica is also able to make referrals to other programs for the family while she works with the mother; as can be expected, the entire family can be affected when one is struggling with a mental health issue. Jessica loves the work she does with mothers, and she is moved by how many community members and mothers are open to the program. It can be difficult to seek treatment; some mothers are experiencing these feelings for the first time, and unfortunately, like many mental health issues, there is stigma attached to postpartum depression and anxiety.

Part of that stigma might come from the media’s portrayal of mothers experiencing depression or anxiety. Often, in movies, TV, and even the news, stories are sensationalized and depict mothers as dangerous to their babies. Within NCSS’s program, counselors and other staff try to break the cycles of stigma. Every mother has her own story and her own journey, and for each of those mothers NCSS can help them to develop some strategies for success. Prior to a diagnosis of symptoms, everything can feel strange, misunderstood, and weird. Jessica says she can tell a mother’s situation is improving when the mother begins to be honest with herself about her feelings. Surrendering can lead to important understanding and reduction of symptoms.

Finding a solid support system that encourages open, honest communication can make all the difference for expectant and postpartum mothers.  For Anna, that meant talking to her family and her doctor. For other mothers, maybe that support person is a sister or a spouse, a partner or a neighbor; maybe it’s the person who delivers the paper in the morning.

The Perinatal Mental Health Counseling program at NCSS is intended for expectant or postpartum mothers in Franklin and Grand Isle counties. If you know of someone who is experiencing any of these troubling symptoms, please reach out. There is no wrong door at NCSS; if you are looking to make a referral to the Perinatal Mental Health Counseling program, please call our main number, 802-524-6554 and someone will be happy to assist you.
 
Please click on the link to watch the NCSS Here for You episode on Perinatal Mental Health Counseling. In this episode, you can hear Heather Wilson, Jessica Dewes, and Anna Gabaree talk about this unique program.

we’re here for you.

Written by Meredith Vaughn

 

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Paths That Lead Us

 
When you think about why you do your job, what comes to mind? Maybe you always dreamed of your career from when you were a little kid, or perhaps you developed a passion for a trade and worked at it, made it your life’s work.  Or possibly you’re still searching for the thing that will fulfill you. Sometimes, like in Kathy Brown’s case, our work finds us.
Kathy Brown
Brown, Director of Developmental Services at NCSS, eagerly entered the mental health field in 1979 after graduating from college.  For two years, she worked at the state hospital, and things were different back then for those with disabilities. It wasn’t until 1990 that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and it wasn’t until 1995 that the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Act was passed. To say the least, Brown has been witness to some pretty big changes on the Vermont hill. Brown notes that when she first entered the field, the population she served was institutionalized; now they are living in the community with their families, and have access to education and a fulfilling life just like everyone else.
Brown smiles as she reflects on the start of the career. Apparently, she surprised herself by getting married—something she swore she’d never do—and then again by having two sons—something else she said she’d never do! Everything changed for Brown when her oldest son Kyle got into an accident and endured a severe traumatic brain injury. He spent a year and a half in rehab, regaining skills he had learned once as a very small child. There is intensity in Brown when she talks, especially when she recalls reentering the field of developmental services in 1996. Brown left mental health in 1981 and worked as a program manager at what is now Mylan for 23 years. But her son’s journey lit a fire in her, she says, and that’s when she applied at NCSS. Over the last ten years, she’s worn a number of hats at the agency: she started working on the employment team, then oversaw the behavioral team; she then became interim director, got her master’s in rehabilitative counseling, and in 2014, Brown found herself in the director’s chair where she currently sits. This is quite a seat to settle into, as there are over 250 clients receiving services, 157 staff working in the division, and 110 contracts with shared living providers. Brown certainly doesn’t do it alone; she has help from many people, like her leadership team: Amy Bronson, Assistant Director; Emily Norris, Assistant Director; and Amber Schaeffler.

Schaeffler, a licensed clinical social worker in the DS division, was on the NCSS Here for You television show and also presented at the last Grand Rounds seminar along with Brown. She coordinates the Clinical Oversight Committee and the Internal Behavior Support Review. Schaeffler is also getting certified in biofeedback and neurofeedback, both alternative forms of therapy that are quite effective with those with developmental disabilities. Biofeedback refers to the clinical applications where physiological signals from the body are used for auditory or visual feedback. When given this feedback during a therapy or training session, an individual can learn how to alter their breathing or behavior. Biofeedback provides a visual representation of a client’s stress, thereby giving them the tools to learn about their body and shift behavior—even slightly—to work toward a goal. A client’s ideal BPM (breaths per minute) will provide the most restorative functions for the body; this information can be gathered from biofeedback. With biofeedback, an individual’s tension is visually displayed on a screen, providing a powerful tool for recognizing stress within the body. The visual graphs allow individuals to see the control they have over their own Autonomic Nervous System and that can be very powerful in healing. This form of therapy is especially beneficial for those who may not find success with traditional talk therapy.
 This is just one of the many programs available within the DS division.* Maybe you’re wondering what makes someone eligible for DS services. There are several criteria: an individual must have an IQ of 70 or less and have significant adaptive behavior challenges in at least two areas of daily living—in other words, everyday social and practical skills.  The Intellectual Disability must have originated before the age of 18. This last criterion can prove tricky for staff in the DS division, especially if an individual who has never sought services before attempts to access DS services as an adult. Before services can be provided, staff must sift through years of documentation to find evidence of the disability prior to the age of 18; this might mean contacting previous school placements or family members conducting intensive interviews to establish functioning as a child. It can be challenging for our Intake Coordinator Samantha Burnell to locate, engage, and scour through information to uncover this proof; staff wants to deliver services in the most meaningful way and when they are needed.
Amber Schaeffler
Schaeffler, like Brown, followed an interesting path before coming to NCSS, and hers was punctuated by several advance degrees. Given her position now, you might not know that she has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminology and a master’s in criminal justice. That’s not all! She has a master’s in social work too! Schaeffler isn’t just wealthy in degrees; she’s also rich in life experience: before she moved to Vermont, where she met her husband, Schaeffler worked with the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened and Deaf-Blind who had experienced domestic violence and/or sexual violence. It’s special that she found herself working at NCSS—given her background—since NCSS is home to the only developmental deaf services team in the state.

Talking to Brown and Schaeffler, it’s easy to see how they landed where they are. Schaeffler is approachable, unassuming, and gentle; she sits with her hands folded in her lap and smiles as she answers questions. Brown is soft spoken but pointed in her speech, and it’s evident that she’s passionate about her work. She knows what she’s fighting for every day. The most common misperception of those with intellectual disabilities, Brown says, is that they are not intelligent or capable of living a life like everyone else in their communities. “They are extremely capable of that,” Brown says. “They should have the same rights as all of us.” Brown says that the laws have heightened awareness and given advocates some teeth, but there is still a lot of stigma. Anyone doing this work day in and day out is doing it because they care about crushing the stigma that follows individuals with disabilities. They care about every individual being able to fulfill their goals.
Some of that stigma is in the way we talk. Putting the disability before the individual can perpetuate stigma, and you might be surprised by how commonplace this language is. How often have you heard the following phrases? “She’s autistic.” “He’s learning disabled.” “They’re in special education.” This kind of language defines the individual as their disability, rather than a person who has a disability. “She has autism.” “He has a learning disability.” “They receive special education services.” Think about it: Would any of us want to be defined by just one thing?
 
*There are many services and programs available within the DS division of NCSS. You can read more about these services on our website by clicking on the “Developmental Services” tab at the top of page or by clicking on this link: http://www.ncssinc.org/developmental-services
 
Written by Meredith Vaughn

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Welcome to Minds & Matters, the new NCSS blog!

Hello and welcome!

Our blog is also about to head down a new path, and we’re very excited to be launching it at the same time that our responsive website has its debut. We know how busy life can be. Every day can feel like a marathon and you’re perpetually stuck at mile 23!


You might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t have time to read a blog!” While some days you might be right, we hope you can find the time (at least some of the time) to join us on our new path.

Did you know that 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness in a given year? And 1 in 25 adults in America lives with a serious mental illness? Even with these numbers, the average delay between onset of symptoms and intervention is 8 to 10 years, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). While there may be a number of reasons for this statistic, we at NCSS recognize that there is a social stigma associated with mental illness; this stigma can feel debilitating and it prevents the majority of people with mental illness from seeking help. NCSS prefers to view STIGMA as an acronym for Striving To Increase Good Mental Health Awareness.

Minds & Matters is for everybody—clients, staff, families, community members—and we invite you to join us. A blog post may focus on one of our programs here at NCSS, offer a discussion about a mental health article or issue, cast a glow on an inspiring story from our community, or provide tips and pointers for general health and well-being. It is NCSS’ mission to build a stronger community; engaging in meaningful conversations can move us just a bit closer to our goal.

We hope you’ll visit Minds & Matters again.

we’re here for you

Friday, February 22, 2013

Enhancing Your Child's Communication Skills

By Liza Boudreau, NCSS CIS Early Interventionist

As a parent or caregiver it is never too early to enhance your child’s language and communication. Believe it or not, early communication begins in the first couple months of life. Newborns will coo and turn their head towards you as you talk to them. As your newborn grows they will begin to babble and have various types of cries depending on their needs. In the toddler years, children will begin to use gestures such as pointing and waving. They will also begin to make sounds with intonation and try to imitate words. All of these are early forms of communication.

Speech and language is beyond just talking. Pre-speech and language skills begin with the ability to imitate sounds; turn-taking skills (learned through games such as peek-a-boo); visual skills (looking at the speaker and looking at objects); auditory skills (listening to speech sounds); tactile skills (learning about touch, exploring objects in the mouth); oral motor skills (using the tongue, moving lips); and cognitive skills (understanding object permanence, cause and effect relationships). 

Parents and caregivers are the primary communicators interacting with their babies and young children. There is a great deal of things that you can do to help your children learn to communicate. Here are some tips to help enhance your child’s speech and language skills:

§   Remember that language is more than spoken words. When you are modeling words keep in mind that language can be reciprocated through gestures and facial expressions as well.

§   Provide many models. Many times repetitions and experiences are needed to happen in order to learn a word. Repeat and model what your child says.

§   Use real objects and real situations. When you are teaching a concept, use daily activities and real situations as much as possible. For example, teach the names of foods as your toddler is eating them. Name and ask them to identify body parts while you are bathing your child. It is important to keep in mind that communication is part of yours and your child’s daily life.

§   Make reading to your child part of your daily routine. Reading is a very enriching learning experience. Reading can simply be looking at the pictures and making up a story of your own. Asking your child to point to pictures in the book and eventually name them. Remember that this should be a fun time for both you and your child but keep in mind that offering information rather than drilling with questions is the best approach. This will put less pressure on your child and make them more comfortable to begin talking to you.

§   Follow your child's lead. If your child shows interest in an object, person or event, build off of that and provide them with a word for that concept. There are many milestones as the child progresses towards using speech.

§   Most importantly, take the time to get down to your child’s level and HAVE FUN playing with them. Learning happens through play!

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s development, reach out to your pediatrician or you can also contact the Family Center at Northwestern Counseling & Support Services and speak with the Children’s Integrated Services Intake Coordinator, Heather Wilson, at (802) 393-6601. 

____________________________________________________________________

Submitted by Liza Boudreau, Children’s Integrated Services, Early Interventionist, NCSS Children, Youth & Family Services Division.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wintertime Family Fun!


It's finally winter in Franklin County and you are wondering what my family can do during this winter season.  In Franklin County there is plenty to do whether you are more inclined to spend your time playing in the snow or keeping warm inside your home.  For those who love to spend time outside I suggest exploring some of the numerous opportunities available in our community;

 

  • Hard'ack is located in St. Albans at 179 Congress Street.  Hard'ack provides great winter activities such as sliding, downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing and cross country skiing on the numerous trails on the backside of the hill.  There hours of operation are Thursday-Friday 4:00pm-9:00pm; Saturday 12:00pm-9:00pm; and Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm.  Best of all the recreation at Hard'ack is free of charge!
  • Jay Peak and Smuggler's Notch are close by and offer downhill skiing and snowboarding for beginners and experts.  Keep your eyes open for discount deals for Vermonters and daily deals which can be found on LivingSocial, 802shopping, Localvore Today, and Today's jumponit Deals.  This will certainly save you a little bit of money. 
  • The Missisquoi Rail Trail is 26 miles long and can be used for snowshoeing and snowmobiling.  You can find several pull offs to park your vehicle and begin your adventure. 
  • The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is open year round and will provide a great place to go snowshoeing.  It is located on Tabor Road in Swanton. Visit the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge website; http://www.fws.gov/northeast/missisquoi/  to read the activities newsletter and their upcoming events.  
  • Hazen's Notch which is located in Montgomery and has great trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and educational programs.  Visit their website; www.hazensnotch.org to learn about their events taking place throughout winter.
  • Ice fishing for Trout, Salmon, Bass on various different points around Lake Champlain.  Before heading out please adhere to Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department regulations and recommendations. 

 

Please remember before going outside to wear the proper gear to keep yourself and family safe and protected. 

 

Now for those who enjoy the warmth of their own home or want to travel out into the community here are a few ideas;

 

  •  There are many play groups/story times available to all families in each town. 
    • The St. Albans Playgroup located at the NCSS Family Center, 130 Fisher Pond Road. Children and care providers are invited to playgroup, which is every Wednesday morning from 9:00-10:30am. 
    • A mother of Preschoolers (MOPS) is located at 1091 Fairfax Road in St. Albans.  Moms meet for creative activities, advice, encouragement, and a light lunch.  The mothers meet the first and third Friday of the month from 8:45-11:00am. 
    • Another MOPS group is held in the Richford/Enosburg area at the Lighthouse Assembly of God on 878 Horseshoes Road in East Berkshire.  The meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month. 
    • Attend a Children's Story hour/playgroups at a library;
      • St. Albans City Free Library is located at 11 Maiden Lane. A story hour is held Monday and Thursday from 10:30-11:30am. Children 0-6 and care providers are welcome to join. 
      • Swanton Public Library located at 1 First Street has a story hour for children 0-5 on Wednesday's at 10:00am.  
      • Fairfax Community Playgroup located at 17 Hunt Street has a playgroup for children 0-6 and is every Friday from 9:00-10:30am. Enjoy circle time, free play, and a snack is provided. 
      • Georgia Public Library located at 1697 Ethan Allen Highway, offers preschool story time for preschooler on Friday morning at 10:00am. Success by Six Pajama Story time is also offered every third Tuesday from 6:30 to 7:30pm. The Library offers Family Game Night every second Wednesday 6:30-7:30pm. 
      • RU12 Rainbow Reading Hour at the Bent Northrop Memorial Library located at 164 Park Street in Fairfield, offers to all children at 6:00pm every first and third Monday from 6:00-7:00pm. 
    • A fun round of bowling at the St. Albans Bowling Center located at 133 North Main Street would be a great adventure.
    • A matinee at the Welden Theater located on Main Street in St. Albans could be a great afternoon activity.  
    • Yoga Tots in Highgate at the community room in the Town Office.  Yoga Tots is offered the first Saturday of the month at 9:00am.  It is designed for ages 3-6 and registration is required.  To register for Yoga Tots call 868-3970 or email Liza at highgatepublic@comcast.net.
    • Water Babies at Branon’s Pools on Thursday at 6pm. Building Bright Futures created an opportunity for care providers and babies to enjoy fun and fitness together.

 

  • Begin a story hour at your own home with your children.  Have hot chocolate while reading a book and follow up with an activity, maybe lacing mittens for a fine motor activity?          

 

Please keep yourself and your family informed of ongoing events by Building Bright Futures. You can read more at www.buildingbrightfutures.org/.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s development, reach out to your pediatrician or you can also contact the Family Center at Northwestern Counseling & Support Services and speak with the Children’s Integrated Services Coordinator, Heather Wilson, at (802) 393-6601. 

____________________________________________________________________

Submitted by Amber Stowe, Children’s Integrated Services, Early Childhood and Family Case Manager, NCSS Children, Youth & Family Services Division.