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Oregon Deafblind Project - 2016 Parent Learning Weekend
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2016 Parent Retreat

Video of the Parent Weekend.

The annual Parent Learning Weekend 2016 was held August 26-28 at the Oregon Garden Resort. For several of the parents it felt like going "home" since we had been at this resort twice before -- and really enjoyed our weekends there! A total of 10 families of children who are Deafblind were represented, two for the very first time.

Planning for the event took almost a year -- and the Project acknowledges all the work and planning time put in by the parents on the planning group -- Trisha and Dave McCready, Stacey and Chris Smith -- and Anne Olson-Murphy from WESD who always pitches in!! From start to finish -- the whole agenda worked out really well. We began the weekend on Friday evening by "meeting" each family via a photograph-board while we ate dinner. We do this each year so parents present can associate specific children with their parents. It also has parents telling their stories and beginning to relate to each other, or catching up from the previous year.

Anne Olson-Murphy makes sure our annual ice-breaker session is so much fun that parents begin to actually bond, learn about each other -- and thoroughly enjoy the session. You can see several photographs from our animoto from this session.Thank you to Linda McDowell, the McCready and Smith families for sending me photographs for this year's animoto slide show. I had a new camera -- and did NOT know how to use it. I promise to learn by next year!

We kicked off the weekend with a terrific presentation by friends from Marion County services -- Sarah and Nicholas -- on Emergency Preparedness for families with children with special needs. Every handout was so appropriate and useful. In addition to those they gave each of us backpacks with a variety of startup supplies -- e.g. non-battery operated flashlights (with even a weather-radio connection), first aid kits, personal hygiene kits etc. Thank you, Sarah and Nicholas. Thank you Dave McCready for putting together an additional resource book -- and for planning and facilitating this session. Electronic copies are available of all session handouts.

Robbie Blaha, from the Texas project for Deafblindness, was once again our main presenter. Those of us who know Robbie were thrilled that she said "yes" -- and we love having her come! She discussed the development of concepts, and went into detail about what children who are deafblind think about people -- and what concepts they have about them. In her second session, Robbie talked about Sexuality and how knowledge of the right kind affects all of us and our children who are deafblind. She talked about modesty, appropriateness, conventions, and legalities - and how behavioral plans might help with some issues that arise. In her final session, Robbie talked about the IEP and the importance of the right kind of assessments that connect with a child's program, and what needs to be in the IEP document or the IEP minutes for a child who is deafblind. She also provided an update on the processes currently occurring in Washington DC that would impact our small population of children.

The final session included parents planning for each of their own children and families -- based on information they received during the weekend. Thanks to Trisha McCready, we had an actual planning template that each parent could use -- so they could walk away with something in hand. And, as always, the planning group looked for feedback from the group for next year, including words and phrases to go into the animoto.

Of course, each of us took time to explore the beautiful gardens, listen to the live music in the lounge each night -- and just chat the time away. I don't think many of us got to bed early either day! As always, the cottages are so much more fun than hotel rooms -- and I am sure many of spent some time sitting out on our own little patios too. Thank you to Alisha and Jennifer -- and to their network of friendly and efficient staff who made sure the room was always set up, meals were on time -- not to mention, delicious! (thanks Chef!), and that they answered our questions.

We are all looking forward to the 2017 retreat!

Western Oregon University | The Research Institute | The Oregon Deafblind Project

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The Oregon Deafblind Project is funded through grant award # H326T130008, OSEP CFDA 84.326T, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP), OSEP Project Officer: Susan Weigert.

However, the contents of this site does not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

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