Coming Spring of 2024
In the Spring, we will provide a panel discussion on neurodiversity to educate families, professionals, and community members. The panel will include parents of neurodivergent children and professionals in the field. We will offer ample time for small group discussions and hands-on resources for families during the two-hour session. Free childcare will be provided.
We had a wonderful afternoon with Greg Santucci, MS, OTR/L as he discussed Re-Framing Behavior: How Understanding Safety, Regulation, and a Child’s Sensory Needs Can Help Us Shift From 'Managing' Their Behavior to Improving It. We hope you watch the recording above and benefit from his amazing knowledge.
Every child wants to do well. Every child wants to succeed and make their parents and teachers happy. However, it can be really hard to be a kid sometimes, especially for our neurodivergent children. We are demanding more from then than ever before in school. While the academic demands have changed, what hasn't changed is the course of human development. Current advances in neuroscience have taught us some much about 1) how the brain works and 2) what kids need so they can feel safe, regulated and ready to meet our expectations. Despite this new knowledge about the brain, parents, teachers and professionals still often see "the behavior" as the problem instead of trying to understand the underlying cause of the behavior. Workshop attendees will gain a new understanding about "the why" of childhood behavior and learn strategies to support kids and improve behavior durably; no prizes, points or punishments needed.
What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is the diversity of human brains. A viewpoint that includes a wide range of different brain functions and behavior presentations such as Autism, Anxiety, Gifted, ADHD, etc. Neurodivergent individuals experience, interact with, and interpret the world in unique ways. This can sometimes create challenges, but it can also lead to creative problem-solving and new ideas — things that benefit everyone.
What led us to a Neurodiversity educational event?
At Westminster, one of our core values is taking care of God's children. We believe education provides foundational truths for all ages and makes a tangible impact on our world. In April, Meg Yancey, a mom in our church, posted daily truths about Autism which included pictures and stories about her autistic son, Hux. On Mother's day, Pastor April Cranford served with children in the nursery and educational classes. She noticed the presence of neurodiversity in each sacred space. She desired to enhance the spaces for neurodivergent children and empower the volunteers with knowledge about neurodiversity for optimal learning. Soon after this conversation, one of our members, Kathy Baker, LPC, learned of a community grant and encouraged the church towards extending an educational opportunity about neurodiversity into our community.
We are grateful for our financial partners
In June, we submitted a 2023 Behavioral Health Equity grant to the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness with a focus on hosting two educational events about neurodiversity. In July, we were awarded grant funds totalling $7,839. In addition to these funds, Valley Community Services Board approved $1,500 for the fall event with speaker, Greg Santucci.
Greg Santucci is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the Founding Director of Power Play Pediatric Therapy. Greg has been working with children and families for over 20 years, providing OT services in schools, homes and outpatient therapy centers throughout New Jersey. Greg is certified in Sensory Integration and the creator of the Model of Child Engagement, a clinical framework to help professionals and parents focus on a child’s safety needs prior to addressing their regulation and sensory processing skills, with the goal of improving a child’s participation in daily activities. Greg has been lecturing nationally for over a decade on topics related to sensory processing, child development and behavior, and consults with parents and educators around the world. Greg has dedicated his career to promoting neurodevelopmentally-informed, relationship-based interventions to help parents and teachers support children of all abilities and learning styles. Greg is the father of two children and is married to a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, so he shares his toys with everyone in his family.