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Conference to raise awareness about respite care

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Shelly Birkelo
October 3, 2012

— Kirah Zeilinger was so excited about the knowledge she gained at last year's Respite Care Conference she made copies of handouts to share with co-workers in the Beloit School District.

"It was awesome the things I was able to learn," said Zeilinger, a kindergarten teacher at Gaston Elementary School.

What Zeilinger found most useful were tips on how to integrate special needs children in the classroom, how to simplify project explanations for students and how to handle ways that students react to certain classroom situations.

"There are so many things that make a kid tick," she said. "When you're able to find out why and how they work, then some things you can't understand about their behavior make sense."

The conference, hosted by Family Respite Care Services for Rock County, provided "a lot of common sense tips to help with classroom management," Zeilinger said.

That's why she plans to attend this year's conference on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

"I'm really excited about the (epilepsy and) seizure training," Zeilinger said. "I'm trained in what to do if a child should have a seizure, but I've never seen a real seizure. This will help me feel more prepared."

The point behind the conference's Relief, Education, Services, Providers, Integration, Training and Experience theme is to bring awareness to communities, families and businesses about what respite is, said Whitney Walraven, executive director of Family Respite Care Services for Rock County.

"So many people just don't know what respite stands for or what children or individuals qualify for respite," she said.

Walraven also wants families of children with special needs to get the resources they need about services available. The conference is open to parents, providers, professionals and anyone who works with special-needs children or with families caring for such children.

"We want families to feel the relief while at the conference and to walk away feeling they have some additional network or services available to them," Walraven said.

In addition to at least a dozen exhibitors such as Independent Disability Services and the Wisconsin Early Autism Project, the conference will feature these workshops:

-- 9:15 to 10 a.m.—"Bipolar Disorder in Children," by Kerri Peach-Churches.

-- 10 to 10:45 a.m.—"Autism Spectrum Disorder and Social Skills," by Angie Levin.

-- 11 to 11:45 a.m.—An optional spaghetti lunch. Cost is $12 in addition to the registration fee.

-- 12:45 to 1:45 p.m.—"Incorporating the Invisible," by Jeff Messer.

-- 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.—"Sensory Processing Disorders, Modulation Programs, Biomedical and CranioSacral Therapy," by Tami Goldstein.

Presenters and exhibitors will provide attendees with a program and list of speakers, plus a take-home folder with information, Walraven said.

"We want everyone to walk away feeling empowered and knowledgeable," she said.



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