July 11, 2018, Daily Astoria (OR): Guest column: Mission Control launches in Seaside schools http://www.dailyastorian.com/columns/20180711/guest-column-mission-control-launches-in-seaside-schools Schools are tasked with teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, but it’s hard for kids to get the lessons when they are upset and misbehaving. That’s why Seaside School District launched an innovative approach to behavioral health in the 2017-18 school year. Mission Control is a calming room where kids can focus on self-regulating their emotions and behavior.... Prior to this year, “There was a real lack of social-emotional education that kids need to know in order to function,” said Rachel Whisler, a behavior support specialist at Seaside Heights Elementary School. “Behavior is a way of communicating that affects friendships, learning and success in a lot of ways” she said. Kids may wonder: “Why am I out of control?” “Why do I say things like that to my friends?” “Why am I so impulsive?” Beginning in kindergarten, students are taught about brain function and how to identify and control their emotions and behavior, using The Zones of Regulation. … Seaside principals and other educators visited Butternut Creek Elementary School’s Wellness Room in the Hillsboro School District and were sold on the idea of creating a similar room at Gearhart Elementary and Seaside Heights. Then the work began. Finding space required relocating computer and performance spaces, ordering supplies and setting up Mission Control. Rooms at each school feature strings of mini-lights, calming stations with sand, theraputty, manipulative items, larger motor challenges and enclosed spaces like a tepee. In addition to the Mission Control room, regular classrooms have new flexible seating, including yoga balls, standing tables and cushions, so students can learn where they were most comfortable. … For two years Seaside educators have studied trauma-informed practices that take into account adverse childhood experiences. It involves treating people with compassion and understanding around traumas they may have experienced…. Most classrooms have a Peace Corner that students can access to self-regulate, said Seaside Heights Principal John McAndrews. It is part of the classroom but is a place where the student can use sensory items or cushions to feel more comfortable. “This allows students to not feel so isolated,” McAndrews said. “They are free to rejoin whenever they want to come back to class.” …
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Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.
Anne Dachel, Media editor, Age of Autism
(John Dachel, Tech. assist.)
What will happen in another 4 years? How can we go on like this? This is a national (and international) problem of monumental proportions. We have an entire new class of children who cannot be accommodated by the system: many are manifestly neurologically impaired. Meanwhile, the government and the medical profession sleep on regardless.
UK media editor, Age of Autism
The generation of American children born after 1990 are arguably the sickest generation in the history of our country.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic.
They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking at one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years.
Toby Rogers, PhD, Political economist
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