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					A PERFECT FIT

 A Volunteer Training on 4-H
 Involvement for Youth with
         Disabilities
       By: Nicole A. Bertke
           Palm Beach County 4-H Extension Agent


                                                   1
QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED
What is a               What are some things
developmental           to keep in mind when
disability?             working with disabled
                        youth?
How does involving
children with           What support can the
disabilities fit with   4-H office provide to
the mission of 4-H?     help volunteers involve
                        more children with
What are some of the    disabilities in club work?
disabilities 4-H
members might have?
                                                 2
What is a developmental disability?
         A developmental disability is defined
         as a physical or mental impairment
         that limits one, or more, major life
         activity and appears before age 18.



   Sources of Information
 A Perfect Fit: 4-H Involvement for Youth with Disabilities, 4-H 788, CES of Purdue University
 What's Your Handicap? 4-H Leader's Curriculum Guide, CES of North Carolina State University
 Together: A Leader/Agent Workbook for 4-H Programming to Include Youth with Disabilities, 4H0-0241,
 National 4-H Council
 Recreation and Handicapped Youth: 4-H Recreation Leader's Guide, 4H0-0240L, CES of the Pennsylvania
 State University                                                                                      3
How does involving children with
disabilities fit with the mission of 4-H?

   Deficits in important life skills often show up in
    the areas of problem solving, decision making,
    interactions with others, and goal setting and
    attainment in children with disabilities.
    Fortunately, it is these very life skills that 4-H
    attempts to improve in a all of its youth
    participants. Through involvement in the 4-H
    program youth with disabilities will improve their
    basic life skills, thereby increasing their chances
    of a higher quality of life and of becoming
    independent, productive members of society as
    adults.
                                                          4
What are some of the disabilities
4-H members might have?
   Downs Syndrome         Muscular Dystrophy
   Autism                 Cerebral Palsy
   Tourette Syndrome      Cystic Fibrosis
   Epilepsy               Mental Retardation
   Spina Bifada           Visual, Hearing,
                            or Physical
                            Impairments


                                             5
Downs Syndrome
 This is the most common and readily
 identifiable condition associated with
 mental retardation. It is caused by a
 chromosomal abnormality. Characteristics
 of a child with Downs may include poor
 muscle tone, slanting eyes, short and
 broad hands, short neck, small head, heart
 conditions, gastrointestinal difficulties, and
 a large tongue. The level of retardation
 may range from mild to severe, with most
 functioning in the mild to moderate range.

                                                  6
Autism
 This is a syndrome believed to be
 caused by an underlying physical
 dysfunction within the brain or
 central nervous system. It is four
 times more common in boys than
 girls. Symptoms include lack of a
 social smile, abnormalities in eye
 contact, difficulty in communication,
 difficulty forming relationships,
 repetitive movements, and mental
 retardation or giftedness.
                                         7
Tourette Syndrome
 Tourette Syndrome is a neurological
 disorder characterized by tics -
 “involuntary”, rapid, sudden
 movements or vocalizations that occur
 repeatedly in the same way. There
 are periodic changes in the number,
 frequency, severity, type, and location
 of the tics. Symptoms can disappear
 for weeks or months at a time.

                                           8
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a physical condition that
occurs when there is a sudden, brief
change in how the brain works
altering a person’s movements or
actions for a short time. These
physical changes are called epileptic
seizures and vary in intensity, length,
and impact on the brain. Mental
retardation may or may not be
present.
                                          9
Spina Bifada
 Spina Bifada means cleft spine,
 which is an incomplete closure in
 the spinal column. It can vary in
 severity. In the most severe form
 there can be muscle weakness or
 paralysis below the area of
 incomplete closure, loss of
 sensation, loss of bowel or bladder
 control, and build up of fluid on the
 brain. Cognitive function varies

                                         10
Muscular Dystrophy
  Muscular Dystrophy refers to a
  group of genetic diseases marked
  by progressive weakness and
  degeneration of the skeletal, or
  voluntary, muscles, which control
  movement. Muscles of major
  organs may also be involved.
  The individual may experience
  respiratory difficulties.

                                      11
Cerebral Palsy
 Cerebral palsy is a condition caused
 by damage the brain, usually
 occurring before, during, or shortly
 following birth. It is characterized by
 an inability to fully control motor
 function. It may include spasms,
 involuntary movement, tonal
 problems, unsteady gait, seizures,
 impairment of sight, hearing, or
 speech, and mental retardation.
                                           12
Cystic Fibrosis
 Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder
 that causes the body to produce an
 abnormally thick, slimy mucous in
 organs such as the lungs and
 pancreas. The symptoms include
 persistent coughing, wheezing, or
 pneumonia, excessive appetite but
 poor weight gain, and salty tasting
 skin. It varies in severity and often
 results in shortened life-span.
                                         13
Mental Retardation
 People with mental retardation are
 those that develop at a below
 average rate and experience
 difficulty in learning and social
 adjustment. The extent of
 impairment can range from mild,
 moderate, severe, or profound.
 Children with MR do become adults;
 they are not “eternal children.”

                                      14
 Visual, Hearing, or
Physical Impairments
There is a wide range of visual,
hearing, and physical impairments
that may stand alone as a
disability or may be present with
any of those discussed previously,
as well as with many not
mentioned.


                                     15
What are some things to keep in mind
when working with disabled youth?
 Begin by creating an environment in which all
 members feel accepted and secure
 Include the members with disabilities by
 accepting them as individuals who have the same
 needs, desires, and problems as other youth

 Help the disabled child to help him or herself.
 This will lead to increased independence
 Include the members with disabilities by
 accepting them as individuals who have the
 same needs, desires, and problems as other
 youth
                                                   16
Tips continued...
Help the individual to set goals and
standards that allow for self-satisfaction
and achievement
Center activities around normal
behaviors of the age group
Do not let the disabled youth be
the center of attention or provide
them with special privileges
                                        17
Tips continued...
Learn about the child’s disability
with an intent to know their abilities
and limitations
Talk to the parents of the child.
They often can provide you with
extra hints concerning their child’s
abilities
Ask the participants what they
would like to do. Disabled children
can help you concentrate on their
abilities, not their disabilities
                                         18
 Tips continued…
Encourage full participation in all activities
Be firm and use behavioral modification
techniques when needed, but also be
quick to praise
It may be necessary to alternate
between quiet and action activities to
avoid over stimulation
Break tasks down and demonstrate
requests as necessary
                                             19
 Tips continued...
Focus on activities that foster
cooperation rather than competition
Assess the physical environment
and make adaptations as needed
Encourage physical activities but allow
multiple ways to be involved
Ask what help is needed rather than
assuming the person needs assistance

                                      20
Tips continued...
Be aware of any medications being
used and their side effects
Prepare the other youth in your club to
work cooperatively with the child with a
disability
Remember each person has a
chronological age, an emotional age,
a social age, and a given level of
physical activity. They may be
functioning at different levels in each
of these categories
                                           21
What support can 4-H provide to
help volunteers involve more children
with disabilities in club work?
The Florida 4-H Program is working very
hard to make the program more appealing
and accessible to youth with developmental
disabilities. Activities taking place or being
prepared include trainings such as this one,
recruiting volunteers to establish new clubs,
recruiting children with disabilities, and
adapting projects and activities to the needs
of individual youth. Please do not hesitate to
contact our office for the support you need
as you take on the endeavor of working with
youth with disabilities.
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