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December Parent Newsletter

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

Happy Holidays! SEPAC had a busy November! We hope you or your child(ren) were able to take part in one of our exciting events this past month! See below for a few snapshots!

Join us for our next SEPAC General Meeting on December 13, 2018 (details below) to discuss our upcoming events and get to know other SEPAC parents!

Coming in January! Our General SEPAC meetings will include a speaker and/or a topic for discussion for attendees. Topics will vary, please share topics you want to hear about with us via email at Note: These will be informal presentations and discussions aimed at building community and support for Norfolk SEPAC parents.

November Events at a Glance

Thank you to all of our workshop presenters including Kristie Johnson Poggi, Jennifer Pipe, and Leah Romig for making November such a successful SEPAC month!

~ Tree Farm Photos at Deerfield Tree Farm ~

Thank you Leah Romig Photography for a wonderful Tree Farm Photo Shoot!

~ Self-Esteem Through Art for Boys ~

Thank you Jenn Pipe for building self-confidence through art for these boys!


SEPAC Spring 2019 Agenda - We Need Your Vote!

We are in the process of finalizing our spring calendar of events and workshops. In order to provide events for parents and families, the SEPAC relies on funding earned from events like the Trunk or Treat and Parent's Night Out!

Help us decide what to offer in the spring - Click on the link below to vote for one of the following workshops:

Option 1: Executive Function Workshop

Option 2: Anxiety

Option 3: Share a new topic you are interested in!


Don't miss these upcoming SEPAC Events!

Thursday December 13, 2018 – SEPAC General Meeting

Freeman Kennedy School | 70 Boardman St | Norfolk, MA 02056

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Thursday January 10, 2019 – SEPAC General Meeting

Topic TBD

Location: Freeman Kennedy School, Superintendent Conference Room

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Monday January 14, 2019 – Sensory Friendly Jump

Urban Air Trampoline & Adventure Park | 189 Mechanic St | Bellingham, MA 02019,

4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Please join the Norfolk SEPAC for sensory friendly playtime at Urban Air Adventure Park. Children with special needs will have a chance to enjoy time at the park without loud music, flashing lights! 20% of all proceeds will be donated back to the Norfolk SEPAC. Tickets can be purchased at the door but please RSVP on our website (RSVP Here).

Wednesday January 23, 2019 – Workshop: An IEP for my Child: A Free Workshop for Parents and Professionals

Freeman Kennedy School | 70 Boardman St | Norfolk, MA 02056

Superintendent Conference Room

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Registration Requested - Register here: Registration Link


Parent Education

Holidays are a wonderful time to spend with families and friends. When you have a child with additional needs, holidays can be more challenging. See below for some strategies for making holidays fun and enjoyable for everyone in your family.

1. Safe Space

Whenever you visit a person’s house or stay at your own, establish a “safe zone” for your child so that she can retreat and be alone, if desired. This may be a room in the house or even a desk she can crawl under for a time.

2. Maintain Routines — as Much as Possible

Quite likely, there will be routines forsaken, forgotten or simply adjusted for festivities. Many children with special needs struggle with such change. As a result of their brains and bodies adapting well, they may become overly disorganized and overstimulated; more, they likely will exhibit more sensory seeking/avoidance behaviors and have meltdowns more frequently. If an occupational therapist has made recommendations for a special sensory diet, try to maintain those activities as much as possible to foster physical and emotional regulation.

3. Introduce Sensory Input Slowly

For many of the Fall and Winter holidays, sensory input is at a maximum. Between Christmas’ twinkling lights and Hanukkah’s fragrant oils cooking, many children with special needs are easily overwhelmed. To help with this adjustment, introduce new sites, smells, and sounds one at a time, when possible. Combine it with familiar, cozy sensory input as well.

4. Utilize Tools

Ask a pediatric therapist for recommendations of equipment or tools that may help your child and family. For children with physical challenges, TheraTogs and Kinesio Tape may be useful. Children may benefit from weighted blankets, earmuffs, and specialty sand. Some others may find comfort in fidget toys and calming jars.

5. Prep Family

If you’ll be spending time with family and friends who haven’t been around your child much, consider giving them a little tutorial in advance. This will help avoid hurt feelings when Madison doesn’t want Grandma’s hugs or Adam refuses to touch Uncle Luis’ casserole. If you aren’t yet comfortable giving all the details of your child’s condition, just offer ideas on how your child best responds. For instance, Madison loves high fives more than hugs or Adam is still learning how to try new foods.

6. Simplify Opening Presents

For children who struggle with fine motor skills, reduce frustration by adjusting presents and cards. Loosen ribbons, unseal envelopes, and minimize tape so your child can feel successful with little frustration. He’ll feel a sense of satisfaction over the ability to complete tasks.

7. Enlist a Support Team

Identify at least one other person who will be on your side during the gathering. This person can help ensure the special space is prepared ahead of time or that your child is taken care of while you visit and eat.

Suggestions adapted from Pediatric Therapies, Franklin, TN (

Here are some additional resources for making the holidays a happy and enjoyable time for everyone:

Merry Everything and Happy Holidays!


SEPAC Books of the Month

What Do You Do With an Idea?

by Kobi Yamada

This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child's confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who's ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It's a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn't going anywhere. In fact, it's just getting started.

What Do You Do With a Problem?

by Kobi Yamada

This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn't so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared.

What Do You Do With a Problem? is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It's a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it's here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem... and yourself.


Our Mission

The Norfolk Special Education Advisory Council exists to:

  • Raise awareness and provide thoughtful leadership on the benefits of special education in the community

  • Develop a platform where parents can share ideas, identify concerns, and support families of children with special needs

  • Develop, maintain, and share tools and resources for parents of children with special needs

  • Advise the School Committee on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities

  • Meet regularly with school officials to participate in the planning, development and evaluation of the School Committee’s special education programs; and

  • Assist the district in coordinating the presentation on the rights of students and their parents and guardians

  • Promote diversity, acceptance and inclusion of students with disabilities in all district and community activities

  • Promote social enrichment by hosting parent support groups and periodic events for children in the Norfolk community.


Norfolk SEPAC Board

President: Taiese Hickman

Vice President: Jo-Anne Gilbody

Secretary/Treasurer: Pia Mack

Director of Communications: Karen Murphy

Director of Events: Michael McCarthy

Grant Administrator: Karen Mazzola

Parent Outreach Coordinators: Brian Mack and Sarah Cardoso


Contact Us

Facebook: @norfolksepac

Instagram: @norfolksepac

Twitter: @nsepac

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