Kiwanis session points parents to helpers

Charlene Fryfogle talks about communication disorders at the Petrolia Kiwanis event showing parents some of the resources available in the community.

Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative

Barb McNaughton is looking for some help to manoeuvre through the system when it comes to her six-year-old son, Cruze, who is a Grade 1 student at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Port Lambton.

Cruze has anxiety, but it is not yet known if he has other things like autism or obsessive compulsive disorder. He often gets overwhelmed and has trouble in loud groups. His classroom this school year has been in a portable, something that his mother says has helped him, as there are less distractions.

Since her son started school, she has struggled to get him the help he needs, either because of waiting lists or lack of funding.

“It seems to be when we get two steps forward, we take another three steps back,” said McNaughton.

She hoped by coming to the event on Sunday, she could get more information about getting him the services he needs.

She was one of a dozen parents at the Parent Information Session held hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Petrolia April 30. The event was organized by Melissa Duquette, who worked as a communicative disorder assistant for 18 years. She became a member of the Kiwanis Club last summer and approached the club president if she could organize the event with the club’s help.

It was parents like McNaughton who Duquette had in mind when she organized the information session. There were eight speakers taking part in the event, representing each of their different professions.

“Eighty percent of learning is visual,” said Dr. Jessica St. Pierre of Petrolia Optometry. She said children should get their first eye exam between the ages of six and nine months, then every year after that. She stressed the importance for parents to get a full eye exam for their child before starting school.

Shelly Marui, an early literacy specialist with Petrolia’s EarlyOn Child and Family Centre located at Lambton Central Collegiate and Vocational Institute, talked about the importance of reading to your child at a young age. Parents should be reading at least 20 minutes a day to their child.

“Early literacy doesn’t mean early reading,” said Marui. Learning should be unfolding naturally for children, as singing, rhyming, looking at pictures or having the child help to turn pages while having a story read to them is all important in language development. It takes approximately 1,000 books to be read to children before they are ready to begin reading.

Other presentations were made by a communicative disorder assistant, a speech and language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a child and youth practitioner, an art therapist, as well as about psychology/educational testing and mental health.

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