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Volunteer Training on 4-H Involvement for Youth with Disabilities
Questions to be Answered • What is a developmental disability? • How does involving youth with disabilities fit with the • mission of 4-H? • What are some of the disabilities 4-H members might • have? • What are some things to keep in mind when working with • disabled youth? • What support can the 4-H office provide to help volunteers • in working with young people with disabilities?
How does involving young people with disabilities fit with the mission of 4-H? “To Make the Best Better” is the national motto of the 4-H program. The 4-H program’s mission is to help youth develop important life skills. All youth need opportunities to be involved in activities unique to their own talents and interests. 4-H can be an empowering pathway for youth with disabilities and their families to receive what they want and need: the opportunity to be involved, make friendships, and gain life skills.
What is a developmental disability? A developmental disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity such as seeing, hearing, dressing, feeding, learning, and playing.
What are some of the disabilities 4-H members might have? • Cystic Fibrosis • Diabetes • Down’s Syndrome • Dyslexia • AD/HD • Asthma • Autism • Cerebral Palsy
What are some of the disabilities 4-H members might have? • Spina Bifida • Spinal Cord Injuries • Tourette Syndrome • Visual Impairment • Epilepsy • Hearing Impairments • Muscular Dystrophy • Speech & Hearing • Disorders
AD/HD Called Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, AD/HD is a neurological developmental disability characterized by inattentiveness, impulsivity and hyperactivity. While the exact cause of AD/HD remains unknown, it appears that it may have genetic ties. It is also thought that a chemical imbalance or deficiency of neurotransmitters in the brain may cause the disorder
Asthma Causes the airways to become blocked or narrowed when exposed to a trigger. When the airways come into contact with a trigger they become inflamed and the related muscles tighten up, causing the narrowing of the airways. Triggers can include exposure to cold air, exercise, viral infections, smoke, or allergens.
Autism Is characterized by problems in developing appropriate social, communicative, and behavioral skills. Autism is more common in males than females. It was a wide range of severity. One person may blend into society with only a few communication or social-interaction problems. Another may not have the skills to communicate at all.
Cerebral Palsy Is a brain abnormality that results from abnormal development or damage to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth. It is a multiple handi- capping condition that includes problems with balance, speech, and overall motor function. Learning disabilities are present in some individuals, as is mild to severe delays in mental development. About half of those with cerebral palsy experience seizures.
Cystic Fibrosis A genetic disease that causes the body to produce thick mucus, which then clogs the lungs. This disease can lead to potentially deadly lung infections. Cystic fibrosis is a recessive genetic disease. In order to have cystic fibrosis, a person needs to inherit a recessive cystic fibrosis gene from each parent.
Diabetes A disease in which the pancreas does not produce insulin, or the body does not effectively use the insulin produced. Insulin is the hormone needed to convert sugars into energy. Complications of diabetes can be life threatening when blood sugar goes either too low or too high.
Down’s Syndrome A genetic birth defect that causes delays in physical and mental development. Down’s syndrome is caused by an error in cell division that occurs at conception. There is increased risk of giving birth to a child with Down’s syndrome as the age of the mother increases. Children with Down’s syndrome complete most developmental tasks but do so a later age than children without Down’s syndrome.
Dyslexia Is a learning disability that causes problems with reading, writing, and spelling. In a person who is dyslexic, the right hemisphere of the brain is used to process reading as compared to the typical left. The cause is unknown, but there is a genetic link in families. Other factors that may contribute to dyslexia include environment, education, and child- rearing.
Epilepsy A brain disorder in which electrical signals are disrupted. This disruption leads to seizures. Seizures may range from brief changes in a person’s body movement or awareness to violent convulsions. In many cases, the cause is unknown; but some epilepsy cases may be caused from head injuries, meningitis, brain tumors, stroke and other degenerative brain diseases.
Hearing Impairments Hearing impairment is the loss or absence of the ability to hear some or all sounds. There are three classifications of hearing loss. Conductive Hearing Loss – sound waves are blocked from traveling through the middle ear. Sensorineural Hearing Loss – caused by damage in the inner ear to the hair cells and/or nerve fibers. Central Hearing Loss – occurs when there is damage to the hearing pathway to the brain.
Muscular Dystrophy A genetic disease caused by alterations on specific genes. These alterations create little or no production of proteins that maintain muscles. This causes the weakening and degeneration. It is an inherited disease that is passed on genetically from parents to children. However, one can be a carrier and not actually have muscular dystrophy. There is no cure for muscular dystrophy, but genetic testing can be done to determine if one is a carrier.
Speech & Hearing Disorders Speech disorders refer to difficulties producing sounds or problems with voice quality. Language disorders refer to impairment in the ability to understand and/or use words in context, either verbally, nonverbally, or both. These disorders range in severity from sound substitutions to the inability to comprehend or use language.
Spina Bifida Spina bifida literally means “split spine.” It is a neural tube defect occurring during the first month of pregnancy in which the spinal column does not completely close. Damage to the spinal cord can occur because of this. The exact cause of spina bifida is unknown. However, low levels of folic acid intake before and during pregnancy are related to a higher incidence of spina bifida.
Spinal Cord Injuries A spinal cord injury results when the spinal cord is cut, damaged, or pinched. When a spinal cord is injured, a loss of some or all functions of mobility and/or feeling occur in some part of the body. This is also known as paralysis. The extent to how a spinal cord injury will affect the body depends on where the injury is on the spinal cord. Generally, the higher on the spinal cord the more extensive the injury will be.
Tourette Syndrome A neurological disorder causing “tics”. The tics usually occur as facial or body tics. Verbal tics are much less common but are the most commonly noticed by others. Tourette Syndrome is inherited by a dominant gene, but having the gene does not mean the person will exhibit Tourette Syndrome. It is thought that this gene creates an abnormal metabolism of the brain.
Visual Impairment Refers to severe or complete loss of vision. People are considered to be legally blind if they have visual acuity of 20/200 or more, and /or they have a field of vision that is 20 degrees or less in the better eye. Severe visual impairment is defined as visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200 and/or a field of vision of 30 degrees or less. Visual impairment can be either congenital or acquired.
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 young people who have the same • needs, interests, and problems as other youth. • Help the disabled youth to help him or herself. This • will lead to increased independence.
Tips continued… • Help the young person 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
Tips continued… • Learn about the child’s disability to understand • their abilities and limitations. • Talk to the parent(s) 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 • young people can help you concentrate on their abilities, • not their disabilities.
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.
Tips continued… • Use 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.
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 young person 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.
What support can 4-H provide to help volunteers involve more young people with disabilities in club work and 4-H activities? Wyoming 4-H is committed to making our programs more appealing and accessible to youth with disabilities; including activities like this training, help in recruiting children and youth with disabilities, and suggestions on adapting projects and activities to the needs of individual youth. Please do not hesitate to contact our office or the state 4-H office for support you need as you take on the opportunity of working with young people with disabilities.