Reciprocal Learning Community

Upcoming RLC Sessions

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Working under the umbrella of the NWDSA, The Reciprocal Learning Community (RLC) is a network of families, educators and health professionals who come together to help parents of children with Down syndrome and other disabilities become informed, empowered experts on their children’s development and wellness. The program was developed in 2003 in response to drastic cuts in Early Intervention services as a way to help parents educate themselves to become strong advocates for their children.

Parents, with the assistance of an advisory board of professionals, choose the topics and plan each session. All of our sessions are research-based and utilize current best practices. Each session features Spanish translation. Concurrent childcare sessions, run by qualified professionals with the help of volunteers, provide activities for our children that are relevant to that session's content. Each RLC concludes with a catered lunch and time to build community with presenters and other families and professionals. The sessions, which take place on a Saturday morning several times a year, are provided free of charge.

Previous topics have included:

· Nutrition
· Behavior
· Literacy
· The father’s perspective
· Person-centered planning
· Preparing for meetings with school staff
· The building blocks of development
· And more!

The sessions are interactive, and parents ask questions, provide feedback and get involved. Many sessions feature “expert panels”, made up of parents and professional, to field questions from participants. There is a growing recognition of the importance of parents and professionals working together to help children with disabilities. Learning happens continuously in the home and community, and is not limited to the sessions with trained therapists and health personnel. Insurance does not cover many of the services families need, and early intervention provides as few as 2 hours a month for some children. The RLC fills a vital need for our families, and its impact is recorded in the overwhelmingly positive evaluation forms that we receive at the end of every session.

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