Have some questions? We have some answers.
1) How does CoF define “complex disabilities”?
Youth with a significant disability or a combination of disabilities that substantially impacts a person’s physical ability, communication skills, or intellectual ability and as a result, interfere with their ability to participate in childhood experiences and daily living activities without the use of specialized mobility aids or medical equipment or augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. These disabilities can be compounded by medical challenges.
- Disabilities that are included but are not limited to orthopedic impairment/physical disability, visual impairment/low vision/blindness/cortical vision impairment, deafness/hard of hearing, significant intellectual disability, and genetic disorders.
Currently Circle of Friends School’s specialized activities are being designed to meet the needs of our most vulnerable population and prioritizing youth with physical disabilities. As our financial and personnel resources grow so will our ability to provide services to individuals with disabilities who are able-bodied.
2) Does CoF include youth with disabilities beyond those identified as complex? How?
All of our monthly family-friendly, community-based events are open to all youth and their families. Circle of Friends will highlight community-based events that are accessible and fun for all. We aim to increase comfort in family outings and reduce their risk of isolation.
Any family or individual who contacts us will be provided assistance and information, which may include helping them locate appropriate services for their youth. Circle of Friends School has a diverse board of directors and programming team that consists of special educators who are knowledgeable of Lane County resources and agencies. We have strong relationships with community organizations like Direction Service, Lane County Developmental Disabilities, and city inclusion service agencies.
3) What is the plan for integrating neurotypical peers?
Neurotypical peers and siblings are encouraged to attend our monthly family-friendly community-based events. Since Circle of Friends is highlighting public events that are accessible to all, neurotypical peers are naturally present during these planned gatherings.
Circle of Friends is also community partners with Inclusion Services for Eugene and Springfield, which promote and provide accommodations that allow for youth with disabilities to participate in recreational programs and activities with their neurotypical peers.
4) What do you currently offer?
-Monthly family-friendly public events. Circle of Friends will highlight community-based events that are accessible and fun for all. We aim to increase comfort in family outings and reduce their risk of isolation.
-Lending library of switch or adaptive toys for youth with individualized motor needs.
-Augmentative + Alternative Communication (AAC) evaluation, consultation, and systems of communication support.
-Monthly youth-centered activities that are specially designed for youth ages preschool through middle school (up to age 13 years old). We want to provide our youth opportunities to experience fun and recreation that have traditionally felt inaccessible. Registration required and we strive for each event to be low cost.
-Quarterly day camps & summer day camps specially designed for youth ages preschool through middle school aged youth (up to age 13 years old). Registration and intake required. Costs range. Scholarships available.
-Respite day camps.
-Parent and sibling gatherings.
-Access to alternative therapies: aquatics, music/movement, dog therapy, etc.
-Connect youth with local inclusion-based recreation programs.
5) What will you offer in the future?
*Alternative Educational Placement options for youth, ages PreK-8th grade.
6) Is there a cost to participate in current CoF programming?
Monthly family-friendly public events and youth-centered activities that are specially designed are low to no cost.
Quarterly day camps & summer day camps range in cost and scholarships are available.
7) Why is CoF so motivated to create opportunities for youth with complex disabilities?
CoF, in its birth/creation, was started to provide youth with complex and coexisting disabilities a choice in their school placement. These coexisting disabilities are infrequently seen in the classrooms and can be described as Orthopedic Impairment, Visual Impairment/Cortical vision impairment, genetic disorders, and hard of hearing/deafness. In addition to their disabilities, youth have unique communication systems and multiple medical conditions that require special attention throughout their day.
From Teacher Jenn: “As a special educator for over 20 years, I have witnessed youth with multiple disabilities be the minority in their special education settings. These youth are frequently the first to wait for a teacher’s attention, the first to be grouped with other youth because they are unable to run off, and often, are missing valuable learning opportunities because the pace of the class needs to match the majority (or the needs of students who exhibit unsafe behaviors are prioritized).”
8) What do you mean by Inclusion is Love?
Inclusion is Love is a statement that you will see on our social media, yard signs, business cards, and other CoF materials. This motto is important to us because it’s a reminder that our kids and youth matter: they deserve to be included in their communities. It is our mission that children and youth with complex disabilities experience fulfilling lives inside and outside of their homes, and we want to facilitate both in whatever ways we can. We aim for CoF families to be welcomed, encouraged, and supported exactly as they are when they venture beyond their front doors. We hope that by building this nonprofit and bringing families with complex disabilities together, we can normalize human differences through acceptance and accessibility.