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October busy month for children with special needs

Swimming Coach, Zero Iaulualo with a special needs child during their swimming lessons in 2015 in conjunction with parents’ group PCSN Network.

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — For children with special needs, the world can be a daunting place; for their parents and caregivers, it can be an overwhelming labor of love just to get through the day.

Fortunately, in American Samoa, there are parents and caregivers ready to lend a hand and offer support in areas that are meaningful to these families.

One such organization is the Parents of Children with Special Needs Network, or PCSN.

PCSN has a busy month planned for October.  Their activities include instruction in American Sign Language (ASL) , art classes, swimming classes and a workshop to explain and assist with Individualized Education Programs—IEPs— which are a vital and important component of scholastic success for children with special needs.

The ASL classes will be held every Tuesday and Thursday for five weeks. Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 16 and ending Thursday, November 15, classes will be held at Manulele Tausaga Elementary School behind Aveina Nuuuli and is free and open to any interested parties. Instructor for the ASL class will be Dana Love-Ili.

There will also be an Art Class offered on Tuesday, October 16 from 9am to 10:30 am. This will be held at the Hope House Atrium at Fatuoaiga, and art supplies will be provided.

Local artist Reggie Meredith will be conducting this class as she has done in the past, and she has received great support and thanks from parents and students who have previously attended. One parent called the class “joyful” as she watched her child blossom under the gifted teacher’s guidance.

Ongoing classes include Adapted Swimming every Thursday afternoon from 3:30 to 4:30 pm at the Pala Lagoon Swim Center, taught by Sandra Scanlan and Denise Meredith.

Lastly, there will be a workshop to help understand the IEP process from start to finish. That class will be held Friday, October 19 from 9am to noon in the DHSS offices behind the WIC office, at the conference room for Behavioral Health Services Division.

It should be noted that an IEP is the cornerstone of the education path for children with disabilities. It is meant to be updated every year and helps your child's teachers, therapists, parents and others understand how to best attain goals set for your child in the education system.

The IEP also ensures that special needs children are able to stay in a regular classroom, interact with their peers, and enjoy the social benefits of the learning environment.

Everyone is welcome to this workshop, but the event will specifically target the needs of parents and caregivers of children who are in the SPED system.

All classes are free of charge and open to any interested parties. For further information, please contact Sandy Scanlan at 731-3959 or email her at: