How did you discover geocaching?I discovered it when a couple of my Facebook friends posted about going geocaching last summer. I Googled it instead of asking! I originally didn’t even think to include Brian (CoolGuy84’s real name—and BTW he made up his own geo-name), my younger son and his gf had heard of it before and had been wanting to try it, so the 3 of us set out one evening and only found 2 of the 5 we looked for, but were hooked none the less.What attracted you to geocaching as a mother and son activity?We live in a small Missouri town (suburb of KC) and were surprised to find so many geocaches in Raytown—Brian eventually joined us for a few adventures as the others of us got the hang of caching. My other son and his girlfriend lost the fever somewhat between work and life, but Brian was hooked. Its kind of a long story, but in the previous year and a half my family had quite a few losses. We had evolved into sad depressed lumps. Once we discovered geocaching suddenly we were out almost everyday. We went hiking on the trails; we ran up and down hills; climbed rocks and got fresh air and sunshine! I know it sounds sappy but it was kind of a miracle in our lives.What’s your advice about geocaching to others with family members who have Down Syndrome?Brian searching for a geocacheThe only advice I have is to not hesitate to include them! Depending on their age there are a variety of ways they can participate. Younger kids can just enjoy the family time and the exercise and fresh air (and eventually become experts). Kids with Down Syndrome tend to be very sedate in nature and would be happy sitting; but then tend to be overweight also. There’s all kinds of therapeutic benefits too—it’s a gross motor activity, fine motor activity (getting to the containers; opening containers; digging through the swag and picking out what you want), it’s a cognitive activity—putting the pieces of the puzzle together to locate the cache. And it also has all the same benefits for them as with typical kids—learning about nature (we saw 2 deer in the woods closeup last weekend and Brian was in awe); traveling, learning geography, history (we’ve done several mystery caches that have taught both of us some interesting history facts). With older kids/adults like Brian it gives them quite a sense of accomplishment, pride and self-confidence. He is SO excited about all of them whether they are quick Park and Grab geocaches (P&Gs) (which he does love and doesn’t usually need my help at all) or if we’re hiking through the woods. Most of all its just plain fun for everyone and can help build a close family bond and hobby.You describe “CoolGuy84” as a freak for geocaching. What excites him so much about the activity? He just gets excited when he figures out where the caches are; he actually does better than me at actually finding the containers. I can read the maps/GPS like a champ and I can drive us there, but I find that he doesn’t have preconceived ideas about what a container should look like or where it should be hidden so he just looks everywhere! Even if I say “ehhh no its probably not there, I don’t know how they could hide one there” then BAM he has it found. He’s always so proud of himself and takes ALL the credit for finding it. Here is our caching chant: ME: “I drive the car, I read the map, you find the cache!! What do we call that?” BRIAN: “ TEAMWORK!!!” ————————A special thanks to Peggy for sharing the story from all of us at Geocaching HQ. Leave a comment for Peggy and Brian below.Share with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedGeocaching Employee Spotlight: Tom, Veep of Marketing & MerchApril 10, 2016In “Community”The Seanachai: Keeper of the Old Lore, Reviewer of the New CachesMay 6, 2015In “Community”Geocaching Employee Spotlight: Product Owner & Avid Geocacher, Ben HewittMarch 13, 2016In “Community” Brian and Peggy on a geocache runThe post on the Geocaching Facebook page started with “My 28 yr old son (who has Down Syndrome) is my best geo-buddy!” The post from Peggy Caton, PeGC56, instantly struck the heart of geocaching buddies sharing an adventure. They search for ‘hidden-treasure’ only find the real treasure right next to them the whole way.Peggy answers a few questions about geocaching, and about her best bud and son Brian who goes by the geocaching name CoolGuy84.
4.) Encouraging resilience: Teach children about emotions – have them point out how they feel perhaps by using a smiley face rating scale or flash cards.Supplement the pointing by verbal prompts such as: “When my face looks like this I am feeling…” or “Today I feel like…” Written by: Lakshmi Mahadevan, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Extension Specialist – Special Populations, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.Major General Paul D Eaton – retired of the United States army states that “the future of our kids will be greatly enriched and enhanced if we infuse their earliest years with sensitive and thoughtful skills that will help them develop into a healthy, connected, and constructive generation of adults.”.The sensitive and thoughtful skills Major Eaton is referring to constitute social-emotional learning. Social-emotional learning (SEL), as defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”Children with disabilities often find themselves struggling emotionally. Specifically, they tend not to be accepted by their peers, and they display shortcomings in the way they interact with peers and adults. Further, they have difficulty reading nonverbal and other subtle social cues.Some children with more severe cognitive impairments may lack age-appropriate social understanding of complex interactions. Further, students whose language is impaired may have appropriate understanding of social situations but may have difficulty communicating effectively with others.It is important therefore to teach children with disabilities the skills to recognize emotions, experience empathy, pursue goals and effective navigate interpersonal relationships (CASEL, 2012).Parents/guardians can encourage social-emotional learning in their homes by:1.) Being deliberate: Use progressive supports –Help your child identify a sibling’s emotions or of someone they see on television. – “Julie seems sad.”Ask leading questions – “Why do you think she is sad?”; “how can we make her smile?”Suggest solutions – “Maybe you can ask to play with her.” 2.) Using Scaffolding: ReferencesSupporting the Emotional Needs of Kids with DisabilitiesRaising Caring, Confident, Capable Children Take the time to debrief and teach SEL. Demonstrate and describe:Sharing (cooking and sharing dinnertime with family members, passing on the tv remote for someone else’s favorite program etc.)Kindness (helping a family member find something, organize for school next day)Friendship (visiting with friends at home, having a game night with friends)Cooperation (willing to change schedule to accommodate a family member’s needs)Teamwork (sharing chores, cleaning up together etc.)Sharing your feelings (“I feel upset right now”, “this makes me so happy”) 3.) Modeling SEL at home: 5.) Reviewing the school day: What was one cool thing you learned today?What is one question you didn’t get to ask today that you would like answered?What was your most favorite activity today, why?What was one thing you did with someone else today that you really enjoyed?What was something you learned today that can help you at home?What do you think we will learn next? 6.) Validating expression of child’s emotions: When emotions are expressed, do ask questions (for e.g. “what’s wrong?”; “You seem so happy today, I like it, what’s up?”)When emotions are expressed, don’t:Invalidate – “stop crying”Minimize – make the child laugh for examplePunish – impose time-out etc. Reading stories that evoke emotions:“What do you think Johnny is feeling right now?“What can Johnny do to make himself feel better?”“What did you learn from the story about how Johnny felt during…” Building feelings of competency and mastery – “that is the best work, so well done!”; “Look how far you have come…”Encouraging optimism – “I know our amusement park trip got canceled because of rain but you know we have a lot fun indoors everyday and we will postpone the park to another day!”Teaching children to reframe – “I am sorry our picnic got canceled, how can we make a picnic indoors?”Disarming with charm – “You seem really upset, would you like to talk about it, get a glass of water, put your head down for a bit?”Modeling resiliency – “ I feel bad that I got sick and we couldn’t go on our vacation last week, but I am happy to be well again and we now have a whole new plan for next time.”