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Autumn 2021 Newsletter

Hello and apologies for the delay with issuing our Autumn newsletter, but it’s here now and a sign of how busy the start of term has been here at the Down Syndrome Centre North East!

Services, activities, and therapies

We have been so happy to welcome new children and families, as well as previous families back into the centre for individual and small group activities such as weekly Occupational Therapy (Mondays), monthly Speech and Language Therapy (Tuesday and Sundays), three Early Intervention groups (Wednesdays and Fridays), three Handwriting without Tears classes (Wednesdays and Saturdays), weekly baby/toddler sensory music with Moo Music Monaghan (Fridays) and one course of Baby Massage. Alongside this, we also host fortnightly virtual music therapy (Saturdays) a virtual counselling service and virtual talks and seminars, most recently on the topic of Down Syndrome associated arthritis, which was part of the Cavan Monaghan Science Festival. So very busy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We have also had some new parents come in for visits and a cup of tea and chat, so if you do know of any new or expectant parents, please do ask that they reach out to us for a very informal introduction to the centre during some of our quieter days.


In terms of staffing, Norma Boyd has joined us as a Support Worker to assist with the small group classes, and Erin O’Hagan is our new Occupational Therapist from Sensational Kids. We hope you get to meet them soon and extend your warm welcomes to them also.

2022 Charity Calendar – please support us and purchase a copy (or two!)

Behind the scenes we have been busily preparing our 2022 Charity Calendars which are now available to purchase from DSCNE and from our online shop www.dscnortheast.ie/shop . We have also included the option of free click and collect from DSCNE also if that helps you. All the models’ families also have an allocation to sell in their areas, so if you wish to find out if there are some copies close by to you, please contact us and tell us where you are based and we can see if we can get you linked in with someone local. The theme is “I love…” and the children showcase what they love doing, and who they love doing these activities with. It also features 32 children from Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath – even more than last year! Once again, the pictures are stunning and every calendar bought, donation given, voluntary time provided, goes towards assisting us to continue to give access to free and/or heavily subsided therapies, services and activities. Each calendar only costs €5.00

Virtual Christmas Party

All service users should now have received an invitation to a virtual Christmas call with Father Christmas on Sunday 5th December, 3pm. We hope to see many of you there, and we really hope that next year we can party in person! Given the current climate we thought it safest and best to remain in a virtual capacity to ensure we keep families and staff as safe as possible.

Upcoming Talks from the Monaghan County Libraries Sensory Stories Programme

1. Making Christmas more Inclusive for all with Sensational Kids Clones – Thursday 2nd December @ 7pm.

During this online talk they will explore how to prepare for the Sensory and Environmental changes in the lead up to Christmas. Occupational Therapists Erin (who attends DSCNE every Monday) and Mary will share lots of ideas to support children with sensory processing difficulties access the Christmas period more effectively.

Bookings for this event can be made through this link :

2. An Autism Awareness Talk with AsIAm will take place on Thursday the 2nd of December @11am.

This talk will be delivered by Aoife Casey. Aoife is part of the training team at AsIAm. She is an education officer and the Autism Friendly University Co-ordinator. Aoife had previously worked in Social Care and is the parent of an autistic child in addition to being autistic herself. During this talk she will cover topics such as

- What is Autism? And What is it Not?

- Building Empathy for the Autism Experience

- Supporting Communication

- Supporting Social Interaction / Imagination

- Supporting Sensory Processing

- Questions & Answers

Bookings for this event can be made through this link :

These events are part of the Sensory Stories Programme at Monaghan County Libraries and is funded through the Dormant Accounts Fund, Monaghan County Council and the Government of Ireland.

Claiming back VAT on specific toys

At this time of year, we would also like to address/remind families that you may be able to claim back the VAT on specific toys for children with Down Syndrome. The rule is that the toy must be specifically for your child and assist them in some way in communication or independent living.

The most common items on the list could be:

• IPads & tablets

• Computers

• Apps (communication, speech, etc.)

• Eating and drinking aids

• Communication aids

• Specific footwear

To strengthen your application, a letter is useful from a therapist/professional/doctor recommending that the items makes a huge difference. You can contact the Revenue to check if you can reclaim the VAT and they will inform you of the steps to take. You will also need to complete a reclaim form which you can download on the revenue website. You may also be entitled to claim further expenses back on a Med 1 form. This allows you to receive an additional 20% off as a tax rebate.

Parental Feedback/Ideas for 2022

Service users should also have received a link to provide some feedback and insight in to, primarily returning to face-to-face Music Therapy at the centre, and also our new plans for an After School Club. Please can parents complete the very short survey to let us know if this is something you are interested in, or not, and any other ideas we might not have considered yet. The link to complete this was sent on 27th November 2021. If you need it re-sent, please let me know.

Volunteers and Steering Group

Thank you to our volunteers who continue to give their time and energy to help support and drive the centre especially Heather and Annagh who have assisted with our groups since the summer and have continued to attend each week to help and volunteer. We also have a Steering Group that meets virtually once a month and as usual, we would like to take this opportunity to invite/remind you to join our Steering Group. The Steering Group feeds into the planning process for activities in the Centre and is supported by the office administration team. Meetings are monthly and a maximum of 2 hours. Come join us & have your say! Our Board members also voluntarily give their time and expertise to direct the centre and we are very grateful for their continued support, especially in the past year, as they continue to meet via Teams once a month.

That’s all for now in our bumper packed, belated newsletter. And now that the Toy Show has happened, I don’t think it is too early to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. I hope to be in touch again soon with more of our exciting plans and activities for 2022. Thank you so much for your continued support this past year, and we hope you will continue to share in our journey to assist as many families as we can across the North East region.

Best wishes,

Caitriona and all at Team DSCNE

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