Temenos-Online: A New Way to Connect With Families
Carizon’s Temenos program is a therapeutic classroom service for youth aged 12-18 with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), provided in partnership with the Waterloo Region District School Board.
The program helps students and their families cope with complex trauma, behavioural challenges, and mental health issues. As a result, Temenos employees become an essential part of the families’ lives.
When the school boards asked students to stay at home for an extended “break” due to COVID-19 concerns, our Temenos team realized just how deeply the students and their families rely on their daily connection with us.
We had students reaching out for help to understand what was happening in a way they could understand, parents asking how to support their child at home, and an overall sense of panic because, without the support of Temenos, they could see their family foundation crumbling.
Our staff worked tirelessly with families to find wraparound support they so desperately needed. Our only thought was, “how can we support the mental health of these children and their families and help them find a way to sustain essential securities through this pandemic?”
That is why we launched Temenos-Online, a digital adaptation of our program with the goal to foster connection between our team and our youth despite physical distance, while providing a sense of structure and normalcy.
We knew we needed to keep them engaged to continue to support their wellbeing, so we started with reading aloud. For so many kids with FASD, being read to is such a gift. Cognitive processing challenges make reading and understanding storylines too difficult, so removing the need to read text allows them to focus on listening to the story. It is so amazing to watch some of the most dysregulated youth find calm through this exercise.
A portion of our programming needed to be open and fluid so we could adapt to whatever was happening within our student’s homes. Hosting daily challenges unique to each child allows for them to advocate about things that are happening at home and the opportunity to contribute to a solution.
Wrapping around families through Temenos-Online has brought us closer to their home life. It has been enlightening, humbling, and immensely helpful in forming ideas on treatment plans.
Temenos-Online is a journey of growth and learning for both Carizon and our students. But today, the kids are attuned, attached, more regulated, and laughing… Together we are staying connected.