Talisman Programs for Children with Special Needs Launches Webinar Series to Help Parents Keep Kids Safe Online

Zirconia, NC (PRWEB) February 8, 2009

One of the nation’s leading providers of educational opportunities for special-needs students is launching a series of interactive online seminars to help parents navigate the murky waters of Internet social networking sites.

The first of these online webinars, “Facebook, My Space, My Child, Oh My,” is set for Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Enrollment is limited to 25 participants per session, and registration is already underway.

The webinar series is sponsored by Talisman Programs, which provides summer camp and semester-length programs for young people (ages 8 to 21) who have learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, and high-functioning autism.

According to Aaron McGinley, who is leading Talisman’s online outreach effort, the Internet forums will explain how social networking sites work, and will provide parents with insights into the risks and benefits of popular sites such as Facebook and MySpace. They will also allow parents to ask questions and discuss issues related to raising special-needs children in an increasingly networked world.

“A lot of parents have been calling us with two questions about their kids and the Internet,” McGinley said. “They want to know how they can keep their kids safe online, and they also want to learn how to make online social networking a positive experience for their children. These webinars will help answer both of those questions.”

MAXIMIZING SAFETY, MINIMIZING RISKS

For many young people with ADHD, Asperger’s, and related conditions, social networking sites can present both a world of possibilities and a range of potential problems. The Talisman webinars, McGinley said, are designed to help parents maximize the potential of the online world while minimizing the risks that their children may encounter there.

“A lot of our students struggle with skills such as reading social cues and interpreting nonverbal body language, so it’s natural for them to be attracted to some of these online social networking sites,” McGinley said. “It can be a bit easier for them to communicate online, and also it’s a big part of mainstream youth culture. It’s something that almost every kid is doing these days.”

But the enticements and opportunities that are offered by the online world are accompanied by many of the same challenges that special-needs children face in many of their daily interactions. “Our kids typically have trouble understanding social rules,” McGinley said. “Well, there are a separate set of social rules on the Internet, and failing to understand them can lead to some serious problems.”

For example, McGinley noted, children who are prone to taking risks and making poor choices about who they associate with offline are apt to behave in a similar fashion online. But because users are often unable to control or remove images or information once they have uploaded it, the consequences of posting an embarrassing photo or sending an inappropriate message can be exponentially worse than making a social mistake in a real-world environment.

ABOUT THE WEBINARS

The first Talisman webinar will focus on the following five topics: