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Webinar: Short and Long-Term School Difficulties for Children following Cancer Treatment

Registration Closed
Facilitator(s): Adrienne Witol
Date:December 12, 2016
Time:3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
No charge
Location: Virtual
Course code: 17-IE-237

Target Audience

Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing students, Speech Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Audiologists working with DHH students and any one who cares for recovering cancer patients

About this learning opportunity

Cancer treatment can result in short and long-term education needs. Up to 75% of children with cancer will experience some form of learning difficulty. Both short and long-term learning difficulties can significantly impact a student’s education and potential. Short-term difficulties are temporary and usually confined to the time of treatment or shortly afterwards. Common short-term difficulties are related to school absences, temporary attention problems related to fatigue, malaise and medication side effects. Long-term difficulties include learning disabilities related to brain tumors, cognitive late effects related to treatment, as well as exacerbation of pre-existing learning problems.

This one hour presentation will review:

  • The types of educational challenges students with cancer face.
  • Advocacy needs for parents. Long-term difficulties, including hearing loss, develop slowly following treatment. Parents then need to advocate for their children, but often with limited information and a time when most parents of students with special educational needs have been advocating for several years. 
  • Common learning profiles for students and young adults with cognitive late effects due to cancer treatment (long-term difficulty).
  • Emotional impact of short and long-term difficulties. Children have a higher risk for difficulties coping with frustration.  The incidence of mood and behavior disorders is higher in children who experience school difficulties. 

This learning opportunity is being provided through funding from Alberta Education.

About the facilitator(s)

Adrienne Witol became a Registered Psychologist in 1996, earning her doctorate in clinical psychology in 1994 and completing a 2 year fellowship at Virginia Medical School/Traumatic Brain Injury Model System, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.  After working as the psychological director of inpatient rehabilitation services at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals, she relocated to Canada in 1998.

The last ten years have been focused exclusively on children with cancer and or blood disorders and their families. Most recently, she has developed and leads BrainWorks, a Kids With Cancer Society supported program that works to support the cognitive, educational and emotional support needs of children with cancer, brain tumors and injury and cancer-like conditions. 

She has a long-standing interest and passion for the academic and social needs of children.  In 2001, she received an Innovation Award for the development of a community based brain injury rehabilitation and school transition project.  The BrainWorks program is based on the most successful elements of this early transition program. She also assisted with a national project to help define essential elements to promoting Canadian children with cancers’ return to school. At this point, there are no evidence based guidelines in the US or Canada.  For eight years, she served, representing this focus, on the C17 Research committee, a national consortium of health centers researching and working with children and families with cancer and blood disorders. Since 1998, she has also worked at Alberta Health Services providing care to and collaborating on local and multisite projects addressing the academic cognitive and emotional support needs of individuals with medical illnesses or brain injury and their families.    

An interest in helping to promote retention of health care staff led her to both consulting and group therapy work with health care professionals addressing compassion fatigue and resilience training.  This work has led to several practice changes in the Edmonton pediatric oncology unit.   

Her community work has included compassion fatigue support groups, as well as group and individual therapy with persons struggling with infertility, development of programs to help deliver support services to students with late effects due to cancer treatment and multiple caregiver and expressive art conferences.

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