Adapting Personal Progress For Special Needs – Random Question Thursday

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The question for this week’s RANDOM QUESTION THURSDAY comes from a very good-looking individual- ME! :)

Since the young women that we serve are always maturing (new Beehives come in from Primary, Laurels graduate, etc) we are bound to have new situations come up that we haven’t dealt with before – even if we’re seasoned YW leaders.

For example, we have a YW in our ward who has some special needs, but is very enthusiastic about Personal Progress. She has recently become frusterated in her recent attempts to “pass off” Value Experiences that she simply didn’t understand. This was a new situation for me.

As a presidency, we decided that we needed to work with her closely to achieve these goals, but also adapt the program to her ability level. But how would we do that? 

The “Adapting to Individual and Local Needs” section of the Personal Progress book says
“Value experiences and value projects may be adapted according to personal or local circumstances, interests, and needs with prior approval of parents and leaders . When making any changes or exceptions for one person, leaders should consider the effect those changes may have on other young women . After careful consideration by parents and leaders, adaptations may be made to meet the needs of young women with disabilities or educational limitations, to meet cultural or individual needs, or to allow young women who are not members to participate”

But how exactly were we going to do that?

I am on the Personal Progress site (a section of lds.org found HERE) regularly, but until recently I hadn’t noticed that under the “Get Started” section of the site, on the left side of the page, there is a category labeled,  “Personal Progress for Those with Special Needs” (if you click on the title in red here, the pdf version will open for you). This is a printable version of Personal Progress that has been generally adapted for general special needs. The same type and number of Value Experiences and Value Projects are still required, but the Value Experiences and the suggested Value Projects have been somewhat simplified.

This would be a valuable resource for many girls, but I still felt that in our particular situation, it wasn’t adapted enough for this certain YW’s abilities and needs. This resource could be used as-is for many girls, but certainly will not be appropriate for everyone. There is really no way that they could make a specific pre-made program that would fit every situation. There are as many different social, emotional, and educational ability levels as there are girls who have what we generically call “special needs”
Our particular situation required a much greater level of simplification, so I’d like to share with you what we have done. Again, what we have done may or may not be appropriate for a special-needs girl who you are working with. The young woman that I am working with has severe limitations. What I have done certainly would not be appropriate for most girls. You may be surprised at how much we have simplified the program, but it was the result of much thought and consultation about one specific girl’s particular abilities and maturity level. As a Presidency, we have agree that this is an appropriate level to challenge this particular girl, yet still making passing off Value Experiences and Value Projects attainable for her.
I purchased two 3-ring binders. They are identical, except that one was pink (for her) and one was blue.
PINK NOTEBOOK: This is the notebook that this YW will take home with her to work on. I made a cover page that I inserted in the front with the YW’s name and “Personal Progress” in large letters. I also used a sharpie marker to write her name and “Personal Progress” on the outside edge of the notebook (to help the family identify the notebook in case the cover page was removed and/or lost). On the inner cover, I also wrote the following (in sharpie marker) “when you have finished your assignment*, bring all your papers and this notebook back to one of the yw leaders during church or mutual”. This YW has received several Personal Progress books, but has lost them all. We hope that this notebook will be more difficult to misplace. We are asking her to bring the WHOLE notebook with her, so that a new “assignment” can be entered when the completed one is removed.
BLUE NOTEBOOK: This is the notebook that we will keep in the YW closet at church. I wrote her name and “Personal Progress” on this notebook as well, but I also added the words “YW Leaders Notebook” and “Please leave in the YW closet”. We will keep  her tracking sheet, completed “assignments”, and a few future “assignments” in this notebook.  The main purpose of this 2nd notebook is partly to prevent the loss of all of her work if her pink notebook is misplaced or lost, but also so that any YW leader can sign-off her work and give her the next “assignment” when she is ready.
*We’re referring to the Value Experiences as “assignments” in this case because of the confusion the new lingo was causing her.
“ASSIGNMENTS”/VALUE EXPERIENCES:  Using the Personal Progress for those with Special Needs” as a guide, I typed up ONE Value Experience at a time, each one on its own page. We felt that having multiple options listed on the same page was part of the confusion for her. For each page I made, I made sure that the Value Category and the # of the Value Experience are clearly shown at the top, to make it easier for us as leaders to identify/mark off the completed Value Experience when she completes an “assignment”. We will give her these 1-Value Experience “assignments” to her one at a time. 
To give an example of how I have modified a Value Experience/”Assignment”, here are all three versions of the Faith Value Experience #2:
FAITH VALUE EXPERIENCE #2 (standard version)“Discover the principles of faith taught by the mothers of Helaman’s stripling warriors. Read Alma 56:45–48 and 57:21. Review what “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” says about a mother’s role. With a mother, grandmother, or leader, discuss the qualities a woman needs in order to teach children to have faith and to base their decisions on gospel truths. How can these principles help you in your life today and help you prepare to be a faithful woman, wife, and mother? Record your thoughts and feelings in your journal”
SPECIAL NEEDS FAITH VALUE EXPERIENCE #2“Discover the principles of faith taught by the mothers of Helaman’s stripling warriors. Listen to or read Alma 56:45–48, or listen to, read, or watch “Helaman and the 2,000 Young Warriors” (Book of Mormon Stories, chapter 34). Complete the online puzzle “Two Thousand Young Warriors.” Have your mother, grandmother, or leader share her testimony or a faith-promoting story. Write your thoughts and feelings in your journal. For example, “My mother, grandmother, or leader has taught me ___________.” 
(MY VERSION) ASSIGNMENT #2/ FAITH VALUE EXPERIENCE #2:“Learn about Helaman’s stripling warriors and their mothers by completing the 4 parts of this assignment:

  1. Read the scripture Alma 56:45-48 (in the Book of Mormon).
  2. Color the puzzle picture in your notebook*
  3. Ask an adult woman (who is a relative or a Young Womens leader) to tell you about a time in their life when they learned about faith.
  4. Draw a picture on this page about what you have learned

 (*”We Do Not Doubt” dot to dot puzzle I found here, printed and placed in the notebook with her assignment)
You  may notice that I did not include online resources such as videos and online games that were suggested, this is simply because this particular girl doesn’t have internet access. Otherwise, they would be great to use!
Typing up (and providing additional adaptation) each Value Experience was time-consuming, so I only did a few Value Experiences ahead the first time. We will need to make sure we always have the next one ready for her, because we won’t be sure how long it will take her to complete each “assignment”
Of course, we will be providing support and help as needed, but I tried to simplify it to the point that she should be able to complete the assignments with little or no help. Ideally, parents would be able to provide assistance with Personal Progress, but that isn’t always possible in every scenario.

Another idea that people have suggested is assigning a YW mentor (another YW who has completed Personal Progress) to work with her. That is a fantastic idea! However, in this particular situation, we have a sister who is called as a YW Leader specifically to work with her, so we feel like having this YW leader and the Beehive leader work with her is the best fit. As with everything else, this will depend on her needs and abilities.
I hope that this gives you a starting place to consider adapting the Personal Progress program for girls in your care who are differently abled. 

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