Over the weekend I was thinking about my top 5 highlights of the project so far:
- Parent support groups. These take place once a week (at the same time as the groups for siblings). In these groups it’s been great to see a group of parents of children with autism build relationships with each other. None of them knew anyone else who also had a child with autism prior to joining the programme. They have gradually become more confident in sharing information about their lives and we now see them chatting and joking with each other. We have had lots of fun in these groups and the parents have commented many times that they get to do activities that they don’t usually have the opportunity to do.
- Interactive training sessions. We try to make our training sessions as interactive as possible and we’ve had such a great group of parents and teachers who are always willing to answer questions, take data on our behaviours, and share stories and examples from their own lives. They have kept us particularly entertained with their excellent role play skills- they are very convincing at pretending to be children! We recently had our mid-point review training, which we did in the form of a quiz show. We were pleasantly surprised by how much they remembered and how competitive they were. The hardest part for us was actually mediating between the different teams in terms of how many points they scored!
- Expressive communication cooperative session. This was one of my favourite cooperative sessions because we began to teach the children how powerful their communication can be. When the children were motivated to communicate (we found that bubbles were a particularly desirable item) some of the children were making their first ever appropriate communication requests!
- Evidence based practices in the classroom. Qiess’ presentation for teachers was on how to integrate some of the teaching strategies into a mainstream classroom that may include some children with learning disabilities. It was great to listen to someone so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about his area of expertise. He was actively trying to solve the problems that the teachers were having in their classrooms and ensure that the training was relevant to them; not an easy task when the teachers can have up to 45 mixed ability students in one class!
- Community outings. These are great opportunities for some intensive work with a parent and child with autism on the things that are most important for them in their day-to-day lives. We’ve been with parents and provided coaching on how to teach their child to behave appropriately when walking in the community and while shopping.
There have been so many highlights so far that it was difficult to choose these five, let’s see what the next few weeks will bring…