With social distancing measures still in effect, the range of options for the summer are limited. To help families find what is available, ACT is gathering information on virtual summer camps and fun activities for school-age kids to be posted on a new Summer 2020 BC Community Events page. If you have a camp, program or event to share with families who have children with a range of special needs, please submit your resource. Please note that we are looking for more specialized resources that will address the needs of neuro-diverse children.
Early Intervention Resources for the Home Environment
There are thousands of children across Canada whose autism assessments have been delayed for several months at this point. As the wait time for a publicly-funded assessment in BC was up to 60 weeks even before the pandemic, forcing families to seek a private diagnosis at a cost in the range of $3,000 – $4,000, many families are highly stressed. To help families find ways of engaging with their young children who have either just been diagnosed, or where autism is suspected, ACT has gathered resources on our COVID-19 Page. These suggestions, illustrated by great videos, are focused on play based interventions. Even if a child does not have autism, these suggestions are helpful to encourage communication and social development and have been developed by world leaders in this field.
Perhaps you work in public health, IDP or in a CDC which has been forced to close? We would welcome professionals forwarding this resource to families who are awaiting a diagnosis or early intervention services.
Don’t miss the free recording of Dr. Pat Mirenda and Dr. Paola Colozzo of UBC: “What Can I Do with My Child All Day? Strategies for Supporting Young Children” It provides a guilt-free framework for thinking about how to encourage engagement in the home – setting realistic expectations for overstretched parents.
We urge parents to watch it – it’s only an hour – and hope that early intervention providers will share the link with their families and help them identify the ideas/resources that are a good fit for their child. The PDF Handout contains example activities, resources, and websites.
Resources to Encourage Social Communication
In addition to the free web stream above, the links to the programs below provide families tips on what to do to encourage social communication while they are waiting for a diagnosis. Ideally there is an early educator, a speech pathologist, or an Infant Development Program worker who knows the child too, and can provide advice remotely. We are not suggesting that parents become therapists, but these programs provide more sharply tuned approaches to parenting.
For children who have a language delay these resources will generally be easier to implement. For those who go on to be diagnosed with autism, it is often harder for families, but the techniques are the same. They are geared toward play and fun!
Autism Navigator is a unique collection of web-based tools and courses that uses extensive video footage to bridge the gap between science and community practice.
The Early Start Denver Model is a relationship-based early intervention model created to work with very young children with, or showing signs of, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Challenging Behaviors: Positive Behavior Support is Key!
The resources below focus on helping families re-consider the challenging behaviours that some of their children engage in. Usually these behaviors occur because the child is frustrated, as they do not understand and can not communicate what they want. The approach of Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is very helpful to change a negative dynamic in the home and ACT has a number of free online videos that can help families understand how to support their child with practical information that is parent-friendly. While you may need more professional support to really take advantage of this approach, watching these videos will help you become a better informed consumer of professional services.
Brenda Fossett, PhD, BCBA-D
Pat Mirenda, PhD, BCBA-D
Beth Ann Malow, MD, MS
Brenda Fossett, PhD, BCBA-D
COVID-19 Resources on Autism and Special Needs
ACT is continuing to update information on advocacy efforts and resources on our COVID-19 page. We welcome your suggestions for new resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.