telegraphjournal.com – Program trains people to deal with autistic kids | Mark Iype – Breaking News, New Brunswick, Canada
ROTHESAY – A new program designed to train people to work with autistic children will be launched in the Kennebecasis Valley in a few weeks.
The Fundy Learning Centre will be offering classes on everything from behaviour management to communication skills for anyone who may come into contact with autistic children, including daycare workers, teachers or even law enforcement officers.
“We’ve been approached a lot about the program,” said Karen Belliveau, the manager of the Fundy Speech Pathology Clinic, which administers the curriculum. “The autism spectrum disorder is being found earlier and more often, so a program like this is such a need.”
Belliveau said the classes, which start Oct. 3, are intended to educate people on the basics of autism, intervention techniques and other methods of helping autistic children overcome the communication and concentration issues that are the hallmark of the condition.
With hundreds of autistic children – whose conditions vary from severe to high-functioning – living in the Saint John-area, Belliveau said there are countless professions where skills on how to deal with autistic children might be helpful.
“This course isn’t just for daycare workers or teacher’s aides,” Belliveau said. “People like police officers or firemen could probably even benefit from the skills we’re going to teach.”
Sharon Gainforth, executive director of Stepping Stone Fundy Region, an organization tasked by the provincial government with dealing with preschool-aged autistic children which supports the new program in the Valley, said it is a valuable asset for educating the community.
She said often, autistic children are just misunderstood.
“People sometimes see autistic children as just unruly or misbehaving,” she said. “In reality, sometimes it just takes a gentle hand to calm them down.”
Gainforth said parents have to deal with staring, or judgmental people who are unable to distinguish a normal tantrum-throwing three-year old from a child with autism.
“The truth is, a lot of people could probably benefit from this program,” she said.
The curriculum-based program allows people to pick and choose individual classes, or take the entire lineup.
Belliveau said that flexibility has been appealing to daycare owners who want some of their employees to get the training, without having to deplete their staffing.
Classes are taught by professionals at the offices on the Marr Road and students will learn in a classroom setting with regular readings and assignments. There will also be a practicum portion in which students will work with children with autism.
The classes vary from a day-long session to the full program between the start of October and the first week of December. Prices for single courses range from $45 to $295, while tuition for the entire program is $945.
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