BY SIMONE SMITH
Happy New Year Toronto Caribbean Family! I am happy that many of you have had the opportunity to celebrate this New Year! For those who have lost loved ones, or for those who did not have the best 2015, know that each day is a new day. Life is a circle; if you remember that, you will be cautious of the choices that you make.
The last part 2015, I spent a great deal of time discussing Persuasive Development Disorders. Some of the topics covered included: Understanding Behavior, Developing Communication Skills, Teaching Play and Social Skills, Toilet Training, Reinforcement, Teaching Social Communication, Learning how to Play and Playing to Learn. Whenever you do get an opportunity to learn something new, take that chance. Having the ability to take this Autism workshop, opened my eyes to the difficulties that many parents here in Toronto are having when searching for support. For many, Autism is something that is meant to be hidden; it is kept secret because parents are unsure of how to provide support to their child and many feel embarrassed. I hope this series has demystified what Autism is and we as a community can begin to help these families who are in desperate need of support.
As many of you know, I was invited to a workshop that was being put on by Erin Oaks Kids, a center dedicated to the treatment and development of children diagnosed with Autism. It was a ten week workshop that had cycles occurring during the summer and fall months. I encourage parents to look for workshops in your community that can help answer some of your questions. There is no shame in asking questions; the shame comes in not asking questions and suffering in silence. Once you understand why an issue is occurring, you are better able to deal with it.
Today I want to introduce some resources for my parents who still have some questions about Autism and other Persuasive Development Disorders. Applied Behavior Analysis, is a service that is offered to help children establish, enhance and maintain socially important behaviors in the areas of:
- Social/ Interpersonal Skills (Group Sessions)
- Communication (One on One Sessions and Group Sessions)
- Behavior management and emotional regulation (One on One Sessions or Group Sessions)
- Daily living (One on One Sessions)
ABA programs are usually offered two to four hours a week for a period of two to six months. Family involvement is very important to your child’s progress. Enrolling your child in an ABA program will not only help your child, but it will allow parents to work side by side with a therapist. Therapists will help parents learn new strategies to help their child meet his or her goals.
Additional support includes consulting with a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, service navigator and a social worker. Speech-language pathologists not only help people who stutter or have a lisp, they are highly educated professionals who study: neuroanatomy, genetics, human and language development, linguistics, psychology and acoustics. Their goal is to help your child become more socially independent by helping them learn to speak and present themselves confidently.
Occupational therapists have an important role; they help people of all ages to improve their ability to perform daily tasks in their daily living and working environments. The majority of their work is with individuals who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, socially or emotionally disabling.
A service navigator can help families with questions and concerns about how to access services provided by health and social service systems here in Toronto. They provide portals for families to resolve their concerns and connect families with health and social service providers that address concerns. They do not have any decision making authority, but can provide information.
Finally, a social worker is one of the greatest resources a family can have. They not only diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional disorders, they also provide family therapy. Therapy usually involves assessing a client’s history and situation to understand their needs and then develop a treatment plan that is suited for that client. Social workers usually work very closely with the client’s doctor and other health care physicians. They will encourage their clients to discuss their emotions and experiences to develop a better understanding of themselves and their relationships.
I hope that this series has been helpful. If there are any topics that you would like to see me cover, please send me an email and I will be sure to research any information and provide you with honest, authentic information that is aimed at making life easier for you. Thank you for following this series; take all that you have learned and apply where it is necessary in your life.