United Services offers 'Life on the Spectrum' training

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Wauregan - posted Mon., Jan. 28, 2013
The United Services Autism Center is located at 303 Putnam Road, Wauregan. Photos by D. Coffey.
The United Services Autism Center is located at 303 Putnam Road, Wauregan. Photos by D. Coffey.

United Services, Inc., and the Center for Autism in Wauregan host “Life on the Spectrum Parent Training” classes on Tuesday mornings from 9:30 to 11 a.m. The eight-week course that started on Jan. 22 is aimed at providing information about autism to school and community members, service providers and parents of autistic children. The goal is to provide education around very specific behaviors.

“The earlier you can work with children, the more likely they will develop the skills and therapies to live full productive lives, said Director of Communications John Goodman. “And that will aid everyone.”

Clinical Director Elizabeth Brown, who co-facilitates the training, calls the Autism Center's program one with an evolving design. “We have a family-centered model,” Brown said. “I can do an assessment and look at target behaviors. But what I see may not be equal to what parents, grandparents and siblings see. Partnering with families is important.”

The program addresses issues related to family dynamics, stress management and conflict resolution. Information about autism and family-centered treatment options are covered. Participants are provided with practical strategies to use in a variety of situations, according to Brown. Life-long planning and special education issues are also covered. And Brown said the training curriculum is designed to be flexible, based on the specific needs of the parents and caregivers.

“We gave Liz the freedom to work with her team to design programs that would make sense,” Goodman said. “That means being able to respond to needs as they come forth.”

Those needs change with the individuals involved. “Every patient is unique,” said Goodman. He said the center has been seeing an increase in calls from parents. Brown said that parents are the driving force for training covered in the classes. “We ask what they want to work on first, what priorities they've set,” she said. “Families take people with ASD through their whole life. I am always amazed at the resilience that can come when faced with these challenges. But there's the reality of long-term stress. Keeping all family members healthy is key.”

For more information on the Autism Center or its programs, contact Deborah Moyer at 860-412-8686 or at dmoyer@usmhs.org.

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