Coping with autism
Parents of the children with austism recently received eye-opening instruction in the More Than Words programme, designed to help their children cope with their conditions.
The Barbados Council for the Disabled noted that five years ago it was offered the opportunity to address the challenges faced by parents and caregivers of children with autism; specifically, how to communicate with and foster the development of play and social skills in their children.
It stated that after learning about More Than Words® — The Hanen Program® for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, the Council enlisted the services of Sue McMillan, a Speech Language Pathologist certified to deliver the MTW programme.
“As a parent, you know how challenging it can be for your child with an autism spectrum disorder to connect with the world around him and to interact meaningfully with others. The More Than Words Program was designed specifically for parents of children ages 5 and under on the autism spectrum. With the permission of The Hanen Centre, McMillan made minor modifications to the MTW curriculum to meet the needs of parents with older children as well. Addressing the unique needs of these children, the program provides parents with the tools, strategies and support they need to help their children reach their full communication potential,” the BCD stated in a release.
Having provided this training to over 40 families and teachers in Barbados since the program began, the Council recently held a follow up workshop, inviting all of the past participants. The activity was successful as it highlighted the progress made by the children and their families as well as identified the gaps that still need to be addressed in meeting the needs of children with Autism in Barbados. Dr. Jennifer Campbell of the A. C. Graham Centre also offered advice to the parents and empathized with their ongoing challenges in meeting the needs of their children as they approach puberty.
McMillan remarked that when she initially volunteered her expertise to a family in Barbados, she never imagined how needed the Autism Caregiver Program was for so many other families. Her decision to support the Council with the implementation of the More Than Words program was a blessing according to the comments attributed to the parents and caregivers who benefitted from the programme.
The Public Relations Officer of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Elviston Maloney stated that attending the workshop on Sunday was an eye opener for him as he listened to the issues faced by the parents of children with Autism.
He also acknowledged that the success stories from the parents were the impetus for the BCD to continue to provide the More Than Words Program so that more families can benefit. He echoed McMillan’s gratitude for the financial support of the special donors to the program, without whom, the lives of the families who received the Training would not be of the quality they now enjoy.