When first receiving a diagnosis of autism, parents can become overwhelmed by the variety of treatment options and the pressure to act as soon as possible.
One Waterloo mother knows this feeling all too well. “All I know is I’m panicked now,” Karen Neary said. “You’re obsessed with starting instantly, but you don’t know what to do.”
When she received her son’s diagnosis Neary was working as an X-ray technician but she went back to school to gain a PhD in developmental psychology.
Neary began gathering information and sharing it with other parents in the community. Eventually she developed an 10 session Getting Ready to Learn program to help children with developmental delays foster learning skills.
The program takes place over an intensive three weeks. Children learn skills such as eye contact and imitation in order to make the most of other therapies or daycare.
Many children with autism have difficult expressing what they want. Another of Neary’s programs uses pictures to develop communication skills. Children are encouraged to be persistent and seek someone out when they want something, like a toy or a snack.
Many parents have found the programs to be hugely beneficial as they can also learn how to help their children continue the learning at home.