Friday, November 15, 2013

Creating an Autism Support Group!

As some of you may know, I am expecting my first baby (It's a BOY!) and will be taking some time off from work and blogging before and after his arrival. During that time, there will be several guest bloggers/SLPs that will be featured on my blog. I am so excited to share all of the amazing, informative posts they have come up with. I can not thank them all enough for taking the time to write these posts! Just another one of the many reasons I love being part of the SLP world. I hope you all enjoy reading everything over the next several weeks. Please feel free to leave comments and post questions.

The next guest post is written by Kristine at Speak Listen Play! Enjoy!

Thank you to Kristine for allowing me to be a guest blogger! Speak Listen Play is very excited about the addition to your family!!

I recently wrote another guest post for playingwithwords365 about tips for working as a team when servincing students with Autism in the schools. A major component of your team are the parents and the relationship you build with them is SO important. I'd like to share some of the amazing things going on in my district to facilitate and support these relationships.

Create an Autism Support Group
This does not have to be official. Email and spread the word to your staff. Ask for volunteers. My school is lucky to be apart of a local group of parents, school staff, and others who are looking for ways to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. If your local district does not currently have  something like this, you can look into the Autism Society.

Life is busy - but if you can dedicate one night a month to the families of the students you work with - it will make a HUGE impact! Here are some of the events I participated in last school year:

  • Parent Seminars - 
    • Two times per semester we met and held workshops at the school. Topics included:
      • Safety: fire safety, drowning prevention, and ordering safety kits
      • Family First: Group discussion on how Autism affects parents, children, and the relationships within your family.
      • Therapy Panel: ask local therapists to share about the services they offer.
      • Other topics could include: make and take it, understanding the IEP, meet and greet, book club night.

  • Autism Celebration Walk!
    • Read more about the walk here. We invited our staff and community to join us one (cold) Saturday morning to help raise awareness and money for Autism. It was AMAZAZING

  • Babysitting night:
    • 2 nights during the school year, various staff members volunteered their time to babysit the families affected by Autism. We offered parents 3 hours of kid-free time!!
  • Support Group:
    • Once a month parents are invited to come to an hour long support group. We had an awesome volunteer help facilitate this. We provided childcare while parents were able to come and talk about anything and everything. Parent lead the discussion.

That sums up all the awesome things going on in my neck of the woods! What do you do to help build the relationships between parents and staff?? I'd love to hear!

These activities would not be possible without the dedicated and supportive staff I work with. I would like to say THANK YOU to all of you who give your time, energy, and money to our group. It is apparent you are committed to changing the way for Autism.

About the author
Kristine is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist that works in the schools in Grand Rapids, MI and coauthor of Speak Listen Play. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and TeachersPayTeachers.