Series of events will explore mindfulness interventions for autism, intellectual disabilities

Brock University will welcome a world-renowned behaviour analyst next month to discuss the benefits of mindfulness techniques for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and their caregivers.

Nirbhay Singh, an acclaimed expert on mindfulness-based practices, will present during a series of events April 25 and 26.

Maurice Feldman, Chair of Brock’s Department of Applied Disability Studies, credits Singh with bringing mindfulness into the field of ASD and ID.

“Until his work, we hadn’t really considered eastern approaches to supporting people with ID or mental illness,” says Feldman.

Brock University will welcome renowned behaviour analyst and mindfulness expert Nirbhay Singh for a series of events April 25 and 26.

During his time in Niagara, Singh will deliver two free presentations on Brock’s main campus as well as a workshop in the community that is geared toward professionals in related fields.

An afternoon colloquium on Thursday, April 25 will focus on recent research that, Singh says, hints at exciting new developments for children’s mental health. While the free event is primarily geared toward Brock students and faculty, all are welcome to attend.

The colloquium will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. in WH209.

Singh’s research “demonstrates the effectiveness of mindfulness and combining mindfulness with positive behaviour support approaches, which is what we do in applied behaviour analysis,” Feldman says.

“He’s evaluating an integration of positive behaviour support with mindfulness techniques and shows the combination works better than either approach alone.”

Also on April 25, this time from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in TH242, community members are invited to a free educational presentation geared toward caregivers, front-line workers, families and parents of individuals with ASD or ID.

“Dr. Singh has conducted research that shows mindfulness practices can benefit both individuals with intellectual disabilities, ASD and their caregivers,” says Feldman.

The evening presentation will begin with remarks by Edmonton-Wetaskiwin MP Mike Lake, whose son has autism.

Singh’s visit will wrap-up with a full-day workshop at the Holiday Inn in St. Catharines on Friday, April 26. The workshop is designed “to train practitioners in mindfulness strategies for use with children, youth and adults and with their caregivers,” says Feldman.

He notes that Singh has made “major contributions, in addition to his more recent work on mindfulness.”

A clinical professor of psychiatry and health behaviour at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Singh is the editor of three international Journals (Mindfulness, Journal of Child and Family Studies, and Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders) and a Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. He is the developer of Mindfulness-Based Positive Behaviour Support as well as multiple informal mindfulness practices for the self-management of challenging behaviours, including aggression, disruptive and destructive behaviour. In addition to mindfulness-based interventions, his research interests include assistive technology for people with severe or profound intellectual and multiple disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, and others with neurogenerative diseases.

Singh’s presentations are sponsored by the Department of Applied Disability Studies and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Brock University.

Behaviour analysts who attend the events can apply for continuing education credits.

Mindfulness event details

Thursday, April 25

Kicking Evidence-Based Mental Health Programs Up a Notch: Can We Produce Multi-generational Effects from Positive Interventions?
Held from 3 to 4 p.m. in WH209 at Brock University.
The event is free. All are welcome to attend.

Helping Caregivers to Use Mindfulness-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Intellectual Disabilities
Held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in TH242 at Brock University.
The event is free. All are welcome to attend. RSVP is requested.

Friday, April 26

Mindfulness-Based Practices for Children, Youth and Adults with ASD and/or ID and Their Caregivers: An Interactive Workshop
Held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Holiday Inn and Suites Parkway Conference Centre, 327 Ontario St., St. Catharines.
Cost to attend is $200. Registration is required.

More information on the events is available on the Applied Disability Studies website.

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