Visiting autism expert to give free public workshop for caregivers

Parents and caregivers of children with autism are invited to attend an upcoming hybrid event on supporting children’s communication efforts.

“Children with autism and other developmental disabilities sometimes need help to move between play activities and make choices of what to do next to occupy themselves during free time,” says Associate Professor Rosemary Condillac, Chair of Brock’s Department of Applied Disability Studies. “Dr. Thomas Higbee’s research has found that photographic activity schedules can help children to learn new play skills and to transition between different activities. In fact, these skills can help children to learn to make more complex choices to help increase their autonomy.”

To share some of this research, Higbee, of Utah State University, will present on “Strategies for Improving Communication in the Home for Learners on the Autism Spectrum” on Thursday, April 20 at 7 p.m.

Hosted by the Department of Applied Disability Studies and the Faculty of Social Sciences, the presentation will be offered in person in the Rankin Family Pavilion 214/215 and streamed online for those not able to come to campus.

Higbee is the Department Head in the Special Education and Rehabilitation Counselling Department at Utah State, as well as the Executive Director of the Autism Support Services: Education, Research and Training program.

In his evening talk, he will share research-based strategies for helping parents, caregivers and siblings encourage communication with learners on the autism spectrum.

“Some children also need help to learn how to ask for help, invite others to play or have brief conversations with their peers,” says Condillac. “In this series of workshops, Dr. Higbee will provide practical information and advice for parents and caregivers as well as a hands-on workshop for professionals who want to learn how to use activity schedules and social scripts.”

The community presentation is free for parents to attend either in person or virtually. Those interested in attending should register by Monday, April 10 to reserve a spot, but anyone who misses the deadline may sign up for the virtual presentation by email. Professionals and clinicians interested in attending can join a waiting list by emailing Brandy Sokoloski.

On April 21, Higbee will present a daylong workshop for professionals and clinicians entitled “Building Independence & Spontaneous Language”, also hosted by Brock’s Department of Applied Disability Studies and the Faculty of Social Sciences. Registration for the professional event closes Tuesday, April 11.

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