It Takes a Village: Supporting Families of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders


9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Course #:
Erikson Institute
Credit Available:
CEUs; Social Work CEUs; Early Intervention approval pending
This session focuses on the complex impact on the family of a young child’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  It will offer strategies for working collaboratively with parents of diverse backgrounds (culture, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status) and present a tertiary model for empowering the family and building a support team across settings so that they experience a better quality of life. Early intervention and the family-centered model described are relevant for early intervention agencies, schools and community agencies that serve young children with ASD and their families, given the multi-level family impact,  increasing numbers and diversity of children with ASD and challenges of working with families of diverse backgrounds.  There is a great need for a multi-level service delivery approach to match the multiple levels of needs of families and school and agency personnel when developing and implementing effective plans for young children with ASD. There is also a great need for multi-level support for families who have young children with ASD.  (Kohler, 1999). The presenters will stress the importance of implementing multi-level supports and services and selecting strategies and interventions that reflect the family’s goals, culture and needs. A family-centered approach combined with positive behavior support has been shown to be effective in working with family of young children with autism and challenging behavior (Dunlap, Fox 2008).    Ways to expand interventions will be explored that focus on critical quality of life issues and outcomes for the family and their young child with ASD. Early intervention with children with ASD is critical to the child’s long term outcome and family life (Baker-Ericzen  et al, 2005, Ben-Itzchak, Zachor 2006, Dawson et al, 2010).  Families with children with ASD experience stress in multiple areas of their lives (Hastings  et al., 2005, Davis, Carter 2008, Dykens, Wang 2014).  Stress impacts a family’s ability to work with their child, the child’s progress and family quality of life.  It is important then to reduce family stress so parents can participate effectively in working with their child (Osborne, 2008).   A comprehensive model that has been implemented in Illinois for eight years and shown to be effective in supporting families of diverse backgrounds and across settings with young children with ASD will be presented. The session will include outcome data for a group of over 80 focus students and their families including stress reduction, improved family interactions, improved behavior and life skills in the child and overall improved family quality of life. Participants will learn about assisting families from diverse backgrounds to access treatment services from beginning phases of diagnosis through early school years, identify resources for therapies especially as they relate to evidence based practice, reduce family stress and build a support team around the family to improve the young child’s functioning in multiple arenas as well as improve overall family life.  The session includes a slide presentation accompanied by visual and video supports.  Questions and contribution from participants will be solicited.


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