Overview

The ESIPP project has the core aim to develop and disseminate a programme of training for parents of children with autism living in South-eastern Europe. Project participants have created and trialled a series of modules that work to aid and grow an understanding of the autistic condition, and to help nurture a range of strategies that can be implemented to help address some of the many needs these children and their families face. The content of each module presents the latest best practice as recognised by autism practitioners and experts in the field. It is hoped that participation in the modules will develop parental confidence, assisting them in making and implementing self-help strategies that will go some way toward easing the great demands that caring for children with autism requires.

Introduction

The Parent Education Programme (PEP), entitled Positive approaches to autism consists of six modules. Each module is designed to increase parents’ knowledge, building upon the information learned in previous modules and extending it further. The content of the modules promotes the use of positive strategies, and is based around the following topics: an introduction to autism spectrum conditions, behaviour, the use of visual structure, sensory issues, communication challenges and the building of social skills. In addition, three non-core modules were added to meet requests for information on puberty issues, and on sleeping and eating issues. This was created due to requests from parents on the initial feedback forms from the first round of training.

 Click on a module below to reveal more information about the content.

Module 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS

The objective for this session is to establish a common understanding and knowledge about Autism Spectrum Disorders and help parents understand the unique profile of differences, strengths and difficulties for their child. Activities highlight what knowledge parents may already have about the condition, and provide chances for parents to reflect upon their child’s presentation of autism in greater detail.

The sample module 1 for the partner countries can be accessed below:

Module 1 (UK): An introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders

Module 1 (Croatia): An introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders

Module 1 (FYR of Macedonia): An introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders

Module 1 (Cyprus): An introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders

Module 2: PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TO MANAGE BEHAVIOUR THROUGH VISUAL STRUCTURE

The objectives for this session are to help parents utilise their child’s visual learning strength to increase understanding and reduce stress.

To develop an awareness of the different types of visual structure:

  • Physical (the environment)
  • Schedules (what to do and when)
  • Work systems (how to do it, breaking down an individual task into visual steps)
  • Visual prompts (objects, photos, pictures and words)

Parents have the opportunity to look at a variety of visual prompts and schedules, and are encouraged to make similar, suitable support materials that will be useful for their child.

The sample module 2 for the partner countries can be accessed below:

Module 2 (UK): Practical strategies to manage behaviour through visual structure

Module 2 (Croatia): Practical strategies to manage behaviour through visual structure

Module 2 (FYR of Macedonia): Practical strategies to manage behaviour through visual structure

Module 2 (Cyprus): Practical strategies to manage behaviour through visual structure

Module 3: MANAGING SENSORY SENSITIVITIES

The objectives of this session are:

  • To identify the 7 senses and how hyper and hypo sensitivity can present.
  • To understand how sensory differences can impact behaviours.
  • To learn strategies and develop “toolkits” for coping with the impact of sensory sensitivities.

Parents take part in activities that increase their knowledge about the senses and how their children may be affected due to their autism. Parents are encouraged to develop a sensory profile of their child, and to be able to use methods to help address those particular sensory needs.

The sample module 3 for the partner countries can be accessed below:

Module 3 (UK): Managing sensory sensitivities

Module 3 (Croatia): Managing sensory sensitivities

Module 3 (FYR of Macedonia): Managing sensory sensitivities

Module 3 (Cyprus): Managing sensory sensitivities

Module 4: EXPLORING COMMUNICATION AND ITS IMPACT ON BEHAVIOUR

The objectives of this session are:

  • To explore the development and purpose of communication.
  • To understand how Autism Spectrum Conditions can on impact expressive and receptive communication.
  • To learn strategies for supporting communication and communication development.

Parents will have the opportunity to practise different communication methods for non-verbal children such as picture exchanges and simplified sign language.

The sample module 4 for the partner countries can be accessed below:

Module 4 (UK): Exploring communication and its impact on behaviour

Module 4 (Croatia): Exploring communication and its impact on behaviour

Module 4 (FYR of Macedonia): Exploring communication and its impact on behaviour

Module 4 (Cyprus): Exploring communication and its impact on behaviour

Module 5: POSITIVE APPROACHES TO SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND INTERACTION

The objectives of this session are:

  • To develop an understanding of the social differences associated with the autism spectrum.
  • To understand how the development of play skills underpins successful social interaction.
  • To explore practical strategies that aid the development of play and social skills.

Parents learn how to use everyday materials (such as mirrors), toys and games that can be used to foster and encourage social interaction in their children. Parents are taught to try and enter their child’s world of interests, instead of trying to quash those behaviours. This develops opportunities for genuine interaction with their child.
The sample module 5 for the partner countries can be accessed below:

Module 5 (UK): Positive approaches to social development and interaction

Module 5 (Croatia): Positive approaches to social development and interaction

Module 5 (FYR of Macedonia): Positive approaches to social development and interaction

Module 5 (Cyprus): Postitive approaches to social development and interaction

Module 6: UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGING CHALLENGING BEHAVIOUR

The objective of this session is to find out about how a person’s Autistic differences can impact on their behaviours, explore the underlying reasons why and identify practical strategies to prevent, manage and de-escalate challenging behaviours. This session brings together the knowledge and understanding developed in previous sessions to identify these strategies (e.g. visual prompts).

The sample module 6 for the partner countries can be accessed below:

Module 6 (UK): Understanding and managing challenging behaviour

Module 6 (Croatia): Understanding and managing challenging behaviour

Module 6 (FYR of Macedonia): Understanding and managing challenging behaviour

Module 6 (Cyprus): Understanding and managing challenging behaviour

Style of Delivery for the training modules:

The aim is to create a relaxed and informal atmosphere where parents feel comfortable and can socialise with other parents and meet new people during the breaks.
There are a variety of practical activities and video clips used in each session of the programme to enhance interaction between parents and trainers. Real-life anecdotes to naturally illustrate points being made are used throughout. Parents are encouraged to write down questions as they think of them during the day and are answered by trainers at the end of each day.

Non-core modules:

Three additional modules have been developed so far as a response to the initial parent surveys.

EXPLORING FOOD AND MEALTIME ISSUES

The aim of this session is to develop awareness of all the sensory, social, flexibility and communication issues that can impact on eating a balanced diet and successful mealtimes. Practical strategies are then explored to help address the identified issues.

EXPORING SLEEP ISSUES

The aim of this session is to explore the impact of anxiety, physical differences, exercise and diet on poor sleep patterns. Strategies to help such as modifying the bedroom environment, bedtime routines, tackling causes of anxiety and developing relaxation are all explored in more detail.

PUBERTY ISSUES

The aim of this session is to enable parents to address needs directly related to the onset of puberty in their children who have autism. This includes very challenging topics such as hygiene issues and sexuality.