PARENTS of children with autism were given a helping hand on an innovative new course in Calderdale.
Six parents this week received certificates for completing a course where they were given top tips on techniques to help their children.
The Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities course, backed by the Race Equality Foundation, holds regular parenting courses but this was specifically targeting parents of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
Trizia Wells, senior officer at the Parent Partnership Service, said: “It was really valuable, speaking to the parents who can give us their point of view on how children with ASD are sometimes different in the behaviour.
“It was invaluable having Vicky Butterfield, a behvaiour nurse from the Disabled Children’s Team.
“The parents came up with an ASD scenario and the programme could be adapted to suit.”
Children with ASD can struggle to recognise their feelings and the feelings of others.
For example, a common parenting technique might be placing a child in ‘time out’, to reflect on their actions, but for some children with ASD they enjoy being on their own and it wouldn’t matter to them that they were being excluded.
Trizia said: “A big focus of the programme was recognising the triggers that led up to behaviours.
“So if they were feeling like a ‘volcano boiling up’, recognising that and trying to help the children defuse their anger.”
One technique was to work with a number line, so if a child said they felt they were a number eight, the parent would explain they need to get down to a number four or five by doing something such as running around the house to get rid of their energy.
John Stansfield, 35, of Illingworth Gardens, said the course has helped with his son Samuel, four, who is thought to have mild ASD.
“It’s helped with his behaviour and we can understand it a bit better.”
Mr Stansfield said the course had helped them with techniques to get Samuel to bed – something he struggled with before.
“We’d put him to bed about 7pm but he wouldn’t go until any time between 10pm and 3am. He would be so hyper, he couldn’t shut down. I’d be up with him until 3am and then would have to get up at 7am to take the children to school.
“But now he’s going to bed at 7pm every night. He is in a routine and puts his PJs on and has quiet time, half an hour before bed.
“The course was unreal. It’s made a lot of difference – and the other parents had seen improvements too.”
The ASD course was a pilot programme which it is hoped will now be expanded to help other parents of children with ASD.
Each parent who completed the course was presented with a certificate this week at the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre in Halfiax by Lynn Powell, the family services area manager for the Upper Valley family support services.