Dr. Susanne Marshall
Mailman Segal Center at Nova Southeastern University
Attending the Baudhuin Preschool for Children with Autism at Nova Southeastern University can transform the life of a child with autism. The school has a highly trained teaching staff capable of managing the interdisciplinary in-class interventions that bring together diverse academic specialties such as occupational therapy, applied behavioral analysis, and family therapy for the benefit of the children. The school’s physical environment incorporates cutting-edge research into teaching tools, specially designed furniture, and learning materials that can help children with autism make astonishing developmental progress.
For many children with autism, however, this deeply enriching learning experience comes to an abrupt close at the end of the school day. Parents of children with autism are in almost all cases fully committed to fostering their child’s development at home in the best possible way, but often simply don’t have a sophisticated enough skill set to make that happen. As a result, children with autism miss out on critically important learning opportunities at home because the teaching strategies from which they benefit at school are not continued at home.
Super Saturday, a half-day of workshops for parents and caregivers of children with autism, is designed to teach participants how to extend the teaching strategies from which their children benefit at school into the home. Super Saturday is structured like a mini-conference, with two sets of three concurrent workshop sessions. Workshop topics include “Increasing Communication in Your Home,” “Addressing Challenging Behaviors through Positive Behavior Support,” and “Technology at School and at Home,” among others.
Workshop presenters are teams of Baudhuin Preschool teachers and autism specialists and experts. The workshops are designed to build a versatile skill set that parents can put to use immediately. Quality childcare for children with autism and their siblings is provided. Super Saturday is not only open to Baudhuin Preschool parents, but to all tri-county parents of children with autism.
In addition to its importance as a learning opportunity for parents and caregivers of children with autism, Super Saturday is also a networking opportunity for parents and families of children with autism. The workshops are followed by lunch, allowing parents and caregivers to continue conversations they started during the workshops, ask more questions of the expert workshop facilitators, and give constructive feedback to school leaders.
The steps required to achieving our goal of providing parents of children with autism the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in learning about best practices related to raising a child with autism, are planning the Super Saturday workshops and hosting the event at Nova Southeastern University in the early spring of 2013.