Workshop #1. Understanding how parents drive their child’s growth: Introduction to Six Strategies for improving interaction and reducing challenging behavior
APC teaches six strategies that, combined, are able to help parents navigate most parenting challenges. Most importantly, APC does not provide only information, but also teaches parents how to implement these strategies. Though the interactive learning activities are modified for the virtual environment, they are effective in teaching parents how to interact more comfortably and effectively with their children.
Workshop #2 A deeper dive into understanding self-regulation: reducing the stress and learning to focus on what matters
A substantial factor underlying challenging behavior is the child’s dysregulation. This workshop helps parents understand what causes dysregulation in their child, how to prevent or reduce it and how to teach coping skills. In addition, it offers parents tools to maintain and model their own self-regulation in the face of highly emotional interactions with their child.
Workshop #3 Modeling self-regulation and setting your child up for success
Another factor contributing to dysregulation is a demand on the child that is too far above his current skill level. In this workshop, parents will learn how to help their child grow by setting goals that offer a comfortable amount of challenge without causing tantrums and meltdowns. We also teach parents to see the source of their child’s challenging behavior as a skill deficit (such as lack of impulse control or frustration tolerance) rather than pure defiance. That perspective shift helps parents keep their own emotions in check and identify opportunities to build their child’s skills.
Workshop #4 Understanding reinforcement to shape your child’s behavior
Most parents have a basic understanding of offering incentives to achieve compliance. This workshop helps parents go deeper to understand how to identify the need the unwanted behavior is serving. Such understanding can help parents avoid inadvertent reinforcement of unwanted behavior. We also discuss positive reinforcement as well as when and how to effectively use consequences. Finally, we help parents understand why incentives or consequences they use might be ineffective and how to consider the use of a different strategy.
Workshop #5 Sensory needs and sensitivities, modeling flexibility and getting your child’s buy-in
This workshop teaches the three remaining strategies. We emphasize the need to be aware of sensory overload as well as sensory seeking behavior. We also discuss the need for parents to give children choices and control in areas where they can, and to point out for their children examples of their own flexibility. Finally, we help parents learn how to combine their child’s interests with everyday activities and how to increase cooperation by making activities relevant to the child.
Workshop #6. How our beliefs, words and vision for and about our children shape our parenting
This workshop focuses on the parent and how we can replace our limiting beliefs and habits with new ones that uplift the parent and the entire family. We conduct exercises in shifting from victim language to empowered language and visualizations designed to help parents combat negativity and bolster creativity. We also do an exercise designed to help parents acknowledge and release guilt. Though these exercises seem to have little to do with autism, they are designed to address parenting stress. The research is compelling that reducing parenting stress improves outcomes in children with ASD.