UO experts aid families coping with autism during pandemic

Parents facing the dual challenges of dealing with a pandemic and raising a child with autism have a chance to hear from some of the UO’s nationally recognized special education experts during a virtual event this Wednesday, July 8.

The transition to remote instruction has been hard for families, but children with disabilities face additional hurdles because of their need for specialized teaching and behavioral and emotional supports to develop their full potential. Most of those services have been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The question for many families is how to help children with autism and developmental delays reduce the disruptions to routine and educational services, and where does the educational system go post-pandemic. A panel of UO experts will explore those questions and discuss how they are providing parents with tools to manage interventions at home in “Autism and the Pandemic of School Absence: Equipping Families,” a Zoom webinar that starts at 6 p.m.

The presentation will feature recommendations on effective interventions and disability services, and a discussion on how to prepare the next generation of teachers and school professionals to navigate the new challenges.

“Children with autism need the socialization opportunities of school to help them develop the interpersonal competencies needed in life and in the workforce,” said Laura Lee McIntyre, head of the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences and a professor of school psychology in the College of Education. “And parents often do not have the training necessary to meet the specialized behavioral and emotional needs of children with autism or severe developmental disabilities.”

McIntyre is joined by Geovanna Rodriguez, an assistant professor of school psychology in special education and clinical sciences, and Wendy Machalicek, an associate professor in special education and a research faculty member with Educational and Community Supports.

McIntyre will provide parents with expert advice on the autism characteristics that often have the greatest effect on family well-being. She will also share her latest research on how parents can access telehealth to find expert intervention services for their family.

Machalicek will share her research on developing effective interventions for addressing the behavioral and educational needs of young children — ages 18 months to 8 years — with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. She is an expert on providing parents advice and training on how to reduce a child’s challenging behavior at home and in the community.

Rodriquez, a Spanish bilingual psychologist, will help parents identify ways of supporting the development of competencies needed by children and adolescents as they transition to higher grade levels.

The event is free, but registration is required.

By Monique Danziger, University Communications