A Global Voice for Autism utilizes an innovative "cooperative" model to provide cost-effective autism intervention and support services to conflict-affected communities with the greatest needs. We supplement this model with services that allow us to holistically support families of children with autism in order to foster positive environments where children with autism can learn. We do this through the following programs:
1) Cooperative Model Training in evidence-based practices for autism intervention equips families with skills for teaching their children with autism at home and in the community. Through theoretical and didactic trainings we use culturally appropriate methods and examples to teach parents skills for supporting their child and other children with autism in the community. Parents engage in supervised hands-on practice with their own child and other children with autism in the program. This gives the children the opportunity to generalize their skills by working with multiple caregivers and gives parents opportunities to strengthen their skills. After the conclusion of the training, parents continue to meet weekly in their cooperative groups to provide support to one another and to work with each other's children. This program helps children with autism develop independent communication so that they can express themselves and participate in their communities.
By empowering parents to help their children with autism develop skills for communication and independence, we also aim to increase parental activation/adherence to programming that supports their children's wellbeing. In our past programs 60% of participating parents have increased their parental activation score by at least 1 point on the Patient Activation Measure (TM). Each 1 point increase correlates with a 2% decrease in lifetime healthcare costs for the child.
2) Parent and Sibling Support and Self-Development Groups provide parents and siblings with a safe space to discuss their experiences living with loved ones with autism with their peers while engaging in interactive activities that develop self-confidence, offer strategies for strengthening relationships with loved ones with autism and teach self-care skills. These groups have been shown to increase sibling confidence and improve sibling relationships. All of the groups in the past communities we've served have continued to meet regularly for support and socialization long after the conclusion of the 12-week curriculum. This program provides emotional support to caregivers of children with autism so that the children can grow up in a positive environment with caregivers who are emotionally prepared to support their development and address their needs.
3) Community Education Lectures overcome misconceptions about autism and decrease autism stigma in the communities we serve through educational presentations and interactive Q&A sessions. Out of the 1,300+ community members who have attended our community lectures, 100% have overcome a damaging belief about autism, such as "children with autism cannot learn" or "parents cause their children to have autism" over the course of the lecture (based on pre and post lecture quizzes). This initiative fosters communities that are accepting of children with autism so that the people with whom they interact will treat them with respect and will listen to the various ways in which they might communicate.
4) Coached Community Outings help parents develop the skills and confidence to take their children with autism out in public so that these children can engage with the community and develop relationships outside of the home. These 1:1 outings with A Global Voice for Autism's professional team give families the flexibility to address their children's most challenging behaviors and to target the issues that are preventing them from taking their children out in public on a regular basis. This initiative helps caregivers develop confidence so that children with autism can have opportunities to participate in and develop relationships in their communities.