A Message from our CEO's - Karyn & Karen

It is a privilege for us to be able to bring such an exciting event to our shared community and to support families in this unique way. Matthew’s House and the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre complement each other well. We share a belief that all children are born with unique strengths, gifts and needs. We believe that parents know their children best and we exist to provide support and resources to strengthen and encourage families. We believe that inclusive communities are strong communities.

This event is an opportunity for you to partner with us and ensure that these important resources will continue to be offered to families who need them. We know that an Evening with Rick Mercer will be a unique and entertaining experience.

We look forward to welcoming you and your guests to what will surely be an evening to remember.

The Value of Consistency in Parenting by Gabriel Canal Guest Blogger

During the 10 years I've been working as a Behaviour Consultant, I've heard the words "pick your battles" from educators thousands of times. What they mean is that if you see your chlid acting out, you have a choice to make: (a) you intervene and be consistent with the consequences you set, or (b) you simply do not intervene. No educator will tell you to set a boundary that you later cannot follow through on. Doing that could make your words lose the power they have, and could teach the child that she can get away with breaking the rules.

My experience has shown me that consistency is a key component in parenting. I am not only talking about the consistency between words and actions (e.g., if I say that I will give you a cookie, that I will deliver the cookie), but I am also talking about consistency in terms of responding to inappropriate behaviours.

Many times, in our work, we use a strategy called extinction (that is, extinction of the reinforcer that keeps the inappropriate behaviour going). In other words, extinction means that if a child misbehaves (e.g., screams) to obtain candy, we will not give him candy any more when he misbehaves. We know that if we are consistent with not giving the screaming child the candy, and if at the same time we consistently provide the candy when the child asks for it nicely, we will reduce screaming and increase appropriate requests for candy.

Many times, parents start implementing extinction plans and they find that the child's behaviour escalates (i.e., increases in frequency, duration, and/or intensity). With extinction, that increase is expected and it does not mean that the strategy is not working. After all, the child knows that screaming gets him candy, so he will try and try even harder, louder, or for longer periods of time. This is a crucial moment in the implementation of a behaviour plan that uses extinction. If a parent gives in and ends up giving the candy when the child screams louder or for a longer period of time, that parent might be teaching the child "if you want to get candy, screaming isn't enough, you need to scream louder or longer to get it."

Therefore, being consistent is extremely important when changing behaviour. We need to make our words match our actions, giving our words power and giving the child a reliable and consistent parent.

Gabriel Canal, Behaviour Consultant- Positive Parenting and Behaviour Support Program- FVCDC

Working on Intervention Goals at Home

Parents often ask what they can do at home to work on their child's early intervention goals. Here at Next Step Autism Program, we ask parents to identify their priorities for their child's intervention program. Together we can then look for activities at home where these priority goals can be addressed. Since young children spend more time at home with their families than anywhere else, these activities provide many more opportunities to embed teaching trials into a child's daily routine.

For example, a child may have the communication goal of requesting items or 'manding' using single words. This child's parents may have identified communication skills as a priority. So, we can brainstorm with family to see when and how teaching trials can occur at home. Mealtime is one regular activity that can provide many opportunities to request, and we can teach parents ways to work on requesting skills at that time.  When families combine teaching at home with sessions at our Centres, skills are learned more quickly, may be retained longer and are used in a greater range of situations as a result. It's a win-win!