Autism expert to give practical tips for parents

Posted June 19, 2011, at 3:59 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Tips for parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders will be offered by a leading authority on the subject at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, at the Wells Conference Center at the University of Maine.

Cathy Pratt, director of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University in Bloomington will speak on “Twenty Practical Tips for Addressing Behavior Challenges.”

Pratt also is the Mark R. Shibles Distinguished Visiting Professor at UMaine for 2011-2012 academic year.

Her presentation will be video streamed live by video to 206 Folsom Hall at the University of Maine at Presque Isle and to 211 Wishcamper Center at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

“One of the greatest challenges for families who have sons or daughter on autistic spectrum is dealing with problematic behavior such as aggressive behavior, self-injury and refusal,” she said Sunday in a phone interview. “These are the behaviors that place the greatest stress on families.”

Her talk is designed to help families realize that it is important to teach children alternative ways to respond such as self management, emotional regulation and social skills.

Pratt, who speaks about autism internationally, serves on the board of the National Autism Society. She has been a teacher of children across the autistic spectrum and most recently became a board-certified behavior analyst.

Most of Pratt’s work over the next year will be with the School of Education at UMaine.

“I’ve been doing this work for a lot of years,” she said Sunday. “When I first got involved the occurrence rate was one in 10,000. Today, it is much more common. I’ll be working to develop programs in the curriculum to prepare people in education to better support individuals on the autism spectrum in a school setting.”

For information, contact Walter Harris at 581-2467 or by email  at wharris@maine.edu.

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