New Study Finding Success in Supporting Parents of Neurodiverse Kids

By Kathleen O’Grady

Encouraging response from early participants of a Canada-wide study looking at the value of personalized online training for parents of neurodiverse children have researchers excited to recruit more families.

‘Neurodiverse’ refers to children with brain-based or neuro-developmental disabilities such as Autism, Epilepsy, Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Global Developmental Delay and significant learning disorders.

The destabilizing impact of COVID-19, with sudden lockdowns, restrictions and program and school closures, has forced parents to scramble and adapt. Many parents have suffered anxiety, overload and burnout.

Families affected by disability have been particularly hard hit.

“Parents Empowering Neurodiverse Kids” is led by Dr. Patrick McGrath at the IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University in Halifax and Dr. Lucyna Lach from McGill University in Montreal and focuses on assessing an online parenting program. The program is designed to teach parents how to tackle challenging behaviours with a positive parenting approach to improve the quality of life for families affected by neurodevelopmental disabilities.

“Early feedback from participants and previous related studies show that providing parents with coaching skills may lighten their load and allow them to focus on the positive aspects of being parents,” says Dr. McGrath.

Dr. Sarah Tremblay, mother of a seven-year-old girl with cognitive disability says, “When I initially got involved with the program, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But from the very first week of implementing the simple strategies for connecting and communicating with my child, I saw some pretty amazing changes in her and myself.”

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network Society, its stakeholders, and/or funders.

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