Kinney Center Offers Support to Families Affected by Coronavirus Shutdowns

school supplies

Virtual instruction has become one of the most important tools in an educator’s arsenal. But as schools move the entirety of their curriculum online, the sudden change in procedure can be especially trying for individuals with autism and their families, many of whom thrive on routine. The widespread recommendations from officials to maintain physical distancing for public health means that one-on-one support is suddenly unavailable for these students.

“Individuals with autism are so varied, as are their home and school situations,” says Joseph McCleery, Ph.D., executive director of academic programs at Saint Joseph’s Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support. “Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are just that — individual — and they are designed to help students in the way that is best for them. When those resources are unavailable, parents are suddenly faced with the prospect of restoring some kind of routine while finding time to work from home. It’s particularly difficult for families with more than one child, whether those additional children have autism or not.”

Like many educators, the Kinney Center has had to temporarily halt its normal services for most or all of its clients. But the staff is adjusting. To help families, the Kinney Center is developing a series of videos that will focus on social skills, activities and behavior strategies. A new video will be released each day beginning on Monday, March 23. The tentative schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, March 23 : Specific strategies for parents on addressing problem behaviors, working from home with your children, and other helpful tips.
  • Tuesday, March 24: A lesson on basic social skills and how to practice them with the family.
  • Wednesday, March 25: A video mirroring the center’s “Kinney in the Kitchen” lesson, which teaches important kitchen skills, including preparation, safety and cleaning.
  • Thursday, March 26: A lesson on advanced social skills with the family and building on life skills.
  • Friday, March 27: A lesson on recreational skills.

In addition, Saint Joseph’s students in the autism and behavioral studies program are creating craft activities during their virtual classes that will be shared online.

All the videos will be prerecorded and available for public viewing

“We decided on this release model so that we could not only include our participants, but also the community at large,” says Jessica Joseph, Ph.D., BCBA, Kinney’s director of programs. “It’s important to understand that everyone is reacting to this situation in a different way, and if we can come together and offer support to the whole community, it can make a difference.”