If your child is diagnosed before they enter school, there are several developmental programs available.
(Winnipeg and Rural Manitoba)
The Autism Outreach program in Manitoba uses DIR/Floortime as a resource, as well as other approaches including behavioral therapies such as the Early Start Denver Model. It’s an eclectic program that might look different according to the therapist’s background and family needs and requests.
The Rehabilitation Centre for Children at SSCY offers the Relate program for parents of children on the autism spectrum, based on RDI (Relationship Development Intervention). RDI® is a parent-based intervention program where parents are provided with the tools to teach their children motivation, friendship, empathy and enjoyment in sharing experiences with others. Seminars for parents and for professionals are also offered. For more information about the program or how to apply, call SSCY at (204) 452-4311.
The Hanen Centre’s More Than Words
The Hanen Centre’s More Than Words® program teaches parents how to help their children build social and language skills. It addresses the needs of children up to age 5 who have Autism and other social communication difficulties. Children who benefit range from those who do not yet communicate intentionally to those who have short conversations.
In More Than Words, parents attend eight group training sessions led by a speech-language pathologist. More Than Words is offered occasionally by SSCY, other agencies, or privately.
In addition to the Relate program, RDI is available through private therapy in Winnipeg.
For more information:
- Roseanne Papadopoulos is an occupational therapist offering RDI. Her website is Discoveries in Therapy.
- Kira Matthes is an RDI consultant, offering services through Bang A Beat Family-Centred Therapies
- RDI Connect (includes a list of therapists by region)
Leanne Howlett is a certified DIR/Floortime therapist who works at the privately-owned Autism Learning Centre in Winnipeg.
Some DIR therapists are willing to work with families over distances through Skype and email. Autism DATA hosts a list of certified practitioners in Canada who offer online consulting services.
Speech and Occupational Therapy
Occupational and speech therapists can be hired privately and can be a great support for a child with autism. Many occupational and speech therapists in Manitoba have had some training in RDI, DIR/Floortime, PLAY Project or Hanen, and are happy to support your child using developmental strategies. You can certainly ask before you start working with a therapist if they have any qualifications or experience. You can find a list of Manitoban Occupational Therapists here, and Speech Therapists here.
Some families have seen excellent growth in their children with the help of a good preschool. There are several Montessori schools in Winnipeg. One of the central ideas of Montessori is to follow a child’s lead to support learning based on their interests.