Parenting classes aid special needs children

STEUBENVILLE — Parents of children with special needs are getting some extra support with a 14-week training course now available in Steubenville.

ENGAGE, an organization formed through the Family and Children First Council in Jefferson County, is sponsoring the program and has contracted with Kendall Behavioral Solutions of Martins Ferry to provide classes at All 4 Kids, formerly the Children’s Academy located at 4238 Sunset B;vd., Steubenville. The classes run through Aug. 31 and are held each Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

FCFC Coordinator Linda Trushel said about a half-dozen families have been involved with the program, and it was much needed in the area.

“Parenting a child with special needs is not the same as parenting a child who is typically developing,” she said.

Lessons include behavioral principles, prevention strategies, daily schedules, functional communication training, sleep problems, teaching skills and crisis management. She added that sessions are recorded and parents who miss a lesson may obtain a copy to catch up.

Katie Kendall, a board-certified behavioral analyst who operates Kendall Behavioral Services, co-teaches the sessions with Katie Winter-Hazen, who also is a BCBA and COBA and director of in-home supports for Kendall Behavioral Services. Kendall explained that parents and caregivers have actively participated so they could better serve the children in their charge.

“We currently are providing support to the families by allowing trained individuals to babysit their children so that they can attend the course. We also are able to use part of the course to observe the children and parent interaction, which is instrumental in us tailoring the course to fit the families’ needs individually,” she said.

“During the classroom time, we allow them to share what strategies they have used or resources they have found to be useful, so the families can learn from each other,” she continued. “We have already noticed that the support from one another is becoming invaluable and they are forming a bond. They realize they are not alone.”

She added that the course is broken down into weekly sessions to new skills and strategies to use in their natural environments. They also focus on solving problems with them regarding small behaviors and how to functionally communicate with the children. Additionally, they work on addressing how the parent or caregiver’s own behavior can reinforce the child’s behavior as well.

Six parents and grandparents currently take part, and the program is based on a Rubric created by Kendall officials.

Kendall said Trushel, whom she’s worked with in the past, had approached her about parent training services. Although the company generally works with clients in a home environment, Kendall agreed to conduct a program at a larger venue.

“I told her we could adapt it and turn it into a group parent training, while also giving parents and grandparents an opportunity for it serve as a support group as well. Linda really made everything possible for this group to happen.”

Kendall added that it was important for parents to keep advocating for their child so they have the best lives possible.

“I truly believe that their possibilities are endless with the right parents pushing them and supporting them. They can achieve and do the unexpected as long as you don’t give up on them. I would also advise parents to welcome feedback and advice from professionals. We often see so many parents get in their own way, which holds the child back. Developing self-awareness is vital tool to your child’s success,” Kendall noted.

“We are just so excited to be a part of such a wonderful opportunity for these families. We are excited to see how we can grow this parent training program and grateful that Jefferson County ENGAGE is investing into something that is truly needed. They are setting a standard for other counties and providing a wonderful resource,” Kendall added.

Meanwhile, ENGAGE operates under the umbrella of the Jefferson County FCFC with the Jefferson County Educational Service Center acting as fiscal agent.

For information about the parent training sessions, contact Trushel at (740) 491-0548 or by e-mail at ltrushel@jcesc.org.


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