Understanding and Working with Parents of Children on the Autism Spectrum:  Making Sense of the Loss

Friday, June 5, 2009
9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Adelphi University
Alumni House, Cambridge Avenue

It is widely recognized that every pregnancy consists of both a "fantasy child" created from each parent's dreams and wishes, as well as the actual "conceived" child. Parents wonder what their child will be like: will the child be a boy or girl and who will he/she look like. After a child's birth, parents pull back their infant's blankets with anxiety and anticipation counting their newborn's fingers and toes. This ritual at birth signals the initial bonding between parent and infant. Parents immediately begin to reconcile the difference between the "child who is" and the "fantasy child."

But what happens when this reconciliation is derailed? When parents learn definitively that their child is diagnosed with "Autism" the discrepancy between their hopes and expectations for the "fantasy child" and the upsetting reality initiate a crisis. This reaction is characterized by intense feelings of grief and loss. The ways in which parents weather that crisis have vast implications for the overall well-being of the marriage, the family and as a result, for the adjustment of the child.

The initial focus of this training will be on parent's reactions to learning that their child has Autism Spectrum Disorder. The instructors will examine a wide range of issues including the meaning of the loss and the mourning process for parents. The stages of grief will be discussed with attention to the uniqueness of each family. Participants will learn about many aspects of the parent's ongoing struggles with disappointment, hope and guilt as well as their process of mobilization. Challenges to finding the right support network or choosing appropriate interventions due to the broad spectrum of the disorder will be identified; along with the importance of caregiver self care.

Finally, the implications for treatment will be looked at. The importance of treatment for helping parents deal with their grief, as a guide for the development of support systems and ultimately as an aid for families to create a "New Normal" family environment, will be addressed.

About the Instructors

Michael A. Mancusi, LICSW, BCD, received his MSW from Simmons College School of Social Work in 1980. He is the Vice President of Health Center Operations at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and a partner at Counseling Collaborative, psychotherapy group practice in Lexington, MA. His areas of specialization include child, adolescent and family therapy with a very special interest in and deep commitment to serving families affected by developmental disabilities, particularly Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Dorothea Iannuzzi, MSW, LICSW, has over 15 years of experience as a clinical social worker with children, adults and families. She is currently an outpatient therapist at Riverside Community Care, as well as a suicide prevention specialist offering training to community support agencies on suicide risk assessment. Dorothea is also a parent of two children one of whom is on the autism spectrum. She is active in the autism community in the greater Boston area and has worked to increase autism awareness within her community.

Marianne K. Fougere, MSW, is in private practice in Lexington, MA, working with children, adolescents and adults, with a focus on children with developmental disabilities and their families, as well as general parenting. Ms. Fougere also serves as the Dept. of Ed./Dept. of Mental Retardation coordinator for Cambridge Family & Children's Services administering funding and intensive home-based services to families of children with severe autism or related disorders. Ms. Fougere has worked with families of children with developmental disabilities, primarily autism spectrum disorders, in a variety of other capacities.

Who Should Attend
Early childhood educators, child care providers, pediatricians, psychiatrists, neonatologists, social workers, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, midwifes, psychologists, speech pathologists, obstetricians, family therapists, school counselors, child life specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, educators and students, and others who professionally impact the lives of families and children.

Program Fee
Regular program fee: $115.00
Early registration fee (if postmarked by May 5, 2009): $105
Registered full-time student at Adelphi University: $55.00
Full-time faculty at Adelphi University: $80.00

Please note: You will be required to show proof of faculty or student status when checking in at the event if you register under either of those options.

Advance registration has ended. Please contact the Institute for Parenting about registering at the event. 516.877.3060

Credentialing Information and Continuing Education
This program will offer 6 units of Continuing Education Credits or the equivalent. Click here for more information.

Should you require disability accommodations, please email the Office of Disability Support Services at dss@adelphi.edu, giving notice of 72 hours before the event. Should you require ASL interpreting, 7 days notice is required.

For additional information about this program, please contact:

Marcy Safyer, LCSW-R
Linen Hall, Room 11
p - 516.877.3060
e - msafyer@adelphi.edu

The Institute for Parenting
Adelphi University
1 South Avenue
P.O. Box 701
Garden City, NY 11530-0701

f - 516.237.8512
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