During the last two weeks we did our POPARD training. These were such a jam-packed two weeks of information. In case you don’t know what POPARD stands for it is the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders. We did Introduction to Autism Disorders for the first week, and then for the second week we took the ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) Level 2 course. Stenberg College is the only College in the Province to offer this training. Normally you need to be working for a school district as a permanent employee and maybe you will get to take this training. It is highly sought after. When the Districts see that you have this training, it makes you more employable to them as now they will not have to pay for you to take it and you will not lose time off work.
The POPARD training is amazing! Our instructor had great stories to tell us from his experience working as a consultant in the various districts throughout the Province. These really helped the content come alive and increase our understanding of the material. The first week was all about what is autism, some of the common behaviours of autism and how to help children in the classroom with autism. There was lots of group work. We learnt how to make stress balls that are virtually indestructible. You take a balloon, fill it with salt, flour, rice, beans, or oatmeal. Then you tie it off. Then you put a second balloon over it with the tied part at the bottom. You just cut that opening off. These work great! I have made a couple now – one of flour, and two salt ones. My son absouletely loves them. I have to admit, I like them too. We also learnt about calming routines that would work with children with autism and how to implement that with them. As much as there was a lot of theory in the course, it was really well balanced with lots of practical information and learning how to apply this in the classroom.
During the second week we learnt about some of the teaching techniques of autism. We learnt how to do discrete trial teaching. When we were first learning about this, it sounded really intimidating and hard to do. By the end of the week when we did our practical test of discrete trial teaching we all had the 5 steps down with no difficulty at all. We also learnt in this week about how to reinforce behavior and why that works so well for children.
These were such interesting courses. The information that we learnt can be applied to so many situations and not just for children on the Autism Spectrum. You can apply it to everyone in your life and your own life too. I find myself using some of the relaxation techniques we discussed in class and they work really well. It’s hard to believe that we have reached the point in our course where we have finished the POPARD training. We are now in our last month of our classroom courses. The time is going so fast.