ITTS Program Paves Way for Increased ‘Autism-Friendly’ Approach in Jamaica

Hear from (4) professional therapists who attended a virtual conference, ‘Autism: Beyond Limits‘  through our Interdisciplinary Team Training Series (ITTS) program.

The importance of continuing education

In our world, information and technology is constantly changing. This makes the need for continuing education essential for occupational therapists to maintain clinical excellence and update their skills, knowledge and technique to best serve patients. 

Thanks to our Interdisciplinary Team Training Series (ITTS) program, we were able to sign up four (4) professional therapists in Jamaica for a virtual conference, ‘Autism: Beyond Limits‘ in fall 2022.

Since, we have surveyed and met with a few of the participants on what the experience has meant both personally and professionally. 

Autism: Beyond Limits participant feedback

After the conference was complete, we reached out to learn what participants thought of their experience and how it will impact their work with kids in Jamaica. 

The individuals who participated in the follow-up survey included:

  • Shanique Westcarr, Manager and Clinical Psychologist at Mico C.A.R.E Centre – St. Ann
  • Sharon Anderson-Morgan, Director of the Mico C.A.R.E Centre – St. Ann
  • Georgette Johnson-Grant, Special Educator at Mico C.A.R.E Centre – St. Ann
  • Shelleka Matthews, Head of Clinical Services and Clinical Psychologist at Mico C.A.R.E Centre – St. Ann

Overall, what were the biggest takeaways from this conference?

The group in general agreed that the conference was very practical, and each professional walked away with ideas to improve their services. One example was a meltdown session (a time when a child is having a tantrum and is unable to self regulate), which explored different intervention techniques to prevent meltdowns or at least reduce their severity. The session offered tips on assessing behavior leading up to a meltdown in order to redirect before a major meltdown occurs. 

The group also enjoyed sessions that focused on helping children to key into their individual strengths and interests.

“The presenters gave us an opportunity to reflect on the what if … what if we chose to tap into those interests, to tap into the intensity of focus that we sometimes see. It is possible to engage children and help them reach their highest potential,” said Georgette Johnson-Grant. 

Here are some more comments from our participants: 

“My biggest takeaway was not to focus on having an autistic child behaving ‘normal’ to fit in, but to focus on what makes them happy, be strategic in how I word questions, allow opportunities for exploration and provide support when needed.”

Shanique Westcarr

“Having adults with autism as presenters gave a deeper insight into what it is like to have autism and also concretized the fact that with the right intervention a high quality of life is possible for people with autism/autistic people.”

— Sharon Anderson-Morgan

We also received a Thank You letter from MICO Care Centre, who we partnered with to reach professionals to send to this conference. Here’s an excerpt from that wonderful letter:

“We are indebted to Smile A While Foundation for allowing us the opportunity to have participated in this international conference which featured world renown researchers and experts in the field. Through this experience we have gained useful strategies to include managing sensory challenges and meltdowns, as well as supporting self-regulation and quality of life. The knowledge gained will guide us in making our programmes and spaces more autism-friendly and provide us with a roadmap for meeting our strategic goal of providing targeted intervention for autistic students.”

Thank you to The American Friends of Jamaica for making this program possible.

What’s Next?

More training! Our ITTS program will continue to offer insightful opportunities for professionals serving disabled children in Jamaica during 2023. Transition planning out of high school and self determination sessions were top of mind as much needed training during our feedback meetings for the Autism: Beyond Limits conference.

Get Involved

Continuing education is imperative to therapists ability to best serve and care for special needs children. We are excited to see our partnership will continue to grow and flourish in ways that allow us to provide better care and services for children in Jamaica with disabilities. 

If you are interested in learning more about our ITTS program, check out our program page

We are planning on our 2023 Splinting Clinic Sponsored Therapist cohort now, if you are interested in learning more, join our waiting list

Donate to support future education opportunities through our ITTS program.