City program helps toddlers with development

By Belkys Perez

Cecilia Alvarez- Tabio works with a 3-year-old student during a one-on-one session.

Parents with young children who have autism or related developmental delays find it challenging and frustrating to find quality educational programs specific to their child’s condition. In August, the Coral Gables War Memorial Youth Center is offering a preschool preparatory program for toddlers (18-48 months) who demonstrate delays in language and social skills, or those who have been diagnosed with autism.

The program, called Stepping-In 2 Learn, is an early intervention program that helps to increase a child’s communication and social skills, and provides oneon- one therapy sessions. Instructor Cecilia Alvarez-Tabio, a Board Certified Associate Behavioral Analyst and former preschool teacher, will guide youngsters through a structured curriculum in a classroom setting with various stations that provide visual cues.

“Because the children have a hard time communicating, visual cues are used for anything from requesting items to following a classroom schedule,” Alvarez- Tabio said.

Parents or caretakers must participate with the child to ensure they also learn how to apply these new concepts to everyday life. Alvarez-Tabio will provide parents with behavioral techniques.

“It’s important to help parents understand some of the behavioral characteristics their child is demonstrating, and give the parents the tools they need to so they can help their child become more functional,” she said. “By giving parents those tools, they’ll feel confident in their ability to help their child.”

No parent ever is prepared for the unique challenges that autism presents, but early intervention gives families a chance to lead a normal and functional life.

Stepping-In 2 Learn is being offered Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Youth Center, 405 University Dr. For more information on the program, visit online at <www.SteppingIn2Learn. com>. To register, visit <www. gablesrecreation.com> or call the Youth Center at 305-460-5600.


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