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Sept. 18, 2018

UA Cooperative Extension, Autism Society of Southern Arizona Launch New Program for Parents

TUCSON, Ariz. — Parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder have a new avenue to receive help and support in Pima County thanks to a new University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension program.

Stepping Stones is a free nine-session program that will focus on communication, problem-solving and self-care for parents. The program is being endorsed by the Autism Society of Southern Arizona, or ASSA, which is a resource for the entire autism community in education, advocacy, services and support. Arizona Complete Health, formerly Cenpatico, is providing funding.

"Parents and colleagues tell me there are very few free behavioral support services available to parents of children with developmental delays, and children with developmental delays are three times more likely to experience abuse than neuro-typical children," said Debbie Curley, director of Pima County Cooperative Extension's family engagement program. "We are grateful for the opportunity to enable parents of children on the autism spectrum with the specialized skills they need to manage their child’s behavior.”

Stepping Stones involves six group sessions and three individual telephone consultations to help parents better understand the causes of behavior problems and how to prevent them.

"This is a wonderful training opportunity," said Dr. Sydney Rice, a developmental pediatrician and ASSA board member. "We can all benefit from this type of support to help us be the parents our children need us to be."

Parents who are interested in behavior management support through Stepping Stones should contact the ASSA. The first Stepping Stones session started this month, and additional sessions are scheduled to start in January and March.

“At Cooperative Extension, we strive to fill needs in the community," said Curley, adding that they hope to expand Stepping Stones next year as more parents become aware of the free program.


Extension contact:
Debbie Curley
Arizona Cooperative Extension

Media contact:
Faith Schwartz
Arizona Cooperative Extension
520-626-2884 office / 520-891-8623 cell

Established in 1885, the University of Arizona, the state's super land-grant university with two medical schools, produces graduates who are real-world ready through its 100% Engagement initiative. Recognized as a global leader and ranked 16th for the employability of its graduates, the UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than $622 million in research investment each year, and ranking 21st among all public universities. The UA is advancing the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships, and is a member of the Association of American Universities, the 62 leading public and private research universities. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $8.3 billion annually.