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Guest Case Study – Catesbi

To honour Autism Awareness Week we are showcasing the tremendous work that Catesbi Community Interest Company do here in Dundee. They are a not-for-profit company providing information and training sessions for parents of autistic children and professionals in the field. This week we are interviewing Suzie Repova, Director of Catesbi to find out more about autism and why she started this company.

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What is autism?
“Autism is a developmental disorder characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication and restricted patterns of behaviour or thought.

It is called a spectrum disorder because every person with autism is affected on different levels or severity. The causes of autism are still unknown. A presumption is that autism is caused by environmental and genetic factors. Speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and behavioural interventions can improve functioning in communication, life & social skills and play skills. Because of the brain plasticity, the therapy should start as early as possible. This has a better impact on future learning, better language and motor skills. Responses to therapies are individual.”

Why did you set up Catesbi?
“I have set up Catesbi because I believe that there is so much more we can do for children with developmental delays and learning difficulties.

My husband and I used to foster care a boy with autism, the system failed him and there was no need for that. He is now institutionalised and struggles despite the fact he is so bright, he used to be funny and happy boy.

There is a huge lack of training for parents and professionals. We want to improve the chances for other children, families, give parents a choice and up-skill professionals.”

What services do you provide?
“We offer parental guidance and professional training to enable positive change for children with autism, ADHD, developmental delays, learning & behavioural difficulties based on science of behaviour.

Guidance for parents through:

  • 1 to 1 individual training program, developed by psychologists
    • This takes an hour once a week over 10 – 13 weeks
    • Includes: behaviour principles, reinforcement, prevention strategies, supplemental sessions when needed
  • Small group of parents – Block of 8 sessions
    • This is delivered in 2 hours, twice a week (resp. one a week)
    • Includes: functional skills, teaching through play, assessments, motivation
    • We would adapt the structure of the session to the need of the group

Parents will gain an understanding of how to:

  • Teach new skills including – play and everyday life skills
  • Reduce and prevent challenging behaviour
  • Increase communication and social skills

Training for professionals:

  • Larger training groups:
    • One off session depending on what topic parents/teaching staff choose
    • Whole day or few day trainings

Professionals will gain an understanding of:

  • Token economy
  • Reducing challenging behaviour
  • Visual schedules
  • Building rapport with a new learner

Whole School Behaviour Policies & Interventions – Implemented by a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA):

  • Includes: 4 day whole school observation, feedback meeting and report writing
  • In addition: 2/3 days fortnightly training for 3 months, ongoing frequent support
  • Focus on: reduction of challenging behaviour, rewarding, precision teaching

Teachers and support staff will be able to understand behaviour and use specific teaching strategies in groups as well as with individual students.

Bespoke training packages:

  • Developed for and delivered to suit third sector organisations.

Coming up soon:

  • 3 months hands on training with the child and family members.
    • This is for parents who have had the theory training and wish to continue with therapy on practical bases.
    • This involves: detailed assessment, goals setting, data collection, compiling behaviour plan, implementation and reviews.
  • Social Skills Club:
    • 1 and a half hour club for preschool children struggling with social interaction.
    • Children are supported by a behaviour analyst, behaviour therapist and volunteers during free and structured play.”
How can a virtual tour be of benefit?
“Virtual tours are known to make those with autism feel more at ease when viewed before going to a new location they are unfamiliar with.

Virtual tours are an amazing idea to promote any business, even more when the aim is focused on accessibility, autism and disabled customers. I’m in the process of getting an accessible venue and funding for marketing.

Fingers crossed we can do our own virtual tour asap!!”

Do you have any offers, how does someone get in touch/book your services?
“All interested can get in touch through:

  • Email suzie@catesbi.co.uk
  • Phone 07922 824 758 – please do leave a message

Drop in @Volunteer Action Angus in Forfar:

  • 9th April 2018 9.30am – 11.30am
  • 10th April 2018 12.30pm – 14.30pm”

Thanks you Suzie Repova, Director of Catesbi for answering our questions.

Follow Claire D'All:

I graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Applied Computing. During my studies the field that I had a great interest in was web development however since graduating I have also become very interested in accessibility. I was born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and since the age of 3 I have used a wheelchair 24/7. Due to my disability I have always come across problems regarding accessibility, which is why it’s such a passion for me.

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