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Free program reducing stress, misbehavior for families with children with autism

Posted at 10:16 PM, May 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 00:35:14-04

A free program for parents of children with autism is helping with behavior management.

KGUN9 first told you about the Stepping Stones class last October.

Four-year-old Scarlett was diagnosed with autism a year ago.

"Scarlett doesn't have too many behavioral issues, but when she does, it can get a little bit escalated," her mother, Kim McDonough said.

For parents like McDonough, managing behaviors that come along with autism can be challenging.

But recently, Scarlett has been more vocal, and expresses her wants and needs.

"She actually got to the point where she was asking for the headphones when she needed them, which was amazing, because she's never done that before," McDonough said.

But it hasn't always been this way. McDonough said what really made a big difference for her family is the Stepping Stones Child Behavior Management class.

Three organizations came together to make Stepping Stones possible: UA Cooperative Extension, Arizona Complete Health, and the Autism Society of Southern Arizona.

Over the course of six weeks, parents learn how to better manage their child's behavior -- at no cost.

"I definitely had a lot of stress issues beforehand," McDonough said. "And since taking the class, it's definitely calmed me down. Especially because I know how to handle things a lot better."

The 21 families who have gone through the program reported major results. Both the stress levels of parents, and the intensity of child misbehavior significantly decreased after the sessions.

Stepping Stones sessions focus on communication, problem-solving, and self-care for parents. The two-hour classes are held at the Children's Clinic at Tucson Medical Center.

Sessions are kept small and open to just seven families at a time to be more individualized.

For more information on upcoming Stepping Stones classes, contact UA Cooperative Extension at 520-621-0921. Additional classes will be posted to