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SIBS Club is a program for children with autism and their families. During each 10 week program, children with autism and their typically developing siblings attend 2 hour sessions each week. We focus on meeting the individual needs of each child and also fostering a relationship between the siblings. For the first hour children with autism receive individualized instruction focused on skills necessary for successful interactions with their siblings. At the same time siblings participate in their own group focused on their own needs. During the second hour, all the children come together for a supported inclusive recreational time in which we support sibling interactions during fun gross motor activities including stretches, relay races, and freeze dance.
Building a community of supports that lasts a lifetime
Dr. Emily Jones and Dr. Daniel Fienup co-direct SIBS Club at Queens College. SIBS Club was developed in collaboration with our colleague, Dr. Kathleen Feeley, at the Center for Community Inclusion LIU Post on Long Island, New York. A handful of families, a few dedicated professionals, and volunteer undergraduate and graduate students envisioned providing a much needed resource to families seeking to help their children develop a strong sibling bond. At the same time we envisioned providing a high quality training experience for our students, one with layers of supervision, opportunities for entry level students and more seasoned students. SIBS Club is dedicated to providing this experience for the children, their families, and the students. Each time we run SIBS Club we involve students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels from multiple fields (e.g., psychology, education, speech language pathology). In the first years of the sibling program, we received support from an Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grant and the Doug Flutie Jr Foundation for Autism.
For 5 years the sibling program ran at LIU Post, with our expansion in 2014 to Queens College. At Queens College SIBS Club is a program within the Queens College Psychological Center. Support for SIBS Club has come from a number of organizations and awards including the Organization for Autism Research (Research Grant and Graduate Student Grant), Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grant, Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, CUNY Research Enhancement Award, PSC-CUNY, CUNY Workforce Development Initiative, and CUNY Service Corps. Recent funding has supported expansion of SIBS Club to Queens College, the development of the co-requisite undergraduate course, and continued research into the best ways to support families of children with autism.