OUCARES puts on free ‘Comorbidity & Autism’ webinar

Autumn Page, Staff Reporter

The Joanne and Ted Lindsay Foundation Autism Outreach Services (OUCARES) is hosting a free webinar for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), parents and caregivers, professionals and anyone interested in learning how to support and keep people with ASD safe. 

OUCARES is the outreach services of the OU Center for Autism. They offer comprehensive and quality support for people impacted by autism across the lifespan – ages three through adulthood.

According to the Director of OUCARES, Kristin Rohrbeck, the mission of OUCARES is to “improve the quality of life of people impacted by autism.”

Rohrbeck has been on the OUCARES team since 2012 and has seen it go through a lot of changes and exciting developments. 

“I started as program coordinator and have proudly served as the director since 2015,” Rohrbeck said. 

Her and her team serve over 2000 people impacted by autism in Michigan and beyond with more than 100 programs annually.  

“These programs are primarily for the individual diagnosed with autism, but we also offer programs for families, caregivers, professionals, and the entire community to better support people with autism,” Rohrbeck said.  

The upcoming webinar, ‘Comorbidity & Autism,’ is meant for anyone and everyone. It’s designed for individuals with ASD, parents and caregivers, professionals and anyone interested in learning how to support and keep people with ASD safe. 

 ‘Comorbidity & Autism’ will cover all ages and ASD behaviors. 

“As people with ASD grow and develop, they sometimes struggle with different comorbid challenges, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and more,” she said. “When paired with social and self-advocacy difficulties, these new diagnoses can result in new and concerning behaviors, including suicidal ideations, self-harming behaviors, and sometimes suicidal attempts. This webinar is designed to help inform our families to manage such behaviors and maintain a positive quality of life.” 

Specifically, it will discuss ways caregivers can better prepare & support comorbid diagnoses with an ASD diagnosis, strategies to help people with ASD advocate for themselves and how to determine courses of action to maintain safety for individuals with ASD & their families. 

The host of this event is Hana Jurgens, M.A., BCBA, LBA. She is the regional clinical training coordinator for Positive Behavior Supports Corp. and she has created a number of free behavioral support videos for OUCARES to support families impacted by autism during the pandemic.

 She has extensive experience working with individuals with autism and comorbid diagnoses in a clinical setting as a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA).

The webinar will be held on Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. It will be virtual, a specific meeting place has not been set and RSVP is required.

OUCARES greatly values and relies on volunteers to help their programs run successfully. 

If interested, students and community members can volunteer by emailing [email protected].

OUCARES has an application process for volunteers and requires volunteers to be trained to understand autism and best practices to interact with people impacted by autism. 

The application and more information about OUCARES can be found on their website.