Image Clipping (recap): Naked Heart Foundation, Moscow, 09 July 2013
The Naked Heart Foundation and Gazprom Export have announced the launch of a joint education programme. The aim of the project is to give children with autism and severe communication-related, mental and behavioural disorders the opportunity to study in school. Efforts will be focused on training teachers in special schools in the principles of organizing an education syllabus for such children. The first stage of the project will take place from 2013 to 2015 in schools in Nizhny Novgorod, with the support of the City Department of Education.
According to various international studies, the average incidence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) worldwide stands at 1 in 110 people. The latest figures show an even higher incidence of ASD – 1 in 88 people.
Currently in Russia around 90% of children and young people with severe ASD are excluded from the education system and do not attend school. Parents are either informed that their children are not ready to start school, or the option of home schooling is proposed. As a result, an overwhelming majority of these children do not have the opportunity to develop social skills or gain knowledge, and their parents are obliged to give up work and stay at home with their child.
Svyatoslav Dovbnya and Tatiana Morozova, programme creators: “Children with autism can be very different. Some of them may have extraordinary abilities and an amazing memory; in others the disorder might be manifested by learning difficulties. But all children are capable of learning and communicating, and children with autism are no exception. The only thing is, in order to learn, many children with ASD require a specially organised teaching process and special approaches and technologies for presenting the learning material. If a child is having difficulty mastering the school syllabus or is behaving inappropriately in class, it is not the problem of the child or his/her family. It is simply that the classroom conditions and syllabus do not meet his/her needs. Special teaching programmes for children with severe autism spectrum disorders in Russia have only just started being created. In many ways, this initiative is being spurred on by groups of parents, trying to defend their children’s right to education. This has happened all around the world.”
One of the main aims of the project “Introduction of modern technologies for teaching children with autism spectrum disorders in Nizhny Novgorod’s special schools” is to give specialists working with children with special needs the opportunity to study modern and effective working methods, exchange experience with colleagues and have access to educational workshops involving international experts. The development of a professional community of specialists working with children with autism in schools and at the Naked Heart Family Support Centre will not only significantly improve psychological and educational support for children and their families but will also broaden the scope for schools to take in children with various forms of autism.
The expert group of the Naked Heart Foundation and the Nizhny Novgorod City Education Department have selected six special schools to participate in the project. Teachers from these schools will have the opportunity to learn about: modern approaches to organising teaching; how to use children’s strengths when designing a teaching programme; the principles of setting up a learning environment, developing communication in non-verbal children, socialising children and assessing sensory integration; and how to evaluate a child’s skills and determine his/her learning objectives. School heads and teachers will also have the opportunity to learn about teaching children with ASD in St. Petersburg and will take part in the international forum “Every Child Deserves a Family”, dedicated to issues of autism.
About the programme creators: Naked Heart Foundation experts Svyatoslav Vasilievich Dovbnya, Paediatric Neurologist and Tatiana Yurevna Morozova, Clinical Psychologist, both leading Russian specialists on issues of children’s development and mental health.
Tatiana and Svyatoslav are involved in several international projects to develop support services for vulnerable families and children in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union; they are the co-founders of the St. Petersburg Early Intervention Institute; they are certified teachers for the UK Mellow Parenting programme; they have written training programmes and multiple publications; and they are consultants on a project carried out by the Government of the Nizhny Novgorov Region and KPMG to develop early intervention services.