Children and adolescents who, due to developmental disorders, face difficulties in everyday functioning require special help. This is the case of children afflicted with autism. Their problems are characterized by significant challenges of functioning within a group, problems in communication and behaviour often not socially accepted. This prevents them from acquiring knowledge in the same way and at the same pace as other children, and later, after reaching adulthood, affects independent life in the community. The primary way to reduce the risk of their social exclusion is an early diagnosis, education and therapy. But even with early diagnosis and treatment, most people with autism require support for the rest of their lives. Despite many differences in the approach to the subject, in Poland and Belarus there is still a lack of systemic solutions in the organization of support for people with autism.
Thinking about those who need help and are struggling with special problems resulting from their developmental limitations, children and adolescents affected by the Autism Spectrum Disorder, the "Common World" Association from Biała Podlaska together with the Education Department of the Leninsky District Administration of the City of Brest are implementing the project " Development of cross-border cooperation in helping people with autism on the Polish-Belarusian borderlands".
A general description of the DcbCforAutism project can be found in the "Projects" tab of our website.
As part of the project, on the Polish side, where the "Common World" Association already operates a kindergarten and a school for children with autism, two buildings were built: the building of an environmental self-help house and a school preparing for employment and the building of training apartments with the possibility of transformation, in the future, into a house of permanent residence for adults with autism. Furniture and computer equipment was purchased, which will be used for occupational therapy and preparing for work. This way, young people on the autism spectrum won't be without support after graduation. They will receive help in the field of occupational therapy, as well as the opportunity to learn how to overcome everyday difficulties in independent living, how to live and function independently. The opening ceremony took place on 24th September 2021.
Opening ceremony in Biała Podlaska
On the Belarusian side, the pre-war building was renovated, in which the first comprehensive care centre for children with autism and children with similar mental disorders, information support for parents and methodological support for teachers is being built. The building is equipped with furniture and specialized equipment necessary for rehabilitation and occupational therapy for children with autism. The ceremony of handing over the key to the renovated building took place on 4th November 2021.
Ceremony of handing over the key in Brest
Ceremony of handing over the key in Brest
For all those interested in the subject of autism, the project partners organized two conferences. The first, starting the project, took place in Brest and was addressed to Belarusian teachers dealing with people with autism. Participants discussed, i.a. methods of early diagnosis of autism and the principles of help and counselling for parents of children with autism and conjugated disorders. The second conference, in Biała Podlaska, concerned the latest methods of working with people with autism, the socio-economic and legal situation of adults with autism on both sides of the border, standards of help and care for them.
As part of the exchange of experience, two specialized trainings were conducted for Belarusian teachers and therapists on the basics of autism and methods of working with people with autism. It is also planned to train in the functional diagnosis of students with autism and to develop individual therapy programmes. Using the project, Belarusian teachers also completed two professional internships in institutions run in Biała Podlaska by the "Common World" Association – in a kindergarten, school and diagnostic centre. This contributed to the improvement of their professional qualifications and the acquisition of practical skills aimed at the specific deficits of people with autism. They will now be able to use them in the newly opened centre supporting autistic children in Brest.
The project organized a cross-border art competition for children with autism, entitled "My World", which included six categories: drawing; handicrafts (e.g. application, plasticine figurines, felting, embroidery, wood carving, firing, batik, etc.); photographic works; musical and theatrical creativity; dance. Many interesting works have been created, photos of which can be seen in the gallery below.
Thanks to additional funds of the Programme allocated to the fight against COVID-19, project partners purchased personal protective equipment, disinfectants and small items necessary to provide protection against coronavirus. Special boards and leaflets with instructions related to the dangers of COVID-19 developed in accordance with PECS (means of communication with people with autism with communication restrictions) were produced and a video was prepared in the form of a training dedicated to people with autism, which is already published on social media.
A consultation point is starting to operate in the Centre in Brest created as part of the project, and occupational therapy classes are already underway in the buildings built in Biała Podlaska.
In order to get to know each other even better and celebrate the European Autism Week together, in the first week of December 2021, the project partners plan to organize an online meeting of Polish and Belarusian children with autism.
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