The Foundation “Kazde Dziecko Potrafi” (Every Child Can Do It) operates since 2004 in the town of Gdynia serving the needs of children with learning disabilities (LD) in Northern Poland. Started as a response to the lack of treatment and support for one child (after whom the Foundation is named), the organization steadily expanded to offer support to a wider group of children with LD and their parents. It is the only organization of this kind in the area that serves the target group (children ages 5-12).
The Foundation is offering three types of activities:
- diagnosis and therapy for children with LD,
- education and training for parents and guardians,
- access to relevant information and referral to professional help.
The diagnostic tests help determine the child’s learning deficiencies leading to the development of treatment options and identification of potential coping strategies for the child, in particular how to survive at school where the child faces enormous challenges and hostility of the environment.
The therapy focuses on three areas: psychological therapy, educational kinesiology, sensory disabilities treatment. The Foundation is open to all children within the defined age range, but does not treat children with autism and dyslexia for whom professional help is available.
The Foundation fills in an important gap by providing therapeutic assistance not available in the area. The Foundation engages one psychologist, two special education specialists and several volunteers – students from the Special Education department of the Gdansk University.
From September 2006 through June 2007, the Foundation offered direct services to over 200 children and parents, specifically:
- diagnosed 57 children with various learning problems and deficiencies
- offered on-going therapy for 21 children (individual and group sessions) throughout the school year
- gave advice and training to 75 adults (parents and guardians), including instruction on home-based therapeutic activities and exercises
- Referred over 60 children to specialized services and other professional advice.
In addition, the Foundation developed brochures, pamphlets and other information materials for parents to inform them about various types of learning disabilities, and engage them in the process of therapeutic activities with a child at home. The Foundation also experimented with new approaches such as video recording of a child’s behavior at home as a way to monitor the child in their own environment.
It must be remembered that treating LD is a long term process and that results may not be immediately visible, although oftentimes some improvement can be observed after a few months of consistent therapy and family support for the child. This is particularly true for children who are diagnosed early on and receive professional help.
Here are two examples of the children who received help from the Foundation:
He arrived at the Foundation at the age of 5 with severe sensory disabilities which were identified through the diagnostic assessment. After a short 2 months of intensive therapy, Marcin started to show progress at which point the parents stopped the therapy. His state unfortunately worsened and he came back after a few months. Marcin improved steadily but his recovery would have been faster if the therapy was not interrupted.
As an autistic child, Agnieszka suffered from multiple deficiencies and had trouble to survive in the public school. Thanks to the psychological and sensory therapy she was making steadfast progress over the year: her ability to interact with her peers improved as well as did her ability to read and write, thanks to which she remained in the school and was slowly integrated in the class.
Going Forward: Outlook for 2007 - 2008
After a summer break, the Foundation will resume its normal activities in September and will continue its work with children and parents. Some of the plans for upcoming year are as follows:
- Launch the web site with various useful information about the LD and links to resources available in the Polish language (Fall 2007)
- Further develop pamphlets on key topics related to LD and prepare a set of observation instruments for parents as pre-diagnostic tools to document the child’s behavior in their own natural environments
- Print the book “When Your Child has LD: A Survival Guide for Parents” by Gary Fisher and Rhoda Cummings, a popular common sense guide that has been translated into many languages: the Foundation received permission from the authors for the Polish edition.
- Prepare for expansion of activities up to three locations in the region to make the services accessible.
The Foundation will continue to provide direct services and will gradually expand the services by building a local network of service providers in the region.
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