So the holidays are starting and we are coming to the end of the most challenging and strange period. So many rules have gone out of the window. We used to say that you couldn't deliver Ocupational Therapy or Physiotherapy online. Now we know you can. We've found new ways of working with families, maintaining contact through group and individual online sessions. Throughout our aim has been to help families be resilient.
Firstly,we have to equip them to care for their children, now totally full time without injuring themselves (many of our children, particularly in the St Petersburg group) have physical disabilities as well as cognitive differences. Our multi-disciplinary approach in St Petersburg means that we have been able to step up training for parents in lifting and moving their children while protecting their backs. Misha's mother is particuarly grateful. Her son has complex disabilities, but now he assists her in moving him and washing him. His input doesn't look like much, but it is a great help to her, and a great sign of progress.
Just as important is a sense of emotional support for parents now isolated in challenging roles without the usual backup that makes special needs parenting do-able. It has been so important to keep the group meetups going so that parents can support each other, and children can see their friends, at least on screen.
However, we haven't lost amibition in our original aim of helping children communicate, play and become as independent as possible. It is so easy for children with special needs to learn how to be helpless. We encourage them to take part in their care, to discover what games they enjoy, and to communicate their needs and wishes. It was wonderful to hear that, at the height of lockdown, Maxim was taking great pleasure in exploring his appartment for the first time. Having not shown much interest before, now he crawled all around it. We were able to find an ingenious solution to fit his vertical standing support next to the sink so he can have the pleasure of washing up. He's also been learning new cooking skills as you can see in the picture.
Alongside our care for "our" families, we have also run a successful online learning course about Alternative and Augmentative Communication with specialists and parents taking part from Samara, Saratov, Kharkov, Minsk, Barnaul, St Petersburg, Nizhnii Novgorod, Kirov and Moscow.
A big thank you to all of you for helping us to maintain our work and even extend it in the most difficult circumstances. We wish all our families, and you, a chance to relax over the summer and recharge. We will be back in the autumn with more activities for our families, and more news for you.
Maxim cooking at home