Vladislava Doncheva, Svetlana Angelova, and Sara McPheeters, therapists at Karin Dom Centre, returned from a three-week visit on the invitation of Christine Giannoni and Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) in Connecticut. The extremely rich and intensive programme allowed them to gain knowledge, experience, and inspiration from mature services according to the current needs, initiatives, and interests of Karin Dom.
They learned about the work of CREC that manages the Early Intervention Programme, Pre-Schools, and Schools for ages up to 21. Our Early intervention consultants Vladi and Svetlana did home visits with their American colleagues. Their experience is a valuable contribution to the development of the family centred approach to early intervention that Karin Dom has been following for almost a year. Home based early intervention services have a long history in the USA with a network of services in each state. Service provision is regulated by the state.
The second week was devoted to getting to know the educational system and the opportunities for the children with special educational needs. On the focus of attention were Simsbury School an example of a typical town school system that has created its own autism program; Montessori Magnet School that integrates children with special needs; Polaris Center for students with behavioural difficulties. A point of interest was also the ABA based River Street Autism Program at Coltsville. Sara McPheeters worked mostly there and she even had the chance to take part in an ABA training. Our physiotherapist Vladislava observed sensory motor treatment of children with autism. She was impressed with the good results it has as part of the complex programme and she wants to apply elements of this approach in her work at Karin Dom.
Our colleagues also visited Soundbridge – an auditory oral program for children and adolescents with hearing impairments from birth to 21. At the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Vladi and Svetlana observed inpatient and outpatient treatment provided by physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.
The Karin Dom team is happy to have such a wonderful friend in the person of Christine Giannoni. Thanks to her good will and hard work this immersion experience came true. Chris spent three months with us as a Peace Corps volunteer last year. She liked our work with children, made warm connections with the staff, wanted to support our professional development and help build-up our early intervention program. We are also grateful to one of our sponsors for this project YouHelp BG. They made the training of our staff possible by sponsoring all travel expneses to Boston. YouHelp BG is a UK registered charity aiming to improve the lives of disable and institutionalized children in Bulgaria.