What’s the problem?
More and more disabled children in Russia are growing up in families rather than institutions, which is fantastic. However, many parents struggle to access specialist help, information or disabled living aids that can help their children lead satisfying lives. This is particularly the case for families whose children have complex, multiple disabilities.
We are focussing our help on children and young people whose disabilities make verbal communication difficult or impossible. Being unable to communicate creates problems of its own: frustration, behaviour problems and total dependence. Families can experience poverty as a result as parents have to become full-time carers. Children or young people are at risk of ending up in institutions.
How do we help?
St Gregory’s has been working with pioneering organisations in St Petersburg and Moscow to develop methods of working with children and young people with multiple disabilities that are suited to the Russian environment. We are particularly keen to raise awareness of how Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) can be used to help these children.
In St Petersburg this is a multi-disciplinary approach for children with physical disabilities and, in some cases, learning difficulties. In Moscow, the focus is on young adults, many of whom are on the autistic spectrum, often with other disabilities or learning difficulties.
Both organisations are:
- offering direct support to children and families, giving personalised help to 40 children and young people between them.
- developing low-cost and Russian-language aids that can assist with communication and independent living. This will make them accessible at last to the families that need them.
- and running extensive education programmes so that families and professionals across Russia can learn the latest techniques to help those with disabilities communicate, play and become as independent as possible.
- In Moscow our colleagues run a counselling service for 106 parents, helping them come to terms with their child’s disability, and to manage their own needs alongside those of their child.