From the 22 to the 26 February 2017, 20 parents of children with autism had the opportunity to attend the third training sessions delivered in the Faculty of Philosophy and in the Center SS Idnina (Skopje, FYR of Macedonia) in the framework of the Equity and Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting project (ESIPP), co-funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme.
During this five-day training, ESIPP partners delivered the six modules making up the ESIPP Parent Education Programme (PEP), which aims at developing and disseminating a training programme for parents of children with autism living in South-eastern Europe. Partners Angela Winstanley and Nefi Charalambous-Darden, from AASP (Autism Assessment Support Practice), traveled from Cyprus to successfully deliver these sessions together with Macedonian partners from the Macedonian Scientific Society for Autism (MSSA) (Vladimir Trajkovski, Jasmina Troshanska, Anna Shikaleska, Biljana Kujundzikj Nastevska, Miodrag Vujovic and Philip Jurtoski).
Each module of the PEP is designed to increase parents’ knowledge, building upon the information learned in previous modules and extending it further. The content of the modules promotes the use of positive strategies, and is based around the following topics: an introduction to autism spectrum conditions, behaviour, the use of visual structures, sensory issues, communication challenges and the building of social skills. In addition, two non-core modules were added to meet requests for information on issues linked to puberty and on sleeping and eating issues. These were added following requests from parents on the initial feedback forms filled in during the first round of training.
The role of shadow trainers
During this third training sessions, Macedonian “shadow trainers” Troshanska and Shikaleska were observed by official ESIPP trainers as they delivered portions of the trainings independently. Macedonian had the opportunity to observe the PEP’s core training modules being delivered in their original English language form by trainers from AASP.
Sessions were also videotaped for future reference, should the shadow trainers need clarification at some point in the future about how a certain section of the training was delivered. Trainees also keep a reflective diary where they take note of any relevant information that they may need once the programme is completely in their hands. Thus, there is a lead trainer in the FYR of Macedonia who is overseeing the future training of new trainers, and monitoring the quality of training that is conducted within their own country.