Parent voices from south-east Europe raised in Northampton-UK

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The one-day conference “Parenting the Child with Autism”, held in the framework of the European project “Equity and Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting” (ESIPP), raised awareness about the importance of parent education in autism and presented positive experiences of parents from FYR of Macedonia, Cyprus and Croatia.

On June 28, around 100 parents, professionals, academics and other stakeholders gathered in the King’s Park Conference & Sports Centre in Northampton (UK) to exchange experience and learn more about the work and expertise of ESIPP partners from south-east Europe. The event was hosted by the parent association Autism Concern (UK), which is celebrating its 25 anniversary.

Partner Julia Hardcastle, Managing Director for Autism Concern and mother of two autistic children, welcomed the participants and reminded the importance of fostering mutual help, co-operation and friendship between parents, families, carers, helpers and those entrusted with the care of people with autism.

Dr. David Preece, from the University of Northampton, introduced the ESIPP Parent Education Programme, developed in collaboration by partners from across Europe, and highlighted the key importance of parents training to empower families according to the needs of their specific country.

Dr. Jasmina Troshanska, Vice-President of Macedonian Scientific Society for autism, explained the situation for autism in the FYR of Macedonia and the great impact of the ESIPP project according to families’ feedback.

Nefi Charalambous – Darden and Specialist Consultant in Autism Angela Winstanley from the Autism Assessment Support and Practice Centre in Limassol, talked about their experiences delivering the ESIPP training in Cyprus and how practical strategies help those parents in everyday life.

Croatian Special Education Teacher Sanja Aguila-Muñoz from the Centar za Autizam, shared with parents from UK their experience related with the project and explained how they supported parents in developing individual strategies for their autistic children.

All these presentations from FYR of Macedonia, Cyprus and Croatian were supported with videos aiming at sharing testimonies of different parents who have already participated in the different ESIPP training sessions.

The second part of the conference was marked by the speech of Debby Elley, mother of an autistic young and founder of “Aukids” (a magazine for promoting positive parenting for children with autism) focused entirely “on the things that I wish I’d been taught that you don’t hear in other autism talks”. Second guest speaker Meike Illing-Whitby of ThriveOT provided strategies to help support children to improve their motor coordination skills and accessing everyday activities across self-care, school and leisure activities.

To conclude, Autism Consultants and ESIPP partners Ron Fortuna and Angela Capper from Target Autism (UK) reflected on the day and answering questions from the audience related to the project.

The next one-day conference in the framework of the project will be held on November 1 in Skopje, FYR of Macedonia.

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