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Early intervention and support for children with profound multiple learning disabilities and their families: The Voluntas Early Intervention Programme is directed to the prevention of institutionalisation of children with profound multiple learning disabilities such a cerebral palsy, Downs Syndrome and motor-neuron disorders. Until recently conventional practice, due in large part to the bad precedents of Soviet-era education theory, have led to the placement of these children at early ages in orphanages. Families who attempted to care for these children at home received little material or therapeutic assistance making care ineffective and placing stress on the family. The Voluntas Early Intervention Programme encourages home care with parent as the primary therapy leader. Each child is assessed with the parent in the family home. Five skill sets: socialisation; self-help; cognitive; motor and language, comprised of 624 individual skills are assessed. The goal is to define the child in terms of what he or she can do, not, as is conventional, what he or she is unable to do. The visiting therapist in cooperation with the parent plans exercises to develop the child’s potential. Every week the therapist visits the child and home and works with parent and child to further progress. This method is based on programmes largely developed over 40 years in Britain by Department of Education and evaluated by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate. It has been modified for application in East and Central Europe. In Belarus is has become the primary form of early intervention for children with profound multiple learning disabilities. Over the past seven years it has resulted in a vastly reduced rate of institutionalisation and many children, formerly thought to have been irreparably disabled have been able to enter mainstream education.

If you would like further information about this programme or have any suggestions or questions please email us at   earlyInt@voluntas.org.  We look forward to hearing from you.


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