VII international “Every Child Deserves a Family” forum on early intervention programmes to take place in Moscow

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The seventh international “Every Child Deserves a Family” forum will be taking place in Moscow from 15 to 17 October 2018. The forum is an annual event organised by the Naked Heart Foundation with the participation of leading child development experts from Russia and beyond. We look forward to welcoming specialists and parents from all corners of Russia and a wide range of organisations that provide support to children with disabilities and their families.

This year’s forum will focus on the important and very relevant topic of early intervention programmes. International research has shown that children achieve the best results if specialist support is provided from an early age, with the involvement of family members and other people close to the child. Early intervention programmes are required to ensure that such support is made available to all children. However, specialists and parents often lack the necessary knowledge and practical skills. The forum allows participants from all over Russia to acquire up-to-date knowledge and learn about all the latest developments in the area of early intervention free of charge.

During the forum, participants will be able to familiarise themselves with modern and effective early intervention programmes and discuss the development of a professional community in Russia. As usual, Naked Heart founder Natalia Vodianova will speak at the event.

Over the course of three days, leading experts from Russia and beyond will share their knowledge.

For example, the following topics will be presented for the first time in Russia: Professor Erin Barton from Vanderbilt University in the United States will review the current state of early intervention programmes. Dr Barton conducts research into the effectiveness of early intervention programmes for children with developmental disabilities. She studies which behavioural interventions help parents and specialists achieve the best results within the family setting and in the context of inclusive programmes. Her presentations will focus on how to establish the effectiveness and select the best early intervention programmes for the family and the child.

The subject of modern and effective support programmes to address feeding difficulties in children with autism and other developmental disorders will be discussed by Doctor of Psychology Valerie Volkert, who works in the Department of Paediatrics at Emory University and at the Marcus Autism Centre in the USA. Dr Volkert is a leading specialist and researcher in the area of eating disorders in children with developmental disabilities.

Dr Dana Johnson from the Faculty of Neonatology and Paediatrics at the University of Minnesota and Professor of Psychology Christine Puckering from the University of Glasgow, along with Russian experts, will discuss the importance of the early years of a child’s life; attachment and the significance of the family; early brain development and plasticity; neurobiological principles of early intervention; and early intervention programmes for foster and adopted children, their families and socially vulnerable families.

There will also be lectures by Russian participants and master classes on early intervention programmes for children with autism. In particular, Professor of Special Education and Rehabilitation at Utah State University and Director of the ASSERT programme Dr Thomas Higbee will be delivering a master class on the development of play skills in children with autism, and founder of the UK’s EarlyBird programme, Jo Stevens, will be running a session on support programmes for children with ASD who suffer from sleep disorders.

Russian and foreign specialists will take part in a workshop focusing on work with children with severe and complex disabilities and their families and will share their knowledge about evidence-based programmes and how they can be applied in Russia. The following people will be speaking at the workshop: professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of New Mexico Marybeth Barkocy, speech therapist, augmentative and alternative communication specialist from the centre for children with complex disabilities and visual impairment at the University of New Mexico Jessica Matney and other specialists from Russian and beyond.

All the experts, including those from overseas, will be taking part in the event on a completely pro-bono basis, at the invitation of the Naked Heart Foundation.

One of the main objectives of the event is to provide a platform for communication and exchange of experience between Russian and international specialists, NGO representatives and members of parents’ associations. The forum will include round tables, press conferences and informal discussions for all the participants.

The forum takes place on an annual basis, giving participants the opportunity to regularly find out about the work of their Russian and foreign colleagues and facilitating the development of a professional community in Russia.

Since 2012, around 4,000 people from more than 150 towns and 20 countries have attended lectures and seminars delivered by around 500 different speakers at the Every Child Deserves a Family forum.

Participation in the forum, accommodation in Moscow and subsistence are absolutely free of charge for parents and the specialists selected to take part in the forum. The specialists’ organisations will pay only for their travel to Moscow. Registration opens on 10 September.

The forum will be held at the Renaissance Moscow Monarch Centre Hotel, 31A bld.1, Leningradsky Ave, Moscow.

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