The First Training Fortnight in Lithuania

It is now 8 years since ISADD started in Lithuania The start was accidental. Jura travelled to a family reunion, and found some parents, who had heard of ABA, requesting services. Early years were slow and painful and training was difficult given the distance. Charlotta from Scotland helped a lot to put the first therapists on their feet. The Irish team and Isabella also helped. Currently we have 4 experienced Case Managers, and now will have 5, supported by Jura and Isabella.

We work in a number of towns and the client group is growing. Over the years we have worked with over 50 children, and the current group is about 30.

Gradually attitudes are changing as awareness in the community is growing. It is a slow process however and we are still finding it difficult to support our clients in schools and kindergartens.  Though inclusion is policy, “grass roots” attitudes and tolerance levels have not kept up with policies. ISADD works in partnership with a parent group, “Kitoks Vaikas” which promotes Autism awareness and ABA. We supported them recently in publishing a book for children to help them understand their siblings with ASD, and they also published a translation of “Your Child Has Autism – What Next” (better known as our ‘Blue Book’).

Also, just last week Jura talked to a large group of teachers and parents in a Special School in Klaipeda and the topic was coping with adolescents and their sexuality, something which would not have been openly discussed a few years ago. So slowly attitudes are leading towards acceptance and tolerance. It is the same road we travelled in Australia some 20 -30 years ago, and we need to remember that Lithuania has only existed as a democratic Western Nation for not much more than 20 years.

ISADD – Lithuania is striving to become more independent of the parent company. In June existing Case Managers met for a fortnight to help train the new case manager, and to bring their own skills up to date in response to newer findings. This time training was undertaken in Lithuanian. We also took the opportunity to translate supporting materials into Lithuanian.  Jura’s old farmhouse was a convenient location, isolated and very rural, with the odd deer, fox, hare, hedgehog and martin wandering by. The ISADD Roleystone tradition of “boot camp” was continued and all took turns cooking and cleaning. It was also great to see Zenia’s 7 months old son, Joris, taking part, and providing cute examples of early social development. (He also enjoyed the wild strawberries.)

While we were all together we hosted a parent day. We discussed how parents can be involved in helping their children’s progress more effectively, and after a sit down lunch we discussed what happens when our children
approach adolescence. It was good to see parents, some of whom had travelled across half the country, take part in discussions and problem solving.

On the second weekend we held a therapist day, where 2 topics were addressed, ‘Reinforcement’ and ‘Working in the family home’. The day started with team games and a good opportunity for therapists from different towns to meet and chat about common issues. I am sure the old farm house (circa 1914) was glad to see so many enthusiastic young people on a sunny summer day. Unfortunately not all the days were sunny but the old clay stove which had heated the house for nearly a century, provided a cosy atmosphere.

We worked through to near midnight, which was encouraged by the mid-summer sun not setting till 11 pm and also the need to stay up for the results of the European Football Championship (Spain won), but we also had some relaxing Lithuanian style barbeques, and certainly ate well – much too well. We went for a look around
the local town, Telsiai, and some even managed to shop for shoes, not just for provisions.

autism services and support, australia
autism services and support, australia

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