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ECI at the Theotokos Foundation: Step by Step from Early Detection to Inclusion

Read about the highlights of the Early Childhood Intervention event on the 29th September and access the speakers' presentations.

On the 29th of September, the Theotokos Foundation and the EASPD Member Forum on Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) co-organised the Webinar “Step by Step from Early Detection to inclusion” which described the functioning and methodologies of the Theotokos ECI department.

Yannis Papakonstantinou, Director of the Theotokos Foundation, underlined that the first four years of life are critical for a child cognitive and physical development and ECI is designed to help children with their environmental or biological needs.

He then listed five factors that characterise the ECI processes:

  1. ECI can be performed only by interdisciplinary teams including psychologists, social workers speech therapists, occupational therapists, special educators, nurses and more;
  2. Skills and capabilities of the carers are a key area for intervention, close to the child’s needs;
  3. ECI services are highly individualised as every family and child receive different treatment;
  4. ECI services are embedded or integrated with the local childcare and healthcare services;
  5. ECI is flexible and adapted to the different phases of the child development.

Mirella Giannakopoulou, Head of early intervention and pre-vocational training department of the Theotokos foundation, and Marie-Ange Widdershoven introduced the work of the Theotokos ECI department. The programme for ECI in the community started in 2015, aims at children aged 2-5, and reached out to 1605 children and families. It includes three prevention levels (community awareness-raising, early identification in kindergarten, intervention services for pre-schoolers and their families) and six phases (awareness, screening, identification, consultation with parents, diagnosis, and intervention). Its objectives are the early detection and intervention in the community to prevent developmental delays and emotional difficulties, the enhancement of children’s overall development, family empowerment, teachers’ support, and inclusion in school and in other social environments. 

Aphrodite Korogiannaki, developmental psychologist and systemic family therapist, described the Early Intervention Programme “Mitis” and what strategies it uses to foster the inclusion into mainstream kindergarten or elementary schools. She was followed by Elli Natassa Xanthopoulou, lead special educator, who gave an insight on the classroom activities used for children with developmental disorders and other learning impairments. These include a morning circle time enhance communications and social skills, the use of visuals, and free and structured group activities.

Pari Meravoglou, speech and language therapist, talked about Hanen, a psychoeducational program for parents to empower them to help their children in their social, language and literacy skills. The programme consists of group sessions, including a videotaping session about parent-child interaction. Evaluations showed positive results for children, where more of the half had meaningful to significant clinical change. Parents evaluated positively the programme, and the possibility to interact with other parents and reflect on common problems.

Finally, Ioanna Karaveggeli presented the Theotokos feeding programme, for those children who have difficulties in feeding (e.g. with swallowing, muscle coordination, leaking of liquids) which aims at developing the necessary sensory motor abilities for a safe and effective nutrition.

The Webinar was evaluated positively among the participants, as they asked several questions to speakers and expressed interest in having other events describing other ECI services.

Here you can find the presentations shared during the event: