On October 15-16, 2022, a charity conference was held for parents of autistic children who have just faced the diagnosis of their child “My child has autism. First steps of help”. The event in online format on the ZOOM platform was organized by the NGO “Foundation for Children with Autism “Child with Future” and “ACINO” an international pharmaceutical company. For two days, the participants listened to lectures by leading national experts and received practical recommendations aimed at those who are just at the beginning of the path of help and support for a child with ASD, which is extremely important in the conditions of war and, accordingly, limited access to comprehensive care.
The conference was attended by nine speakers-practitioners who provided parents with step-by-step algorithms of actions and practical advice within the framework of the identified topics of the reports. Parental support, strategies for raising children with special needs, speech and sensory development, neurological problems, physical development, basics of proper nutrition for children with ASD, etc. were discussed:
Igor Martsenkovsky – Head of the Department of Mental Disorders of Children and Adolescents of the State Institution “Institute of Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Examination and Drug Monitoring of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine”, Head of the Section of Child Psychiatry of the Association of Psychiatrists of Ukraine, psychiatrist, child psychiatrist – spoke on the topic “Problems of non-evidence-based care for children with ASD”.
Myroslava Berezova – therapist, MD, nephrologist, nutritionist, Bukovinian State Medical University, Department of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Chernivtsi – presented the topic “ASD and nutrition: when to start?”
Alla Moskalets – co-founder of the Ukrainian Association of Behavioral Analysts (UABA), President of UABA since 2019, Master of Special Education, founder of “AVAknowennoe Chudo” – gave a lecture on “When to start. ABA – a panacea or not”.
Oleksandr Miroshnikov – pediatric neurologist, and candidate of medical sciences – made a report on “Neurological disorders in children with ASD”.
Inna Sergienko – the founder of the NGO “Foundation for Children with Autism Syndrome “Child with Future”, Consul of Autism Europe in Ukraine, and mother of a boy with autism – spoke about “Parents’ resources. How to learn to live with an autistic child”.
Inna Bogdanova – sensory therapist, teacher-psychologist, a specialist in the integration of reflexes, president of the Ukrainian Association of Sensory Integration Therapists (UATSI), and founder of the rehabilitation center “SENS” – presented a report “Sensory features of children with autism and their impact on development”.
Natalia Pastushenko – a public figure, head of the NGO “United Hearts Foundation”, and director of programs on adaptive sports and integrative camps for children with ASD and other mental disorders – gave a lecture on “Diagnosis of physical development and the role of physical education of a child with autism. Practical advice”.
Oksana Kryvonohova – Candidate of Psychological Sciences, Associate Professor, National Early Intervention Trainer, and Member of the International Association of Alternative and Augmentative Communication ISAAC – spoke about “How to develop communication capabilities in a child with ASD”.
Daria Orlova – an adult with autism, a specialist in autism and inclusive education, co-founder of the online community “Ask an adult with autism. Ukraine” – shared her experience on “Acceptance of diagnosis and parenting strategies”.
The conference was attended by more than 400 participants from each region of Ukraine and countries of the world, in particular: Poland, Germany, Estonia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Korea, Turkey, USA, Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Romania, and Australia.
The event was actively attended not only by parents of children with ASD but also by young professionals and specialists working with families raising children with disabilities and special educational needs.
According to the tradition of annual conferences on autism organized by the NGO “Foundation for Children with Autism Syndrome “Child with Future”, at the end of the second day of the event, a survey was conducted on the quality of the conference, the usefulness of the material and the need for similar events in the future.
According to the survey, the vast majority of participants are interested in practical information and experience in accepting the diagnosis of a child, advice, and recommendations on the first algorithms of actions to help a child with autism, and support for parents who find it psychologically difficult to accept the diagnosis of a child. Thus, 79% of participants were most interested in the topic of strategies for raising children with ASD and accepting their child’s diagnosis. Accordingly, 92% of the listeners liked the lectures of adults with autism and parents of children with ASD, who told the audience about their own experiences of living with the disorder and shared life hacks on coping with the difficulties in raising a special child. This is due to the fact that there is enough theoretical information and algorithms of actions in the modern information space (specialized resources and online publications, books and periodicals, free videos from specialists, etc.
Video “How it was: charity conference “My child has autism. First steps of help” watch here.
“Thank you to the speakers and organizers of the conference. This is an incredible and powerful message to parents and professionals who work with children with ASD. I think that everyone took for themselves exactly what they needed right now. I am delighted with the sincerity of the speakers, their professionalism, their love for children, and the work they do. Victories. Everything will be Ukraine!” (Angelika Maslova)
“Thanks to the speakers and organizers that many practical issues are revealed” (Natalia Koval)
“How positive you are, you always consider interesting issues and inspire parents and professionals” (Iryna Moiseenko)
“Very useful conference! Speakers of practice! Effective for parents and very necessary for professionals!” (Marichka Oleksiuk)
We take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to ACINO for the partnership, cooperation, and valuable prizes that were raffled off among the participants of the conference at the end of the event.
ACINO Pharmaceutical Company in Ukraine is a part of ACINO Group, a Swiss pharmaceutical group of companies that has been specializing in the development and production of high-quality generic and innovative medicines for more than 170 years and promotes its products in the interests of patients in more than 80 countries. “ACINO annually invests significant funds in humanitarian, social, and charitable projects in Ukraine. One example of such initiatives is the all-Ukrainian social project “Your Unlimited World”, which aims to help people with an autism spectrum disorder to socialize and improve their quality of life, as well as to promote the dissemination of information about autism among healthcare professionals, teachers, and parents.
Over the three years of the project’s existence, many activities have been carried out: more than UAH 1 million was allocated to support educational activities on autism; 11 sensory rooms were equipped and opened in ten cities of Ukraine; more than UAH 500 thousand was allocated as part of charitable assistance to encourage children with autism to play sports; together with leading experts, more than 100 educational videos for parents, teachers, and doctors were created; 50 thousand copies of educational and methodological materials were published and distributed free of charge.
This project has received high recognition and won the prestigious Panacea 2020 award in the Social Project of the Year nomination.