Sensory-motor therapies to improve the development of special needs children

Every morning, 28 year-old Slave Mitovski goes to the Day Care Centre for children with special needs in Gevgelija. Usually he goes alone, but today he is accompanied by his mother Naditsa.

He spends every day with another 17 people from the municipality, as part of a large family that requires more societal care than most. His brothers and sisters in the day centre are children with autism, cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome.

Naditsa says that they discovered that Slave had a developmental disability when he was six, and that it is very difficult to raise a child who requires constant care. When he was small, there was no one to care of him, but she says that now things are changing for the better.

Slave Mitovski rides a stationary bicycle at the Day Centre for children with special needs in Gevgelija

“When he was home, there was nobody there. His father was at work, I’m at work, so his sister took care of him. Now he comes to the Centre, he likes to hang out, he has friends, special needs children with various kinds of issues, and he adjusts. For now he is doing well, and he is happy, which for me is the most important thing. Every mother wants her child to be happy”, says Mitovska, who has been a single mother for four years now.

As of last year, Slave and the other children at the Centre spend some of their time in a special therapeutic room whose equipment was financed by the European Union. The treadmill, bicycle and other equipment help the children to improve their sensory-motor skills.

“This sensory room opened last year, and it helps the children a lot. Slave feels good here, they exercise, have activities and I think he has improved compared to last year”, says Mitovska.

The Day Care Centre for children with special needs in Gevgelija is visited daily by 17 children with moderate and severe developmental disabilities

“This therapeutic room improved their stay at the Centre because it provides them with a better quality of life, it calms and relaxes them, they are happier, and it also improves their physical health”, says Defectologist Meri Kuzmanovska, who has been working with children with special needs for 11 years.

One year after the opening of the therapeutic room, the sensory-motor skills of the special needs children have improved by 5 - 10%, and it is expected that they will improve further.

Defectologist Meri Kuzmanovska from the Day Care Centre in Gevgelija says that she tries to deliver the proper care to each and every child in order to improve their quality of life.

“We work on a one-to-one basis with each child as much as possible. Throughout the day we work on cultural and hygienic habits, and on making improvements that will lead to a life that is as independent as possible. Some of the children are independent in terms of nutrition, going to the bathroom, going to the supermarket or walking in town, but we also have some that are totally dependent on us and who need nursing and care”, says Kuzmanovska.

Defectologist Meri Kuzmanovska at the Day Care Centre in Gevgelija

Meri says that musicians visit the Centre once a week and their melodies fill the children’s batteries.

The project “Programme for full socialisation of children with special needs into their communities”, which in addition to equipping a therapeutic room in Gevgelija and three sensory rooms in Valandovo, Bogdantsi and Dojran, also included 11 training seminars for 60 teachers, 10 volunteers and four groups of parents, was supported by the European Union with around €77,000. The project’s main objective is to increase the social integration and development of children with special needs in four municipalities in the southeast region, and encompasses 70 children.

A total of 2,700 children with special needs are registered in the country. Thus far 25 day care centres have been opened, which care for 400 children with moderate and severe developmental disabilities. Some of these centres are equipped with special sensory and therapeutic rooms which significantly improve their development.

Slave’s mother, Naditsa, says that she has noticed a big improvement in her son’s development, especially since he started to exercise regularly in the therapeutic room

Naditsa Mitovska says she is optimistic when she sees that people are becoming more aware of children like her son and giving them more care and attention. Her greatest wish is for people with special needs to be fully integrated in society, to have the appropriate education, and then to find jobs, so that they can fend for themselves once their parents are gone.



FACTS:
- The project “Programme for full socialisation of children with special needs into their communities” was supported by the European Union with €76,589. It was implemented by the Apollonia Foundation, which contributed €6,000. The project’s main objective is to increase the social integration and development of children with special needs in four municipalities in the southeast region
- A total of 2,700 children with special needs are registered in the country. 25 day care centres have been opened thus far, where 400 children with moderate and severe developmental disabilities are cared for. At least 70 children with special needs, from the schools and kindergartens in the four municipalities of Gevgelija, Valandovo, Bogdantsi and Dojran, are directly benefitting from the sensory and physical therapies provided in the four special rooms equipped by the European Union
- An annual improvement of 5% to 10% in sensory-motor skills was observed in the children with special needs covered by this project
- 11 seminars trained 60 teachers, 10 volunteers and four groups of parents to support their work with sensory-motor methods

This project has been funded by the European Union

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