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Education program of tactile stimulation – support method in special education

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Source of Funding: EEA and Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2004-2009
Program: NGO Project Measure (2004-2009)

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According to the formulation of the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia, in the time period of 2007-2013, a support system for inclusion of individuals with special needs in general education institutions will be worked out, special attention will be paid to education of previously uneducative children with severe mental development disturbances or multiple severe development disturbances.
The main target group for „Velki Association” is children and youngsters with severe mental development disturbances or multiple development disturbances and their families. For 16 years the founders of the association have dealt with the issues of special education. In cooperation with Scandinavian special pedagogues, ergotherapists, psychologists and activists from parents of disabled children NGOs, „Velki Association” has succeeded in reviving the interest of the people working in special and social education system in Latvia about the practical use of pictograms in work with children with severe mental development disturbances, there have been special computer classes established and the computers were equipped with special computer games, an environment for educating autistic children was established in one special school and there have been created disabled children playrooms in general pre-schools. The method of tactile stimulation was taught to already 20 parents of children with severe mental health development disturbances. This method has proved to be successful in mutual „parent – disabled child” communication. 
A successful creation of inclusive education system is not possible in Latvia, if a comprehensive consultative-methodological work of pedagogues, parents and the children is not ensured. It requires resources. A methodological database has to be created with different special education programmes, in order to maintain the interest and creative searches of general and special education establishments’ pedagogues who work with children with severe and/or multiple mental development disturbances. Such database would be very useful for the parents of such children too because they could get methodological and practical help when rising a child with special needs.
There should be targeted organisation of consultative-methodological work with children with severe mental or multiple development disturbances in the framework of support of social education system. „Velki Association” during our activities has become certain that there are too little teaching materials, methodological materials and practical experience in Latvia about education support methods which has proved them to be effective in the world and Scandinavian education systems. One of such is tactile stimulation. Tactile stimulation is a support method which encourages the development and training of senses of children with mental of functional development problems, as well as their everyday self care and socialization.
Tactile stimulation is used as an effective support method in modern western special education system. Regular tactile stimulation has reduced depressive mood and encouraged the feeling of comport in the clients’ of youth psychiatric clinics in the USA. The results of a research done in Sweden’s pre-schools, involving 100 children, has certified a hypothesis that if a child receives everyday tactile stimulation, he or she has a reduced apprehensiveness and aggressiveness, the communication and group’s microclimate improves. Especially good results were achieved in the correction of little hyperactive boys. This method has been acknowledged in education establishments in Norway and Finland too.    
Tactile stimulation means purposeful, structured touch, that activates skin, our first and biggest sensory organ. It is a neuropsychological and neurophysiologic therapeutic method. Tactile stimulation is adjusted to individuals with brain, mental development and/or physical development disturbances, features of autism or autism. The touch has great therapeutic significance; it reduces pain, stress, strengthens the body and gives a feeling of comfort.
There are following obstacles which have interdicted or hindered the approbation of tactile stimulation method in the special education system in Latvia:
Lack of exhaustive methodological basic material translated in Latvian;
Lack of resources to give methodological assistance to municipalities, pedagogues and parents;
Low level of awareness of efficiency of tactile stimulation method in education process amongst pedagogues;
Low level of practical knowledge and skills about tactile stimulation method amongst the specialist.
The general goal of the Project is to facilitate education opportunities for individuals with severe development problems or multiple severe development problems according to their abilities, state of health and level of development, in order to prepare them for life in a society.
In order to achieve our project’s goal, in cooperation with National special education centre and Liepaja special boarding school, it is planned to realize following activities:
To develop education program of tactile stimulation.
To translate, edit and print in Latvian programs’ methodological basic material – a book „Touch me!” („Om du inte rör mig så dör jag”) about the importance of tactile communication in development of a child by a Swedish special and pre-school pedagogue Ylva Ellenby.
To film a material about practical use of tactile stimulation method in local environment.
To organize a presentation conference about tactile stimulation method and the availability of localised methodological database.
To organize three 2-day regional seminars about the tactile stimulation – in Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Latgale.
Together with the local specialist, there will be Swedish special pedagogue, ergotherapist, emeritus doctor of Health faculty of the University of Likoping Ann-Mari Sjösvärd (phone+46706546977) working on development of tactile stimulation teaching program in Latvia.

Project results:

The achieved outcomes of the project include the following:

  • handbook "The role of tactile communication in child's development. Touch me!” by a Swedish preschool education specialist Ilva Elnebija has been translated from the Swedish language and published in the Latvian language (1000 copies),
  • the tactile stimulation - special education support method for curriculum has been developed and presented, it was also concerted with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia,
  • a documentary film was shot and produced in DVD format (1000 copies),
  • publicity measures were implemented (articles and publications in the press and on the internet, interview on the radio, leaflet produced "tactile stimulation - special eduaction support method" , 2 publicity events were organized at the School of Ergotherapists of the Riga P.Stradins University),
  • three tactile stimulation implementation workshops were organized in Kurzeme, Latgale and Vidzeme region.
Priority: Bērni ar īpašām vajadzībām (bērni invalīdi)
Target group: Specialists in various areas of expertise
Legal status of Project Promoter: Association/Foundation
Region: Riga Region,Rīga
Amount of Grant Awarded: 40822.35 LVL / 58 084.97 EUR
Amount of Grant Spent: 34521.37 LVL / 49 119.48 EUR
Project number: 2007.NVOF3.1./73/02
Project Promoter: Society Velki
Partner(s): State Special Educational Centre; Liepāja Special Primary Boarding-School
Start date of project: 01.12.2007.
Project finish date: 30.06.2009.
Place of implementation: Latvia - Riga city, Liepaja, Cesis, Preili district
Phone: 29101392
Fax: 67089147
www: http://www.velki.lv
Status: Pabeigts