Galway Conferences - autism/special needs

Sort by
Join the discussion...

- Posts

Anonymous  ·  27 Apr 2008
Innovative Galway training conference relating to children with special needs and autism
Parents Day back by popular demand

A dynamic and innovative conference for parents or therapists of children with special needs and autism will be held in Galway from 6-8 May. It will provide training in a pioneering developmental model known as “Floor Time” (The Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-Based (DIR) model). Visiting experts from the USA Dr. Barbara Kalmanson (Psychology and Educational Specialist), Sherri Cawn (Speech and Language Therapist) and Beth Osten (Occupational Therapist), will join with Mari Caulfield (Speech and Language Therapist, (Developmental Therapies Ireland). The conference, the fifth of its kind, is hosted by Kilcolgan based Training Ways.

Parents Day
The conference is followed by a parents day entitled “Look Into My Eyes” (9 May) also with Dr. Barbara Kalmanson. Parents often feel sidelined and Look Into My Eyes gives them an opportunity to engage with other parents and share their stories. It’s a day of sharing by parents for parents, as the event is actually presented by parents themselves and previous parent presenters have made comments such as:

'I think parents relate to other parents better because they know they understand what they are feeling and going through'

'Presenting the Floor Time model at Look into my Eyes was probably one of the most empowering experiences I have ever had'

'It was great to speak about something I felt so passionate about.

The aim of the day is to celebrate the child’s relationships and to explore together communication opportunities. It encourages real connection through shared attention, engagement and continuous back and forth interaction with the child. Look Into My Eyes is being organised by both DTI and Training Ways. Training Ways co ordinates an independent service offering training and support services, which focuses upon continued professional development; training and support for professionals and parents in the areas of functional communication, sensory, emotional, learning and motor needs.

At €65 per participant Look Into My Eyes is heavily subsidised to prevent exclusion of any parent who would like to attend (participants come from all over the country and from Northern Ireland).

What is Floor Time?
The DIR model, fondly known as Floor Time, was developed in the USA by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, Child Psychiatrist and Dr. Serena Weider, Clinical Psychologist to treat children with communication and learning difficulties, regulatory disorders, and children with behaviours that place them on the autism spectrum. The DIR Model is a developmental, relationship-based model, which uses therapeutically guided interaction with children as a means of moving them up the developmental ladder. Intervention is offered within the context of developmentally designed play and learning solutions. The DIR model involves components where the child takes the lead (e.g. Floor Time) and components where the caregiver, educator, or therapist takes the lead (e.g. semi-structured problem-solving interactions) to create new skills.

The Conference
This course will provide training in the DIR model and should be of interest to Parents of children with special needs, and professionals working in this area, including: Speech Language and Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Educators, Child Psychiatrists, Teachers, Psychologists, and Paediatricians. Delegates can opt to attend the first two days, just the final day, or all three days of the conference.

The emphasis will be on how to encourage developmentally appropriate interactions for children with various sensory and developmental profiles, focusing on maintaining a continuous flow of interactions, opening and closing multiple circles of communication, and affect regulation. Affect-based approaches will illustrate how to encourage the child’s initiative, purposeful behaviour, shared attention, engagement, problem solving, symbolic play, and abstract thinking. Attention will be given to filling in gaps in developmental levels, deepening the plot, emotional constructions, and conversations critical for higher level thinking. Videos will illustrate parent child interactions and parent coaching.

The basis of DIR, or the Greenspan/Wieder approach, is to help children with learning difficulties connect ideas and develop a logical understanding of the world. Dr. Greenspan states that teaching children to become independent thinkers enables them to do anything. The way to do that is to respect the child’s interest while challenging her/him to become more logical and better adept at abstract thinking. DIR uses emotional and motivating experience-based learning to improve social skills, language, independence, and to teach specific concepts and academics The presenters bring a healthy balance of humour, passion, and expertise to their teaching style. Participants leave their course with specific strategies to bring back to the clinical or home setting.

Both events will be held in the Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill. To book a place on the conference or the parents’ day please contact Training Ways, The Courtyard, Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, Ireland. Tel: 091 796777 Email:
Write a comment...