Autism is a lifelong condition which affects about 1% of the population (or approximately 7.5m European citizens) as well as those who live with them and care for them. The presence of autism can be extremely challenging to parents and other family members, and autism has been identified as causing greater family and parental stress than any other disability.
Teaching parents to understand the condition, and to work effectively with schools and other professionals, has been shown to be effective in improving outcomes for individuals with autism and their families.
The purpose of this project is to share, adapt, test, evaluate, embed and disseminate a collaborative model of parent education, with an ecologically valid curriculum and training materials, to support the provision of effective parent education for parents of disabled children (in this case, children with autism), learning from what is currently taking place within Croatia, Cyprus and the FYR of Macedonia, and modeled upon existing practice within the United Kingdom.
The project brings together academics, professionals and parents from various universities and autism organisations across Europe. Those involved come from various backgrounds – both national and cultural – and have a wide set of skills. The project coordinator, the University of Northampton works closely with all the other partners Autism Concern and Target Autism (UK), the University of Zagreb and the Centar za Autizam (Croatia), the European University Cyprus and the Autism Assessment Support Practice (Cyprus), the Macedonian Scientific Society for Autism and Autism-Europe (Belgium).
Impact of the ESIPP project
Since 2016, the ESIPP project has delivered 19 training sessions to 335 parents in 9 different cities in Croatia, the FYR of Macedonia and Cyprus. Moreover, 9 local trainers have been trained in those countries in order to ensure the sustainability of the project after its lifespan.
Throughout 2017 and the beginning of 2018, a total of 450 parents, professionals, academics, students, decision-makers, journalist and other interested parties attended the 4 different ESIPP multiplier events held in Zagreb, Northampton, Skopje and Limassol, aiming at raising awareness about the importance of parent education in autism and sharing the work and expertise of the project partners to a wider audience.
Before each of these events, project partners held roundtable discussions with national, regional and local key stakeholders (such as representatives of the government, the municipality, NGOs, trade unions, universities, institutions for education and/or disabilities etc.), to discuss about the importance of sustaining the legacy of the ESIPP training after the project’s completion.
ESIPP Parent Education Programme
The ESIPP project has the core aim of developing and disseminating a programme of training for parents of children with autism living in south-eastern Europe. The Parent Education Programme (PEP), entitled “Positive approaches to autism”, consists of six modules.
The PEP promotes the use of positive strategies, and is based around the following topics: an introduction to autism spectrum conditions, behaviour, the use of visual structure, sensory issues, communication challenges and the building of social skills. In addition, three non-core modules were added to meet requests for information on issues linked to puberty, sleeping and eating. This was created due to requests from parents on the initial feedback forms from the first round of training.
About the Erasmus+ Programme
Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of €14.7 billion provides opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad.