The EarlyBrain Project as presented at our Member Forum on ECI
As we celebrated Erasmus Days at the EASPD Conference, what better time to present the Erasmus+ funded project EarlyBrain than now?
Here is a recap of what was discussed at our Member Forum on Early Childhood Intervention:
Starting with a presentation of the project partners and their aims, EASPD’s speaker introduced the main results expected to be produced within this project. Participants were very interested in the collection of stories prepared by the project partners. The choice of situations that might prove challenging for children and their caretakers as a topic for the EarlyBrain stories resonated strongly with them. For example, everyone agreed that children with developmental delays have difficulty in going to the hairdresser, but that there are approaches and tactics that can help a child feel supported and understood in overcoming that fear.
Attendees spoke about their own use of storytelling to convey complex concepts to children in the early years of childhood, as a powerful and effective means to introduce new habits and routines, such as potty training. Everyone stressed that it is essential for parents/carers to begin teaching their child a new skill by abandoning the assumption that said child will fail. Instead, it should be seen as a process, within which tools such as those developed by EarlyBrain can be helpful to help children pay attention.
Moreover, the presentation of the best practices for the Toolkit spurred a lively discussion on different good practices in each member organisation. For example, in France we have the App BenleKoala , UNAPEI presented its report on parent's perspectives, and Fondazione Paideia spoke of their initiative of "Parrucchiere Amico" in Italy. They all felt that such a Toolkit could be useful.
When they heard of upcoming policy recommendations, participants rightfully raised the issue that at European level we still lack a uniform definition of ECI. This makes projects like EarlyBrain even more challenging to implement and upscale, as transferring concepts from one country to another can be obstructed by an absence of common definitions of key terms in the field.
Overall, the project's main asset was identified as its contribution to preparing parents/carers and guardians for situations which can be expected to occur in the day to day of someone responsible for a child with a developmental disability.
Attendees were invited to partake in the evaluation of the 9 Best Practices which have been collected and analysed by project partners and are to be included in the final Toolkit. To further support the project there will be 2 national events in 2024, one in Italy and one in Spain, disseminating the Toolkit among adult relatives and caregivers. There will also be an international event held in Brussels in 2025 to foster the debate on the policy recommendations.
The EarlyBrain project aims to provide parents and relatives of children with developmental delays with specific knowledge and skills to promote the development of their children. It is characterised by a joint, transdisciplinary and coordinated action to understand the child from a biopsychosocial approach and to empower parents/caregivers. The project will promote good practice exchange and raise awareness on the need of early childhood interventions in line with the Child Guarantee, UNCRC and UNCRPD.