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2nd Congress for Kids with Special Needs
Topic of the Edition – Autism
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On 15-16 February, the 2nd Congress for Kids with Special Needs “Ferqli Ferdler” was held at the Heydar Aliyev Center. This year, the theme of the congress was autism. “Ferqli Ferdler” is designed to draw the maximum attention of society to the topic of autism, to create a dialogue between parents, specialists and educators, and to support the trend set by the Government to expand an inclusive society. The speakers of the Congress were well-known international and Azerbaijani specialists, parents of children with autism, as well as people with autism who will tell their life and success stories.

On the 15th of February, the congress began its work with the “Know and Accept” panel, as part of which presentations were made by: Psychologist in Science Center “Concept”, mother of a child with autism and moderator of the session Arina Lipkina (Russia) - “Psychological counselling / psychotherapy for parents of children with ASD: psychological assistance and recommendations”; Clinical Psychologist, expert of the “Naked Heart” Foundation, Specialist in Development and Mental Health of Children Tatiana Morozova (Russia) and Paediatric neurologist, expert of the “Naked Heart” Foundation, specialist on development and mental health of children Svyatoslav Dovbnya (Russia) on topic  “A comprehensive programme of assistance for children with ASD with proven effectiveness: experience of the Naked Heart

Foundation programmes”. The panel was accompanied by sign language translation.

The work of the Congress continued with the “Special life” panel. The panel was moderated by the producer of the Congress “Ferqli Ferdler”, Head of Project for support of people with Aspergers’s syndrome and autism, person with autism, Antonina Steynberg (Russia). Experts of the panels were Senior Researcher and Lecturer, Moscow State University, Ph.D. in Chemistry, person with autis, Aleksey Voskov (Russia); Deputy Head of International Relations Department Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan Elnara Ansari (Azerbaijan). Kids with autism Orkhan Mastaliev and Aisha Mammadli also participated at this panel.

The next panel - “Inclusion and integration” began with an excerpt from the children’s play “The Time Machine” according to the script of a girl with autism - Aisha Mammadli, with the participation of the children’s theatre group, Stage Director Irada Aslanova. Moderator of this panel was Gwen Burchell, Founder of United Aid for Azerbaijan (UK) – “Inclusion: From theory to practice”. Experts are Sarah Borgerding, Azerbaijan International School, teacher, mother of a child with autism, a person with dyslexia (UK) - “Neurodiversity in the Mainstream”; Imdat Atamov, Founder of Imdat Consalting Company, trainer assistant in “EI kids Baku” programme (Azerbaijan); Nazilya Maharramova, Teacher at special educational school number 11, head of the volunteer organisation “Ümid var” (Azerbaijan) - “Let everyone take a step towards an inclusive community”.

The panel “World available for everyone”, dedicated to an accessible environment for people with autism, was held with the participation of the Deputy CEO of the Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Elnur Zulfugarov; “ESA” (“ƏSA”) Inclusive Theatre Director, Nihad Gulamzade - “Towards an inclusive society – ƏSA”; Head of the Department of Archaeological Ceramics and Porcelain of the Fund of the Azerbaijan National Museum of Art, Fidan Muradalieva - “The role of teachers in inclusive art education”; Deputy Director in the National Centre for Haematology and Transfusiology, Afag Nasibova.

The first day of the congress ended will end with the panel “Family. Beginning of life” by a Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University, William Heward (USA) on the topic “Improving parent-child interactions: contingency contracting for families” and business dialogue between Mr. William Heward and Founder of the educational platform Edutainment.az and “Business Woman of Azerbaijan”, Tatyana Mikailova.

The conference programme on the 16th of February included a conference on the topic “Applied Behaviour Analysis”. ABA therapy is an intensive training programme that is based on behavioural technology and teaching methods, and studies the influence of environmental factors on behaviour, thereby allowing it to be corrected. The organiser of the conference is the “Birge ve Saglam” Public Union. Organisational support is provided by CEO and the educational structure Edutainment.az. Among the guests of the conference were parents of children with autism, experts, teachers and methodologists, psychologists and psychotherapists, among whom Ayten Einalova, Founder of the “Birge ve Saglam” society, mother of a child with autism (Azerbaijan); William Heward, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University (USA): “Applied Behaviour Analysis: A big hearted science for improving the quality of life for children with autism and their families”; Neil Martin, Ph.D, BCBA-D, Director of International Development for BACB (UK): “Applied Behavior analysis and Behavioral Intervention for Autism”; Binyamin Birkan, Professor Biruni University, BBA Executive Director (Turkey): “Science Base Teaching Methods for Children with Autism”; Angeliki Gena, Clinical Psychologist, Professor (Greece): “Inclusion for Children with autism”; Lorenzo Todone, BCBA, M.S.ED, Vice-president SIACSA, Director of the Centro APP (Italy): “The Importance of Development of Interest in Children with Autism: practices to diversify and expanding their interests”; Janet Twyman, Ph.D., BCBA, LBA, Chief Learning Scientist, blast, (USA): “Using Acoustical Guidance to Improve Learning”; Ekaterina Zhestkova, Head of ABA project “Step Up ABA”, Author and teacher at the Board Certified Behaviour Analysis (BCBA) course, Russia: “Behavioural contracts with examples”.

In order to create a favourable environment for people with special needs at the congress the organisers provided following:

∙ Rest zone for the people with special needs (1st floor, room №6)
∙ Сhildren’s area (1st floor, room №3)
∙ Special identification elements
∙ The personnel passing line for people with special needs (during registration, coffee break and lunch)
∙ The personnel to accompany people with special needs
∙ Special navigation
∙ The availability of food for people with special needs during the congress
∙ Sign language interpreters for hearing impaired people with special needs

Considering the numerous requests received after last year’s congress regarding social issues and the issue of education, this year the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the DOST Agency of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan participated at the congress with stands where their representatives answered questions from participants of the congress.

The congress was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Heydar Aliyev Center, the State Agency on Mandatory Health Insurance, the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Small and Medium Business Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Regional Development Public Union.

This year, volunteers of this Union assisted in the work of the congress. During the сongress the volunteers received certain knowledge, invaluable experiences and skills that they will be able to use in other international events.

Organisers of the congress are Caspian Event Organisers (www.ceo.az) and Edutainment.az. “Birge ve saglam” Public Union provides organisational support to Ferqli Ferdler. For Caspian Event Organisers this congress is a social project. All funds raised through partners and sponsors were donated to the “Birge ve saglam” Public Union to support children with autism. Also, the “donation” section was created on the official website of the congress, through which the proceeds will go to support and rehabilitation of children with autism (https://ferqliferdler.az/en-makedonation/).

The General Partner of the Ferqli Ferdler was BP. The Congress was also supported by companies and structures such as Holcim Azerbaijan, BestComp Group, ACE Group Consultants, Art Trio, Credo Group, CTS Translation, Maxoffset, Konfrans Services, 158taxi, the DOST Agency of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan and National Hematology and Transfusion Center.