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Monday (Kelly)

Monday (Kelly)
Kelly - Mon Jul 19, 2010 @ 05:23AM
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Hi all,

All USNOF teams have just returned to the hotel and crashed after a very successful first day.  Despite a few technical difficulties, the first two presentations went really well.  When I think back on our first conference a few years ago, I'm surprised at the change.... everything went very smoothly.  I'm pleased with how our relationships with the people here have grown and developed.  I'm also noticing that our mission, our goals, have begun to merge and now we're relatively on the same page and working as a more cohesive American-Ukrainian team. 

And I was thrilled to get reports of how they're applying what they've learned (more on that later).

The month of July is typically their vacation season.  Most people leave the city and travel so our numbers aren't as large as last year; however, I'm happy to report that we had between 40 and 45 people. 

Tomorrow's presentations might draw a larger crowd since the topic is autism.  Jackie, who's from Canada, opened the conference this morning. She actually has some Ukrainian heritage and can read the language very well so she was able to give her entire lecture in Ukrainian.  I, of course, wasn't able to understand her, but I do know that she was talking to them about specific strategies to promote literacy.  Jackie received a lot of financial support (I think from her local rotary club) and was able to purchase books here in the city of Rivne, which she'll give to each organization we support, and give a book to each orphan at the Children's Home.

Becky traveled all the way from Alaska and she spoke during the afternoon session.  She spoke about video self-modeling, which is an excellent visual support to train people both with and without disabilities to perform a task that they were previously unable to do. [Learn more at http://newabilityproductions.com/]

The trick is to edit and film the video so that it looks like the person is 100% successful and independent even if they're being prompted, or they're not doing it at all.  For example, she made a video for a child with autism who had picky habits when it came to food.  They filmed him sitting at the table with the plate of food in front of him, but the mouth eating the food on the video was actually his brother.  They just zoomed in on the mouth, showing the fork full of food, and when watching the completed video it looked like the child with autism was eating the unpreferred foods.  Very tricky!  And it works.  There is a lot of evidence and research behind this method. 

Becky's donations purchased video cameras and dvd players for the 3 OMNI centers and 3 early intervention centers we work with.  Becky will meet one-on-one with specialists from each center and train them how to make and edit a video.

The highlight of my day was when Jason and I were approached by a doctor, speech therapist, and teacher, all parents or grandparents of a child with autism, who attended our conference last year which revolved around autism.  After the 2009 conference, several parents of children with autism from Rivne and 2 other nearby regions formed an organization.  They are renting a space and gather 3 to 4 times a week to teach the children with autism.  They've started an autism program!!!!!!  They don't have any support such as government or financial support.  They seem to have some loose ties to the Pahinets in Rivne.  I'd like to explore that relationship further. 

Unfortunately, the parents are currently having to pay for everything, which is of course very difficult for them to afford.  They've asked USNOF for support.  We're going to visit their classroom later this week and learn more about their organization and specific needs. 

Obviously I want to help them.  I don't know at this time if we can or how, but I'm just so excited!  God reveals something to me each summer.

Tomorrow I'll be speaking in the morning about the warning signs of autism, and Dianne will follow in the afternoon with how to diagnose autism.  Please pray for us.  It's incredibly hot in the auditorium so I'd just like to remain on my feet.  I wasn't even speaking today and I became a little shaky and sick feeling.  I'd also like to be calm and articulate.  Please also pray that God will continue to reveal himself to me and the organization so that we may help these people according to his plan.

Thank you ALL for your support, prayers, kind thoughts, and words of encouragement.  When you're so far from home they mean so much.  I really appreciate you all.

Love, Kelly  A.K.A. Kellichka in Ukrainian, which means kelly dearest

Tags: Kelly, Autism, 2010
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