No Boundaries for Disabled Teenagers

Project location: ITALY
Project start date: September 2001 - Project end date: June 2002
Project number: 2001-11
Beneficiary: C.O.E.S.

Aimed at continuing and achieving the intervention already in progress, the Nando Peretti Foundation finances a new project which intends to foster the construction and/or enhancement, as well as protected experimentation, of the basic cognitive-relational requirements for a better social integration and a possible future employment of young people with minor mental weakness and associated interactive problems.
These goals can be achieved through a multidisciplinary approach and an overall taking of responsibility for the personality of these young people and for the household and education systems to which they belong.
The project deals with a group of about 30 adolescents, like the 2001-2002 project, aged 11 to 18 years and will be divided into the following phases:

a) COGNITIVE AND DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURE: interviews made by the children's neuropsychiatrists, psychologists and cognitive therapists with young people and aimed at neuropsychological and psychodiagnostic evaluation (also through tests).


c) REHABILITATION PROCESS: Each adolescent will come to the Centre three times a week on average, in the afternoon, for one-and-half hour each day. During this time, they will benefit of group or individual neuropsychological interventions - according to individualized projects - and psychotherapeutic treatments through:

1. Computer laboratories;
2. Occupational laboratories;
3. Individual or group activities with cognitive therapists;
4. Individual or group psychotherapies;
5. Individual or group expressive activities such as: music therapy, arts therapy and dance therapy, and theatre-laboratory.

At the same time, the following interventions are planned:

1. family group or individual psychologic interventions aiming at sharing and elaborating their experiences and inner difficulties, in particular those linked to the handicap of their children or brothers/sisters.
2. Didactic-rehabilitative collaboration with schools attended by these young people, through phone contacts and meetings with the teachers. 16. research and identification, in close contact with families, of protected suitable job or occupational situations where these young people could be inserted when our intervention has reached its end, and possible intervention of insertion.

Rehabilitation processes are evaluated every fifteen days through team meetings in which all technical and rehabilitation personnel working at the project will take part.

d) EXPERIMENTATION ON THE TERRITORY: Young people, in small groups and helped by reference people, will experiment the skills acquired through outings on the territory aimed at the knowledge and use of public means and offices.

Final results 2002-2003

At the end of the activities concerning the teen-agers project, we herewith draw an analysis of the work we carried out, the goals achieved and those for which it would be appropriate to keep on working.

Altogether, after a diagnostic-cognitive programme, 21 adolescents - split into the age groups specified here below - have been followed:

  • group 1- 10 children aged 10-13
  • group 2 - 11 adolescents aged 14-17

    On the base of individualized projects, the children have been involved in diversified activities that allowed work for the achievement of specific goals.

    The activities proposed as rehabilitation tools are the following:

  • occupational, practical and expression activities
  • computer
  • body expression activities
  • music therapy
  • art therapy

    The formation of a group has been the main common goal for all the activities carried out in the first part of the project, since it was the essential prerequisite for the work developed later on.
    For some children (particularly the elders) such goal has been achieved been reached in relatively short time; for the others (the youngest), emotional and relational difficulties and their consequent defensive mechanisms made the goal more difficult to be achieved and in a longer time.
    In this context, and considering their adolescent age, expression activities such as art therapy, music therapy and body expression therapy have offered the possibility to establish a relation with their own "self" and in so doing succeed in managing their emotional world with no holds barred. The acknowledgement and respect of protected space and time settings was possible with almost all of them, as well as a strengthening of their symbolic and representative capabilities.
    However, it is still necessary to carry out activities to favour personhood organization and integration processes, as well as to strengthen self-esteem and the sense of reality.
    Occupational activities and computer laboratory have allowed the achievement of clear results as concerns the widening of cognitive, relational, social and integration competences.

    Moreover, in the above-mentioned laboratories the children could:

    Know the computer and improve its use, and the elders could achieve skills to navigate in Internet in a planned and suitable way.
    Experiment new occupational techniques.
    Two excursions were organised in the last period of the project, and the children could experiment good levels of autonomy, and put in practice the acquired competences.
    During the whole project realized for these children, psychologists carried out a parallel job to support the families. In fact, parental interviews had been scheduled monthly for couples and groups.

    From a psychological point of view, the purpose of such meetings was to accompany the families of the teen-agers during the natural "crisis" caused by the passage of vital cycle for the families.
    Two age-groups were formed. With the parents of the youngest children, preadolescence issues and their relevant feelings accompanying growth were tackled, so that they could understand their children difficulties, their fears of marginalization and isolation in entering society.

    The parents of the elders worked on the issues of adolescence and the possible independence from the family, sex-related issues and the "after us" problem, possible job-finding strategies, the difficult daily experience that accompany the fact of being parents of problematic children.

    At the end of the project, in the light of the results obtained from a cognitive-relational-social-emotional point of view, some of the patients were discharged. For this reason, and for the results that must still be achieved, we want to stress the preponderant aspects for the continuation of the social educational rehabilitation of patients and improve their quality of life and family system.

    As concerns cognitive and neuropsychological aspects, it is necessary to continue our work on the strengthening of:

    • learning in general
    • problem solving
    • increase of attention and concentration
    • development of reading and writing
    • analysis of logical and practical problems
    • memory-enhancing strategies
    • understanding both written and oral stories
    • strengthening of logical and mathematical causality

    For this reason, and to facilitate school learning and the understanding of intra and extra psychic world, as well as strengthen relational, social, cognitive and integration competences, our work must go on.

    As concerns psychodynamic aspects, it is necessary to continue our work and enhance:

    • personality organization and structuring
    • ability to manage one's emotional world
    • individualization and independence linked to adolescence
    • identity-building, also from a sexual point of view
    • self-respect and self-confidence
    • prevention of psychopathological setback
    • relation-making and group-sharing abilities

    As concerns social aspects, it is necessary to continue our work on the strengthening of:

    • social independence linked to the ability of managing relations with others
    • social abilities related to daily activities
    • identification with a specific social role

    As concerns the support to the family, it is necessary to continue our work to:

    • improve and support parental competences
    • promote parental capability in listening to the needs of their disabled children
    • facilitate cooperation in the couple
    • help parents to handle non-suitable behaviours performed by their children
    • return the parents their power of care for themselves, despite the handicap, and help them to understand and overcome their frequent feelings of anger and loneliness.

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