Early Intervention Institute, St. Petersburg
Early Intervention Institute, St. Petersburg


A report on the activities of the St. Petersburg Early Intervention Institute, January-July 2012.

The official opening of the Institute took place February 15, 2012. By that time the Institute’s building was fully prepared for the activities with children and parents, as well as educational and advisory activities for specialists.

Early intervention programs for children and families 

The composition of the interdisciplinary team of specialists:
- Special education teacher (an early communication expert ) - 2 persons
- Psychologist - 1 person
- Physical therapist - 1 person (part time)
- Speech therapist - 1 person (part time)
- Neurologist - 1 person (part time)

During the period from January to July 2012 103 children and their families were consulted by the SPb EII specialists. Among them:

  • from St. Petersburg                         87 families
  • from Leningrad Oblast         5 families
  • from other Russian cities     7 families
  • from other countries (Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan)   4 families

Work with families was conducted in the form of consultations, primary individual examinations and group classes.
The aim of the primary examination is to identify the family’s requests, to make a primary assessment and to figure out whether the family is in need of early intervention services. The primary examination is conducted by two specialist from different fields (educator/psychologist, speech therapist/psychologist, educator/neurologist, psychologist/neurologist). Their composition is selected in accordance with the initial family’s request and / or the child's specific diagnosis. The age of the children that go through the primary examination varies from newborn to four years. There have been 83 primary assessments it total conducted at the stated period.
In addition to the primary assessments there have been 20 one-time consultations conducted. Those consultations addressed families coming from other regions, as well as families with children older than 4 years.Consultation dealt with issues of children with disabilities who receive no assistance programs in other locations, as well as with the organization of the home environment and the placement of children in pre-school or other institution. At the request of the parents a written recommendation was given.
In addition to consultations at the Institute, the Institute specialists carried out a field counseling for the child in the children's hospice (on request from hospice professionals).
As the results of the primary examinations and assessments of children's development, carried out by EII specialists, 34 families with children with disabilities entered the  long-term programs of St. Petersburg EII. All the children have developmental problems or disorders:

  • Children with genetic syndromes (Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, Angelman syndrome, etc.)
  • Children with multiple disorders
  • Children with motor impairment (cerebral palsy, etc.)
  • Children with delayed speech development
  • Children who have contact difficulties / Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)
  • Children who have general developmental delays
  • Children who have difficulties with behavior and self-regulation
  • Children with sensory impairments (hearing and visual impairment due to prematurity)

Since January, the families were offered individual programs for working with the professionals. Depending on the child's disorders, family met at the private sessions with one or two experts. There was a total of 89 individual sessions, conducted by an educator, speech therapist, psychologist and physical therapist.
From mid-April, it became possible to form children’s groups. Two types of group sessions were organized: for children with motor disabilities and for children with difficulties with behavior and self-regulation. Classes are held once a week for each group of children. Group classes for children with motor disabilities were held in conjunction with education and physical therapist,  c classes for children with behavioral difficulties -- with educator and psychologist. There were 13 group sessions held in two months.


In March, a new form of activity was organized - Lekotek. Lekotek, as open play space, at the Early Intervention Institute - is a space attended by children from 8 months to 3.5 years, regardless of whether or not they have a disorder, whether they take part in the Institute’s programs or not. This space is for all children and their parents.
Open play space gives children the opportunity to choose the toys, play materials and operate with them. The space is divided into several "zones" in which there are toys for the organization of various activities (doll corner, shop, kitchen utensils, cars, puzzles, blocks for the construction, slides, balls, books, a corner for drawing). All these toys and play materials are always in the same place. It develops in children a sense of security and predictability. Mothers and educators are there and always ready to help every child in play and interaction.
The main purpose of the open space is to help young children acquire different skills and abilities: social, intellectual, motor, self-help skills, play with other children, next to the mother without parting  from her. Parents have the opportunity to observe the child, to play with him/her, to help in solving problems arising in the course of the game, as well as communicate with other adults and children.
Educators are always available for parents and kids and always ready to answer parents' questions. They tell you what toys and play materials to use with your child at home, how to play with them, how best to read books with your child.
Lekotek - open play space, was visited by 17 families since its opening. This is normally developing children and children with various disorders: Down syndrome, motor development disorders, autism spectrum disorders, behavioral and self-regulation problems, the lag in cognitive development, visual impairments.
From our observations, Lekotek - Open playing space, had a beneficial effect on children's development, their relationships with other children and adults. The children learned to play alongside other children, mastered new skills, by imitating other children have learned to choose the toys, play materials and operate with them. All these skills will help children adapt more easily in the future, in kindergartens and other institutions.

Club for the children and parents with hearing impairments

The club has a long history. The work of the club has for many years been supported by the St. Gregory’s Foundation (UK). After the renovation was finished, the club returned to the Institute. This is a weekly meeting for parents and children with hearing loss, which combines both forms of social support for parents and activities for children. The speech therapist, special education teacher and musical worker are involved in the club’s work.

Other activities

April, 24, as a part of the annual Easter Festival, EII hosted an Easter holiday for children, with the participation of family folklore ensemble "Belorybitsa." During the Easter holidays the children heard the Easter songs and played in the folk games. At the end of the holiday, all children received gifts from the organizers of the Easter Festival.

Educational and advisory activities

The priority was to organize and conduct training courses aimed at promoting the ideas of early intervention, the resumption of cooperation with the city centers that provide assistance to families with children with disabilities, building relationships with regional partners, disseminating information about the activities of the institute through the involvement of the media.
In order to achieve these objectives the following events were arranged:

  • Training course "Organizational foundations of early intervention.", April 16th-20th.

The course was attended by 26 experts, including specialists from Latvia (Riga) and Russia: Voronezh, Kotlas, as well as specialists from early intervention departments in 10 districts of the city of St. Petersburg and the children's hospice.
The course raised the questions of the principles of early intervention programs, interdisciplinary team approach, the system of early intervention services, the use of normalized scales for building programs, as well as early cognitive and communicative development of children, the use of screening programs in early intervention, the principles of teamwork and organization of development environment, the role of of the child’s family in the programs, the feelings of parents and the importance of emotional support for families.

  • Training course "Basics of work with the families with young children affected by the substance abuse problem", in cooperation with NGO “Informational-analytical center for NGOs”, June 13-15 and June 23-25.

Short-term training program  "Basics of work with the families with young children affected by the substance abuse problem" is realized by the Early Intervention Institute in the framework of the Russian-Finnish project "Development of a program of social and psychological support and rehabilitation of mothers with alcohol or drug addiction -" Hold on! '". The project is coordinated by NGO “Informational-analytical center for NGOs”.
Training course "Basics of work with the families with young children affected by the substance abuse problem" is designed for professionals who work directly with families with children from 0 to 3 years old, that suffer from alcohol or drug addiction. The course is intended primarily for the practitioners who visit the family in the community: social workers, visiting nurses, physicians -- in other words, specialists who do not have basic psychological education, but have a desperate need of skills to work with "difficult families".

  • In April, at the request of early intervention service of St. Petersburg state budget institution "Center of social rehabilitation of disabled children and children with disabilities, the Kalininsky district of St. Petersburg"  our Institute’s specialists carried out a supervision of the service.

A new approach was tried - a joint consultation for families by the early intervention team and the Institute team. This approach allows not just to discuss the case, as is done in the usual supervision, but also to have a joint team consult families.This makes it possible to support district service professionals, who continue to work with the family, and to answer the most complex issues, both for the service professionals and for the family.

  • In collaboration with partner organizations St. Petersburg EII held three training seminars in the framework of Russian-Finnish project "Information on the reproductive health of people who use sign language."

The organizer of the seminar: NGO "Information-Analytical Center for NGOs." The purpose of the workshop was the formation of the program vision for organization of distribution of information on reproductive health.
25 experts took part in the training: representatives of the Finnish Association of the Deaf, the specialists of the Finnish Family Federation, Youth counseling psychologists from Petrogradsky district of St. Petersburg and one of the youth centers, teachers of the boarding school № 1 of the first kind of Vyborgsky district of St. Petersburg, experts from EII St. Petersburg/ and some other specialists.

Field seminars

  • Institute held two field seminars in Novosibirsk on the subjects: "Standards for Early Intervention: Theory and Practice" and "Use of alternative and complementary communication in early intervention programs."

The seminars were attended by the specialists of rehabilitation centers for the disabled children of Novosibirsk and Novosibirsk region and the NGO "Down syndrome" that develop early intervention programs in the region.

  • A visit to Kaluga in March 2012

Director of the Institute Natalia Baranova was invited to speak at the meeting of the Public Chamber on the development of early intervention programs in the city of Kaluga and Kaluga region, where she also held a consultation on organizational matters of the service for the staff of the Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children "Kindness".

Participation in conferences

  • In the framework of the partnership project "Taking Action for Children Together" (Financed by European Commission) St. Petersburg EII experts participated in the International scientific-practical conference "Acting Together for Children", which took place on March 20-23, 2012 in St. Petersburg.

The conference focused on the strengthening of the three nationwide professional networks, and brought together representatives of federal, regional and municipal authorities, the leading experts in the field of protection of children from 30 regions of Russia, representatives of UNICEF, the European Commission, as well as experts from the UK, USA, Ukraine, Denmark, Finland , Ethiopia, India, Bulgaria and other countries. During the four-day conference the plenary sessions, trainings and workshops were attended by over 170 experts from the social sector of St. Petersburg and other regions.
The Institute is one of the partners in the project "Taking Action for Children Together", responsible for the development of a network of early intervention, the development of standards in this area, and a description and development of best practices in early intervention. As part of this project, the Institute held two regional meetings for members of the network of early intervention, in which experts and members of the St. Petersburg EII and Association of Early Intervention from the regions discussed issues related to the development, testing and application of standards, as well as increased activity of the association and the further development of early intervention in Russia.

  • 18-20 June 2012. The first international scientific conference: "THE MAN WITH THE DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS AND SOCIETY: New Directions in supporting communication."

Conference organizers: "Caritas Social School", together with NGO "Alternative Communication" and ”Saint-Petersburg Early Intervention Institute”. The aim of the conference was to attract the attention of professionals and the public to the issue of support and expansion of communicative opportunities for people with disorders. These are:

  • Support of the early relationships and early communication between child and adult relatives;
  • Work with the basic communicative signals for people with severe multiple disabilities;
  • The development of additional and alternative means of communication - the direction, known in the world as the AAC (alternative augmentative communication);

and also supporting technical tools involved in this process.

Study visits

During the specified period, St. Petersburg EII was visited by the following people willing to familiarize themselves with the model of the Institute:

  • Experts from the regional centers for families and children (Admiraltejsky, Kalininsky, Petrogradsky, Petrodvorets, Vasileostrovsky, Vyborgsky, Central, Krasnogvardeisky disctricts)
  • Representatives of the Children's Hospice,
  • 45 students from the Pedagogical University Postelein (Holland), taking practical placement in St. Petersburg,
  • Sarah Gale, representative of the St. Gregory’s Foundation, overseeing the work of the Institute’s Parent Club for children and parents with hearing impairments,
  • Director of the Prof.  Ernst Lenhardt’s Foundation, Dr. Monica Lenhard
  • Representatives of the parent’s organization of Ufa.

Coverage of the Institute in the media

The Institute’s work was actively covered the media in St. Petersburg:
- Materials on the opening of the institute:
The website of the Ombudsman for Children's Rights in St. Petersburg:
The site of the St. Petersburg online newspaper Fontanka.ru
On the official site of the "Saint Petersburg" TV channel
The site of the information agency “Sever Inform”
1st Channel’s story on the opening of the Institute
- 1st Channel’s story about Institute, timed to coincide with International Day of People with Down syndrome on March 21.
- RTR Program “Vesti” story about Institute’s work with children
- 2 interviews on “Radio Russia”