Parents and babies


The program for parents and babies in ELIYA started many years ago in response to the need for early intervention among infants under one-year-old with vision loss and in some cases also with developmental delay. In ELIYA there were already classes for blind and visually impaired children; however young babies had difficulty fitting into the daycare program. Some were still at the diagnostic stage and others were considered too young by their parents who preferred to keep taking care of them at home. Since they were still infants, who sleep many hours of the day, there was very little waking time left for nursery care. In addition, when the Rehabilitative Day Care Law was passed in 2003, the budget allocation was only for the integration of toddlers only over one year old.

Against this background, the parents and baby program ELIYA developed the parents and baby program which takes place at all ELIYA’S branches.

The program gives a group and individual response on a weekly basis for the baby and his parents, according to their needs.  The ELIYA staff noticed that there is great benefit from the connection that evolves between the families. In addition, the program helps parents who for the first time are facing the need to raise and care for a child with special needs, who are usually in a state of confusion, concern, sadness, and feeling helpless. There are those who are seeking information and support. And there are those who are withdrawn and try to find their own ways to deal with the situation.

Target population:

–   Blind and visually impaired babies aged three to twelve months, who have been medically diagnosed as such.

–   The parents of these babies.

The program goals:

For babies– assessment of the developmental level, improvement in visual function, improving skills and eating patterns, encouraging movement and motor activity, development of play and communication, all geared towards integration into nursery groups.

For parents – guidance, support, advice, consultation, exposure to information, familiarity with the methods and ways of treatment, the opportunity for mutual support.

Parent-child relationship – there are parents who need tools to communicate with their children, guidance to diagnose their abilities, and not only their difficulties, and the opportunity to connect through eating and playing.

The application process:

The parents are referred to ELIYA by various sources. They are invited to an introductory meeting at ELIYA, which includes the branch coordinator, the special education teacher, the social worker, and an optometrist. The group makes a first assessment of the baby’s development, his eyesight function, and an evaluation of the ability of the family and its desire to be helped by the program. Later, the family is invited to an intake meeting with the group coordinator, physiotherapist, and counselor.

The meetings:

The group, numbering five to ten families, meets once a week in the morning for twelve meetings. During the morning the babies experience various treatment “stations” (dark room, “active learning,” sounding board, sensory surfaces, multi-sensory mobiles, movement and motor skills, individual physiotherapy, play, and communication. At the same time, the babies’ parents receive counseling about their activity with the children during the rest of the week.

Later in the day, there is a group activity with the parents, geared to the babies’ abilities.

In the second half of the morning, the parents meet in a support group, with the professional guidance of a counselor. During this time the babies stay with the treatment staff, which keeps working with them in the various “stations.”

The day ends with a group hydrotherapy session in the pool, during which the parents enter the pool with their babies and are guided by a hydro-therapist.  In this activity, the emphasis is on the relationship between the parent and the child.

After the sessions, the staff arranges home visits as needed. At the end of the program, an assessment is made for each of the children, with recommendations for the parents for further treatment, the available options being:

–   Integration within ELIYA’S day nurseries.

–   Continuation of the treatment for twelve additional sessions, as part of a new group of parents and babies.

–   Supervision only, on a monthly basis, for an additional six months. There are babies who continue to be treated at home by the family, others are integrated at care centers or day nurseries near their home.

The treatment staff comprises:  

The group coordinator, who is a special education teacher, a rehabilitation teacher, physiotherapist, teacher’s assistant, hydro-therapist, and group counselor who leads the support sessions of the parents’ program.

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