Well I arrived in Sofia Bulgaria on March 17th! It was go, go, go from the time we landed.
We were picked up at the airport by Toni and her brother, Marty. They drove us to our hotel and we had lunch. Yummy club sandwiches and fries. We then got settled into our room and started thinking about the conference and trying to put things together in our heads.
About 9 pm that night, Steve (an American missionary in Sofia) brought the supplies for the conference that had been printed in Bulgarian and shipped to Tonja and Steve’s home. We stayed up late pulling stuff out and counting to make sure we had what we needed.
Friday morning started bright and early with breakfast at the hotel then off to a Privately Run Special Needs Center in Sofia. Here are some pictures of our visit! It was amazing really that in a country where there has been little progress that a facility like this is doing everything so right.
The name of the center is Pompalina – not sure if that is spelled right, but here is a picture of the sign!
Down stairs in the what I called the “Autism Room” this was the clock on the wall. The stickers represent when during the day certain things are done. Some kids visually learn the by the clock and others digitally, so below the “hand” clock is the same schedule with the times in writing! (see below)
One of the evaluation rooms!
A group of preschoolers putting together puzzles with their teacher. There is one little guy with Down syndrome and the others were I would guess autism and FAS.
Just another angle of the “school” room. I was so very happy to see that the playpen in the middle is for “stuff” and coats rather than kids!
More very hands on teaching!
Tonja’s little guy, Jayden, doing “his thing”!
Toys are mostly wooden!! LOVE THEM!! I know we have them here, but they are soooo expensive. They hold up so well and clean up so nicely!
This one is for when they are working on fractions!! AWESOME!!
They were doing an evaluation here on the left and the boy on the right spoke to us in English when we came in! So cool!!
Individual work space in the “Autism Room” Very separate areas so they kids know exactly where to go for each activity.
Sensory corner. There was a bouncy ball also in this corner that they could sit on and bounce when they were feeling overwhelmed or over stimulated. It was pretty cool. I would go NUTS sitting in this corner for too long, but the kids feel soothed being here.
This was the art project that the kids had made earlier that morning.
Group corner and working on group activities. 4 kids and two teachers!
They try to make things themselves as well which saves on expenses. These canisters are filled with all different things for sensory exercises.
These balls are scented. These were mint I think. I have never seen wooden balls that were so soft AND scented.
The director told us that there was a girl with autism who’s sense of smell was amazing. She didn’t read or write. In looking at how she learned, they realized that she could distinguish by the smell of something. The alphabet was written on note cards and each letter was scented a different scent. She could then pick out the letter by how they smelled. In turn she learned to recognize the letters and now can read and write very well. AMAZING!!!!!
This center is a private center. There is a cost associated with bringing your children here for therapy. There are sessions available from one hour a week to all day 5 days a week. Depending on what the family can afford. We were told that approximately 5 days all day would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 a month. That’s not too bad when you think about what child care costs are here. They could run that much easily AND the child is getting therapy while there as well! So what would be EVEN BETTER is if in the near future there were centers exactly like this that were funded by the government and everyone would have access to no matter their income! Some day.. Some day!!!
Well that was our Friday morning. Friday afternoon I spent going back and forth to the airport with Steve while Shelley had a meeting. I will post about out dinner Friday night tomorrow! Don’t want to overwhelm you in one post!!!!