Estelle Byrne, one of our Elklan tutors is delivering modified Elklan training in a voluntary capacity in Kazakhstan over the next three weeks. Read all about Estelle Byrne's adventures here!
'I am currently over in Kazakhstan, the largest country in Central Asia, and previously part of the USSR based in a charity run school for Autistic children in the capital city of Nur-Sultan.
I am delivering Elklan training to the staff, and a group of parents who are supporting children aged between 2-15 years who are mostly non-verbal.
Elklan have kindly given me permission to combine some of the Complex Needs material with SLD and ASD messages as these children do not easily slot into one client group. That has actually proven quite difficult to pick which sections to include, as all the key messages are important ones!
The school already uses a lot of visual structure, has a sensory room and has an emphasis on physical exercises, but they are very keen to have communication skills training.
Of course the main obstacle is the language barrier, as I don’t speak Russian! So I am carrying out the sessions through an interpreter! This is a really new experience for me! We discuss the vocabulary in advance and have practiced how often to pause. One thing I noticed instantly is just how long it takes to rephrase an English sentence into Russian! Obviously, it’s impossible to include everything from every session in the time given, so again I have had to pick out the most important elements to stay within the session times. One advantage of using an interpreter is that you get more time to think about the next point!!
Over here learners are very accustomed to taking notes during training sessions, so no books or handouts are being used, which simplifies things greatly, which is a very good thing, as no Russian Elklan resources exist!
Today was the first session on identifying the early communication stages. The videos were a great help and worked well as most of them show minimal verbal communication anyway, so it didn’t matter at all that the learners were hearing English!
The Kazakh people are extremely hospitable and appreciative. Today I was served a hearty school dinner of “Plov” - a kind of beef stew with rice and vegetables, and it was delicious!
As you know one of Elklan’s key messages is the importance of non-verbal communication, as a person with a significant communication difficulty over here, boy do I recognise that! But judging by the smiles and nods from the learners after both sessions I think it went well!!!
I’ll keep you posted on how I get on over this week and next....