Family Support

Support for the lives of children with disabilities and their families in the community
  • The approach of family support through our experiences with integrated childcare
    @@Awaji Kodomoen is a day-care center for children with intellectual disabilities in Higashi Yodogawa district, North of Osaka city.@The Social Welfare Cooperation, Suisen Fukushikai, received a commission from Osaka city to run this center.@We have created the necessary supports and services for individuals and their families, such as: educational treatments for mother and child; family support; after school care programs for children with disabilities; outpatient consultation by specialists; and activities for siblings of children with disabilities.@We have been a privately-owned corporation since 1978, and this unique position allows us to undertake such work.

    @The basic principle of operation comes out of our experiences of integrated childcare at Kazenoko Hoikuen, a day-care center run by the same cooperation.@The Kazenoko Hoiken, center, received a commission from the gExperimental and Pioneering Subsidized Projectsh of Osaka city in 1971, and began accepting children with disabilities.@By seeking the best childcare for each child, children showed remarkable growth.@At the same time, we began to understand the limit of the supports available at the day-care center in working with children with intellectual disabilities.@At the day-care center, we could not give enough consultation and support for the problems and difficulties parents were having at home. Especially, in the case of children with autism and intellectual disabilities persistent and complicated behaviors often manifested, but it was difficult to understand how the behavior occurred in association with what kind of situations.@Some children who had developed interests in other people and had become attached to the care providers did worse when they began (mainstream) elementary school after graduation from the day-care center.@The parents often had trouble managing the childfs worsening conditions and some children needed to enter special residential care centers or mental hospitals.

    @These experiences demonstrated it was not enough to provide just childcare in order to support a childfs consistent growth in the community.@We recognized that we also needed to provide support and after school care to both the children and their parents throughout the childfs education and not only during their attendance at the day-care center.

    @As a result of these experiences, our corporation established gKazenoko Sodachienh, a day-care center for adults with intellectual disabilities, in 1986. We also opened three welfare work centers for people with disabilities and four group homes.@In 1999 we started gKaze no Wah, a community life support center, based on the practices at Awaji Kodomoen. We are now able to support people with disabilities and their families consistently through infancy to adulthood.

  • Building better relationships by encouraging parent and child attendance
    @At Awaji Kodomoen not only children with disabilities attend, but mothers and siblings also come to the center for parent and child attendance days. The staff try to support the mothers to understand how their children are feeling, what their children want or how to identify when their children are struggling by observing their facial expressions and behaviors.@They encourage parents to do this by spending time together such as playing and eating meals with their children at the center, which allows them to build emotionally accessible relationships.

    @For example, boy A suddenly started to hit his head hard on the floor. Afs mother was surprised by the behavior, as she could see no immediate cause for it.

    @However, staff observed the reason why A started to hit his head was that his mother went to take care of his younger brother and feeling jealous, he (A) couldnft express his feelings to his mother.@Boy Bfs toy was taken by his friend. After that, he turned on a faucet and kept running water and didnft turn around after his mother called. Mothers may often find it difficult to see the relationships between two situations. They donft appropriately respond to these behaviors in their children.@From stafffs viewpoint, B was upset, because B was probably frustrated by not being able to say no to his friend or to ask his mother for help who was next to him (B).

    @Parents may not understand the meaning of their childfs behavior because they donft always recognize the relationship between situations, so they see the behavior as a result of the childfs inherent disability, rather than a reaction to the environment.@However, the trained and experienced staff could observe Afs jealousy and suggest to the mother that she ask a staff member to assist with the younger brother.@As the mother could turn her attention to A, he stopped hitting his head, asked his mother to hold him, and calmed down.@B started to cry when his mother sympathized with his frustration and comforted him.@Thus, it affirmed that Afs self-injury and Bfs persistence resulted from not being able to express their feelings to others.@Parents were encouraged by the results, and relieved to better be able to understand their childfs feelings.

    @At first these children avoided others or didnft show an attachment to their mothers, but as their mothersf understanding of their behavior increased, their reactions changed.@Consequently, the children began to feel more confident and comfortable expressing themselves more directly.@If a child endures is unable to express him/herself when they are worried or upset, they may act out through disruptive behavior that people around them may not understand.@However, if you can understand the relationship between a childfs behavior and his/her environment, you can respond to him/her more appropriately.@When a child feels understood and supported, he/she is able to express his/her feelings more clearly through facial expression, gesture and words.@As a child feels more understood by the people around him/her, he/she becomes more emotionally stable and interested in friends, allowing his/her interpersonal relationships to develop naturally.

    @It can take a long time and a lot of energy to build such relationships, but the end result of a mother better able to communicate with her child is well worth it.@The stresses of parenting decrease as parents receive more enthusiastic and positive responses from their children.

  • Understanding mothersf and familiesf problems and difficulties
    @It is important to support mothers by listening to their or their familiesf problems and work with them to address problematic family relationships allows them to take better care of their child.

    @Mothersf problems are bigger than you imagine.@For example, when a mother finds out about her childfs disabilities, there is often confusion shock, feelings of guilt, and an urgent sense, gWe must be able to improve our childfs disabilities somehow.h Also there are various problems that arise from centering onefs life around a child with disabilities, specifically involving the relationships with siblings.@It can be challenging to give all siblings equal attention, and many parents may have higher and somewhat unrealistic expectations for other siblingsf behaviors.@Frustration over a father who doesnft cooperate, conflict over grandparents, and intolerance or lack of understanding from neighbors, are all serious problems that many mothers face.@These problems become an indistinct combination, and a big burden to mothers.@It gives a big influence on their child.

    @Mothers often need a place where they can speak with and get support from trained individuals.@We listen to mothersf problems and help them to sort out their feelings through private consultation or counseling at our center. We also set up a place for exchange, allowing opportunities for mothers with similar problems or mothers who have graduated the program to meet and discuss their experiences.@This opportunity for exchange is extremely popular, because listening to other mothers' story, they feel uplifted, gIfm not the only one who is struggling.h or they may rethink the ways they are responding to their children based on others' experiences and advice.

    @In addition, we listen to the fathersf perspective.@Addressing the feelings of both the mothers and fathers allows us to build a basis for co-operation in supporting their child.@We also can mediate problems between parents in some cases.

Support for siblings

@A sibling has a big influence on the individualfs development as a member of the family.@Children with intellectual disabilities tend not to display their wants and needs and try to depend less on adults if they have a younger brother or sister.@In the case where the individual has an older brother or sister, the older brother or sister tends to be patient, because adults easily pay more attention to his/her younger brother or sister who has an intellectual disability. Therefore the older brother or sister is expected to grow up as fast as he or she can.
@We support parents to think about their difficulties and problems together in order for both siblings and the individual with an intellectual disability to be respected members of the family and to grow up with confidence.
  • Support for younger sibling
    @Together with a volunteer we provide childcare for younger siblings to help the mother build a good relationship with her child with an intellectual disability and include his/her siblings too.
  • Support for older sibling
    @We support older siblings by organizing activities where they can get along and talk about their difficulties and problems.

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Operated by
Social Welfare Corporation SUISEN FUKUSHIKAI
Awaji Kodomoen 5-1-12 Nishi awaji, Higashi yodogawa-ku, Osaka 533-0031
TEL: 06-6323-6395 FAX: 06-6323-2856