Thursday, 25 March 2010

Brussels sprouts

More green shoots?

Do you recall the correspondence with Professor Bernard Dan a couple of months back, about the now immanent annual conference of the EACD (the European Academy of Childhood Disability), in Brussels?

The final programme for the conference has now been published. Here is a page from the site –

Parents welcome

Yes, parents will be welcome at the meeting, as we feel that they constitute an important expert component of the multidisciplinary setting involved in the care of children with disabilities.

The programme of the meeting includes a workshop ‘by parents for parents’ (which will, like the other sessions, be open to any interested participant) on the theme of “parenting the child with disabilities”.

Although the programme is otherwise mostly scientific, there will be a one-minute presentation prepared by a parent in each themed session, illustrating the theme of the session by presenting a subjective perspective.

In addition, the programme is organised in such a way that parents can chose to follow a suggested “parents’ track” of parallel sessions dealing with issues
that might be more relevant to them (e.g. 'inclusive education' or 'transition to adulthood').

There is a reduced fee of 100 euros for parents for the whole meeting.

Possibly things would have been much the same without the intervention of Conductive World but on the face of it this does look rather better than mere rhetoric or tokenism. A lot will depend now of course on whether parents are able to attend, what they say, and whether anyone listens.

Still, as they say, 'It's a start'. Congratulations to the European Academy for going an extra mile (I.. km as they put it in Europe) beyond what many organisations and their conferences do not yet even aspire to. Let us hope that the Academy's example in Brussels will be reflected in local, everyday paediatric and habilitative practice across Europe. Where it is not, then there is at least the Academy's example to point to in admonition, as something to aim for..

Good luck with the conference. Let us also hope that some account of will be published somewhere accessible.

Final conference programme

Earlier correspondence

Sutton, A. (2010) Des grandes fromages aux Bruxelles: big cheeses in Europe Conductive World, 2 January

Sutton, A. (2010) A nice letter: it pays to say your piece, Conductive World, 12 February


  1. Andrew

    At first I wondered if it was a typing mistake but I checked in the original and it really does say that there will be a one-minute parent presentation in each section.

    I am not sure if this, as you put it : "looks rather better than mere rhetoric or tokenism."

    I have never experienced a one-minute presentation at a conference so I have no idea how it could work. Perhaps this is long enough to say more than Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen and thank you for your attention.

    Maybe you know more about how this works and can explain it a little.


  2. Do you know that Suprematist revolutionary painting by El Lissitsky: 'Smash the whites with the red wedge'? Properly handled one minute in that context could be the point of a wedge. I have seen analogous situations, however, in which the response was far longer, and went on, and on and on... with the wedge lost in a cloud of embarrassing verbal candy-floss