The activity described has developed through a research process focused on how to treat children and adolescents with severe physical and mental developmental disorders in the field of Paediatric Neuropsychiatry. By consistently and rigorously applying theoretical models and techniques to verifying the material effects on the daily lives of children/adolescents, a therapeutic model has taken shape, centred on the integration of psychological, pedagogical and rehabilitative disciplines. A great effort has been made to translate techniques and methods into concrete, cognitively and emotionally poignant situations for children and adolescents, into solutions that, in meeting their desires and real needs, could help them find their will to live, be with others, play and express themselves.
In a typical situation, therapy takes place in environments in which the number and quality of the opportunities offered to the child are selected for the achievement of a specific psychotherapeutic, motor, cognitive, or communicative goal. In an ambulatory children find a partial reality: on the one hand, this helps them direct investments, focus and efforts, on the other, this context is far from the complexity of the experiences and problems they face in everyday life. Thus, while in rehabilitation, children learn to perform some tasks in the ambulatory, though this does not mean that they are at all capable of reproducing that behaviour in a real life situation. Psychotherapy is also an inadequate response for children and adolescents with very primitive psychic organisation: evolution follows an extremely slow timeline, and all development areas are, in the meantime, heavily invested by the poverty of internal life that pathology entails. An environment that combines therapeutic attention and richness of stimuli, exposing the children to controlled challenges - with a particular care for the symbolic value of their behaviours - is a very powerful driver fostering an acceleration in the change timeline. The Centre for Integrated Childhood Therapy “La Lucciola” seeks to modify the point of view of traditional therapies and matches the therapeutic techniques with the complexity inherent in all the daily experiences of children, from the most basic to the most advanced.
With these principles in mind, the “La Lucciola” project started in 1987 and grew in the years that followed mainly thanks to private contributions and the voluntary work of children rehabilitation practitioners. The “La Lucciola” Volunteer Association was established with a legal deed on 17/06/1994 and duly registered with the Regional Register of Volunteering Associations from 15/12/1994 to 19/07/2011. With an Extraordinary Shareholders’ Meeting on 28/02/2011, the Articles of Association were amended, thus turning the Volunteer Association into a Non-profit organisation by registering in the NGO Register - no. 34741 on 25/07/2011 and in the Company House with no. 11727 on 28/09/2011.
Within its activities, the Association has activated and manages a semi-residential centre for children and adolescents with severe development disorders called the Centro di Terapia Integrata per l’Infanzia “La Lucciola”. The headquarters of the Centre, in Stuffione di Ravarino – Via Giliberti, 1013 - are located in a 19th century mansion, including some adjoining buildings and a large park and started operating in June 1997.
Following the earthquake that struck the area in which the structure was operating in 2012, most of the buildings in the Centre were therefore deemed unfit for use, therefore the organisation temporarily relocated in prefabricated structures in a nearby area, which received its authorisation to operate from the town of Ravarino on 4 March 2013 (Prot. No. 764/2013).
Since the very beginning the Centre has been working with the Local Health Unit of Modena, first under an agreement and since 2003, under a public procurement contract, with protocols defining the relations with the Sector and Paediatric Neuropsychiatry Operating Units. Moreover, it also collaborates with the Local Health Unit of Bologna, under the same terms agreed with the Modena Unit.
• Obtained the renewal of the operating authorisation as a healthcare facility from the Town of Ravarino, Modena, on November 5, 2009 (Prot. 10386) and the relevant integration on 31 January 2012 (Prot. 800);
• Obtained a temporary institutional accreditation as a healthcare facility with RER decision No. 13255 of October 21, 2013;
• Required a temporary Institutional Accreditation for the Continuing Education Governance Function (Regional Council Decree 1332 of 19.09.2011 - Accreditation of the Continuing Education Governance Function) on 10 May 2012.
The therapeutic activity, centred on group work, involves children and teenagers aged 11 to 17 years with different pathologies: Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, psychosis, learning and behavioural disorders. The Centre can also accommodate children under the age of 11. The accreditation for the treatment of children under the age of 11 years or the stay beyond the 18th birthday is always indicated and reviewed by the relevant Centre for Paediatric and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, so as not to hinder the educational process or the transition to other facilities.
The timeline and duration of the attendance at the Centre follow different programs according to the needs of the users.
Centre and staff manager
The person in charge of the Centre, and Healthcare Adviser is Doc. Emma Lamacchia, a specialist Neuropsychiatrist, Physician and Psychotherapist.
Specialist staff also includes psychologists, rehabilitation therapists, and special needs teachers working as employees or volunteers. Given the features of the operating approach adopted at the Centre, staff is selected based on specific skills, more precisely:
- knowledge of neurological, relational, sensory, cognitive and communication disorders in the age of development and knowledge of evolution thereof;
- experience in conducting therapeutic or educational groups;
- knowledge of rehabilitation, psychotherapy and pedagogical techniques;
- ability to simultaneously, differently and dynamically read, in the child’s behaviour, the aspects related to different developmental lines and those arising from the context in which the child operates;
- ability to translate educational and rehabilitative techniques into daily life activities.
The Centre also employs some external consultants who offer their specific professional contribution for art and sports activities. They provide children with their special skills, enabling them to expand the number of opportunities available.
Through its personnel, the facility sees to administrative management, preparing meals, laundry and cleaning and re-arranging the premises, and provides transportation to and from the Centre for children residing in Modena.
Centro di Terapia Integrata per l’Infanzia “La Lucciola” has as its purpose the education, care and rehabilitation of children with disabilities, affective disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders, including children with motor disabilities, genetic syndromes, cognitive impairment, learning disabilities, and sensory deficits.
The activity is not centred on a rather established approach of traditional treatment sessions, but it offers children activities in which the founding therapeutic principles of each discipline and technique are simultaneously provided.
Centro di Terapia integrata per l’Infanzia “La Lucciola” provides the following activities:
- group psychotherapy;
- small or individual rehabilitation interventions aimed at the recovery of motor, cognitive, communicative and relational skills;
- specific rehabilitation activities for the development of communication in subjects without vocal language;
- integrative therapeutic activities such as hydrotherapy, art therapy, music therapy;
- organization of craft workshops such as carpentry, cooking, sewing, ceramics, etc.;
- psychomotor and sport activities;
- educational and didactic activities aimed at achieving formal learning;
- activities and interventions in support of families.
Centro di Terapia Integrata per l’Infanzia “La Lucciola” is geared towards specific health goals for children, adolescents and their families:
- fostering the achievement of the maximum level of autonomy
- promote self-awareness, as well as confidence in one’s own ability and limitations imposed by pathology
- promote understanding of their physical and psychic functioning with the specific alterations that the various neurological and psychopathological cadres determine
- promote intentionality as the basic prerequisite for both mental and relational development
- stimulate the development of motor and communicative potential as well as learning skills
- stimulate the desire to do, think, and live and stimulate the acquisition of a sense of dignity of one’s own existence with disability
- instil families with an understanding of the growth processes as it occurs in children and adolescents
- promote the improvement of family and social relations
Moreover, Centro di Terapia Integrata per l’Infanzia “La Lucciola” also has the goal of consistently building and maintaining real life spaces with specific and particular characteristics:
- a setting rich in aesthetic suggestions and able to convey a deep sense of harmony to children and adults alike;
- structured interior spaces for normal family life, furnished with great care and attention to every detail;
- arrangement of objects and furniture designed for children to find the perceptual, cognitive, affective references in space that contain and guide them, by making anything they need to self-organise readily available to them;
- outdoor spaces with a wide variety of natural elements, groomed and used to enrich work and learning experiences.