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CerebraI attended a one day conference in Coventry this month which was aimed primarily at professionals and organisations that support young people with intellectual and development disabilities and their families. It was a really beneficial networking and learning day for me personally and for Functional Reflex Therapy.

Founded in 2001, Cerebra is a unique national charity that strives to improve the lives of children with brain-related neurological conditions, through research, education and direct, ongoing support.

Many findings of recent research in key areas of the mental health of children with intellectual disabilities and / or autism was shared along with discussion about the recent national developments of the new Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

During the conference there was interesting data delivered from Dr Vaso Totsika a Senior Research Fellow in CEDAR at the University of Warwick about the prevalence of mental health problems in children with learning disability and/or autism. We thought about children with intellectual disabilities and how do they access if they have a mental health issue and once a diagnosis has been made is there enough intervention available to access?

Richard Hastings is a Professor of Psychology and Education at Warwick University, carries out research on various topics in the field of learning disability and autism gave a very interesting talk about services.

How do we value services for emotional and mental health and offer access within the educational environment.

Indeed how does the school environment support children with mental health issues?

If there is a service available how do we access it for our children with mental health issues?

How do we support children and their families?

My own feelings and views from Functional Reflex Therapy follow ........

Children need to access many different services and therapies to find the one that is right to support them but I do feel passionately that there is a real place for Reflexology supporting mental health issues and that using the Functional Reflex Therapy Approach and Framework should be in every school where Reflexologists can work alongside all professionals as a valuable part of the multi disciplinary team.

Those children having the opportunity to access reflexology within the school day by allowing a short time out with a relaxation experience ‘in the moment’  it may help them to better prepare for ongoing activities on their timetable and support their wellbeing. Helping them to reduce anxiety and improve mood and overall calm.

The Functional Reflex Therapy workshops offer support for parents, grandparents, carers and siblings. In the future FRT Therapists will be collecting information and feedback from the promising results to see if they indicate a significant impact delivering the relaxation routine at home on both the giver and the receiver.

Reflexologists and Functional Reflex Therapists are beginning to support children and staff within the educational environment and are supporting families.

Reflexology is one of those services where there is not yet enough of us working in this environment with mental health as a priority and schools need to recognise the support Reflexology can offer to children with mental health issues and the many benefits of Reflexology as a regular timetabled therapy during the school day. So we have got our work cut out Reflexologists and the Functional Reflex Therapy Network to get our research projects underway and our data collected.

If you are interested to know more about Cerebra, the many speakers at the conference and LeARN-WM ( Learning disability and Autism Research Network West Midlands ) do visit www.cerebra.org.uk

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