Immanuel Home: Learning Through Communication

2013. augusztus 27., kedd

In Debrecen there is a unique place called Immanuel Home where children with special needs and their families find a place of normalcy and belonging. Here, specially trained staff members work to create an environment for learning, communication and expression.

Immanuel Home was started in 1991 after properties belonging to the Great Church in Debrecen, Immanuel's being one, were returned following the regime change in Hungary. The daycare center started its work with only four staff members and 16 children, a number that has since grown to 40 staff and 80 children. The staff is made up of caretakers, doctors, and special education teachers and assistants. Currently Immanuel serves special needs people between the ages of 6 to 30, but it is in the process of extending its services to include early detection and training for infant age children to 6-years-old.

Immanuel - God with us

Immanuel Home is a daycare center with a focus on each individual child. There is no one service or program provided meant to apply to every case. Instead through communication, staff members strive to see each child's specific need and create a suitable plan to move forward from there. They believe that each person is able and has a desire to communicate. Through innovative technology and attentive teachers, children learn to convey their feelings and needs. This technology is known as Alternative Augmented Communication. Students are divided into different classes of five to six children by age and ability level. The smaller setting allows for more individualized attention, with each class able to establish its own schedule and work with each child separately or as a group.

All the children at Immanuel are considered multiple-disabled, and while the symptoms may be different for each child, the majority of them have a combination of mental and physical disabilities – for example, epilepsy and autism. Because of the uniqueness of each child, communication remains an emphasis from the beginning process onward. A professional team meets with new Immanuel students to determine which therapy program would be most appropriate for them to follow. For example with animal therapy, staff members let the child and dog meet to ensure that both are comfortable together.

Several unique therapies are offered through Immanuel Home, such as physical therapies, a noise/light/tactile therapy (which simulates an ultra-relaxing, womb-like atmosphere) and an animal therapy as well as social services and educational healthcare services. Even more, it provides dance and choir programs for the children to join that also allow staff members and students to connect outside of classroom time.

As an extension of the Great Church, spiritual education and development are also focuses for Immanuel Home. István Oláh, Immanuel's in-house pastor, has adapted spiritual lessons for the children. "We thought about how they are able to understand what God has given them," Oláh said. Immanuel has religious lessons for the children once a week and a worship service with staff members every month. In addition, staff members and Oláh work hard so the children maintain a presence at the Great Church, allowing church members and those from Immanuel Home a chance to grow in faith together and see the worth that every person has to offer.

"While we are trying to teach our children everything about life, our children teach us what life is about."



Amy Lester

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Reformed Church in Hungary

Address: H-1146 Budapest, Abonyi utca 21.   

PO Box: 1140 Budapest 70, Pf. 5

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We encourage you to read our  former GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time, spent in Hungary.