Children with complex disabilities: Carolyn Blackburn’s Story

Children with complex disabilities: Carolyn Blackburn’s Story

Dr Carolyn Blackburn travelled to New Zealand in 2015 to study relationship-based early intervention services for children with complex disabilities.

The Fellowship

Carolyn is a Senior Researcher in Education at Birmingham City University. After 15 years in early years and family support practice she was concerned that fragmented early intervention services in the UK sometimes serve to devalue parents’ contribution to children’s learning and development, and was eager to seek out alternative models abroad.

For her Fellowship, Carolyn travelled to Christchurch to work with the world-leading Champion Centre. Their services focus on the parent-child relationship and include families in their intervention programme so that parents actively participate and contribute to their child’s learning.

Carolyn also visited Auckland to observe the work of Positive Path International. Their services include special schools which offer support to children with complex needs throughout their education.

The Results

Since returning to the UK, Carolyn has published academic journal articles and a book on her findings from her Fellowship (see list of publications below). She has also delivered presentations on her Fellowship at European Early Children Intervention conferences in the UK, Moldova, Sweden and Germany. Her work has been translated into German and referenced in European position statements on Early Childhood Intervention.

Carolyn has secured funding to research early childhood intervention for young children born prematurely in the UK and will convene an interdisciplinary conference on early care and education for children born prematurely to be held in Birmingham in July 2017. Among the speakers will be Dr Susan Foster-Cohen, the Director of The Champion Centre, who also visited the UK in 2016, delivering a lecture on the Bio-psycho-social consequences of premature birth to 80 education and health practitioners, thanks to the relationships Carolyn developed during her Fellowship.

Since her Fellowship, Carolyn has been promoted to Senior Researcher at Birmingham City University.  She has become a board member for the European Association on Early Childhood Intervention and an editorial Board Member of Infants and Young Children. Her long term aim is to write an early childhood intervention post-graduate programme for early childhood teachers and the wider early years’ workforce.

Read Carolyn’s report here

Read Carolyn’s blog

Apply for a Fellowship

Read more Fellows’ Stories in Early Years Prevention & Intervention

List of publications

BLACKBURN, C. (2016) Relationship-based early intervention services for children with complex needs: lessons from New Zealand, International Journal of Birth and Parent Education Vol (3) 27-30

BLACKBURN, C. (2016) Relationship-based early intervention services for children with complex disabilities Journal of Children’s Services Vol. 11 Iss: 4, pp.330 – 344

BLACKBURN, C. (2017) Developing inclusive practice for young children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: A framework of knowledge and understanding for the early childhood workforce, London: Routledge