Szimbiózis Alapítvány

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Szimbiózis Alapítvány

Hungary
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Laszlo is spreading the idea that people with significant autism and other mental handicaps can manage and excel in employment. He has created a replicable rural approach of individual living - a multi-stage rehabilitation model - that prepares intellectually disabled people for independent lives through employment, residence, and leisure time. A further way that Laszlo’s approach differs from traditional services is by providing services and activities that cut across numerous disabilities – from physical to intellectual, to moderate to severe – and that even incorporate non-disabled individuals. For example, a blind person will work with a severely autistic person on training guide-dogs. Elements of Laszlo’s model have already been picked up by other disability organizations and he is strongly influencing national policy in Hungary. His approach is also spreading to Poland, Romania and Moldavia.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Laszlo has developed a new healthcare delivery system for moderately and severely disabled people. His approach has the potential to spread the idea that people with significant autism and other mental handicaps can manage and excel in employment. To prepare intellectually disabled people for the workforce Laszlo relies on a number of insights. Laszlo’s first insight into the disability world is that a multi-stage rehabilitation model is the best way to prepare intellectually disabled people for independent lives. He begins with a physical space where people with various intellectual disabilities integrate with one another and with non-disabled people. When participants are ready, they enter into a “sheltered” employment program where they undergo paid work for four hours a day (contracted by Laszlo’s organization), and experience on-the-job training according to their skills and capacities. Once they become comfortable in this environment they move on to a longer-term “transit” employment program where they have more stringent responsibilities (e.g. arriving to work on time and finding their own means of transportation to and from work) and undergo evaluations which prepare them for the open labor market. This staged process mimics the fundamental idea that humans first need basic shelter and food, then access to things like employment and a steady income, in order to achieve dignity and fulfillment in life. Laszlo’s second insight is that any approach to rehabilitation should mirror life’s setbacks and successes. He therefore constructs his model so participants can retreat if needed, regain confidence, and then reengage with the program. Emotional crises do occur, such as a death in a family or a break-up, which can jeopardize an individual’s rehabilitation progression and set them back to the sheltered stage. Participants therefore have access to a crisis center that offers therapy, including theatre and puppetry therapies, to support them during emotional set-backs. Finally, Laszlo insists that rehabilitation services that integrate a broad range of disabilities are much more effective than a closed community limited to one or several disabilities. Laszlo’s open model differs from traditional services by providing services and activities that cut across numerous disabilities – from physical to intellectual, to moderate to severe – and that even incorporate non-disabled individuals. For example, a blind person will work with a severely autistic person in training guide-dogs. To date, Laszlo’s organization, Szimbiózis (translated to “Symbiosis” in English), has either established or assisted with the development of four farms across Hungary. Two others are already being developed in Romania. Laszlo is also advocating with state authorities to include people with intellectual disabilities in the mainstream labor market and elements of his model are being picked up by other disability organizations. Ultimately, Laszlo envisions a world where disabled people are living independently – employed and dignified – instead of excluded and isolated from mainstream society in institutions and homes.