Have you heard of Aura Fundació? Do you know what its mission is? The head of the neuropsychology program at Aura Fundació, Roser Fernández, tells us about the work of this social entity and discusses the importance of cognitive stimulation for people with intellectual disability.
Cognitive stimulation for people with intellectual disability
Throughout its 29-year history, Aura Fundació, by assisting people with intellectual disabilities enter the job market, has had the opportunity to learn about their needs and has sought to find appropriate answers for each moment of their lives.
One of the aspects we have always been focused on is cognitive stimulation, with the aim of maintaining and/or improving participants’ abilities. Over the years, we have created our own cognitive training program based on an enormous amount of published material and have adjusted it to the different needs we have observed.
Multicenter study of longitudinal monitoring of the aging process in people with Down syndrome
Likewise, for some years now, we have been collaborating with the Faculty of Psychology, Education and Sport Sciences at the Blanquerna-Universidad Ramon Llull,(Barcelona, Spain) in a multicenter study of longitudinal monitoring of the ageing process in people with Down syndrome, in order to prevent, detect and diagnose cognitive decline, as well as to provide an intervention tailored to the needs of each person.
The first descriptive results have now been obtained from a sample of 200 people and will soon be published. These results allow a comparison of the cognitive development across three well differentiated age groups, with the main purpose of detecting early cognitive changes and signs of aging in people with Down syndrome.
We have seen the importance of continuing education and cognitive stimulation programs to improve and/or maintain functions even in advanced age.
NeuronUP intervention programs for people with Down syndrome
In September 2017, we started the implementation and adaptation—and are currently with the validation—of the NeuronUP program for people with Down syndrome. To this end, we have reviewed all the activities of the program (both digital and paper-and-pencil versions) one by one and have been able to design 4 programs with different levels of difficulty adapted to the abilities of our participants.
The validation of the NeuronUP program is being carried out by a doctoral studentat the UniversidadRamon Llull, who is being supervised by us, Aura Fundació; we will soon be sharing the results with the organizations that arepart of the multicenter study.
The NeuronUP platform allows us to train both basic cognitive functions (e.g.,orientation, attention, memory, language, executive functions, processing speed, visuospatial skills, social cognition) and activities of daily living and social skills.
Principles of generalizationand/or transference
The activities offered by NeuronUP conform to the principles of “generalization and/or transference” which are the pillars of the methodology that Aura Fundació has been using since its foundation; this methodology is based on mediated learning. For this reason, NeuronUP is highly beneficial for everyonesince it includes other domains different from what is specifically trained (the cognitive domain) and is also easily applicable to people’s daily lives.
The stimulation of working in an ordinary company
At Aura Fundació, we are convinced that having a stimulating daily life, working in an ordinarycompany, as well as continuing education and cognitive stimulation programs help prevent premature aging and improve the quality of life and function of people with Down syndrome.